Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Library friend

As a man of science I naturally enough don't believe that machines have personalities, self-awareness, or autonomous motivations.

Except for the self check in machine I work with at the library.

I'm not saying that the self check in machine is a person, I'm just saying that it has feelings.

Here. Explain this:

During the fallow hours of the evening, or sometimes, occasionally, the day, when there is nothing much to attend to on the machine, I find that the following will happen with a faithful consistency:

No matter how long I ignore the machine, whether I be writing a blog post, chatting with a co-worker, or studying up on the sinking of the Titanic in case a library patron wants to know how that all happened, the check in machine will work faultlessly and require no tending. No bins will fill up and need to be emptied. The exception bin will have not a single thing in it to deal with. Nothing will shut down. This independent time can be for ten minutes, twenty minutes, or even 45 minutes. But the moment I say to myself "I should check in on the machine", and I walk over and see that the exception bin is empty, and note how no bins filled up anywhere, and that nothing has jammed- in that exact moment, a dozen books will empty into the exception bin to be dealt with, and four bins will fill up, and a cluster of paperbacks will jam into the rollers of the machine and the whole thing will shut down!

Every time!

And so I empty the bins, and I handle the problems, and I fish the eaten paperbacks out of the machine's teeth, and I restart the computer that runs the machine.

Then I pat the machine on its metal framing. 

And I read it one of those Mo Willems books about the Pigeon because that always calms the machine down.

And then we chill together.

And then the machine smiles at me, and I smile at the machine.

Explain that.


  1. Machines are sentient beings. Like cats. But what I really wanted to say was, didn't you list some "best books" a while back, with some categories? It's the sort of thing I'd expect of you, but I can't find any such lists. So here's one for you: Windswept by Margi Preus. Wonderful blend of environment and fairy tales, which doesn't do it justice but I'm no good at saying what is good about a book I like. Just "I liked it, I think you would, too." It's J Fic, which may explain why I like it.
    And while I'm at it, I've discovered a neat pair of books. The first is another J Fic, "A Rovers Story" by Jasmine Varge, a fictionalized story of the Curiosity Mars Rover, from the POV of a girl whose father is an engineer on the project. Shortly after I read that one, I discovered "Mars Rover Curiosity," the factual story of the Curiosity project. These make a great pair. Maybe I like them because I was once an engineering major in college?

    1. On the right side of this blog there is a "Compendium of favorite books" category to click. Your mentioning it reminds me that I have quite a few new things to add to it!

      Did you perhaps read Windswept because I listed it in my first Friday post about what I was reading, on Feb 2 I believe? I liked it. I think the author is in Duluth! I might look into A Rovers Story though.


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