Friday, December 31, 2010

A New Year's Eve Visit

Sandy worked at the University of Denver's Purchasing Department for 26 years. A few months ago, in a kind of whimsical gesture, she was told her position was being restructured and was escorted out of the building by security. Being a rather sensitive sort, she found this to be a pretty traumatic experience. Time to develop a thick skin, Sandy! In any case, she still has 4 courses to take at DU before she gets her master's degree, and stopped by to visit while picking up her textbooks at the Bookstore. Great to see you, Sandy!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Valarie Laughing

Valarie and I went to the Denver Art Museum today to see the Robert Benjamin photo exhibit. We enjoyed the photographs there, and a trip to the Camera Obscura Gallery next door, very much. Afterwards we had lunch at Pints Pub, just around the corner. I took Valarie's photograph, and as usual, when she laughs, her eyes close. That used to frustrate me a lot, but not any more. Laughter is what it is, and it shouldn't be staged.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Street Photography

My sister gave me a book titled "Street Photography Now" for Christmas. The photographs in it are really wonderful. This book has inspired me to get back into black and white photography again. There is nothing like taking candid photographs of people in the heart of the city and then running like hell when they angrily start chasing you. Not only do you create great art, but you also wind up getting plenty of exercise, too.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

'Tis The Season!

It has been a long break, but it is time to once again take a class with Roddy, the photography professor at the University of Denver. The question is, what should the photography project be? A return to the zoo, street photography, or the private lives of DU Bookstore employees? Of course, whenever I mention the latter project, I wind up getting death threats, so it seems hardly worth it. Street photography is good too, I guess.

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Return of Victoria

Victoria has returned to the DU Bookstore. She worked at the store several years ago, and then moved on to Australia with her significant other. Now they are back. Victoria is originally from Scotland - the 4th person I know who has come from there. What is the deal with that? In any case, like so many others, Victoria has indeed returned to the DU Bookstore, just as Ronald Coleman returned to Shangrila. After traveling the world, Victoria - as have so many others - has finally realized that this is the place to be. Talk about crazy.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Procrastination Raised to an Art Form

My sister Susan and brother-in-law George spent today - December 26th - decorating their Christmas tree. They hope to finish it up by tomorrow. They have indeed raised procrastination to an art form. On the other hand, perhaps they simply march to a different drummer. Last year they canceled Christmas Eve, and celebrated it the following weekend at a more convenient time. Makes sense to me - a great way to avoid stress.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas 2010

Like Old Fezziwig, I hosted the annual Christmas dinner Christmas Day, cooking turkey, mashed potatoes, and sausage dressing made from a recipe I got on the Internet from some guy named Steve. A good time was had by all, and we posed for a photograph of the occasion. Pictured above are my friend Stuart, brother-in-law George, and sister Susan. I am kneeling in the front, close to the ground in case I collapsed. This cooking business is really tiring - I'm glad I only have to do it once a year. Thank God for frozen White Castle hamburgers the other 364 days.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve

It is Christmas Eve, time to put up the Christmas tree so that nobody will think I'm a Grinch come Christmas Day. My mother told me that when she was a child, the Christmas tree did not go up until Christmas Eve, after all the kids had gone to bed. It was a great thrill for her to wake up Christmas morning and see the tree and the presents underneath. My grandfather would have a few drinks on Christmas Eve and then go to the Christmas tree lot. He would pick out a 6 or 8 foot tree, carry it up the stairs to the "El" platform, and take the elevated train home to 57th and Prairie Avenue back in Chicago. I hope there weren't too many riders on the train when he did that each year. I can just imagine what it would have been like at rush hour.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Hairy Situation

Three employees at the University of Denver Bookstore have been growing beards this month. Two of them - Bill and Darrel (from left to right) - are pictured above. The third - Doug - is in the Federal Witness Protection Program and refuses to have his photograph taken. None of them will say why they are growing beards. I thought that perhaps they were taking part in a Passion Play on Christmas Eve, perhaps portraying the three wise men (more like the three wise guys). Wally suggests it is probably just a Winter Solstice thing - growing beards for warmth at the start of winter, and then shaving them in the spring when the crops are ready to be planted. This makes a lot of sense - Darrel is from Iowa, and has roots in the soil. Bill is from California, and as we all know, Californians will do anything. Doug is simply crazy. It is heartwarming to know that traditions that have been dormant for centuries are still observed at the DU Bookstore. And now, if you will excuse me, I need to check on the serfs and make sure they are keeping busy.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Winter Solstice

Yesterday was the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year. Ancient people such as the Druids used to celebrate this day, welcoming the point at which the days began to once again grow longer. There are actually modern day Druids who keep up these ancient traditions at places such as Stonehenge. I suspect these ceremonies probably involve lots of beer. Count me in!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Textbook Time!

Twas the week before Christmas, and all through the store, textbooks were being carefully unpacked, while the UPS man brought more (my apologies to Clement Moore). Noah, the Stockroom Coordinator at the DU Bookstore, is responsible for receiving all the textbooks needed for the next quarter. He keeps the stockroom extremely cold, believing that his employees will work faster just to stay warm. This might seem rather harsh, but at least he has stopped beating them if he thinks they are not keeping up a good pace.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Chloe is Back from the Continent!

Chloe, one of the DU Bookstore's work study students, is back from visiting Vienna and Paris. It was cold, but beautiful, says Chloe. However, nothing is as wonderful as working at the DU Bookstore, she says. Truer words were never spoken, as they say.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Five More Shopping Days!

There are five more shopping days until Christmas. It has snuck up on us all too quickly. Santa - pictured above - is doing a box office business. Time for me to head off to the Dollar Store to start my Christmas shopping. As I've always said, it's the thought, not the price, that counts, although those three spirits that visited me last Christmas Eve seemed to take exception.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Another Update

Yesterday, like Cinderfella, I stayed at the DU Bookstore to help update the point-of sale system, while everyone else went to the Chancellor's Ball. Today I updated the POS system at the Quick Copy Center (the red-haired stepchild of the DU Bookstore). This update will allow the Bookstore to rent textbooks to students. We are hoping this will keep us from going out of business. I personally am hoping this will keep us in business for at least another four years, until I am eligible for social security. Then I can become the itinerant full-time photographer I have always dreamed of becoming. If this rental thing doesn't work, I might spend the last four years of my working life taking photographs of those lovely children at the Sears Portrait Studio.

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Holiday Spirit!

Matthew has been showing the holiday spirit by wearing his Santa cap while working at the DU Bookstore this season. It makes me think that the Bookstore's management team should have worn Santa caps to the "Scorecard Meeting" with the Chancellor, Vice Chancellor, Provost, and other DU luminaries the other day. I think it would have put a whimsical twist on all that boring financial stuff. Maybe next year.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Wally Returns!

Wally returned to the Bookstore today after five days off. He and his wife Linda attended the funeral of Linda's uncle at Arlington National Cemetery, near Washington D.C. He was a career naval officer and was buried with full military honors. Wally told us that they had a horseless rider taking part in the ceremony. That brought to mind scenes from "Monty Python and the Holy Grail," which I did not think appropriate for such an occasion. Upon further questioning, Wally admitted that it was in fact a riderless horse. That seems much more appropriate for such a solemn occasion.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Balanced Scorecard

The University of Denver Bookstore Management Team met with the Chancellor, the Vice Chancellor for Business and Financial Affairs, the Provost, the Comptroller of the University, and the University Auditor today to review the Bookstore's performance (it's "Balanced Scorecard") over the past year. All expressed surprise that the Bookstore did as well as it did, considering the significant competitive obstacles it faces. All I can hope is that they never discover that second set of books.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Bweza, like Lauren (see yesterday's post), is a work study student helping out while Wally is taking some vacation days. Bweza is a real go-getter. She belongs to a number of student organizations on campus, and volunteered to work at the local polling place on election day last November. As I said yesterday, our work study students are younger, faster, and stronger than our full-time, but rather aged staff. On the other hand, can they regale us with fascinating tales from books like "Cod, The Fish that Changed the World," like Wally does. I think not.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Lauren Returns!

Lauren, a University of Denver work study student, is filling in for Wally - along with Bweza, another work study student - while Wally is taking some vacation days. Our work study students are younger, stronger, and faster than most of our rapidly ageing full-time staff. Many of our full time staff can't seem to stay awake after 6:00 P.M. Maybe that's why nobody can make the DU Bookstore Christmas party this year.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

13 Shopping Days Till Christmas

It is indeed 13 shopping days until Christmas. Unfortunately, the DU Bookstore Christmas Party has been canceled. A lot of people just couldn't make it this close to the holiday. We will have a get together towards the end of January, but it won't have quite the same cache. It is a shame, because I had planned to wear the "Grinch" costume pictured in the photograph above to the party. It's your loss, DU Bookstore.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Graduation Party!

Valarie's daughter Cheyanne recently graduated magna cum laude from Northern Colorado University, and Valarie gave a party for her tonight at the Music Bar on Tennyson Street. It was a very lively affair, and I must say that both Valarie and her daughter are quite the live wires. I can see that Cheyanne is a chip off the old block. It must have been like being raised by Auntie Mame.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Shorter Days

Sunset comes earlier and earlier these days, and the winter solstice, the longest night of the year, is just a little more than a week away. The Colorado legislature has two bills to consider during the next session. One proposes year-long daylight savings time to give us more light in the evening, and the other proposes year-round standard time (to keep us in the dark?). It is a good thing our legislators have issues like this to occupy their time, instead of having to deal with pesky issues like massive budget shortfalls.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Big Trouble!

I asked Doug, one of the textbook buyers, if I could take his photograph for my blog. He refused. In point of fact, I am running out of Bookstore employees to photograph. If this keeps up, I will have to take photographs of and discuss subjects such as taking a day off to have my carpet stretched. And this is NOT a euphemism, as Doug seems to imply.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Checking In With Bill

Bill is one of the two Operations Coordinators at the DU Bookstore. The other Coordinator - Nina - refuses to let me photograph her any more. Probably just camera shy. In any case, Bill is from California while I am originally from the south side of Chicago. California gave the country Jerry Brown, Charles Manson, and the right turn on red. Illinois gave the country Abraham Lincoln, Al Capone, and Chicago style pizza. I win on points.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Donovan Keeps On Selling

Donovan took a break from working on his reports today to have his photograph taken. Donovan is the manager of the DU Bookstore's computer department. He sells a lot of Apple Computers, and in fact, Apple is the fastest selling category in the store. Donovan also sells a lot of Apple i-Pads, which many people predict will soon eliminate textbooks. Just what we want to hear at the University of Denver Bookstore. Way to go Donovan.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Marty Gets Glasses!

I can't remember Marty, the DU Bookstore's Textbook and General Merchandise Manager, ever wearing glasses, but he claims it has only been two years since he has been without them. Marty tells me he needs the glasses for distance, especially for driving. In other words, he has been blind as a bat for at least two years, driving his car throughout the University of Denver neighborhood the entire time. A lucky thing we all survived. Thanks for your decision to stop being a traffic menace, Marty!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

El Diablo!

I had dinner with Valarie tonight. She is doing well and will be finishing her finals at Metro State College next week. She is also really enjoying her job working with the Denver Public Schools. I took the above photograph to mark the occasion, and she told me the photo wasn't as bad as most of the photographs I have taken of her. As I've said before, talk about being damned with faint praise...

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Nightclubbing in Lakewood

I went to the Old Chicago in Lakewood with my friend Stuart tonight. He claims that Lakewood is the new hot spot in the Denver area. I'm not so sure about that - they may not roll up the sidewalks there at night, but only because they don't seem to have any. W.C. Fields tombstone states "All things considered, I'd rather be here than in Philadelphia." I can imagine what he would think of Lakewood.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Noah Speaks!

I took a photograph of Noah, the DU Bookstore's Stockroom Coordinator, today. He wanted to know if I was planning to spend the entire week focusing on how cold he keeps the stockroom, and the inhuman conditions his employees have to endure. Certainly not! In fact, I want to thank him for increasing sales here at the store. When new employees start working in the stockroom, the cold is such an incredible shock, they wind up buying sweatshirts, jackets, scarves, anything that might ward off the cold, thus helping the Bookstore's bottom line. Thanks Noah! A Great Strategy!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Ashley Returns

Ashley is back working at the DU Bookstore, helping out in the stockroom during the winter break. I asked her if she was bothered by the inhuman cold in the stockroom that Noah, the Stockroom Coordinator, insists on. She says no, she is used to it now. Noah, for his part, objects to my mentioning potential lawsuits against him. Hey, I'm just trying to give you a "heads up," bro!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Holiday Lights

The holidays are here, and once again the Denver City and County Building is decked out in lights. It is a major attraction in Denver, although there are a number of groups that still protest that it violates the separation of church and state. So many people who have so little to do - reminds me a lot of Cubs fans.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

No Lawsuits - Yet

Robert, Mikki, and Matthew (from left to right in the above photograph) are student employees working in the DU Bookstore's stockroom during the winter break, checking in textbooks needed for the start of the winter quarter. Noah, the Stockroom Coordinator, likes to keep the stockroom cold enough to hang meat in. As you can see, all three are bundled up in order to stay warm. None of them say that there are any health issues to speak of, and none plan to sue - yet. I'd hate to see Noah, married with two small children, get sued. There would probably be a lot of paperwork if his wages were garnished.

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Closers

Dave B. and Wally are two of "The Closers," the DU Bookstore employees who work the late shift at the store during the winter break. They are both tough, resourceful, and willing to beg anyone passing by the store to "please buy something, please buy anything!" That's exactly what we like to see. Never let humiliation get in the way of getting the job done, we like to say here at the DU Bookstore.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Ice Palace

The Cherry Creek Mall here in Denver is featuring "The Ice Palace," from the new Chronicles of Narnia movie, as the centerpiece of it's Christmas display. The display has posters advertising the movie everywhere, not to mention non-stop clips from the movie on numerous video monitors. Not only does the mall get a ready made theme for it's Christmas display, but it probably receives a sizable kickback for all the advertising. I'm not sure if this should be considered a further commercialization of Christmas or a complete sellout of the Christmas spirit. Happy Holidays!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

It's the Holidays!

It's the holiday season once again! It has been said by many that "Old Man Hoyt knows how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possesses the knowledge." That is a very true statement, and I just hope that those three damn spirits don't come back again this Christmas Eve.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Black Friday

I always have mixed up "Black Friday," the day after Thanksgiving, with "Black Tuesday," the day the stock market crashed in 1929. The two concepts are diametrically opposed - the blackest day of the free market economy versus it's most optimistic sales day. In any case, "Black Friday" is the day the Christmas buying season begins, with people wandering around the city (like in the photograph above) dressed in Victorian garb and singing Christmas carols. Everyone is filled with Christmas cheer, at least for the next five weeks or so. As I recall, when I was a young lad, people dressed like this the year round, and were cheerful every day of the year. Maybe my memory is just fading, or perhaps it was just a south side of Chicago kind of thing.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Day!

I went up to Fort Collins today to spend Thanksgiving with my sister Susan and brother-in-law George. They worked like manics the entire day and finally got the dinner served. After the dishes were done, they sat around the table and discussed how exhausted they were. Both of them made sure I knew that I would be cooking the Christmas Day dinner. That's fine with me. I have no trouble with sitting down at the dinner table after everyone has been served, putting my face in the plate, and catching a little shuteye.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Hot Pink DU Snuggies Have Arrived!

Robin (in the photograph above) is modeling one of the new Hot Pink DU Snuggies. We at the DU Bookstore think it will be a tremendous seller, making up for that slight drop in textbook sales we are experiencing. I, for one, intend to wear mine to the next quarterly meeting with the Vice Chancellor. They can't fire you for being crazy, thank God!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Pizza Pizza!

Today was the last day of the DU Bookstore's book buy, and the Nebraska Book Company buyers bought pizza for all of the store's employees. However, Chuck let me know, confidentially, that if the decline we experienced this quarter continues, they will go back to simply buying us 99 cent frozen dinners from Safeway. I actually kind of like the Swedish Meatball Entree, but the line to use the single microwave oven in the break room goes right out the door. Thanks for everything, Chuck and John!

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Subway Situation

The University of Denver Bookstore has a new competitor - the local Subway Sandwich Shop, believe it or not. The local Subway has teamed up with a used textbook company, and is buying back textbooks during finals week in direct competition with us. DU Today (Motto: We Still Have a Bookstore on Campus?) did a feature article on the Subway book buy, and felt it was a wonderful way for DU students to sell their their books and have lunch, too. They pay much less than we do, but I guess perception and publicity will always trump facts. In any case, we were considering having Subway cater the Bookstore Holiday Party - we spend many thousands of dollars on this - but now, forget it. Eat your heart out, Jared!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A Retraction!

The DU Bookstore was open today - Sunday - in order to buy books back from students. The Nebraska Book Company is doing the buy for us, and Chuck, after reading my blog about their buy, felt that he needed to set the record straight. He told me that in point of fact, the Lincoln, Nebraska Parade of Lights is sponsored by Allis Chalmers, and the tractor Santa rides into town is also manufactured by them. In addition, Santa actually spends the holiday season at the feed store, not the fertilizer store. However, whenever I think about Lincoln, Nebraska, I think about fertilizer, so maybe that's where I made my error. Sorry about that, everyone!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Gin and Sin!

I read in the paper that "Gin and Sin," a bar at 39th and High Street in Denver, had closed. I drove up there to commemorate the loss of that urban legend, but when I got there, the sign on the building said "Jezebel's Juke Joint and Brothel." Perhaps I just misread the article in the paper, and "Gin and Sin" was simply what the place served. In any case, the newspaper article said that many people had tried to make a go of it in that location, but failed. The Post stated that the reason for the failures was that the place was haunted by ghosts, and that these ghosts drove everyone away. I have no intention of calling into question the veracity of the Denver Post, but we who have been trained in real estate issues can easily recognize that 39th and High Street is not what you would call a "AAA" location. In any case, I have never seen or felt the presence of a ghost, although I have had drinks on several occasions with a 6 foot tall invisible rabbit (a "Pookah") named Harvey. Curiously, he only seems to show up after I have finished my third pint of beer. "Sure, I'll Stay and Have One More Pint!" has been my response in these situations.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Spirituals Project

Dee, who works part-time at the DU Bookstore, is also the Coordinator for the Spirituals Project at DU. She gave tickets to Valarie, Valarie's friend Maryanne, and me to attend their annual Winter concert tonight. It was a combination of speakers, video interviews on a giant screen, and spirituals. It was an excellent show! Great job Dee!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Donna Helps Out!

Donna is helping out during the book buy period at the DU Bookstore, and will also help out checking in textbooks next month, too. Donna is a very hard worker, and unlike most of our regular staff, is awake most of the time. Welcome aboard, Donna!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Chuck And John Are Back!

Chuck and John, the DU Bookstore's Nebraska Book Company reps, are back at the Bookstore to buy back textbooks from DU students, now that the end of the fall quarter is here. They will be at the Bookstore until next Tuesday. I assume they will not be here Wednesday because they want to get back to Lincoln, Nebraska in time for the Massey Ferguson Fertilizer Parade of Lights. It is the biggest event of the year in Lincoln. It is very similar to the Parade of Lights here in Denver, but instead of decorating parade floats with lights, they decorate cows. The cows, decked out in spectacular lights, are paraded down Lincoln's main street. At the end of the parade, Santa arrives driving a John Deere tractor, and sets up shop in the Fertilizer Store during the holiday season. Welcome back, Chuck and John!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Recently being appointed the Floor Manager of the DU Bookstore, in addition to my other duties, I have had to spend more time on the sales floor, often at the cash register when there were no customers in sight. Looking around the store, I realized that there are four photographs of the DU Bookstore from years ago. One is of a student in front of the Bookstore when it was located in Carnegie Library, which has been long since demolished. I started working for the DU Bookstore when it was located in Carnegie. The sign in the above photograph - "Books - Recreational Reading" - brings back many memories. I was a mere slip of a lad when I started working there - just a child. How did I get so old so quickly?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Dinner at Parisi's

I had dinner with Valarie, Darrel, and his wife Linda at Parisi's tonight. Parisi's is a well known Italian restaurant in the West Highlands neighborhood of Denver. It was a very nice evening, but once again I got so involved in the conversation I forgot to take a photograph. I had planned to have the waitress take a photo of the four of us, but didn't remember until after leaving the restaurant, when Valarie complimented me on my restraint in not bringing out my camera. Big mistake on her part - I was able to get a photograph of her next to her car (the one with the "Impeach Bush" window sticker).

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Anna Silvia & Joe

I had my friends Anna Silvia and Joe over for dinner tonight. Being the great chef I am, I decided to get Chinese takeout from the Red Coral Restaurant here in Denver. The food was good, but what I want to know is, why do I get such strange fortunes in the fortune cookies? The fortune I got tonight said "He that can't endure the bad will not live to see the good." The last time I got Chinese food the fortune told me that "I would travel a long hard road before I found true happiness." Those are not fortunes - those are curses. Do they grab special fortune cookies from under the counter when they see me come in? What gives? Does anyone else get "fortunes" like these?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Dinner With Susan and George

I had dinner with my sister Susan and brother-in-law George up in Fort Collins tonight. I took 7 photographs of them after dinner. My sister told me I have a reputation of purposely making people look bad, and of the photos I took, the picture above was the least objectionable. As far as I can tell, Susan looks exactly the same - exactly - in each photo. I think I am going to switch to landscape photography.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Taina & Matthew

Taina and Matthew are both student employees who work in the DU Bookstore's stockroom. Taina does not like to have her photograph taken, saying she takes a poor photo - she is wrong, of course, but there is no convincing her. She agreed to let me take her photograph in order to be "a good sport." No doubt she knows how well known my blog has become, and is looking for her 15 minutes of fame. Matthew is always ready to have his photograph taken. He wears a different hat every day - some quite eccentric looking. I assume he wears them because Noah, the Stockroom Coordinator, likes to keep the place cold enough to hang meat. Also, Matthew has mentioned that when he wears the more outlandish hats, no one will sit next to him on the bus, and then he can stretch out a bit during the commute.