The Tragic Optimist

on the care and feeding of academic library staplers

(Edited: Update at the very end, also some minor edits, I should have proofread before posting.  I also wanted to note that I cannot take credit for the ideas here.  They all came from our library department, I’m just documenting.  Ann Z)

So those who know me on Facebook have probably noticed that many of my status updates have to do with the adventures of our staplers at work.  Those updates seem to interest a lot of my friends, it’s even been suggested that I write a book on the topic.  But writing a book is intimidating, so instead, I’ll just put down our hard-won wisdom in a blog post…


For those that need a bit of background: I work in a library at a small college – but a college that expects its students to write a lot.  And to hold their papers together with staples.  Also, at this particular college, the library gets a lot of use, and so, our staplers get a lot of use, too.  And not all loving use.  Also, some students walk away with our staplers.  What this boils down to is that we go through a lot of staplers.  A crazy lot of staplers.  Enough so that we started investigating ways to encourage our students to be a little more gentle with them, and to leave them in the library.

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Voter #633 at my polling place, ballot cast at 9:30 am.

Chris went shortly after the polls open and found a long line, but our polling place is pretty efficient and he got through quickly.  We had a conference for Hazel this morning (she’s all good), and I went after that and found no line to get in.  There was however, a line to put your ballot in to the ballot reader.

In Minnesota, our ballots are paper, machine-read ballots.  You mark your choice by filling in a bubble.  You can choose to go to a booth, or just sit at a table and make your votes.  There’s something about filling in a bubble on multiple choice questions, the scantron paper, sitting at these long tables, with a flimsy paper folder for privacy, that takes me right back to elementary school and standardized testing.  I feel guilty when I pull out my paper where I wrote the names of the down ballot people I wanted to elect (judges and soil and water conservation board elections).  Like somehow I’m cheating.

Everyone in the room is very Minnesota nice.  People are pleasant, and even put up with the long line to enter your ballot with good humor.  The election judges are helpful, and nice, and fair – they’re pretty much democracy super heroes in my mind.

I hope that everyone who reads this will vote, or has already voted, if they’re eligible!  I won’t go all dramatic on you, but these things matter.  Your vote matters.

For those in Minnesota, I voted No on both amendments (marriage amendment and voter id), and I do hope that you will, too.  I believe that two people who love each other and are willing to make a commitment to becoming a family deserve to be celebrated and supported and protected, regardless of their sex.  And I believe that there are already too many barriers to voting, as evidenced by the poor turnout at many elections.  Minnesota has had very high profile recounts recently where votes were closely scrutinized, looking for fraud.  There was no fraud that would have been prevented by a voter id restriction.  But there are cases where eligible voters would be turned away at the polls due to not having a valid id.

6 and 2

I’m a bit late here … the girls turned 6 and 2 in the middle of October.

Zoe, 6 years old. Rock hammer for scale is 13″

Zoe’s now 6, and full in to being a Kindergartner.  It’s astounding how much she’s learning now, though she’s exhausted by the end of most days.  She brings home books from school and slowly works through them, working out the words on her own.  I think I was more excited about her starting to read than she is, though she does enjoy it.  She also loves playing with her sister and helping her sister with things.

that includes helping her sister to pose.

Hazel is 2, and rapidly leaving all the baby things behind.  She’s talking a lot, and will entertain herself for a long time playing with her bears or her doll, and she’s always asking to, “read more book, Mama!”

Hazel, 2 years old. Rock hammer for scale is 13″

I..ah, took lots of rock hammer for scale pictures this time around…


I was cleaning up after lunch and Hazel was happily and quietly entertaining herself.  A little too quietly, come to think of it.  I stepped around the corner to find this.

teaching life lessons in Pre-K: You’re doing it wrong

It’s Thursday evening at the dinner table, I ask Zoe about her day.

Me: What did you do at school today, Zoe?

Zoe: Well, our teacher brought us lemons.  But we didn’t make lemonade.

So how is Hazel?

Ah the poor, neglected second child.  You know how they joke that a first child has lots of photos and the second, not so much?  It’s grounded in just a bit of truth here.  And I’m pretty clearly not too good at keeping this place updated as much as I used to either.  Heck, I haven’t even posted her 1 year rock hammer photo.  Let’s fix that:

Hazel at 1 year – rock hammer for scale (approx. 13″)

and since she’s now nearly 20 months, we have an 18 month photo, too:

Hazel at 18 months. Same rock hammer, 13″

I recently re-read a post I wrote about Zoe at 20 months.  I know you’re not supposed to compare your kids, but it’s fun to see where they’re the same and how they’re different.  So inspired by that post, here’s Hazel at nearly 20 months:

Things she likes:

  • stroller rides
  • anything with her sister
  • chocolate
  • reading books
  • playing the brown bear, brown bear game (she’ll sit for a long time matching the tiles to their places on the board)
Things she always tries to take with her (no matter where she’s going or how many other things she’s trying to carry):
  • sippy cups – as many as she can carry.
  • her sun hat.
  • her coat – we’ve mostly broken her of that habit.  No doubt in a few months, we’ll have a fight on our hands to get her to wear one again.
  • her baby doll.  Or her sister’s baby doll.  Either one.

Walking with her sister. Wearing her sun hat.  Carrying a sippy cup. It was a good day.

Things she doesn’t like (there are surprisingly few of these):

  • people taking away her sippy cups
  • being put into my car (mostly because she knows the stroller is kept in my car, and she gets her hopes up whenever we walk out to the car.  And then she’s disappointed when, instead of unloading the stroller, I instead snap her into her carseat.)
  • when someone leaves the room she’s in.

Words she says:
(Fun fact: Neither Zoe nor Hazel has been an early talker.  With Zoe, I didn’t have many friends with kids of the same age, so I didn’t do as much comparing.  But with Hazel, I have a lot of friends with kids the same age, and they all seem to be quite the talkers.  I would be worried, except that I can see how much Zoe talked at that age.  And given how much Zoe talks now, I’m not at all worried about Hazy.  Both girls were very early nose-blowers, though, so we do have that to brag about.)

  • mama, dada
  • hi, bye
  • cat
  • dog
  • sis
  • cracker
  • cookie (we do feed her real food, honest).
  • cheese
  • shoes
  • hat (of course)
  • out
  • milk
  • water
  • eye
  • head
  • baby
  • night-night
  • bath
  • My! (she does have an older sister to contend with, after all)
  • (and probably a few others that I’m not remembering)


Sweet, sick girl of mine,
Who sleeps only in my lap,
How, then, do I sleep?

quick bit of Costco love

Last year, I bought prescription sunglasses for Zoe and I at Costco.

On Friday, I wore them out and about while running errands.

I couldn’t find them on Saturday.

On Sunday, I noticed a crumpled black object by my car’s back tire.  My heart fell before I event picked it up.  I knew immediately what I’d find.  My sunglasses had been in a hard case, and that case fell out of my car and got run over.  The case was pretty spectacularly mangled.  The glasses inside were surprisingly whole, but quite bent.  On a whim, I try them on.  They were so bent that it makes my head hurt from the lenses being different distances from my eyes (and neither of them being the right distance).

Yesterday, I took them to Costco.

“I’m pretty sure I know the answer to my question,” I say to the nice lady at the optical desk.  “I bought these from a different Costco nearly a year ago.  And, well, I ran over them,” I finish that last sentence in a rush as I hand her the bent sunglasses.

Surprisingly, she doesn’t wince, and takes the glasses and tells me she thinks she can fix them.  But she recommends that I do a bit of shopping.  She gives a conspiratorial smile and says it may take her a while.

After picking up a few items that were on my list, I swing back by the desk, where she’s polishing a different pair of glasses.  “Good news!” she says, and hands me my sunglasses.  I can’t say they’re as good as new, but when I put them on, they fit, and they shield my eyes from sun and let me see clearly.

Then she hands me a brand new hard shell case, and leans closer to whisper to me as I take the glasses and the case.

“Just a bit of advice…sunglasses and tires don’t mix.”

the birds and the bees and the doctors

We got the question at dinner tonight.  You know the one.  We were talking about women having babies and then Zoe asks the obvious next question, “how do you get a baby?”  I wanted to leave it at a woman gets pregnant, Chris tried to make a joke, but Zoe was having none of it, “no really, how do you get a baby?”

I prefaced it with the idea that there are a few different ways that a person or family can have a baby, and then tried to give her the simple, but accurate explanation of the most common way that, well, pregnancies get started.

“Did you do that?” she asks me.  “Well, we did for Hazel, but for you, we had to go to the doctor.”

“Why?” was the obvious follow-up.  She’s good at asking follow up questions.  In retrospect, it’s surprising she hasn’t asked about this before.  “Things weren’t quite working right, we had to take some medicine, I even needed shots.”

“I hate medicine!” she says.  She just had surgery for ear tubes and adenoidectomy, and the prescribed pain killers made her feel really unpleasant, so she’s particularly anti-medicine at the moment.  “And the only thing I like about shots are that they help you, that’s all!”  So we bonded a bit over our dislike of shots and medicine and the conversations quickly moved on to easier topics like stickers which of course led to a conversation on voting and politics.

cool vs pretty

Spring has come early this year.  In fact, it feels like winter hardly had a chance.  So we had our first dinner outside.  Nothing fancy: chicken, cauliflower, frozen blueberries that left our fingers purple-stained.

In between handfuls of blueberries, Zoe pipes up: “P [a boy at daycare] told me today about the difference between boy shoes and girl shoes.”

“Oh?” I say, “what did he tell you?”

“He told me that boy shoes are cool and girl shoes are pretty.”

I open my mouth the respond, but Zoe keeps talking, “and I was like, ‘what the heck, P? I think T [another boy at school] has pretty shoes, and your shoes are pretty, and all the girls have really cool shoes!'”

I had nothing more to add.

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