Tuesday, February 28, 2012


(Morning.  I'm near Lenore's desk, checking my mail.  She is watching a video on her computer of a cow being branded.)

Me: Learning to brand cattle?

Lenore: (wincing) Wha-? No, this is a video of my nephew and uncle.  Can you believe they still do this burning stuff to cows and things?

Me: Sure, I guess.

Lenore: I think it is just, just awful.  I hate when they hurt animals.  And he, my uncle, even hunts deer and shoots them!  (grabs chest in a gesture of disbelief)

Me: Some farmers just tag their herds with a spray or pierce the animals' ears.

Lenore: Like with earrings?  No!

Me: They're more like those censor tags like the ones they put on clothes so you don't steal them.

Lenore: Really?  So someone doesn't take a cow out of a field or something or the alarm will go off? 

 Me: Uh, I don't think any alarms go off, it's just to identify them as your cattle or sheep or whatever.

Lenore: I don't get any of it.  I just put collars on my cats and that seems to keep them around and my neighbors know they are mine.  You'd think they'd figure this out by now.


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Look Ma! No Arms!

(Almost as long as I've been at the California State University in which I work, the library has been undergoing construction, a retrofitting, to be exact.  After years under scaffolding and industrial tarps, the building is nearly ready for prime time and I'm in charge of the opening ribbon-cutting ceremony when it is finally complete.  This week I went on a sneak peek tour of the library to get a lay of the land for the upcoming unveiling of the new building.)

(A library staff person leads my boss and me on a guided tour.  Inside elevator with padded moving blankets lining its walls.)

Guide: ...up here on Four we've got our special collections and--

Boss:  What are these padded blankets for?

Me: To keep from scratching the walls, probably.

Boss:  Feels like a padded room for the insane.  (bumps around on walls)  Feels like home.

Guide: (deadpan) No, not for insane people.  Just movers so they don't scratch the paneling.  (elevator doors open)  Okay, please, step out.

(Boss, Guide and I step out of elevator into the elevator bay where there's new tiling, crisp carpeting where the stacks are and wood panels lining the newly constructed walls.  There is a bathroom directly in front of us.)

Boss: (craning neck, looking around) Nice.

Guide: Yes, and oh, as you can see, we've added bathrooms near each elevator on every floor and, maybe we can just take a look...(walking us over to the bathrooms, opening door to look in) I don't think anyone's in here.  Hello?

(As we walk to the bathrooms we pass two wall-mounted water facets, one higher than the other.  The lower facet has no handle to turn on water and instead has a motion sensor, mounted on the front of it.  The facet spouts water automatically as it detects us moving past.)

Guide: Oh, those darn facets always turn on.  Big design flaw.  Waste of water.  We're going to get that fixed.

Me: Do they have sensors that are not so sensitive?  Or maybe just move the sensor on the side of the facet then wave your hand along side it to drink?  That might work better.

Guide: That wouldn't be ADA compliant.

Boss: Yeah, I think a side sensor on the side would be better.  Otherwise it would turn on when anyone walked in front of it.

Guide: But if someone came up here in a wheelchair with no limbs, how would they wave a hand in front of a side-mounted sensor?

Me: Uh, er, I don't know.

Boss: Wouldn't they have a wand or something, like, in their mouth?  Just wave that.

Guide:  No. Some people don't have arms.  Or wands.  We have to think of them too.


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Whites Only

(Lenore shuffles into my office with a white sheet of paper in hand with all of the student assistants' schedules printed on it.  I'm typing an email.)

Lenore: Excuse me.  Can I ask you a question, mister?  It will be quick.

Me: How quick?

L: I don't know, a few seconds maybe.

Me: I'm kidding.  What's up?

(Shows me paper with all kinds of different fonts and sizes of letters and the formatting is wonky.)

L: What do you think of this?

Me: (taking paper)  Uh, it's fine...I guess, why?

L: Look closer.

Me: The fonts are all different?  I dunno.

L: No, the paper is white.

Me:  Yeah?

L: Well, lots of people told me that they wanted to have this student schedule thing printed on colored paper because if they have white paper it gets lost and they might throw it away too...with other white papers.  I worked so hard on it.  It's so we all know, you know, when students are in the office.

Me: Who complained?  Who's lots of people?

L: Huh?  You mean, who wants the colored paper?

Me: Yes.

L: Mario [the assistant director].

Me: And?  Is that it?

L: Well, he's the only one that complained about the white paper.  But I'm sure there are others.  Which is why I'm asking you.  What do you think?

Me: White paper is fine.  Ignore Mario.  He'll have to suffer through it.

L:  No, I don't want him to get mad.  Do you think he will?

Me: Lenore, he doesn't even have a student assistant.  I manage three of them and I already know their schedules.  Why does he even need to know that stuff?

L: He likes to know, I guess, and he likes it to be in color.

Me: Then make him a hot pink color copy.

L: (satisfied) Okay! That's why I come to you.