Sunday, March 31, 2024

The third nightmare


Here is "The Third Nightmare". These are from a series of acrylic paintings I did a quarter century or more ago called "The Thirteen Nightmares". I have been trying to recreate these in fictional photographs, going on only my memory of them so far. But I think this third one might be the end of what I can remember of those paintings, so if I want to go further I would really need to find a book that I think I have somewhere with the original paintings.

On the other hand, I have a lot of zebra unicorns and flying wolves now, so maybe I'll just work them into new images from similar iconography. 

I already even snuck a snail into this picture, which is hardly canon!

Saturday, March 30, 2024

The second nightmare


I have finished the second nightmare.

This is part of my reworking of a series of acrylic paintings called "Thirteen Nightmares".

I am sort of recreating these, but my memory is a bit foggy and I can't find my old book of pictures of them. I'm still looking for it though, but while I do I'm doing my best to remember the subject matter and composition.

In this picture I thought the Unicorn Zebra was flying, but when I constructed the picture like that it didn't look right. Now, with the Unicorn Zebra on the ground it feels better. 

I'm not sure whether I like this artified version better than the vanilla original, but I decided to spice things up for the weekend.

Friday, March 29, 2024

Worst to best


Yesterday we spoke here again about my worst co-worker, but today the best of co-workers comes into it.

It seems difficult to quantify the best of all my co-workers over three decades of working with hundreds of people, and Jim has long ago gone on to work at other library branches, so he is far more purely my friend, at this point, than he is my co-worker. Nevertheless he was a real pleasure to have as a co-worker in those long ago days where library work was far more cruel and demanding, before the automated machines, and the internet on our computers, and the final cresting of the wave of library popularity that once flooded my library, fell back, and left us on solid land again.

But I am not really here today to talk about good co-workers, or old hard times.

I'm here to show pictures of Jim!

Just a few days away from showing 56 portraits of various library workers with their spirit animals in a public display at my library, I finished my last pictures for the project. I'd mostly finished working on this project months ago, having run out of patience trying to wrangle the last, stray, unenthusiastic staff members to take part. But I'd always wanted to include Jim, and so took some pictures when out to eat with him a few weeks ago.

Today I finally sat down and finished his suite of pictures with his animal- a condor.

I have four pictures then to show you. I'm guessing the second or third will be the one in the show.

Thursday, March 28, 2024

Worst co-worker and their tell


I am out yet again at the front desk with my worst co-worker of all time.

Or so I call this person. But is this library worker really my worst co-worker?

Let me ask you a question:

Would you rather have library help, or any customer service for that matter, from a gruff, rude person? One who seems to hate you and everything they are doing at their job, but does it in a somewhat timely manner and to an adequate standard? Or would you prefer someone who seems very nice, and is friendly and helpful, but who takes an incredibly long time to do anything, though you may or may not notice it, and gives you subtly wrong information, and may cause long-lasting mistakes with what they do and say that could dog your steps for days, weeks, or months?

I have had a couple of each kind of co-worker, and I have certainly experienced both as a civilian, and I'll admit it's a tough call. But I'm going to take the rude person to get it over with, and leave the accolades of "worst ever" for the person who leaves a trail of ticking time bombs wherever they go.

And it is crucial to note, just because someone seems nice, or friendly, or helpful, doesn't mean that they are.

The other day I was noticing some of the things on my co-workers' lockers, and I was surprised to find how much these little stickers and cartoons and magnets told about the soul of the people who chose to put them up. My worst co-worker has a cartoon pasted on their locker and, though I don't believe in a million years they would believe it to be in any way something other than a simple joke, it is actually an exact confession of their soul at work. 

I think they would be shocked by this suggestion, and yet, so it is.

In this cartoon a green, Cthulu looking, squid-faced monster is standing behind a library desk and is asked by a man "Why are you working customer service in a library?"

The Cthulu monster, aka my co-worker, quietly says "I used to think I was indifferent to human suffering." 

And adds:

"Then I realized I wanted to cause a little more."

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

The unicorn nightmares


Once upon a time, perhaps a quarter century ago, I did a series of 11 by 14 inch acrylic paintings I called "The Thirteen Nightmares".

Or something like that. 

The memories grow fuzzy. I long ago lost, gave away, sold, or inadvertently destroyed the paintings, but I'm pretty sure I have a book I hand made out of photographs of them. I can't find it right now though.

These surrealist paintings had monsters, flying wolves, blue and orange striped zebra unicorns, mountain meadows and streams, and volcanoes. So, the usual.

Feeling ready for now to move on from the snail pictures, I thought I would like to recreate some version of these paintings in real life photography! As it currently stands most of my time is being spent on creating tools and a trunkful of assembly pieces. There is nothing to show in that work. But, fortunately, I have done two proof of concept pictures. The first is a little more simple and idyllic. I do think it might echo the first of the nightmares, which set the stage, so to speak. The second picture here is definitely based closely on a memory of one of the paintings, and I think it includes all the basic elements of the second nightmare- a zebra unicorn in a mountain meadow in front of an erupting volcano, circled by more threatening flying wolves.

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Performance reviews


It is time at my library, yet again, for our performance reviews. There is the part of these that are filled out by my manager(s) that are of no great interest to us today, and there is the part that I fill out. As I have begun to let fly on my self-evaluations on these forms, showering myself in love, I have also found them suitable for publication on clerkmanifesto, feeling they may be of interest, and possibly entertaining to, any stray denizen of the Internet who comes here seeking sustenance. 

You may think you are on the Internet, but this is merely the Internet as it once was. You are currently a refugee from the Internet.

I just wanted you to know.

Anyway, there were four questions on my Performance Appraisal that I was instructed to fill out. They are presented as follows:


Reminder: Refer to the County Competency Model for detailed description of values behavior expectations.  



Employee Self Rating  




Extraordinary. This year of library clerking will likely go down in County history as the greatest performance of clerking we’ve ever seen. Feldenstein has been flawless, inspirational, heroic, and utterly dedicated to the County, the library, and to the community of the world itself. On a technical jargon level, Feldenstein also “Consistently Meets Expectations”, but it is so much more than that, much like saying “The Beatles “Consistently Meet Expectations” in creating songs”. 



Employee Comments and Supporting Examples:   



 Here is a random example of the kind of thing Feldenstein does every day: 


Feldenstein is at the front desk of the library with a co-worker. The co-worker, having a hard time, cannot find a missing item for a library patron. The co-worker is getting curt with the patron, and the library patron is getting frustrated. Feldenstein, using years of knowledge, experience, and deductive reasoning swiftly tracks down the lost item in an unusual spot, all while also engagingly helping another library patron. He graciously hands the item to the unhappy patron, makes a charming joke to defuse the situation, forms a friendly bond with this once disgruntled library patron, deftly justifies and excuses his co-worker, redirects the library patron’s newly found wild enthusiasm to the virtues of the library and to the county itself, all while also weaving the patron he was originally helping into a sense of joyous library community. 


It is this kind of activity that perfectly exemplifies what an amazing asset Feldenstein is to every aspect of our organization and suggests that he should probably be vigorously promoted, paid far more than he is, and given major commendations and professional recognition, even if he is likely to be too humble to accept these well-deserved and, frankly, long overdue, accolades. 



Reminder: Refer to the County Competency Model for detailed description of competency behavior expectations.  



Results Achievement: Employee Self Rating  



Rating Feldenstein, as we have seen in the “Self Rating section, is difficult to do because Feldenstein sets such a high standard that he flies off of any chart and exceeds even the most exalted tribute. Whether we measure the results he achieved on a curve compared to others, or as an evaluation of what we might imagine as possible, Feldenstein is unquantifiable in the extraordinary contribution he makes to the library, the county, and the community. 



How would we rate this employee's Results Achievement? 


Probably the greatest ever seen on any evaluation form ever. Frankly miraculous.  


Also “Consistently Meets Expectations” in the same context of, for instance, “Shakespeare ‘Consistently Meets Expectations’ in playwriting”. 




Employee Comments and Supporting Examples:   









 It’s not just the nearly uncountable number of people Feldenstein has helped in this past year, whose days he brightened, and whose library experience he enriched. It’s not merely the sheer numbers of books shelved or processed, the problems solved, the co-workers supported, or the behind-the-scenes repairs of every kind, physical, spiritual, and analytical, that Feldenstein does every day. But it’s also the under the radar light of humanity Feldenstein brings to what is surely the most beloved library in the State. It is his tireless artistic and programming contributions to the library, his process insights to make things work better, and his ability to rise above any structural failings in the institution to relentlessly elevate the library experience for every single user every single day. Feldenstein’s humility, humor, knowledge, commitment, and competence, cannot be recognized enough, and I am thrilled to finally see even a tiny piece of it acknowledged and addressed in this document. 


Does this extraordinary library clerk have any shortcomings? 


In a word: No. 


Does this miraculous county employee have any room for improvement? 


In a word again: No.  


And yet, each year, like the very finest of vintages of wine, against the realm of what seems to be possible, he does continue to improve. 







Overall Employee Comments:   

Please provide a summary of your work during the stated review period. This can include your contributions, successes, areas where you learned through mistakes, etc. It should also include 1 – 3 values and/or competencies you would like to focus on for development in the coming year.   



This year has been yet another extraordinary achievement for Feldenstein, and he is an inspiration for everyone who meets or works with him whether they know it or not. Summarizing his work in this past year is difficult because his achievements are so sprawling and glorious. Let’s just say that he made one of the best libraries in the entire country better. His playful artwork peppering the building, his laser-like proficiency at getting the work of the library done, his personal charm and self-sacrifice, and his tireless efforts that vastly exceed any remuneration he could ever receive, are the guiding North Star of everything Ramsey County and its libraries could ever dream of being. 


In the year to come, Feldenstein hopes to find new ways to bring magic, wonder, and success to the library and to inspire others to strive for his level of wisdom, humility, humor, egalitarianism, justice, equity, and heart to create an even better working county community.