hereticalphysicist
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
  Photo Op

Dear President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, can I have the name of your photographer for my upcoming family reunion?

 

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Tuesday, April 25, 2006
  The Glamorous Side of Being a Librarian

Don Hertzfeldt comes in to check out sound effects CDs.

Anyone heard of T.C. Boyle, by the way? Because sometimes he comes out of hiding to borrow a book. Maybe one of his own.

That is all. 

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Wednesday, April 05, 2006
  "I'm sorry Mrs. Smith...Fluffy has bookworms!"

I'm not going to kid myself that anyone is actually reading this anymore. Updating this is essentially equivalent to skipping rope over the corpse of your childhood pet. Still, there's a voice in my head whispering, "If you blog it, they will come...."

Yikes, not with jokes like that. But anyway, I've got a good excuse for my absence. I got a promotion at work. I'm not sure if it's really a promotion if I had to apply for it, but it was a highly competitive position that pays more than twice what I was making before. This young upstart is now a "Library technician," or really, a "reference librarian." Officially, that can't be my name because I'd have to get paid more, but it's the name everyone gives to the position. Stationed at a library now 10 minutes away from my home (30 on bike), I sit at a desk and answer people's reference questions. I do this three days a week and that c0vers my monthly expenses, still leaving me plenty of time to do my other job or nothing at all. The free time stretching before me is intimidating. I feel forced to do something else with my life.

I'm flaky and rather lazy, and for that reason I have a new career idea every month. I'm all talk. I can't commit. But I'm not a fool. I'll know a good thing when I see it, and this is a good thing, this library job. The city offers a three-year, online library program and reimburses library employees for most of the costs. All of my coworkers are people who stumbled onto a library job, usually as pages, and never left, which I think reflects well on the system. Librarians don't make a lot of money but they usually have health care. A library degree is a master's degree, and I'm starting to realize how far you could possibly push the limits of that degree. If one were ambitious, one could ascend to a position at the NYPL or Library of Congress, or perhaps at a museum. One could specialize in rare manuscripts. Also, librarians are good public servants.

So that's what I'm thinking about right now. My career du jour. What's it going to be next week? Flapper? Investigative reporter? Stay tuned! 

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Friday, November 04, 2005
  Loco en la Biblioteca

I've learned something important these past two months. If you have more money, you don't need a free account on Blogger to get people to like you.

Some time ago, I believe I briefly mentioned a short-lived foray I made into the head-hunting market. In short, I was looking for a second job. My half-hearted attempts, however, proved fruitless until late September, when I finally heard a call back from the Public Library, on whose application I had tried to be inventive. Under "Special Skills," I wrote:

"I have hundreds of books at home, and I take no greater pleasure than in organizing (and reading!) them."

I put my whole self out there--here I am, World!--and my future boss, who turned out to be a pushover for passionate displays of candor, called me back. Long story short, I now reshelve books at the Public Library 20 hours a week, with some minimal, but unexpected, benefits.

The greatest benefit is interacting with the patrons. By patrons I mean, by and large, the omnipresent West Coast bums, for whom the Public Library is a public bath, the home office, the forum and, lastly, the library. Many of them are quite polite, but they're all crazy. Consider the following:

I am assigned to reshelve books in the 700-759.999 section. This is all art books and crafts books and some collecting books. The area's a little isolated on the second floor, but at the end of the stacks is a big open area with sky lights that I can see just by turning my head. A few stacks ahead is a large space before the next set of shelves begins. Here was the scene of intense human drama, as heard several rows away.
A girl who sounds my age yells, "What if I called you a fucking bitch?"
"Aw, she's going to call you a fucking bitch! What're you gonna do?" An old man-sounding voice is heard.
An old-lady voice replies, "I'd have to come over there and beat you up!"
Old man: "Aw, she's gonna beat you up!"
Young girl: "Well, I'm going to call you a fucking cunt! What are you going to do now? Huh?"
Old lady: "I swear, I'm going to come over there and kick your ass..."
Old man: "She's gonna kick your ass!"
And so on, until the reference librarian is heard thanking them for their patronage of the library but if they do not keep the noise down they will have to leave.

"I do NOT have to read a book over there." A large woman stands over me as I place books in the "Sorting Area" in the downstairs main room. She has warts on her face, triangular yellow hair. I look in the direction of her finger, and I think she is pointing at the "Books for Sale" shelf.
"Hmmm..." I say.
"Yup, I do NOT have to read one of those books." She defies me to disagree.
I don't know what to say. I want to tell her that that's the beauty of the library--you can read some books there that you want to read, and also there are some books that you don't have to read because you're not interested, or you've read them before, or maybe you know all about that subject. That's books for you.
I say, "Okay...well, you know, a lot of withdrawn books end up on the 'Books for Sale' bookshelf, so...."
She shakes her head. "No, in the paperbacks. I don't need to read a book there."
I do not want to ask the obvious question. I refuse to be led into it. I have to work; I have books to reshelve. Luckily, I don't have to think of a response.
"Yep, it's about the Yosemite murders." She gives me a meaningful look.
"Oh, well, I'm not from around here..."
"Oh, a bunch of people were killed there. I knew them. Not the people that were killed. The murderer."
Again, I am at a loss for words. I mean, if I comment on how awful it is that people get murdered, will she be offended because she was friends or something with the murderer? What do you do when someone you know murders someone? I try, "Umm..."
"Yeah, he was the kid who was kidnapped."
"Oh, I don't know about that. I, uh, you know, not from around here [read: don't care, go away]."
"Well, this kid was kidnapped for 7 or 8 years, and then they found him. You know Robert Walsh?"
"No."
"America's Most Wanted."
"Oh, yeah." I mentally kick myself for my momentary lack of apathy.
"He was at the funeral. I met him. We were both at the funural....You want to hear something really sick?"
No! No! No! "Um."
"At the funural, someone tried to steal R0bert Walsh's car. Can you believe that? At a funural!"
Okay, that wasn't so bad. But then she asked me if I wanted to hear something worse. I don't think I even answered her that time. I guess I must have, because she kept talking.
"People were actually stealing stuff from the Twin Towers!"
"New York? After September 11?" The words just spilled out of my mouth before I could stop caring.
"Yeah, they were stealing stuff from Ground Zero. Can you believe it?"
Fortunately, after shaking my head and mumbling, "It's a sick, sick world," a few times, she wandered away.

The woman slipped in the elevator behind me after I had pushed the cart of books into one corner. The cart took up much space in the elevator, leaving little standing room for two people. I had seen the older woman before--she wanders around town in slacks, surprisingly nice men's shoes, a trench coat, a cigarette and a large woolen cap pulled low. She's tan and leathery, a little mannish, sort of a Georgia O'Keefe missing a few...okay, I'm gonna do it...teefe. She looks shrewd. She looks at me out of the corner of her eye. So far, I am only slightly uncomfortable, as female townies make me less nervous than the male townies. That, however, is a misperception.
"You look very sexy in your low-cut shirt."
First thought: Hm, thank you. Second thought: That's an inappropriate way to pay a compliment. Third thought: Homeless people probably don't have the finest social graces. Fourth thought: This crazy homeless lady is staring at my tits and we are in a small elevator. But, I must be polite to the patrons. The Page's Handbook.
"Ummmmmmmmmm....hmmmm...thanks...." I raise my hand to my chest like I'm flattered, but actually I'm just covering my bare skin.
"I can tell the stone on your necklace is real. I saw some earrings that would match it. But they were fake. Your stone is real," she rasps.
I am uncomfortable now for two reasons. The first is that my sapphire necklace (which by no means was ostentatious) plunges into my cleavage, and if she's staring at my necklace, that means she was still staring at my tits. Second, I did not feel comfortable discussing how I was wearing real jewels, however modest they may be, with a homeless woman. My only response was to back myself as far as possible into the corner made by the book cart and the wall of the elevantor and shrink smaller...and smaller...and smaller. 

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Tuesday, August 30, 2005
  The Jerk

Last night, I was listening to Loveline on the way home from the James Joyce bar, which is the only place in Santa Barbara pretentious enough for these New Yorkers. Adam Corolla was bitching about "the nasty" that forms on flip flops after about 6 months. For most people, I suppose, this isn't a problem because the flip flop season is not more than 6 months anyway. In California, where Adam's probably living now (seems like the LA type), we wear flip flops all year long. I think Adam can afford a new pair of flip flops after 6 months, but I'm too broke to afford the injection-molded version of the first shoe ever invented.

Anyway, since these days half a glass of Woodford Reserve straight up and two glasses of white--white--wine gets me pretty...extroverted...I decided to call up Adam and let him know how I avoid "the nasty." This is pretty gross actually, and I'm sacrificing dignity for the sake of a post, but I spray my flip flops with deodorant, the aerosol kind. It works. Shut up.

I kept dialing 1-800-LOVE-131 until I finally got through to a smart-sounding woman who asked me what my question was. I smoothly replied, "I wanted to give Adam advice about his flip flops."

"Uh....what?"

"He was complaining about his flip flops. I've got good advice."

[Short silence.] "We've switched topics." *click*

I would have had a better chance of getting on the show and humiliating myself less by asking why urine causes my face to break out.

Recent Media

Question from Trivial Pursuit: Whose name appeared on a Martin Luther King Day plaque intended to honor James Earl Jones for "Keeping the Dream Alive," in 2001?

Answer (highlight the following text): James Earl Ray

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Tuesday, August 16, 2005
  The Suck of the Irish

What would you do if hundreds of Irish people suddenly moved into your town? That's what New Yorkers were asking themselves in 1847 when waves of Irish immigrants flooded the New York harbor after a potato famine struck--Oops, wrong century, wrong New Yorkers. Let's try this again: That's what New Yorkers-who-moved-to-California-last-year were asking themselves in 2005 when waves of Irish coeds flooded our quiet beach community after a potato famine, er, a study program at Santa Barbara Community College struck--okay, I'll give up the parallelism. This New Yorker, for one, wasn't concerned. After all, contrary to the negative stereotypes, the Irish are actually a quiet, studious people with a love of stamp collecting. Right? Wrong! And nothing pushes me closer to the right than having to listen to 30 drunk Irish people sing "Total Eclipse of the Heart"--twice!--at 4 am on a Monday night. Also, they only knew, "A total eclipse of the heart..." Likewise, when they sang "Dancing Queen"--twice!--they only knew "Dancing queen, young and sweet, only 17..." and "Do de do de do." Being busted by the cops--twice!--didn't dampen their party spirit, if last night's performance of "He-e-e-e-e-e-ey, he-e-e-e-e-e-e-ey, I said, hey, what's going on?" is any evidence.

I guess not all the stereotypes are true. They do NOT listen to good music, despite their rich musical history. Or maybe that's just Northern Ireland. They also do NOT drink good beer, from what I can tell from the beer cans littering our beautiful courtyard. I'm not saying that littering is an Irish trait, since the California state bird, animal, and flower have all had the opportunity to be flattened by the California State FU to Planet Earth, the Hummer. So maybe their throwing their trash on the lawn is just their way of assimilating.

Here's another thing I've learned about the Irish--they don't need sleep. Apparently, alcohol, when mixed with one part Holy Spirit, undergoes a process known as "transubstantiation," resulting in a virtually limitless supply of energy, allowing you to stay awake long enough to drink more, have 12 kids, and make it to church just in time to eat the cracker. I postulate this process because they're not just rowdy at 4 am on days when I have to get up early to work. They hit the Schlitz all day long!

I could go on and on , but I'm just going to relate one more anecdote. In the middle of the day, a couple of weeks ago, there was the typical hooligan convention, the Chk-shhhhh! of carbonation escaping from Coors Light cans, choruses of "Arghs!" and "Oys!" and "Ehs?" and "Har har hars!" Why do they sound like Canadian Jewish pirates? I don't know! Anyway, out of the din, I could discern one voice dominating the others--not more intelligible, but it was still apparent that an engaging story was being related that cuminated in the triumphant cry, "A nice derriere!" The crowd, the huddled masses, responded by clapping hands, stomping feet, "Argh!" "Hey!" and affirmations of "A nice derriere!" Maybe it loses something in the translation... 

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Wednesday, August 03, 2005
  Coming Attractions

Man, that last one was a real crap post. Am I right?

Coming Soon...The Suck of the Irish! 

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The story of how I became a very, very bad physicist. But not really.

Other People's Business

Mike (the boy)
Al
Al's portfolio (give her a job)
Christian
Jenny
Paul
Rod
Tia
Todd


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