Posts Tagged ‘ABC Wednesday’

October 19 marks the 25th anniversary of when I became a working librarian, all, as it turned out, at the Research Network of the New York Small Business Development Center.

Now it’s not the first job I ever had in a library. I spent seven months as a page at the Binghamton, now Broome County (NY), Public Library back when I was in high school. I used to help people use the microfilm machines, find and then refile the magazines in the closed stacks, and check the shelves to make sure the books were in Dewey Decimal System order.

After 8.5 years at the comic book store FantaCo and a dreadful year at an insurance company, I was nagged by two librarians and a lawyer, all friends of mine, to go to library school. I was resistant to return to graduate school, having suffered a disastrous experience a decade earlier.

But this time, I survived, and even thrived in grad school. I worked in the dean’s office and one of my tasks was to calculate the demographics of the students. I discovered that I was, at that time, the average age of a student at UAlbany’s School of Information Science and Policy. There were lots of returning students.

The task has always been to provide reference to remote SBDC counselors who were meeting with their would-be entrepreneurs and active businesspersons, Still, the job of this librarian has changed a lot over the quarter century. We used to send packets of information via the US Mail or UPS.

My first phone was a shared line with the fax machine. When it would ring, I was never sure when it rang if I would pick it up and hear a wall of aural pain.

In the days before the wide use of the Internet, we had a number of CD-ROMs to use, and we had to take turns using them. It was a radical innovation when the discs were on a LAN (local area network) so that two or three librarians could use ReferenceUSA at the same time.

The World wide web, of course, changed our reference ability, but it was a gradual evolution early on. We wanted to be able to deliver data via email. Now EVERYONE has it, but in the 1990s, it was hardly a universal service, even at the colleges and universities where our SBDCs were housed.

When email became more universally available, sometimes the data packet was so big that it would bounce. Now, there’s a location on a closed website where counselors can pick up the information.

Being a librarian has changed a lot in the past two and a half decades, but finding the information remains the goal.

For ABC Wednesday

One of the great things my father did was to name me Roger, which does not engender a lot of nicknames. He also did not name me after himself, also good. That might have gotten m called Junior, or Bud (like on the TV show Father Knows Best).

I was thinking about this because Rob Hoffman wrote about nicknames, and specifically about how certain names are more prone to variations.

“Elizabeth – (Betty, Beth, Liz, Lizzie, Betts, Bette) This name provides a lot of flexibility. Elizabeth is royal, while Betty is a fun neighbor with a silly laugh. Liz is a ‘good-time,’ but Lizzie is downright dangerous.)” Which is why, when naming our daughter, Elizabeth was totally off the table, despite being the name of the only British monarch in my lifetime AND my late mother’s middle name.

Mom, BTW, was named Gertrude, after her mother. She was usually called Gertie by her cousins, which she disliked less than her formal name, but not by much. As an adult, though, she became Trudy and THAT suited her.

My father was named Leslie, but he always was Les in my reckoning. Les is also the shortened form of Lester, though, and some people, in an attempt to be formal, referred to him with that moniker. You could see him bristle.

Roger doesn’t really lend itself to shortening, other than Rog, and I like that. There have been attempts to give me nicknames, and I always fought them off. When I was a janitor at Binghamton (NY) City Hall in the spring and summer of 1975, one of the other custodians tried to dub me “Flash”, because I got my core work done in six hours, and then would do the extra stuff, such as buffing the floor, and still have time to talk to the police captain, or read, or clean the doors yet another time – glass doors always have fingerprints.

He and his colleague took as long as they could, never did work beyond what was required, and sometimes not even that. So they called me Flash, I acted as though I didn’t hear them. Eventually, they gave up.

For ABC Wednesday

During my wife’s recuperation from foot surgery this summer, I had done the vast majority of the laundry. She sorts, I take them down to the basement to wash, I put them in the dryer, and then haul them up so she can fold them.

What I hate is going down the basement stairs. Like many houses of its vintage, nearly a century, the steps are high and the space going down is narrow. It gives me a case of vertigo. Usually, I just toss the basket from the landing to the basement floor, then gather up the clothes. Going up is MUCH easier.

Being unmarried for many years, I got to the point where I didn’t have to wash the clothes for three weeks. That’s because I had at least a couple dozen shirts and sets of undergarments, an amount my wife thought was crazy when we got married. Conversely, I think she has far too few.

Hey, who had a San Diego Padres tee for her school’s sports day? It wasn’t her. I have T-shirts from several movies, from the Coverville music podcast, and from various other occasions, to wear, depending on my mood. Only this year did I buy some solid color (not white) tees.

So I don’t mind running the machines, but doing it every other day or more is boring. In the past, I had gotten used to schlepping clothes to the laundromat. I ran into my friend Alberta recently, and she told me her washing machine died. But instead of buying a new one, she opted to relish the quietude of reading while the laundromat machines chugged along.

This is certainly true of me: it’s difficult to traverse the “mental load” part of household maintenance and the importance of figuring out how to share it.

On Facebook recently, someone said if the washer is on the left and the dryer is right in countries that read left to right, is different in countries where one reads right to left? But almost no one – not us – have a washer on the left. I wish it were so.

For ABC Wednesday

My late mother had a fairly simple theology, which she said was to follow the Ten Commandments. Sometime in the last decade of life, I asked her what did that mean in this world. What is meant by graven images, e.g.?

Also, I asked what does Thou Shalt Not Kill mean? How does it apply to war, self-defense, defense of others, capital punishment, abortion, suicide, euthanasia, even eating meat?

It is evidently true that in biblical Hebrew… “killing (harag) and murder (ratzah) are two different words with two very different moral connotations, and the commandment uses the Hebrew word ratzah.”

The question becomes, Is the last word? I was looking at 78 biblical verses about Thou Shalt Not Kill. On a personal level, I was immediately drawn to Luke 6:31″ “And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.” This is generally known as the Golden Rule.

Also, from Matthew 5: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have?”

I was a Methodist for the majority of my life, and the message for me has almost always been, “Use your head! Make up your own mind! Don’t just swallow everything the religious leaders have taught you.” I’ve also been struck by what a Unitarian once told me, that we all create our own theology. I think this true: God/the universe/whatever you call it has given us discernment and intellect.

So, for example, capital punishment makes no sense to me. I’ve written in the past about how a father of a young woman killed the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 went on a spiritual journey to where he found the idea of vengeance against her murderer, Timothy McVeigh, utterly abhorrent.

But we all find different paths on this journey. What are some of yours?

From ABC Wednesday


One of those guys I’m friends with on Facebook, after wishing for something impractical, wrote: “Well, here is a better, and more tasteful desire: I want to see Tom Jones make a bare-bones acoustic guitar album, a la Johnny Cash.”

It’s pretty clear to me and most people that those American Recordings of Cash in the 1990s and early 2000s represent some of the finest music in his career. As it turns out, Welsh singer Sir Thomas John Woodward, OBE, has already followed suit.

Praise & Blame came out 26 July 2010. “The album was Jones’ first release with Island Records and was recorded in 2009… [It] was made up of largely little known devotional and gospel covers, marking a departure from the pop-orientated style that had dominated Jones’ recent recordings…

“Upon its release, Praise & Blame received generally positive reviews from most critics. Giving the album four stars, Andrew Perry in The Daily Telegraph claimed that the album was ‘by far Jones’ best album in two decades’ and stated that “with its loose, spontaneous sound, and the all-pervasive sense of artistic rebirth… it’s a revelation.'”

Spirit in the Room (2012): “Tom Jones is still commendably committed to re-imagining himself as a Rick Rubin-years Johnny Cash, by way of interestingly oddball selections of Americana and bespoke blues covers.”

Long Lost Suitcase (2016): “Andre Paine, reviewing for the Evening Standard also gave it four stars, stating ‘At 75, Jones’s volcanic vocal still sounds majestic on an album that maintains the artistic rejuvenation of recent years.'”

I have the first two albums of the trilogy of albums produced by Ethan Johns, and I like them a lot. They’re a far cry from What’s New Pussycat and It’s Not Unusual.

Listen to:

What Good Am I here or here

Burning Hell here or here

Run On here; Johnny Cash performed the same song, as “God’s Gonna Cut You Down”, on American V: A Hundred Highways (recorded in 2003, released posthumously in 2006)

Bad as Me here or here

Hit or Miss here or here

Travelin’ Shoes here

Dimming of the Day here

Charlie Darwin here or here

For ABC Wednesday

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