Secret Teachings of All Ages

I've begun a much-needed weeding of my own library.  At work we use the CREW Method, which uses the date of last circulation as one criterion.  For non-fiction it tends to be about eight years, give or take, depending on the subject area.  I don't feel the need to be so ruthless at home, but surely twenty years should be adequate.  After all, if I really need a title I haven't looked at for that long, I can always use interlibrary loan.

It's hard to believe that I got rid of twenty boxes of books when we moved back to Tallahassee from Austin, Texas in 1987.  I don't even remember what they were, apart from my Aleister Crowley books.  It is a little like cleaning out your clothes closet.  You will never wear that shirt, those boots, again.  They are an old you.

Neglected, and gathering dust on my shelves, is a collection of esoterica that I assembled as a young seeker:  Alchemy, Tarot, Qabalah, Astrology, Geomancy, Ley Lines, Magic, Sufism, Lost Continents, Rosicrucianism, the Holy Grail.  It makes my head spin. 

I later came to understand that many writers on these topics were enthusiasts of Fringe Freemasonry.  I, myself, was initiated as an adept  by such a Hermeticist before I was ever a baptized Christian.

Life is short, more so when you're fifty-five.  I don't have the time anymore for that house of mirrors.  Charles Portis captured so well the world of "esoteric orders" in his novel, Masters of Atlantis, as did Umberto Eco, hilariously, in Foucault's Pendulum.


Tropico 3 Released

Stumbled across this last night.  I had not heard a thing about it!  I think I have enough machine to play it, but I don't know if I can handle the realism.  It looks stunning.  Apparently, you can actually walk around in the game as El Presidente!  Have you ever seen such gorgeous shacks?

Ahem, calm yourself, Brett.  I should say that I played the original Tropico for many a late night.  I wrote about it last January, saying that I was looking for a game that didn't push so relentlessly for Progress.  In the end, I installed Immortal Cities:  Children of the Nile.

Not long after that, real life took me away from gaming altogether.  Now, I'm out the other end of the Ghost Train.  My two weeks off have been good.  The morning has come.  My mother's cat, Claudius, sleeps by me as I write, a reminder of all that's happened.

Check out the videos and screen shots for Tropico 3.


St. Augustine Branch Photographs.

St. Augustine Branch

I have been meaning to explore this bit of park by the Department of Transportation building for a while.  I won't retell the sad story of the Tallahassee Cascades, but I will quote from a 2006 report by Sean McGlynn, of McGlynn Laboratories, on the Lake Munson Watershed:

The St. Augustine Branch arose from several springs; one was located on the site of Leon High School. One was the source of water for the Apalachee Indian village and was near the site of the Parkway Shopping Center. One was located in Myers Park. The only surviving spring is located off Call Street in Magnolia Ravine. The spring fed waters of the St. Augustine Branch fell in the waterfall or cascade into a sink near the Capitol Building. This area was known as the ‘County Club’ area where several of our early Governors lived (Governors Broward and Duval). The falls were destroyed in the 1860’s by the railroad when they discarded used railroad ties in the sink, clogging it.
The Cascades Sink became a small lake and a popular swimming hole off the east side of South Monroe where the railroad overpass was constructed. It was even the site of a high diving competition, off the bluffs, and a suicide. Eventually as the little lake began to fill in with trash and sediment it became marshy and being near the railroad attracted vagrants. The City Dump and a Coal Tar Gasification Plant were located here. By 1959 the little lake was completely filled in.  Once the Cascade Sink filled in the St. Augustine Branch began to flow on to Lake Munson, since it no longer disappeared into the ground.


Dancing Woman: found under railroad bridge over South Monroe St.

Snooping around the Cascades Park wall, I saw this lovely image, which I've never seen driving.  How long has it been there?

Oxford Word of the Year 2009: Unfriend

Oxford Word of the Year 2009: Unfriend

Interesting post, with other lexicographical news, including a list of Obamaisms.


Love Calls You By Your Name

Welled up from memory today, from my first, disastrous term at UF in 1971.  Yes, yes.

Jesus Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ,
Son of God,
crucified for us,
have mercy on me
and forgive me,
a sinner.


The Old Man checks out

I'm taking annual leave.  Excepting the 21st and 24th, I won't be back at the library until after Thanksgiving weekend.

It's just as well, since our new boss, my good friend MC, starts this week.  Better that I should get out of the way.

So, a couple of weeks off, to tame my yard, to read, to sleep in.  God bless the Board of County Commissioners.


Night Librarian


Where to get library card?  Where is the Tallahassee Anxiety Support Group meeting?  Open Henderson Room.  Story of her life.

Books on résumés.

PC for Sheila.

Top off printers w paper.

PC for James.

Anxiety Woman again.  Looking for book about healing with crystals.  Can read "over a thousand words a minute".

Sheriff's Deputy wonders whether I think there are more homeless  these days.  Says complaints about public urination are legion these days.  I remind him that the homeless shelter used to be Tommy's, a rock and roll bar, where I once got so drunk, (drinking Benedictine, oh, you foolish boy), that I vomited.

He reminisces about dorm life and partying at FSU in the '70's.  The drinking age was 18 then, and bars lined the strip on Tennessee Street.  Our time there as undergraduates overlapped, though he is five years younger than me.  He being cloistered with the football players, I would never have met him, whom I would have disdained as a jock.  Yes, we agree, students these days are spoiled rotten, with their off-campus apartments and their cars and their broadband Internet connections.

Back in our day, an undergraduate got a dorm room with a bunk, a desk, and a randomly assigned roommate.  You couldn't have a car until you were a junior, and you bought a big electric fan for relief in hot weather.

James can't start his session.  While I am helping him, another user kicks a power strip and the whole table of six PC's goes down.  Find right strip, power on, sort everyone out.

Books on food delivery and personal concierge businesses.  Do we have jobs open?  Show County web page.  How to apply for Library Assistant position?  Show online application.  He hesitantly begins the process.  Full-grown man a newborn babe in cyberspace.


Phone:  Mr. L. wants to know if D. has mailed his info yet.  Don't know, please call back tomorrow.

Amanda wants books on Rome we're holding.

Check Henderson Room.  Anxiety Support Group meeting in progress

Karen's card's been set lost.  Give her guest pass.

Report fluorescent ceiling panel outage in Henderson Room to T.B.

Full-Grown Man has taken off jacket and is pecking away at application.  Good man.

Can I check her card for fines?  Yes, but all disputes must be with Circulation.  She's good, card is clear.


Typical day-after-a-holiday today.  Like a Monday.  Was doing virtual reference chat in AskaLibrarian from 3 to 4, which was itself pretty busy, when the workroom bell rang so long and, well, alarmingly, that I decided I'd better go out.  Brave ML was alone on the burning deck, a knot of patrons standing at the desk, both phones off the hook on hold.  I entered the fray, and we soon had all fires put out.  I had the desk with D. at 4:00 and the fur continued to fly.

Run to Chaos Keep by Jack Chalker.  Find on shelving cart.

Can print in color?  No.

Work on unfinished non-fic send-item list I found at desk.

Phone:  Song for Night by Christopher Abani.  Is checked out, place hold?  Doesn't have card.  Get card to reserve library books.

Help Full-Grown Man w app.

Help her find children's dictionary in catalog.

Finish send-items.  Take down to Circulation.

Phone:  Will wants Chronic City by Jonathan Lethem.  Place hold.  Lethem one of the new literary heavyweights.  Just don't have time for him, or Chabon, which is no judgment on them.

Help Full-Grown Man.

8:30 announcement.

Count & bag change.

Full-Grown Man finishes and submits app.  Yay!

Clean up & straighten, shut down catalog PC's.

8:50  Five people left on Internet up here.

Time to head for the barn.


The Blooming of the High Line

I've been following the transformation of the High Line, an elevated freight railway in NYC, into a public park, for several years.  The guesthouse where we stay in the West Village is close to its southern terminus.  I posted a photograph of a section of it in a Facebook album last year.  The High Line features in the setting for Reggie Nadelson's 2005 Police Detective Artie Cohen crime novel, Red Hook.

The Manchester Guardian has an excellent article on the opening of the park, with a detailed account of the plantings by Dutch horticulturalist Piet Oudolf, and a comparison with similar projects elsewhere.  I am impressed.  Current horticultural thinking is all about "what wants to grow there".

Forty per cent of the species Oudolf put on the High Line were already there, dropped by birds and blown by the winds on to the railbed during its derelict years. Sustainable may be an overused adjective, but Oudolf embraces the notion, in that what was put there by nature was, by definition, sustained.

It reminds me of the agrarian writings of Masanobu Fukuoka, and reflects my own attitude about the ecology of urban yards.

Reader Advisory for Mrs. P.

Doris sounded pleased that I had answered her call.  She wondered whether we had anything on reserve for her.  No, all her reserve requests were still outstanding.  She is home-bound, and she places requests for titles on the NYT Bestsellers list, which her driver collects for her.

Would she like me to choose some books for her?  Yes, she enjoyed what I picked for her last time, two or three would be nice.  She has an educated voice, like a career woman of my mother's generation.

The Great Fire by Shirley Hazzard.
The Wooden Leg of Inspector Anders by Marshall Browne.
 Dark Star Safari: Overland from Cairo to Capetown by Paul Theroux


Night Librarian

7:10  The Society for Creative Anachronism has defied the odds by showing up to use the Henderson Room, a small conference room on this floor.  It is almost always booked on Thursday nights, but it's been months since anyone actually showed up to use it.  Members of the SCA can easily be identified at a glance, if you are expecting them.  They always seem to be enjoying themselves.

It's the first week of no daylight saving time.  It was almost too dark to read on my Park Avenue bench by the time my supper hour was over.

I found Incline Our Hearts in the basement trash bin where the book donation volunteers discard materials they deem unsellable.  This is where librarians find their reading matter, while entering or leaving the building by the staff entrance.  I'm only joking, but it's funny to see everyone peek into the bin, a large canvas hamper on casters, as we file out at night.  It's like the fishing game at a school fair. 

I once found an old and worn hardback copy of Waugh's Men at Arms.  It had been withdrawn from the U. of Penn. library sometime after 1955, with only 5 date due stamps.

Its cover blurb compares Wilson's Incline Our Hearts to Powell's A Dance to the Music of Time, being the first of five novels that comprise The Lampitt Chronicles.  It's a nostalgic and very funny coming-of-age story.  If you've been to a boys' school, you will especially enjoy it.

8:06  The SCA leaves down the stairs.  Check the room.  It's locked, with the lights turned off.

Internet workstations still almost all occupied, but very quiet.

8:30  First closing announcement.

Count & bag change drawer.  Police Internet area for discarded reservation slips, golf pencils, broken pens, gum wrappers.  Realign tables and chairs in reading area.  Turn off catalog PCs by reference collection and in stacks.


Franklin Flats: a vanished Bohemia

I took these pictures a couple of weeks ago, when we finally had a clear, cool day.

Franklin Flats: a vanished Bohemia

I've had it in mind for a long time to photograph these old apartment buildings on or near Franklin Boulevard and Park Avenue. Back in the '70's, an interesting mix of students, artists, potheads, journalists at WFSU and the Florida Flambeau, new-agers, holistic therapy enthusiasts, radicals and lesbians lived here on the east side of town, on the other side of downtown Tallahassee from FSU. My wife and I lived at 519 East Park Avenue when we were married in 1980. Rents were cheap, and no one had A/C, but they were well-built, and close to downtown and to FSU.

In my captions, I mention people leaving, couples splitting up.  By the late '70's it was becoming obvious even to us diehards that  "The Sixties", the Counterculture, the Revolution, had gone to seed.  The election of Reagan and the murder of John Lennon at the end of 1980 were double-tap pistol shots from Reality.  We weren't young anymore, all of us 30-ish, give or take a few.  We moved on to the rest of our lives.


More on Webster and Old Dictionaries

Either old dictionaries are humming in the ether or the NYT is reading my blog, (only joking).  Three weeks after my post on the 1828 An American Dictionary of the English Language,  the October 18th NYT Magazine printed a piece by Ammon Shea as its On Language column, Old Dictionaries:  The Uses and Abuses of Outdated Lexicons.  Shea has some interesting things to relate about Webster's Second loyalists, and about the Foundation for American Christian Education, FACE, which promotes the use of the 1828 edition.  Possibly my patron had been to their web site.