Saturday, June 28, 2003

Haircut Day
I usually keep my hair cut pretty darn short. I swim a lot, and if my hair has any length, it gets really thick. Chlorine residue stays in it always, no matter how much I wash it. If my hair is long at all it's not a pretty picture.
But about a month and a half ago I was at a friend's house, and I fell, and I hit my head on the edge of a raised hearth topped with a slab of slate. The circumstances were pretty embaressing, and I didn't want people at work to ask, "How did you do that?" So I let my hair grow out. I figured I would get a haircut when the cut healed.
The cut turned freakin' blue. Blue. And it's still there. With the summer heat I had to get a haircut. I asked the lady to cut the sides and back really short but to leave enough bangs to cover the cut. Which she did, but . . .
I look really Aryan. I look like the dashing Nazi officer who falls in love with the beautiful Argentinian caberat dancer.
I hope it looks different after I swim.

Friday, June 27, 2003

In a Similar Vein
Since I've vented about some of my co-workers, I may as well go on a bit.
There is a reference librarian here who does not at all look like someone you would find working in a law library. He has this face that looks like a comic book Superman, with an unrealistically square jaw. His body puzzles me, because while he has really nice chest and shoulders, he has no ass. I am aware of his chest and shoulders because he wears, every day, some sort of tight, body-hugging crew-neck shirt. For this reason I have started to think of him as Mr. International Male.
At the end of the academic year we have a catered lunch, and one year I ended up sitting next to this guy. He asked me if Southerners have a word for eating outside. I said, "No, except 'al fresco.'" He asked what that meant.
Another time I was on a committee with him discussing library preservation. The issue of using self-adhesive bookplates came up. He had to ask what a bookplate is. And this is a guy with not one, but two, count 'em, two postgraduate degrees. One of which is in library science.
Any description of characters here would be incomplete without a description of the very odd fellow in technical services. Someone from outside the library once described him as "that guy who looks like he masterbates all the time." Every time you say "Good Morning" to this guy, he always, always says "It was until that clock radio went off." His other conversational skills are limited to similarly canned comments about whether or not it is Monday or Friday.

It's eerily quiet today. The woman in the next cubicle isn't on the phone. She usually is.
Yesterday she had quite a marathon phone session. When I first realised she had been on the phone a long time, she was registering her youngest son in a basketball camp. She must have really hit it off with whoever she was speaking to, because she started insisting that they take her name and consider using her as a volunteer. Then the other party must have said they don't use volunteers, because my neighbor starting trying to convince them to start. Oh,surely they need lots of help dealing with the "four hundred little people, little personalities."
I left and did something away from my desk, and came back later.
Now she was trying to get a deal on a prepaid wireless plan. "Are you running any specials? How can I get a discount?"
Next she had a long, long talk with someone about planning a plated-lunch fund-raiser. Her basic attitude towards the other party was "You're doing it wrong."

The Tricep Dip
I have added the tricep dip to my workout. Yes, it's true, I work out.
I bought a set of dumbells years ago, but never did much with them until about a year and a half ago. I dug out a fitness guide I already had (which I, ahem, actually originally bought for the photographs) and really read it. It turned out to be a good book. It tells how to get started without necessarily joining a gym. I have read the user-posted reviews of it at, and most of them were over-the-top positive, but one guy just totally ragged on it - because of the pictures.
When I started I made a little progress right away, but I wasn't very consistent about working out. I would go for weeks without working out. I still swam, though. About eight months ago I had a motivated period and suddenly made really good progress. Now, I like everything that's going on but I wish my arms were a little bigger. Hence, the tricep dip.

O July
I have a premonition that July will be a very traumatic month.
In the summer a co-worker gives me a ride to work. The guy is an older ex-beatnik sort of fellow who sort of wanders through life. As a good friend of mine described him, he doesn't think, he feels. Which sometimes makes things interesting. It also makes him get on my nerves sometimes. The summer is old enough now that being stuck in a car with him twice a day for fifteen minutes has gotten really annoying. The other day I was trying to talk about the things different ethnic groups do to their cars, and I spoke of the car of an Asian woman a friend pointed out which had little plastic cartoon figures all over the dash. I was going to tell next about a Mexican's car I saw with such a long fringe on the inside of the windshield I didn't think the guy could see to drive. But my co-worker goes off into a rant about Asian people's capacity for fantasy.
Another time I had just seen the Martha Stewart movie with Cybil Shepard in it (which I had to see - a bitch playing a bitch) and I told my chauffer about the scene where Martha/Cybil throws a pot at her friend, screaming, "Every good cook deserves a copper pot!" And my co-worker breaks in with "What is supposed to be so great about copper pots? I prefer an iron skillet. I have seven iron skillets and . . . ."
He writes poetry. Which is just all right. His original poetry is all firmly planted in that mid-twentieth century style. I say "original" because about nine months ago he started coming up with what he called "legal" or sometimes "found" poetry. He would kill time by flipping through some old legal treatise and he would spot some turn of phrase which caught his fancy, and he would lift the phrase out of context, re-write it in a stanza format, sometimes leaving a word here or there out, and call it a poem.
First of all, that's not poetry. It just isn't. Secondly, although he always cites the original source, it's pretty close to plagarism. Third, the books he finds the stuff in are eighteenth and nineteenth century works. People wrote more elaborately back then, and it isn't hard to find a fetching turn of phrase - but it's not poetry.
My co-worker thinks he's going to publish a book of this crap. He's writing a forward.

Thursday, June 26, 2003

What Did I Do?
I had a terrible time rising to the surface this morning. I still feel about three feet thick. I can't figure out what I did to deserve feeling this way.
I like reading my horoscope in the Sydney Morning Herald. It's the longest daily horoscope I have ever seen. It's written in this run-on sentence Australianese that you sometimes have to read twice to understand.
It said that there was a period earlier this week where there were a lot of conjunctions. I think that manifested itself in that string of episodes Tuesday, starting with my landlord and going on to include everyone I know in my building.
Today it said the conjunctions were over. Whew.
Too bad it doesn't explain why I feel like I stayed up until three

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

What's Worse Than a Smart-Ass?
An ignorant smart-ass.
Virtually first thing this morning a student came up to desk. He said he wanted "an article on reserve."
I asked, "For whom?"
He said, "For me," with an implied "duh."
"No," I said, "who, what class, is it on reserve for?"
He said it wasn't for a class, that he had requested something, and he'd been notified that it had come in.
"Oh," I said, "that's inter-library loan. Reserves are additional class materials which check out and have to be returned. This is probably something you can keep."
So I got his name and went to the inter-library loan hold shelf, expecting to find a xerox of an article. Instead, what was under his name was a big old hardback book.
I took it to the student, and the first thing out of his smart-ass mouth was, "So I can keep this?"
I said, "No. When you said 'article' I thought you meant 'article.' People often get xerox copies of articles through inter-library loan which they just keep."
The he asked me if I was Jim. I said no.
He said, "I had an interesting argument, well, not an argument, discussion, with Jim about semantics."
I thought it was interesting that he was throwing around the word "semantics" and yet he didn't understand that objects have names. The correct name must be used when requesting something or else one isn't understood by the person one is asking.

O What a Night
I had the most eventful night last night I have had in a long time.
When I got home from work, Fred, my landlord, was in my apartment, installing a new air conditioner. I spoke to him about Chad moving out, and he said, "Well, you are at the top of the list for getting a larger apartment." So I hope that means "Yes."
So before too long I had gotten rid of him and I changed into shorts and got my swimming stuff. As I was leaving I realised Fred had left his copy of my key in the door. I went to go see if I could find him before he left.
I found Fred, Chad, and Paul, the older neat-looking guy, on the second floor landing. Paul told me Fred had just been stuck in the elevator. I said, "No way." I gave Fred the key, and he said he just remembered he had left "the key closet" unlocked, so he ran off.
Chad and Paul were moving a sofa. I hung around to help and to ask Paul if he was one of the Blues from down a little south of here. He said his family was from the Sandhills, but he had grown up in Ashboro.
Then I went to swim, and I ran into the girl I bought a cycad from (she's moving and had a plant sale). We chatted for a little about how the plant was doing (which is well).
I swam 17 laps.
On the way back into my building I saw Tania, the girl across hall, also going in. She hit the button for the elevator. I told it was broken, and that Fred had been stuck in it about an hour before. "Good for him. Did you ever get a receipt for your rent last month?" I told her I hadn't gotten a receipt for my rent in more than six months. She bitched about Fred the rest of the walk to our respective doors. An then she said she was moving out, too.
I'd still rather have Chad's apartment, for the big window.
So I finally get to the grocery store. I get a head of lettuce and some beer. And it takes forever to get checked out. I noticed there wasn't a manager around the front of the store.
And then right in line behind me is Michael, of David & Michael. So I talked to him, and waited on him and walked out with him. David was in the car so I stopped and said hi to him.
It was 7:15 by the time I got home. It was after eight before I had dinner ready. I gave up on the idea of doing any Greek.
I thought "Keen Eddie" was really good.

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Killing Time After Lunch
We have some students working here this summer. This year my boss got the idea of having each full-time staff member be a "supervisor" for a student employee. I got a very small, very hyper Isreali girl. I thought I got the easy way out because she only works three hours a day.
On the first day she worked, she announced that she wanted to work 3 - 5 instead of the 9 - 12 she had originally agreed on. Yesterday, at 5:01, no less, she started talking about how she wants to work six hours one day and then have the next day off because she's having trouble getting big blocks of time to work on her thesis.
Student employees are not real employees. We can't make them do something they don't want to. I wish the girl would pick something and stick to it, but I feel I can't tell her to settle down or quit. My boss might be able to - but she's gone for three weeks.
There is another student working here that I am quite glad I don't oversee. She's an undergraduate, and she pestered and pestered my boss to give her a job here this summer. Then, when the spring semester was over and it was time for the summer help to start, she kept pushing back the date she started. "I'll start next week." "No, I'll start the week after that." She wants to go to law school herself, you see, and she thinks (or so I believe) that listing having a summer job in a law library will look good on an application. She certainly isn't interested in actually working. If she isn't distinctly told to go do something, she sits down at a public access monitor in the reading room and checks her e-mail. She announced that she was too small to shift (to move books in a crowded section of the stacks, keeping them in order, to spread them out). My Isreali girl shifted earlier today, and she's smaller than the other one.
* * * * *
When I got home yesterday I had a note in my mailbox from the guy with the apartment at the end of my hall. He is going to tell our landlord he is moving out today. I am going to call later in the afternoon, saying that I want that apartment. Gimme.

Killing Time Before Lunch
I can't believe I have actually watched two episodes of "Paradise Hotel." There's a little pseudo-British mistress of ceremonies who, every time she says anything about a guest leaving the show, she says ". . . leave Paradise (dramatic pause) forever." It could be a drinking game. Everytime she says ". . . leave Paradise (dramatic pause) forever," you can take a shot.

Monday, June 23, 2003

Should I Post This?
Why not.
Towards the end of 1998 I did something really stupid. I quit my job at a branch of the Charlotte/Mecklenburg County library without having another job. First, it was dumb to make that leap without a big cushion to land on. Second, I realised after working here (a ritzy private university law library) that I got a fundamental satisfaction from the public library and that aspect of library work is totally absent here.
I ended up having to move back home because I had trouble finding another job. I was in my parents' house for my thirtieth birthday. It was depressing. Plus, my father was constantly on my case because I drank beer and smoked. At point, I crossed a line, and in the middle of an argument, I said to him something like, "Oh yeah, well, you don't like any of that stuff? Well, here's something you'll really love! I'm gay!"
You're not supposed to do that in the middle of an argument. You're supposed to chose a happy time to tell your parents you're gay.
My father refused to think being gay was not a choice. I ended up having to move out.
My brother is 42. He's never done anything with relationships. A couple years ago he told me that when he was little, another boy from the neighborhood came over to play. Our parents found them in the woods behind the house. One boy had his pants down around his knees, and the other boy was brushing or poking him around the crotch with a handful of pine needles. My parents freaked out and sent the other boy home and never let him come back.
My brother had decided that this had traumatised him. He said he had decided he was gay, too, but this incident drove him so far back into the closet that he never had any kind of relationships or sex-life.
About a month ago my brother e-mailed me and asked me if he could call me that night. I said okay. What he had to say was that he had been in a community theatre production of a play, and he was in love with someone else in the cast. Another guy. Another guy who is actually gay but who already has a boyfriend.
I told my brother to be aware of the mistake of infatuation, to take things slow, to try and not get hurt. To be aware that the rules that apply to straight couples don't necessarily apply to gay ones, i.e., the guy could just want a fling, or he could try and get my brother into a threesome. When the conversation was over I wasn't very confident my brother would act with any sense.
I also talked to him about how horribly our father had reacted to my revelation. I didn't think he should tell him. If I could do it over I never would have told my dad about me.
This morning my brother e-mailed me. He says he's come out. I haven't written back.

First, though, my boss is on vacation for three weeks and I can yawn with impunity.
There was a question on "Jeopardy" last week about a fruit whose name came from the Greek for finger. I knew the Greek for finger - it's "dactyl," like in "pterodactyl," or "wing-finger." But I couldn't figure what fruit got its name from it. Turned out to be the date.
But Alex Trebeck said "dactylos." I'm fairly certain - I haven't looked it up - that "dactyl" is a third declension noun. Therefore, the nominative, the one you would use in the above situation, is "dactyl." "Dactylos" is the genitive and would mean "of the finger" or "from the finger."
I just looked in an Merriam Webster College dictionary and it said "dactylos" was Latin. Maybe it is, but why give the Latin version of a Greek word?
I looked at the next entry. It was "date" in the sense of a calender. It said this word was via Latin from the Greek verb "didonai," or "to give." That's wrong. I know, for a fact, "to give" is "didoMi."
No wonder this a world where people have mobile phones. And digital watches.