the laughing of the damned

I'd be a bad librarian if I did not pass along this, a blog for a bogus library supply company. It'd probably be even funny to non-librarians, but no guarantees there.

I'd be a worse librarian if I didn't tell you that I found it because I am on the listserv for Worthless Word of the Day, the word-a-day email for the distinguished consumer who already knows all the words-a-day.

However, the fact that I received three more rejection letters today doesn't really bode well for me not being a bad librarian.

In other sad news, I'm going to be leaving Las Vegas (and not through drinking myself to death) the very day that that accordionists converge on the City of Sin for the International Accordion Convention. What's worse is that the piano accordion turns 100 this year!

My life is so hard.

two recent elder quorums

We all know that I am a harsh critic. Get off on the wrong foot with me and I am loath to see anything right in what you do. So, the past two lessons in my elders quorum have been bad news for me. To be fair, this elders quorum is a lot better than it was two years ago and it seems to actually be a functioning unit of the church in some meaningful way unlike the atrocity I just lived through in Edmonton. But, there are still problems.

Two weeks ago: The guy teaching the lesson gets up and has us read a short section from the Kimball manual. The subject is Satan and evil and so on. He then starts his lesson with this thought-provoking question: "Is Satan real? Is there actually a battle between good and evil in this world?" Such an approach might work in, say, an undergraduate philosophy class, but in a church setting it was ridiculous. Not even heterodox I could imagine a way to turn that into controversy. Since we're attending a ward regularly, we've bought into the whole Lucifer bit, I feel.

Two days ago: It's Teachings for Our Times Sunday and the guy gets up and says, "The Stake may have chosen some talk for us to cover, but it didn't trickle down to me, so I just chose one." Now, he did chose a good one. However, "trickle down" is a rather grandiose way of saying it, since the chain of command is from the person who chose the talk to the EQ president to this instructor. Yep, our ward can't even manage a three-person connection. We're just that awesome.

Oh, and two days ago there was an invitation for "ten members of the quorum and their wives" to some temple thing. There are about five unmarried guys in the quorum (total size roughly 15). I just love how very much out of mind we are at all times for this presidency. I'm thinking about moving over to the singles ward in my area, but they have sacrament meeting last, a structure I cannot even think about supporting.

A waste of flesh

I'm getting a little tired of all this rejection. When I first started applying for library jobs, I assumed I was being told "you suck" (in obviously more politic terms) because the job needed to be filled prior to my graduation. I was ok with this, as it did not reflect poorly on me at all. Then, I started using the excuse that the places I was applying had a nearby library school, so that was ruining my chances. Again, not really my fault. But then I had to stop living that fantasy when I was told thanks, but no thanks for a job at Idaho State. I even interviewed for that one. Granted, it's not a job I wanted, but it was a bit of a blow that my amazing charm didn't come across in the phone interview.

I got a few more letters saying they had better luck and then another interview. This interview went pretty well, but I think I've shared with everyone why that job fell through. Again, I chalked it up to being for the best. I probably would have only lasted six months at the institution anyways.

About a week ago, I got a letter from a university I applied for all of two weeks previous. It took them only two weeks, less mail transit time, to discover that I wasn't worth further consideration. Two weeks in academia is like a nano-second. This was not good for my self-image. Then I got two letters from a college here in Utah saying I wasn't good enough to be a Media Librarian or an Access Services Librarian. There's not a library school here, so it can't be that. It's not even in a place that most librarians would be comfortable living. And they're not jobs that I can really see many folks jumping up and down about.

I'm pretty sure the only reason why I have the job I do now is that I was the only one to apply. I can hardly imagine many people would rustle up three reference letters, transcripts, a cover letter, resume and application (that you had to call for) for a part-time position. The posting didn't even list the wage, which has turned out to be much better than I hoped, but still made the position dicey.

Just yesterday I got a "you suck" that I really wasn't prepared for. It was for the internship position at the school I did my library degree. I don't get this. I mean, maybe it's for the best on some level. I get to stay in Zion this way and I have a job that will probably last for as long as I want it to. But it hurts me because I thought my chances were pretty damn good. I have two degrees from respectable, if not prestigious, institutions. I did well at school and seemed well-liked by the folks who I worked with and studied under. I've got scads of library experience (just about to hit seven years), including a substantial amount of academic library experience. I think (perhaps falsely) that my ability to write is above average and that a cover letter expresses this. I even had some career professional look over my application documents for the position and they said they looked really strong. I've been proactively involved in professional communities. Hell, I even got a scholarship from the school.

Also, I think I'm pretty good at what librarians do. I mean, not only searching and finding and teaching, but also at having the right attitude for service, working well with others and simply getting the profession. So what's my problem? I mean, is there something that I just don't know? Something horrifically wrong with me? I'm beginning to think that I really am a waste of flesh. What's worse is that all these letters are making me really hesitant to apply for any more jobs, which means I may just get stuck in a rut for total lack of trying. It just makes me tired to think about all the effort that goes into filling in some application form online, writing a cover letter and then waiting. Waiting for months sometimes. And then, all it adds up to is being told that I shouldn't have bothered in the first place.

While it doesn't help that I nearly always teeter on the brink of total self-loathing, I can't really reconcile what I thought as the one thing I had going for me (chances at landing a job) with all the other failures in my life. I mean, I already feel ill at ease for being an unmarried (and indeed even unrelationshipped) nearly 24-old Mormon boy (who hasn't served a mission). And there are some serious issues at the root of my status there, as well. Coming back to Salt Lake makes me feel pretty utterly friendless, which in turn makes me feel like a loser (a thought which needs little help from external evidence). I don't really have any sort of accomplishment to show for my two dozen years here on earth or even particularly good stories to tell.

Maybe these feelings will pass. But, knowing me, they won't. Maybe the hope, inclusion, and generall all-around happiness I felt my last semester at library school was a little divine gift to prepare me for the total crappiness of what my life has turned into right now. I'm ok with this state, for the most part, as I'm used to resigning myself. But, I thought this will all end up so much...better. Or at the very least, in a way that doesn't make me want to curl up and sleep for weeks on end.

Oh well, I'll cope, I'm sure. I always have.


You know on job applications where it asks you to list any licenses or certifications relevant to the position you're applying for? Well, at some point in my life, I'd like to be able to fill in that field. Of course, this might mean a taking a step down from "professional" to "tradesman", but I think that's a change I'm willing to make. Of course, I'm only willing to make such a statement because I get the sense, most likely from community college promotional material, that possession of a certificate in something useful leads to immediate employment. None of this cobbling together a real job and having your mom freak out about not having benefits for them! Oh no, they get hired quickly and, what's more impressive, in the very thing they are certified to do.

Part of me thinks these tests couldn't possibly be that hard. I mean, how much do you really need to know to be an air traffic controller? I feel like I would hardly need to study for some of these. However, there are some that I am seriously considering. Not necessarily because I want a job in the field, but because I want someone to tell me, point blank, that I am qualified to do some work. So, here are the major options. Tell what you think:

  • Accredited Genealogist, as designated by ICAPGEN. I'm about half-way through coursework gearing up for this one, but I'm not sure I'd ever be able to hack the test, which is spread out over two days and involves an oral defense of a pedigree
  • Pharmacy Tech, a job that, as far as I can tell, requires you know math and some basic drug information
  • Travel Agent. until today I didn't realize these were certified, but they are. The best is this sample question: If the cruise ship is departing at 1530, what time is this?
  • Actuary, to put my math skills to good use.
And some non-serious options:
  • Midwifery. Anything that predates the internal combustion engine can't be that difficult can it?
  • Master of Wine, just for the irony

a list

Books that are ostensibly about an improper relationship between a male student and female teacher but which are really about much more which I have highly enjoyed. Oh, and they're suprisingly funny, too.

  • What Was She Thinking? by Heller
  • All Saints by Callanan

I'd appreciate any additions anyone might know of.

websites blocked by my work (a partial list)

  • Facebook
  • Gmail Chat
  • all other chat or instant messaging sites
  • The Slow Roll, under pretense of "alcohol"
  •, because it shows "inappropriate apparel"
  • Google image search, for no specified reason
  • Go Fug Yourself, for being "tasteless"
This could be a problem. Are they actually expecting me to work or something?

Czech, please

Mr Kaplicky has come up with what can best be described as a nine-storey green and purple blob.

That is from none other than the BBC. It's about Jan Kaplicky's proposed design for the Czech National Library. The President of the Czech Republic has apparently called the design "so ugly, he would prevent construction going ahead with his own body", according to the BBC.

You see, in the Czech Republic, they haven't really figured out the whole democracy thing. For them, it's still all about the 1960s civil disobedience instead of such boring ideas as injunctions, funding snafus or rule of law. Instead, we have Vaclav Klaus offering himself up as a human barrier against the creation of the a blob.

Three questions have come to me in writing this post: is it a coincidence that the only two presidents of the Czech Republic have been named Vaclav? Is there some connection between Weneceslas (Vaclav) and the Slavic lands that I'm not familiar with which would cause his name to be so popular? How can one be a noncommunist if one is not also an anti-communist? Well, pan Klaus, explain that to me, please.

is it necessary?

So, I'm hunting around today for information on providing library instruction to non-native English speakers (something that is less theory and frightening very much practice for me now). At any rate, I googled onto a bibliography of library instruction for diverse populations. One such population is the LGBT community. Most items were generic education theory for the queer, but one item was library specific.
To wit:

McDowell, Sara. "Library Instruction for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered College Students." In Teaching the New Library to Today’s Users: Reaching International, Minority, Senior Citizens, Gay/Lesbian, First Generation, At-Risk, Graduate and Returning Students, and Distance Learners, edited by Trudi E. Jacobson and Helene C. Williams, 71-86. New York: Neal-Schuman, 2000.

Too bad my library doesn't own this book, as I'm rather curious (pun intended). The annotation, however, sounds like some serious pandering to niche markets:

This chapter describes the campus environment for LGBT students and discusses academic libraries’ services to LGBT students. It begins with collection building to meet LGBT needs and then moves to library instruction. Instructional strategies include displays, bibliographies and pathfinders, and workshops. References included.

Oh, we should have workshops! And making pathfinders, who would have thought? And displays are helpful. Gee, I'm glad Sara McDowell came along. I'm hoping this is a case of bad summaries, otherwise, it sounds a bit like a waste of paper.

a reason to love America

If you're looking for something to give you pride in the U.S. of A, you needn't look much further than the Postal System. Unlike CanadaPost (which takes longer than certain Slavic Countries to deliver and is costly to boot), the United States Postal Service is cheap, reliable and rather quick.

Case in point: I just mailed a book to my brother. Total cost: $1.59. Estimated delivery: 3-5 business days.

it's enough to make one almost choked up about the land of the free and the home of the brave.

off on the wrong foot

I own my own bowling shoes. This usually surprises people and leads to either a series of questions or assumptions, depending on how judgemental the newly enlightened person is. The assumptions are, without exception, horrifically inaccurate. First of all, I'm not a very good bowler. Never really have been. Anything resembling a sport, even a thing as distant as ten pin, and I do not get along all that well. I'm terribly uncoordinated, have some depth-perception issues and am loathe to do anything that requires more movement than, say, typing. A "good" game for me in bowling sits around 80 points. An exceptional game will have me break 100.

The reason behind owning bowling shoes goes back to strenously avoiding PE in high school. See, I hated PE. My people (meaning the nerds here) don't get along well in that environment. So, I did what any enterprising young brainiac would do: I tested out. Yes, I got credit for physical education through a written test. Well, there were some feats of activity involved, but that was more for show than anything. We had to run a mile and then come back a few weeks later and show that we had improved, by as little as three seconds. And there might have been sit ups and pull ups and I'm pretty sure we did that lame eraser run thing. Oh, and there was a flexibility test, but as a budding yogi I had no trouble with that. Thus, I gained half a year's credit of PE.

Problem was, I needed a full year's credit. I didn't want to push my luck at taking the test again (it was designed for people on teams that didn't count as PE credit but which required a period of school, like the swimmers). Desperate to avoid a semester of humiliation, I discovered that I could take correspondence courses in the realm and have them count. BYU offers an independent study course in bowling. Now, that's the kind of PE I can get behind. I got permission from my guidance counselor, who really liked me for some reason.

I never actually completed the course. Technically speaking, I therefore didn't have enough credits to graduate from high school. Thus, my bachelor and master degrees were gained under, if not exactly false, at the very least falsified credentials. Just don't tell the various institutions that and we'll be just fine.

My mom ended up bowling most of the games with me (around 30, if I remember correctly) and put me to shame every time. I'm glad that I don't have the usual masculine need to best others in sports. It would have been thoroughly embarassing if I did. But if not pride and a sense of accomplishment, I at least got shoes out of the deal. They were cheaper than renting shoes for that many games.

Now, whenever I want to go bowling, I have the added bonus of not needing to use other people's shoes. My younger brother has a very lax sense of ownership and sometimes thinks he can use these shoes. Like he did two weeks ago. And then he left them at work, so I didn't have them when my friend A. came up from Utah County to go bowling. But this story gets better. My dad and I wear the same size shoe. He also owns bowling shoes. My brother, in his haste to borrow the shoes and get to work, grabbed two left shoes. So, I had two right shoes at the house when I went to borrow my father's. Clearly, that wasn't going to work.

When I told A. this story, she thought I should have brought the one right shoe and then demanded to be able to pay 1.75 for the rental of one shoe (it's 3.50 for a pair). I wonder if that would've flown at the alley. I'm guessing not. But maybe I'll try it next time. A.'s got a whole lot of coupons for us to use over the next little while.

Is this inappropriate?

So, I had an interview today. It's for a part-time position with a library here in Zion. It's not ideal, but it's a good starting place (at least that what I tell myself. A mantra that will probably lose its effectiveness when I contract some terrible disease and don't have any health insurance. Though, I have always wanted to die of consumption...). They asked the standard interview questions, "what's your greatest strength?", "and what would say is a limitation for you?", "how do you cope with people getting angry at you?", and so on.

They even pulled out the standard "You're rather young. But imagine if you will that you were dropped down five years from now. Where do you see yourself?" I gave my standard long-term goals spiel and then, just to wrap it up said "...and that's where I see myself...professionally at least." And then, the interlocutrix countered with "and in your personal life?"

What can or ought one say to that? I was totally caught off guard. I made some joke about getting married, but otherwise was at a loss. Are there people out there who actually have five-year plans for their personal lives? Are those sorts of people ever happy? How do they cope when something doesn't happen?

More pressingly, though, what were they looking for here? I mean, the truth, as you all know, is right out (because the truth would require a whole lot of explanation as to why I see myself dead with syphilis in a gutter. Though, "you're not really someone until you die of syphilis" if we are to believe my friend).

I hope I didn't totally blow my chances by not having a ready answer to private matters.