Beyond the Days

Why are Tuesdays after Monday holidays so hard?  The Spirit sent me this song to help.  It's a Lenten hymn, but I haven't had a smoke in 18 days, and I wanted one badly today.


Merton on Trouble

I saved this a while ago when R. showed it to me, and I often think of it.
The heart of man can be full of so much pain, even when things are exteriorly "all right." It becomes all the more difficult because today we are used to thinking that there are explanations for everything. But there is no explanation for most of what goes on in our own hearts, and we cannot account for it all. No use resorting to the kind of mental tranquilizers that even religious explanations sometimes offer. Faith must be deeper than that, rooted in the unknown and in the abyss of darkness that is the ground of our being. No use teasing the darkness to try to make answers grow out of it.  But if we learn how to have a deep inner patience things solve themselves, or God solves them if you prefer: but do not expect to see how. Just learn to wait, and do what you can and help other people. Often in helping someone else we find the best way to bear with our own trouble.
-Thomas Merton, To Friends, In A Christmas Letter -1965.


A Big Week for Microfilm and Print Reference

The library's microfilm archive and viewers have seen heavy use this week.  I printed, scanned and e-mailed two obituaries on Monday.  On Tuesday I helped three or four people use their own microfiches or our reels of the Tallahassee Democrat, and a colleague looked up and sent another obit.  Today, (Wednesday), I helped a woman use some reels of manuscripts that we got for her through interlibrary loan.  I also took phone requests for more obits:  one from a man in Tampa whose uncle died in a boating accident in 1966, (he wanted the obit and any reporting about the accident, which I found), and three more from a company called Heir Search, (grrr...  Too bad we can't charge them).

You would think that newspaper archives would become increasingly available online with the passage of time, but in the case of the Tallahassee Democrat, there is less available now than there used to be.  When the paper was owned by Knight-Ridder, we had archives online back to 1994 through NewsBank, but when it was sold to Gannett, (which publishes USA Today), ProQuest took over the archives, and now we only have them back to 2003 or so.

I took a call from a woman wanting HQ addresses and the names of chairmen/CEO's for several corporations.  If you've tried corporate web sites, you will know that they are often useless for this information.  I had to use the volumes of the Lexis-Nexis corporate directory, looking first in the master index to see whether they were public or private, and then looking in those volumes for the full listing.

I had an e-mail from someone asking about the Tallahassee Convalescent Home, which she could not find a contact for online.  A relative had died there in 1972.  I had to look at a number of years of the city directories to determine that it had gone out of business in 2002.  I didn't tell the inquirer that I found in my own search that TCH paid out $1.5 million to avoid going to court on a charge of negligence in 1999.


My Kind Of Man

It's the fortieth anniversary of David Bowie's album, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders from Mars.  The BBC's program, Your World, marks it with, Ziggy Changed My Life, presented by Gary Kemp - founder and guitarist of Spandau Ballet.

Here was something new, it seemed, in 1972.  The shock of recognition was intense for me: this daring, effeminate man, who wore makeup and "outfits".  We were not in Woodstock anymore.


Blame It On The Super Moon

R. hurt her back pretty badly a couple of weeks ago.  I have been taking care of her:  driving her to the chiropractor, coaxing her to take ibuprofen.  It will be a slow and painful recovery.  I had to work last weekend, and it was hard to leave her alone for so long.  She has been working half-days this week.

The rain came on Sunday, and every day since.  Last night it was so comforting to hear the rolling thunder, as though God were muttering to himself

The library's in-house materials request database broke over the weekend.  By the time it was fixed, when I came back on Tuesday, over two hundred requests were waiting to be processed, perhaps two-thirds of them for books, (my responsibility).  I was just about cross-eyed by the end of the day, but I handled almost all of them.

A woman called, asking about a perpetual calendar.  This is a calendar that shows you what day of the week a date fell on in past years.  I mailed her a photocopy of the one in The World Almanac.

It's been a week for lonely old men to come around, wanting just to talk.  One man called many times on Tuesday.  I got him twice.  He would have pretend questions, about liquid measurement conversions, or where a street was located, but these were an excuse for him to go on endlessly about any old thing, having a steak at the Golden Corral, and so on.  Another man was a walk-up, smelling pretty ripe, with bruises on his arms like old people get when their skin becomes fragile.  He seemed to think that he was a victim of harmful radio waves, and wanted to know about a transmission tower in California, something I couldn't help him with.  Today he was trying to remember the name of a "syndrome" that was named after a Scandinavian location.  We looked at an atlas, and he was sure it was the Stockholm Syndrome.  He then wanted to talk about the film, The Manchurian Candidate, recommending that I watch the original version.  How sad, I thought.  Oddly, he had a remarkable, sonorous voice.  D. said that he thought his dog had been killed by radio waves.

D. told me this morning that a young man might be viewing porn.  He had his screen tilted away from his neighbor, and was looking around warily.  I sneaked up on him, and he was looking at a page of photos of naked women kissing.  I decided that was close enough, and told him he was done for the day, (a pretty mild punishment).  He whined a bit, but I did not relent.



I can smell wood smoke in the midnight air, sitting on the porch.  It has been very dry.  I don't like to water, but I did today, as the ferns under the camphor tree on the front lawn were looking singed..  My Lilies of the Nile have put out few flowers this spring.