Mrs. Pierce was wrong!
"Do you think you'll always be carrying a calculator with you when you get out in the real world?" I can't help but wonder if the words of Mrs. Pierce, a grade four teacher at Eganville District Public School in the mid-60's, continue to echo throughout the hallways of my childhood elementary academic institution. Mrs. Pierce was, of course, moulding young minds by extolling the virtues of long division scrolled on foolscap and disuading the use of calculators by professing the absurdity that anyone might actually carry a calculator around with them on a routine basis.
"Well Mrs. Pierce, I've got some news for you. Not only do I carry a calculator with me the vast majority of the time, but I also carry a camera, a flashlight, a GPS, a video recorder, a magnifier, several books, an entire music library, an FM radio, a compass, a barcode scanner, a guitar tuner, a tape recorder, several high definition movies, a dictionary and a telephone. And you know what Mrs. Pierce? It's all in a compact device called a smartphone which is smaller than the belt buckles worn by your average Eganville hayseed. Moreover, contrary to your erroneous assertions, the last time I had the need or occasion to use long division, the Beatles were not only all alive but still recording music. I'd fax you the specs on my smartphone Mrs. Pierce, but given that fifty years have passed since you pimped long division to innocent wards, even the fascimile has all but vanished from the technological landscape."
This spring, I decided that the time had come to clean house and de-clutter my quaint little shack in the Frotenacs. Mrs. Pierce might have recognized some of the technology that made its way to the municipal dump; not the least of which included a pair of 16mm movie projectors, an 8-track stereo system, a pair of dot matrix printers, a pair of CRT monitors and an old black & white television no longer capable of receiving analog signals on its coat-hanger antennae because they just don't broadcast that way anymore. "Okay Mrs. Pierce, get out your pencil and foolscap because here's a little test for you... In 1965, John earns $1.65/hour. In 2013, John disposed of electronic equipment which, when originally purchased, cost $3000. Disregarding depreciation, how many hours would John have had to work in 1965 to purchase the equipment which, in 2013, can best be described as junk? (Show all work):"
Also, in the "it's gotta go" pile, were about 50 VHS tapes, a media format not even invented when Mrs. Pierce was sharing her penchant for long division with impressionable young minds, and about a dozen hard covered books. In an effort to minimize my impact on the local landfill, I contacted the Kingston Frontenac Lennox & Addington Public Library to ascertain if they accepted donations of this sort to augment their collection. I was informed that, indeed, they did accept hard covered books and VHS tapes as donations but that they were subsequently sold at their used book sale, the proceeds from which helped to support the local library. Perfect! Or so I thought....
The Arden branch of the KFLA Public Library system is open a whopping10 hours every week. I maintain that its long hours of operation and 300 square feet of floor space give its patrons ample opportunity to view the book. Arriving at the branch last Saturday, I presented myself, materials in hand, to a somewhat bewildered librarian. "I spoke with your Head Office in Kingston on Tuesday", I offered, "and they told me I could drop this off for your annual fund raising book auction.". I was confident in my proclamation, having had the foresight to ascertain, in advance, that they accepted such materials.
Picking up a book entitled The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, published circa 1970, the librarian opined "This book is too old!". I considered, given her well-eastablished head of grey hair, suggesting that she likely predated the book's publishing date, but opted, instead, for a more tactful trajectory. "Too old?" I asked pausing briefly. "This is a pretty recent edition, I quipped, "considering it was written about 400 years ago".
It seemed clear to me, given the librarian's emotionless response, that she found no humour in my wry wit. "Well I did speak to the main branch on Tuesday," I reiterated, "and they mentioned nothing about the age of books; merely that they be in good condtion. As for the VHS tapes, you still have some of them in your own collection." I paused, briefly, allowing her the opportunity to digest what I had said thus far then continued. "But if you don't want them then that's fine. I'll take the whole lot to the municipal dump. No problem. I just wish they'd have given me the same information you are now so I wouldn't have wasted my time coming here."
The librarian, presumably sensing my frustration, capitulated and with modest reservation agreed to accept the materials I was donating. A follow-up call to the Kingston branch confirmed that the materials should have been accepted without question. Given the cool reception I received at the Arden branch, I suspect any future donations will simply be dropped in the After Hours Book Returns slot with a note that reads "DONATED FOR YOUR BOOK SALE!" to avoid interaction with ill-informed staff.
Submitted by "Big Banana" Bob Loblaw, 31 May 2013