Monday, March 20, 2023

The balloon part of the plagiarized Winnie the Pooh


Winnie the Pooh knocked on your door but it didn't make a lot of noise. So he knocked harder, but maybe your door is kind of soft?

You answered it anyway because you had a feeling.

"Good morning." Winnie the Pooh said politely.

"Good morning Winnie the Pooh." You said.

"Do you have a balloon?" Winnie the Pooh asked.

"A balloon?"

"Mmm. I was walking along, on my way to see if you had a balloon, and I had a thought. I wondered all of the sudden if maybe you had a balloon. It might be the sort of thing you would have and so I wondered while I was walking to see if you did."

"What would you like a balloon for?" You enquired, just being curious, and not judgmental in any way.

Winnie the Pooh looked around very carefully, and up and down just to make sure, and then behind you, and then behind him, and then he whispered a little louder than he meant to: "Honey."

"I don't think you can get honey with a balloon." You said.

"Yes." Pooh said. "But I think I can."

Funnily enough you had been at a party at your friend Piglet's house and they happened to have balloons at the party. You had had a big green balloon and one of Rabbit's relations was given a blue balloon, but he was maybe too little for a party, and after he fell asleep someone carried him home and you ended up with the blue balloon too.

"Would you like a green balloon or a blue balloon?" You asked Pooh.

He sat down and put his head in his paws and started on some careful thinking.

"It's like this:" He said. "When you're going after honey with a balloon it's better if the bees don't see you. A green balloon will blend in with the tree and they might not notice you, but the blue balloon can blend in with the sky and so they might not notice you either. So there are clever things about both balloons."

"The green balloon is on my ceiling and I can't reach it." You said.

"I like the blue balloon much better too." Winnie the Pooh said. "I can look like a dark cloud hanging under it."

So you gave Winnie the Pooh the blue balloon. 

"Good morning, Christopher Robin," he said.

"Good morning, Winnie-ther-Pooh," said you.

"I wonder if you've got such a thing as a balloon about you?"

"A balloon?"

"Yes, I just said to myself coming along: 'I wonder if Christopher Robin has such a thing as a balloon about him?' I just said it to myself, thinking of balloons, and wondering."

"What do you want a balloon for?" you said.

Winnie-the-Pooh looked round to see that nobody was listening, put his paw to his mouth, and said in a deep whisper: "Honey!"

"But you don't get honey with balloons!"

"I do," said Pooh.

Well, it just happened that you had been to a party the day before at the house of your friend Piglet, and you had balloons at the party. You had had a big green balloon; and one of Rabbit's relations had had a big blue one, and had left it behind, being really too young to go to a party at all; and so you had brought the green one and the blue one home with you.

"Which one would you like?" you asked Pooh.

He put his head between his paws and thought very carefully.

"It's like this," he said. "When you go after honey with a balloon, the great thing is not to let the bees know you're coming. Now, if you have a green balloon, they might think you were only part of the tree, and not notice you, and, if you have a blue balloon, they might think you were only part of the sky, and not notice you, and the question is: Which is most likely?"

"Wouldn't they notice you underneath the balloon?" you asked.

"They might or they might not," said Winnie-the-Pooh. "You never can tell with bees." He thought for a moment and said: "I shall try to look like a small black cloud. That will deceive them."

"Then you had better have the blue balloon," you said; and so it was decided.

Sunday, March 19, 2023

Starts with night

A person with whom I am friendly (partly due to having worked at the library with his mother for many years) visited the library and we chatted. He had spent time in L.A. and worked as an extra in the movies. And he wondered why I hadn't gone into the movie industry what with my L.A. childhood and my blog and everything. I'm not sure I understood the point. But I said something about my blog not having reached the requisite amount of people for its fame to catapult me into a career in film.

He has read my blog, or heard of it, or something along those lines. I'm actually not sure what his status is in relation to my blog, though I would be genuinely surprised if his involvement were comprehensive enough for him to be reading this now, wondering as he reads if this is a rough sketch of him

But he then said he could understand how I might have a lack of popularity because I write from such a narrow subject.

Of course, if you had asked me, I would have said I write about some of the grandest, most sprawling themes and subjects possible. But perhaps it is hard to entirely know ourselves. And then surely it is even harder to know our effect on others. For instance, Monday and Tuesday I made delicious hamburgers for my meal at the library. These had ketchup, fried onions, parmesean cheese, and arugula on a sesame seed bun. I thought "Oh my, how delicious I am making everything smell with these fried onions." But many of my co-workers, and apparently a few library patrons, felt very differently about this smell. I think to the point where people were actually mad at me about it!

So I'm saying that maybe I do write along very narrow themes, and that all the library stories are very much special interest stories of the most extreme kind.

And if that's going to be the case, I might as well tell you this story.

It is as narrow as I can think of.

A man could not find the DVD that was on hold for him, and, as it wasn't anywhere that, by any stretch of the phrase, it was supposed to be, I instituted a broad search. The movie was Night of the Iguana. I looked on unshelved carts, and I looked through our entire collection of shelved "N" DVD's. But I didn't find it. And here's where things get particularly narrow for you:

When searching through a mass of DVD's, it is best to search out the first word of the title to try and track it down. So I looked for the word "Night" starting the title of any DVD. 

It turns out that "Night" is the single most common first word for any movie ever made!

Isn't that interesting?


How do you feel about the smell of frying onions?

Bonus index of just some movie titles on our shelves right now:

Night of the Following Day

Night of the Grizzly

The Night House

Night of the Living Deb

Night of the Living Dead

Night Drive

Night and the City

The Night Before

The Night Shifter

The Night

The Night Clerk

Night to Remember

Night Catches Us

Night Comes On...

That's just a start! There are so many that there is even a name for it:

Movie night.

Saturday, March 18, 2023

The Plagiarized Winnie the Pooh part 2

Once upon a time, very long ago, or maybe, like, last Thursday, Winnie the Pooh lived in a forest under the C.

("Was the forest in the ocean?" You ask, trying to work it out.

"Oh, no, I said it wrong. He lived under the "C", which was in a circle and hung over his door.

"Is this why you couldn't tell us this story until now?"

"Have you studied copyright law?" I ask, impressed.

"Winnie the Pooh has." You say.

"Then we can move right along.")

One day Winnie the Pooh was walking in the forest, and he came to an open place, and there was a big oak tree in the middle of the open place. At the top of the tree he heard a buzzing. 

He was sure buzzing meant something. It meant an important animal, but he couldn't think which. So he decided to list all the animals: Aardvark, Alligator, Antelope, Anteater, Arithmetic, Armadillo.

That seemed like enough for the "A" animals. So he decided to start on the "B's"

"B's? Or bees." Pooh wondered.

Then he needed a think so bad that he had to sit on the ground and put his head in his paws. 

"You can't buzz without bees." Winnie the Pooh thought significantly. 

Then: "You can't be a bee without buzzing."

And after a while: "And if you're being a bee, besides buzzing, you make honey."

The thinking was going really good! So Pooh said:

"If you're making honey, some of it might be for me."

This made him get up and say "There really isn't any reason I can think of to make honey and not have any for me." So he climbed the tree.

He climbed and climbed and climbed and started singing a song, which you might know, but if you did know it you'll need to make a new tune for it now. Although you'd also have to do that if you didn't know the song. And never mind all that because I will now sing it for you with my own tune:

Isn't it a funny

How a bear likes honey,

Buzz, buzz, buzz,

I wonder why he does?

But as long as this song was. And no matter how many times he sang it. He was still not at the top of the tree. So he climbed further, and further, and further. Which is when he thought of a new song.

It's really rather funny how if bears were bees,

They'd build their nests at the bottom of trees,

And if bees were alligators,

They'd use elevators,

But alligators, bees, or bears,

I'm tired of all these stairs.

He was tired of all the climbing, which may have affected his lyrics at this point. But he was almost there. If he just stood on this branch.


"Oh bother." Said Pooh in a hurt voice. Or maybe a preparing for hurt voice. And then he fell ten feet to the branch below him.

"Maybe I..." And he fell another ten feet to another branch and forgot what he was going to say. He'd almost thought of a new thing to say when he fell twenty feet and landed on a new branch.

He then fell onto another branch, but wasn't there long enough to say anything. Then another. Then another that he remembered slightly from on the way up, but that somehow didn't seem very important at that particular moment. 

"It all comes from." He said, and fell through two branches and did two somersaults with a twist that would have been very nice if he meant to do it, and then landed in a gorse bush. "Liking honey so much." He concluded.

So he crawled out of the bush with prickles in his nose and found he still liked honey just as much as he ever did. So he started to think again.

And he thought of you.

("Me?" You ask, a little thrilled at having come into the story, which you forgot you were promised would happen while you were worrying about the bear falling down a tree.

"Yes, it was you."

Which is a lot to take in because you have found traditionally books are about other people, which was always okay, but maybe a little unfair that it was all the time.)

So Winnie the Pooh went round to your house, which was in another part of the woods, and behind a green door.

 Once upon a time, a very long time ago now, about last Friday, Winnie-the-Pooh lived in a forest all by himself under the name of Sanders.

("What does 'under the name' mean?" asked Christopher Robin.

"It means he had the name over the door in gold letters, and lived under it."

"Winnie-the-Pooh wasn't quite sure," said Christopher Robin.

"Now I am," said a growly voice.

"Then I will go on," said I.)

One day when he was out walking, he came to an open place in the middle of the forest, and in the middle of this place was a large oak-tree, and, from the top of the tree, there came a loud buzzing-noise.

Winnie-the-Pooh sat down at the foot of the tree, put his head between his paws and began to think.

First of all he said to himself: "That buzzing-noise means something. You don't get a buzzing-noise like that, just buzzing and buzzing, without its meaning something. If there's a buzzing-noise, somebody's making a buzzing-noise, and the only reason for making a buzzing-noise that I know of is because you're a bee."

Then he thought another long time, and said: "And the only reason for being a bee that I know of is making honey."

And then he got up, and said: "And the only reason for making honey is so as I can eat it." So he began to climb the tree.

He climbed and he climbed and he climbed, and as he climbed he sang a little song to himself. It went like this:

Isn't it funny
How a bear likes honey?
Buzz! Buzz! Buzz!
I wonder why he does?

Then he climbed a little further ... and a little further ... and then just a little further. By that time he had thought of another song.

It's a very funny thought that, if Bears were Bees,
They'd build their nests at the bottom of trees.
And that being so (if the Bees were Bears),
We shouldn't have to climb up all these stairs.

He was getting rather tired by this time, so that is why he sang a Complaining Song. He was nearly there now, and if he just stood on that branch ...


"Oh, help!" said Pooh, as he dropped ten feet on the branch below him.

"If only I hadn't——" he said, as he bounced twenty feet on to the next branch.

"You see, what I meant to do," he explained, as he turned head-over-heels, and crashed on to another branch thirty feet below, "what I meant to do——"

"Of course, it was rather——" he admitted, as he slithered very quickly through the next six branches.

"It all comes, I suppose," he decided, as he said good-bye to the last branch, spun round three times, and flew gracefully into a gorse-bush, "it all comes of liking honey so much. Oh, help!"

He crawled out of the gorse-bush, brushed the prickles from his nose, and began to think again. And the first person he thought of was Christopher Robin.

("Was that me?" said Christopher Robin in an awed voice, hardly daring to believe it.

"That was you."

Christopher Robin said nothing, but his eyes got larger and larger, and his face got pinker and pinker.)

So Winnie-the-Pooh went round to his friend Christopher Robin, who lived behind a green door in another part of the forest.

Friday, March 17, 2023

Some library philosophy


At some point in my long library career, one full of many ideas about libraries, I came to an understanding that if lots of library patrons consistently believe we should have something, no matter how ridiculous or unlibrary-like it might seem, we should probably have it. A ruler? Free paperclips? Kleenex? Unless we have a good reason not to have them, the community at least helps to define what a library is. You will pry books out of our libraries' cold dead hands, but if you also think we should have a 3D Printer, you're probably on to something even if I'm not sure why.

But I've known this for a while now. What I have only recently come to understand is that the converse of all this is also, importantly true:

If the library gets rid of something, and nobody misses it, we didn't need it, even if people had been using it.

With that said, let's talk about the courtesy phone. As tempted as I am to relate to you the entire history of the courtesy phone at the library I work at, there is not enough time in the day! So I will just cover this:

For a long time, we had a phone at the front desk that people had to ask to use. 

People used it all the time

We even had rules about that phone's use that people constantly abused and infringed on just to use the phone more.

But one day, mostly because the technical capability came available to us, we stopped allowing use of our phone and put a courtesy phone out on a counter in the lobby instead. It has no restrictions and is readily available to anyone with a phone number to call.

Hardly anyone ever uses that phone!

I am a fierce advocate of adding things to the library on a trial basis to see if they work. Free staplers. A borrowable power tool collection. Puzzles. University lectures. Concerts in the Fiction Section. Coffee kiosks. Martini nights. I say try them all. But there is always limited time and space at the library. And so as we seek and experiment with what to add, it's also a good idea to take things away, and see if anybody notices.

I mean, except for books.

Never the books.

Thursday, March 16, 2023

The Plagiarized Winnie the Pooh, Part one



In which we meet Winnie the Pooh, who we might have already heard of somewhere we can't remember, and some bees, who we definitely know, and then there are stories

Here is Winnie the Pooh coming down the stairs, his head thumping along each step, thump, thump, thump behind you. It is the only way he knows to come down the stairs. Sometimes he thinks maybe there could be a better way to come down stairs, but there probably isn't because he can't think of one. Anyway, he's down at the bottom now ready to be introduced to you. Winnie the Pooh.

When I first heard his name I thought the same thing you're thinking now: The Disney character?

"I did think that." Said you, being much impressed.

"But this Winnie the Pooh is not the Disney character."

"He's not? Then why is he called Winnie the Pooh?" You ask.

"Because that was his name before he was Winnie the Pooh." 

"You do know that Winnie the Pooh and Winnie the Pooh are the same thing?"

"Yes, but-"

"How can there be more than one Winnie the Pooh?" You want to know.

"There can't be, really, deep down." I said. 

But just in case, if anyone asks us, this is the legal Winnie the Pooh and that's all I'm going to say about that.

Sometimes when Winnie the Pooh comes down the stairs he likes to play a game and sometimes he likes to hear a story.

"Ohhh, what about a story then?" You say.

"What about a story?"

"Will you please tell a story to Winnie the Pooh who I think might like to hear one?"

"I was already planning to tell him a story. But what kind of story would he like?"

"I think he would like a sweet story with him in it, because he is that sort of bear. And maybe it could have me in it too, because that would be more comfortable, for him, if that's okay." 

(Don't worry. It will have you in it too.)

"I already started it." I said.

Because I have.


The original text of this passage follows below. This is just in case you were wondering about the differences betwee my cover and the original. But you don't need to read it if you're content with my rendition:



Here is Edward Bear, coming downstairs now, bump, bump, bump, on the back of his head, behind Christopher Robin. It is, as far as he knows, the only way of coming downstairs, but sometimes he feels that there really is another way, if only he could stop bumping for a moment and think of it. And then he feels that perhaps there isn't. Anyhow, here he is at the bottom, and ready to be introduced to you. Winnie-the-Pooh.

When I first heard his name, I said, just as you are going to say, "But I thought he was a boy?"

"So did I," said Christopher Robin.

"Then you can't call him Winnie?"

"I don't."

"But you said——"

"He's Winnie-ther-Pooh. Don't you know what 'ther' means?"

"Ah, yes, now I do," I said quickly; and I hope you do too, because it is all the explanation you are going to get.

Sometimes Winnie-the-Pooh likes a game of some sort when he comes downstairs, and sometimes he likes to sit quietly in front of the fire and listen to a story. This evening——

"What about a story?" said Christopher Robin.

"What about a story?" I said.

"Could you very sweetly tell Winnie-the-Pooh one?"

"I suppose I could," I said. "What sort of stories does he like?"

"About himself. Because he's that sort of Bear."

"Oh, I see."

"So could you very sweetly?"

"I'll try," I said.

So I tried.


Wednesday, March 15, 2023

The dump hour

The last hour of the last day of the week at my library is what I call "The Dump Hour". This is when households across the metro gather together anything that is remotely related to any library anywhere, come to my branch in the last hour before we close on Sunday, and dump it onto our return machine. 

Rumble rumble rumble goes the machine under the onslaught of Dump Hour stuff!

Here come 11 books weeded from the Minneapolis Public Library in 1988!

Here are 24 magazines from the nearby St. Paul system that will need to have a date stamped slip inserted into each them.

Here is a random, mysterious old hymnal that no one has ever read, and no one ever will.

Here is one item that may have been a book of ours, once, long ago.

These three things belong to the school library of a famously posh private school called The St. Paul Academy. F. Scott Fitzgerald went to High School here.

Here are a series of the Interlibrary loan books we painstakingly requested for a patron, one by one, from all over the State, now coming back all at once.

And here are 138 children's picture books checked out from our branch and coming down the rollers like an great train that is so long it disappears into the distance. 

Three sliced loaves of bread come through.

They do not look fresh!

The library orphan, looking at ease, rolls by. "Hello." The library orphan says winningly as he is diverted into the exception bin.

"Hello." I respond.

A cup of coffee rolls along. Fortunately it is almost empty.

Then a gray hat comes down the line.

I grab my head in alarm. 

Hey, that's my hat!

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Fantastic Mr. Fox


I needed a book to listen to at the library and Fantastic Mr. Fox happened to be available. The voice actor is pretty good. They really go after all the voices in the book, the brio of Mr. Fox, the piping voices of his children, and the over the top caricatures of the awful farmers. Sometimes it all seems like too much, but then the book sometimes seems like it's too much itself, but I think maybe that's the point with both the book and the voices.

Because of all this I wasn't sure how much I really liked Fantastic Mr. Fox for awhile. 

But suddenly, maybe rather far along, there was one moment...

I was reading the part of the story when the Fox family has dug away from the homicidal farmers and are now just perfecting their access to the farmers' food. It was here, all at once, that the curious ethical and political considerations of the book struck, oddly late: This book is all about stealing from the rich! I love stealing from the rich stories! In fact this is a book where all the heroes really do is just... steal stuff. That and avoid the nasty people trying to stop them.

The moment this ethical construct struck me it also seemed to strike one of the characters, Mr. Badger. 

Mr. Fox and his family escaped the murderous shovels of the Farmers by barely managing to out dig and out burrow them. Then they went to the brink of starvation while hiding deep underground from certain death, until Mr. Fox came up with a plan to tunnel right up into the Farmers' food storehouses. After the first successful breach that gave them full access to delicious chickens, Mr. Fox and his children ran into Mr. Badger, who was starving and despairing due to the situation with the farmers' murderous vigil. But after the good news about chickens, and after inviting him and his family and all other afflicted burrowing animals to the lavish feast planned by the reinvigorated Foxes, Mr. Badger enlisted into the Foxes' crusade. And it was here that he had a moment of ethical reckoning.

"Aren't we just stealing?" Mr. Badger asked Mr. Fox with concern.

Mr. Fox basically replies "There is no parent whose child is hungry who wouldn't steal food to feed their child."

And though it is not a mushy book, and Mr. Badger and Mr. Fox don't seem to have a deep relationship, instead of discussing the point, or any of its ethical ramifications, Mr. Badger surprisingly just says, with real affection, "I love you Mr. Fox."

And that is when the book won me over.

Monday, March 13, 2023


The Indian Music Society of Minnesota is in our program room. It's not a library program, it's just a group of people using our room to host their own. In nearly thirty years of experiencing programs here, this is the single most amazing one I've ever heard. And I'm not even getting full force of it, just drifts of the sound occasionally spilling out to me at the front desk. It is Northern Indian Music, the Khayal style of singing according to the projector screen over the woman singer and her two, accompanying musicians.

It sounds a lot like Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, who sang in this style, or, to convey more to those who don't know him, it sounds like you're in a twilight deep in the heart of India, pearls of smoke and Incense wandering up and around you during a festival. You smell rich, savory frying food, spices, fresh cilantro. Flowers and petals seem to be everywhere and yet, as you wander into the glowing gloom of a Hindu Temple, it strikes you that there is something somber in this festival, though you do not know what it is. You feel you have never been so far from home, and yet you feel almost peaceful, like maybe home can be everywhere, or maybe it is nowhere.

That's exactly what this music sounds like.

I have had to help this group with some of their audio visual preparation, which has been significant. They even brought their own sound system. Just now they locked themselves out of the closet that has chairs and tables so someone came to me for help. As we were walking to the meeting room I said "This is the most amazing music I have ever heard in this library."

His calmness belied the power of his comment: "And this is just the soundcheck."

Sunday, March 12, 2023

The Hundred Acre Project


The latest round of snow has ended. We have peremptorily moved our clocks ahead here one hour, making it suddenly late. So I sat down to my computer to write a blog post. But I didn't start out writing my blog post right away. Instead I looked up Winnie the Pooh. I wanted to make sure the full text of the novel was easily available online, now that its copyright has expired (finally!). 

You see, I am involved in a series of ambitious artistic projects that I am not actually doing. One is the story of my walk across a continent in the early eighties, which you may have read some of here, before you stopped reading my blog altogether, in which case I'm not talking to you anyway, less from hurt feeling and more because it would be futile. Another project is about an assassin who tries to social engineer a better world through careful murders of the rich and powerful. I just did a short introductory proof of concept for that story, which you may have seen here too, but may have forgotten about already. I understand that it's too creepy for the most important part of my audience here at clerkmanifesto to carry on with anyway. 

But lately I have started thinking about a third project to get to work on not doing:

The Plagiarized Winnie the Pooh.

If singers cover other peoples' songs, and movies sometimes remake the same movie over and over, and people keep retelling fairytales in every way possible over and over, why can't I write Winnie the Pooh again?

Now it is important for me to make a distinction in what I'm thinking about. I am not talking about a twist on the text, or an extrapolation of what might happen later, or an explanation of the events in a different context, or any of that fan fiction stuff that dominates so much of modern culture. I am much more approaching it in the "remake" context: The same story, similar tone, though maybe with my own style and interpretation to it.

I think this is a very interesting idea.

So I looked over the text of Winnie the Pooh and...

It's actually perfect just as it is.

But I may get to work on not doing it any day now anyway.

Saturday, March 11, 2023

Fictional readers


I believe that since works of fiction are read by real people, my non fiction writing should have a large number of fictional readers.

I used to believe it should have a lot of real readers, but that didn't work out.

And so here I am with my giant, wonderful community of fictional clerkmanifesto fans! I try to pick ten random letters from them every day to respond to personally. I try to assure each of them that I'm just a regular person deep down. But I still don't know what to do with all these readers' Patreon money. Currently I just have it piling up in various savings and brokerage accounts. I guess eventually, at the current rate, these accounts will become so large I will be able to take over the world with it all!

At which point American urban zoning laws will change, let me tell you!

All shall love me and despair.

But you are probably wondering: "Hey, I'm pretty sure I'm a real person. How then am I reading this clerkmanifesto blog post?"

Oh, this one is more... fictional.

Friday, March 10, 2023

Library orphan

I walked into the library breakroom to take care of some dishes and a small child was there. He seemed very polite. "Hello." He said.

"Hello." I replied.

This is when the thunderbolt hit me!

I have always desperately wanted to get a library cat. But anytime I bring it up it's always "Yes, but some people are allergic to cats!"


But you know what nobody is allergic to?


How could anyone be allergic to an orphan!?

I think the library should get an orphan.

I think the library should get an orphan!!!

I just finished a book that took place in an orphanage and let me tell you, this place would be way better to grow up in than that orphanage. I also saw an Oscar Nominated short that took place in an orphanage. My library would be way, way better to grow up in than that awful place! We could read books to the orphan here, for instance. Also the food we bring in is... nutritionally diverse. And though the quality of supervision and care that the library staff could provide would vary widely, I think the sheer quantity of parental figures would even out the worst bumps.

And we don't even need a good orphan- the kind of sparkly three year old that some charming young couple would would scoop up anyway from the County Orphanage. We can take a grown, problem orphan that no one else would want! 

I think that kind of orphan would fit in better here anyway. Say our problem ten year old orphan is throwing a tantrum. We can put them in the kids' room and they'll blend right in.

Though for the best overall effect they should probably know how to read.

This all may seem a little callous. You may wonder, thinking back on thousands of my very mixed accounts of my library: "Yes. But can you meet the average standard of child rearing in your community?"

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

Thursday, March 9, 2023

Postcard from Nice


Four months later, a postcard I sent to my library from Nice is still hanging up by the pens at the back room computer. Someone put it up. No one has taken it down. Here is a picture of it:

I'm not sure when the picture on the card was taken. Maybe the twenties (the other twenties!)? I find it dreamlike. I bought the postcard at a used bookstore near the flower market. I loved the photo, but I wasn't sure where it was or if it still existed, or even if it was real.

Later in this trip my dear wife and I walked out past the Nice port, and then kept going, trying to find a restaurant that suited us. We saw something a lot like this picture in the distance. The boat on the rock was gone and replaced with more of a deck. It was now a very expensive restaurant, and still dreamlike, but more a daydream than sleeping dream. Either way, we had found the scene of the postcard!

We looked seriously at the menu but couldn't make it work for us with what we can eat. So we walked back towards the port and ate at a less dramatic restaurant still looking out over the water. I may have mentioned the truffled eggs I had there. Those were dreamlike too.

I love how travel makes strange and wonderful places real. But still sometimes, in the night, working yet one more of thousands of library shifts, I look down at this postcard and think:

We were there. There.

And I can't believe it.

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Workplace snapshot

Despite the title, there is no picture. Except in my mind.

I arrive for work in the late morning, walk through the back staff entrance, and the array of my co-workers is spread out before me, scattered through all the work of the library's staging area.

"Click." My mind says.

It has never done this before. But somehow everything laid out before me seems like a snapshot in time, both random, and entirely representative.

So let me set the stage:

Due to the usual staff shortages (vacations, appointments, illnesses), combined with a couple of unprecedented snow days wherein we closed a couple weeks ago, our shelving is a little backed up. The workroom is filled with carts of library books. Otherwise things are pretty much under control.

One co-worker is in the managers' office talking to the manager. It is a social visit.

Two co-workers are chatting. One is sitting, one is standing, and both seem relaxed into it.

At the phones a co-worker is striving to entertain themselves on the Internet with mixed results.

One co-worker seems to be walking with extreme purpose on a trip to... nowhere?

One co-worker is slowly, slowly, methodically, putting a cart of books in order, as if hoping not to finish.

One person is wandering around the unshelved carts, just sort of looking at stuff.

It is a curious picture of activity without production. I don't entirely object, feeling that everyone is owed a living, but it did explain something about the persistence of the unshelved carts of books. It also seemed to capture a kind of essence of each of the co-workers on the job, telling a tale in a random frozen moment of what they are up to at the library. 

And what was I up to?


I was late.


Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Bargain basement paradise

I have been on a three hour run at the front desk of my library, most of it alone. I am getting along with the patrons pretty well. Someone checks out an interlibrary loan item and asks me what the rules are regarding late returns.

"We're all anarchists here," I tell them. "We just trust you'll do your best to get it back in three weeks. And if not..." I shrug. C'est la vie.

They seem happy enough with this answer.

Library rules have loosened up so much, even just in the years I have been writing clerkmanifesto, and I like it. It improves the whole library vibe. Money rarely changes hands. We no longer have late charges. Faxing is free. A bookstore and printouts charge on a lockbox honor system. A person can renew their book twice, but as long as no one's waiting in line for it I'm inclined to grant nearly endless exemptions and extensions. The requirements for library cards and checkouts without a card get looser and looser all the time. And did you know we even have puzzles now. 

What are the rules on puzzles?

Oh, you just sort of take one and bring it back, like the rest of the library, but with even less steps. That's all. 

No, we don't check them out. 

Whatever they want and it's all free.

Just... take it.

It makes me think of a wonderful old Saturday Night Live film with Eddie Murphy where he goes undercover as a white person. He tries to buy a newspaper and the counter person says "Just take it. No one's looking." A party breaks out on a bus when it's just the white people. A bank gives him $50,000 on no collateral because he is white. The difference here with this film is that this library is full of black people, immigrants, the poor and the homeless, Asians, the mentally ill, Muslims, French people, Jewish People, Native Americans, but I still flash on Eddie Murphy's discovery of an America he's excluded from, and it's right here. Only everyone is welcome. This book? Go ahead, it's all yours. Oh, you need a highlighter, an envelope, a paperclip. You need help with something. Sure, why not?  You have no money for the copier but really need these copies? Don't worry. You can catch it some other time. We trust you.

And if we shouldn't trust you, who cares? It's just a library. 

The stakes aren't too high in a bargain basement paradise.

Maybe everything should be free. Sure, not your Ferraris and caviar, but you want an apple? I mean, why not. 

Who will grow the apples then?

I trust you. 

Why wouldn't you grow an apple?

I trust you all.

Monday, March 6, 2023

Pictures from other worlds


A week or two ago I put together some pictures here in which different game worlds were mashed together. I'm not sure how much they meant to you who are not familiar with any of these game worlds. In that case I suppose the pictures then succeeded or failed largely on their own merits.

Currently I am playing a computer game in which, alone on a planet, I go around bringing the planet to life. Blue skies have come, and even recently rain fell, and the barren valleys are now lakes. I am currently planting flowers. It's a nice game. I don't have a great way yet to take pictures in game of that one, but I do have a few other game pictures that have been accumulating on my phone. Perhaps taking pictures inside games keeps me going until I can wander around outside again without risking death by misadventure on ice.

The first picture below is... complicated, but I've decided to include it because the landscape is from the game I was telling you about; Planet Crafter. 

The other mixes follow. 

Sunday, March 5, 2023



Would it be okay if I told you some not particularly interesting stories about pancakes?

I can't hear you in here so...

Forget I asked.

Once a co-worker named Bob, who was slightly deranged, and featured in this blog briefly as the co-host of a chat show called "Bob and Bunny", asked me for pancakes. I was running the In Service Day for my library system. Requesting pancakes was completely unreasonable and very Bob-like. I arranged for griddles to be brought in and for pancakes to be made at In Service Day in the morning. Did Bob thank me?

Visionaries who try to compel the world to be more like they think it should be don't say thank you when by weird chance and effort it happens. Look at me, do I thank you for reading this?


Thank you for reading this.

I have eaten pancakes. For breakfast. In restaurants. That sort of thing. And sometimes it seemed like a good idea. Sometimes it just seemed like the best option in the situation. Sometimes they were good. But I can't really say that I ever quite got the point of pancakes.

Until one day I had some not very good blueberries that were getting on in years. I decided to make a sauce of them. The sauce came out well. But now that I had it what was I supposed to do with blueberry sauce? So I got Whole Grain Mills Ancient Grains Pancake Mix. And egg. And I have milk because one needs milk to make cappuccinos, and to make pancakes, it turns out. And there was butter, plenty of butter.

So I made pancakes.

Freely and of my own volition!

This was a couple weeks ago.

I kept making pancakes. The blueberry sauce is long gone.

I can't stop making pancakes.

I can't stop thinking about pancakes.

Tomorrow I am going to have pancakes for breakfast.

Who would have thought?

Now that I get the point I would like to thank the pancakes.

Thank you pancakes.