Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Indentured Servitude

(Or “What’s been keeping me busy, part 2”)

A brown, bipedal, digitigrade house mouse stops in mid-step and looks in dismay at his right foot, which has a red thread tied around it. He is wearing a red sweater that reads "Librarian"

You may have noticed that, recurrently, the little box in the sidebar titled “My current situation,” not only displays the courses I’m taking, but also a cryptic “indentured to the library.” Today, I want to explain to you what on Earth that means.

When I originally started working for the library, I was given a contract that basically said “I agree to everything I have been told verbally.” I was told that I had to do 6 hours a week (for a dollar each) and that, if I didn’t do all of them, I could always do them next term. I was told that I would be paid per hour worked, and that, for the university’s accounting department, I would count as a TA.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Review: The Paper Wings podcast

Paper Wings Podcast: the show for Visual Storytellers

Sometime in March, I was pointed to the Paper Wings Podcast. Hosted by Lora Innes and Chris Oatley, The podcast brands itself as “the show for visual storytellers” to “help [them] find the time and energy… to finish their personal project”. However, I didn’t think this was my kind of thing because, at the time, they were focusing on what people should do if they wanted to become full-time illustrators for a major corporation.

In June, I was pointed to it again, so I skeptically returned to the site. This time, their focus was on how to make time when you fell you had none. “This is exactly what I need!” I thought, so I downloaded the podcast. Ironically, I didn’t have time to listen to it until about three weeks later. See, I don’t have a portable mp3 player of any sort (that includes my cell phone, which won’t even let me download new ringtones to complement its default three horrible buzzings) so the only way I would be able to listen to it would be when I had my laptop out. Unfortunately, whenever I have my laptop out I’m writing in it, and I honestly can’t write and listen at the same time.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Community Service

(Or “What’s been keeping me busy, part 1”)

Image: A young man rests his head on his hand. His hand forms a fist and his head pushes down on it, in obvious boredom. The man is lazily punching the “up” key on the number pad of an old-style computer.

Like many American (and, indeed Pan-American) colleges, mine requires me to do some community service in order to graduate. Apparently this is an alien concept to Europeans so I’ll try to explain it briefly: Basically, I’m required to do work for free “for the benefit of the community”, in hopes that this will motivate me to do stuff for the places where I’ll live “for the benefit of the community”.

Now, before you rain suggestions on me like firefighters or soup kitchens, part of the catch is that the community service can’t be just any old volunteer work; it has to be a “service” registered with the university. There’s a bulletin board with all the options, as well as a web page, and I spent two weeks reading through them all. Turns out, 80% of the options require you to own a car (which, just like 60% of the student population, I don’t).

Sunday, September 11, 2011

In Memoriam

To the brave souls who gave their life to save so many others, that fateful Monday, 10 years ago.
Image: Frank the mouse stands in revered silence looking downcast. He is wearing a firefighting jacket and holds a yellow firefighter's helmet.