"Madame, bear in mind That princes govern all things--save the wind." -Victor Hugo, The Infanta's Rose

Friday, January 20, 2006

A Bunch of Wild 'n Crazy Liberrians

Just in case anyone might be wondering what the heck brings me to San Antone, I've tagged along with Mrs. Toast who is attending the semi-annual convention of the American Liberry Association (er, excuse me, the American Library Association - damn those margaritas) of which she is a member. Now before anyone starts snickering, you can shed any preconceived notions you may have of librarians being up-tight, bespectacled, bun-haired little old ladies who spend all their time telling people "Shhhhhhh!". No, we're not talking about the NFRW here. Librarians are savvy specialists on the cutting edge of information technology, but I'm told they actually cultivate the old-fashioned stereotype because (a) they think it's a big joke, and (b) it lets them get away with things that no one would expect. In reality, when librarians take off their glasses and let their hair down they become seriously wild party animals; it's almost like having a secret identity. We hung out with a few of them this evening, and they could drink me under the table.

And damn, this town is definitely crawling with freaking librarians tonight; some 7,000 of them are here attending their midwinter conference. This is nothing compared to the 30,000 "informationologists" (a trendy inside buzzword) who will gather for the main ALA convention this coming June in New Orleans, but in the meantime they're thick as fleas on a dog here this weekend. Did you know that there's a secret hand symbol that librarians use to identify themselves to each other in public, kind of like "Gaydar"? Really. They put their thumb and forefinger together in the shape of an "L" (for "Library") and hold it up to their forehead - see example here. Apparently, I must look like a librarian too, because many people on the Riverwalk have given me that secret gesture as I've walked past them today. I feel honored.

Seriously, I really am enjoying this visit to San Antonio, which is one of the top tourist destinations in Texas. It's beautiful, with a decidedly European feel to it. Try to imagine a cool Paris outdoor cafe:


Set the cafe in a Venice-like waterfront atmosphere:



And then just for fun, toss in serenading Mariachis singing in Spanish:


The icing on the cake is that so far, the weather has been absolutely perfect ... mid-70's during the day and low 50's at night. Writing this blog while hanging out on the riverfront with a cool drink has been tough, but I've managed to force myself. I've even worn my "Mr. Toast" T-shirt that I got for Christmas, in case anyone might see me and want my autograph, or something like that, but so far no one's paid me any notice.

Except for the secret order of Liberrians.

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