Welcome to Tessa's blog

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Christmas decorations

My back isn't doing well, unfortunately. It's worse than most days. It's difficult and the chiropractor can't do much. Two vertebras are larger than they should be and they have a tendency to move slightly out of their position, causing a whole series of problems. The heavy lifting at work doesn't help, either. Annoying.

I was waiting for some strange side effects from the flu shot, but nothing happened. Some other people I have heard of got really sick, so I guess I was lucky this time.

Saturday it was a charity sale in Lund. One of the international aid organizations, IM, had a sale of second hand items like books, toys, ornaments and textiles. Very high quality for being second hand, I must say. I got some Christmas decorations there.

Speaking of Christmas decorations, I have started to get mine out of the drawers. I have exchanged the table runners and the candles so far. Exchanging the curtains will be a problem since I can't lift my hands above my head right now. Sometime the following week I will get the fake tree down from the attic.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Staff day

The TV-series about Swedish celebrities searching for their ancestors was so popular that they have continued with more stories. In the program this Monday a comedian/musical artist wanted to know more about his own father, who was an opera singer and had died early. There was a rumor in the family saying that the opera singer had one more son, and it turned out to be true. He was finally located, and was rather surprised to learn that he had more siblings. It was a fascinating account and I look forward to the rest of the programs.

Today we had a staff day in the afternoon, meaning that we all were gathered in a auditorium to listen to a few different speakers. First there was information about the budget and other administrative issues, then there were two presentations of projects. One was a project I'm involved in. It's a service to the patrons where we scan articles and send the links directly to the patrons, instead of them coming to the library in person to make copies. It saves everybody time and effort. It's a very popular service and I think we don't get enough credit for all the work we do. Most of the journals are at remote storages and it's a heavy load every day. One of my colleagues gave the speech and ran the slide show, although the technical problems were large. The auditorium didn't have internet access, which was unbelievable. The other project was about a large manuscript archive, for which a historian has been hired to make a complete inventory of. Very interesting material, it includes personal letters and documents from royalties, noble families and other prominent persons from about 1500 until about 1800. The staff day ended with a retired professor of literature giving a speech about a Swedish author, Hjalmar Gullberg. The professor repeatedly praised our library for all the assistance he had been given over the years (47!). We have retrieved lots of books for him, and I remember getting the one he spoke about today.

On the way home I stopped by at the medical center and got a flu shot. They were really fast, it took about 45 seconds in total. It will be interesting to see what side effects I will get from the flu shot. Some of my colleagues got strange sickness sensations and headaches.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

More Christmas shopping

There is not that much to report, really. The weather on Saturday was very sunny. It's surprising, because November is usually never sunny. It is also warmer than normal. I spent Saturday vacuuming and tidying up. When I watered the plants I noticed that my cactus was blooming with white and pink flowers. I have had it for several years and this was the first time it showed such colors. I went to the recycling place and also to the grocery store. Ordinary chores, and not exciting at all.

Today I made an attempt at getting a flu shot. I was summoned to the medical center in Lund, but when I got there the sign on the door said they were out of vaccine. There have been problems getting enough vaccine from the manufacturer in Germany. We'll see if I bother about it later. Instead I took the bus to the mall, Nova. I got more presents for Christmas, and I think I only have to come up with something for my mother and sister now. The Christmas shopping is going better than most years, there are still about five weeks to find the rest of the gifts.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Dewey seminar

Starting with the trip to London, I have engaged myself more seriously in Christmas shopping. This week I have been to the mall Nova and also downtown Lund, and actually found several items suitable for presents. In addition, my favorite clothing store had half price off the sales price. Pretty affordable, and I got two tops mainly to have at work. My work outfit generally includes jeans and a jersey top. The stacks and the remote storages are not particularly clean, we walk on concrete floors, there is always a risk of getting the shirt stuck in the compact shelving systems, and the car we drive is old and no one cleans it. I make sure the clothes I wear are appropriate, and I never buy any expensive clothes for work. But I keep a blouse there that I wear when I have desk duty. Wearing jewelry on my hands or long necklaces is out of the question (risk of getting stuck in moving shelves). Normally I ruin one or two wristwatches every year when I accidentally scrape them against the metal shelves. There are worse accidents that can happen, of course, but I have been lucky. I was really close to falling down from the loading dock at one of the storages once. Driving a car in a town where 90% of the cyclists (= the students) are completely unaware of the world around them is also dangerous. I have seen a young woman riding her bike while writing a text message on her cell phone, for instance.

Yesterday there was a severe rainstorm, up to 40 meters per second. The rain was coming from the side and it was impossible to keep dry. I was worried about the train service, so I skipped the swimming and went home early. Later in the evening one train had run into falling trees, but it was all cleared this morning. It's not so cold here, it's about 8-10 centigrades and rather wet.

This afternoon I attended a seminar on the Dewey Decimal Classification. It's a classification system for books used mainly in the English speaking world. For some reason (I have yet to figure out why) all the academic libraries in Sweden will start using this system in 2011. We have up until now had our own system, SAB, consisting of combinations of letters. Dewey is a number system. Even though I have visited an enormous amount of libraries in the US, I have never been able to fully understand the Dewey system. Changing the system will have profound effects on many levels for us. On the way from the seminar I began discussing this with one of our catalogers and she said that we will probably have to re-organize the open collections (70 000 books). In the open collections the books are placed according to subject, which means that we will have to change the call numbers on all of them. Not a project I'm looking forward to, really.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Archive visit

The two workdays last week were tough, but I survived. One of our regular patrons made me rather frustrated Friday. She had stated on the call slip that she would return in two weeks. This meant that I didn't retrieve the book for her, since we had lots of other requests. Half an hour before deadline, she showed up at the desk, asking for it. The attending librarian called me, but then I was on my way to the chiropractor, and couldn't do anything. The two others who would have a chance finding the book (it was a complicated request), were unavailable. When I got back I got the volume out, but I don't know if the patron returned again.

The desk duty on Friday was busy. There are many students asking for journals and newspapers right now. They have an assignment to study one of each from the 17th, early 18th, late 18th, early 19th, late 19th, and early 20th centuries. There are at least 30 students. That's a fair amount of volumes to be retrieved.

Saturday it was Archive Day and I visited the local community archive with my friend Eva. It's just two blocks away and I had never been there before. The local genealogical society also showed their books and databases and tried to recruit new members. The archive contained mostly minutes, accounts and records from the local administration, but also more interesting things like records from local societies and schools. Eva found a photo of herself from 7th grade, for instance. There was a film from 1974 showing a nearby town and quite a few photo and clipping collections. There were photos of the apartment building I live in from before I moved here in 1991. The archive was small, but quite interesting.

After having tried most of the flavors of Ben & Jerry ice-cream sold here, I have come to the conclusion that I like New York Super Fudge Chunk best. Just in case anyone was wondering.....

Thursday, November 12, 2009

London shopping

Sunday afternoon I went to London with Norwegian Air. I arrived at Gatwick airport and took the express train to Victoria Station, and then a taxi to the hotel. The hotel was of rather poor quality, it looked run-down and there was no bathroom in the room (even though the info I received said so). The hotel was three blocks from Oxford Street, however, so the location was excellent. It was late in the evening when I arrived, but I went a short round to see where the stores were.

Monday I walked along Oxford Street, Bond Street and passed Piccadilly Circus on the way to Leicester Square where the ticket booth for the musicals is. I got a ticket for a show that evening, and then started browsing the stores selling books, clothes, shoes and souvenirs. There were lots of super expensive designer boutiques like Burberry, Calvin Klein, Hermés, Bulgari, Armani, Dolce & Gabbana and so on. Interesting to see, but not for my budget. The exchange rate made everything pretty expensive, unfortunately. I did get some books with cookie recipes, though. (Since some readers of this blog will receive items I got in London as Christmas gifts, I cannot reveal all the details)!

Monday evening I saw the Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty's Theatre. It was a marvelous musical with complicated decor changes, powerful music and singing, impressive costumes, and it included a falling chandelier and a theatre ghost, among other things. High class entertainment.

Tuesday morning I went shopping again. The underwear department at Marks & Spencer is large, and I got some things there for myself. There was another store, Evans, that sold clothes of my size (the only one I could find, sadly) and I got some small items there. After dropping off the bags at the hotel, I took the subway to South Kensington. Riding the subway in London requires orientation skills and patience. After three train rides and a walk through a long tunnel, I arrived at the Victoria & Albert Museum. It's a large place with very diverse collections, gathered from all over the world, but mainly from Asia and the East. I looked at the enormous tapestries from the 16th century (some of them over 40 square meters large), and the textile department with laces, embroidery and woven materials from the 5th century and on. Incredible craftsmanship. There was also a room filled with jewelry and gemstones from 1000 B.C. until the present day. Very interesting.

Lunch was at an Italian brasserie, a chicken club sandwich with chocolate mousse cake for dessert. Very tasty. Spent quite a long time at Harrod's, the big and famous store. They had a large area with Christmas decorations and I made some purchases there. I browsed through the other shops in that area also. One sales assistant in the Accessorize store changed language when she saw my credit card - she was Swedish. There are lots of Swedes in London, not only tourists. I had dinner at Hard Rock Cafe - the original restaurant. The Cobb Salad was very nice. Talkative waiter. The stores close at 9 pm, so there was more time to shop after dinner. I went to Selfridges, a large department store celebrating 100 years, and found even more Christmas decorations there. After a short rest at the hotel, I went for a walk in the area just west of there. It was different than the touristy areas. The stores had signs in Arabic and sold strange food items and offered Chinese herbal medicine.

Wednesday I left the hotel in the morning and walked north to the Marylebone area. There were some book stores and charity shops there. I walked up Baker Street and looked at the statue of Sherlock Holmes and visited the memorabilia store that bears his name. After even more souvenir shopping (an egg cup for my collection, for instance), I took the subway to Victoria Station. Lunch was once again at an Italian place, Bella Italia. The chicken was excellent and the dessert, The Godfather, was too. Brownie, ice-cream, whipped cream, chocolate sauce, chocolate chips and pieces of fudge..... It was raining and there wasn't much interesting to see or do in that area, so I took the train back to the airport in the afternoon. Did the last shopping in some of the taxfree shops there and had a traditional bacon cheeseburger for dinner before boarding the plane back to Copenhagen in the evening. It's a two hour flight and it was actually on time. I was lucky with the train connections on the way home, and arrived at my apartment at midnight.

Generally, the visit in London didn't include as much shopping as I had thought. I never had to check my luggage on the way back, it passed as carry-on. Personally I didn't find that much to buy, but it was still interesting to see what's in fashion, and the museum, the show and the architecture were fascinating also. It takes a while before you get used to the traffic, since they drive on the left side of the road. Even though there were few ordinary cars in the city center (due to toll roads), it's not a healthy city to live in. It's very dirty and noisy. And I can't help comparing the subway to the one in New York. It's definitely easier, cheaper and faster than the London system.

There were no surprises at work today, but I was told I had been missed. It's a fairly busy time of the year. I did notice that I had been walking a lot lately, my legs and feet hurt.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Book sale

The week at work was a fairly normal one. It was my turn to drive to the remote storages, and it went ok. It's not particularly fun, but someone has to do it.

Yesterday the local Amnesty group had their biannual second hand book sale. It's always very well organized, they even divide the books into subject areas. I found three books of interest; a memoir by a Swede in Canada, a collection of letters written from emigrants to their families in Sweden and a biography of Gustaf Hellström (an author whose mother was born in Norra Strö). Several of my colleagues had also made it to the book sale, and one even found books for her library. My favorite thrift store had Christmas decorations for sale (like most other stores), and I got a small bag with various things to hang in the Christmas tree.

This afternoon I'm going to the airport in Copenhagen, to catch a flight to London. I haven't been abroad this year and I thought I would go on a trip somewhere. It was ten years ago I was in London and I have been wanting to go back again. It's just a three-day visit, but I hope to get some of the Christmas shopping done there.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

November darkness

Already November and it gets darker and darker. Colder also. The jacket I bought very cheaply at Ullared in September has proven to be very useful. It's both thick and windproof.

Sunday I went to the mall and bought some small items, but the rest of the weekend was spent at home. There was not much activity. I solved some crossword puzzles and tried to decide what clothes to bring on my trip to London.

We have been asked to do a presentation of a project my department is involved in at work. We decided to do a slide show. Today my colleague and I went to the remote storages and he took photos of me taking the request from the printer, loading the carts into the car, climbing up on a ladder to retrieve the volume at the storage and so on. The guy who scans the articles also got photographed. We will show all our other colleagues the routine from the moment the article is requested until it becomes available online. My more technically gifted co-workers will enter these photos into a viewing program, and we will present it later this month.