Sunday, June 30, 2024

Advanced blogging


I have written 4,000 or so posts in this space, and usually I've got so many ideas in my head that I have to secretly sneak several of them into each sentence. 

It isn't for the fame, the adulation, or the money that I have wanted this large readership. It's just that I think it takes an enormous team of people to excavate all the little nuggets I have packed so densely into my prose. That sentence alone references blog posts 235, 992, 1,221, and 3,687 while also being a play on Tennyson's poem. 

You know the one I'm talking about. It's the one where Tennyson says:

"For all we have power to see is a straight staff bent in a pool."

"Wait" You cry. "I don't see how your sentence references that Tennyson line at all, if it even is a Tennyson line."

See. It's just for this kind of reason having discerning readers is so valuable!

As Tennyson once said:

"Dreams are true while they last, and do we not live in dreams?"

But you probably knew that's what I was talking about all along.


Saturday, June 29, 2024



I like to learn things. 

I also really like to learn things I already know.

This maybe isn't learning anything at all.

Did you see the Presidential debate the other day?

I didn't watch it. 

There wasn't anything there for me to learn. I already knew all of it. I would have just been sitting there, hoping to be disappointed.

Friday, June 28, 2024

The life lived


In a favorite book of mine, The Lord of the Rings, as Frodo gears up reluctantly to leave The Shire, he is supposed to keep it a secret. But he gives the game away, at least to his closest friends, because he's always wandering about moonily saying things like "Shall I ever see this tree again?" or "Is this the last time I gaze upon this vista?"

I might be getting a bit like this.

Having pegged out our retirement at one or two years now, I find I can tolerate unpleasant developments at my library with a bit more... distance. But I have started to look upon things with increasing wistfulness as well.

"Alas." I murmur to myself. "Will I ever explain to a library patron again about our carpool parking spots and commiserate with them about how unfair it is to them as a single person who is lonely and never does anything with anyone else?"

I mean, I might, and I might not. It happens about once a year. So conceivably that last one was my last time.

This week I am putting up a show of my fictional photographs of the library at my library. I have done a fair few art projects at my library, some formal, some completely rogue. This one is pretty formal. I mean, I have permission. It could be the last one.

"Lo." I mutter sadly to myself. "Will I ever hang up my art for the people of my library system again?"

Probably not.

Or how about this:

Will I ever have to try to answer the question "How come you don't do something with your talent?" again?

I guess I'm almost ready to let that one go.

Thursday, June 27, 2024

Communication breakdown, or triumph!


I learned today that another long-time co-worker at my library will be leaving us soon. He is moving to California. I learned this directly from a colleague, who had learned it from another of our co-workers. That co-worker had learned it from another co-worker who had found out about it in a series of texts from a former co-worker who had apparently learned it directly from the person moving to California.

So you know it must be true.

All of this may make me sound like the last person to know. But the truth is, as I told the colleague who told me and who learned it from a co-worker who learned it from a co-worker who learned it from a former co-worker who learned it from the person leaving, I had already heard this news from the co-worker who learned it in a text from a former co-worker who had learned it from the person moving to California.

So don't worry. I've still got my finger on the pulse of things around here.

Wednesday, June 26, 2024

Everything's amazing!


Yes, I can only keep it going for about four minutes, but have you noticed that everything is amazing?

Every damn thing is amazing!

Like, that guy is wearing culottes and a giant belt. He looks like a pirate! He's even got a great curling mustache! And that kid has a stripe in her hair. Like, a yellow horizontal stripe. Kids are playing with scarves in the kid's room. An old man with deep crinkles around his eyes said hello to me. A small child with a yellow belt in karate walked by. How do I know? He had a little karate uniform and it had a yellow belt!

It is amazing.

You can't make this stuff up!

Well, I mean you could, but it wouldn't be very interesting.

Tuesday, June 25, 2024

I more prefer the baking contest shows


Not to be paranoid, but...

If I were the producer of a terrible reality show that followed the goings on behind the scenes at a major near urban library, and my shows were growing flat, and my viewership was going down, and viewers were losing interest in all the strange library workers they were following in our weekly show, I would try the following:

1. Have six or seven people quit or leave the library and don't replace them. This will help create a more high-pressure environment and make room for new story lines.

2. Make sure that among the people gotten rid of we include the most universally liked person and the most universally disliked person. While these people are entertaining, they are stabilizing influences on the culture. Without them contentious new factions will be sure to form and general social standards will change.

3. On random occasions flood the library with substitutes and new people to be trained in, making sure that their skill levels, training, and responsibilities are wildly diverse and completely random.

4. Afflict the staff with illnesses, injuries, and family deaths, so that occasionally sheer chaos ensues, and sometimes whole shows have to focus in depth on one or two library workers because there's literally no one else around.

But whether or not a TV producer has engineered all these changes at my library, or they are completely by chance, all of these things are happening around here at my library right now. 

Which makes for very entertaining TV. 

If you like these sorts of reality shows, that is.

Unfortunately, I don't.

Monday, June 24, 2024

New sub redux


Yesterday in this space I was discussing a new substitute worker at my library. She does not get any of my jokes, or she doesn't think they're funny, or both. But that's okay. I can work with that! It doesn't have to be the end of all communication. I can talk to people without my sense of humor. Or without their sense of humor. Or both.

It's just like walking.

While missing one leg.

You put your right leg down carefully.

Then you gently shift your weight to your left...



So you get up again, brush yourself off, and carefully plant your right leg. Then, easing gingerly forward, you...

Tumble to the ground again!

Hmmm, tricky, but surely not impossible?

The key is to keep getting up.

And, eventually, they might find the sheer number of falls funny.

Sunday, June 23, 2024

New sub


There is a new sub working at my library today. She was not introduced to me. She does not know how anything works here. But she knows how the library in general works. 

In the afternoon an anonymous schedule put her on the automated check in machine. There are many unique things about our machine here so she has many questions. She is very apologetic about asking me, but also a little impatient with the answers. She knows, she knows, she knows.

I introduce myself. I ask about her. I give her a lot of information. And I tell jokes. She doesn't laugh at the jokes or seem to understand them. Maybe she doesn't have a sense of humor? 

Maybe I am not funny?

She reminds me of the Internet.

You're the one that asked the questions Internet. I'm just answering here. 

Saturday, June 22, 2024



There are so many new people at my library these days. This is the result of so many old people leaving. One would think we would have to hire new people for this to happen. We haven't managed to do this, but apparently, like nature, libraries abhor a vacuum. And so in these spaces where the old people were, new people wash in like rain in potholes.

Some of these new people even have the same names as old ones! Is, for instance, the new Mai similar to the old Mai? I don't know! It's all too exhausting to get to know the new people. Do they even work here? Or did they just wander in and get caught up in all the vacated spaces. Maybe they have nothing to do with the library and are just spinning around like fallen branches caught up in whirlpools. Who are they, what are they doing, can I help them?

I don't know. But if they're still here in a month I'll ask them.


Friday, June 21, 2024



Around my house we have been discussing retirement a lot lately.

But don't worry, I won't be retiring from clerkmanifesto!

In fact, once I retire I'll be able to give it my all.

Just kidding. This, strangely, is already my all.

Thursday, June 20, 2024

It's not a bug, it's a feature


As I follow the European Soccer Championships, actually called The Euros, I find myself in an oddly neutral position to the whole thing. Yes, I always sort of want one team or another to win, or sometimes I just want one team to lose. And I would like Spain to win the whole tournament if it could be so. But unlike with many years involving Barcelona and Argentina, my mental health isn't involved in anything that happens. I can endure any result pretty comfortably.

And this is teaching me some strange things about my decade long relationship to soccer. 

I have been watching a good number of goals scored in this tournament by accident. Called "own goals", these have been shots where a defending player has tried to clear the ball out of the area, or just been in the way and the ball bounced off of him, and it went into the goal! No one is trying to put the ball in the goal here, on the contrary, but it goes in anyway!

And watching these repeatedly it suddenly occurred to me:

It might not be the beauty of the game that so appeals to me, nor the wild story lines, nor the heart pounding excitement, nor the dreams dashed or coming true, nor the dazzling talent displayed in top level soccer.

No, alas, I think I might be drawn to the injustice.

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Sea change


As I emerge from the cloud of constant pain and attention to my cracked rib, I find that the world has changed in my absence. 

It's only been two and a half weeks cloistered from the society, but there have been more staff changes at my library in that brief time than there has been all together for years. So many people have left in this period, and yet it's strangely hard to feel their absence. 

I don't miss anything right now. 

The weather has grown unstable, with storms rushing terribly in and raging. Then it's beautiful out. Then it's hot and muggy. Young people show up and they're old. Miraculous inventions appear but no one knows what to do with them. Rabbits are everywhere, but somehow they have improved. Small children walk by and the same exact things happen over and over, but they are slightly different.

And surely that can't be.

And here I am at the front desk of the library again.

I don't know what happened.

I think I just got younger.

Tuesday, June 18, 2024



Getting over the worst part of my broken rib, and feeling something approaching a return to almost normal, my upper back suddenly went into lockdown. It seized up like a wall of bricks. It is very uncomfortable, painful, and hard to separate out from the traumas and trials of the rib injury, but it is also entirely its own thing.

My reaction to this is very emotional!


Oh child, you are not here to trust the universe, you are here to trust yourself.

Monday, June 17, 2024

The record of your deeds is recorded in the book of life


Since we're talking about soccer...

Allow me to bring to your attention a player starting for the Spanish National Team in the European Championships: Lamine Yamal. 

Lamine Yamal is 16 years old.

In the movies they generally don't even have 16 year olds play 16 year olds. It's too much trouble. They're not really up to the task. So they cast older people for those roles. But there's Lamine Yamal, actually 16, playing an intensely competitive game with the fastest, quickest, strongest, and most talented humans in the world, and doing it really well. A lovely diving save just prevented him from being the tournament's youngest scorer ever, but he did provide a dazzling assist.

Of course, we all did some pretty amazing things when we were 16 too.

Surely as good as Lamine Yamal.

No doubt that someone wrote it down somewhere.

Sunday, June 16, 2024

Let us not dwell on our failures


As my fevered interest in the game of soccer slowly wanes over these years I am finding a small resurgence of interest taking place right now as the biggest international tournaments outside of the World Cup all happen at once. This weekend the Euros got underway in Germany to establish the best European team, and any day now the Copa America will get going to put forth the best team in the Americas.

In a month we'll know all.

It is a lot of soccer, but I might be up for a good bit of it. Perhaps being a little less invested in the winners I can enjoy some of these games more widely. There are many talented young players to watch, stories to chart, and there is plenty to root for. At this point I despise some things about soccer, I love some things about soccer, but also I just find some things about soccer strangely interesting.

How about I tell you one of these last ones now?

I saw this today in a game I much enjoyed wherein a favorite team of mine, Spain, thoroughly beat Croatia in one of the first games of the Euros. This exchange is something I have seen many times in soccer games. It goes something like this:

A player kicks a through ball way downfield to a forward, putting him in a great position for a shot or a pass to an open teammate. The player receiving the ball then proceeds to do something absolutely terrible. I think today he kicked it like thirty feet over the goal. Whatever it was it was a mess. And at the conclusion of all this, the player who completely screwed it up turned way back towards the passer and gave him the thumbs up.

It seems like there would be an apology in there for messing everything tragically up, but it's not like that. It's not like that at all. The thumbs up doesn't have even the slightest feel of apology.

The thumbs up seems to be saying "Good job there. Keep it up. Sure, we didn't score, but don't worry, it wasn't anyone's fault so keep giving me all your passes. You have done the right thing."

Saturday, June 15, 2024



My lovely wife and I went out walking in our city. At some late point we stopped and had a prosecco sitting at a metal table on a sidewalk next to a busy street. It was lovely and unpleasant, which I found confusing. The sidewalks were full of life. People walked by. Parents rode along with bikes jimmied together with giant buckets carrying their children. Couples dated. A man came along eating an ice cream sandwiched in two cookies, which is a specialty of a nearby eatery. People picked up pizzas, went desperately looking for their dog that ran away, and biked happily along until, and this is where we come to it, someone honked at them and nearly killed them with their car.

Yes, bisecting in the most savage way, a city of life and humanity, were two massive streets, four lanes or more wide, with loud, fast, polluting cars racing by. It was like there was a nice city trying to claw its way out from ugly and dangerous design and... not quite making it.

There is a cartoon I once saw, maybe a little famous in the Urbanist community, where the streets are not removed, rather they are simply deadly abysses, a perilous drop. People cling to the little ledges of sidewalks and, crossing the street is done on narrow planks. I love that cartoon, but also don't feel it does it quite justice; the normality of the streets everywhere, their sense of danger and carefully ordered alienness to a person on foot.

But we drank. We walked along on a warm summer night. And the whole time we talked about where to live.

And never came to an answer.

Friday, June 14, 2024



They say that a cracked rib takes two to six weeks to heal. So after eight or nine days I tried to go back to work. 

It didn't go so well.

In a couple more days after you read this I'll try to take another stab at wage labor.

As I write I am closer to two weeks into my healing now, and today I am a bit better, but I wouldn't describe my improvement so far as steady. It sort of wanders around.

I spent a lot of the morning working on my mad scientist grafted songs, including Bob Dylan singing about drinking with clerkmanifesto. But as compelling as I find it to graft the head of a raccoon onto the body of a walleye, I'm pretty sure it's unwholesome. My response to this aberration of the natural course of things is along the lines of "This is remarkable! I can't believe such a thing is even possible! And look at me, I can do it." 

But I can freely see that a more natural response might be "Ew."

So I think I'll dial all that stuff back a little bit for now, and maybe include it in an optional footnote sort of way here for the people who are like "But wait, can the raccoon swim underwater?"

Maybe all this expression of humanity comes from experiencing a day in which, for several ten-minute periods, my rib cage didn't really hurt. It's very encouraging. Maybe it makes me want to wholesomely make all my own things from scratch.

Like this little post I wrote and that you have almost finished reading.

Yes, you're nearly there.

Good job.

No, not yet, hold on...

And there you go.


Thursday, June 13, 2024

Mad Scientist


Laying in bed with a cracked rib, I reread a favorite Jasper Fforde book of mine, The Big Over Easy. It has a mad scientist in it, the sort of person who is interested in grafting haddocks and kittens together. Sure, she is monstrous, but who am I to judge. Look at me!

Today I have taken a poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay and had, with the assistance of some diabolical AI, the Velvet Underground layer a song version of it over their own "Lisa Says". Then I cut up two one hundred year old films, a moderately famous silent era drama and an experimental piece about a city in the rain and, yes, grafted it all together, like a kitten and a haddock!

And I came up with a very sad music video of about two minutes duration.

Will you like it?

Probably better than that silly "Venice: I Can't Drive Through" one.

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Venice: I can't drive through


A couple days ago we featured some pictures that diabolically reimagined Venice, Italy with its canals paved over for the convenience of cars. While evil in design, and meant as the darkest critique, we nevertheless found it fun to make.

So we tried our hand at a music video of it all.

It is a little more on the comical side of the equation, but I think it's in the spirit.

I hope you enjoy it and find it catchy!

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

The canals of Paris


As I continue to prove my thesis that cities without cars, and where the roads are replaced by canals, are all improved, I find I may have wandered beyond my expiration date. While my demonstration yesterday of Venice with roads instead of canals was extremely convincing, I find in looking over my previous cities of Nice, Rome, and Kyoto, my argument is damaged by a few of my penchants.

1. The lack of people make the cities look like the victims of post apocalyptic floods more than the beneficiary of delightful urban renewal.

2. Lack of ground access to buildings makes it look challenging to get around.

3. Heavy focus on already charming alleys, some of which are almost car free anyway, soften my point.

So with all this in mind I am taking my campaign to Paris, France. I may still suffer some of the flaws from the list above, but I am improving.

Is Paris better with canals?

Do I just like canals?

Has my thesis wandered off the map?

These questions and more will surely be answered today and in the weeks to come!

Monday, June 10, 2024

Proof by the inverse


Many of my recent posts have been the piecemeal beginnings of a doctoral thesis on how any city is improved by getting rid of cars and replacing the roads with canals. It has been pretty convincing. But it has also been fun to do. So I have pretended that you are not yet convinced at all, and need every possible argument I can come up with.

So far I have put canals in Nice, France. I put some in Rome, Italy, stopping to install a few extra fountains there. And most recently I added extra canals to Kyoto, Japan, a place that has a canal or two, but clearly would not be too bad off with a few more.

These all came out quite nicely, if I do say so myself, which I find I usually have to. Nevertheless I found myself imagining the reader saying "Sure. Those particular cities did look a bit better with canals instead of streets, though they look a little post apocalyptic too. But what if you took a city of canals and instead replaced all the canals with streets?"

Ohhhhhh. What a good idea!

So I have taken Venice and put streets in over the canals. It does look worse! And it was quite the desecration, like scribbling over a Rembrandt.

But it was kind of devilishly fun doing it.

I may do Amsterdam or Bruges next!

Anyway, here is Venice, disimproved. Though, on the other hand, it probably won't flood so bad like this.

Sunday, June 9, 2024

What about Kyoto?


If you will kindly refer to today's title, it posits the question: "What about Kyoto?".

This is in relation to my current project of exhaustively proving that even the most beautiful cities in the world would be improved by the removal of cars, and through the means of having the streets made into canals. Rome and Nice have been covered already. But Kyoto already has some canals. Well, as far as I can tell, it has one or two canals? I've never been to Kyoto, but there is one canal at least that comes from a lake, and there is also the Shirakawa River, which looks a lot like my pictures of cities where I put canals in them.

In short, like Venice, Kyoto already kind of proves my point as is. But since I am into proving my point exhaustively, I contend that Kyoto, beautiful as it seems to be, can definitely use quite a few more canals!

And so I have provided. 

Saturday, June 8, 2024

I prove my point


Using the city of Nice, France, I posited the theory that all cities would be more beautiful with canals. My examples with Nice quickly proved the point. But I like proving my point! I can go for hours proving my point. One could argue that the whole of clerkmanifesto is just point proving over and over again!

What was the point again?

Paved streets are ugly. Cars are gruesome. And streets of water make everything better.

Today I make my point with Rome, Italy.

Wait a second! Rome is impossibly beautiful. How can you possibly make Rome more beautiful?!

Easy peasy: Remove all cars, add canals.

(And maybe a few other things)