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Happy Birthday, Mom, and Goodbye Aughts.

Posted in Deep Thoughts, Mixed Bag Special on December 31st 2009 by Randy Reichardt

.: I will begin by wishing my dear Mother, Loretta D Reichardt, the happiest of birthdays.  She came into the world on 31 Dec 1932, and it’s been damn good to have her around for 77 years.  So Mom, Happy Birthday, and may you have many more!

More than a few of those who follow this blog have noted that I do not post as regularly as I used to do.  I’ve given that a lot of thought in the past few months, and realized that the emergence of Facebook and Twitter had a lot, if not most to do with that.  I recall when Facebook was limited to educational institutions.  At that time, I had five or six FB friends, all but one from MPOW, the University of Alberta Libraries (UAL).  When Facebook exploded in the fall of 2006, the numbers began to rise.  When I began using Facebook in my work with engineering students, the number continued rising.  A few months ago, I started grouping my 840+ “friends” into categories.  At the moment, the number of categories I created stands at 26.  Facebook has been a fascinating ride – I have connected with people in entertainment, for example, who I never in a zillion years ever thought I would “meet” or interact with on any level whatsoever.  In that sense, it has been incredibly rewarding.  On a recent trip to Boston, I met seven people with whom I had become FB friends, and it was so satisfying to spend time with each of them, however briefly in some cases.

On the downside, Facebook can be overwhelming and overpowering.  I have “hidden” many people with whom I have friended (will this become a new word in the Teens?), as I do not know them well, and as such am not interested in their status updates.  At times I find myself turning away from the screen in the literal sense, choosing not to look at my Facebook page for short periods of time, just to get a break from the info overload.

But back on the plus side, like countless others, I’ve reconnected with friends with whom I had lost touch over the years, and in some cases, over three decades.  It has been rewarding on many levels to catch up with them after such long periods of time.  When the “reconnect” leads to an in-person reunion, it is truly a priceless moment in life.

.: I traveled more this year than any other in my life.  Most of the trips were initiated because of meetings or conferences related to my work as an engineering librarian at the University of Alberta Libraries.  In the following order, I went to these cities in 2009: 1) San Diego, 2) Boca Raton, 3) Winnipeg, 4) San Francisco, 5) Deerfield Beach FL, 6) New York, 7) Washington DC, 8) New York, 9) Winnipeg,  and 10) Minneapolis-Boston-Providence RI.  The trip to San Diego happened at the end of January, and was the first time in my life I’d been somewhere warm during winter.  It was surreal to step from the plane into 15C weather, with a light ocean breeze.  The trips to Boca Raton and Deerfield Beach were work-related; I had never been to Florida, and the first trip was in March, also when it was still snowy and cold in Edmonton, but quite the opposite in Boca Raton.  Next year I expect to return to Deerfield Beach, NYC twice, San Francisco, and hope to do the Mpls-Boston-Providence trip again as well.  If I attend my annual professional conference in June, I’ll be in New Orleans for the first time.

.: For the first time, my parents were here in Edmonton for Christmas.  They arrived on Dec 22, and it was great to have them here.  In addition to visiting various friends, we were joined by my brother Chris, who drove up on Dec 25 for the day.  That evening, we went to the Delta Inn for Christmas dinner.  Chris brought with him his new Gibson guitar, and on Boxing Day (Dec 26) we played a few tunes together for my folks.  We recorded these with my Flip camcorder, and I may upload one or two of them if the spirit moves me (and if Chris agrees!)  I am very, very grateful that my parents are still with us.  As noted earlier, Mom turned 77 today, and Dad had his 83rd birthday in September.  Both are doing well.

My father, Michael, has been painting on pieces of birchbark for a while now, and when I was in Winnipeg in November,  gave me a painting called Three Knots on Birch. I returned to Edmonton with it, and had it framed by Galatea Galleries on campus. On Dec 23, we picked up the framed painting, and Dad mounted it on the wall in my office at work.

.: Now we are at the end of another decade.  (Yes, the decade actually ends on 31 Dec 2010, but no one follows that rule.)  It was a decade that most may want to forget, one that may be remembered mostly for terrorism, a global economic meltdown created by greed and corporate fraud, and natural disasters.  I don’t know what we can expect in this decade (will we call it The Teens?), but my hope is that we will, as individuals, work hard to treat each other, and the planet, with respect and dignity.

In 1968, when I first saw 2001: A Space Odyssey, I did a quick calculation and realized that I would be 47 when we reached that year on the calendar.  It’s now nine years later, and I’m still kicking it at 56.  One of my over-used expressions of the past few years has been “I want my youth back”, and all too often I do wish I was young again and could do things all over, but differently.  We make choices, and we have to live with them.  In 1968 I did not believe that in 2009, let alone 1979, I would still be single and living alone, having never married.  I look around and I see many friends from my generation in the same situation, so I’m not alone, but that necessarily isn’t a comfort.  I wonder, will I die alone, without family around me?  But if so, will that matter in the end?

In June 2008, I crossed the line of eligibility to retire with full pension.  I know of some who, when they reach that point in their career, choose to bolt and do other things.  That was never my plan when I reached that point in my working life.  My job, my career, has been very rewarding for the most part, and I continue as an engineering librarian at the University of Alberta Libraries.  Recently all eligible staff (55 or older, 10 or more years of service) at the U of A were offered buy-out packages, which include 12-15 months salary.  It is very tempting, and I have been giving it some thought since it was announced.  But there are other issues to consider, and I hope to continue at the U of A for some time to come.  In six months, I will have completed payments on my mortgage, and am looking forward to the purchase of a new(er) car, and contracting renovations to my home when the mortgage is history.

As the year and the decade end together, I choose to focus on the positives.  I am grateful and blessed to be working and living in a great city in perhaps the best and safest country in the world (yes, despite the frigid winter temperatures and the snow!).  My career at the UAL is great for so many reasons, not the least of which is having a Starbucks and a satellite branch of Edmonton Public Library across the floor from my office!  I work with great colleagues, some of whom are also good friends, and the atmosphere in mpow is always positive and inspiring.  I have a large extended family that care about me and with whom I am always in touch, and I have the best group of friends anyone could want at any time, a blessing that is truly priceless.

So I’m glad you had a nice birthday Mom, and 2009 – shut the door on the way out, ok?  Good riddance.


Posted in Mixed Bag Special on February 9th 2005 by Randy Reichardt

:: I haven’t been blogging a lot lately here, more so on STLQ. (I’ve been asked to speak on a blogging panel at the Canadian Library Association Conference in Calgary in June, 2005.) Lack of inspiration and other things, heavy workload, etc. I’m also trying to catch up on e-mails dating back to last fall, and found a few items that may be of interest, some or all of which may be old news to you already.

More to come.

What th-?

Posted in Mixed Bag Special on February 1st 2005 by Randy Reichardt

:: The entire state of Connecticut was almost evacuated today, when someone pushed the wrong button.

:: First Brad and Jennifer, now Bloom and Bosworth? Methinks Legolas has shot too many arrows in the wrong direction. What was he thinking? Breaking up with Kate? That radiant smile, that thoughtful gaze? Kate, if you need a shoulder to cry on, gimme a call.


Posted in Mixed Bag Special on January 1st 2005 by Randy Reichardt

:: “Blog” and all its derivations have made the list of the Lake Superior State University 2005 List of Banished Words. If one is to follow the list, and no longer use “blog”, what are the alternatives? How about:

    1) Ruws: Regularly Updated Web Site
    2) Utbab: Used To Be A Blog
    3) Wesilog: Web Site Log
    4) Ocab: Once Called A Blog
    5) Nolocab: No Longer Called A Blog
    6) Rudilwes: Regularly Updated Diary-Like Web Site

I doubt any of these will catch on. Any other suggestions?

Other names deservedly on the list include webinar, erectile dysfunction, “You’re fired”, and carbs. Webinar reflects the pathetic movement of combining two words into one, like docudrama, infomercial, but for what reason? To save time? Can’t we say “web seminar?” I remember watching a comedian on the old Letterman show, who noted, “Do you know what the abbreviation for July is? J-u-l. You gotta be in a hurry.”

:: How bizarre is this: because of the number of tourists missing or already dead, the tsumasi tragedy could become the worst natural disaster in the history of Sweden.

:: Today on CNN, Jeanne Moos showed clips of the year’s worst/best quotes and phrases. My favorite, included in the list, was Jon Stewart calling Tucker Carlson a dick on Crossfire. Oddly enough, when CNN showed the clip, Stewart’s utterance of the word “dick” was bleeped. This from a network in a country which has a Vice-President named Dick.

The Midway Point

Posted in Mixed Bag Special on December 26th 2004 by Randy Reichardt

:: I am stuffed after a series of delicious dinners and breakfasts which began on Christmas Eve, and ended this morning with dim sum. No more food for a while! I am grateful and very fortunate to have food in my belly nonetheless; many on this planet never know what it is like to be full after a meal. Anyway, how was your Christmas?

:: Chris sent a link to the Scared of Santa Gallery. Some of the photos are decades old, and many are hilarious. I suspect more than one photo has been used to embarrass the subject at a later date in his or her life (like, say, a wedding reception.)

:: Consider that this decade is half-over in six days. What has defined the – er – what is this decade called? The Aughts? The Zeros? The Tens? Regardless, in North America, decades tend to be defines based on events and developments in western, or more specifically, American culture, during the ten year periods. Is this the decade of terrorism, fear, and meaningless wars? The Decline of Pop Culture Decade, as represented by “reality tv” and bad lip-synching? The Decade of Aging Baby Boomers? The Emergence of the Millenials? (Remember the “Baby on Board” stickers from the early 80s? The Millenials are those babies.) (Boomers: 1946-1964; Gen X: 1965-1979; Millenials/Gen Y: 1979-2001; ???: 2001-whenever. All dates subject to endless discussion and argument.)

:: Darcy mentioned this site, and it is much fun! Make your own snowflake. Click the scissors when the red dot turns green. There is amazing creativity in the world.

:: Robert sent this pic of how The Rand Corporation, in 1954, envisioned what the home computer might look like in 50 years, i.e., like, right now. Check it out. I wonder what the steering wheel was meant to do?

Interesting Day

Posted in Mixed Bag Special on November 6th 2004 by Randy Reichardt

:: It began by rising at 0545 hrs, driving to Kathryn’s house to pick her up and drive her to the airport to fly to Cincinnati. I returned home and went back to sleep. When I awoke, I putzed around and then decided it was time to put up the Christmas lights, which took about two hours.

Then I went to Ikea – the Ikea store here is new, but only in that it’s a new building. Ikea has been in Edmonton for years, first at WEM (still the planet’s largest mall – yes, it’s bigger than Mall of America – but apparently not for long), then the store moved to the south side, and earlier this year, to the south south side of the city. It’s the first thing you see when you drive north into Edmonton on Highway 2.

It’s an enormous store, the size of a few football fields. The customer service is outstanding, and – this isn’t trivial – the frickin’ shopping carts are so much fun to push around. They are silent – no spinning wheels – and have four wheel drive. Wal-Mart, Safeway, Costco – are you paying attention? The Swedes have been on to something good for years. Ikea serves a $1 breakfast every day – gotta try that soon. Today I bought some light blue Gullmaj curtains, grey Index wall fittings, an Index curtain rod (grey), and Index Sarita finials. I’m going to attempt to install the curtains in front of my new sliding door by myself. (Mike Nichols, stop laughing now!) The staff person said to wash and dry the curtains first. The curtains are in the dryer, and at the moment seem to have lost some of their colour. I’ll check them tomorrow morning.

This evening I went to the movies, ostensibly to see Birth. I arrived and was told the 7:30 show was cancelled for a sneak preview. Immediately annoyed and with little time to decide what else to see or else leave, I chose Napoleon Dynamite instead, which was a total hoot. I was surprised to find the theatre packed – the movie had played at our art house cinema previously for a few weeks, so I thought the theatre would be 90% empty. Word: if you haven’t seen the movie and plan to, DO NOT leave when the credits begin. The movie resumes after the credits and continues for about 10 minutes. The credits are great – each one is served on a plate of food.