Thursday, July 26, 2012

Call me Madam...Librarian

A funny thing happened on the way to my librarian degree.

 But first, a confession. My master's degree in Information Science has been in limbo for a long, long, long time. I mean, I worked as a librarian for many years, and I took all the classes and everything, but when I finished my master's-degree coursework at Florida State in 2002 (or was it 2003?), I kinda sorta owed the school money. And they wouldn't give me my degree until it was 100% paid off.

This meant that I did not have that coveted credential that is the sine qua non of library-job riches:   "You must have an MLS degree from an ALA-accredited school." (in job listings, this is sometimes written with a sneer).

I made the last payment in 2006. Or did I?  According to my recollection, I never actually sent in the last payment. No payment, no diploma. But in 2006 I was too busy screwing up my life to take care of such details. I was a depressive in survival mode, and I figured this was one more thing that was never going to get fixed.  Who needed their silly old degree anyway?

Recently, though, I've been in the process of cleaning up my credit and trying to clear past financial wreckage. So I summoned up my nerve and I called FSU to see if my degree was still on hold. The nice man on the phone told me he had good news and bad news: Yes, my degree was on hold. And I owed ... wait for it ... a single penny. Which FSU generously wrote off.

That didn't end the matter, quite. It took a little time for the plucky, intrepid FSU staff to track down my transcript (most of my school records had been destroyed years ago). But track it down they did, and they conferred my degree retroactively as of 2006. At long last, my diploma arrived, and it's a beaut!
So now I am a bona fide, real-live, I'm-better-than-you-are-because-I-have-a-piece-of-paper librarian. Oh, pardon me. "Librarian" is so passe, so card-catalogue. What I am is an information scientist.

With a big-ass librarian diploma.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

CDC: Mark's Story, Let's Stop HIV Together

I'm very proud and honored to be part of  CDC's new national HIV awareness campaign with my dear friend Mark King. I'm told the campaign is high profile, and I'm likely to show up on billboards and buses and at the Atlanta airport. This should do wonders for my humility. But enough about me.

The CDC's campaign is terrific -- you can see more stories, and learn lots more, here.

If you haven't been tested lately, it's time. HIV isn't a death sentence anymore, but you've got to know your status. Get the facts. Get tested. And get involved.

I love you all.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Re: Sad message

My dear friend,

This is another hoax, and a hateful one at that. It's been around for years. Here's a link that explains it. The link also shoots down the idea that Muslims, as a group, are Holocaust deniers. Snopes has covered this hoax too.

I am Jewish, and I have no patience for religious or ethnic bigotry. I love you and it's been fun to hear from you, but this is the third time I've had to ask you to quit sending me the anti-Muslim stuff. So regretfully, I must ask that you take me off your mailing list.

Wishing you all the best --

To: ">
Sent: Wednesday, July 4, 2012 9:18 AM
Subject: Fw: SAD MESSAGE
:( sad this may be a duplicate cause you are on more than one of my lists. please do not get annoyed - this message needs to be sent round the world
Love and hugs,
This week the University of Kentucky removed The Holocaust from its school curriculum because it "offended" the Muslim population, which claims it never occurred. This is a frightening portent of the fear that is gripping the world and how easily each country is giving into it. It is now more than 60 years since the Second World War in Europe ended.
This e-mail is being sent as a memorial chain, in memory of the six million Jews, 20 million Russians, 10 million Christians and 1,900 Catholic priests who were murdered, massacred, raped, burned, starved
and humiliated with the German and Russian peoples looking the other way!
Now more than ever, with Iran among others claiming the Holocaust to be "a myth," it is imperative to make sure the world never forgets.
This e-mail is intended to reach 40 million people worldwide! Join us and be a link in the memorial chain and help us distribute it around the world.
Please send this e-mail to 10 people you know and ask them to continue the memorial chain.
Please don't just delete it. It will only take you a minute to pass this along.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Lazy Ass Librarian Friday: Two Degrees of HuffPo

Congratulations to Mark King, whose latest blog entry has been posted on the Huffington Post at their request.

Full disclosure: Mark and I have become good friends over the past few years, so I can no longer even feign objectivity. Which is why it's a good thing Mark really is as gifted as I think he is.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

It is what it is.

It's about 12:30 on Friday night, and I'm restless. It's that four-in-the-morning-let's-go-to-Waffle-House kind of restlessness that comes with bad news and a long night. Mental exhaustion has set in, taking the edge off any dull emotional ache that might have survived the day. Still, sleep will only come when my emotions are completely dead, when there's no energy left to think, not even about being tired.

My father has lung cancer.

He was characteristically stoic when he told me -- "it is what it is" -- and seemed unprepared for my dismay. It is what it is, he repeated.

There's really nothing else to say.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Well, I'm more unique than average today...

Today I went to the orthopedist (actually, the doctor's PA, who was very good) and got the scoop on my poor old broken foot. Naturally, it wouldn't do for me to have your garden variety, run of the mill boring kinda fracture. No, like any good addict mine had to be special. I have something called a "Jones fracture."

Here's what Wikipedia says about it:

A Jones fracture is a fracture of the diaphysis of the fifth metatarsal of the foot ... at the base of the small toe. Patients who sustain a Jones fracture have pain over this area, swelling, and difficulty walking. The fracture was first described by British orthopedic surgeon Sir Robert Jones, who sustained this injury himself while dancing, in the Annals of Surgery in 1902.

So now, I have a big-ass boot on my foot, which I will be wearing everywhere except in bed and in the shower for the next three or four months. They'll check it in a month and then another month after that, and if it's not healing right they might have to dive into me and put a pin in it. Happily, it doesn't hurt too terribly badly, so it feels a lot more like an adventure than an injury.

Anyway, I say if you're only going to break one bone in your lifetime, make it good. Make it dramatic. Make it count!

Highly technical legal and medical disclaimer: This is not my actual foot.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day.

Dear Mom,
I suppose you know I broke my foot on Wednesday. I was in the middle of a photo shoot, and I fell off of a box. It was awesome! The crutches, not so awesome. It doesn't hurt too terribly much, though, and it makes a pretty good story. And it gave me an easy writing prompt with which to reboot my blog after a long period of silence.


Happy Mother's Day, Mom. It certainly has been an interesting year. I moved, again. George died. I hit 30 years of sobriety. Your granddaughter started college and got a job. While she's testing her wings, I'm testing mine. (By the way, thank you for warning me that most mother-daughter relationships aren't as placid as ours was. That advice came in handy this year.)

This year, my faith has grown. I've learned to laugh more, and laugh more easily.  I've started learning to appreciate things about myself. Most of the time, I no longer feel much "guilt for being." But I've also felt deeper loss and greater fear than I've faced since, well, probably ever.

I'm learning how to be a friend, and a daughter, and a sister. I've become reasonably responsible with money. These days, more often than not, I do what I say I'm going to do. This is all basic life stuff, but for me it's real progress.  There's no way I could have grown so much if not for your unconditional love and support, and your wisdom.

I saw the New Mexico license plate at Roxx the other day. Thanks for popping into this dimension to say hello.

Thank you for leaving me your journals. They bring me great comfort, although at the moment they're packed up in some box or other. Oh, and thank you for telling me that when I ride the bus, I should always sit as close to the driver as possible. I always do.

I guess that's about it. Everything is as it should be, except that you are gone, and I am here. But then, I go back to what you told me when you were sick: "If we can be together across thousands of miles -- and we always are -- then mere death isn't going to separate us." And when I can look past the physical, I can see that you were right.

All my love,

Friday, April 06, 2012

Why I haven't been posting lately

Well, actually, I haven't been able to think of anything interesting to write. Oh, sure, my head is brimming with brilliant inspiration. Dig these titles:

"My Underwear Has Arrived, and Just in the Nick of Time!"
"When Green Beans go Bad"

And these two, about classical music:

"If it's Baroque, Don't Fix It!"
"Rarely Mozart, but Offenbach"

All right, I guess you had to be there.

Truth is, I'm going through something. Not the little-ups-and-downs kind of something, but the really heart-wrenching, impossible-to-fathom, god-sucks, time-has-stopped kind of stuff.  And I can't write about it here, in this public forum. At least, not for now. Thank god, though, with some outside help and another 90 in 90, I'm looking forward to getting better.

So please don't give up on me quite yet, dear readers. I'll get there.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Lifting the Burden: On Money, Footwork, and Blessed Relief

As it turns out, my lovely daughter is taking the semester off from school, which means I have some extra money for the next few months. Isn't that nice?

What's more, I've decided to spend it on me. Specifically, on cleaning up my credit, and then socking away enough money for a small downpayment on a condo or small house. Prices and interest rates are low, and I'd like to take advantage of it.

My chaotic financial history is replete with the usual stuff and wreckage of addiction, even though I was sober when I was creating this mess. Unopened mail. Utilities turned off because I didn't have the money. or because I just forgot to pay the bills. It's probably the part of my life that's been most resistant to change. Likewise, it has brought me the most shame and misery. That, and the food thing.

I happen to know that some of my readers are very stable, sensible people who may not get it. Why not just take care of this shit so you don't have to worry so much? Just stop eating. Exercise, for god's sake. Quit bouncing checks. Pay your fucking bills, dumbass. Duh!

Of course, you're absolutely right, and I've known that all along. But I discovered that it's a lot easier to maintain good health than to try to regain it once it's ruined. I was hemorrhaging money, and I didn't know how to stop the bleeding. From late 2008 until the middle of 2011, there is not a single month in which I didn't have at least one overdraft. My average was about seven overdrafts per month, at $37 a pop. In my worst month, I had fourteen.  From December, 2008 until May, 2011 I spent $8,535 on overdraft charges for over 230 checks. Since May, 2011 I've had just one overdraft -- a slip-up in November.  My credit rating has gone up by about 60 points since then.

In any event, it took a shitload of time and effort and pain for me to get this patient stabilized, and now I've got an extra thousand bucks to toss around every month. I say this not to brag, but to express my suprise, relief, and gratitude for a turn-around that can only be described as miraculous. 

Anyway, this addict still thinks it would be a swell idea, now that things are in some sort of order, to shake things up a little and buy a house. That has led me to a realtor, who has led me to a very nice mortgage broker who told me I can't buy a  house until I get my credit up a little more, and then told me exactly what to do to fix it. Although he probably doesn't know it, he's showing me how to work steps four through nine around money.

So in the past three days, I've gotten into action. I've arranged for the release of a tax lien that was paid long ago, and I've settled four small accounts that were in collections. One of these transactions deserves special mention, and I'll post about that tomorrow. There is still much to do, and some of it is going to be tough.

In the meantime, though, it's a great start, and I'm pretty damned pleased with myself. I really, really am.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

HIV-positive man trounces the APD

Yesterday the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of an HIV-positive man who sued the Atlanta Police Department for refusing to hire him based on his status. The APD doctor who conducted the pre-hire physical told the man – referred to in the lawsuit as Richard Roe – that the APD wouldn’t hire him because he is HIV-positive.  The doctor also advised the APD to prevent Roe from “physical contact or involvement with individuals.”   

Let’s just let that sink in for a moment. It boggles the mind, doesn’t it? A doctor this misinformed to begin with, and then stupid enough to tell the job applicant the true reason for not hiring him?  What a maroon.

So, anyway, Roe sued the APD under the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the APD motioned for summary judgment (a quickie dismissal, basically), saying that Roe hadn’t shown that he wasn’t a direct threat.  (I hate all these double negatives too, folks, but it’s correct because of the burden of proof).

The trial judge bought the APD’s argument, and then added its own garnish to this pile of bullshit. Roe, the court said, hadn’t even shown he was qualified for the job to begin with, apart from any medical issues. The trial court came up with this second issue all by itself, and didn’t bother telling the parties about it beforehand.  The court isn't supposed to do this sort of thing unless it provides notice to the parties. Without such notice, the appeals court noted, Roe felt ambushed.
The appeals court vacated the trial court’s opinion and ordered it to take another look at the case. Noting that the City had no policy against hiring HIV-positive applicants per se, and in fact had some  in its employ, the court said Roe had been “lulled” by the city into believing that his positive status itself is what disqualified him. Accordingly, Roe didn’t introduce evidence showing the trial court that his HIV-status was “non-dangerous.”

So, wait a minute. Roe has to prove he’s non-dangerous? Shouldn’t the burden be on the APD to show that Roe’s condition is dangerous? I mean, I know he’s the plaintiff, so he has the overall burden of proof, but… really?? (Yes, yes, I imagine it has something to do with that whole McDonnell-Douglas-burden-shifting thing. But frankly, it’s my blog, and I don’t care.).

Roe also challenged the validity of the pre-employment physical itself, since federal law requires a conditional job offer before such a medical examination is required. The court of appeals sided with Roe there, too, so he will have the opportunity to present this argument on remand.

It’s an interesting opinion and, of course, I’m pleased with the outcome. But don’t expect it to be a game-changer. The circuit court almost certainly thought the law was well-settled; this is evident by the fact that it issued an unpublished, per curiam opinion.  Unpublished opinions are considered “persuasive” only; they’re not binding on the court in future litigation. In any event,  this case will never appear in one of those big, fancy, expensive books that you see in all those lawyer TV commercials. Hence, proof that the case is not all that important.

Except, of course, to Roe. And anybody who's been discriminated against on the basis of HIV status. And the APD. And pretty much everybody else.
In other words, good news is good news, and any step in the right direction is a welcome thing.

You can read at he opinion here. The Washington Post article is here.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Lazy-Ass Librarian Thursday: The Gay Rights Movement in Six Minutes

I think you'll find that this video is worth your time.

That said, it's probably not the video to send to your dear Aunt Frieda who's never seen a gay person, much less studied up on LGBT history. It's more pep rally than substance; more inspiration than introduction. The story isn't told in chronological order and it leaves out some pretty important stuff (I watched it three times and didn't see anything about the Stonewall riots, for example).

Still, it is full of stirring images. In fact, I hate to admit it, but cynical and jaded as I am, I did feel a definite shiver once or twice. 

Oh! And is that Vandy Beth Glenn behind Barney Frank? I do believe it is!

Hat tip to Good.Is. And hell, a hat tip to us, too.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

George: Best. Cat. Ever.

George, from Window Rock, Navajo Nation, Arizona.

 I will miss you so very much, my wonderful little Navajo cat.  Enjoy your new adventure, and I'll see you on the other side.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

On rain, bad luggage, and why it matters how you wear your pants.

So this morning, my commute to work was very interesting. First, it was raining, which sucked, but I had already resigned myself to that. So I put on my headphones, because music makes bearable even the most miserable journey. But I heard only an echo of what should have been music. The headphones were kaput. They had a long, full life but that didn't make me feel any better. A soggy trek without headphones really sucks. But you know, I'm no hothouse flower. I can take it! 

I got about a block and a half and then a wheel suddenly busted on my very heavy pull-along bag, which I just bought about a month ago. (In-line skate wheels, my ass.)

Well, that slowed things down considerably. Even though the pull-along did the best it could with its one remaining wheel, I wasn't exactly walking anymore. It was more like step-drag-step-drag. And me, headed toward the Capitol! It's pretty hard to impress a state senator when you're walking like the Hunchback of Notre Dame. I figured I'd better head first to my office and unload.

Did I mention that it was raining?

Finally I made it to the bus stop. There are actually three bus stops within a half-block of each other, with three perfectly good buses that come in quick succeession. I never worry about missing a bus, because if I do, I can just proceed a half-block to the next stop. No problemo.

 Alas, I missed the first two buses, although I was within seconds each time. Then I saw the third bus coming and decided this was the one. I rushed on, leaving a trail of sparks behind me as I dragged that stupid bag along the cement. Yes! I made it, just barely!

And then the driver sped right past me, the insensitive prick, and there wasn't going to be another bus for at least a half an hour.

It was raining, you know.

So that's when I said, fuck this bullshit. I went to the Starbucks across the street (sorry, Caribou, you're just too far) and got myself a venti skinny caramel latte. This helped, especially since it was served up by somebody in the rooms. So fortified, I looked up when the next bus was coming, and caught it with no problem. And I even made it to the office on time. How about that!

Anyway, here's the point. A few hours later I went to the bathroom and made an important discovery:  I had my pants on backwards. I'd been wearing them bass-ackwards all day long. This explained everything! It explained why my pants were suddenly too short. And why the pockets kept trying to point backwards. And why they felt tight in the ass.

And you know what? I think those backwards pants explain the whole damn morning. Because once I put them on right, the day just smoothed itself right out.

I'm just sayin'.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

One Step Forward, One Hundred Years Back.

Yesterday the Seattle Times reported that Washington State Senator Steve Litzow, a Republican, has announced that he will be the first Republican in that chamber to stand up for gay marriage. Whatever his other views (and I confess I don't know what they are), it took courage and integrity to stand up to the Republican establishment, especially in the current toxic political environment. I have no doubt that other Republicans will follow his lead. Okay, so I'd be even more impressed if he put it on his website. Still, Senator Litzow, I salute you. Hang tough!

That's the state of Washington. But this is Georgia.

Here, we're a little less evolved. Here, we're still kind of working on the whole slavery thing.

You see, a Gwinnett county elementary school has been called on the carpet after several third-grade teachers attempted to combine Social Studies and Math lessons. Sounds good, no?

No. No, it went awry. Wrong. South. Deep South. 

The kids were studying Frederick Douglass, and of course that's a good thing. Things were going along just fine until the teachers had to start writing math questions to fit with the theme. Hmmm. How to combine Frederick Douglass and math? Let me see....

He's not laughing.
Oh, of course! Story problems! Those things are easy to write.

So the teachers wrote story problems for several classrooms of third-graders. They wrote story problems about slaves picking cotton and oranges. Oh, and they wrote one about Frederick Douglass himself. Here it is:
If Frederick got two beatings a day, how many beatings did he get in 1 week? 2 weeks?

Holy fucking mother of god!

And "Frederick"? Frederick  Douglass? That Frederick, the celebrated abolitionist and statesman? Referred to only by his first name?

Gwinnett County is not some little backwater hole, either. It's suburban to Atlanta, with a large minority population. Their school system is the largest in the state, with 161,000 students enrolled this year.

My head is exploding in all kinda sideways. I have to lay down.

Jesus Christ.

Bias disclosure: When I was in the third grade, I hated story problems.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Lazy-Ass Librarian Monday, New Year's Edition

I'd like to tell you that I spent last week in Key West soaking in sunshine and salt air, and that's why I didn't post. Yeah. I'd like to tell you that. Fact is, I just couldn't think of anything to write about.

Wait, that's not really true. I thought of lots of things to write about. And then I didn't write about them.

At any rate, my fabulous daughter is back from college, and for the next week I'll have two house guests (my kid and her new boyfriend). Between that and the holidays, I'm pretty much spent -- including in the monetary sense. I had forgotten how expensive children are, especially when they anticipate eating. 

The boyfriend (who seems very nice) will be heading back up to Chicago in a few days, but my daughter will be hanging out here for a semester. Her plan is to get a job and save money until summer, when she will return to Chicago, hopefully with money for a deposit on an apartment.

Now, this post was going to be my 2011 list of my ten favorite dead people, one of them being Jon Huntsman, who isn't really dead but is pretty much off the radar for the Republican presidential nomination, ha ha ha.

But then I saw this headline:


Well, golly, how could I resist? 

And it wouldn't be a real post unless I offered you witty and astute commentary, so here it is: I was sort of appalled to find I agree with numbers 1 and 2. And with number 7, but for different reasons. And even though I like number 10, I have to admit Mama Bear has a point. Oh, and I don't know who the fuck number 11 is.

So welcome to 2012. May it bring you all you wish for, or at least all you need, and may you know that you're loved.