Alchemical Thoughts

Posts Tagged ‘etiquette/manners

Photo from Flickr user Raider of Gin (fairerdingo). Image used under terms of Creative Commons 2.0 Generic Attribution License.

Photo from Flickr user Raider of Gin (fairerdingo). Image used under terms of Creative Commons 2.0 Generic Attribution License.

This is my summary with links of books I reviewed at The Itinerant Librarian for the month of November 2016. If you missed any of them, feel free to check them out. As always, comments are welcome.

 

 

Once again, I come across once of those frugality posts at Wise Bread that makes me question if the writers either really know how the world works, or I am just so out of the loop and mellow that I did not realize women in particular were so high maintenance when it comes to dating. But even in the day when I was dating the woman who became The Better Half, I did not go about spending a fortune on her, and lucky for me, she was a modest woman who was not expecting a man to spend a fortune on her. I know I am a lucky guy. If I had to go back on the dating scene, I might as well give it up, shave my head, and become a Tibetan Buddhist monk because the odds that I will be spending freely as their post suggests is just not an option for me. So, what does the author at Wise Bread have to say on how much you ought to be spending?

“Your paycheck should govern how much you can afford. Cosmopolitan found that men spend about $80 on a first date, on average. Other sources suggest that the typical person spends between $50–$100 on date night, occurring on average once a month. However, according to Match.com, 58% of women don’t even want an expensive date.”

Well, kind of duh. You cannot eat steak on a hamburger budget as the saying goes. However, funny how you never hear of that 58% of women who do not want an expensive date. If you believe Cosmo (not that you should, but humor me) or those “other sources” then you are looking at $50 to $100 bucks easily. I guess if you do the bar scene where each cocktail costs you $8 to $10 bucks a pop plus dinner could start getting you up there. Add a movie at a movie theater, and I guess you may be up to $100 by the time you do the tickets, the popcorn and pop you will have to buy while there.

You see, when I started dating The Better Half we were college students. In other words, we were mostly broke as college students are prone to be. A decent date night was a simple dinner at a local pizza joint she liked (in large part because they used to make the best saucy pizza with pepperoni and pineapple she’s ever had), and then a movie at the second run movie theater, where if you stayed up a bit late, movies could be had for .99 cents plus a little tax. Yes, you read that right, ninety-nine cents. If I spent $20 to $25 bucks, that was good, and she was happy. In the end I am lucky because we are both pretty modest and frugal in our tastes. Bar scene was not really for us. Sure, we had been to a college bar once or twice, but it really was not our thing. $100 date night? We’d both flinch at the idea of spending that much on a single date unless we were  going out of town, and it better include a hotel stay.

“Spending freely on your first date is a great way to show your date that you are serious, but it doesn’t mean that you need to continue spending the same amount on future dates. After all, you don’t want to be too frugal on the first date, which can make you seem cheap.”

Ah yes, the eternal dating challenge. Spend too little, and she thinks you are a cheapskate. But spend too much and then you end up building that expectation. Dudes, simple solution. Find women that have reasonable expectations.

“If you decide to go on a date during one of these expensive holidays, you can expect to spend more.”

Again, duh. By now, The Better Half and I learned to have those special dates around those holidays, before, usually after. In part because our work schedules are not always compatible. She often works on days like the Hallmark Holiday (Valentine’s Day). So we have adapted and usually go out the day after or a few days later. However, the secret is this: I take care of my honey, and I do so year round. I express love and romance  year round. That way, when the Hallmark Holiday rolls around I do not have to panic like those other guys to get overpriced flowers and pray to the deities that fancy restaurant will have a last minute reservation that should have been booked months ago, not the day of the holiday.  I took care of her, and she knows it.

The article does give some tips on cheap dates, although given how they seemed to poo poo the idea of being cheap on a first date specially I honestly wonder why bother with the suggestions. Still, some of the ideas are things we have done at home:

  • “Go to a food, film, music, or art festival.” When we can, we get in the car and drive out a bit to some local festival. A nice way to be outdoors usually, see a few things, and not spend a lot.
  • “Show off your cooking skills instead of dining out.” We have done this as well. We both can cook, so it means we get to show off to each other. And hey, cooking together can be a very nice bonding experience.

However, the article did have one good line: “You should find a partner that is worth your time, not just your money. ”

Word.

Overall, the article had moments that seemed a bit contradictory. Yes, be frugal, but do not be cheap. Spend more on that first date because you need to impress her. But try not to break the bank neither. So, in the end, take it with a big grain of salt, preferably cheap salt from the grocery store and not fancy organic rock salt.

On a side note, the article also reminded me of this old Tom and Jerry cartoon. I will warn you, if you have not seen it before, it is a seriously dark one.

 

I decided to try my hand at this after reading this post, “20 Questions I Have for People Who Were in Their 20s Before Cell Phones & Internet” found at forever twenty somethings.I was a bit younger than my 20s in those days, but I certainly faced these questions too. It was not a big deal then. To be honest, I wonder how easily spoiled today’s youth are by cellphones and the Internet. My cohort and I had to make do without, and we did just fine. In fact, in many ways, the pace of things was not as rushed. Now, to date myself a little bit, I grew up as a teen in the 1980s. I barely recall my early days of getting on the Internet. My first personal e-mail was on Hotmail, and I do still have and use that account though it is no longer my primary e-mail. My first real e-mail was in college, back when it was using a VAX system of all things. I do remember AOL and those pesky disks they used to send to try to get you to subscribe to their Internet service. Boy, have we come a long way in a short amount of time. Before that, I survived without all this technology just fine.

To be honest, a lot of this seems like a big first world problem, but I am doing it for amusement now. I copied the questions from the post. I will then type out my answers (some snark may be included):

1. How did you make plans?  You agreed with people beforehand on things like where you would be and at what time. You either talked in person or over the phone. Yes, we did have telephones back then. We had already moved past the telegraph.

2. How did you CANCEL plans?  Usually you tried to call as soon as you knew.

3. How did you know who was calling you before you picked up the phone?  Until the advent of caller ID, you did not know. However, once answering machines came around, you let the answering machine pick up so you could screen the call. If you were real snarky, you could even put funny messages on your answering machine to greet callers. Heck, if you did not feel like taping your own, you could buy those messages recorded for use. One thing you may keep in mind is that back then spam calls were not really the problem they were now. Back then, you knew most of your callers were family or friends, i.e. people you wanted to talk to. Nowadays, it’s not really safe to answer a phone, and since it is easy to spoof called ID, I still let the answering machine pick up so I can screen.

4. How did you rid of the fear that is calling people?  I would not label it a fear, but I do dislike talking on the phone. E-mail was a welcome arrival. I much rather e-mail people than call them.

5. How did you find out information about people before you went on dates with them?  You really did not have much options here. If you knew a common friend, you pumped them for information maybe.

6. How did you find people to date in the first place???  Well, school, church (back when I was a church goer, I did have an older girl hit on me after church. True story. That did not get far, but that is another story), other gatherings.

7. How did you keep tabs on exes?  Why the hell would I want to do that for? Anyhow, back then I did not have an ex yet.

8. How did you keep tabs on what your entire graduating class from high school was doing?  Given I did not (and still do not) give much of a shit what the folks in my high school class do, this was not nor is now much of a concern.

9. How did you look for jobs?  The newspaper and word of mouth.

10. How did your parents get in touch with you when you were out? Back then, you told your parents where you would be, and you better be there or else. Growing up back in Puerto Rico, this was common. You went to a friend’s house to hang out, you told your parents who it was and where. Odds are good our parents knew their parents, so they could call and check. Also, we had fairly firm curfews. I had to be home usually by 6pm or so, which was dinner time. One way to know was if in the house you were visiting the TV was on. When the news went on (this was before the days of CNN), you knew you had to head home. If the theme song of the soap opera that came after the news came on, you knew you had to run home because you just overstayed. Back then, the soap opera theme song was the one for the soap opera Cristina Bazan. The song was “Atrévete” by José Luis Rodríguez, aka El Puma. (Link to YouTube).

11. How did your survive waiting for meetings, appointments, trains, or anything without being able to pass time by pretending to look busy on your phone? If I had to and I could, I carried a book or some other reading material.

12. How did you do ANYTHING at work before email? You talked to people. You called on the phone. The work pace was likely a bit slower, but that was a good thing. We survived just fine.

13. How did you tell co-workers (or someone else you were meeting) that you were going to be late when you were stuck in traffic or stuck on some disabled subway car? They had to wait, and that was the end of it. You explained what happened when you got there, or if you could, you stopped at a pay phone and called in. Again, the world did not end.

14. How did you sign up for classes at the gym? You went to the gym and signed up. Or you called over the phone I guess. This was never a concern for me though. Why, how do people sign up now? Even if you sign up online, you still have to go to the gym in person, so I do not see any advantage from signing up online or doing it when you get there.

15. How did you know where you were or where you were going ever? See #10, apply it to other people. Again, people were more understanding and patient, so this was not an issue.

17. How did you always have change on you to use these pay phones? You learned to carry some change in your pocket, no big deal. To this day, I carry at least two quarters in my pocket for pay phones. It is more a ritual than anything else given I have a cell phone, but the habit remains. For long distance back then, you often had a phone card.

18. How did you research anything for school? Did you have to go through the Encyclopedia? What? You think research did not happen before the oh so precious Wikipedia? Yes. We had encyclopedias, and we learned how to use them. We also had libraries and librarians to help us with our research if need be. The tone of this question makes it sound like we lived in the Dark Ages. We had books then, and we still have them know. We also had journals and indexes to find articles just fine. You learned to use things like Reader’s Guide and got on with it.

19. How did you find out about the weather? I looked outside. I watched the news and got the weather forecast. Listened to the radio news for any alerts. Again, the world did not end.

20. How did you stay in touch with friends? Talking in person. Phone calls. A bit more distance, letters and cards via mail.

In the end, we got along just fine. The world did not end. People knew to be patient, and they knew to wait as need be. Sometimes I think cell phones and Internet have made people impatient because they have to know now right this second or else. Also, since people were a lot more patient and less tech, people were a little less rude. I mean, there were no cell phones, so you could not whip it out in restaurants and movie theaters, but you actually had to pay attention. You needed to let people know, you called ahead or told them early enough without so much rush. And that is how we survived just fine.

CuriousGeorgeReading

The books for the TBR list just keep piling up. Maybe I will get to reincarnate so I can come back and read some more.

Items about books:

  • One for the hardcore horror film fan perhaps. I will admit that I know little of the more obscure and/or independently made horror films. This book may help fix that gap. The book is Regional Horror Films, 1958-1990. It is discussed at Bookgasm.
  • Also via Bookgasm, one for foodies, although I will warn it is not just about fancy food. The review is for an anthology of comics (some indie, some maybe a bit more mainstream) that share a common theme of food, consumption, and digestion. The book is Digestate: a food and eating themed anthology.
  • Let’s go with a bit of Japanese science fiction in translation with The Lord of the Sands of Time. It is reviewed at Contemporary Japanese Literature.
  • A couple of shop items so to speak for the librarian. One is UContent: the Information Professional’s Guide to User-Generated Content. (Reviewed here). The other is Transforming Information Literacy Instruction Using Learner-Centered Teaching (reviewed here). Of the two, I am interested more in the second one since I am an instruction librarian. The first one, though it interests me also as instruction librarian as well as blogger, I am bit more skeptical by now. After all, it is at least four years old by now, and in Internet years, that is like 20 years or so in normal years.
  • For something different, speculative fiction inspired by the Ramayana (yes, that Ramayana). I have read the Ramayana, but it was years ago. I may have to reread it down the road. So now, we get this book: Breaking the Bow: Speculative Fiction Inspired by the Ramayana. Of course I had to add it to my TBR list. The book was mentioned in the Literary Salon.
  • Good manners are something that I consider important, and books on the topic, whether old or modern guides, interest me. So, I am adding The Butler Speaks to my list. It was reviewed at San Francisco Book Review. Maybe the world would be a better place if people minded their manners, maybe more if parents actually knew manners and taught them to their children.
  • Via A Case for Suitable Treatment, a review of a manga title, first in a series, I have wanted to try out. The book in question is 07-Ghost, Volume 1.
  • Via habitually probing generalist, a short review of A Most Imperfect Union. Often, I would not bother with a book when a reliable source is lukewarm about it, but I have read other works of both Stavans and Alcaraz such as Latino USA, so I am too curious not to try this out.
  • Another one from a librarian. The Lowrider Librarian says this is a book your library needs, and given recent events, I believe it. The books is Cannabis Pharmacy, and it can make a timely addition as cannabis and marijuana continue to gain legal status and acceptance in the United States.
  • Star Wars novels can be hit and miss for me. I have read some I liked, and some that I did not like. A book I did enjoy was James Luceno’s Star Wars: Dark Lord: the Rise of Darth Vader (link to my review. I rated it 4 out of 5 stars at the time). However, I also recently read Kenobi by John Jackson Miller, which I do not recall as fondly. So the quality often depends on the author. At any rate, Luceno has a new book out: Tarkin, about the Grand Moff who commanded the Death Star. Naturally, my curiosity and the fact I enjoy Star Wars means I will probably look it up down the road. Tarkin was reviewed at BuzzyMag.
  • Interested in health care issues in the United States? Want to learn how bad the health care system is in the U.S. and pretty much how politicians, insurance companies, and a lot of money pretty much assure it stays that way? Then maybe America’s Bitter Pill may be the book for you. It was recommended by the folks at Powell’s Books.
  • For me, a new Neil Gaiman book is always of interest, and he has a new short fiction collection out. The book is Trigger Warning, and it was reviewed at Bookgasm.
  • I do like a good plate of well made noodles. One of the things I miss about living in Houston back in the day is you could find a good noodle house or two. Berea lacks such a place. I am not, however, a fan of the instant noodles. But I am interested in a book about how noodles have been turned into a commodity, whether instant or not. The book is The Noodle Narratives, and it was mentioned at Food Politics.
  • Food Politics also mentions a book about lentils and sustainable farming that sounded interesting. The book is Lentil Underground.

 

Lists and bibliographies:

  • These days, that Shades book is getting a lot of hype again because of the upcoming movie. It seems every other woman in the U.S. is creaming her panties to go see it. May the deity of choice have mercy on any boyfriend or spouse dragged into that torture. I thank the deity of choice The Better Half has better taste when it comes to erotica. At any rate, whether you need something to tide you over until the movie or, better yet, you want something better in terms of quality and writing skill than that one book, here is a small list of books beyond that one book from Shelf Talk.
  • Once again, if interested, the folks at BookFinder have done their annual report on out-of-print and in demand books. Madonna’s Sex is not number one, but it is still in the top five.
  • Via Bookgasm, a list of Euro-comics with a theme of “Getting TANKed.”
  • In 2014, one of my reading challenges allowed for reading novels based on games and video games. I could have used this list to get a few more ideas of what to read. List via Book Riot.
  • The Unshelved comic strip devotes one day a week to do book reviews. Here is their review of the Preacher comic series, which I have been meaning to read.
  • Via Sounds and Colours, a list of “the best books on street art in Latin America.” A bit from the article, “in Latin America, street art is of major cultural relevance. The region’s traditions of social movements and revolution have allowed the form to give voice to otherwise unheard sectors of the population. Of course, not all street art is politically or socially-oriented in content, but it does often provide insight into specific objectives and ideals.”
  • I am not a gardener (I would not mind becoming one, but I just do not have the time or space at the moment). However, I do find some books on the topic interesting. If you have an interest in gardening, perhaps you are a gardener yourself, this may be of interest.  Via Poor as Folk, here is a list of “best food and gardening books of 2014.
  • Need to boost the creativity a bit? Via Little Dumb Man, here is a list of “10 great books that will books your creativity.”
  • Want to be scared? Want to read some real life horror? Do you like medical subjects? Then this list may be for you. Via The Booklist Reader, here is “Contagious Reading: Scary Medical Books Where the Truth Reads Like Fiction.
Photo from Flickr user Raider of Gin (fairerdingo). Image used under terms of Creative Commons 2.0 Generic Attribution License.

Photo from Flickr user Raider of Gin (fairerdingo). Image used under terms of Creative Commons 2.0 Generic Attribution License.

I fell a bit behind last year in keeping up with this, so I am going to try again for 2015. These are books I reviewed at The Itinerant Librarian with links included for the reviews so interested readers can check them out. Keep in mind, these are not always books I read in the given month, but books I managed to review in the month. January was a bit slow in terms of reviews as I was also getting together my posts for reading challenges. Still, we I did manage to get some things posted. As always, comments are always welcome.

 

I initially just jotted down in my personal journal some ideas prompted by Jenica Rogers’s post with “Questions About Library Leadership.” However, maybe because I don’t know better, I am blogging them now even if it is on the “not quite ready for primetime” blog. At the end of the day, I am just clearing my thoughts a bit. So, with some minor modifications from what I wrote in my personal journal, here goes.

# # # # #

Once again reading through my library feeds, and I come across another post on library leadership. This time is Jenica Rogers, library director at SUNY-Potsdam, reflecting on her blog. By now, this is the kind of topic I just read, nod in agreement, and move on. I learned a while back that in librarianship some topics come and go, almost like the seasons. So I just do the best I can with what I have. It’s not that I don’t care. I just prefer not to be too public about it. In addition, I happen to be one of those librarians who have been told they have a bad attitude because they have no interest in management. I have made notes on the topic here or there, and I did note Ms. Rogers is one of those who brings up “bad attitudes” in the profession if we hold no interest in management. Actually, I don’t feel a need to “get over it .” I have high expectations of my managers, and I expect them to be accountable. If they suck, they should be called out and fired if need be. To use the term as Bob Sutton uses it, asshole managers should not be tolerated no matter how talented they are. Period. All they do is bring down their organizations, not to mention turn off any people with potential who see that and say, “there is no way I want to be like him.”  If they are good, they should be praised because here is something else I believe: not everyone has the same gifts.

My, gift, was to be able to persuade people, to give, to the Holy Church.” -Archbishop Gilday, in the film The Godfather, Part III.

Some people have the talent to be managers, handle the bills, the big decisions that keep the lights on, etc. Some of us have talents better suited for the front lines. When a manager is good at what they do, it is certainly appreciated. I happen to have a healthy respect for those with the gift to keep the building running. I personally have no interest in that, and it should not earn me a label of having a bad attitude for saying it.

I probably should qualify that it’s not that I have no interest in management. I am able to reflect and read on the topic (feel free to click on the “leadership and management” tag on the right side column here, or on the “librarianship” tag over at my main blog, The Gypsy Librarian. I’ve had a small thought or two on the topic. As someone who gets managed by others, I do have an interest in management, and to a small extent, I have an interest in what makes managers tick. I’ve been fortunate that some of my managers in previous jobs, even when we had our professional differences, were willing to let me ask questions now and then for me to learn more. In some cases, I’ve learned things not to do from managers who were less than ideal as well.

If I may be so bold, it was a mistake for you to accept promotion. Commanding a starship is your first, best destiny; anything else is a waste of material.”  -Captain Spock to Admiral Kirk, from the film Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.

What I don’t have an interest in becoming is a manager, or to be exact, a library director. As I’ve said before, mostly as a joke, no one in their right mind would put me in charge of a library. On a serious note, I don’t aspire to a high level management position because that would take me away from what I love and do best. I am an instruction librarian, pure and simple. It is my best destiny.

At any rate, the questions Ms. Rogers raises on in her latest post are interesting and ones that should be discussed. I will say that in regards to the desire for external hires that I have often seen a reverse: an institution that already has an internal candidate in mind, but they have to go through the rigamarole of some bureaucracy and bring in a few token candidates to cover their posteriors. I know: I’ve been one of those tokens. If you are observant during an interview, and you ask a well-placed question now and then (yes, you should be asking questions of your interviewers just as they ask you questions), you can tell when a search committee is just going through the motions. Some committees can hide it better than others, but again, if you are attentive, you see enough to know.

But I have seen some of the other issues. For example, the desire to bring top talent but not being able (or willing) to pay for it; the location issue (which, personally, is not one that has bothered me much when I have been on the market. I’ve been more than willing to go to places most people probably would consider beneath them. In my case, if a job is good, I can make the place work. Paradise, on the other hand, can be shit if the job is bad); and search committees looking for pegacorns. No, not just unicorns, but full blown winged unicorns. Some of the job ads I’ve seen in the days when I was in the market…goodness gracious. Some institutions clearly have no shame.

I will note that I do fall in that “ripe for top management” positions demographic. Heck, to some people, I may be a bit “too ripe.” I’ve gotten questions once or twice such as “are you sure you want to work here?” or a variant when I have applied to other front line positions. My answer is as before: this is what I am passionate about, what I do best, so why take some higher steps up the ladder that would take me away from that?

A man’s GOT to know his limitations.” — Inspector Harry Callahan, from the film Magnum Force.

It’s not that I am not qualified or capable. It’s that I don’t want to, and if some see it as bad attitude, well, that is their problem.

Now my four readers might point out that I am a Coordinator now, which does involve some management. To that I will say it does, but it is more a leadership position. In very simple terms, I don’t just manage people. I lead a team, and I do so by example and being in the front line with my team members. And what little I know and have learned along my journey that can be offered I share as generously as I can. Because I also believe that one has to pay forward. I’ve had leaders who have inspired me, who have given me wisdom, advice, an example, help, so on. I would not be here without them. So, now I have the chance to do some of the same. That’s my nutshell definition of leadership, for what it may be worth to folks out there. All that and the responsibility to keep on learning.

So here are the musings of a librarian who has been around a couple of places and seen a thing or two. Take it for what it may be worth. Now, what I learn in this new role could be a topic or two in future posts. We shall see.

En la lucha. . . .

 

Once I left school teaching and graduate school, I embraced the philosophy of leaving work at work at the end of the day. Once I walk out the door at the end of the day, work stays there. My home time is exactly that: mine and at home. Besides, the bosses do not pay overtime, so they are not getting anything extra. One has to learn to keep a life balance and boundaries.

Via Lifehacker, this short video of a talk by Pam Selle is a must watch (link to post with the video). A little FTA: “Time is money. When you work extra hours, you’re earning less money.” In other words, unless you get overtime (and even then, be selective if you choose to go for the overtime), they are not paying you for it. So tell them you are going home. Do your work at work (don’t slack much), then leave work at work.

The video itself, from YouTube:


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