Noah and the Floods

Thomas Friedman has written a timely op-ed in the New York Times, but the headline is even more pertinent to south Louisiana: “We Are All Noah Now.” Pet owners, be sure you have enough carriers for your animals, because you may need to evacuate with them.

thunder-kitten

A younger Thunder.

Last month my house almost flooded. I say “almost” because water rose fourteen inches up to the sill; another half-inch and it would have been inside. But the yard was underwater, the carport submerged, and the bird feeder soaked. Not having faced this particular emergency before, my panic was rising almost as quickly as the water at 11 am that Saturday morning. I grabbed my standby bag and put Bianca in a carrier. When I looked around for Thunder, he had vanished. Forty minutes of manic-depressive searching later, he still hadn’t appeared. I put a big plate of dry food on the kitchen counter, set a small dish of canned food on the floor, and prayed that the water would go down soon.

And it did, probably within four hours of my departure. My parents welcomed me, but I went back to check on Thunder the next day when the water had receded and the roads were open.

floodwater-2016

Flood water.

Well, you may be thinking, that’s nothing compared to the people who couldn’t get out in time (like my brother and two nephews, who were rescued by a state police boat) or to those whose houses were totally ruined and who may still be living in shelters. And you would be right.  Eleven years ago the experience of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans was more traumatic, when evacuees were forcibly separated from their pets and sometimes from other family members. And the people who worked tirelessly to help, from the National Guard to neighbors who had a boat or sheet-rock skills or extra supplies to donate.

Friedman’s well-supported essay argues that humans must take more care of the earth and all its residents, or we will lose it soon. I add that each of us must be prepared with an ark for the next disaster. Meanwhile, read Friedman, support Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Federation and your favorite save-the-earth organization, and get some more pet carriers.

LeDoux

 

The sweet library
refuge of books
haven for scholars
haunt of students
searching for connectivity
not overcome by the air conditioner’s roar.

The library’s goal
is to teach
information literacy
and
to encourage self-sufficiency in
locating, critically evaluating, and utilizing
the library
’s resources
to promote life-long learners.

 

[Stanza 2 taken from the LeDoux Library vision statement, LSU Eunice.]

 

Canticle

Today the library is quiet

and empty of people

except for two staff members

and me listening to Scarborough Fair with Paul Simon’s Canticle.

 

In this silent building of books instead

of guns, there are computers in

need of cleaning and polish.

As I listen to the pure quiet seriousness of voices and guitar

I too feel like a soldier

fighting for a cause long ago forgotten.

“Scarborough Fair/Canticle,” 1968

OR not forgotten; Simon donated his “America” to

an ad for Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign.

 

 

Plus ca change…

First it was vinyl LPs making a comeback–slowly, but still….  Now it’s “monotasking,” otherwise known as “single-tasking” or just “paying attention.”

“Monotasking Gets a Makeover” in the New York Times.

The attentive work I prefer as a librarian is reading, writing, and helping library users to use the library more effectively. Effectiveness isn’t efficiency, or Google would replace library work. (No, it hasn’t.) The complexity of a library system is too often derided because it’s misunderstood. “All these books, so confusing. How do I find something on Ernest Hemingway? I googled it but couldn’t find anything useful.”  The library catalog is a system to find things and to put like things together in a more rational way than the random or popular results from an open Internet search. These operations are called classification and collocation.

Sometimes effective library use comes from retrieving articles from journal databases; sometimes it comes from browsing a book collection in hopes that ideas will come to your mind by looking at what other minds have written and published. Or you might just look at the new book display until a colorful cover catches your eye.

Browsing is much easier in traditional published books than in online files. Thomas Mann, a former private detective, LSU student, and Library of Congress reference librarian, has written about browsing as a legitimate research technique. In fact, the organization and retrieval functions of databases are modeled on old-style library searching.

Here’s a serendipitous example. A person from the maintenance staff is looking for a book he consults occasionally, “a Bob Vila kind of book,” but he doesn’t know its title and can’t explain exactly what it’s about. Hence, while I can’t look it up for him, he can browse the stacks until he sees it. Not very efficient, but he’s happy. (When he does find it, I’ll ask him to show it to me so the browsing can be  made more efficient as well as effective). Eureka!

 

A Season of Performances

2016 is one of those years I wish I had continued to study sociology, because this spring is providing a fascinating array of display of how people behave in groups. The national Republican campaign for president is a public spectacle, more a horror show than an edifying display of politico-intellectual responsibility. The ratings are up, though, and people are entertained.

Last night’s concert in Eunice was a different kind of spectacle, a display of civic engagement where people contributed their talents to a constructive public entertainment. And boy, was it fun! Perhaps you can’t see it in this picture, but the video will show you. Thanks to Rick Nesbitt for his constructive media engagement with the public life of Eunice, and to Nancy and Harry Simon and the orchestra for its presentation of enjoyable serious music.

“Serious” music? Strauss, Schubert, Saint-Saens, and Jeremiah Clarke’s trumpet voluntary were on the program as well as can-can, Spanish dance music, and Ogden Nash. Though an amateur musician, I am as serious as Schoenberg or Scriabin. I play a violin, not well, but doggedly. My resolution for next year is to learn the music well enough to smile on stage. Last year I was squinting and frowning; this year I’m a bit more relaxed, but for 2017 I have hope and resolve.