Pragmatic week in review

April 6, 2007

This week, a lot personal and little (marginally) professional to note.

As some of you may recall, my father had a gall bladder attack last Wednesday. I didn’t hear anything until the following day, when I finally got around to opening my personal e-mail account. Nothing serious in a relative sense, but still enough to merit attention from friends and family. Anyway, my father got transferred from the country hospital to a larger metropolitan hospital, had two surgeries (one to remove gall stones, the other to remove the gall bladder), and came home on Tuesday. My sister-in-law and oldest brother have gone separately to spend several days with him, and I’m still awaiting word as to whether I would need to go up for any reason. Fortunately, both are experts in disaster research, so I have received regular e-mail updates with my sister-in-law’s official signature, which includes the phrase “Center for the Study of Disasters & Extreme Events.” I find it darkly amusing, considering the circumstances. Anyway, she has done an excellent job of making sure that my father is well-cared for an re-established in his home, and she has set up a schedule for my brother to follow for helping Dad. We’re not sure if he will visit any of us for a recuperation period (partially to stave off the potential for loneliness since all three brothers live out-of-state), but we’ll see what happens. Luckily, he seems to be making good progress in his recovery.

On a brighter note, Diane bought a new flute. The director of her flute choir strongly suggested that she do so, especially since her flute seemed more appropriate for high school band. (In fact, she has had it since that time.) Diane “test-drove” three different flutes at home, before settling on a very nice and inexpensive one. Diane played a flute part from the “Dance of the Seven Veils” to help me discern which one had the best sound, and which one seemed best suited to her playing technique. I could tell a little bit of a difference, but she sought more seasoned input from the flute choir director and her tutor. She is currently auctioning her previous flute on E-bay, which should help cover most of the cost of her new flute.

Finally, the professional… or at least marginally professional. Earlier this week, some of the staff could discern a rather heavy and foul smell confined to my supervisor’s office. Someone noticed that one of the ceiling tiles was hanging a little lower than usual, which prompted my supervisor to call an anti-pest service. In the meantime, I gave her my office fan and air filter to alleviate the smell. The anti-pest service worker arrived last night and figured that some squirrels had managed to get into the ceiling. During his visit, three of them dropped through a hole in the ceiling of my supervisor’s office and scurried for parts unknown. No one has encountered them yet, and I hope that remains the case. Very likely, they managed to escape the route from whence they came. As for the smell, it likely came from water that had gotten in the same hole used by the squirrels, or from moldy food left by the squirrels. (The library where I work is in a basement.)

We had an even worse situation many years ago. The office in which I currently work got flooded due to a hole somewhere in the foundation of the building. This same hole also allowed much larger animals to wander the ceiling above. One night, several raccoons dropped from the ceiling into the library. Most of them were captured, but one remained loose in the library the following morning. I remember everyone standing near the front, including a painter who happened to have some patch-up jobs to do in the library. Some of us quietly stalked the raccoon, which got away the first time we found it. Fortunately, two animal control people had arrived to capture the raccoon. Twenty minutes later, I found it in one of the moveable shelf ranges. I quietly ran to one of the animal controllers, told him where I found the raccoon, and everyone eventually converged on the critter’s location.

As a result of this encounter, the library made the raccoon its official mascot. We even have some Disneyfied stuffed raccoons that remain on constant display as a reminder. However, the reaction of the real raccoon to its apprehension by the animal control people was anything but cute. With loops from two capture rods around its torso, the raccoon hissed and violently waved its limbs to make an escape. Luckily for us, the animal control folks held steady. Otherwise, we all would have ended up incurring the wrath of one seriously pissed-off raccoon. Recalling this situation, the squirrels don’t seem so bad. As long as they don’t fall through the ceiling, all will remain well.

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