Monday, April 30, 2007

A new cubicle desk

I am excitedly awaiting the arrival of my new cubicle desk. I changed cubicles over a year ago and didn't bring with me my convenient U-shaped desk with the curved corner for working at the computer, which, by the way, is what I do most all of the day. The new cube has two parallel desks, both of which were left over from other people's moves. One holds the computer, the other is for proofreading and writing. I have to turn 180 degrees to switch between the two.

We've been rearranging office spaces again, and, in the process, the subject of my inconvenient desk came up. So, I'm getting a new U-shaped configuration that will let me spin at 90 degree angles between work surfaces and be able to talk on the phone and access my computer at the same time.

I am thrilled. When you are a cube dweller, spatial reality become your reality!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

10 things I hate

(A local publication has a "10 things I crave" column in each issue. I have a different take on the genre.)

10 Things I Hate

1. Packing Peanuts
Free with any purchase in the Pottery section of Ebay.

2. Rats
Under your bird feeder, Peoria

3. Music with no soul - Celine Dion, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, George Michael, et al.
Borders, Barnes & Noble, Co-op.

4. Free-with-Chicken-McNuggets big plastic toys meant to entertain kids for several minutes and then be thrown in the landfill.

5. All those horrible plastic objects made by slave lablor and meant to entertain us for 2 minutes and then be thrown in the landfill.

6. Cell phones.
Sprint stores, Cellular Connection, etc.

7. Broken bottles on sidewalks.
Moss Ave., Peoria

8. Coffee that tastes like dirt.
Restaurants and cafeteria's throughout central Illinois.

9. Super high-heeled, razor-point shoes that prohibit women from running if assaulted.
Macy's, Bergner's et al.

10. I"m still thinking.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Stress of proofreading

As you can imagine, I do lots of proofreading in my little cube in the Publications Office. I sit with my reading glasses - now proudly hanging from my neck on a gold chain - under a hot halogen lamp that illuminates the page like noontime sun. As you can also imagine, I get to proof some pretty juicy stuff - donor lists, newsletters, catalog copy, letters to constituents, and more. On my left, The Chicago Manual of Style, AP Stylebook, big dictionary, and the Harbrace handbook. On my right, several red pens and sharp Dixon Ticonderoga pencils.

It can get pretty tense.

Today, for example, I was editing a newsletter with an astonishing number of typos, misspelled names, and just plain jumbled sentences. Would I make it to the end without running screaming into the hall? No, the outcome was worse. After popping two pieces of Eclipse super mint blast gum into mouth, followed by a swig of cold water, I felt something hard hit a molar. I fished out a piece of tooth that had broken off.

I hate to admit this to anyone, but I will tell you: I haven't been to the dentist in four years. The last time I went work was being done in the area now in question and I experienced, to quote an ex coworker, "mindbending pain." The dentist provided shot after shot of Novocain and they didn't numb that tender area between the tooth and gum. I gave up complaining and he continued to drill, scrape, and pick. When he was done, my face was white as a sheet and I had to peel my hands from the vinyl on the chair. I staggered out to my car, vowing never to visit a dentist again as long as I lived.

Well, then, today, what to do with this chunk of tooth in my hand and a gaping hole in my jaw?

I opened the phone book. "We cater to cowards," one ad said. "We can see you today," another offered. "Gentle dentistry." I dialed one of the numbers and a cheery voice answered. They could get me in at 2:00.

I made it to the office and sat nervously in the waiting room. When I was called back I told them I didn't know if I could do this and I told them my husband's number, feeling sure I'd pass out in the process. Before the technician left, I told her I had the tooth in my purse, if they'd like to see it. I produced a clean white envelope. She opened it and exclaimed, "it's a crown - we can probably just glue that back on."

And that's what happened. No shots, no drugs, no drill, no whirring high-pitched equipment shoved in the mouth. Just some icky cement and pressure.

But, the dentist said. You need to have the tooth next to it looked at when you have time. We'll see.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Love the Library

On my recent visit to the Bradley library, I brought back my overdue book, which I placed in the appropriate bin. I found a new book to read and proceeded to the circulation desk. I was worried my overdue book would be noticed and I wouldn't be able to check out another one. "No problem," the young man said. "It must be because you are faculty/staff." After a friendly conversation, he told me the book would be due back next October. The book, a complete collection of Eudora Welty's novels, might take me that long to finish, I laughed.

I left feeling good. No fines, no holds, no reprimands. It reminded me of my trips to the Topeka Public Library when we lived in Kansas. That library welcomes visitors with a colorful, comfortable children's section by the front door. Next, you walk through a huge movie, music, and new book section that reminded me more of a being in a store where many treasures could be found. The main part of the library had stacks and stacks of good books. The best part about this library, however, was that they never charged late fines. When you checked out a book or CD, you were provided a due date, but were not treated like a criminal if you didn't return the item in time, as you are at so many libraries.

A recent item in the Peoria Journal Star told of the Peoria Library waiving late fines if patrons brought back their overdue items with a donation to the local food pantry. "People fear library fines more than parking tickets," the library director told the paper. So, why bother with them? People should love their public library, not fear it. Every library should be open and inviting with friendly staff. I believe that if people feel good about their library, they will return the items even if fines are not charged. Of course, some people won't. But isn't that true even with fines?

From the current Topeka Public Library website:

Question / Issue

What are the overdue fines?

Answer / Solution

No, we don't charge overdue fines.
However, we will charge replacement costs for items long overdue or for damaged