Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

A Burning of the Bosom, and Everything Else

by Robison Wells

A lot of things seem to be burning lately. First, it was my microwave. I swear I had no metal in the thing, but it just started sparking and smoking, and by the time we ran over and unplugged it there was a quarter-sized hole burned in the side. I haven't yet decided who I'm going to sue, but rest assured that I shall soon be rich.

Second, my stove caught fire, as you may remember from one of my previous posts. If any of you ever come to my house for lunch, you can be certain that everything I cook is charbroiled.

Third, our Stake Center burned on Sunday. The fire started somewhere in the stage area, and engulfed a big chunk of the classrooms and gym. The TV news interviewed witnesses, and some overly-exciteable young women claimed that they'd seem someone who looked out-of-place: he was wearing a plaid shirt and jeans (horror!), and they suspected him immediately. Since the Fire Department soon declared the fire to not be arson, I'd just like to say to all non-Mormons: come to our church! If there's a crime, we'll make you the patsy!

But the fourth thing to burn didn't exactly burn as much as it exploded: last week, a pipe bomb went off in the Salt Lake City Public Library. Now, astute readers will remember that I'm not a fan of public libraries. While I don't mean to excuse the bomber, I was sure that his motive was related to the fact that public libraries have recently turned into noisy, bookless places.

Yesterday, the family and I went to the South Jordan branch of the County Library system (motto: "What are these 'books' you speak of?") I was moderately frustrated, because all the books on my A-list were not available there, nor were any on my B-list or C-list, either. So then I just purused the meager shelves, hoping for good luck, and realized that all the "books" were just painted on the walls. I think the entire library consisted of just 26 computers and a set of encyclopedias from 1978. Even so, my four-year-old daughter picked up some Berenstain Bears videos, and we went up to the counter to check them out.

It's all self-service these days, which I'm fine with, because I don't like to talk to people. But instead of scanning barcodes, the check-out computer simply directs you to set all of your items on a big pad -- and immediately and miraculously it knows everything you put on there. I'm not saying that you put one book down, and it scans it; I'm saying that you dump them all down, in a big unorganized stack, and it instantly recognizes everything--thanks to the miracle of RFIDs. It was seriously the coolest thing I've seen in months. I think I'll go to that library again and again, just to scan stuff. (And, scanning four books a week, I'll have checked out everything in the whole libarary in fourteen days.)

(In related news, last week I went down to the BYU Harold B. Lee Library to do some research for my next book. Since I write fictional books abotu crazy conspiracies, I was reading an allegedly non-fiction book about crazy conpsiracies. And at one point I stood up to walk from one section of the library to another, and I tripped some alarm, and library employees had to come and inspect the book I was carrying, which happened to be about how Atlantis was buried underneath the ice in Antartica. And I had about four-days worth of unshaven beard--a no-no at BYU. The attractive young desk attendant finally let me go my way, giving me a disdainful look, and then went back to flirting with some guy.)

So, what with the guv'mint tracking my books, via RFIDs, and the embarrassment caused by having to admit I was reading nerdy crazy-person books in front of pretty college girls, I would probably make a good suspect in the explosion-at-the-library case. I didn't do it, of course, because I'm a totally law-abiding citizen (and because there are no cooking appliances at the library that I could utilize in my fire-starting). Besides, could a public library burn? There's nothing flammable in the whole place.


At 9/19/2006 2:31 PM, Blogger Matthew Buckley said...

Not only did it scan your books, but it also scanned your person. It recorded what you ate for lunch and posted it to the internet (you need more fiber).

Oh, and it's a good thing you weren't wearing plaid at the BYU library. They never would have let you go.

At 9/19/2006 3:48 PM, Blogger RobisonWells said...

At the BYU library they have a sign at the checkout counter that says "Thank you for following the Honor Code so that we may serve you." I think that's neat.

Also, you'd think that place is a singles bar. There was a lot more flirting than reading. (I love BYU, by the way. I just thought it was funny.)

At 9/19/2006 5:31 PM, Blogger FHL said...

Maybe the next step would be to put GPS chips in the books. That way, when the books are overdue, they can send a Library Tactical team to its exact location and get it back. With unnecessary force.


Our library only has the "scan one book at a time" machine. And no one there could tell me where to find a statue of William Shakespeare or Mark Twain. *wink* Useless.

At 9/19/2006 5:47 PM, Anonymous Fellfrosch said...

Your library has a time machine?

At 9/20/2006 2:48 PM, Blogger FHL said...

Yes, it hangs on the wall behind the desk. =P

At 9/20/2006 3:27 PM, Blogger RobisonWells said...

Hardy har har.

At 9/20/2006 6:51 PM, Blogger Kerry Blair said...

I love it! It's so dang true here, too.

The only thing that annoys me more about our local library than their lack of books is that they have no LDS lit whatsoever because "the demographics just don't support it, dear" and yet they have a shelf or two of lesbian fiction. I have a very hard time believing that that particular demographic outnumbers our 12 wards of Mormons!

On the other hand, when I first moved to Utah I went into a library looking for a copy of Anne Tyler's newest book. They had one copy of it (checked out) but a dozen copies of one of mine. (And about 50 million of Anita Stansfield's.) I went out to my car and cried. There must be a middle ground somewhere.

At 9/21/2006 1:04 PM, Blogger FHL said...

Kerry, if it makes you feel any better, 3 out of 5 copies of Mummy's the Word are checked out at my library - and one of them is in my possession! I liked it, too. =) Now I understand your powdered sugar donut comment from earlier. Looking forward to more Nightshade mysteries!

Guess I have a couple of RW books next. Is it pronounced "robe-ison" or "rawb-ison"? Or "how-itzer"?

At 9/21/2006 1:36 PM, Blogger RobisonWells said...

It's Rawb-ison, (as in R-awesome-bison). Ooh! Awesome Bison! I wish that was my nickname.


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