zeborah: Zebra with stripes shaking (earthquake)
I did admittedly have couple of hours of my ordinary tasks first thing in the morning -- part of which involved communicating with some Internal Relationships (to use position description jargon) about whether or not they could attend the seminar. Then my manager instant messaged me to ask if I could a) make posters and b) do the physical set-up for it, so I made the posters and checked about extension cords and such.

Usually it's quarter of an hour to walk between campuses, but I had to go via another branch to pick up the dataprojector, so it turned out half an hour. Half an hour to set up. One hour for the seminar. Half an hour for lunch (which I spent with the speaker) and then a 40 minute meeting with her and an Internal Relationship who hadn't been able to make the seminar.

Then back to the other branch to return the dataprojector and discovered that the office it resides in was occupied. Now, this colleague -- just as, if you go between campuses you have to spend quarter of an hour walking, so if you meet this colleague you have to spend an hour and a half talking. Law of nature. I don't understand everything he says or how on earth he segues so smoothly between so many disparate subjects, but it's always fascinating.

Then I walked back to my current home-branch. I'd planned to check my email for emergencies before I left, but (partly due to a blister -- I may eventually give up on these boots :-( ) I only got there in time to pack up, phone the pharmacy, and grab the bus.

Attempted to return an interloan to the (temporary) public library except, even leaving earlier than I would on days when I have a 1-hour lunch plus proper tea breaks, it was closed by the time my bus got me there. On the way though I got attacked by a sudden fit of melancholy at seeing a glimpse of its proper (but inaccessible) location and walking over a hump in the sidewalk(*), and haven't figured out what I'll spend the evening doing to combat this yet.

(*) Have I mentioned humps in the sidewalk? And in the road, of course, but many/most of those are more or less levelled by now. I must have. But they're so fascinating. The asphalt has actually stretched over the sand volcano that's erupted beneath it. Stretchy concrete! So cool!

Oh, also I'll recommend the charity anthology Tales for Canterbury. 34 stories, extremely competitively priced DRM-free ebook (print version coming soon), proceeds to Red Cross. I reviewed it on Goodreads.
zeborah: Zebra with stripes shaking (earthquake)
There's a moth here determined to prove the adage.

Three unpleasant blips that make it sound like life sucks more than it does:

1) Thursday I went shopping to Barrington. My book-of-the-bus-trip was an Amnesty International collection of stories about human rights; in particular, I reached one about residents walking to get water after Hurricane Katrina and being blocked on the way. This... proved to be mildly triggering. Especially because the 'moral' at the end of the story was that people have the right to go where they want in their own country - nothing about the right to have clean drinking water. This right was only resolved fairly recently and New Zealand first opposed it then abstained from the vote.

You know what, I have strong opinions about the right of people to have clean drinking water. I really like clean drinking water and am willing, when necessary, to take half an hour out of my day to go and collect it.

So there was that, and then I had to buy as many groceries as I could feasibly carry back to the bus, which proved really heavy and so I was feeling quite worn down even before the busdriver (I think the busdrivers are being pushed too hard; a lot of them are... not themselves) took off before we'd all managed to get seats, and proceeded to drive as fast as one can drive on bumpy roads and several times failed to hear people ding the bell for their stops so had to be shouted at. Which doesn't make anyone happier.

2) Yesterday I visited New Brighton to go to the library. The roads that way were bumpy, and there were more shops fenced off or shored up with timber, and by the time I reached the library I was feeling distinctly glum. I read a C. L. Moore story (the only one by a woman in the Mammoth Collection of Golden Age SF or whatever it was called) while looking out over the pier and grey-green waves and seagulls. That library has one of the best locations ever. Then I went to wait at the busstop. Or anyway, at the lamppost which is the de facto busstop since the previous bus shelter got buried under a pile of bricks.

(When I got home, I candied the petals of two roses while watching two and a half episodes of season 2 Buffy. Practice might speed things up I guess? Also there needs to be a way not to leave brown bruise marks from holding the petal with tweezers.)

3) Today I met some new quake-friends for a writing meeting at the Borders cafe. Riccarton Mall was busier than Christmas Eve and Boxing Day combined. It reminded me of being in a Seoul mall soon after its opening when it was The trendy place to be and so crowded I felt mildly claustrophobic.

Also then this evening we got a lovely 5.3 aftershock. This was possibly my fault: earlier today I reshelved a pile of my books. (They were blocking access to the gasfire which someone's coming to look at on Monday, hopefully to say that it's safe despite the rather visible shifting of the chimney. If not, I guess I'll have to try and get the chimney removed before winter.) On the plus side none of them fell down, though they did wobble distinctly towards the edge. Also the light swayed and piano wobbled as I made my dash to the safest-looking place in the room; but nothing fell at all.

Some water did splash out of the toilet cistern.

I have power still but was told my parents were cooking over gas anyway so came as normal to our Saturday evening dinner.

Anyway, really life's pretty good when one's on leave from work. I could definitely get used to being on leave.

Will post this when they get power back or I get back home, whichever is first... --Ooh, power's back! Unfortunately the ISP isn't. Fortunately we have access to another network. You know, snuffing out a candle looks a lot suaver in the movies.

There's a moth lying on the table, slightly singed.
zeborah: Zebra with stripes shaking (earthquake)
Updated Wordpress on my church website and was reminded yet again that doing this always destroys the tweaks I've made to the banner html and css. Fixed them, yet again, and this time saved copies to my computer.

Watched The Princess Bride with my friend last night. I love that movie, I just wish I could turn off the part of my brain that keeps noting that Buttercup doesn't get to do anything except be pretty and helpless (mostly helpless).

The Orbiter bus route (which wends around the suburbs instead of going through town) has been doing a crescent since it restarted after the quake, but today for the first time it completed the circle again. I came back from my friends' that way. It didn't look too bad (occasional dairies in need of demolition aside) - of course, because it was the fact that things were much fixed that allowed the bus back there - but you could see all the patches in the roads, and there was a point where the speed limit was reduced first to 30kph then to 10kph.

It's raining. Our wastewater system is hyper fragile at the moment. If oxygen levels at the thingy plant reach a certain level the whole city will get covered with sewage fog or something.

So I got home and first thing I noticed after the purple windowsills (not taking photos right now, it's raining and also daylight saving ended so it's dark) was a package in my mailbox, containing sachets of chemicals for chemical toilets. Have lodged a question with the city council's twitter folk about whether one can mix'n'match these with the original liquid chemicals we were delivered. In the meantime I opened the bag to pull out the instructions which were obscured by the sachets, and thus was enabled to read the line about not getting the sachets wet until they're in the toilet lest they dissolve prematurely -- just as a drop of rainwater from the lip of the bag rolled inside.

Hopefully they're not like Gremlins, and will survive a single drop.

Anyway, living alone I do actually have plenty of liquid chemicals to last me a good while yet.

Apparently the mobile library is visiting this neighbourhood twice a week now. This a) is awesome b) reminds me that I've got upwards of 50 books I was going to bookcross in the library's absence. Oh well, it's still absent 5 days a week.
zeborah: Zebra with stripes shaking (earthquake)
Worked while my house got painted on. It's gonna be awesome especially when they start with the purple ("troubadour" though I don't think troubadours were particularly renowned for wearing purple, but anyway) and all the people who got pained expressions on their faces when I mentioned purple will be proved wrong, haHA!

More or less after work I wandered down the road a bit for three purposes:
  1. to see if the corner shops whose walls used to be perpendicular to the ground but after the quake were attempting to form a funky W shape were in fact now more reminiscent of this photo:

    [ETA: Okay I shouldn't have tried to hotlink. Try http://twitpic.com/4cyyg5.]
    And sure enough they were.
  2. to see if my wee library of books had disappeared from the busstop. Not only had they all disappeared, but someone had tagged the sign I'd made. Ah Linwood, never change! I'll make another sign and put book-protection plastic on this time.
  3. to see if the updated city council map was correct that there's a place to pour one's toilet waste in the next street over. Sure enough there is. It says "Human waste only" and "Beware of splashback!" and has a bottle of hand sanitiser duct taped to it.
I'm still gearing myself up to using the actual chemical toilet. Have been reading the instructions and looking at it mistrustfully. There's a water tank and a waste tank and a bottle of chemicals, and there's levers and knobs and lots of dire warnings.

I'm slightly disappointed that no-one commented about the exploding toilets I mentioned. Seriously, exploding toilets! However this is outweighed by the amount of disappointment I contain that the newspaper didn't use the opportunity to comment on the possibility that the contents of said exploding toilets might hit the bathroom fan.

Gotta go, Boots wants food. I was thinking of starving her a while longer so she'd catch and nom more of the flies that have been bugging me, but then one of them landed on my back and she launched herself at it and caught my back with her claws. She apologised very prettily, with lots of rubbing against me and looking cute and so forth, but I have my suspicions.
zeborah: Zebra against a barcode background, walking on the word READ (read)
The local library being closed ("repairs required plus some issues with the neighbouring mall") I got around to grabbing some to-be-bookcrossed books from the mess on my living room floor and bookcrossed them to the busstop opposite said mall (with a sign to say "take/enjoy/pass on" and a note about which real libraries are open).

As I was putting the books in the bag, though, I noticed that one of them was "Under the Mountain" by Maurice Gee. "Under the Mountain" is a New Zealand classic and has been filmed a time or two, so you might wonder what could possibly be objectionable about it. Well, let me tell you, behind a spoiler tag: (skip) On the last page, after the kids have defeated the Threat To The World, it emerges that because the boy slacked off a bit in his world-saving efforts, things exploded and now they have to walk back to an Auckland suffering from the aftereffects of major volcanic eruption.

...I mean, this is a bit of an inexplicable downer at the best of times, which I only keep forgetting because it feels so pasted on, but right now I'm not inflicting that on unknown kids without warning, so the book's still sitting on my bedroom floor while the rest of the books are sitting at the busstop (or hopefully by now in a bunch of people's hands). If anyone wants to read it anyway, let me know and we can arrange something.

To balance this terrible display of censorship on my part, a fellow bookcrosser noticed my releases and has offered a box of spare books she's got, for continuing restocking efforts; I should be able to pick these up on Monday or so, and then I'll just put out a little bunch at a time. So that's very awesome.

I think there's also some more books on my living room floor that I wanted to bookcross, so that's more incentive to finish tidying them up. The big question of course remains: To put them back on the shelves or not to put them back on the shelves?
zeborah: Zebra with stripes falling off (stress and confusion)
I got to my desk today to find an email waiting, telling me someone's made an application on my behalf and I need to fill out a questionnaire to complete it. This email sounding startlingly similar to one I received yesterday, I phoned to confirm. After a short discussion, we worked out that I didn't have to.

Then a bit before lunch I got an email whose subject says the deadline has been extended to [closing date listed (possibly accidentally) on an important external website] and whose body says the selection process is well under way and I should hear from them in the near future. I'm not sure if they consider two weeks to be the near future or if their message got a bit jumbled in the confusion.

In between emails, I moved some more hundreds of books, with a brief pause to put into some semblance of order about ten shelves' worth that had obviously all fallen onto the floor and been put back randomly on the shelves by building contractors. This was particularly fun because they're in the internet programming section of the classification range, so these ten shelves of books ranged from TK 5105.888 [etc] to TK 5105.8885 [etc] (through such numbers as TK 5105.88815 [etc]) so one gets cross-eyed very quickly, and then also one discovers a stray TK 5105.85 from the next bay over, or a TK 7182 that must have fallen in from the other side of the stack).

We did as much of that area as can be done right now in the morning; in the afternoon (after an all-library meeting to update us on some technology changes planned for the summer) we went to another area to do some easier straightening of shelves. Not many had fallen off in this area; mostly they were all leaning over. Though we did find a book that seems to have fallen down from the mezzanine level straight above, and yes I mean that if the book had moved in a straight line it would have had to pass through the floor. I suppose there might have been human intervention at some point pre- or post-quake, but I dunno. Things move weirdly in earthquakes.

I've started... hmm. I haven't started actually writing again, but I've regained my interest in writing and am once more glaring at the unfinished short story that I was glaring at pre-quake.

Oh, I had an awesome dream last night that I was writing a bunch of fairytales in verse. Most were bare-bones ones, but there was a longer one in an aabccb rhyme scheme that involved a witch (rhymed with ditch), a princess carrying all her worldly possessions (maiden rhymed with laden) and a dwarf (which I think I managed to put in the middle of a line so as not to have to rhyme).

I rather expect I'll continue having rough moments/hours/days (and I remain easily brain-fried, which means my capacity for socialness, even the basic socialness of replying to comments, is a bit eclectic at present) but purposeful hard labour is awefully therapeutic.
zeborah: Zebra with stripes falling off (stress and confusion)
It turned out that my application didn't get through after all. After talking/emailing with four HR people, attempting to follow several links which gave me new and improved error messages, and finally filling out a just-for-me version of the application which missed out a bunch of questions (a known glitch, apparently) it seems I have now successfully applied for the job.

I have no idea how many other awesome people have also applied for it so if you don't hear me wibbling about an interview just assume I'm remaining in my current job. Which is, for the record, an excellent job.

Part of my excellent job today involved finally being allowed to go up and move books en masse. This isn't putting them back where they ought to be -- actually it's currently moving them off the correct shelves onto new super-duper-reinforced shelves, so that said correct shelves can themselves get super-duper reinforcing and the books can be moved back. If this sounds intolerably frustrating, bear in mind that over the Christmas holidays all the books in our collection were moved anywhere between two and five times each, so we're kind of used to it, although admittedly there was a lot less ceiling plaster mixed in with them that time.

The utter chaos of things up there provides a great deal of comic relief (especially when one of my colleagues thought she might - having googled the bookcover - be able to be able to spot a report among the hundreds of piles stacked neatly, two-deep, the builders having helpfully sorted them by size, along every wall of the relevant floor. Hahahaha no) which is a vital prophylactic against despair.

I now have a bandaid on my thumb from scraping it forcibly against a shelf, but I got a shelf-putting-together guy to bang on one that wasn't quite in, thus cleverly avoiding a repeat of the Best Bruise in the World incident.

Plus and also, moving hundreds of books appears to be an excellent remedy for the case of GRR RAGE I had all weekend.

I'm now going to see how my "all those ingredients seemed a good idea at the time" crockpot concoction has turned out.
zeborah: Zebra with stripes shaking (earthquake)
Work today was quiet, part twiddling thumbs, part tidying up details, part bonding and settling in.

There was the thing with noticing that one of our shear walls has a crack running the length of it. A crack which you can see on both sides of the wall. This made us a little nervous but when FM came along to check it they promised it was safe.

Not so one of our photocopiers, though, which received a yellow sticker. (The others got green stickers. I think the whole city is being triaged, piece by piece.)

I spent most of the morning sort of informally liaising between various departments. (In Central Library there's a whiteboard up to sign in and out of the building.) When I came back to my own branch I started by cleaning the ceiling plaster dust off my desk.

Some of my colleagues thought they felt slight tremors at lunch, but I missed them. Half an hour later I said, "I felt that one." (It turned out to be smaller than several I've missed, but near and shallow.)

I learned I'm not the only person avoiding my bed: a colleague's grandson is convinced the earthquakes are being caused by his bedroom in her house (fortunately he was staying there that night, rather than in his normal bedroom in his mother's house). I already knew I wasn't the only person sleeping in clothes (though I've finally stopped now) and pretty much everyone is keeping a flashlight and cellphone close to hand. Also, no-one laughed when I mentioned I keep my shoes upside down to prevent glass falling inside. Instead I got told of a colleague's friend whose thermometer broke inside one shoe, and she carefully brushed and vacuumed out all the glass but when she wore it her foot gradually got more and more sore, and at the end of the day she realised she'd burnt her whole foot on whatever liquid had been inside the thermometer.

At afternoon tea I shifted in my chair, accidentally making it creak, and my colleague next to me jumped. As we gathered to say our goodbyes and go home, another colleague leaned wearily against the lockers, making them clatter, and a fourth colleague jumped.

The roads are crowded and the buses running late.

Staring out the window as we drove through the suburbs, I mused. Thinking about that link that was talking about how one has to reconcile one's ordinary belief that the world isn't out to kill you with those moments when it did kind of give it a go. It's like these two things exist in your head at the same time, in some quantam superposition thing, and it hurts your brain. And over time I've been resolving that back to the single state of "The world doesn't want to kill me" (albeit with the caveat "but how about I get my emergency kit ready just in case"). This avoids brain-hurtiness, and it gets my anxiety levels down.

And the thing that enrages me about 9/11 is the huge effort Certain Interests put in to resolve the quantam superposition in the opposite direction. To convince people that the (Islamic) world is out to get them. And doing this doesn't make the world any safer. All it does is keep people anxious. And (even if the various reasons the Certain Interests have for doing this were pure as the snow, which they're really not), keeping people anxious after a traumatic incident is itself evil. It is so many kinds of nasty I just cannot express.
zeborah: Zebra with stripes shaking (earthquake)
You know how you wake up on Saturday morning and you think, "Hooray! I don't have to be stuck in that same old building all day doing things I don't want to do; instead I can go where I want and do what I want to do!"

Today felt like Saturday because I could finally go to work.

(Oh guys, as I type this, Boots is sitting on my lap for the first time in almost a week, and she's licking my nose.)

Before I get to the work thing, I should mention that, having gone to bed in my spare bedroom, I managed to sleep sound all night - indeed so soundly that I didn't wake up until my alarm clock went off. Then I started getting ready, pausing briefly to crouch in the corner of the bathroom for an aftershock which, it later transpired, was two earthquakes striking simultaneously from two different directions, could you even make this stuff up? [ETA: Oh, apparently this was a Schrödinger aftershock or something, and has now resolved itself to a single quake.]

So I took my bus and chatted with the busdriver who knows me, and as we went through not-quite-the-centre of town (because the centre of town was still cordoned off) he pointed out this chimney and that roof and that building and that façade and so on, like a regular tour-guide. Some I'd seen on the news, some I hadn't.

At work I signed in at the checkpoint and got issued a pass to wear. Met colleagues and we went to one of the safe libraries to go through the list of what publishers are offering us to tick the things that we want. Then we talked about things we need to communicate with users and then we had lunch and I talked lots with colleagues, which was wonderful. And then I stayed with the IT people to work through some website pages.

Finally I went back to my own branch (via the check-in point so they knew where I was) - everyone else there had left except one who showed me around briefly. It's, um. <attempts to match words to scope for a while and gives up> Let's call it a mess. We can deal with it but it'll take some weeks or so I should think. But level 1 is pretty much okay so that part can open next week. And my office is fine, and my colleague watered our potted mandarin plant which is also fine.

After checking out I took a different bus home, through the suburbs. Mostly they're pretty normal. Then we hit Dallington and the streets are suddenly lined with silt and traffic cones and portaloos, and roofs have been replaced with tarpaulins, and doors are sprayed with "No go" and labelled with the dreaded red stickers. And then we came around the corner and I blinked and thought, "This isn't that far away from my own house."

When I got home I found that the guy who I'd asked before the quake to trim some hedges and trees had done it today, except he seems to have forgotten one. It wasn't that important so I won't bother saying anything. You know, it's just on the "Really, who cares?" list (as, indeed, so many things are these days).

I have emotions, I just don't know what all of them are. (Earthquake: Trauma and Stress makes me nod a lot. Sometimes I think I'm basically normal. And sometimes I think I should be normal. But I'm not. I'm tending strongly towards "okay" but I'm not normal except compared with fellow Christchurch-folk.)

By the end of the day it didn't feel so much like Saturday as like Friday evening after a long week. Coincidentally the calendar seems to agree with this. But it was a very, very good day.
zeborah: Zebra with stripes shaking (earthquake)
Three wonderful hours. (It looks like there were only a couple of little aftershocks during that time, which explains why I wasn't woken.) I dreamed that we were recovering from an earthquake.

The university has photos of the Central Library and says, "Be aware that the clean up operation will be specialised and is potentially hazardous in some places. For example we have library books mixed with window glass [...]" My manager mentioned that the branches might open before Central Library, now I can really see why.

I just saw my cat. She was hesitating about coming inside so I took her food out to her. She looked interested but too nervous to actually settle down and eat properly. (She might have nommed a bit of kibble or two before a noise distracted her.) On reflection I took half the kibble away in case she does manage to gobble it all at once and get sick; it's two days since she last ate here and if she's this nervous now she probably hasn't been thinking about scavenging either.

The buses still aren't running tomorrow.

The local mall looks like nothing ever happened - and so does the library there. Single-storey probably helps, and I think there's just something about the land in this part of town too.
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)
(No, this is not about the increasing number of silver hairs on my head or, as I like to think of them, my passport to not getting carded when buying the occasional bottle of wine.)

A few years ago, we used to say as a joke, "Ah, so that's what the kids are calling it these days."

Now I listen to Lady Gaga's songs and I say, "Huh, the kids are really calling it these days."

--Which is why I'm really liking them. I just don't know that many other songs about masturbation, y'know? Somewhere I came across someone online saying she should stop writing such sexual songs and I'm all, "Dude, that's what's so awesome about them!" That and that the music makes me want to move in happy ways, which is good seeing as this is being a crappy week in which the university is proposing to disestablish nearly a third of my colleagues across the whole uni library, mostly managers and other highly skilled staff, and replace half of them with mostly cheaper and less qualified models.

<random wibbling!> After due consideration of risks and benefits, I began tweeting about this proposal under my name. People have been very supportive. Today I tweeted a link to the union's online copy of the proposal itself and only later discovered that it was maybe not meant to be quite so public as I thus made it. I don't think the union will fret and if anyone else complains I can always say that HR told us that after 2:30 Tuesday we could tell anyone we liked about it. I doubt they will though. And I don't seriously think that being bolshy about such an appalling proposal will seriously damage my future career prospects, so long as I keep on sticking strictly to the facts. So it's just really generalised wibbling, and Lady Gaga makes me feel better.

I may do a lot of shelf-tidying over the next few weeks with her as background. Did I mention I have a new iPod nano? I have a new iPod nano, and it's purple, and I've solemnly vowed not to accidentally throw this one out with the rotten apples.

<handy tip!> After a couple of days of normal operation, my volume got stuck too loud and hurting my ears and not being at all adjustable, and googling the problem just brought up a lot of people offering oh-so-clever advice like "turn the wheel to turn the volume down" and "use volume lock to set the maximum volume you want". After much desperate fiddling I came up with two solutions (in reverse order of finding them but in order of helpfulness):
  • Reset settings. This made the volume adjustable again, so I can now turn it down to a pleasant volume. The downside was that I had to tweak all my non-volume related settings to be just how I want them.
  • So before that I tried setting the EQ (equaliser) to "Loudness". This reduced the volume to something tolerable, but it was still stuck at non-adjustable.
At some point I may fiddle around to see what I did that made it non-adjustable to start with but in the meantime I'm glad it's working again.
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)
As I went to bed the other night Boots scooted around behind my headboard-less bed. I lay down, and I guess some locks of my hair hung over the edge of the bed, because next thing I know a paw comes up to bat at it.


Managers should know how to perform basic desk functions because then, if they're trying to talk to other staff at the desk when a not-so-sudden onslaught of students arrives and they decide to help, they can in fact help, instead of interrupting another staff member trying to deal with another student to ask where the requested books are held, and then to ask if you issue it in the "check in" screen, and then instead of selecting the "check out" screen to minimise it, and so on and so forth, taking up more of said staff member's time than if the manager had stayed well out of it in the first place. --Alternatively they should know to stay away from the front desk when a major assignment is taking place, and I'm talking about an assignment that one year famously cleaned out all the books on the history of engineering from every library in town.


Dear colleague:

...Never mind, it'll be quicker to start reciting Latin straight away. Domine, dominus noster, quam admirabile est nomen tuum, quoniam est terminus hebdomis!
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)
I don't like unsaying yes. It makes me annoyed at the vendors-of-awesome-thus-expensive-products who think it's a good idea to phone up a rank-and-file librarian while she's got her head in the land of "How many books can I throw out from *this* shelf?" and offer/ask to visit when they're in town next Wednesday -- rather than someone at her organisation whose responsibility this stuff is -- merely on the grounds that she oohed and aahed over your product at conference.

It's an awesome product, of course I oohed and aahed. And I'm a librarian, so of course I said "Uh, Wednesday? I don't seem to have anything on then.... You *do* know we're not actually in the market right now plus I'm just a lowly peon, right? You do? Um, okay...."

And then hung up the phone and started thinking, in that way that ideas grow on you, that actually this makes no sense and moreover is likely to be, well, politically incorrect.

So I've just had to send off a "Terribly sorry, but uh, how about I give your email address to the appropriate peoples instead" email, so now I feel rude and out-of-sorts.

Budding librarians! This should in no way discourage you from attending conferences and oohing and aahing over awesome-thus-expensive technologies! Just maybe prepare a few "Let me pass that on to the person who'd be miffed if I took you up on it," lines first in order to avoid awkward moments.

Also, while learning valuable life lessons is all very exciting, I personally find it more pleasant to learn other people's valuable life lessons, so please feel free to share in the comments.

I'm now going to go and be vicariously vicious to some of my characters.
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (NZ)
So I went into work today despite feeling like the Earth's centre of mass was constantly shifting under my feet. Fortunately, yesterday's excessive sleeping was successful in preventing my eyes from leaking today. Also, I got an email from a certain library vendor saying I'd won a prize draw at conference, which explained the mysterious arrival of a glossy book of photos in the post yesterday. I must confess I'm still a bit jealous of the person who won the 1-terabyte hard drive.

However, I must not be distracted from my miracle of science!

Today is the last day of the university teaching year before study week and exams begin, and you can guess what that means. Yes, it's the annual Tea Party! (Note that little tea is consumed at the Tea Party. In fact, if any of the liquids consumed at the Tea Party are tea then they almost certainly come from Long Island.) Every year, Central Library closes at 5pm on Tea Party Day because, being the nearest library to the Tea Party, it's the most likely to be disrupted and vomited in by Tea Partygoers.

The Tea Party officially begins on the Friday afternoon, but in practice people begin consuming appropriate liquids on Thursday evening, and continue consuming them through the morning. Thus it was that at about 10:30 this morning, several women wandered past Engineering Library with bottles in their hands and pink and white tights and tutus on their cheerfully swaying bodies.

It is this swayingness to which I wish to draw my readers' discerning attention. For, sometime in the late morning / early noon region of the day, my own propensity to sway began fading away. It is my hypothesis, therefore, that the presence of so many, so very inebriated, young people in one location caused a singularity to form in the sway-time continuum, attracting all symptoms reminiscent of inebriation towards the centre of mass of the Tea Partygoers.(1) Never let it be said that young people today bring no benefit to their community!

As the bus drove me home this evening, a little swayingness returned to me (see, my hypothesis could have predicted that swayingness would increase according to the square of the distance from the Tea Party, so it must be true!) but all in all, I feel approximately 82.3% better than I did this morning. My colleagues have made me promise not to make any sudden movements this weekend; but I feel this is excellent advice in general, which is bound to stand me in good stead for all sorts of situations, such as if I should come face to face with a rhinoceros, an avalanche, or a certain felis catus(2) staring intently at my hand as her tail switches back and forth.

(1) Do I have the coolest medical hypotheses since germ theory or what?
(2) I've decided to name her Scruffles for the rest of the day. Until she annoys me, and then it's back to "Ts!"
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)
So I spent Thursday and Friday moving books, partly so as not to think too much about staffing issues, partly because we have to move every book in the library and some of them twice. --Some of them three times, for that matter.

It turns out that when you spend an hour at a time, a few times a day, moving books from shelf to trolley and taking the lift upstairs, then moving books from trolley to shelf and taking the lift downstairs, then you get
  • tired,
  • dizzy,
  • confused about whether you should be pushing for level 2 or level 3,
  • and occasionally panicked: This is level 2! What am I doing here? I should be on level 3! Why am I on level 2? Think, Zeborah, think: my trolley's empty, so that means I need to be picking up books, so whew, I guess level 2's correct after all.
Talking with colleagues confirmed that it wasn't just me on any count.

Anyway, I'm going to library conference on Monday, and giving two presentations there on Tuesday, so my plan on Friday night was to boil a heck of a lot of rice, eat a big dinner, watch a movie, go to bed, and work on the presentations in the weekend (with leftover rice for a meal somewhere there).

It started going wrong when I ate all the rice at once, leaving no leftovers at all. The movies were good though. Fire over England ("This recording is protected by copyright" - oh no it's not! public domain, mate. Public domain.) is one I'd watched before - personally Queen Elizabeth bores me in it, but when Our Hero goes back to Spain as an undercover agent, there's some stuff that really hits the spot for me. Old movies can be slow, but they can show some startling subtlety of motivation too, which is too often neglected nowadays. And lines like:
The whole trouble comes from treating your enemies like human beings. Don't you see, my dear, that if you do that, they cease to be enemies? Think what that leads to! It's the end of patriotism. It's the end of war. It's the end of... of everything! Now do you see?
When I finished watching that, I thought I'd watch the next one on the DVD, Angel on my Shoulder. The first few minutes bored me but when I looked up again it was set in Hell, and it piqued my interest, and then we met the Devil and he rocked. The plot's a fairly predictable "Mobster makes deal with the devil but the love of a good woman turns him to the side of good," but the mobster/devil interactions are awesomesauce, and the love interest, despite being the eponymous-but-figurative angel, displays sense and spunk at an opportune moment, and then (spoiler in white space) when the mobster makes the ultimate sacrifice of returning to hell so more deserving folk can have a happy life, instead of the writers deciding that this sacrifice exempts him from hell, and sending him up in a cloud of white, yadda yadda -- which should totally happen, but I don't care, because how they ended it was way cooler: on the way back down to hell, the Devil is promising to torture him worse than ever, and he's blackmailing the Devil right back: "Oh no you won't, or I tell everyone down there what a fool you made of yourself."(end spoiler)

But to get to my title. I eventually go to bed. And I sleep well. And I dream that I'm revising two books, and I realise that actually the story I want to tell would work fine as a short story - new guy arrives on spaceship, confrontation scene with captain about how he's really there to investigate his father's murder, a bit of investigation, then there's the song that only the murderer could have known (in real life it's the song from Fire Over England but in the dream it wouldn't have been) and various other very vivid things happened which I've now forgotten because the important thing is that I then woke up and thought, Damn! Because I knew which novels they were, and though this short story is actually a different story it could totally be in the same universe, and unlike most dream-stories it actually is a story, especially with some tweaking, and while I'm at it I'll make it a woman investigating her mother's murder instead, and ooh I could do this, and that, and I want to write this right now!

--But I can't, because I have to spend the weekend preparing for two presentations on Tuesday.

Le head-desk.


A day and a half later, I've managed to get the slideshows ready so now just need to rehearse the speaking side of things some more, and I've managed to squeeze in enough time to write several hundred words of the story. It's probably going to be all but unrecognisable from the dream, but I'll know it's the same story really.

Still waiting for my sense of balance to recover from Friday.
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Diddums)
There was the tide-coming-in dream, for when I was worried about deadlines, and there was the packing-anxiety dream, for when I was thinking of travelling somewhere that would require packing. (Actually travelling there was unnecessary: being homesick sufficed.) These have both trailed off because I rarely have deadlines these days and no longer travel much.

What I do do is work at the library until closing time on a Wednesday evening. Enter the library-closing-anxiety dream.

Basic plot: It's 9pm. I want to close the library and go home. But the students won't leave! Worse than that, they keep coming in!

Variations and elaborations:
  • The first time I had this dream, the students were making sandwiches in a discussion room.
  • The second-most-recent time, we were actually opening the library but the students were coming in before they were ready, and also our lending desk had been renovated into oblivion and the students kept coming into the staff-only area to take books off the shelves.
  • Last night the students (instead of being merely oblivious to closing time as normal) actually had a reason for not leaving, to wit, they had assignments/exams the next morning, needed a place to study, and didn't see why I couldn't just go home and leave them in the building. They even went into the floors where we'd turned off the lights, apparently intending to study by streetlight or something. At 9:12 I decided to call Security but I kept losing my place in the list of phone numbers, and then when I found it, it was some formula that required multiplying one of the digits and I couldn't tell if I was meant to carry the one onto the next digit or just forget it.
I actually have an obscure fondness for the tide-coming-in-and-going-to-drown-me dreams, and the packing-anxiety dreams at least mean that yay, I'm travelling somewhere! But library-closing-anxiety dreams? Just Plain Annoying.

[I just arrived at work and asked my colleagues if they ever get this dream. "Every Sunday," says the one who closes on Sundays. "Every Tuesday," says the one who closes Tuesdays. Somehow I feel both reassured and depressed by the inevitability of it all.]
zeborah: Zebra against a barcode background, walking on the word READ (books)
So we're doing a lot of deaccessioning at the library at the moment. "Deaccessioning" is the polite euphemism for "weeding" that we use in the hope that it won't cause the general public to go "Oh noes, the librarians are throwing out books, civilisation is falling!"

(If anyone is tempted to express such sentiments here, all I can say is: you haven't *seen* the books we're weeding. Or the colour of my hands after I've spent half an hour with them. (Some people from another branch came to weed one section and complained about all the dust. In private we mocked them mercilessly, because that's the section we *vacuumed* a year ago.) We use other criteria than the dust index, but actually the dust index is a pretty good gauge. --The mould-on-the-front-cover index is even better.)

Anyway, when I came back from holiday there was a gigantic pile of books on the bench waiting to be sorted into an "Attempt to sell for $2" pile and a "Throw it straight into the recycling bin and stand back before the mushroom cloud of dust gets you" pile.

(Seriously, don't even start with the outrage. You haven't *seen* this junk. Reprints of journal articles no-one cares about and if they did they wouldn't search for a reprint, in courier, single-sided on yellowed paper, quarter-flushed in cardboard which has warped with age so that the dust has had plenty of space to settle on.... And the ringbound workshop notes from 1973. And the damned plastic spiral binding that snaps at your fingers when you try to pull it off so the paper can be recycled; there's a knack to getting it off without injury, but it doesn't work if the plastic's old enough to be decomposing into shards. And the damned metal spiral binding which won't come off at all unless you tear the pages off a few at a time -- although then you can make things with the wire. I made a cute bookworm yesterday when I was feeling particularly overwhelmed.)

So anyway, yesterday and today, among other tasks, I sorted through the pile. And today among that pile I found a Swedish/English and a Norwegian/English dictionary. And now the dictionaries are in my living room, along with the Danish/English dictionary which technically still belongs to the library but in practice has been in my possession for three years.

(They're still in a plastic bag: I haven't vacuumed them yet.)
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)
Hey everyone, I will be on holiday from Thursday morning until the night of Sunday week. Just in case you wonder why I've disappeared from the face of the internet.

Hey, and my fridge is now startlingly clean, due to the fact that I just threw all sorts of containers full of dubious substances into the garbage.

I still need to:
* buy a suitcase to replace the one with the zip that's corroded shut
* visit the doctor for medicaments which, in my befuddled state on Friday, I told the other doctor I had enough of (I did! Because I was planning to visit the doctor and knew I had enough to last until then...) Anyway, a check-up will probably be good.
* give my sister a key to make it easier for her to feed my cat
* do the dishes
* everything else I've forgotten

Hey everyone, while on holiday with nothing to do but nature walks and other such tortures, shall I:

a) finish this blasted novel for once and for all (quarter of an accursed novel in 10 days should be doable, right?)

b) recreate the entirety of 16th century Copenhagen in Inform 7 for an open-ended interactive fiction/game/thing where you can choose by your actions whether the story is a romance, mystery, quest, political thriller, etc etc (so far I have a few rooms in the castle; candles and oil lamps that burn until consumed; coins in various denominations and kings; and some randomly generated NPCs who'll tell you when asked what time it is and, if they're a priest in a chapel and it happens to be the change of the canonical hour, will start saying their offices)

c) make Criminal Minds fanvids (this would involve packing all my DVDs plus the old laptop because the new laptop inexplicably refuses to read my Criminal Minds DVDs, do not even *get* me started)

d) plan properly for the workshop I'll be facilitating at the library conference in a month and a half (except this probably requires the internet for research which I won't have)

e) do my overdue taxes (um, whoops)

f) read piles of books (involves packing piles of books)

g) all of the above?
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)
...that I never had any intention of my LiveJournal being all about the Bible. I thought I'd bore people with tales of my adorable cat Boots instead (who currently has a shaved patch on her throat for vaccinations, one on her foreleg for anaesthetic, and a large one on her belly for a spaying operation that it turned out she'd already had before I adopted her as a stray);

or of my new house (to which the possessive "my" is perhaps not as applicable as I'd originally thought, seeing as how, two and a half months later, it turns out the title hasn't been transferred to me yet; no, I'm not panicking, yet, quite);

or of my job (which was even cooler than usual today: a colleague showed me this web-based collaborative whiteboard and I convinced our boss to let us put it up on the smartboard where all our users could play with it; I also attempted a literature review on academic librarians setting up temporary reference desks in cafes, residence halls, outside lecture theatres etc; and picked some titles not-quite-at-random which the library could buy for the subject I'm responsible for if it turns out we can afford them);

or of my writing (which is going slowly, but it's going, which is better than for most of the last six months).

I may in fact at some stage get around to some of these.


zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)

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