Overheard on chat

D: so far our last two immediate topics remind me of the book I just finished
me: well, then.
D: The Guinea Pig Diaries, by A.J. Jacobs
the guy who wrote The Know it All?
me: Day one: “WHEEK, WHEEK!”
Day two: “ooh – PELLETS.”
D: groan
oh please keep going
me: Day three: “Wheeek.  ::snuffle:: WHEEK!”
D: um, sarcasm
me: Day four: “OHAI!  LETTUCE!!  My day is WHEEEEEEEEEK, mofo!!”
me: sometimes the pitch needs a windup…
D: can’t breathe
for laughing
oh that’s good
me: glad you like.
D: oh boy

Meanwhile, on Facebook…

Working on my final paper for my final class of library school, I posted a status update recently which read, “Struggling with APA style for the last time in my life, FSM willing. From here on out it’s Bluebook all the way, baby.”  As is wont to happen, a discussion on the merits of citations and what they are good for ensued.  My friend M suggested that perhaps hyperlinks were the ultimate citation. The following exchange ensued:

J: “Unfortunately, though it does have ease of use on its side, what is attached to a hyperlink is subject to change (so certain styles require you to note when you accessed the linked information). It is also not self-explanatory in a footnote or endnote, so it requires additional description to make up a full citation.”

M: “Got it. Someone should write a book…”

J: “There aughta be a law!!!”

M: “That sounds like a quote. Could you cite that properly please?”

J: “Bite me.”[1]

[1] Summers, Buffy. (2003). Never kill a boy on the first date. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, 1(5).

Conversations with my brother

My brother (well, stepbrother, but that seems a silly word for him somehow and we call each other “brother” and “sister now – even “bro” and “sis” in a kind of self-conscious, auditioning-for-Leave-it-to-Beaver kind of way now) is making a brief, work-related visit to us.  We stayed up rather too late last night, but a snippet of our conversation remains in my head while he’s still sleeping:

Me: “…Well, after all, I am middle-aged.”

Bri: “You’re not middle aged!”

Me: “Dude.  I’m 41.”

Bri: “Well, if you’re going by numbers…”

Love that guy.

Names withheld to protect both the innocent and the guilty

A recent exchange between a friend of mine and an academic publisher:

Dear Dr. R:

In an effort to speed up the publication schedule and work through our backlog, we are attempting to collect any remaining permissions from authors who are moving up in line for publication. Our records indicate that we still require permissions for the image(s) contained in your article, “(redacted).”

Please return these permissions as quickly as possible or update us as to the status of your attempts to obtain these permissions. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us.

Thank you for your interest in The Journal of SomethingOrOther, and congratulations again on the acceptance of your essay for publication.

Best regards,

Editorial Assistant
The Journal SomethingOrOther

My friend’s response:

Dear Editorial Assistant,

Thank you so much for your note. I was very grateful when you accepted my article for publication in your journal seven (7) years ago. Since that time, approximately five (5) years ago, you forgot that you had accepted the article and re-sent it through your review process, after which you sent me a rejection letter based on the insane rants of an inflamed tea-partier (anachronistic, I know, but it gives you an idea of what I mean). After I brought this imbalanced review to your attention, you rescinded your rejection and re-accepted the article for publication. A year later you sent me a letter similar to the one above. Since I had several years before supplied all the permissions, I grew tired of our little back and forth, stimulating though it had become, and rescinded my acceptance of your re-proferred acceptance. Soon after, I also lost the article in a devastating hard drive crash, and subsequently quit my academic career. Since I no longer had a stake in feverishly publishing my feeble pensées in poorly-run academic journals, I thought no more of the matter, until today.

Best wishes to you and the entire Journal of SomethingOrOther family,


Note to self: choose topics that don’t require permissions wherever possible.  (This being only one of many lessons that could be drawn from the exchange above.)

Yay! New “Simon’s Cat”!

He’s a magic man…

I got a Wii console for my 40th birthday – because though I may be 40, inside I am 12.  I generally use it to work out (EA Sports Fitness – though occasionally glitchy – is surprisingly intense), though I did get sucked into “World of Goo” on a friend’s recommendation.  Other than that, we only have the sports game that came with the console.  We had a party recently for my school colleagues, and the Wii was the hit of the party.  There is something about the game that seems to bring out the positive, encouraging side of people.  Miss a hit in baseball?  Nobody jeers.  Instead, cries of “You wuz ROBBED!” ring out, even from the opposing side.

As someone who really hates what my mother calls the “nyah nyahs,” I have been surprised to witness this sort of behavior.  Life has taught me more often that games where there are winners and losers are just… well, nasty.

Even John, who doesn’t really like video games, likes to play Wii.  Well, he likes to play Wii Bowling.  Since we are both New England kids, I usually respond to his, “Wanna bowl?” with, “Yeah – ya gonna take me bowlin’ an’ buy me a beah?”  We’re pretty well matched and the usual score is close.  But I found out today that John, well… he’s a magical Wii bowler.  He ran upstairs to do something when I was playing my turn, and his turn came before he had returned.  Suddenly, his figure went live, and I watched his Mii bowl a perfect strike.  Moments later, he ran downstairs and said, “How’d I do?”  He had brought his controller upstairs with him and heard it “ding.”  So he played his turn blind.  From upstairs.

Magic, I tell you.

(He smoked me that game by over 30 points.)

“Name some towns in New Jersey quick!”

Little did I know when I wrote “The Third Bird Carnival” that John had never read any Thurber.  I promised him this morning that I would attempt to rectify that, since Thurber makes perfect reading-aloud material.  We used to read aloud during dinner preparation when I was growing up.  Humorists like James Thurber and Patrick McManus are both perfect and hazardous for such endeavors.  Perfect in that they are short, dramatic, and engaging.  Hazardous in that they are funny enough to render the reader mute with laughter, leaving the listener stranded waiting for whatever made the reader paralyzed.

Having read “The Night the Bed Fell” and “More Alarms at Night” to John as he wrestled with a chicken, we may now have a new or recycled household habit.  Not to mention, a new catchphrase: “Name some towns in New Jersey quick!”

I don’t miss it, but there were some funny stories

One of the interesting thing about going back to school in your 40’s is you get stirred out of your usual age strata.  As a result, I’m hanging around with a few more people in the active dating phase of life than has been usual for me, and my eyes are seeing the world slightly differently as a result.  I see a cute young man on the Metro – tall, lanky, warm brown eyes and facial hair, and I think, “Oh – he looks like X’s type.”  Having my impression confirmed later, I was reminded of an instance years ago when I had my own offer to have a married lady wingman.

I lived for a time with Marie and her husband The Italian out in California after I took the bar exam, but before I knew if I had passed.  Marie and I were out grocery shopping, and she mentioned that she had heard grocery stores were good pick-up places.  We joked about this for a bit, since I hadn’t had a date in months, and Marie said, “Well, you point out one you like and I’ll hit him with the grocery cart for you.”

And a cute young man at the end of the aisle looked up at us and grinned.

And Marie and I did that girly thing where we laughed and collapsed into one another as we fled the scene, embarrassed.

But now I know I would absolutely knock “accidentally” into a potential suitor for X if she wanted me to.  I wouldn’t want to go back to dating for anything, but acting in a supporting role for someone else’s drama?  Potentially fun stuff.

From the rerun file – library edition

Periodically, I post reruns from the old, hard-to-navigate version of WoT.  Today, I was reminded of this post about my experiences as a law school work-study student in our library.  The post dates from from April 2005, and it’s especially appropriate now that I am in library school:


Libraries are where work-study grants go to die, especially at a public university. It seemed that every other student was eligible for a work-study grant at my school, and when you can’t get a job as a research assistant for a professor (or, as in my case, the professor you have your research job with doesn’t have a whole lot of projects for you), you take advantage of your grant working at the library. It’s a pretty good gig – you can drop in for as little as an hour at a time, the work is fairly undemanding, and you can read the papers while you’re attaching them to those long sticks.

The unfortunate thing about the library – at least at Maine – was that random, strange calls tended to land at the circulation desk. Since the circulation desk was generally manned by the shifting mass of students on work-study who were working a 2-hour shift (at the longest), it was a poor choice for those members of the public who might be seeking anyone resembling a clue. On the other hand, since the circ desk students were constantly confounded by the old-fashioned phone (the kind with a row of buttons on the bottom that went “ker-CHUNK” when you pressed them to select a line, put someone on hold, or transfer them to oblivion), it was probably a good way for a harried switchboard operator to get rid of annoying callers.

I was whiling away my time at the circ desk late in my career at U. Maine one spring afternoon when the telephone rang. I answered it, and was greeted by a slow, stentorian voice obviously belonging to an elderly gentleman who was most likely hard of hearing. “I would like to speak to the Law Librarian,” he boomed.

Hmm. There was nobody with that title at the library, to the best of my knowledge, and I had worked there for two years. “Er – sir, do you have a reference question, or would you like to speak to the director of the library? There is nobody with the title of ‘Law Librarian.'”

“I would like to speak to the Law Librarian,” he repeated – as one would with a particularly dim child.

“Sir, as I told you, there is nobody here with that title –”

“I would like to speak to the Law Librarian.”

Fine. It seemed my best choices were a.) the reference librarian, or b.) the director. As I had no more information than that, I selected the director by a semi-random selection method: I liked the reference librarian. He was a very decent chap.  Also, the director had a secretary who was probably better-equipped to handle this than either I or the reference librarian. So I said, “One moment, sir,” and put him into transfer mode, got the secretary on the line, put him through, and went back to replacing pocket-parts or whatever other gripping task the circ desk had for me that day.

About a minute later, the phone rang again and I had a sense of doom. Sure enough, when I answered it, I got, “I WOULD LIKE TO SPEAK TO THE LAW LIBRARIAN.” Either my ancient telephone-fu was weak, or he had gotten confused when he was put on hold and had hung up.

“One moment, sir,” I put him on hold again and called up to the director’s secretary’s office. Now she was not there. Hell.

I took a deep breath and got back on the line with my elderly friend. “Sir, nobody is there at the moment. I would be happy to take a message for you –”

That was when he exploded. He began to yell, ranting about how he needed to speak to the fictitious “law librarian” and how he was retired Maine Supreme Court Justice Hoo-Ha, and on and on. The serials librarian, who had been shelving journals in the open shelves behind the circ desk looked at me as I held the phone’s receiver away from my ear. I felt like one of those cartoons where the noise from the phone actually blows your hair back. Finally, his tirade wound down and he ended by sarcastically asking, “So what do you suggest I do?”

I had a split-second conversation with the angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other, took a deep breath, and said, “Well sir – the way I see it you have two choices. You can leave a message as I suggested at the outset or you can continue to be rude to me. Which will it be?”

The serials librarian in the stacks behind me inhaled audibly and I waited.

“Um. I guess I’ll leave a message then.”

Score one for the work-study student.


If Buffy met Edward Cullen from Twilight.  I love it.  (Video embedded below – if you’re on an RSS feed and don’t see it, please click through).