Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Info Desk Blogging

We had an All-Staff meeting at the library this morning. I always forget they're happening. If I remembered I wouldn't have anything to eat before I left the house because there's always food laid out in the break room -- bagels and muffins and melon and coffee. So I had a cup of coffee, a couple melon slices, and half a muffin, and skipped my usual snack at my 10:30 break. The new Peet's has opened up across the street. I walked over there and poked around -- yes, decent seating, a basket by the door for abandoned newspapers. The croissants are $1.95; at Starbucks they are $1.75. I didn't price the coffee.

Hm. Pretty quiet in here. Next week we'll be closed at this time because of the budget cuts. I may take a different Info Desk hour. Or not have one.

Nothing much happened at the All-Staff meeting. After the anxieties of previous All-Staff meetings, what with looming cuts and possible job losses, it was nice to sit and watch a video about the new RFID (radio frequency i.d.) inventory system -- once, that is, the tech folks figured out how to run the DVD.

... Had a rush of phone calls there and a few folks stopping at the desk. Aw, he's cute. Nice to get a smile as he goes by. A little girl comes by wearing a pink cloud of cape, like a princess superhero. A mother asks me to tell her son that skipping is not allowed. Oh, I don't want to do that. So I say, "Well, our floors are very hard and we do ask you to be extra careful moving around as anyone falling on them could get hurt." He puts his hands over his ears, then pulls the brim of his baseball cap over his eyes.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

no version 6?

I didn't post version 6 because it's barely a version. It's just a word or two different from version 5. If I'd thought about it I wouldn't have versioned on to 7. But I didn't. Not like it's a big deal or anything.

"Interoceptor" version 7

When no dog unhooked from leather leash
heaved himself at the frisbee with the chewed edge,
when no towel unfolded,

when, brown bottles broken in the coals,
old fires’ only motions in log-hid holes
were the falling-in of new sand,

when, cold with sea the wind,
hurried to my mouth,
the cold of it starting tears,

when, yellow foam crackling,
the surf rolled unroped kelp heads and seagrapes

when, between washes, sand flea burrows
bubbled open, and, carried over them,
not one gull cut the white with her gray,

when no striped umbrella puffed,
no sunscreen shone on a red shoulder,
and no sand knew turret or moat,

when, in the dark spaces of dunes
no one turned to touch, and there were grasses
sliding merely against grasses, I

stretched out my arms,
the one in stiff cotton standing,
the one in hard shoes,

was shore,
was white, wide,
sand, water, and I

let the wind, warmer, go.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Info Desk Blogging

Nobody wants my Sunday hours, it seems. Golly, in these days of staff cuts ... oops! A coworker has come through for me. Wow. Now I take back all my grumpy ungratefulness. Right? Right!

Only a couple people have come up to the Info Desk. Several phone calls.

When I told the Circulation Supervisor that someone had volunteered to do my Sunday she sighed and said there are so few people she can trade with that she ends up working Sunday after Sunday after Sunday. This coming Sunday, due to budget cuts, is the last Sunday the library will open. Is that the bright side? Frankly, I don't mind Sundays, I just don't want to work this one. If there were future Sundays maybe I could've found someone to trade with.

Just now had a patron, new to Berkeley, who wanted to know what American Sign Language (ASL) videotapes we had. Not many. He started the query by writing a note and I responded with my halting sign. So he switched to sign and, other than the annoyance of dumbing down for me (fingerspelling when I looked more confused than usual), he seemed pleased by my effort.

The usual questions otherwise: where are the restrooms? how do I get a library card? this book isn't on the shelf, could you have someone search for it for me?

A patron just donated a stack of videos and CDs. From "Good Will Hunting" to Enrique Iglesias.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

from "The Tapir's Morning Bath"

A couple quotes from The Tapir's Morning Bath: Mysteries of the Tropical Rain Forest and the Scientists who are Trying to Solve Them by Elizabeth Royte:

"Save the rain forest and all it contains because it is there. Because it is wondrous and interesting. Because it has a right to exist. The more I contemplated what the loss of such places felt like to me, the more I began to think that some of these 'higher' reasons for conservation might be just as utilitarian as the food and gas arguments. ... To contemplate things we don't understand, to conserve that which has no 'use' ... If the rain forest and its complexity disappeared, we'd be impoverished intellectually and spiritually, as well as materially."

And one of the more amusing examples of the rain forest research: "In 1981, two researchers working in Panama [where Tapir author Royte has been studying scientists] baited traps with human feces and came up with twenty-two species of dung beetle in one location. Human scat, far more than that of any other rain forest mammal, is the type most avidly sought by dung beetles -- in some locations, up to fifty different species have congregated on devoted researchers' samples -- and the type most quickly sequestered."

[A description of the dung beetle's sequestering process:] "Using her front legs, the beetle worked the stuff into a ball, then rolled it backward while walking toward the leaf's edge [this beetle was collecting monkey dung from high in a tree]. When the ball and beetle fell to earth, the dung beetle fortified herself with a few mouthfuls, then laid her eggs in the remaining ball so that the larvae had something to fatten upon when they emerged."

Saturday, June 19, 2004

On the brighter side

Seems a scholar has uncovered a poem by Abraham Lincoln.

“Yes! I’ve resolved the deed to do,
And this the place to do it:
This heart I’ll rush a dagger through
Though I in hell should rue it! . . .

Sweet steel! Come forth from out your sheath,
And glist'ning, speak your powers;
Rip up the organs of my breath,
And draw my blood in showers!

I strike! It quivers in that heart
Which drives me to this end;
I draw and kiss the bloody dart,
My last—my only friend!”

Thanks for John Pawlik at Melic Review's discussion board for posting the poem where I could come across it.

an intemperate letter

I wrote a letter today. I got all steamed upon reading this article by Carolyn Blockhead ... oops, Lochhead at SFGate, the San Francisco Chronicle's website. I haven't sent the letter. It's quite intemperate, perhaps even unfair. After writing the letter I searched for other articles she'd written on SFGate and found some in which her vileness was not so obvious, so, I don't know, I don't want to accuse her of being completely evil in every circumstance when it's just that she occasionally beats small puppies to death with her wedgies.

Dear Right Wing Tool,

It sickens me that your article contained quotes only from those who want to destroy my family. Is there in your Rolodex not one single sane person? Considering the evidence of the article I'd say there isn't; you quote Tony Perkins (the president of the Family Research Council, whose only research consists of how to twist the truth in order to destroy families), Robert Knight (of Concerned Women of America, which would be more aptly named Women Against Women and Other Human Beings), John Cornyn (of the Texas Republicans who proudly announce their desire to see America Taliban-ized in a viciously Christian manner) ... and, oh, who's that I see?, way down in the article's 20th paragraph, it's a spokesperson from the Human Rights Campaign, a pro-family organization here identified as a "gay lobby that ... endorsed Kerry." Forgive me for overlooking her negligible contribution. To sum up the perfidy of the article, the concluding quote, naturally, is given to none-other-than the infamous Lou Sheldon, a longtime opponent of love and advocate of the destruction of families, yet he is not identified as such, instead being tagged merely with the sweetly cruel name of his organization, the Traditional Values Coalition; he's not even given the courtesy of being tied to George W. Bush by an "endorsement" or has he not done that? Has he endorsed Satan, an only slightly more moderate force? As I doubt you are ashamed by the brazen bias of this act of unreal journalism asking for something approaching ethical behavior from you in the future would be a waste of our time. Instead, I should say congratulations on placing this piece of shit in the SF Chronicle and have fun with your paycheck.

yours sincerely etc

OK. Now. More on Carolyn Lochhead? Maybe she's a lezzie. After all there's an article by her at something called "the Independent Gay Forum." Her article talks about how nervous those uptighty gays of the right are made by dykes on bikes and flouncy queens in pride parades. The article was originally published in "Reason magazine" ... it makes such odd claims as, "a quite different path [to gay acceptance in America] is ... emerging and appears to be gaining popularity among the gay intellectual and political elite ... The values of this new politics are far more traditional, even conservative, and yet its demands are also much more radical. [It seems, by "radical" Lochhead means what used to be called assimilationist, that is, being just like a normal person except in the sex of the other in the bed.] [This new gay movement] enjoys a distinctly American [?] moral appeal that disarms opponents, even as its radicalism inspires a fierce, instinctive opposition. [Instinctive? No, dear, this is a learned behavior.]"

I'd better stop now as, in the heat of passion, I have committed a crime of rhetoric. I've interposed my own judgments within the writing I quoted. That's a big no-no. Ah, but today's entry is all no-nos ...

That "Independent Gay Forum" seems to be pushing a dump-on-the-queers and praise the Republicans (2 laudatory articles on Ronald Reagan featured on today's homepage) sort of "Independent Forum." I tend to think it's better there's an Andrew Sullivan openly gay than a Roy Cohn closeted, but I'll have to disagree with Sullivan nearly as often as with Cohn. Ah, the war of liberation in Iraq, Andy, it's been fun!

Getting back to Lochhead, it seems she really is a right wing tool. My instincts were spot on! The more I google her the less appealing she becomes. She feeds lies to the lie-lapping Weekly Standard. She will pen an impassioned article about Welfare "reform" in which she will assert that the worst thing you can do for poor mothers is give them money. And what politician makes Carolyn cream her jeans? Why, the "principled, honest, intelligent and thoughtful" Richard Lugar!

But maybe Carolyn Lochhead can be depended on to make less than happy noises about Saudi Arabia.

We'll see.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Info Desk Blogging

Lovely warm day here in Berkeley.

An older couple, having looked through a shelf of books on kitchen remodeling, comes to the desk and asks if I could figure out whether we still have a book the woman checked out a few years ago that featured some sort of "European cabinets." She gestures, "The doors are flush." The library catalog's descriptions of the contents of the books is not so thorough. After doing some catalog searches and finding out more or less what they already know, I send them upstairs to the Reference Desk. "The librarians have been here a long time," I say. "Maybe one will remember the very book you are looking for."

Next question. Hours for the Friends bookstore? Why does my card not work? Phone rings, no one there. Man walking in the door waves his arms, "Now I just need a TV!" (Referring to the racks of videos?) A map to the different library branches? Card stolen, yes, you can have the Circulation Desk cancel it. Put some books on hold? yes, pick them up at the Circ Desk. Which "Beatles Anthology" videotape covers their Magical Mystery Tour? We can send the videotape "Lady Day" to South Branch. Yes, I can show you how to look up your library account.

The parking garage next door is being torn down to make room for an apartment complex called, "The Library Gardens." Sadly, the construction will block our Western views, including the lovely view from the 5th floor Art & Music, no more sunsets with the Golden Gate Bridge. On the bright side we'll get unobstructed views of people's kitchens and bedrooms.

Monday, June 14, 2004

more comments on version 5

So much for the enthusiasm born of creation. Boy, that first stanza hesitates and lunges and hesitates ... not till the fourth stanza and the dog does the poem get a rhythm going ... the dog from the poem's first version, the dog that isn't there ... one of my favorite lines has long been "brown bottles broken in the coals of old fires" and this version "brown bottles broken in the coals, / old fires' only motions in log-hid holes / were the falling-in of new sand" is pretty clever and maybe it succeeds in saving the music ... unlike, say, "cold with sea, / my tears the only other salt wet, / the wind to my mouth came, its only place to warm," which has no tune.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

comments on version 5

Too many "only"s ... otherwise, this is lots closer than earlier versions (1, 2, 3, 4) ...

"Interoceptor", version 5

When, cold with sea,
my tears the only other salt wet,
the wind to my mouth came, its only place to warm,

when, crackling yellow foam,
the surf tore among black kelp heads,
then tugged back to mend,

when, between washes, sand flea burrows
bubbled open, and, carried over them,
not even a gull cut the white noise with her wry blade,

when no dog unhooked from leather leash
heaved himself at the frisbee with the chewed edge,
when no towel unfolded,

when, in the dark spaces of dunes
no one turned to touch, and there were grasses
sliding merely against grasses,

when, brown bottles broken in the coals,
the old fires’ only motions in log-hid holes
were the falling-in of new sand, I

stretched out my arms,
the one standing in stiff cotton, in hard shoes,
no striped umbrella opened, no sunscreen bottle leaking,

was shore,
wide, white, water, sand,
blown through, all the long way through.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

info desk blogging

Susan, the children's reference librarian who's been my Info Desk partner, has to cover for someone else who left the library so won't be doing this Info hour anymore. Because the library had to absorb a 10% across-the-board cut, as of July 1st hours will be cut. My 11-12 Tuesday Info Desk hour will evaporate since the library won't even open until noon. Too bad. As I work in Technical Services (behind the scenes desk job) it is kind of nice to have a little hour out here with ze publique.

Even the whiny unhappy segment.

Thursday, June 03, 2004


Here is an article about a therapist, Dr. Stephanie LaFarge, who counsels animal abusers hoping her intervention prevents the animal abuse from being rehearsal for human abuse. I found the article because I was curious about Nim Chimsky, a chimpanzee who was raised in a human family. ("Nim Chimsky" was so named because the researchers were hoping to disprove linguist Noam Chomsky's contention that the human language capacity is inborn, thus cannot be taught to nonhuman animals.) The young woman who took Nim into her family is the therapist who now "stands between [abusers] and their next victim, or victims."

"Joey Cohen (not his real name) was perhaps LaFarge's most frightening client. 'He just went through the motions to satisfy the court,' she says. Joey came from a wealthy family and somehow got a mail-order bride from China. She arrived with her daughter and her daughter's shar-pei. One afternoon, the daughter walked in on Joey sodomizing the dog. She called the police and had him arrested. The wife and daughter fled. The dog was taken to the ASPCA's clinic, where Dr. Robert Reisman, one of the A's eleven full-time veterinarians, adapted a human rape kit on the spot in an attempt to collect evidence of human sperm from the dog. Because sexual crimes against dogs are surprisingly common -- and illegal in New York -- Reisman is now working on creating a canine rape kit, so that forensic evidence of sexual abuse can be collected and standardized.

Joey pleaded guilty to the cruelty charges and was sentenced to the intervention program. But the psychotherapy had little positive effect. 'Joey is not sexually attracted to dogs,' LaFarge explains. 'He's sexually out of control. He was so overstimulated by my attention, and the door being closed during the therapy, that he was at risk of being sexually out of control with me.' Before his treatment with LaFarge even began, Joey moved on to humans, masturbating in front of a woman sitting in a parked car. He was arrested, but the woman failed to show up in court. The case was dismissed. Today, Joey is a free man.

LaFarge doesn't keep track of Joey, in part because she doesn't think it would do any good. 'I called him once and he was convinced that I was calling because I missed him,' she says ruefully. During their conversation, she was aware that he was masturbating. 'It's only a matter of time until something else happens,' says LaFarge. But there's nothing more she can do.

When asked if she thinks any of her clients have the potential to become serial killers, LaFarge replies, 'Many of them do. The scary thing is, you never know which ones.'"

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

home from the Mom

Home from a visit to Mom. She's staying with my brother and his wife. Sis-in-law is Mom's main caregiver these days. Having me there gave her a chance to run to the store or whatever. Not like I took on work, I was there to hold Mom's hand and smile at her.

Mom is so much changed. Was I shocked by the change? Yes. Her face sometimes takes on a vacant look I've never seen before. She utters one slow word at a time. And sometimes she seems clear on what she's saying and understands what's said to her.

K & I took Sarah (sis-in-law) to an early dinner when a respite care worker was available to look after Mom. Sarah said she seldom gets to have an adult conversation these days. Though I've always resisted thinking of old folks as becoming children again and found younger people bossing them around distasteful I fell into a daddy-like role with Mom, reminding her how to shift her weight in order to stand, telling her it was time to go to bed. She most frequently referred to my brother as "your father." Once "my father", once "my husband." Did she ever call him her son?