The unLibrarian

I do not want people to be agreeable, as it saves me the trouble of liking them. ~Jane Austen

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Location: Michigan, United States

Yes, that is a tattoo, and yes, it is on my person.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

ALA New Orleans - Reflections (Day Two)

At 8:00 am, I awoke still exhausted (even though we didn't stay out that late) with a headache and a continuing case of nausea. It was the same nausea I had been feeling since Wednesday or Thursday (peaking on friday), so I didn't think it could be blamed on the vodka. I had hoped to attend an early session on open source programs, but was a little wary of sitting in a room full of people feeling like I could vomit at any minute. I went downstairs to explore the free continental breakfast, and managed to choke down a dry, hard biscuit, which seemed to help the nausea a little bit. I topped it off with a Pepcid Complete and trudged to the convention center.

My hotel was located across the street from the convention center, so the walk was brief. However, the air was as thick as soup, and I swear I felt like I was an added morsel amoung bits of peas and ham.

After checking in and briefly visiting the vendor booths (picking up limited "crap", and settling for books and the cool Naglene bottles from Microsoft), I hopped a shuttle bus to my first program: Global Resource Sharing: Cooperation across Borders . I must admit it was your normal OCLC hoopla, nothing to write home about, but it was my place to be there.

Next, was the Union List User's Group meeting. This was fun. One of my absolute favoritest OCLC people was there presenting AND a number of my more amusing network colleagues attended. I learned a few tidbits that I was unaware of, and most of the questions were by us network folk, none of which were really answered, of course. The other speaker, who does NOT like addressing an audience, went way super fast as usual, with our little network crew tittering behind our hands...okay, with us biting our lips shut to keep the giant gaffaw from escaping. There were no ground breaking announcements or surprises, which in my expereince is a very good thing.

After that was the WorldCat Resource Sharing/ILLiad User's Group update. It was 1.5 hours long to cover both topics. For some reason, the ILLiad folks went first and took up the ENTIRE time. People were not happy, myself included.

After my fun filled day, it was time to go back to my room, change, and join Brian for the Google reception. I tried to find myself something cool (in both ways) and trendy, something that speaks style and taste, and non librarian scarf wearing, sensible shoes with floods apparel. I settled on some wide leg khakis and a beaded brown tunic top. Not bad.

Brian and I walked upstairs to the party room, and were greated by a table of name tags and a twenty-something Google greeter. She smiled at us and asked, "Who do you know?". We stumbled out that we were asked to attend on behalf of, blah, blah, blah, and were given our name tags. Now, I must admit that as I entered the room, I was thinking, "Wow. I'm at a party where people know people". I'm a dork, I know.

This party was COOL (well, for an ALA party). There were servers carrying appetizers on little silver trays, a gigantic cheese and fruit platter, followed by a ton of other food that I didn't even notice because I never made it past the gorgenzola and water crackers. The really cool part was the open bar, and not only because the drinks were free! They had champagne, wine, mixed drinks, you name it. Each drink got a square plastic faux ice cube in one of the Google colors that let up when the two conductors on it were wet. Of course, I HAD to get one of each color, but they didn't always let you choose, so between us, we must have had at least 8 drinks (not all alcoholic, geez!), and I finally ended up with the red one that I needed to complete my set. The rest of our Google experience is highlighted by Brian and my attempts to see how fast we could make multiple cubes flicker with out tongues, sometimes holing up to three in his mouth. I could only fit two in mine.

The evening ended with a wonderful dinner at a STEAKHOUSE, believe it or not, where I had a wonderful roasted sweet potato, some grilled asparagus with the BEST Hollandaise sauce I have EVER had and a wonderful chopped salad. Brian had a steak the size of...well, about 1/4 of the cow. We topped it off with a decent crème brulée and called it a night. I must admit I went back to my room and searched for the plastic surgery show, but alas, it wasn't on.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

ALA New Orleans - Reflections (Day One)

Every year we attend ALA, it's like a librarians' orgy, sorry, but it is. We all get together, the more the better, and see what exactly we do for each other. I, being one who works for a network and not a library, probably spend a great deal of my time viewing everything from a different perspective, a "how can this help MLC" perspective. I have to admit that it's not my original intention. I go there just like everyone else, to learn what I want to know, and to show what I already do. However, as I'm prancing through the convention center, I'm suddenly drowned by a feeling of, well...duty. My nice little organization is paying for this little trip for a reason, and it sure as hell isn't a free vacation. So, after maybe 30 minutes of wandering through the vendor booth, filling my own backpack (no totes for me, thank you) with loads of free...well, everything, I suddenly feel a totally involuntary scowl take over my face, and I turn around and head to the meeting on my list.

I'm going to back up a bit. A week prior to ALA, I made my way to the very back of my closet to dig out my suitcase, not the overnight bag, or the slightly larger suitcase, but the huge one, my standard "I can't travel without at least five pairs of shoes" suitcase. Sitting behind it were TWO neon orange WorldCat tote bags from last year in Chicago, packed to the brim with "free stuff". They hadn't even been opened, and I had no idea what they contained. So, this time around, I decided to only take things I wanted, not things I thought I might use some day. Unfortunately, this turned out to be about 90% books, and my shoulders still kill.

This year, I got the bright idea to go to the ani difranco concert in Ann Arbor the Friday night before I began my saturating library experience. Sure, my plane left at 8:30 am, but I'm young and could handle it. No problem.

Problem.

Halfway through what was one of the BEST ani difranco concerts I had ever attended, I felt an amazingly piercing pain in my eye. I blinked. It still hurt. Well, this was ani so I ignored it. Well, it hurt more. When ani performed a song that wasn't one of my 50-something "favorites", I darted out of the auditorium and sprinted to the restroom. I decided that I was NOT going to miss ani for a little pain. So what if it was my last contact lens, I was going to rip the damn thing out and throw it away. END OF PROBLEM.

Well, not exactly. I pulled out HALF of a contact lens, the other half as far as I could tell, stuck somewhere in the very back of my eye. I tried to get it out in vain, and finally gave up and went back to the concert. On the way home, I was overcome with an unbelievable feeling of nausea, quite possibly a result of the pain in my eye and spend a good 20 minutes in a gas station restroom waiting to vomit. Finally I did.

Over an hour later, we arrived back in the Lansing area, where I picked up my car and drove with one eye shut to the local emergency room, arriving around midnight.

One o'clock
Two o'clock
Three o'clock

At three thirty, I was told to get into a lovely hospital gown and lie down. They said it was like a contact lens with a hose attached to flush my eye. Well, maybe it was like a contact lens, for an elephant. The closest thing to the torture device that I can think of is the hard plastic shield that comes on a new container of deodorant. So, it was stuck in my eyes as I was forced to lie still for a good 30 minutes, with what felt like acid being flushed over my eyeball while listening to the Mighty Ducks (the movie) on TV. The male nurse, Dave, was really nice, as was the whole staff, to my astonishment. If I had real emergencies, and someone came in during a mad rush with half a contact in their eye, I might become a bit irritated. Well, at 4:00, I'm soaking wet, but through the procedure. After changing back into my tank top and jeans, the nice resident checked my eye for scratches, and said I didn't have any. Then the attending (thank god for a ten year ER habit, without which I would never have been able to differentiate between the two) came in and said I had a scratch, couldn't wear contact for 5 days, blah blah blah. Wonderful. Finally, after I must admit was a slight bout of minor whining, "Please discharge me!!! My plane leaves in four hours and I haven't packed yet!!!", they finally let me go. I got to sleep at 5:00 am and woke up at 6:15 to get ready to go.

Other than being delayed for 2 hours (while already on the runway!), my flight went smoothly. I did manage to get a bit of sleep, but not good sleep because I had three relatively short flights. I arrived around 5:30, I think, and called Deb (colleague from another network) and Nathan & Kyle (fellow victim of library assistant hell and his very sweet boy) to reconfirm our Bourbon street fun planned for that evening. I thought I was going to die! However, I must have not been tired enough to cancel my plans. Unfortunately, because my flight was late, I missed the only session that I planned to attend for my own personal interests.

I took the shuttle to my hotel. Our driver gave us the "low down" of the city. She pointed out the 10 foot water lines on the highway wall, told us how only 1/4 of the taxi's available pre Katrina were available. She told us that no matter what we saw on the news, the real thing was a hundred times worse. She showed us were people were living out of their cars at their places of employment. She told us to be patient at restaurants because our server was probably the cook and the dishwasher too. She ranted that although she wasn't angry at FEMA, she wondered why, after days without running water and electricity at the Superdome, FEMA refused to drop water, saying that they were afraid it would cause fighting. She pointed out how every building either had a new roof or was covered in blue tarps. And above all, she thanked us for visiting her city.

We all went out that night, first to dinner and then to Bourbon Street. I headed out to the curb, knowing how difficult it would be to hail a cab. The consierge saw me and ran up to me and asked me if I wanted a cab. I said yes, and proceeded to watch this nicely dressed up woman run down the block and around the corner in 90 degree heat, returning a few minutes later with a cab following behind her. It seemed a little extreme, even for southern hospitality.

Dinner was pretty uneventful with the exception of a small run in with a evil cab driver who claimed to be the one we called, but we knew wasn't. Unlike before, taxi drivers aren't usually driving up and down the streets looking for customers, they're driving up and down the streets with people already in them.

Everyone who knows me knows that I can't hold my liquor for several reasons including:

  1. I hardly ever drink...I mean, we're talking 3-4 times per year, tops
  2. I have an allergy to...something. I swell up, my face and body turn red, my throat swell, making it hard to breathe and sometimes I get hives. Once, I swear my brain swelled. However, it varies depending on what I drink. Beer and wine are BAD. Rum and tequila are bad. I've always done better with high quality vodka.
  3. I suffer from what is referred to as the "Asian Curse". I'm half Japanese...my people can't handle liquor
All of this results in me having nearly NO tolerance (and therefore a "cheap date"). This coupled with my severe exhaustion caused me to after consuming a Cape Cod (with Grey Goose, thank you) --that was nearly clear, with only the slightest hint of a pink tint-- to feel pretty damn good. Of course, I had to have another. The evening ended with the four of us walking back to the guys hotel, and Deb and I promising to catch a cab, but walking back to her hotel, and Deb hailing me a cab and instructing the driver where to let me off because not only did I forget what room I was in (I was only there for about 15 minutes!!!, okay a bit longer, but still), I also couldn't quite remember what hotel I was in. To defend myself, I was going on about two hours of sleep AND both of their hotels started with a "W", and somehow in trying to remember where theirs were, I became certain that my hotel started with a "W" too. The only other potentially hazardous part of the evening was when I suddenly got the urge to get the WorldCat logo tattooed on my back. Luckily, I decided that it didn't follow my back's buddhist theme and I didn't see any tattoo parlors. Here's a pic of me & Deb out on the town that night. Nathan and Kyle are a little camera happy. I think I hid my exhaustion well.

So, after having the front desk laughing at me for having to ask what room I was in, I made it upstairs and after two hours, managed to fall asleep after watching a special on the Health channel about plastic surgery for boys with large breasts.