Tag: my-friend-the-lawyer

The Case of the Bookcase

It seemed like a fairly typical Sunday midmorning.  Granted, I’d just come back from brunch with My-Friend-the-Lawyer, which was a bit abnormal but still within pattern for our weekend trips together.  As he was headed back across the state via twisty and winding roads, I decided that it seemed like a good day to acquire another bookcase.

This new bookcase would be the seventh of such at Chez Hedgehog.  I have two five-shelf and a three-shelf from IKEA and three low three-shelf ones picked up in a spontaneous afternoon trip to Walmart a couple years ago.

Hmm…weekend afternoons and bookcase shopping. I begin to sense a trend.

I’ve known for a while that I was out of bookcase space.  Piles of books were everywhere; library books were living in an overflowing basket; and I’d started double shelving paperbacks in my bedroom–which always turns into an utter disaster when I’m looking for a specific title.  I have pruned the collection quite a lot. I took another couple of bags in to work two weeks ago and I have two more boxes of Regencies ready to go to the Opera singer.  Still…

I like IKEA, and a friend had mentioned getting a couple of bookcases shipped to her so I moused over to their website to see what was to be found.  I wanted another five shelf bookcase in the light wood color.  And I found one for around$70. That seemed pretty reasonable so I tossed it in my cart and clicked check out.

Now I knew IKEA used to only ship from their Jersey store but I’d hoped that had changed–what with said friend saying she’d ordered stuff.  Apparently not.

Shipping was over $300.  For a single bookcase.

I could have waited and invaded either Chicago or Minneapolis and gone to their IKEAs but it’s going to be a bit before I have a free weekend and I’m not sure if I can fit a 6′ bookcase in my car by myself nor if I would wish to drive with it hanging out the trunk all the way back to La Crosse. I didn’t want to go to Walmart. I didn’t want to go to the antique stores and rummage about either. Whatever I was getting I had to be able to lift and carry myself.  I have a poor relationship with UPS here and wasn’t in the mood to have something shipped (Amazon shipping was over $100 too!) and then still have to haul six foot panels around.

Finally I found something reasonably priced on the Target website that claimed to be available in store.  I set aside my irritation with their recent campaign donation nonsense and was off.

Deceptive packaging, unclear aisles, poor signage, and no sales staff later, I finally located the bookcase! And they had it in the light wood similar to my IKEA shelves.  Only, the box was on a shelf that hit me about chest height–and the bookcase was stored vertically in a 4.5′ box.  With the knowledge that I was going to have to get this thing home alone, I tackled lifting it down.

Okay, that worked, now it’s on the floor, still vertical.

I hefted it up to the cart, picked up a new tea kettle, rejected the water cooker offerings, and checked out.

Nearly dropped the bookcase off the front of the cart in the parking lot and leveraged it into the backseat of the car.  Door shut and yay!

Only…I don’t live on the first floor.  I’m on the second floor and we don’t have an elevator.  And while I could lift the box, the possibility of my actually being able to carry it up the stairs without falling, dropping it, hurting myself, etc was slim.  And so, in a fit of wisdom, I drove home, opened the box in the back seat, and carried the bookcase up in two trips.

Assembly time–adding in the extra help of a feline to supervise and inspect the process.  I put the first pieces together, she hopped in the center of the square.  I muttered things at the screws and said things about alignment and screwdrivers; Gypsy made sure her nose had touched all corners, sides, and edges.  Frame constructed, it was time to nail on the back–which came in two parts.  Laid both on top of the bookcase and immediately there was the cat (small and gray and bright-eyed*).  Only, the backs aren’t secure, so one piece slipped in with cat.  No problem, she hopped to the other back: thud part deux.

I chased her off one half long enough to start hammering in nails–she went and hid under the other piece, pleased with her new hideaway.  Once the first half was nailed down she claimed that as her seat while I hammered the second half down.  At one point I was swinging a hammer about two inches from her paw–she didn’t even twitch, just sniffed the nails.  Nerves of selective steel.

Bookcase assembled it was time to set it up and see if it would stay in the upright and locked position.  I still had a cat on the back on the bookcase but she’s not heavy enough to preclude lifting.  About the time she started actively sliding, she hopped down.

But now! Now there was a new SHELF. She must claim it! I hadn’t even gotten the bookcase leveraged against the wall before she was on it.  At that point, I had a dinner to go to, so I left her enjoying her new perch–though I did throw a couple of boxes on the bottom shelf to try and keep it from tipping when she hopped up and down.

When I got home and found the bookcase still standing, it was time to add shelves. Shelf One went in at the height of “can I fit a DVD in here.”  Shelf Two was “Tall Hardcover Book Height.” Shelf Three is fixed and I figured that was roomy and spacious enough for a small gray one.  Shelf Four went in at “Magazine Height.” This left me “3 Ring Binder Height” for the bottom shelf.

I cleaned out the library basket; I raided all of my piles and caches of books to be read; I gathered my knitting patterns. Gypsy was very disturbed and spent the next hour crying as she tried to figure out why I was making changes in her universe.  I ended up having to put books on her middle shelf, but I left plenty of sitting room for what I am sure will be a favorite spot.  The National Geographics that are being ignored got their own section. I realized I don’t remember reading the last three issues of Vogue Knitting.  The bottom shelf became knitting books and the next box that’s going to the Opera Singer.

It’s done.  The top two shelves are mostly library books.  The third shelf is masses of historical romance.  The fourth shelf magazines and the fifth knitting and box.  I’ve added couple of stuffed animal bookends and moved a couple of favorite hedgehogs to the top.  Gypsy seems to have finally accepted that the cool long box has left for the garbage. I think she’s still upset that I took over “her” shelf.

It’ll have to do until I get my floor to ceiling Beauty-and-the-Beast style library.

*bonus points if you can identify that picture book

In Which I Ramble About Content, Shiny Packages, and My Love of Books

Many of my social networks seethed this week with conversation about Saturday’s initial deliveries of iPads. Debates swarmed about the viability of buying one, whether or not it was worth it, how one could possibly get by without it, and of course the initial debates of what it might be used for in libraries and whether or not we should be investing in them. I know NCSU has some coming, I’m sure they aren’t alone.

Though upon Apple’s initial announcement I was mildly intrigued, increasingly I am less charmed. A lot of it falls into what others have said: we don’t see a specific purpose for it. A laptop, I understand. A smart phone, I comprehend. An mp3 player, I’m permanently attached to when I’m traveling. That the majority of the utilities of these has been rolled into one for those using an iPhone, I grasp–particularly when hanging out with My-Friend-the-Laywer.

Part of it, too, for me is a little whiplash against consumerism. A lot of new and exciting tools and software have come at us in the past decade, the past five years even. Ten years ago I had a desktop computer. Now I have a digital camera, cell phone with full keypad and internet, two laptops (for my freelance stuff, they aren’t really “mine”), a desktop computer, and an mp3 player. Do I really need one more thing that needs to be charged, updated, where did I put the special screen cover and personal bag as I’ll need to carry it in something bigger than my purse?

I think one of the things that bothers me is that we’re increasingly buying packages without content. And that is what troubles me most about the Ipad. I’m not entirely clear on what it comes preloaded with but from the sounds of it, it doesn’t appear to be much. One can purchase any number of things to play and run on it, assuming of course that said things are sanctioned by Apple (at least until someone hacks it, which I anticipate to happen very soon if it hasn’t already), but it still strikes me as a watered down laptop that doesn’t have a full keyboard, on which I can’t multitask or do anything requiring Flash and for which I would end up paying yet more monthly subscription fees to somebody.

I certainly have any number of purchased items for which their purpose is to work with other content that I purchase separately. My DVD player is an excellent example of this. It serves no purpose other than to play DVDs I pop into it. It doesn’t record, transfer, any of those things. But it has a specific purpose in my life that I can identify and a boatload of content here at Chez Hedgehog to use with it, without further expense on my part.

I like purchasing content in final form. Owning a copy of that content. I have a suspicion that’s part of the reason I own so many books. When I buy them, I’ve bought them, I’ve paid for the final format, it’s mine and there I have it. I don’t need a secondary device to access the content, certainly not a proprietary one. My DVDs will play on any of my computers as well as my DVD player. I can also lend them to a friend without losing my proprietary gadget.

I was home on Friday and I spent nearly the entire day away from “screens”–computer screens, television screens, even my phone. Of course, there was some email that needed to be answered and I did that, but otherwise it was an incredibly peaceful day of me and the cat and a thunderstorm. I did radical things like brew endless pots of tea and read books I already owned.

I’m usually in front of some sort of computer screen 8-10 hours a day. Work puts me in front of a screen a minimum of 6-8 hours a day. Add any time spent on freelance or personal stuff, on my phone texting, clicking the TV on to catch an episode of Good Eats or Bones, and my sporadic addiction to games like Peggle or BubbleTown and suddenly it’s been 12 hours. And in a way all too familiar to those who do it too, I’m exhausted. I’m always multi-screen-tasking, even now I have six tabs open in Firefox.  Being able to step away, to not feel plugged in to one of my own gadgets, was a pleasant change. I think that’s one of the reasons I’ve felt so anti-ereader. I can certainly see a purpose and no doubt the next time I move someone will lecture me about how much lighter and easier it would be to move me were I to shed the 7 packed bookshelves. But I like the option to disconnect. I like having something that doesn’t require charging. (*insert side comment about the fact that I knit and that doesn’t require batteries either, nor “added content” once I’ve bought the yarn and needles*/end blogjack)

Ten years ago, I had one gadget that needed a subscription, plugged in, that I purchased a lot of content, etc. Now, I have at least six (eight if you add in the TV and DVD player). I think we’re swinging back towards fewer devices, with the iPhone probably the best example of leading the way–combining web, phone, and music–which are the big three I think. And I’m skeptical of first generation just about anything….

But I don’t think I’m alone in wanting to own the content I’ve purchased, wanting to focus my purchases on tools that are useful and not just objects that require more purchases and cash outlay, and a move from proprietary to cross platform. And if record circulation numbers at my library are any indication, I’m not the only one who still likes reading in book format.

This is a Song for My Generation

Over the past couple of years, I’ve commented about the focus on teens and a lack of library service to young adults–which by my definition is people over 18. 

Following the discussions I had with people at ALA last summer, I kept editing and working on a draft about what kind of programs to offer, what focuses I saw missing, and this general issue of a lack of outreach to a big part of our tax base.

This morning I had the chance to express my feelings on a broader level. I entered the LISNews Essay Competition with the following:  Don’t Forget About Us. 

I wrote that essay for myself, for the Blonde and the Brunette, for AudioGirl, My Friend the Lawyer, LibraryChic, Sibling-the-Elder and Younger, and the other friends who look at me like I’m crazy when I suggest that they use their local public library. It’s sad when my friends will call me–two time zones away–rather than reach out to their local resources. Not that I don’t appreciate the validation that they think I’ll be able to find the impossible, but they have free resources closer to home. 

Holiday in T-6 and Counting…..

I’m leaving for NYC/Egypt in six days!!

M and I have been discussing vague travel plans for two or three years and finally, with the help of Air France Holidays*, we’re headed off to Egypt.

I have a long weekend in New York on the way out, which is never a hardship. And then–camels, 70 degree temperatures, a totally different cultural experience and a new continent for me!

So far:

  • I got my visa, which is a full page in my otherwise unstamped passport. Obviously it’s been too many years since I traveled out of the country.
  • I have arranged for a cat sitter in residence. O met Gypsy last night and it was a smashing success. Gypsy might want to go home with her at the end of it…
  • The Incredibly-Patient-Mother hemmed a pair of jeans so I can wear them with flats for hiking about pyramids and such. All of my other jeans are hemmed to two inch heels, so this was an important consideration.
  • The Brunette has agreed to keep my winter coat and some heavier clothes at his house so I don’t have to worry about hauling a down coat there and back.
  • We’ve arranged for a tour guide/driver while we’re there, working off recommendations of a professor in MN who is a native Egyptian and regularly takes student groups.
  • Wound up five skeins of yarn and bought new 4″ knitting needles to take with me. They’re TINY, it looks like I’m knitting with colorful toothpicks.

Still to do:

  • Pack some clothes.
  • Load the mp3 player
  • Get a larger memory SD card
  • Figure out what to take to read. I’m thinking about my hard cover of Anathem by Neal Stephenson. Yes, it’s heavy but I’ll be able to lay it out flat on the tray table and knit while I’m reading. Also I’ll pack some paperback romances that can be left behind.

It’s unclear how much web time I’ll have once we get there. I expect to mostly be off the grid for five or six days. My cell phone won’t work and I’m not packing my laptop. So the pictures and trip updates will probably have to wait.

We’re not sure if we’ll get to go through full body scanners on the trip home. It’s the one thing I’m concerned about as we’re headed home because we won’t have a long layover in Paris.

*The prices are amazing!

On the Flip Side

No, I’m not dead, just buried. Freelance work seriously picked up and then I went home for six days. Now I’ve returned and started to make sense of the disaster zone also known as my desk at work, and have hope that the living room floor will be reclaimed within the next 72 hours. And so I get back to my writing, yours obediently.

I had the chance, early in the month, to attend Wisconsin Sheep and Wool. It was a bit of a drive but the day was lovely and I was on a mission. At the Jefferson Fairgrounds I found two large buildings full of vendors with all manner of woolly goodness. That I succumbed only to some beautiful pale seafoam green alpaca, some tweedy alpaca, two skeins of coarser but delicious Icelandic wool and a couple of bars of soap should be applauded. Apparently I’m now collecting bars of great handmade soap, but at least it gets used and cleanliness/godliness and all that.

Also I met some sheep. There were a lot of sheep that looked like ones that I imagine in my head when I think of those wool-providing creatures. Then there were the ones as pictured here, who looked a lot more like goats that someone stuffed into a woolly pillow. Doesn’t that look like a fluffy Alpine to you?

The majority of the sheep were friendly and happy to discover whether or not I tasted like a salt lick. Fingers are always an acceptable nibbling treat.

I finished my first ever pair of socks! It came about entirely as a coping method one day, when I had so much running about in my brain that I quite literally could not do anything else. I sat and knit just plain stitches, one after the other, around in a very small circle. 52 stitches per row. Who knows how many rows because I didn’t count. Just one more needle, one more row. My brain ran on at insane miles per hour and my physical self worked stitch after stitch.

Now:

They haven’t been blocked yet. The yarn is Sanguine Gryphon Eidos in Alcibiades using the numbers/pattern from the Tsock Tsarina’s Tsock 101 Kit for those of the knitterly persuasion playing along.

And then it was back to Queens for two days of Indian summer and the first chills of fall. I stayed with the Brunette and Husband and new roommate. The Actor convinced me that singing for Rock Band, in public, was somehow acceptable. I made my way through Evanescence and No Doubt before it was decided that my rock repertoire was rather limited. (I knew this, they didn’t believe me. When Rock Band comes out with the 24 Italian Songs and Arias for Medium-High Voice version, call me.)

The Blonde, Brunette, Husband and I went apple picking upstate, in/near Warwick, NY. It’s a combination apple picking, rose garden (small but great colors), winery, and homemade donuts place. We stood for over 40 minutes waiting in line for fresh donuts and agreed that it was a form of unusual punishment to wait and be able to see and smell hot donuts but not buy nor taste lest our tongues be burnt. But warm apple cider donuts and great wine, as well as quite abundant apples, made it well worth the trip. (The two bottles of wine survived the plane trip home!!!)

Me in the obligatory “put your head in the cutout” –as required by the Blonde.

Finally, I headed into the City to meet up with My-Friend-the-Lawyer (who these days is more like My-Friend-the-Student, but he’s almost done with that) and eat amazing Lebanese food at Naya. The desserts were incredible.

So that’s where I’ve been.