Tuesday, June 30, 2009

What's in the broth?

For the last three weeks, I have been trying to read The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins. It is an interesting read but I always seem to find myself drifting, contemplating. So in effect I'm barely one-fourth of the book.

As far as I've been able to read in the book, its main theme is the survival of the gene. Human beings are just but survival machines for the gene. Almost always it is the gene that dictates our action in its effort to preserve itself. While other survival machines may have managed to rebel against the designs of the selfish gene, the gene somehow always manifest itself in other ways.

Take for example people like me who have not reproduced any offspring, so my gene will not get passed on, but the gene recognizes (?) that it has kins, so in its effort to replicate itself, it will take care of its kin. Its effort to maximize itself does not necessary mean its passing on the "good gene", it just means that it is able pass on the gene that makes a prefect copy itself.

Had I read this book two years ago when I first took interest in it, I would not have put much thought to this premise or thesis. Two years ago, I was contorting myself to avoid any sort of responsibility for my nieces and nephews.

But now, I am taking care of a nephew because somehow his mother is not psychologically or emotionally able to take care of him or so I let myself believe. But in all probability it is the selfish gene that is dictating this odd behavior.

Or maybe not so odd, I have after all been taking care, in one or other ways, of my younger siblings since they were in grade school then in high school and even now when they are all grown-up themselves.

Dictates of society and humane behavior and religious beliefs probably have nothing to do with why people take care of its own; it's the gene pure and simple.

Monday, June 29, 2009

How do you want to be addressed, Ate.

Filipino customs and traditions dictate that we address anyone older than us, people we deemed to have high social status, strangers and family with terms of respect. We call members of our family with whatever is deemed appropriate, taking into account rank in the family, dialect used inside the family, etc.

In a more formal setting I call strangers Ma'am, Miss and Sir. I never call anyone Ate unless invited to do so in as much as I never want to be called ate because it is an intimate term to me, a term that signify friendship and trust.

In our university, the people handling the dormitories are encouraging the students to call them ate's and kuya's. It's appropriate because they are after all dealing with student security and comfort.

However, the custom has spread out to other offices. Older clerks (of retirable age), professors and phd's unknown to some students are called ate's and kuya's. Maybe they don't mind. But I do because it always evokes in me a feeling of intimacy which neither I wish nor have with any students. Being called ate makes me feel like lecturing and hectoring students about proper behavior which if I do would just get me another nasty title, that of an interfering librarian.

There are some instructors who encouraged their students to call them by their first names. I rather prefer this kind of practice; it is more egalitarian, more in tune with a university setting, supposedly liberal. Maybe their is a contradiction here somewhere, but my point is the intimacy of the term. It makes the hairs on my nape rise, every time.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Do we have to...?

My mother is reading again. After so very long she's picked up a book again. The last time I saw her read was when I was a teenager. Now I could already have a teenager of my own or been a teenager twice over.

The first books she's read is The Great Gatsby. And what did she do the moment she finished reading the book was discuss it and I have completely forgotten the details of the book so I was in panic but then I did not have to because all she wanted was to be listened to. Although her discussion bored the hell out of me first then annoyed me later, I am still thankful that she's reading again.

Wretched daughter that I am what bored me was her discussion about love. Nothing to get my hackles rising but make the idea or concept of erotic or romantic love an excuse or the reason for everything evil or good in the world. Or having that kind of love the only reason why human beings are alive and life as it is is worth living for. What a lot of crap!

But still whatever make her read again and whatever make her believe in her intellectual abilities again. If I have to read all the romantic nonsense in the world I'd do it just so I could keep my mother reading again.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Selling the Library 2

It's been four days of almost non-stop library orientation. English instructors have alloted an hour of their classes for library orientation.

My part of the one-hour orientation is usually to talk about the Circulation unit and its resources and the Borrowers Card. But this week I've changed my tactics somehow. I've emphasize the importance of library and its resources to the students' life than on how to acquire and how to use the borrowers card.

And I am hoping that they have actually listened to me talk on and on about how they could actually learn more from the library than from their instructors. It's not that I was putting the instructors down but that an instructor's time is limited in a classroom setting.

I am not tired, just very tense. You have to be very careful regarding the information you try to impart.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Selling the Library

The CHED memo regarding the postponement of the start of classes came late so the university has started on its annual freshmen orientation. The usual university wide general orientation was changed this last two years to college wide orientation. Instead of just the university librarian to attend and speak at the university orientation, all of us, librarians now have a responsibility to speak at the different colleges to introduce the freshmen to the library services. Aside from this college wide orientation we also conduct a one-hour orientation arranged by the freshmen English instructors.

This has always been one of the ways on how we sell the library but I feel that it is not enough. During English class orientation I always emphasize the role of the library as support for their class instruction. That classroom instruction is just but a small percentage of the bulk of a particular subject or knowledge. And instructors can’t be expected to discuss everything in a semester and that students owe it to themselves to research and read on their own to supplement classroom instruction.

We find ways to attract students to library. We modify personal attitudes and change our demeanor to be more welcoming and approachable but at the end of the day, however proactive librarians are, whatever librarians do to sell the library and its services, the library is just but a passive function and service. It’s not like we can put sanctions to the students for not using the library resources. But even then, sanctions are still ineffective if students do not value their education. Penalties have not stopped students from skipping classes and/or failing exams or entire subjects.

Feel free to air your thoughts if you disagree with my conclusion.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

My cave dwelling

I and three others live in a basement of a government housing. Each one of us occupies only a single room but the whole place is bigger compared to the rooms upstairs because we have our own common sala and kitchen and individual cr/br.

The problem with our accommodations is that every now and then creepy crawlies visit us. There have been several times snakes were killed in our cave and the latest was last night. I did not sleep the whole night watching the snake, afraid where it might crawl and hide next; however come daylight I lost sight of the brownish/reddish snake.

So tonight it would be the 'lantay' in the sala for me. I would not dare sleep in my room again until that snake is killed or removed from my room.