At least no one saw me

November 11th, 2009

There’s definitely one benefit to being a foreigner (or geijin) in Japan and that’s the fact that most people are willing to overlook your foreign ways.  One of the difficulties I’m having – aside from being confused beyond belief by the public transit system and have no idea what most people are saying (thankfully, I have a translator with me each day!) – is that I’m a huge clutz.  Japanese women are graceful.  I… am not.  I’m either knocking things over, getting my camera bag caught around door handles, or running into objects.  Needless to say, I say sumimasen (excuse me) a thousand times.

With that said, let me tell you about Japanese toilets.  You may have heard about them, or seen pictures of them.  If not, go check out this picture.  While I haven’t used any of the fancy extras (including a fake flushing noise for, ummm, privacy) I have to admit that I think all toilets should have seat warmers.

Ok, so that’s the cool, funky toilets.  What most people don’t talk about are traditional Japanese toilets.  I had heard of them, but did a double take when I walked into a restroom and discovered them.  There’s no way I can describe it, so here’s another picture (gotta love Google images).

So here’s the awkward foreigner going down the hallway to locate the restroom at a restaurant of the National Museum and when I first walk in I think to myself, “Huh, I thought all of the traditional toilets were at ground level.  And it’s funny that they’re out in the open like that.  All of the one’s I’ve seen have been in stalls.” As I start to walk into a stall with one of the new toilets, it hits me.  I’m in the men’s restroom and those are traditional toilets, they’re urinals.  Ack!  Thankfully, I managed to escape and get into the womens’s restroom (which did have both the traditional and new toilets – and me with no camera once again) without being seen.

The kind of thing you can’t make up

November 8th, 2009

I’m here!  In Tokyo!  But I have to tell you about my series of events in getting here…

I’m in the Phoenix airport waiting for my flight to board.  They’ve made the pre-board announcement, but we’re still sitting there for quite some time.  Then they finally make the announcement that a piece of equipment has “clipped” the aircraft and they have to assess the damage.  Everyone is asking each other, “what exactly does ‘clip’ mean?”  Well, you know the luggage equipment that has the rolling ramp that goes up to the plane?  Apparantly the guy driving it managed to run it in the side of the plane.  I talked to one of the passengers who happened to be watching and he said the guy was going pretty fast.  Needless to say, I didn’t get to leave on Friday.  I was thankful that I got to leave on Saturday, because a majority of our full flight were international and the agents were having problems finding seats for everyone. 

In any case, it was a long, long, long day, but I made it!  The Japan Library Association committee members, who I’ll be spending time with this week, took me to dinner last night.  They’re a very friendly group and they got to tease me on my geijin-ness (geijin = foreigner).  I attempted to use chopsticks to eat my udon noodles and they laughed when I tried a few items that were… interesting (and I’m still not sure what they were!).

The only other problem I encountered before leaving home was discovering that, for some reason, my netbook won’t let me access websites.  So it looks like I’ll be relying on Internet cafes, which means my posting will be random and pictureless unless I can figure out what’s up with my computer.  Argh!  By the way, when I first got my netbook, I thought the keyboard was tricky to figure out (because a lot of the keys got moved around in order to make everything fit in the smaller size).  That’s nothing compared to a Japanese keyboard!  I’m finally getting the hang of it, but every so often I find myself typing in kana.

And then, out of the blue, she updates her blog!

November 4th, 2009

I never know how to start a blog post after such a long absense.  I mean, I know it’s not like there’s a dialogue going on or anything, but yet there is.  In a way.  Sort of.  Anyhoo… here’s a bullet point version of my past year:

  • Dad passed away
  • Adopted a puppy 
  • Presented at the local library association conference, where my co-presenter and I were given the President’s Program Award
  • Received Outstanding Library Services Award at same conference
  • Got really, really sick with the flu/sinus infection (this wouldn’t normally be news, but I have never felt that bad in my entire life)
  • Adjusted to life with the new puppy
  • Felt generally crappy for some time
  • Found out I have pernicious anemia (B12 deficiency – I’ll explain more later)
  • Started monthly B12 shots
  • Began feeling more like my old self
  • Named Horner Fellow and leave for Japan this Friday, the 6th

I guess that’s about it.  As you can see, it’s been quite a year and… what was that?  Oh, you want to hear more about the fellowship and Japan.  Well… my state library association has something called the Horner Fellowship which is an exchange between our association and the Japan Library Association.  Every other year a librarian from Arizona is chosen to visit libraries in Japan and this year… it’s me!  Which, to be honest, is what finally got me off my keester and updating my blog. 

Although I’m going to be blogging about the professional side of my visit at my library blog, Infollectual, I’m going to blog about the funny moments and mishaps – that you know are going to happen – over here. (Have to admit I’m a bit freaked about this, but my mantra is “I am a super librarian and I can do anything!”  And in case that doesn’t work, I’ll bring along a bottle of tequila.)

Well, that’s the blogging plan.  I’ve got a packed schedule, so we’ll see how it goes!

At Last

December 25th, 2008

Etta came home with us this past Saturday and is slowly adjusting to her new life.  As we expected, there’s been some stress.

ettasleep350_1 by you.

I mean, it can’t be easy having to learn new rules and boundaries.

ettasleep350_2 by you.

Trying to figure out your place in the new pack.

ettasleep350_3 by you.

I think Etta will be fine.  I just hope the stress doesn’t get to her too much.

ettasleep350_4 by you.

Slowly coming out of my funk

November 16th, 2008

The last few weeks have been rough.  I had intended to post about my b-day a few weeks ago, which was on a Thursday.  Before I could do so, though, my dad went into the hospital the next day and passed away on Monday night.  He had been sick for several years, so this wasn’t entirely unexpected, but at the same time it was unexpected.  Anyway, I had planned on posting about my birthday, working the election, and then my 5th year wedding anniversary.  Instead, I went into a funk and just the thought of typing the words made me sink deeper.

I finally went in and asked my doctor for some medicinal help, which she readily gave me.  What I didn’t realize was that I didn’t need medication to break out of this.  What I needed was this -

Juliette1 by you.

My dad passed away the nigh before the election.  That afternoon I was scheduled to help set up the polling precinct where I was to work and on a whim I decided to look at the shelter listings while I ate lunch.  I came across the listing for this beautiful girl.  She had been saved from a euthanasia list at the pound and was being fostered while she healed from a broken collar bone that was the result of a possible car accident.  The listing said she wouldn’t be up for adoption for 4-6 weeks.  Well, my hubby and I had talked about the possibility of adopting a dog at the end of December, so I couldn’t resist emailing the woman taking care of the dog.  After a couple of emails and phone calls, I got to meet both of them yesterday and it’s official… we’re bringing her home at the end of December.

While I’m still dealing with my emotions, I feel like this dog has rescued me.  She’s given me the ability to focus on something else and to look forward to.  It feels like fate brought her to me, knowing when I’d need her the most.  I just hope my cats feel the same way!

Updates – with rants thrown in for good measure

October 29th, 2008

Of course, it wouldn’t be me blogging if there weren’t some rants!  I should warn you, however, that I attended an 8 hour training session today and then worked until closing, so I’m a bit loopy. 

(For those who don’t want to read through my long post, you can amuse yourself with this bit of political humor that’s making it’s way through the blogosphere instead - assuming you haven’t been there already!.)

My run-in with the law

As you probably remember, I got a speeding ticket a couple of weeks ago.  And, to top it off, couldn’t find my proof of insurance.  Well… I read through the brochure that the cop had given me and it said to call the courthouse to find out what I needed to do about providing my proof. 

So the next morning I called the number to the courthouse that was on the brochure and I got a recording.  A recording that said the number had been disconnected.  Hmmm… maybe I dialed wrong?  I tried again and… got the same recording.  Ok… I got online and looked up the city courthouse website, found it, and there’s the same freakin’ phone number.  I then tried looking up the city’s website, found it, navigated to government departments until I found courts, and… found a new number.  Good thing, because I think I would’ve lost it.  I called this new number and, for the love of pete, got a recording.  This time, at least, it was an actual voicemail recording asking me to leave a message, but good grief!  I left a message and waited a few hours before I decided to try calling again.  This time I got a real, live person (yay!) who was extremely nice and informed me that I would need to come down to the courthouse in person to show my proof of insurance.  As long as the date of coverage started before my traffic citation, the charge would be dismissed. 

However… I couldn’t go down to take care of this until my citation showed up in their computer system which could take a couple of weeks.  I looked at my calendar and the only day, literally, that I could take care of this without screwing up my work schedule (I’m a bit overbooked right at the moment) was the morning of the 29th, which was about three weeks away at this point.  No problem!

I called early last week to check on my citation and I wasn’t in their system.  I called later in the week, several times, and I still wasn’t in their system.  Now I was starting to panic.  I honestly didn’t know what I was going to do if I wasn’t showing in their system by Tuesday.  Karma must have felt bad for me, because by Monday afternoon I was in.  Woo Hoo!  So first thing this morning, I drove the 45 minutes South to the courthouse to show my proof of insurance.  The place was so deserted that for a moment I thought I had gone to the wrong place.  But inside I found several clerks, all of them very nice, and one of them photocopied my insurance card, made a note on my citation with the dismisall date and I was done.  I even managed to drive the 45 minutes East to work and make it to my training session on time with a long, eleven hour day and 45 minute drive North back home to look forward to.  Oh, I also get to look forward to traffic school on Sunday morning that starts at 7:30am.  Ugh!

Crazy poll worker

As you also probably recall, I’m going to be a poll worker for the general election next Tuesday.  I attended my training a couple of weeks ago and, well, I’m afraid.  Very afraid.  I had thought that I would snap and lose it after 14.5 hours of working with the voters.  Instead, I think I’m going to snap and lose it from working with the other poll workers.  Granted, our training was supposed to be two hours long and it got condensed down to an hour.  And there are a lot of procedures to keep track of.  But, honestly, it doesn’t seem that difficult.  However, many of the other people there for training just. weren’t. getting. it.  They were the types to ask the “what if” questions and managed to run through about 100 potential scenarios, many of which probably won’t even happen.  My only hope is that these people have all been assigned to other precincts and the people I’m going to be working with are all normal and intelligent.  A girl can hope, can’t she?

Speaking of political frustrations

In Arizona we have a Proposition 200 being called Payday Loan Reform, or something like that.  When you read the language of the proposition, it does sound like reform.  But, in true proposition fashion, there’s more to it than you first realize.  A friend found out that there’s a law that will go into effect in 2010 that provides real reform.  I don’t remember the specifics, but I think it limits the interest rate that can be charged to 36% or something (as opposed to the astronomically high 200% or 400% they can get away with now) and it also won’t allow any new licenses to be given out. 

The proposition in this election is financed by the payday loan industry and, if passed, nixes all of these 2010 laws.  Nice, eh?  I have to hand it to the industry, though, because the proposition that we’re voting on really does sound like it’s going to give us reform.  So, here’s my rant…

The groups opposing the proposition, including the attorney general for the state, are just now getting advertising out that tells people what is really happening.  Ummm… folks?  A lot of people have already turned in their early ballots.  Why in the world did they wait until this week to start advertising!  Not that I’m much better than they are I suppose, considering I’m just now ranting about it.  sigh…

I saw first hand from working at the law library what these sleazy payday loan places can do to people.  I’m sure they’re “up-front” about interest rates and such, but when people are desperate they aren’t thinking straight and I guarantee they know this.  It makes me so mad!

For what it’s worth, Arizona voters, vote NO on Prop 200!

Frick, frick, and double frick!

October 7th, 2008

So, I was heading to one of my college’s “center” locations (similar to a satellite campus) to provide a class with some library instruction.  This location is about 45 minutes away from the campus where I’m based and it’s in a town that used to be rural but it has experienced massive population growth over the last couple of years and is considered a bedroom community now.  Anyhoo, the freeway that leads into this town goes from 65mph to 35mph in the blink of an eye.  As I was getting into the right hand turn lane to turn into the strip mall where our center is, I looked up and saw a motorcycle cop and his lights on behind me.  Frick!  (What exactly is the etiquette for being pulled over by a cop?  I obviously didn’t want to stop in the turn lane, but as I turned I couldn’t stop in the strip mall entrance so I turned again.  But then I was in the entrance to a bank parking lot that was pretty busy.  But I didn’t want the cop to think I was trying to flee or something, so I finally just… stopped.  In the middle of the bank parking lot.)

A bit of background about me.  I have this weird confessional thing with authority figures (I’m not even Catholic) and when I’ve been pulled over by a cop in the past I find myself telling them everything I was doing wrong.  Even things the cop hadn’t noticed.  (Gee, let me save you the trouble and I’ll just write out the citation myself!)  So I decided this time that I would just not admit to anything and let him tell me what I did.  He asked me if I knew why he pulled me over and I said no.  So he asked if I knew the speed limit in the area and I said no and explained that I was only in the area for work.  So he then asked if I knew how fast I was going.  Ummm… I didn’t honestly know and I discovered that telling a cop that you don’t know how fast you’re driving is not the right answer.  He then mentioned that I must have seen him off to the side of the road because I slowed down as I passed him, but I explained that I didn’t see him and was simply getting into the turn lane to go into the strip mall.  I can’t even explain the look the cop was giving me at this point.  Anyway, he then informed me that I was going 47mph in a 35mph zone.  Frick!

I’ve already given the cop my license by this point and have managed to rummage through my glove box to find my current registration (along with every past registration including the temporary ones I had printed out when I registered online).  Problem was… I couldn’t find my current insurance card.  See, our insurance had recently renewed and I kept forgetting to put the new card in wallet or car.  I literally tore my car, wallet, purse, everything apart hoping beyond hope that the damn card would appear.  I had an old card, but the cop was insisting on my current card.  After an eternity (ok, a minute or two) of him watching me search for the current card, I had to admit that I didn’t have it.  Which means I not only got cited for speeding, but also for not having proof of insurance.  Fuck!  (Sorry mom, but you didn’t actually expect this to be a double frick, did you?)

After all of this I still had my class to do, but after telling my hubby about the experience (in gasping sobs of I. Can’t. Believe. I. Don’t. Have. My. Insurance. Card.), I was honest with them and explained why my hands were shaking.  The good news (if there can be any) is that some of the students had the same thing happen to them and I should be able to fax or bring them my current insurance card and get the charge either downgraded or dismissed.  Keep your fingers crossed for that it gets dismissed because it’s a $970 fine and while I can attend driving school for the speeding ticket, I can’t for the proof of insurance fine.

The fine line of being worth it

September 26th, 2008

When I was in high school, I must have paid really close attention in my civics class (or maybe my teacher was really cute, although I don’t remember that being the case) because I was so excited about turning 18 and being able to vote.  In fact, I was able to register at the age of 17 because I was turning 18 at the end of October and would therefore be eligible to vote at the first part of November.  And vote I did!  Never mind the fact this was in 1989 and there weren’t any “real” elections taking place.

To this day I vote and encourage other people to vote.  The bit of irony here is that I’m generally pretty clueless about politics, so I rely on my hubby, who doesn’t vote, to keep me informed.  Anyhoo… part of my voting zealousness is that I’ve always wanted to be a poll worker, especially during an important election.  Even though I usually know well in advance of how I plan to vote and could do the mail-in ballot, I love going to the poll location, grumbling with the others about the long and slow moving line, to cast my vote.  So this year I decided to submit my name and work the polls!  You probably realize, of course, that the reality of my decision is starting to crash around me.

First, it’s been a month since I submitted my name and except for a frantic phone call from the election office the night before the primaries asking if I could work the next day (never mind the fact that I haven’t been through the required training yet and, oh yeah, have a full-time job) I hadn’t heard a word from anyone.  I finally called the election office yesterday and the person I spoke to couldn’t find my name on any of her lists.  She took my information again and then transferred me to the person who’s in charge of the polls in my area.  Oddly enough, she did have me on her list. 

She was nice enough to go ahead and schedule me for training.  Which lasts for two and a half hours.  On a Monday.  In the middle of the day.  Hey, what’s another vacation day from work to help out with the democratic process?!  Ok, no problem, I went ahead and scheduled it.  She then informed me that I would be expected to be at my assigned polling location (which, thankfully, in my own precinct and is literally within walking distance of my house) from 5:30am to 8pm.  She recommended I bring food with me.  Gee, thanks for the tip.  AND, I would also be expected to arrive at my assigned poll location the day before the election to assist in setting up the booths and tables. 

Ok, so I’m now up to two and half of vacation days that I’m using for this and the knowledge that I’ll be working almost 15 hours in one day (good lord, that’s the first time I actually added the hours up!) all so I can feel warm and fuzzy about the freakin’ democratic process.

Amazingly (stupidly?), I’ve decided to go ahead and do this.  While you’re watching the election coverage on November 4th, you might want to keep your eye out for any news about a formerly civic-minded poll worker completely losing it around 7pm.

What to say and where to start?

September 13th, 2008

I know I disappeared for a while.  I fell into a bit of a blue funk – the kind where it takes a lot of effort even to do the stuff you enjoy, much less the stuff you don’t.  Rather than dwell on the cause of my blue funk, I’ll just take this post to tell you about the good stuff that’s happened over the last few months.  It’s mostly library-work related, so bear with me.

First, I got to present as part of a panel discussion at the American Library Association conference.  I got the chance thanks to a fellow raveler who’s part of the knitbrarians group. 

NancyPresentPod by you.

I got to talk about the embedded librarian service that I started at my college library and it was such a great experience!

NancyPresentPanel by you.

Being a part of this presentation was also a great introduction to presenting in front of a conference audience, because my boss and I will be presenting at the Arizona Library Association conference in December.  In fact, our program was chosen as one of the President’s Choice programs, which means the president of the association feels that our program representes the overall theme of the conference.  This is a huge honor, but it’s also a bit nerve-wracking because we feel like our program has to be that good now.

One last work-related piece of news… I’ll be receiving an award at the same conference in December.  My boss nominated me for the Outstanding Library Services award and I found out that I’ll be receiving it!  I get attend an awards luncheon where they present this and several other awards.  Very cool, eh?

In non-work-related news, I’ve met my goal weight for ww so I’m officially back to being a lifetime member again.  I also finally took down the wallpaper border that’s been in our kitchen since we moved in and has been holding us back from painting.  I haven’t taken any pictures yet so you’ll have to trust me when I say that the kitchen looks so much better with the border down!

Obviously the summer hasn’t been all good news, hence the blue funk.  But I’m not in the mood to tell you about it now.  For now, I just want to get my blogging mojo back.  :-)

Weekend wasters – Typeracer

June 7th, 2008

I’m a bit behind on the Ireland photos, so I’m hoping I can distract you with this addictive weekend waster.  It’s called Typeracer and it’s basically a typing test where you race against others.  If you’ve ever had any kind of administrative job that requires decent typing skills, you will love this game.  (By the way, if you use Internet Explorer 6, it seems to have problems working.  If you can’t get it to work, try Firefox.)