An afternoon weeding

I accidentally got myself volunteered to help out with a big weeding project we’re doing at the moment, so I spent my desk shift formatting and printing out a 7-page title list (and checking in box, pointing people to the stapler, finding a full-text article for someone, and phoning again to find out what’s up with our EFTPOS/card reload machine). Then after lunch I went to spend what turned out to be three hours looking at the shelves to make decisions (or in some cases indecisions) about each book and jot notes on my list.

This particular subject area was about Turkic/Altaic languages, and for historical reasons probably half the titles were written in Russian; many others in French or German. It just so happens that at one point in my life I learned enough Mongolian to catch a bus to another town after several misunderstandings and to explain to people that switching to Russian was actually going to diminish our chances of communication. Alas, I don’t recall any/much of it now, but I can still sound out the Cyrillic alphabet, and after this afternoon’s session have learned several words in Russian after all: ‘dictionary’, ‘writing’, ‘language’, and various obvious cognates.

Weeding tends to be dusty work: I took a break halfway through to wash my hands, down some water, and refresh my sanity while discussing my progress with a manager. Shortly after I got back to work I took a briefer break to stand at the end of the stack while a long earthquake rattled all the shelves. (Honestly, figuring I was on the fourth floor, I was rating it a magnitude 3.9; it turns out it was a 5.2. I probably wasn’t factoring in the extra distance compared to where my home is in relation to the epicentre. Still, it really didn’t seem that big.)

Finished my list and washed my hands again. Is there such a thing as dust poisoning? Because one feels so much better after washing one’s hands. Yes, one can wear gloves, but they’re supremely awkward so I long ago gave up.

Next step: type up notes, sort, and send to manager to forward to some subject specialists. Step after that: format and print out the next list.

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