Monday, January 31, 2022

Olympic Teams


Yesterday, in the process of articulating the Winter Olympic betting pool I am running here at my library, I articulated how I have been crafting bespoke Olympic Teams for the participants. It is here where my penchant for embellishment expresses itself.

I have created teams of underdogs, teams where winning is everything, and teams where silver and bronze are especially valuable. I have created teams of teams, teams that are identical for two different players, and teams where instead of winning money one wins chocolate. There are teams where a person has at least almost one sure winner and teams where there are no sure winners but everyone has a pretty good shot. Each of these teams I have attempted to balance for similar odds so as to accord no overall advantage at the outset. And when I go home from work today I will have to come up with some more of these teams.

I am playing too, but I have yet to choose a team. I am thinking of taking a middle of the road sort of team, one with some mild favorites and some mild longshots. Then we can follow along here because why not? Team Clerkmanifesto!

And if we at team clerkmanifesto win we will use the money to, I don't know, put it in my pocket? Or maybe I'll use it to fix the groaning fan on my computer. The stuff dreams are made of!

Sunday, January 30, 2022

Olympic Pool


Every couple of years I become consumed with the desire to run a betting pool at the library I work at. I'm in the midst of one now for the Winter Olympics. My free time is gutted for a little while as it's a fair bit of work, and this is why I am telling you about it instead of, well, about anything else. 

In fact, I might be telling you about it quite a bit in the days to come.

In the past I have run pools for Curling (in the last Winter Olympics), and for both Men and Womens' World Cups in Soccer. They were fun, but they had a few problems structurally that I am trying to fix this time around.

The previous pools needed subscribers for every team participating, which meant they needed a set number of subscribers. Also, as people drew their team, much of the result was decided right in the luck of their draw, as surely the USA Women's Soccer Team made a person a massive favorite over the person who drew, say, Nigeria.

For these Olympics I am making bespoke teams consisting of five events and contestants for each participant. So a person might have on their team a Women's Curling team, a Russian Skater, an Austrian Skier, German Bobsledders, and a French Snowboarder. It's a one-of-a-kind personal team, and of the 28 I am putting together right now I couldn't say which one has the best chances to win the pool. I am doing my best to even the odds out on all of them. A person may have a favorite, a longshot, and three with a fair shot, or they may have something else entirely, but it will still be roughly equivalent in odds. 

The entry fee for the Winter Olympic Pool is $20 and I am trying to balance that differently than just big winners this time too. About half of the pot will pay off in easy wins, so almost everyone will win back something, which hopefully will feel just like winning outright if a person has written off their original twenty. I know I already have. The other half of that twenty goes to the top three jackpot winners, which still should produce a quite fun amount of prize money.

As ever I run to complexity in schemes like this. I have found that people are generally happy to play along, but they aren't keen at anything very convoluted or requiring a great deal of attention. So I am constantly shutting down my complicating and embellishing ideas. Nevertheless I have so many of these fancies that one or two tends to sneak through every rare once in awhile.

But we'll leave that discussion for tomorrow. I still have more teams to assemble. Tonight someone lucky is going to get Kamila Valieva on their team!

Drop me a twenty and you can still play too!

Saturday, January 29, 2022

Friday, January 28, 2022

The criticism


In the course of something I would describe as a fight with my long time manager, somewhere in the hottest fire of it, my manager said that many, many times over the years people had complained to him about me not doing a lot of work.

I found this very upsetting. Challenged on this nugget of information my manager has sat on for a quarter of a century, he said they didn't complain, per se, but it had been often mentioned.

This is very different!

Nevertheless the initial feeling it gives me is that I work with a team of vipers! 

But upon reflection I can recognize that the people who would say such a thing about me are not the people who I would consider to do much work myself, or that I would particularly respect as people or co-workers.

And upon further reflection I would also have to say:

Maybe I don't do that much work.

Thursday, January 27, 2022

The Code


The first code of the library worker is that there are no library worker codes.

There are a lot of codes, secret codes when it comes to working in an institution in common with other workers. These are codes of behavior, fraternity, sorority, codes of working people, codes of looking away, and codes about how the work is really done. Maybe everyone has their own code, and where they regularly overlap among the many, there are the true codes of the workplace.

I have written many times about workers' codes at the library I work at. I have a pretty fair understanding of many of them here. But what I have been an awful long time learning is that if you touch any of these codes directly enough, they are liable to blow up in your face.

Wednesday, January 26, 2022



We're almost there with the technology.

It is minus 11 degrees out, and icy. I'm not going outside if I can help it.

This presents some problems. But the two main ones I can see are:

1. How do I get exercise?

2. How do I partake of my nature photography hobby?

For the first we bought a treadmill. It works. I like it. And it is very, very, very boring, which explains the metaphorical use of "treadmill" in our lexicon.

For the second, I go out into video games and instead of stabbing and shooting people (sometimes), I take nature pictures.

Here are some more examples of that one:

I have one of those VR things you strap to your face, and it is very impressive. One can get into some very interesting environments, though none yet so well realized as those above. The dream, of course, is being able to walk on an omni directional treadmill in an environment like this above. It's not quite all there yet, but I feel it would be a fairly complete solution to the Winter problem.

Although Winter may disappear altogether, so it could be a wash.

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Another theory of art


I have long held a loose theory of art that says that the invention of a new fundamental idea or approach in any field of art unleashes a kind of profound power and energy. This makes not just the work of one artist especially notable or expressive, but it can spread to an entire field, a whole movement of artists. It can create out of thin air more great artists at a single time than in any normal period.

My go to examples for this have always been Impressionism and the rock music of the sixties. Impressionism, for instance, made a kind of basic break with how people saw the world, painting and how paintings were made. It produced a sudden wealth of outsized artists; Monet, Cezanne, Cassatt, Renoir, Pissarro, etc., and then, breaking into the ideas further, releasing wave after wave of energy, Van Gogh, Gauguin, and on into the Fauves.

The interesting thing is that this quality plays out in much smaller ways. Individual artists will readily find that when they come upon some small new approach, or a new field to work in, their greatest expressive impact comes first, and though it can be refined, and occasionally improved by that refinement, it is often dulled as well.

On perhaps the smallest level one can see that play out regularly here at clerkmanifesto. As I figured out a new way of working up my city pictures I quickly hit my peak, yesterday, with an assortment of pictures I was pleased with. 

Today, I tried to push on further, but found much of the energy dissipated.

But I do have this one picture where I took the original approach to an extreme. It didn't work out that well, but almost.

From here, no doubt, I'll move on to the next thing, looking for my next fix.


Monday, January 24, 2022

Moon over city


I am reluctant to say that I have made a study of my local Saint Minneapolis skyline. It sounds pretentious. But if I have to be pretentious I guess I have to be pretentious because


And when I spotted a rare moon in the area of the skyline I knew I had to jump on it and take a million pictures.

I jumped on the moon. 

The true fact of the matter is that from a distance, and then zoomed in, and then incorporating the skyline in the frame, one ends up with a pretty puny moon. 

An insignificant moon.

The moon does not appreciate being insignificant. 

So I applied all my nefarious photographic tricks to fix that. And let me tell you, once the door opens to the moon, and people start jumping around on it, everything is fair game.

So I have employed my craziest filters, I made buildings taller, I went crazy with the moon, howling, and clawing, and running naked in the night.

And I think it turned out all right.

Although my tongue feels funny.

Sunday, January 23, 2022

Turkey sandwich

With all these great pictures of turkeys, cleanly backdropped against overexposed streets and yards of white white snow, it seemed a fabulous opportunity to enjoy some photo trickery. I thought I could put some of my turkeys into my video games, or maybe a few other environments, and these pictures would come out great.

I tried it.

Then I tried it some more.

It didn't work out too well.

But if I am honest the difference between my artistic triumphs here, and my artistic failures, ends up shockingly thin. Think of a wall, made of stone, in a country field. Standing at the wall I divide my successes and failures to each side of the wall. It is a huge difference! It is very important to me and to clerkmanifesto, and I spend a lot of time at the wall.

But there are no people around. The few sheep dining locally aren't particularly interested. 

A plane passes over at 40,000 feet. Someone looks out the window.

"Is that a wall down there?" They wonder.

A super intelligent alien in a distant galaxy looks into the sky with their 11 eyes.

"Przapt vonk(*&rer xxxx77xx11xz j**  💆💘👅❤✋   .gkbvjriaorug48q?" They sub-vocalize softly to their local fligit.

Which explains why I am showing you these pictures. 

They almost maybe sorta worked out but didn't quite.

Saturday, January 22, 2022

Turkey portraits


Yesterday I concentrated on my pictures of The Flock, but turkeys are individuals too!

There's Tonya.

And Tanya.

Theo and Theodora.

Ted, Tet, Tem, and Tess.

Trent, Trudy, Trixie, and Fred.

There is Cleobell, Tam, Petunia, Flip, and Tinny.



What's that?

You'd like to just move on to the pictures?

Sure, sure. We aim to please here.

The names of these turkeys should all be obvious, but if you have any identification questions just drop me a line in the comments below.