September 20, 2006

Minimal knitting but lots of ranting

Big knitting news! I joined Socktoberfest! One day I’ll figure out how to put the button in my sidebar like the cool kids do. Until then, here it is in all its “joining the knitblog community” glory:

And as part of my quest to help other knitters feel better about themselves, I give you the following story: A few rows before starting the heel flap of the sock-who-shall-be-shunned, I joined a new ball, knit a few rows and suddenly found myself out of yarn again, because I was KNITTING WITH THE TAIL-END OF THE OLD YARN. Fine, I tinked back, laughed at myself a little, knit a few more rows with the right yarn, then started the heel flap. Which I then managed to KNIT WITH THE TAIL-END OF THE OLD YARN. I had cleverly pulled the tail-end of the old yarn up from three rows back.

I never really thought of having a three-strikes rule in knitting, but this sock is in Big Trouble, young man. So he'll be having a time-out*, during which he will sit in the corner and think about how his behavior makes others feel.

*time-out to begin immediately following his photo shoot amidst the last of the summer flowers, to end no later than October 1 when Socktoberfest participation mandates celebrating socks. I never said I was a consistent wool-mommy.

In the meantime, I’m on the lookout for a new project. Something on two needles, perhaps?

Besides bungling my sock, I also had a library-related crisis of faith yesterday: I’m beginning to question the whole librarian-in-training endeavor. In my defense, I had spent three hours and a completely unnecessary amount of money on the T that day and hadn’t really had anything to eat and had sat through a number of particularly futile meetings.

So by the time I arrived at said moment of crisis, I was hot, sweaty, exhausted and cranky: pretty much a three-year-old who can’t stop crying and whining but still stubbornly insists that they “DON'T NEED A NAP”.

To start with, I lost my T pass some time over the weekend. I’ve already given the MBTA a good chunk of money for my monthly pass, and I take the T to and from work every day. So every time I plunked down $1.25, I felt a fierce new surge of fiery resentment. It’s amazing how much more I dislike riding the B line when I’ve just dropped five perfectly good laundry quarters into the gaping, hungry mouth of the token collector and the train is still packed and lurching, just like it always is. It feels so much more personally disappointing when it’s my laundry money that’s directly funding such crap service.

In any case, I went to the Copley library Monday night to pick up a few books. After waiting patiently in the checkout line, I was told I had fines. Hefty ones I would have to pay before I could check out my books. As a librarian-in-training, I understand fines must be paid. So I stood (ever-so-slightly less patiently) in another line to pay my fines.

The woman behind the counter scanned my card, and with a slight gasp, loudly stated the size of my fine [insert embarrassingly large amount here]. But as I prepared to pay, her computer stopped working. For a minute or two, she alternated shaking, poking and staring at her mouse with a kind of mute terror. Technical support was marshaled. The mouse was unscrewed and blown into to dislodge a rather substantial amount of dust. Still no movement on-screen. Still no fines paid.

There followed twenty minutes of hand-wringing and mystification and still more poking at the computer while the three other lines of customers moved along briskly, with nary a computer glitch in sight. And I just stood there, periodically smiling placidly at the bevy of people prodding the malfunctioning computer in front of me. I really wasn’t visibly irritated, I swear. But that’s only because a nasty, superior part of me was really entertained by the degree of technical incompetence I was witnessing.

Then yesterday, my library class went on a field trip to a literacy library at UMass Boston, in which several (still fairly entertaining) rounds of technical support were required to hook up a VCR and a laptop projector.

Now, I know I work in the corporate world and am judgmental by nature and do lots of presentations and not everyone is comfortable with technology, blah, blah, blah. But shouldn't everyone in a professional position at least try to make sure their technology is up and running BEFORE a presentation? And how can so many people in the library field be so damn uncomfortable with technology? This includes students, professors, library aides, etc.

I’m also pretty sure the very nice and clearly very dedicated librarian didn’t intend to give us the Most Depressing Library Tour Ever (MDLTE). But God – the dire lack of funding, the plastic sheeting over the bookshelves (to keep out the RAINWATER, of course), the dingy acoustic tile ceilings, the piles of leftover floppy disks, the manual checkout system that was literally manual – the checkout slips are written out by hand…

On the way back from the MDLTE I finally admitted that my T pass was lost for good and bought another $10 temporary pass for the rest of the week's commute. Upon arriving home, I discovered my long-lost T pass in the back pocket of a pair of jeans whose pockets I had already checked roughly four thousand times. Score:

MBTA - $61.50.
Librarian-in-Training - 0

What with all that technical difficulty and the MDLTE and all those futile, overpriced hours on the T, and the sweating and the lack of food, I was suddenly, absolutely convinced that I had made the worst decision of my life by pursuing an MLS.

I even had a ridiculously elaborate vision of my future, wherein I sat day after day in a grungy acoustic tile-ceilinged basement library, surrounded by moldering books ('cuz, you know, it had never really dried out since that time the basement flooded) trying to help coworkers that couldn’t plug in a VCR. A future in which I fought bitterly with other libraries for tiny amounts of funding, amounts roughly equal to the cost of my last two-day, two-person meeting for the Day Job.

I fully realize this makes me a huge asshole. My professor drove a bookmobile through Watts immediately after the riots, for fuck’s sake. The librarians of New Orleans are doing heroic work trying to rebuild their libraries. And I’m whining about crappy acoustic tile and a faint scent of mildew.

I’ve also decided to be pissed about it anyway. Why do libraries have to scrape and beg for every single penny of their funding? Why is the literacy materials library for the entire state of Massachusetts housed in two small, depressing rooms and staffed by a single overworked librarian? And why aren’t people in libraries better with technology? How can we hope to build an information-literate society when so many of our guides are clearly terrified of the technology needed to access much of that information?

So am I making a huge mistake? Am I just panicking at the thought of some day giving up my cushy corporate job? Or is there something to it?

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