Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year Everyone!

I took the light rail downtown tonight to see the 9 o'clock fireworks show on Denver's 16th street mall. Who should I run into but Wally from the DU Bookstore (on the left in the top photograph), his wife Linda (on the right in the top photograph), and a friend of theirs (in the middle). I was really surprised, since Wally told me he hated going out on New year's Eve and intended to spend the night at home reading his Churchill tomes. Last year, I was watching news coverage of New Year's Eve in Denver and thought I saw Wally and Linda climbing a light pole in Larimer Square - buck naked I might add - but Wally insisted that wasn't them. Now I'm not so sure. Happy New Year Everyone!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Web Site Madness

Wally and Victoria - pictured above - processed almost 100 web orders for the DU Bookstore today. With winter quarter classes beginning this Tuesday, textbook orders have been coming in fast and furious. Despite great personal risk due to a high level of static electricity in the store, Wally and Victoria made sure every order was processed, putting service to the student above their own safety. Good work guys!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Still Another Insult!

As faithful readers know, I have received a number of insulting remarks over the years about my wristwatch. My brother-in-law gave it to me as a Christmas gift many years ago. The following summer, when visiting my mother in Stuart, Florida, we were walking past the Walgreen's in the Treasure Coast Mall when my mother insisted on buying me a Timex watch to replace that "hideous thing." I wore that Timex until it stopped working, and then wore the "ugly" watch again from that time forward. My co-worker Wally once asked me if I got the watch by subscribing to Time magazine. Last year I went to Chicago and lost the watch in Oakwoods Cemetery. By the time I went back to retrieve it, the gates were closed. However, the next morning I went back, and it was right where I left it. Nobody wanted it enough to take it. And now, last Saturday, I went to the watch repair shop at Sears to get the battery replaced. It has been at least 2 1/2 years since I was last there, but the Asian-American watchmaker immediately said to me "Oh yes, I remember THAT watch. We've replaced the battery for you before." Glad to know my watch is that famous.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Cheryl Solves A Mystery

The DU Bookstore received a call from a customer named Angelina (aka Angel), who told us she did not receive her textbook order. She had wanted the books sent to her workplace, the Great Clips at the Germantown Square Mall in Germantown, Wisconsin. However, she did not put the name of the business on the order. We tracked the shipment and found it was signed for by someone we will call Hightower. While Marty - the Textbook Manager - and I were trying to find a phone number for the mall office, Cheryl - pictured above - found a Deborah Hightower who owned a business called the Healing Place on the same street. I called Deborah and told her about the package meant for Great Clips. She told me nobody has been at the business in several weeks, and she knew nothing about a package. Half an hour later Deborah called me back, telling me that she suddenly remembered she has a daughter! With the same last name! Who works at Beratti Bridal in the same mall as Great Clips! In the detective business we call that a clue. I called Beratti Bridal and told them about a package signed by someone named Hightower. I was told nobody named Hightower worked there. Nobody named Alisa Hightower works there? Oh, THAT Hightower. I was then told they would check their stockroom and get back to me. And they did, finally fessing up and admitting they did indeed have the package and would deliver it to Angel at Great Clips. And now I feel very close to the people of Germantown, Wisconsin. I feel I know so many of them. Maybe I should visit.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Busman's Holiday

The University of Denver Bookstore was closed today - it is open Monday, Wednesday & Friday this week - and so I naturally wound up this afternoon at the Tattered Cover Bookstore in Lower Downtown Denver. The place was packed, and there was actually a crowd at the cash registers, everyone no doubt using up their Christmas gift cards. This is in contrast to the DU Bookstore, where the employees are undisturbed by customers this week as the holiday muzak drives them to the final stages of madness.

Monday, December 26, 2011


I was originally going to take a photograph of Nina, one of the two Operations Coordinators at the DY Bookstore, today. However, she claimed she had too much salt yesterday and was "too puffy" to be photographed. However, Trish, standing right next to her, said she was always puffy, and so I took a photograph of her instead.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Day!

It was a feast like no other this Christmas Day! Unlimited road kill turkey, good talk, lots of Christmas ales, and an exchange of gifts. And even though according to the ads on TV a new Lexus was THE gift to give this year, nobody here got one. What a bunch of Scrooges!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Giving Everyone The Bird

Tomorrow is Christmas Day, and I will be cooking a traditional "roadkill" turkey dinner for 8 people, including myself. I've never hosted a dinner with that many people, and don't even own 8 chairs. Plus, I'm not sure I can fit 8 people into my apartment at the same time. I may have to have 2 people out on the balcony at any one time and rotate them every half hour or so. It is supposed to be a nice day tomorrow, so who could possibly object? It's the holidays after all.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Even Noah Is Cold!

It was a cold, snowy day in Denver today, and the University of Denver's stockroom was frigid. Even Noah - the Stockroom Coordinator who likes to keep the place cold enough to "hang meat" (he thinks it makes the staff work faster) - was cold. He refused to raise the thermostat, however, sticking to his principles, no matter how many of his staff might get frostbite. Way to go Noah!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Carol Joins The DU Bookstore Team

Carol is a friend of Joe (see previous blogs), and is working in the stockroom and on the sales floor this month and next, helping the DU Bookstore prepare for the first day of classes. Everyone has been impressed with how hard Carol works, and she hasn't made a single complaint concerning the stockroom's arctic temperature. As opposed to Maria, who beat Noah - the Stockroom Coordinator - mercilessly until he agreed to turn up the thermostat.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Mid-Week Visit With Susan And George

I drove up to Fort Collins for a festive beer and pizza dinner with my sister Susan and brother-in-law George tonight. They are both very excited about attending my "roadkill" turkey dinner this Christmas Sunday. Roadkill turkey dinners are not only dirt cheap and incredibly fresh, but they are also really easy to prepare - just wipe off the dirt, pull out the feathers and put it in the oven. In three hours you have a meal. And nobody seems to mind if you miss a few feathers. Just blow them right out there at the table.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Return of Victoria

Victoria has returned to the DU Bookstore to help us prepare for winter rush period. Victoria used to work full time at the Bookstore, but left to travel the world. Now she is back in Denver, pursuing a degree at Metro State College, and tells us of all the places in the world she visited, the most wonderful place of all has been the DU Bookstore. In honor of that statement, I have added a "rough pastel" finish to her photograph. Not only does it result in a distinctive image, it also helps hide the fact that I forgot to change the shutter speed on my camera after taking photographs of Valarie last night. Photoshop is the last refuge of scoundrels.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Valarie Graduates - Finally!

Valarie graduated from Metro State College this afternoon, after an intense year and a half of study. She was delayed in getting her degree by raising two children, operating an art gallery in Denver, and owning and operating Capitol Hill Books in Denver for over 20 years. Her daughter Cheyanne (on the left in the photograph above) threw Valarie (on the right) a surprise party at the Mercury Cafe, a wonderful refuge for the free spirits of Denver. There was a party for Valarie on the main floor, and then swing dancing on the second floor for the rest of the night. What a wonderful party, and what a wonderful mother and daughter. Congratulations again, Valarie! What a tremendous achievement.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The DU Bookstore Holiday Party

The University of Denver Bookstore had what very probably will be its last holiday party tonight at Maggiano's in the Denver Tech Center. Tristy - pictured above - gave a short speech thanking Bookstore employees for their work over the years, occasionally stopping to threaten me if I continued taking photographs of her. If the Bookstore is leased out, a celebration next year is uncertain. Don't worry. There is always the traditional 6 pack out on the curb type of holiday party. Dress warm!

Friday, December 16, 2011

One Man's Trash...

Friday is trash day at the DU Bookstore. Today as I was carrying my bag of trash over my back like Santa, I asked Dave B. if wanted any of it to take home. I truly believe in the old adage "One man's trash is another man's treasure." Dave B. was so impressed by this offer that he insisted on taking my photograph and asked me to blog about it. I imagine he feels that I am such an environmentally correct, not to mention generous, rascal that the rest of the world should know. Thanks Dave!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The DU Bookstore's 30,000th Web Order

Wally was very proud, and I must say, a little misty-eyed today when he came into my office to announce that he was about to process the DU Bookstore's 30,000th Internet web order. Wally is the one who processed the majority of these orders, and so I made a little speech in the text office to commemorate the event. I must say the textbook office seemed very underwhelmed. Doug and Brittney just rolled their eyes, and Ceci only wanted to know if there would be cake. As far as I'm concerned, apathy is the Bookstore's greatest enemy these days.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Dinner With Valarie!

I had dinner at The Gyro's Place on Colfax with Valarie this evening. We were celebrating both her birthday and her graduation from Metro State. Valarie will receive her diploma this Sunday and finally achieve her goal of finishing her degree. And I know nothing about some kind of surprise celebration afterwards. I know nothing!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Lunch With Roddy!

I had lunch this afternoon with Roddy, the University of Denver's photography professor and a good friend. Roddy is living the good life while classes are not in session, and was kind enough to both give me advice on my photographs and listen to my reservations about the Bookstore being leased out. He did suggest an "Occupy DU" style protest to persuade the university to keep the Bookstore university owned, but I'm afraid that wouldn't work. A lot of staff member are rather elderly and tend to wonder off, which would defeat the whole purpose. Thanks for the suggestion anyway, Roddy!

Monday, December 12, 2011

A Tangled Web

The DU Bookstore's web site provider did a software upgrade last night, which resulted in every customer trying to place an online order with the store being warned that our site was highly suspicious and they should leave it immediately. We called Campus Hub, our software provider, and they said they would put their top scientists to work on the problem, maybe even by tomorrow. Needless to say, holiday web sales have dropped a bit, giving sales floor staff such as Lauren (pictured above) a needed break. I guess there is a silver lining to everything.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

A DU Med School?

The headline says it all - the University of Denver is exploring the possibility of starting a medical school. I just hope the medical students they attract won't be the same DU students that jump off the balcony of my building into the swimming pool each summer. If so, it will soon be time to check that diploma very closely whenever you visit the doctor.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

A Time To Ponder

It seems like tragedies occur more around the holidays than at other times of the year: children with inoperable cancer, teenagers dying in car accidents, drunk drivers killing pedestrians, gunmen killing fathers of five. Maybe we just notice these stories more around this time of year. The struggles so many people face each day make you appreciate what you have in life and encourage us all stop complaining so much about the little annoyances in life. Happy Holidays Everyone!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Law And Disorder

John is helping to check in law textbooks in the DU Bookstore's stockroom this week. The tables are covered with titles. John says this wild tangle of books is symbolic of an increasingly confusing legal system, a direct result of an increasingly complex society. I for one believe the next president - Newt Gringrich - will fix this problem quickly. For example, his plan to eliminate child labor laws will allow the DU Bookstore to increase productivity while at the same time lowering costs - all this without having to worry about incentive killing laws banning 10 year olds from working more than 40 hours a week. Go Newt!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Beer Is The Answer, But What Was The Question?

My friend Stuart and I had a couple of beers at Old Chicago in Lakewood tonight, and toasted "being in the driver's seat." Actually, Stuart is the one in the driver's seat. I'm still on the bus trying to figure out the transit map. Good luck out there on the highway of life, Stuart!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Holiday Madness

Wally and Katie have been processing hundreds of online holiday orders this past week here at the University of Denver Bookstore. What with the pressure of processing web orders, checking in thousands of textbooks, and dealing with rental returns, among many other duties, upper management here at the DU Bookstore has been worried that some employees might slip over the edge into madness. Of course, with this staff, how could we tell?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Big Chill

It is crunch time in the DU Bookstore's stockroom. Hundreds of textbook shipments are arriving every day, and Noah, the Stockroom Coordinator, has once again started using his proven management technique of turning down the thermostat to increase productivity. Whenever Noah turns the thermostat down to 33 degrees - just high enough to keep the pipes from freezing - his employees work faster just to stay warm. Good thinking, Noah. Keep coming up with these kind of ideas and it could mean winning the University of Denver employee of the year award!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Rebecca Is Back!

Rebecca is back working at the University of Denver Bookstore after a semester studying in Australia. Because Rebecca hasn't worked at DU since June, we had to do a background check on her to make sure she wasn't knocking off convenience stores while down under (Rebecca did mention that there are a LOT of 7-11s in Australia). In any case, her background check came back clean and she is now free to assist Brittney, Ceci, and the very curmudgeonly Doug in the Bookstore's textbook office. Welcome back, Rebecca!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

It's A Wonderful Bookstore!

Last night I decided to get into the Christmas spirit by watching "It's A Wonderful Life" on television as I was putting up my Christmas tree. Last year I had bought a book about the movie, which included a photograph of the final heartwarming scene of the movie. I was thinking at the time I would photoshop the faces of the DU Bookstore's employees onto the faces of the various characters in that photo. I then decided "to hell with it" - in a whimsical holiday way, of course - and never looked at the book again until today. Right after the scene pictured above of the Building and Loan's Board of Director's meeting, Uncle Billy says "Well, we're being voted out of business after 25 years. Easy come, easy go." He also says "So what? I can get another job. I'm only 56." In 1946 this was supposed to be funny, but not today. As faithful readers know, the University of Denver is contemplating outsourcing the Bookstore after 148 years. Could we soon become an entire store of Uncle Billys?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Free Art!

Today was a free day at the Denver Art Museum. Is it my imagination, or does the art look better when you get in for free? I toured the contemporary art wing of the museum this afternoon, and I saw a lot of artwork I liked. On other days when I have to pay to get in, the art often seems very so so. Probably it is just the holiday season affecting my viewpoint.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Happy 17th Anniversary Dave!

Dave B. celebrated his 17th anniversary as a DU Bookstore employee today. Dave started working at the store at 8:15 A.M. on December 2nd, 1994. He remembers coming to the front door and seeing me down on my hands and knees, trying to remove a spot on the carpet, while Helen - a long time employee then in her 80s - looked on. I remember it like it was yesterday. I remember thinking to myself "This guy is really crazy, but we need the help." And now, 17 fun-filled years have gone by. What more could you ask out of life? Congratulations Dave!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Snow Day!

No, we didn't get the day off, despite the weather. In point of fact, Chris and Darrel (pictured above) and I opened up the DU Bookstore at 7:30 this morning, despite a raging snowstorm. Other Bookstore employees trickled in much later or never came in at all. Evidently we of the DU Bookstore accounting staff are made of much stronger stuff. Plus we live closer.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Noah Speaks!

Noah, the DU Bookstore's Stockroom Coordinator, now has at least 50 part-time people helping him unpack textbooks in preparation for DU's winter quarter. I reminded Noah that he once stated he could easily unpack all the store's textbook boxes by himself. As a matter of fact, I think that was during his job interview. Tristy, the Bookstore's Director, was very impressed. In any case, Noah states that that was before 9-11, which changed everything. Not to mention the fact that Noah is not getting any younger.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

It's Textbook Time Again!

It is textbook receiving time at the DU Bookstore once again. In the next week or so, almost all of the winter quarter textbook shipments will arrive. It is always fun to see the hundreds if not thousands of boxes stacked to the rafters in the back room, with nowhere to walk, wondering how Noah, the Stockroom Coordinator, will deal with the deluge. As always, Noah asked for - and received - additional help with the receiving. I personally have always thought that Noah could handle it all himself as long as he stayed organized, but once again I was overruled. The squeaky wheel always gets the grease, I say.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Rental Return Hell

Today was the last day to return rental textbooks at the University of Denver Bookstore. It was a very hectic day on the sales floor, what with having to take back rentals and having to buy back textbooks. Meanwhile, the Bookstore's stockroom staff (see photograph above) was having a great time, taking the thousands of rental returns and putting them in alphabetical order. It is like being paid to do a giant crossword puzzle, while the sales floor staff has to slave away. Life is so unfair.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

It's the Holidays Again!

Somehow it's the holiday season again. It seems to me that it was just summer, and now we have to deal with Christmas shopping, not to mention holiday music in all the stores, including the DU Bookstore. I ordered the holiday Muzak for the store personally, requesting Mitch Miller and Gene Autry 24/7. Unfortunately, the company we deal with does not have any Xmas songs by those particular artists. The staff will just have to bear up.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Big Blue Bear

It was a brisk sunny Saturday - a good day for a walk downtown. I could not resist taking a photo of Denver's "Big Blue Bear," the landmark statue peering into the Denver Convention Center. It was created by a University of Denver professor. I wonder if we could convince him to create a giant red tailed hawk - the school's mascot - peering into DU's Ritchie Center? On the other hand, let's not.

Friday, November 25, 2011

MCA Denver

Tonight The Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver was open until 10:00 P.M, charging only a $5 admission fee after 5:00 o'clock. The entire museum was dedicated to the hippie movement of the 1960s. Although I have enjoyed going to the MCA in the past, I must say that this exhibit appears to have been put together by burned out hippies, and I mean that with all due respect. However, I did decide not to ask for my $5 back. Maybe I'll just request it back in a letter.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving Day

I had Thanksgiving dinner with my sister Susan and brother-in-law George tonight. Susan cheerfully remarked that except for our uncle in California and a few cousins, we three are all that is left of our family. I think Susan's point was that if the family had been larger, we could have gotten someone else to cook the holiday dinners, since she was sick of it (even though George did all the cooking). Susan informed me that from now on I would be expected to cook every holiday meal. Time to start looking for those roadkill turkeys!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Fight Club

Darrel is feeling better today after having surgery for a detached retina last Thursday. We medical experts at the DU Bookstore have been pondering how Darrel could have a detached retina with no obvious cause. We then remembered that Darrel was a Golden Gloves boxer when he was young. Could this be the cause? However, a few years ago, Larry - another former Golden Gloves boxer that worked at the store - started promoting the idea of a DU Bookstore Fight Club. In addition to Darrel and Larry, Bill - a former Operations Coordinator, and textbook buyers Doug and Brittney - also expressed interest in the idea. I was told the Fight Club was never established, but could they have been lying due to possible legal complications? Could this be the real reason Darrel got his detached retina? Sounds to me like there needs to be an investigation on this one.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Toast To The DU Bookstore!

Chuck (on the left) and John (on the right) toasted the University of Denver Bookstore tonight at the Bull & Bush Brewery & Restaurant. As University of Denver insiders are already aware, the university is contemplating outsourcing the store. If that happens, this will be the last book buy at DU for Chuck and John and the other Nebraska buyers. Whatever happens, it's been great working with you Chuck and John!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Signs of the Time

It was busy enough at the book buy and rental return desk at the DU Bookstore today that we decided to print signs to direct traffic. We posted the signs on stanchions, but after seeing Noah (shown above) holding up these signs, I think it would be a better idea to have him stand on the sales floor and hold up, twirl, and wave the signs to direct traffic, just like the individuals you see advertising condos and restaurants on street corners these days. If this works out, we can send Noah outside to advertise the store along Evans Avenue. For Noah's sake, I hope it's a warm winter.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Quiet Before The Storm

John (on the left) and Dean (on the right) report that the number of books bought back from DU students this quarter is way down. However, this could mean that everyone will come into the DU Bookstore on the same day to sell back their books - possibly this very Monday. The same thing happened a few years ago. On that day the book buyback line stretched out the door, down the hallway, and outside the building, all the way to the Jerusalem restaurant, several block away. As I recall, on that day Chuck - one of the Nebraska book buyers - fainted dead away. John had to throw water on his face, slap him several times to revive him, and then lash him to his computer terminal to make sure he didn't collapse again. It was a very stressful period for the Nebraska book buyers, but frankly quite amusing to watch. Good luck tomorrow guys!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The View From Downtown

Today was a sunny, beautiful, crisp fall day - perfect for a walk through downtown Denver. This was also World Toilet Day. I spent much of the afternoon wondering what kind of photograph would be most appropriate to celebrate Thomas Crapper's famous invention, but finally decided to flush the idea down the drain. Let everyone celebrate World Toilet Day in their own way.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Dave R. Goes By The Book

Dave R. seemed crestfallen today when I mentioned that I was taking the Tom Peters book "Re-imagine" home with me. It was on the "free" table in the DU Bookstore's break room, so I thought nobody wanted it. Evidently Dave has been reading it on his lunch hour each day and has been thoroughly enjoying it. I didn't have the heart to take it home after that and put it back on the break room table. However, I insist that Dave be put in charge of implementing the book's recommendations, chapter by chapter.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Still Another Nebraska Book Guy!

Dean, along with Chuck and John, is here at the DU Bookstore for the next week or so buying back textbooks from students. Dean, like Chuck and John, lives in Lincoln, Nebraska. I asked if Nebraska didn't seem to him to be overrun with cows and corn. Dean admitted this was true, but also mentioned that it was very windy in Nebraska, and the reason for this is because "Colorado blows and Iowa sucks." Could that be some kind of crack? In any case, welcome to the DU Bookstore Dean!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Chuck Is Back!

Chuck, one of the Nebraska Book Company representatives here to buy back textbooks from DU students over the next week or so, insisted during the last buyback that he and the other reps wanted the DU Bookstore to stay independent. That is why I was so shocked to see Chuck - in a suit no less - touring the bookstore with a group of executives wanting to make bids to take over the store. After all these years, we find out that Chuck has been moonlighting as a corporate raider. Who would have thunk it?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Nebraska Books Has Arrived!

Marty, the DU Bookstore's Textbook Manager (on the left in the photograph above) welcomed John (on the right) back to the store this afternoon. John, our Nebraska Book Company representative, along with Chuck, our other Nebraska rep, will be buying back textbooks for the store over the next week or so. Not only is that a great service to the Bookstore, it also gets Chuck and John out of cow-infested Nebraska for a little while. "Win Win," as we business types like to say.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Holiday Sale!

The Bookstore staff is all excited about the holiday sale going on at the store this week. Not only that, but the end of quarter bookbuy will start this Wednesday, the time of year when you offer students $5 for their $200 textbook and then duck. Thank goodness Chuck and the other Chuck - John - from Nebraska Book Company will be here to take the abuse. No wonder everybody is in such a good mood.