Posted in Miscellaneous on June 28th 2016 by Randy Reichardt

.: So it’s time for what amounts to my annual blog post. I started blogging in 2002, way before social media took off, and since the emergence of Facebook, Twitter, etc., my interest in maintaining a separate blog has certainly waned.

That said, today is Birthday 63 for me. At this point it’s just a number, really, yet at the same time, it’s a number that’s difficult to process. When I was young, 40, never mind 63, seemed like an ancient age to me. Now I’m close to qualifying for numerous senior discounts, but in no way, shape, or form do I ever *wish* to acknowledge that I’m almost a senior citizen. Sheesh. At the same time, reaching 63 years is an accomplishment, isn’t it?

I remain ever grateful for many things: the country, province, and city in which I live, my family, my great friends, relatives, and colleagues, and going to bed each night safe, sheltered, and not hungry.  I take none of these things for granted and feel extremely fortunate to be in my position in this life.

I have health issues: Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure,  hypothyroidism, osteoarthritis in various locations, general anxiety disorder, occasional arrhythmia, etc. Sucks to get old, to have your body start to unravel. Fortunately I live in Canada, where universal health care reigns, and I receive the best health care available.

An example of such health care was experience by my family recently. While visiting Calgary, my Mother fell down a short flight of stairs and cracked her skull. She required neurosurgery twice to evacuate blood and relieve pressure on her brain, which had shift 1.5 cm to the left. She had had a subdural and then epidural hematomas. Three days ago, she was flown from Calgary to Winnipeg in a private jet, with three EMTs on board, in addition to the pilot. My father followed the next day on a commercial flight. Cost for all of this so far: $0.00. I can’t fathom what this would have cost if we lived in the USA and had no insurance.

I’ve worked at the University of Alberta’s Science & Technology Library since Sept 1983, and could retire at any time. I’m still not sure when I will do that. Perhaps in 2017, I don’t know just yet. I’m very grateful for my career as an academic engineering librarian.

When I was 18, I imagined myself married by the time I was 26 (same age my Dad was when he married), living in Winnipeg somewhere, with a couple kids, a house, white picket fence, etc. It never materialized, for various reasons. I often lament having never married or having children, but there is no turning back the clock. Now in my 60s, I find myself sifting through memories of the 60s and 70s all too often, as if that period was an age of innocence. Funny that those memories seem more nostalgic to me than Edmonton memories, given that I lived in Winnipeg for 25 years and in Edmonton for almost 37 years.

Regrets? I’ve had a few.

I am extremely fortunate to have had amazing parents who are still rockin’ in the free world. Mom is 83.5 and Dad will be 90 in September.

Forgive my meanderings and musings. It’s a good day to be alive.


Posted in Buffalo Tom on June 27th 2015 by Randy Reichardt

.: Another year, another birthday. I cannot process, let alone fathom, that I am 62 today. The number is virtually meaningless. That said, I can feel my body aching just a bit more than it usually does as time slowly takes its toll.

I am celebrating my birthday in Cambridge MA. Just returned from a second brilliant Buffalo Tom concert in two nights at The Sinclair, followed by Chinese cuisine with Dave Roe and Mike Haverty afterward. Thanks to both of you for the company, drinks, and very late dinner, guys.

They say as you get older, time seems to move faster. It’s the truth, my friends. I am grateful to have made it this far in life, grateful that my parents are still with us, as well as my brothers and their families. I blessed to be working at the University of Alberta Libraries, now for over 31.5 years, in the great city of Edmonton AB, in the amazing country of Canada.

Thank you to my family, friends, colleagues, and acquaintances for being an important part of my life to date.

Happy Birthday. To me.

You Can’t Take It With You

Posted in Miscellaneous on October 29th 2014 by Randy Reichardt

.: I am in the midst of my 27th trip to NYC. Ostensibly, the reason I came this time was to attend a Knovel Library Advisory Board meeting, which happened on Monday and Tuesday this week. Now it’s Wednesday morning, and I’m preparing to check out of the hotel and move to the Upper East Side (East 91st Street) for the next four days.

Last night I saw this play, and really enjoyed it. I especially loved Annaleigh Ashford‘s performance. Annaleigh plays Betty on Masters of Sex. She plays Rose Byrne’s sister, and her character dreams of being a dancer, so most of her moves on stage are that of a ballerina. Clearly she had taken ballet lessons, because she moved easily and fluidly back and forth, to extremes that had the audience roaring with laughter.

I’ve also seen two movies: Gone Girl and Birdman (Or: The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance.) One of the fascinating aspects of Birdman is that the movie is made to appear as one continuous shot.

Tonight it’s dinner at Strip House with my friend, Barbara.

Upcoming on Friday, I’ll be spending most of the day with my friend, Nisa. We will go to Roosevelt Island, have dinner, watch the Village Halloween Parade, and then we’re going on the Haunted Halloween Walk, which is probably one of these. Saturday night it’s the Justin Hayward concert, then home on Sunday morning.

LaGuardia Side Bar

Posted in Miscellaneous on September 28th 2013 by Randy Reichardt

I want to tell you this story, not because I was the Good Samaritan here, but because it’s an example of how we must treat someone we meet who is in distress. I think I’m writing it more for me so I can remember exactly what happened.

I arrived at LaGuardia on a flight from Edmonton via Minneapolis around 17:00 this afternoon. While waiting for my luggage, I hit the restroom for a moment, and when I returned, I noticed a fellow passenger fussing about with her luggage, which was a large hiker’s-type backpack and a couple of other smaller bags, likely made of linen and string, to hold clothing. As I got closer, I noticed that her backpack was in really bad shape, parts of it torn badly, and she was unfolding what appeared to be (and was) a sleeping bag that was damaged beyond repair. Other clothing and a towel were on the ground, soaking wet.

I started to talk to her, and she showed me all the damage done to her belongings – a section of her backpack had been shredded, severing a pocket and losing its contents, and busting the buckles that connect it together. Her bath towel was soaked and filthy, her sleeping bag destroyed, and the backpack in really rough shape, probably damaged beyond repair as well. The cuffs of a nice sweater had also been shredded. She started crying as she explained that this was basically her entire belongings – she was coming to NYC to work on a tall ship for six weeks before returning to the west coast, and everything here was what she needed to live on the boat for the duration. She told me her name was Alea, and that she didn’t know what to do now.

I asked her where she was headed, and she said Yonkers by way of Grand Central Station. She wasn’t sure how she’d get to GCS – I told her I’d help with that. Then I said I’d check with Delta Baggage to ask for assistance. I found the desk, but they were busy, so I went back and motioned her over. When she started talking with the Delta customer rep, she broke down crying again. The Delta rep listened closely, treated her with respect and dignity, and was brilliant and caring – she took all her information, asked her for estimates of the worth of the damaged goods, and her contact information. The Delta rep confirmed that she would be fully reimbursed for her losses.

I told Alea that I would take care of getting her to Grand Central Station. I had booked a car to take me to my destination on E91 Street when I arrived, so I called Carmel Car Service and told them that I had another passenger who needed to be driven to GCS, and that I would pay for her ride. (It was a pittance of an additional amount.)

After she settled with Delta, the rep came around the desk and gave her a big hug! We went out to the centre island and while waiting for the car, chatted quite a bit. She told me about how excited she was to come here to work on this tall ship, where she would be teaching children about environmental stewardship, sailing, and many other things. Finally the car arrived, we continued sharing stories, and eventually dropped me off at my destination. We hugged each other and I told her everything would be ok. She couldn’t stop thanking me, and I told her I was obligated by Canadian law to help people in situations like hers.

Pay it forward, my friends. It feels SO good when do can help someone else through a miserable moment in their lives, even if you don’t know them.

30 Something

Posted in University-of-Alberta on September 19th 2013 by Randy Reichardt

Today is the “official” 30th Anniversary of the first day of my employment at the University of Alberta Libraries. I remember the sequence well: I was interviewed on Friday, 09 September 1983, for a contract position in the Science & Technology Library. The job was basic reference, and I would be working from 13:00-21:30 M-Th, and during the day on Friday.

On Monday, 12 Sept 1983, Margo Young, the head of the SciTech Library, called me to offer me the job. I remember the date because it is also my Dad’s birthday, which is why it remains a vivid memory for me. I was literally sitting at home on my chesterfield, the phone right next to me, waiting patiently until it rang. I was thrilled when she told me I had the job.

Margo asked if I could start the following Monday, the 19th, but I told her I’d be away that day in Idaho, so she suggested I come to work on the 14th for a couple days to make up for not starting on my actual first day. So in reality, I started my career at the U of A on 14 Sept 1983, but officially, for the purposes of my employment record, pension plan, etc., it was 19 Sept 1983.

Needless to say, it’s been a good run. Thanks to everyone who’s been a part of my 30-year career at the U of Alberta. And for those interested, I did not opt to take the Voluntary Severance Package for Continuing Academic Staff, so I’ll be around for a little while longer.

Dark Days At The University of Alberta

Posted in University-of-Alberta on August 23rd 2013 by Randy Reichardt

Hard to know where to begin. With the announcement below from President Samarasekara, a new era begins for the University of Alberta, one in which what was once a university with a goal of becoming one of the top 20 in the world instead will become one in which it will slowly descend into an overpriced community college with what the Right will still consider to be overpaid, privileged, and “entitled” staff. How proud Premier Alison Kleinford -er- Redford, and Minister Tommy Lukaszuk must be today.

Let us begin with the #pcaa’s original promise of a 2% increase, which changed to a 7.2% decrease after the election. So much for election promises, but when, really have any election promises ever been kept? Now add onto that a further “overall 7% reduction in expenses relating to the core academic enterprise and an 8% reduction in the cost of services supporting those core functions. To sustain this balanced position over the long-term, we also agreed to plan for additional overall reductions of 2% in both 2015-2016 and 2016-2017.”

Let’s average the 7% and 8% in tandem reductions to, say, 7.5%, and do the math: 7.2+7.5+2.0+2.0 equals an 18.7% reduction in the UA budget through to 2017.

Make no mistake, my friends – this means the reduction of some and the end of many programs, the eventual further layoffs of dozens if not hundreds of staff, and a continuing reduction of services. Forget any more salary increases. (Hell, I can hear many of you laughing uncontrollably right now. More power to you all.) I mean, we’re all just a bunch of overpaid, lazy motherfuckers anyway, right?

To those of you constantly whining and bitching about our out-of-control administrative costs, this goes WAY beyond any of that. This is the Alberta Government picking the U of A up and body slamming it to the floor, hard as hell. It might as well be described as the government telling the University to start amputating parts of itself. It is gutless, spineless, without merit, unwarranted, and cowardly. But hey, who am I to question the wisdom and foresight of our beloved, well-educated premier, and what’s his name, the minister responsible for #abpse? And don’t talk to me about how the U of A is making these decisions itself. The Alberta Government blindsided all post-secondary institutions, and is now sitting back and watching the resulting chaotic re-organizational clusterfuck that is expanding like a plague on a daily basis.

I could go on, but I’m just blowing hot air now. I surrender to the whims of Little Tommy Lu and his minions. I wave the white flag. I celebrate 30 years on campus next month. Not sure I’ll be in any mood to commemorate the moment.

Remember in the 90s, when we referred to Klein’s minister, Steve West, as “The Terminator”? I’d like to call Little Tommy the Terminator of 2013, but that would probably be insulting to former Minister West.

In the end, the only ones who lose, and will lose hard, are the students. As for attracting the best and brightest to this campus, and retaining those who are here, now I’M the one who can’t stop laughing.

And to think Mr Lukaszuk still apparently believes that the students will not see any difference in the quality of education they’ll start to receive in a couple weeks: “They will continue to attend some of the best institutions in Canada and will not notice any appreciable change on campus,” he said.  “Students have many more bona fide problems to worry about. I can assure them they will receive a second-to-none education. There won’t be any hardship.”

Looking into his eyes must be like staring into the eyes of a chicken. But he gets the last laugh, as he watches #abpse implode upon itself. The only think I really don’t know is how wide his shit-eating grin must be at this moment.

23 August 2013
Budget Update from President Samarasekera

Dear Faculty, Staff, and Students,

Following many months of analysis and discussion, the deans, other members of the senior leadership team, and I met Thursday to undertake a critical task—to review and discuss strategies that have been under development and to come to agreement on what our community must do to reach a balanced, sustainable position by April 1, 2015.

We recognize the urgency of the situation and agree that it is in the best interest of our university and the morale of our community to accelerate our original plan. Given the direction the Board has now received from the ministry, we must take decisive action in the immediate term, so that we can turn our attention to long-term academic and administrative transformation. The next few months will not be easy, especially because several units and faculties already have experienced lay-offs, program suspensions, position closures, and other impacts from the cuts contained in the 2013-2014 budget.

During yesterday’s meeting, we reached many important decisions, with the university’s core mission of providing excellence in teaching, research, and service for the public good in the forefront of our discussions. Primary among the decisions made is that to balance the operating budget for 2014-2015, we must make a further overall 7% reduction in expenses relating to the core academic enterprise and an 8% reduction in the cost of services supporting those core functions. To sustain this balanced position over the long-term, we also agreed to plan for additional overall reductions of 2% in both 2015-2016 and 2016-2017.

I want to be clear: these are major cuts and every member of our community will feel the impact. We will continue to streamline administrative functions, reduce redundancies, and seek new or untapped sources of revenue. We will maintain our commitment to excellence and do all that we can to minimize the impact on student access and experience.

However, we will not achieve the goal of a balanced, sustainable position by April 1, 2015 without further suspension and closure of programs, courses, and course sections, some in degree programs that are unique in Campus Alberta. Although Alberta’s young population continues to grow, and with it, student demand for university education, we will be unable to admit the full number of applicants who are well-qualified and well-prepared for success here. We will lose valued employees through voluntary and involuntary severance. We will permanently close many vacant positions and will all feel the resulting reductions in service.

The outcome of the Voluntary Severance Program may influence the approach individual faculties and units take to achieving their share of the necessary reduction. After the September 16 VSP deadline, we will assess the result on units and faculties and determine the precise percentage of the cut allocated to each faculty and unit. Until then, the deans and VPs will be finalizing plans so that they can be ready to move quickly once we know exactly where we stand.

Let me tell you the timeline we prepared:
• Aug. 30: Provost’s Office will send a letter to the deans, confirming the percentage cut above and affirming other details of the action plan.
• Sept. 6: Martin Ferguson-Pell and Phyllis Clark will hold a Campus Forum (12-1 pm, ECHA L1-490) to provide details on the 2013-2014 budget to date and to provide a basic budget primer for the 2014-2015 budget.
• Sept. 16: Deadline for application to the Voluntary Severance Program.
• Sept. 16: Annual budget presentation to General Faculties Council.
• Sept. 19: I will deliver the State of the University Address (11:30 am – 12:30 pm, Convocation Hall) at which I will present a new 3-year action plan for academic and administrative transformation. To register, please go to: http://www.president.ualberta.ca/2013stateoftheu
• Early October: First draft of 2014-2015 budget prepared.

Throughout this process and beyond, we are committed to providing as much transparency and clarity as possible. Going forward, we will share the deans’ letters, action plans, and budget primers with our internal community. I will post a regular update on our progress every Friday.

Let me close with a simple observation. The University of Alberta has a proud, 105-year history of educating the leaders, highly-skilled professionals, and highly-engaged volunteers who are active in every sector of this province. UAlberta research has fueled the province’s economic growth and prosperity for more than a century and research done today will continue to be the source of innovation and discovery. We are facing grave challenges right now, but this university can withstand them. With a shared commitment to excellence and leadership in teaching and research, we will—as a community with a proud history—find the right way to preserve and advance the UAlberta far into the future.


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