I've been recently reading several things on the news that puzzle or irritate me.
Start with the biggest thing - the killings in Virginia.
Now that the video has been unearthed, the newspapers blame all and sundry for not noticing earlier that the guy was about to blow and should have been locked up. While there certainly was evidence of that fact, it is kind of hard to put all the signs together. It isn't as if he was the only student ever to complain that everybody hates him and to profess his hatred of the world. Comparing himself to Jesus is absolutely crazy, IMNSHO. He says with his death he wants to make a point like Jesus did. Well, but Jesus didn't kill 32 other people before he died. And his message wasn't exactly "I hate the world and now you'll pay!"
Also, apparently if there were more weapons in the US, this wouldn't have happened. Because if a student starts shooting others, it is clearly the best solution for all students to have guns.
Sure, a student with a gun could have stopped the guy. A student with a gun could also kill 32 others, as has just been proven.

Also in the news, the case of Emilio Gonzales. Now that is tricky.
In Germany, it is almost impossible to make sure you are not kept alive indefinitely by machines. Even if you make a will stating you don't want doctors to keep you alive, they are not bound by that, it's their own choice.
I have an organ donor's pass and sincerely hope that the possibility to get their hands on a bunch of organs in really good condition will make the doctors switch off the machines if I'm dead.
That said, it comes as no surprise that I think the hospital is right to want to let the child die. Probably they do it because of the money. But even aside from that issue, what is supposed to happen? The child can't breathe, he can't eat, he can't communicate. If it wasn't for the machines, he would be dead.
In one newspaper, his mother was quoted as saying she wants him to die naturally. Well, how is he supposed to do that? His being alive now is not natural.
I know it's easy enough for me to say that, as Emilio is no more than a name and a picture for me, I'm not his family. But I think it would be better if they would let him go.

Yesterday I heard a report about one of the French candidates for the president's office. That guy used the coalition that is governing Germany right now as an example! His point is that instead of dividing themselves up in left and right, they should work together, like the Germans forced their two major parties to work together. "La France de toutes les forces", I believe was his slogan.
That's very interesting and a little funny. In Germany, many people see the coalition of the two largest parties as a failure and say they never wanted it. They say that nothing gets done and the government lacks a distinct profile.
It's interesting to see how others view an internal situation. It would probably be a good idea to get other's input regularly, just because we ourselves tend to be too close to see the big picture. If you're staring at a single spot of bark on the trunk, you will never notice if the tree's growing.

On a probably less serious note, Germany's finally managed to be top in something! We are officially the fattest Europeans, even beating the Brits in that. 3 out of 4 men and 50% of the women are overweight or obese. *applause*
Keep going like this and we'll beat the Americans at the game.
Also, isn't it good that we don't have kids anymore and vast areas are more or less deserted because nobody wants to live there? We might yet need the room simply to move.

Not quite as breathtaking as that: I finished moving the journals yesterday. Now my hands are raw and it seems I can't get the dust off, my face feels as if I've been scrubbing a brush over it - my skin doesn't really like prolonged contact with dust, and some of the journals hadn't been touched in years, probably decades.
I am now ready to start on cataloguing the donations. I still need to move some of the books again to use up the available space - there will be lots of free space on the shelves but then I inted to fill that with new books soon - and then we're set.
That is, if the organisation that is supposed to sell our old journals will finally get cooking and we can get our storage room back for use. We have parts of shelves, almost two bookcarts full of stuff we're going to archive (school history for future generations) and general things we need to keep to put in there.
I also need to send our server to Bonn to get repaired, and then it has to be set up in what used to be the minion's office and is now going to be another storage room.

Next week, I think I'll have to scrub the floors where there used to be shelves. There are distinct dirty marks on the floor and the cleaning person does so bad a job she usually doesn't even pick up the "normal" dirt. This is a task that requires getting down on hands and knees and doing some scrubbing, and she would never do that. It would be of no use if she tried, she moves in slow motion anyway and in the time it would take her to get down on her knees, the library would likely have evolved into a self-cleaning organism.
So, with these plans in mind, I can't help thinking of what one of the soldiers always asks me: Was it really worth it to go to Uni for this?

I'm on vacation!
That was rather tricky. The captain wasn't at work last week and the sergeant said he'd put my application for leave on his desk. But the sergeant apparently signed it himself, so when I asked the captain whether he had agreed, he had no idea what I was talking about and was thoroughly pissed that nobody had told him.
Later, the sergeant came over to tell us that the captain told him to leave everything to him in the future as he was the head of the department and all that.
Okay, but
a) the captain tends to be absent more than present
b) the sergeant is his deputy.
So what's the big deal? Are we supposed to wait for months at a time before we know if we're allowed to take a vacation because he's off skiing somewhere? Idiot!
And he's a horrible boss at that. After three months of not being here, you'd think he would make a tour around his department to see how things are going. But no such thing! I've never seen him once since he's come back. I probably see the major and our general more often than I see the captain. The major at least comes up to the library regularly to see how we're doing, and the general drops in if he's in the building. Yet my immediate superior can't find the time. What's wrong with that picture?

Anyway, I'm home to do a bit of dog- and dad-sitting. Keep them fed and happy.
I'll also take the opportunity to buy a few last things from IKEA, and I also need some summer shirts or blouses, something a bit more professional than a regular t-shirt yet light and airy so I can wear it at 35° Celsius in the library.
I woke up this morning mentally moving shelves, so I decided - as I had planned to walk up to the base to get my bike anyway - to actually convert that mental energy into physical energy and really move shelves.

I can already say that we will have a lot of shelves left over. (Okay, Houston, we have a problem here: How do I differentiate between the whole thing and one board? According to LEO, both would be called "shelf" in English. The things we will have left over are the individual boards on which you put the books. The things I moved are the complete shelves, with poles left and right and several shelves/boards in the middle.)

Mostly, they were easy to move as they are assembled in a way that basically does not require any tools to take them apart. However, we have some shelves from an older series by the same company that did indeed require screws, and those were a pain in the arse.

I first had to move a set of four of the newer version of shelves to a different place in the library, which was fairly easy. Then I could empty out the only set of shelves we still had in place of the older system and take that down. It took forever as some of the screws had ben painted over and the whole thing was really dirty and yucky, but I managed.

Then I had to set up a new combination of four sections in its place. Problem was, I only had two section available that were already empty at the moment. So I started out to move those. And found out that whoever had assembled them was an idiot. It was the newer system, except for one piece that had apparently been taken from an older shelve. It lacked the grooves it was supposed to have for the bottom shelf to fit in, so instead of taking the right piece, somebody had drilled holes into the bootom shelf and used screws to put the pieces together. Which meant to take them apart I had to tilt the whole thing (two sections of shelves, which means three poles of at least two metres, connected with two bars near the bottom (there were two more bars at the top, but I had taken those off before realising the bottom shelves were stuck) and lean it against another shelf so I could get the screws off. I was alternately cursing at thed idiot who did it and praying the whole thing wouldn't fall against a window or knock down a row of shelves or land on my head. Lovely.

I did manage, however, and replaced the wrong piece when I reassembled it, so we won't have this problem again.

After I had set up those two sections where they were to go, I theoretically would have needed to move large sections of the journals around to free the last two sections. But frankly, I was sick and tired of the whole thing, so I just vacuumed the places where shelves used to be (the colour of the floor is quite different there, and there are also lines imprinted into the floor where the most weight of the shelves pressed down), moved a few tables to where our reading area will be and decided to call it a day.

Now I'm really tired.
Funnily enough, I'm not hungry, though I haven't eaten anything since breakfast, and that was not very large.
I'm going to make myself some pasta tonight, I think. A coworker made ramson pesto and gave me a glass to try.
Well, so it is Valentine's Day.
For those who celebrate in any way, I hope you have / had a good one.

For me, it was a day like any other.

I got a SMS from Tobias, but I can't actually even pretend I care.

I didn't grow up with Valentine's Day. It just started some years ago, with the stores suddenly being swamped by horrid pink decorations between the equally horrid but less pink christmas and Easter decoration. My family isn't very keen on showing affections openly. Even if it had been traditional to exchange Valetines in school, I wouldn't have got anything, so it never really caught on for me.
My thoughts on the topic are similar to my ideas on Mother's Day: if you need a special day to remember to tell people you love them, are you sure you do?

Anyway, to give you a bit of an idea what I am actually doing at work, I'll give you a detailed update! Aren't you just dying to know?

The library is split into two parts: the actual military library, containing books covering everything from history to technology, and the public library part, which is intended to give soldiers something worth while to do in their spare time, so it's got novels and DIY books and self-help books and movies on DVDs and that sort of thing.
When I took over, the military library was shelved in closed stacks, seperated into three parts (or actually five): monographs, shelved by acquisition number ("monograph" is used in the broadest sense here. I had a 28 volume "monograph" just yesterday...), series, shelved by number, something that was called the textbook section even though it included everything the library happened to have in, say, more than three copies, while usually one copy was shelved either with the monographs or the series, depending on where it belonged. The two minor parts are the small publications, seperated into stuff that's thin and small and stuff that's thin and tall.
Only a minor part was in the library's computer system, mostly things were only searchable throug the card catalogue which was in a pretty disgusting shape, as cards were misplaced or hadn't been pulled when the book had been thrown away or got lost, that sort of thing.

I first re-catalogued the "textbooks. Most copies where thrown away as we absolutely didn't need them, some multiple copies remained, got recatalogued and reshelved.
Then I started on the series, going through them from number threehundred something, I believe, down to 1, throwing away what we didn't need, recataloguing, reshelving follwing the classification used by the German military library system.
After the series, I did the monographs, starting with 8200 something. I am now down to the 1600s - 1649, as of today (1649 happens to be a ten volume monograph, so it takes a while...)

A lot of the books have been given away to other libraries, sold or dumped. I think the library, all in all, had about 21000 books when I came here. Now it might be around 13000. The only one so far who misses books is my predecessor, who keeps whining about it. Though of course, apart from him nobody really knew what we had, as most people don't like browsing through a card catalogue, and he never let anybody see the books if he could help it.
His priorities went something like this:
1. Do not let anyone touch a book
2. The general and the colonels might touch a book, if they wash their hands.
3. My friends of the military association might touch a book, if they wash their hands and ask nicely.
4. Officers from the school might touch some books, judiciously chosen by me, if they wash their hands, beg on their knees and prove they need it.
5. Any soldier below officer's rank, any soldier of any rank not belonging to the school, the public must not under any circumstances even know that there are books.
6. The library must be locked more often than not.

It is ridiculous! I've heard stories that he refused to give books to people, telling them they were not available, when they were in the next room! Yet I can't say it was from a jealous love of books. Because in that case, wouldn't he have taken care of the books? But they are dirty and dusty and grimy, and sometimes I find bits of mortar from when the roof was redone and the ceiling got wet and fell apart about eight years ago.

He didn't care about the books. He didn't care about the people. I don't know what he actually did care about.

Anyway, so I have recatalogued, reshelved and resorted almost the entire library. I have made sure the opening hours are reliable, and have mde sure we're open longer than we used to. I'm trying to establish us as the place to go if you need information, or just have an extra hour to fill, or for some nice conversation.

This is what I want.

I want to look back in a year and say this is what I found, this is what I made of it. I want people to be able to come onto the base, ask the guard for the library, and be told where it is, not get a blank look and a shrug. I want every single soldier on the base to know us, to know where we are, and to come to us if they need information, and I want to be able to answer their questions.

My predecessor hates me. My captain panics. My minion resents me.
And you know what? I don't care. Because I do what I need to do.


Jan. 16th, 2007 10:15 pm
I went to fencing lessons for the first time this year.
And oh, my poor legs!

I did go jogging on Sunday so it wasn't like I was completely out of practice, but our coach usually starts with just legwork, and that really hurt after a while.

However, when he tested a specific combination of steps, I did alright while a bunch of others, including people who've been fencing for much longer, had to do it again. And he wasn't just being nice because I'm relatively new, as Alexandra, my friend with whom I started, had to do it again as well.

She did beat me when we were actually fencing afterwards, though.
But I do claim that was because she had cheated when she had chosen her weapon. We have the longer foils used by adults, and the shorter ones for kids. She had a shorter one. It gives her less range, but it also is les flexible and therefore often easier to handle. When you're fighting a stiff stick with a flexible rod, you're going to have a hard time.

I did seem to make the moves using my wrist more than moving my full arm, which is great. It seems like I'm making progress.

Speaking of progress, we now have many empty shelves in the library. I'm going to ask one of the girls to clean them tomorrow, and then we can do some serious moving of stuff.
I'm currently cleaning out old files that are stacked in Katrin's office, so that stuff we need to store but don't want to have within the reach of patrons can be stored out of the way there.
Among those files I have found more stuff I could have used for the school history, but that's bad luck now. I am definitely not going to do a second edition.

I had planned on watching another episode of Supernatural, have been looking forward to that all day, but then was too busy. Oh well. There's always tomorrow.
All good things start with a big entrance.
So - you gets in there.
Okay, not so much of a big entrance. It looks rather impersonal. Especially as there is a layer of metal net between the layers of glass in those windows. For safety reasons, I assume.

Once you are in, at first you don't see all that much. There is a column at the far left of the picture, then there is our new desk (it's wood, and much lighter than the picture shows).

Behind it, you can just barely see the reading area. Not a very comfortable place. Especially as this side of the building is facing south east. The sun beats in there terribly in summer, we get temperatures in the 30s (Celsius). And whoever planned this building did not think it necessary to install any other sunscreen than curtains. The windows are metal, so they let in so much heat the curtains don't help one bit.

Behind the second column, the one we decorated with a large plant Katrin couldn't put anywhere at her home, is our old desk. I hate the dark brown and red, it looks terrible and uninviting.
The computer there is Katrin's usual workplace. She does have an office but it's in the back, not very practical. Unfortunately, Katrin's not really a clean person, so her workspace is rather messy - a cardboard box she uses as a garbage bin, behind it a stack of journals and other papers that are not supposed to be there, and there's more stuff around her screen that doesn't need to be there. She's forever moving stuff around when she want's to write something down or use the computer. That sucks. It's where our patrons are supposed to go and ask questions, it should look a bit nicer.

The shelve you can barely see on the left of the picture we started with is part of our "public library" part, the books of general interest and the novels, so old that nobody really is interested.
Behind those, there is the card catalogue and the xerox. And that door next to it is the door to my office.

Okay, my desk is a mess, too. But I have an excuse. I work there. And I am still moving things around, which is why there is a stack of stuff on the chair behind and in front of my desk, but free space on the shelves behind my desk. I am in the process of developing a workable order for me, not the chronological order (chronological as in - what came in last is at the top of the stack) my predecessors seemed to favor.

Funny incident regarding Katrin's work habits: I had to take my car to the workshop today and combined that with dropping off some forms the boss of the workshop needed to fill out for books he wanted us to order. Anyway, I had left, but then noticed I had forgotten something. When I came back Katrin was sitting on our public computer surfing the internet. Which I do, too, I know, but I try to do it after hours.

But back to the guided tour.
This is me, working. No really, I am working there. That was before I actually started uploading pictures and posting.

If I sit at my desk and look right, there is another door into the closed stacks. From there you can see what a chaos we have back there. Computer boxes we use to transport books we sort out, the stuff belonging to the media library, on the right the shelves where we've started arranging the books by topic rather by acquisition number. Straight ahead books we have decided to get rid of, we just need to write the lists, ask other libraries if they want any and then take them down to the storage area, eventually, they will be dumped,most likely. Which makes me sad, but we're simply not allowed to sell them or give them away; and empty files we re-use.

So that is it, the place where I spend most of my waking hours.
But when I come home, I am now able to watch DVDs! Yesterday, I connected my DVD player to the receiver, and after figuring out how to get it to play, I watched ... - nah, I'm not going to tell. It's clearly enough visible on the TV. You tell me!

Certainly, this TV was never meant to have a receiver hooked up to it, let alone a DVD player. Just yesterday I noticed again how tiny it is. But it works, and that is the main thing.

I'm melting in this heat up here. It rained this morning but then it became warm and humid. Disgusting.

Today I got the chance to speak a wee bit of French with a French soldier, and some English with a Finnish soldier. That was fun! And it was what I hoped for when I took the job, being able to meet lots of different people from different countries, not just sitting in my office cataloguing books.

And way to go, with one of the titles of money we have, we're already about 1000 Euros over what was assigned to us. Well, bad luck, It was all stuff we needed to buy for the infantry school.

Now I will go home I think. Did enough work for one day.



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