Wednesday, October 31, 2007

My graduate assistantship depends on this Library of Congress table being typed and spaced correctly


Pests and diseases
Plant pathology
Diseases and pests of trees and shrubs -- Continued
765 Tree and forest declines
For local, see SB762+
For particular trees, see SB608.A+
767 Galls and gall insects
For special insects, see QL1+
Individual trees, see SB608.A+
781 Damage from frosts, freezing and hail
Cf. QK756, Plant physiology
785 Effect of floods
Cf. QK870+, Plant physiology
791 Effect of drought

Speech science and opera

Tomorrow I am going to my sister's Speech Science class to talk about singing opera. I guess my sister kept mentioning to her professor (who also happens to be her advisor and the head of the Communications Disorders department) that I took voice lessons and sing opera, and the professor invited me to come and talk. I will probably also have to sing something little, just to prove that I can. I'll make that decision tonight (maybe "Summertime" or "Mein herr marquis" since they can be cut short).

The professor wants me to answer the following questions:

How I prepare my voice for singing--warm-ups, etc.
Ways in which I use my voice differently in singing and speaking.
When I took lessons, what I was taught in general about using my voice.
If I have had any issues with my voice as a singer.

I also plan on explaining a bit of my background and how I stumbled into singing (tried singing along with Maria Callas, and it worked) and the five or so years of voice lessons I've taken. I just hope I don't get nervous and flake. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

More on money management

I made an account last night with to help manage my money and I'm really liking it. I also signed up with but I didn't like that I was going to have to download my account information and re-upload it in order to make the site work.

However, Mint does not have the Social Networking aspect, just a great way to visually see where all the money is going (it let me add all my credit cards, my bank account, and my ING savings account, and see my debt/cash access in one simple page). I will probably use Wesabe in the future, after I find the patience to figure out how to use it, exactly. The video they have explaining the service is helpful, though.

I was so excited about these sites last night that S put me in "financial time out." He said I was too happy, and needed not to talk about money for a little bit. Then, he tickled me. Geez! I'm just trying to plan for the future and be wise about my money.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Making wise decisions

I'm sitting here on this Monday morning looking at the Fidelity Freedom 2040 Fund and also at starting a Roth IRA. I am definitely a long-term planner. No cost-benefit analysis needed here; it's just so obvious.

I know that my parents didn't start saving for retirement until they were in their mid-30s, and now my dad will be retiring next year, at age 61, so I think his investments have worked out pretty well (and he's also starting his own business, but that's another story). I think it sounds lovely to be able to retire at age 61, which means I've got 39 years to plan this out and do my best with my money.

I feel a little out of my depths with the Freedom 2040 Fund information, but I know I can figure it out with some patience. I'm more comfortable just opening the Roth IRA this morning, dumping some of my savings into it, and calling it good. But I also realize I should probably think about it a little more than that. Not that I haven't been contemplating the IRA situation for a while, but when Newsweek says, "A Roth IRA is one of the best savings vehibles for a young person in a low tax bracket," I really pay attention. Linda Stern's article is a good one, and I've got the basics down (I have health insurance, good credit, budget, and live somewhat small), which makes me feel pretty good.

Here's to retirement savings plans!

Edit: Just opened the IRA account with Fidelity Investments, and it was very easy and relatively fast (20 minutes) to link that account with my ING Direct account and start that retirement savings. I recommend it for ease of use. Just one tip: instead of printing all the legal agreements, I just saved them as PDFs to my computer, thus saving paper.

Friday, October 26, 2007

The similarities are sometimes frightening

So S's mom Paula is kind of a free spirit, very different from me, an artist who has a number of physical ailments which basically render her disabled, though she is a very strong and capable woman. She lacks some self confidence needed to succeed in the world as we know it, so she is still living with her mother (S's grandmother), though she is certainly able to run her own household. At some point in time long ago, she and S's dad thought they would get married, but it didn't work out. Then another man she might have married died in a car crash, which I think may have been a big turning point in completely throwing her life off an expected track.

She does, however, have a sort of on-and-off boyfriend who I'll refer to here as K. K is also a creative type, and he literally lives in his VW van and drives around to wherever he wants to live. Last summer, while S was in Alaska, K kind of disappeared and Paula had no idea where he went. She missed him, but wasn't too awfully concerned about him. This was very foreign to me. In my world, when two people have a romantic relationship, they're either together or not together. K and Paula are more like... together when they're together, and not when they're not. Or even sometimes not when they are.

Then, in the spring sometime, S and I were downtown and spotted an orange VW van, and S immediately called his mom. "I think K might be back..." he told her. At first, Paula wanted to avoid him, not get back into it. But ultimately, she wound up at the same bar where K was, and they got to talking again. So then K was back for the summer, and the orange van was parked behind the garage for the last six months or so.

Then, one day last week, I stopped by S's house after work, and the van was gone. I knew that K had gone, probably someplace warmer, probably someplace far away. Paula can be temperamental, voicing her opinion loudly and forcefully, much like me, and sometimes getting into trouble for it. K sometimes couldn't handle it, and would take off for the day, returning in the evening, never any apologies. I couldn't understand why someone would put up with this, but it seems to function, just not in a way I'm used to. When S and I argue, someone ends up caving, apologizing, forgiving, and then the other does the same, reconciling the situation and returning to harmony once again.

I walked into S's house, and S and I talked a bit, and I mentioned the van was gone. S thought nothing of it. Then a little later, Paula came upstairs, and I was reading the paper while S was doing something in the kitchen.

"I threw K out this morning," she said. "Oh yeah?" I asked, trying not to sound too interested. "Yeah, I was going to make breakfast, and he was listening to public radio, and he had the paper, and he was reading me stories, and I hate it when people read the paper out loud to me." "Me, too," I replied.

In all truthfulness, it's really damn annoying when people read the paper out loud, especially when it's news I couldn't possibly care less about. S also agreed that having the paper read aloud is bothersome. We hugged, and S said that's why we work so well together, because we both hate it equally. So maybe Paula and I aren't really that different, the difference is the men we've chosen to spend time with.

Thursday, October 25, 2007


S had his impacted wisdom teeth surgically removed this morning. He seems to be doing okay, though eating is a bit of a touchy situation. I visited him after I got off work and brought him a stack of movies a foot high, so he can veg out a bit tomorrow once all the anesthesia/novocaine completely wears off. We watched "Meet the Fockers" tonight, which I thought was a lot funnier than "Meet the Parents," by far.

Now, I'm here at home reading about how to classify biographies with Library of Congress cutter numbers as part of my graduate assistantship. Good times. I've read this chapter once before, so it's not too much new information, though the professor has added more examples, which are great. I've come up with a semi-good way of doing the work, too, which involves having both the printed version and the computer file in front of me simultaneously, so I can show the professor my corrections, and actually make them, too. I hope this goes over well when I meet with her tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

More patience required

Weirdly, I am on my lunch break right now, at 4:45 pm. I was supposed to take my lunch at 2 pm, also kind of a weird time, but I got stuck at the circulation desk answering some patron's questions about an item he thought he had inter-library loaned, but which our library then purchased, and so on and so forth, so my 'lunch' ended up being a 20 minute break. So, lunch time is now, but I've already eaten. Hence, the blogging.

I started reading "Best American Nonrequired Reading 2007," the newest in the series, and so far, it's pretty all right. The first story was originally published in Spin Magazine, and it's basically a white 40-something guy writing about his experience at Gothicfest. Pretty neat, actually. I'd recommend any of the Nonrequired series to pretty much anyone, because they're rather mind-expanding. One of the books (can't remember which year) had a profile on Saddam Hussein, which was enlightening.

After work, I need to hunker down with Chapter 20 of the book I'm helping to edit, which I have already read twice, but need to read again in order to get paid. Speaking of getting paid, I have not, as of this moment, seen one red cent for my graduate assistantship, but I hope that all this will change in the next week, as I plan on filling out my timesheet this Friday and seeing a check soon thereafter. Fingers crossed and all of that, since I've been working since September on this, and it's nearly November! Yikes stripes.

I am also hoping to find out sooner rather than later whether or not my work schedule can be modified so I only have to come in three (3) days a week starting in January. I register for classes in mid-November, so I'm not sure of my school schedule yet, but I am not too concerned that I won't get in to the courses I want. I'm going to need more time to study and do homework, and having an extra day off per week would help immensely. I guess I have to wait and see.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Problems down the line

So, in helping the professor edit her textbook for official publication, I have remembered exactly why it is that I am glad I am not in publishing professionally anymore. I always wanted to be an editor (since high school, anyway) and after I did the job for about eight months, I discovered, no, that was not for me. Librarianship, on the other hand, well, just seems like a better fit. Here's why:

- People/human interaction. In editing, you change a comma, nobody cares. You help somebody find a book, you get smiled at.

- Editing is all suggestions. At least the way I've done it, if somebody else doesn't like the change, they don't change it. End of story. So you've spent time and brain power coming up with a different way of doing something, and then it doesn't get changed. No gratification in that.

- Workplace environment. You can theoretically edit wherever you like, but it could be that you have to work in a dark little office like I did. Libraries can also be holes, for instance my work area is technically a storage room, but many libraries are quite beautiful places to be. Patrons like to be there, and so do I.

- Time spent at a desk. Yes, librarians sit at desks, but they also help patrons find book on shelves, among other things that require movement and walking around. Editing can really only be done at a desk. For eight hours a day.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Personal cost-benefit analysis

So, I'm going to put it out there that I pretty much do a personal cost-benefit analysis on nearly everything in my life in order to determine the appropriate path. It's not a spiritual, touchy-feely way of looking at things, but it is a highly logical, economical, and somewhat scientific process that comforts me when I am not sure I'm making the right choice.

Say, for instance, I am running late for work on a cold winter morning, bleary-eyed from having stayed up too late the night before, heading in for a full 8-hour day at the library. Question at hand: should I hit the Starbuck's drive-through lane for a mocha?

Cost: It will probably take an extra 3-5 minutes for my commute; I will be even later for work; it's about $4 for a mocha.

Benefit: I will have caffeine; I will have warmth for my hands for the rest of the drive; I will be happier having the mocha than not.

Decision: Stop at Starbucks.

Now, there are other factors involved, like how late I actually will be, and how cold it really is outside, and the state of my credit card bill that particular month, but, in general, I look at things this way.

So when my overall department supervisor asked if I wanted to keep working 30 hours a week, or go back to 25 hours a week in January, I told him I would have to "think about it." My reason: I'm planning to take two courses at a time starting in January in order to graduate in May 2009. I also told him I was hoping to reduce the number of days that I'd have to go to work in order to work my hours (I'm thinking two 8.5 hour days, and one 8 hour day, and then 4 days off a week). He asked if I had a tentative schedule.

Well, I do, but I can't reveal my hand at this stage, because I don't know if I'll get into the classes I want to take.

"No, I don't know my schedule until mid-November. I am at the mercy of my school schedule, and driving back and forth."

Then I said I was leaning toward 'no' for taking the extra hours permanently. But I told him I would do a cost-benefit analysis on it over the weekend. He gave me a look. I said, "That's how I look at everything." It's true.


Cost: Working 30 hours a week means I'm at the library at least 4 out of 7 days a week (less time for homework, people I love, etc.); I'm not getting promoted, so it's still no benefits, no extra responsibility for my resume, etc.

Benefit: On average, about $200 extra per month, which equals an extra $2,400 in 2008.

Other invisible costs: After working an 8 hour day, I am less likely to work on homework in the evening rather than just having an entire day free. Being at work more than four days a week feels like I'm there all the time, and honestly, this is a part-time job getting me through grad school, not my chosen career. I'm a library paraprofessional, and don't need the stress of being at work more than 3 or 4 days out of a week, especially not if I'm taking 6 graduate credits. My free time is valuable to me, and I am able to direct my time well when I have days off.

Decision: Going to tell my supervisor that (tentatively) I want to work Mondays and Tuesdays 9-6, and every other Friday/Saturday 8:15-4:45 (25 hours a week).

Friday, October 19, 2007

More on library fines

An anonymous commenter wrote in response to my previous blog post on this topic:

I lost a book and due to not returning library books on time, I know owe close to $500! It's ridiculous now how libraries can send you to collection agencies. I lost a book and they want me to pay $100 for it.

You have my sympathies, anonymous! Normally, libraries only charge for the actual replacement cost of the item, plus a processing fee for recataloging the item (putting it back into the computer system, barcoding it, covering the book jacket, etc.) but that fee sounds rather high. Most libraries also have a cap, or set limit, to the fines on a single item (at my library, it's $6, so even if you keep that DVD for three weeks, we'll only charge you six dollars, not $1/day for three weeks). The collection agencies work to help libraries recover material, and sometimes those threats get people to bring items back... but when this happens, the patrons are alienated, and that's bad for the "business" of the library.

I always make sure to tell patrons who have fines that prevent them from checking out more material that they are welcome to be in the library, and welcome to use the internet (other libraries may have different policies) and other resources while in the library. Some people may get the idea that they are unwanted if they have a fine. That is simply not the case.

How could libraries handle this situation better? How could we get patrons to bring back items, or pay for lost items, without making the patron feel bad about it? We don't want to shame patrons away from the library, but how can we eliminate the bad feelings associated with library fines ("I'm a bad patron," etc.)?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Fried yum-yums

I'm on my lunch break at work, nibbling at some leftovers from Tuesday night's Panko Extravaganza, wherein S and I fried up the following: broccoli, mushrooms, and shrimp. Ooh, the panko breading is so good! And cheap! It's about $2 for a whole bag of it, and while dipping each individual item in flour, then egg, then panko, is not exactly the most fun experience, it is worth it when the items are fried, lightly salted, and eaten. It's easier than tempura, in my opinion, and the crunch is worth the work.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

My new spectacles

I had such crappy luck with the glasses I bought at Wal-Mart back in April before our trip to San Francisco. The spring hinge broke two weeks ago, and the warranty on glasses at Wal-Mart is only 60 days. Thanks a lot, Wal-Mart. Ugh. Remind me never to buy anything there ever again, okay? $200 down the drain.

So, I went with my sister to Pearle Vision, where my eye doctor works, and we scoped out the glasses there. They had a pretty sweet deal going on, too ($100 off any frame). S ultimately helped me pick out these Tommy Hilfiger frames in brown, which are fab. Well, I like them, anyway. Spring hinges and they frame my eyes well, and I get the tortoiseshell look I wanted on the ear pieces.

And Pearle Vision has a 1-year warranty on their glasses. Sweet.

Monday, October 15, 2007

On library fines

I think one of the hardest things about libraries for patrons is late fines. I often have patrons ask if their fines can be "reduced" or "waived." Mostly, unless we determine that the fine was due to an error on the library's part, we don't waive fines. The money from fines pays for library services, and are, in effect, forced donations.

The burden is on the patron to pay attention to their due date and return the material by that day--a simple request, for the most part. And, if they don't, for our system, it's $.20 per day, per item for adult books, $.10 per day, per item for children's books, and $1.00 per item, per day for movies, with a cap at $6.00 per item.

I know there are public libraries that do not charge late fees, but I don't know how the library where I work would manage to function without that revenue. My question is, how would public libraries be able to get materials back on time for other patrons to use them without the negative reinforcement of late fees? What do the libraries that don't charge fines do to encourage patrons to return in-demand material by the due date? What kind of positive reinforcement could be given to patrons who do return items on time?

Girl from the North Country

I have plans to buy this coat for the winter months. It is, as we'd say in Minnesota, "a bit spendy," but it looks beautiful, and with the Thinsulate lining, probably quite warm, and up here, when the North Winds blow, that is invaluable. Also, it may hold up and serve me as long as I remain a size 6. I am already working on a new winter scarf for myself as well, in the following pattern:

Row 1:
P2, *K1, P1, K1, P2
Repeat from *

Row 2:
K3, *P2, K3
Repeat from *

I have a lot to go, with only about a foot of knitting completed, but it's something nice to do when I'm not otherwise engaged with schoolwork, my GA, and working.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Exciting developments

I am super psyched about my group project right now, because not only do we get to interview the Principal Librarian for the Minnesota Orchestra, he invited us to see the orchestra for free next Thursday morning! I am excited beyond all reason. We get to see the concert, then go backstage. Score!

Sometimes, life is just grand.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

I'd rather dance than talk with you

Work changes are afoot. I feel a lot of anxiety about it, and a lot of that is just uncertainty on my part about how everything will go, which is normal. The new library building is also raising some questions about working during the transition from one building to the next. We're seeing just a slice of the probable confusion with one of our branch libraries closed for moving right now. What will happen when it's the main branch that's closed, and how will items be routed, and how will administration work, and on and on with the questions...

A large part of me is just glad that if I hustle up and start taking two courses at a time in the spring, I can graduate in May of 2009, which is also when S graduates (and when my sis graduates from undergrad! Sweet!) so we could look for jobs wherever (East Coast, West Coast, somewhere in between...) and go off to live ______ ever after.

The pressure is on me to find something good where I could see staying long enough for S to get a teaching job and possibly tenure at that teaching job. We know he'd probably have to substitute teach for a while before finding a job, but if my job can pay the bills, we'd be all right. Of course, everyone who graduates with an MLIS wants a 'good job,' but everyone's definitions of that job are going to be different. I want a place where Library 2.0 practices are in place and working, and where attitudes are positive, and in a geographical location both S and I can enjoy. For me, this means urban and diversity, for him, this means nature and outdoor activities. Really, entirely up in the air at this point.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

She won't sleep better alone

In a little bit, I need to pick up S from campus, and then I'm going to ask him if we can go to the Dairy Queen for dinner, seeing as it is so freaking beautiful outside (75 and partly sunny) and I am suffering from semi-numb mouth and pain from having two fillings done this afternoon. The injection site for the novocaine hurts, but I was nervous about the drilling and the nerve endings in my sensitive little mouth, so I had them do the gas and the shots. Now, I am suffering. Dumb me.

Anyway, in the meantime, I am listening to a wonderful Pete Yorn song ("I am on your side") and looking at crap at IKEA. I kind of want the blue Hemnes six-drawer dresser since I am all about having the clothing and a place to put it. You wouldn't know this about me from looking at my room, because everything is crammed into my closet at present time, but someday... I too shall have enough room for everything I own.

This thing linked here is something that makes Andrea laugh while telling people about her diabetes odyssey. I want to either get her the stickers or the t-shirt. The thing about diabetes is that it's really, very, just absolutely so important for me right now to be treating my sister how I always have, like how we act when we're getting along or when we're not. We happen to be getting along quite well right now (trying to spend more time with each other, I think, is natural) and Andrea is sleeping less than she used to. I think part of what was making her such a sleepy girl was having low or high blood sugars (which Andrea calls "blued shooger" in a funny voice).

She's just a young woman who is learning how to take care of herself, dealing with that dead pancreas inside of her body, making sure she's keeping track of her numbers and counting the carbs in everything, but not in an intrusive oh-my-god-low-carb-everything-gotta-watch-it annoying way. Even if I'm wondering what her numbers were throughout the day, I don't ask. It's one thing to think about your own numbers, but another thing to have to tell someone else these little snapshots into your bodily functions. We don't walk up to even our closest loved ones and say, "Had a good poop lately? What about your last menstrual period? How'd that go for ya?" So I just ask how she is, like usual, and I hope other people do the same.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

School projects, phase 1 going well

Our group project for my Special Libraries class is supposed to be on a library for music/performing arts. I am super excited to say that the Minnesota Orchestra librarian has agreed to work with us! He seems like a fun guy (just from reading his bio on the MNOrch site and from his reply e-mail), and I think my group members will be pleased that he agreed to help us.

For my individual project, the music librarian at the College of St. Benedict agreed to let me interview her, and she was my first choice when I read the assignment description. Plus, the close proximity of the school means I won't have to drive to the cities any more than I already do.

When I read both of the reply e-mails, I experienced a little bubble of excitement with each. Yes, things are looking good, at least for school.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Being tested

I just read this Wiki How article on patience. I am having problems being patient, especially lately.

It seems like all I do is wait for things to happen, and I want them to happen sooner if not now! I know that I am being tested for my impatience by having to wait even longer for things to happen. Ironically, if I began letting go of the things I want to happen sooner rather than later, they would probably actually happen sooner, or at least appear to happen sooner to me, the impatient one.

I need to take some of the advice in the article, and take time outs. Think about nothing. Just sit. I need to get back into doing some yoga in the evenings. I need to stop making so many lists, adding so many budgets, and making plans that aren't actually going into effect in the near future.