Saturday, July 30, 2011

Hey-y What's That Smell?: Part 3, Library School, What They Don't Teach You in

It was quiet in the Young Adult section.

As usual, the adults were on the Internet computers, on Facebook or watching streaming video. Which slows down the network. Then they wonder why it takes forever and a day to reset their library cards for another hour of Internet access. The System was designed to force them to take an hour break to give other users a chance. SOMEONE in Charge decided it would be a Good Idea to OVERRIDE the System.

The result? I've seen users almost come to blows over who has the right to a computer. And don't get me started on the ones who won't use the computer in Fed Docs (too noisy), the basement (ewww, creepy) or the Info Desk ("I got sick from using THOSE"). The other day at shift change, I pointed out to W, "Look! They are all KIDS using our computers!!! YAY!!!" He asked, "How'd THAT happen?" I said I chased all the adults away. Well I didn't, but I WANTED to!

Back to the topic, which is SMELLS.

And I have a very developed sense of smell, in addition to my usually excellent hearing. Usually because I do have trouble figuring out mumbling. I came home today to some sort of irritating mechanical whine and asked the DH - "Is that sound based in OUR apartment?" He said, no, then it stopped, only to restart later. GRRR!

Smells in the library range from;

  • Too much bad perfume/cologne
  • Someone's lunch or dinner they're carrying around
  • Someone's lunch or dinner they already ate
  • The great unwashed
  • Sweat
  • Mildew from clothes kept outdoors or just in a moist environment
  • Bad body odor

The worst thing I've ever smelled was a combination of the last two. And I've even smelled that combo on an acquaintance or two. Or three. I can only conclude that those people have gotten used to that smell, so that they're blissfully unaware that the rest of us want to flee the room, or, if forced to stay, desperately yearn for a gas mask.

The day before yesterday, the homeless guy who wants to read the magazines without leaving an ID or library card rushed in, bringing his mix of sweat and BO, and proceeded to turn on the fan. Which only served to disperse the aroma over the entire (small) area. He was sharing.

Rey, the security guard, told me that a patron has to complain before this guy can be escorted out.

I think everyone had a stuck nose that day.

Another thing they don't teach you in library school: it doesn't matter if behavior/condition bothers or affects the staff, the situation will not improve or change until the other library users ask for a change.

Another day, another smell...

Friday, July 22, 2011

Books about Librarians Without Degrees

I admit the idea irritates me a bit, as we in Hawaii generally need that piece of paper showing we graduated from an ALA-accredited institution in order to get a librarian job. Plus, in order to be a public school librarian in Hawaii, you also need to have a teaching degree. I've been told that in many states, an MLS - master of library science - degree is enough, OR just a teaching degree and passing a test is enough. (I'd love to know which states require what, if anyone wants to tell me!)

The first book is The Borrower, by Rebecca Makkai. About a college graduate who doesn't know what she wants to do, so she becomes a children's librarian. While her discussion of age-appropriate literature for children did/does interest me, your average reader or husband will be bored. They will be even more bored by all the angst. The writing IS good when NOT focused on the angst! Still, I am puzzled at how a child could take an adult on a multi-state spree to avoid Christian gay conversion therapy.

Which, RW gleefully told me, is the Michele Bachmann family business!

The second book is Running the Books, by Avi Steinberg. So far, it is more about a college graduate who doesn't know what he wants to do - sound familiar? And decides writing obituaries is NOT a career, so he beomes a prison librarian.

Aside: on the State of Hawaii librarian application, prison is the only area I would NOT want to work in. You need to be clever to be a criminal, and in that I am sure the inmates are much smarter than I am. I feel it's harder work to run a con, cheat or steal than tell the truth and work hard. So I admit it - I'm saying I'm too stupid to commit crimes. Except they weren't smart enough to stay out of jail.

Avi happily shows us how hip he is by who he becomes buddy-buddy with in The Bay, and all that he's learned there. The writing is not bad, though self-conscious. I'm just irritated with the Golly, Look at ME, I'm a Prison Librarian, though he admits the day shift guy is a REAL librarian. It is doubtful I'll finish this book - it's too irritating.

More on the other books I'm reading to come...

Monday, July 18, 2011

Eye Update: Librarian Heal Thyself

Is there any pain. No.

Swelling. No.

Redness? A tiny bit at the outer corner.

For my eye infection that's a four-letter word, I continue to put the ear drops in both eyes - a preemptive strike! Then I put a drop or two on the clean back of my hand and pick it up with half a cotton swab. I dab it on the affected area, including the waterline and both interior and exterior of the eyelid. AND the upper eyelid waterline.

When we were talking about medical insurance and HMOs, I mentioned this to Doc Jeff last night over chili con carne and red wine, he didn't blink. Whatever works!

I continue to heal myself, and hope you all have a wonderful week!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Watch Out When the Moon is Full, or Things They Don't Teach You in Library School, Pt. 3

And some of the library patrons got wild before the moon came out.

I work the last 2 reference desk shifts of the day. The shifts are usually 9 to 11 am, 11 am to 1 pm, 1 pm to 3 pm and 3 pm to 5 pm. I usually work 1 to 3 pm in the children's section.

Children come in looking for books on Spiderman or Thomas the Train, on "making coco". Is that cooking? I asked. No, the leaves you wear on the head! I finally deduced this was haku lei - leaves and flowers woven into a decorative headband. There was exactly ONE book on native Hawaiian handicrafts in our section. Note to authors: this is a topic worth considering for a children's book with simplified instructions and clear photographs!

Their parents want books for readers in grades 1 to 2 or manuals to improve math skills; their grandparents want Dr. Seuss books.

There are also 2 computers to access the library catalog and databases, and 2 Internet access computers. Around 2 pm, a young woman I'd seen before plopped herself down at one of the Internet computers. Right after that, an older man sat at the adjacent express computer. The woman turned to him and loudly said, "You KNOW that computer is only 15 minutes!?" He answered, "I KNOW, so you DON'T have to TELL me!"

There was more to this exchange. She: "I just thought you should know." He: "Well, I DON'T!" I thought fists were gonna fly, but SHE backed down first. sigh. DRAMA!

I went over to the young adult section - which has a similar computer setup - after that, without a break. Four straight hours in a row at a reference desk can be brutal. This became evident when the woman who MUST use these particular Internet computers because Fed Docs is "too noisy", and she doesn't like any of the EIGHT computers in the lobby or the basement asked me to look for a computer for her. She's already ruled out half of them!

At just that moment, a person stood up from one of the computers. The woman who asked for a computer, and a man raced over there at the same time. She yelled, "Was he waiting for it?" I said he had spoken to me. (But then he disappeared. He was probably sitting around the corner, but that is behind a WALL, which is behind my head. He should have sat at the adjacent table, where it's obvious you're waiting for a computer, and everyone can see you. Including me.) People get wild when the things they feel they're entitled to are threatened. But why can't they use common sense and act in a civilized manner?

I blame their lack of judgment, but I have a feeling the full moon intensified things!

But that's only half the problem. These adults were 45 to 60 years old, and they are using Internet computers in the section for YOUNG ADULTS. If I were a teenager, I'd be put off by the self-centered behavior of these adults, who have the entire rest of the library at their disposal. Instead, they are exposed to the homeless with their smells and antisocial behavior, not to mention tweaking from drugs. And the seniors who inevitably need help printing their documents or formatting them. The guy who's channeling Elvis with the shades, too-tight shirts and tattooed-on sideburns (really!) I think his eyebrows are inked, too! He often prints out photos downloaded from "Cherry Blossoms"-type websites, where Asian women are looking for "friends". Some of the young women look modest, but they are not the ones he's printing! Some of the young adults are weird, too.

I'm trying not to stereotype, but above are the behaviors I encounter EVERY DAY. I was telling Rey, the security guard, about the person with the rough voice and weathered skin who "camps out" all day in the middle reader room. I feel this keeps CHILDREN from sitting there - and it is THEIR room, as is the area around the children's reference desk. Which means it and the young adult room should both be havens for them, instead of being exposed to weirdos and girlie pictures.

Rey told me he found a man sleeping on one of the children's benches with a teddy bear as a pillow. This person was caught shoplifting in Longs drugstore soon after that. He was a wanted felon. I won't even discuss the man who's been seen following little girls around the library. I don't have the stomach right now to tell you about him.

How soon is the next full moon? Not for a long, long, time, I hope!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Librarian, Heal Thyself!

I've been feeling pain below my left eye for the past couple of days.

Last night, I finally figured out it's an infection of the exterior eye. You know, the kind that's a four-letter word.

This morning, I called the ophthalmology department for an appointment, and was told that a nurse would call me within an hour. Already, that didn't sound good.

When she called, she asked me if I'd started applying hot compresses (yes, last night and this morning) and I should continue doing so as often as possible. R-i-g-h-t.

I should walk around the library and sit at the reference desk and computer with a hot towel on my eye?

Basically, she was telling me NOT to come to the clinic, they were NOT going to help me. SURPRISE! - this is a big HMO!

I relayed this to the DH over dinner (a yummy meal - see my other blog, Soos Lives to Eat and tonight's blogpost!) and I mentioned that I've also been using Secret Sauce on my lower eyelid. He calmly asked me if McDonald's knew about this alternative utilization. No, but they might like the idea, I replied.

Now, DON'T TRY THIS AT HOME, but it seems to be helping me:

I had eye drops from a previous prescription that I recall was for my ears. This is not as wacky as it sounds, if you look at some of your prescriptions, you'll find various formulations of the same drugs often serve different purposes. I started using the drops last night, both IN my eye, and applied to the affected area with a swab. This is a cortisone formulation, and seems to have both a palliative (pain-reducing) and swelling-lessening effect. Yes, I am healing myself!

If all I'm given is lemons, hot towels and cortisone, I'm gonna run with those, baby!

I will let you know if/when my eyelid falls off and/or I go blind.

BTW, ophthalmology is probably one of the easiest words to miss-spell, don't you think?

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Return of the Vomit Cougher or Bad Neighbors Redux

I must have preternaturally excellent hearing. I wrote about it, likening it to a dog's, here.

Bad Neighbor One:

For I HAVE heard, and the Vomit Cougher has returned. I first wrote about her here. It was more than a month's worth of peace, but now the 2 am calm of Honolulu is once more broken by THAT COUGH.

What am I doing awake at 2 am? It's not by design or desire. It's my bladder talking to me.

So I struggle out of a deep sleep and warm bed to the quiet of the tiled room with lots of plumbing. And hear THAT COUGH. I can't explain how disgusting THAT SOUND is. I'll try to approximate it.

UUUUU- WAH! No, it's much worse than I could ever write. And, there's more.

At 2 am in the morning, whether it's a school/work day, or not, the Vomit Cougher is TALKING. She is saying sweet nothings to her SO in a Vomit Cougher voice SO LOUD, I can clearly hear what she is saying. It's as if she were right outside my window.

I do not want to hear the nothings, much less the VOMIT COUGHING. I retreat to the dark and warmth of the bedroom, to the peace and quiet and calm.

Thankfully, I'm at work for most of the day, so I miss most of the daylight VOMIT COUGHING. Unless it's my day off. sigh.

Bad Neighbor Two:

The other day, I was eating breakfast and could hear the neighbor upstairs. I said this to the DH, who, with the table between us, could blissfully NOT hear her. She is SO loud, he finally heard her in her kitchen - on the FOURTH FLOOR - when we crossed the parking lot to leave on errands. Then he nodded as he understood what I meant earlier.


Bad Neighbor Three:

We've been out on our lanai, putting items in the storage units we purchased that the DH has put together. When the wind blows the right wrong way, the smell of cat shit and piss is overwhelming. We try not to spend much time on that end of the lanai. After the Incident, the neighbor hastily constructed a plywood barrier. Since then, no Unwelcome Messes have been discovered. The irony is that Bad Neighbor Two complains bitterly about the smells!

Bad Neighbor Four:

And I can often hear her say, "Oh, honey..." and figure out that her husband is due to hear an earful! In fact, this may be why we see him in the parking lot fixing his motorcycle almost every day - to escape from her!

There is a condo association rule that prohibits folks from car/motorbike repairs that was added some years ago when someone took to fixing not only his, but friends' bikes.

But I will let someone who has told me the sound of that motorcycle drives her crazy let him know about the rule. She is the wife of the building manager.

Possible New Bad Neighbor Five:

I hear a chicken clucking. It must be a hen, because I don't hear crowing. This sound is almost as close to my window as the Vomit Cougher. sigh.

Do you have bad neighbors? Are they worse than these? I feel your pain!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

End of June, July - what I've read/am reading

The Amazing Maurice & his Educated Rodents, by Terry Pratchett - hilarious, insightful! Naoko by Keigo Higashino - a family is devastated by an accident, and the reader is taken on a roller coaster ride of human thoughts and emotions - I recommend it and can't wait to see the videos of this mini series. I'm No. 3 on the request list! Also recommended: the Devotion of Suspect X, also by Higashino: we know who the killer is, but there's a twist at the end!

I've just picked up The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar, after putting it aside for a while. It echoes The Help, by Kathryn Stockett. I haven't read this - the movie is about to come out. The themes are similar: class, gender, ghettos. Umrigar is a marvelous storyteller - read this and be transported to the privileged neighborhoods and the slums of Mumbai, feel both the sorrow and the joy of the women who live and work there.

Whatever you do, for heaven's sake - READ!