Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Libraries and apples

I had to visit the library of a neighbouring town recently to get a particular book. While I was there, I noticed a sign hanging down from the ceiling that read, "Take the 'search' out of 'research! Use the card catalog." I looked everywhere, and I couldn't find a card catalog; the librarian I asked didn't know of one either. Of course, it's possible that the sign went up before the card catalog was removed, but that seems unlikely to me; most libraries that I know of have been on computer systems for years. I can't recall seeing a card catalog for over a decade. Could someone have put up that sign when there already was no card catalog available to the public?

As I was selecting apples at the grocery store recently, I had to reject quite a few (more than usual) because they had bruises. It's possible that someone will end up with those apples, but it seems more likely that they will end up being thrown out. It made me wonder how much of the cost of apples (and other perishable goods) goes to wastage. The way the apples were stored — basically thrown into boxes for people to root through — seemed ineffective in preserving them. On the other hand, I have to admit that stores that have something like egg crates for apples seem like they're overdoing it, although I understand it better now. I have even seen stores wrap apples up with a piece of cardboard and plastic wrap and sell them in a group. I never liked that idea, but doubtless it saves them money on bruised apples. I wonder just how much money we're talking? With the high price of apples this year, I have been more willing than ever to buy a bag full at a lower price. Whenever I see apples like that, I think the store is trying to pull one over on me by putting bad apples in with the good ones, which probably is part of the reason. Unlike the wrapped apples, those in bags don't get any better treatment than individual apples. It's not just bruises, though; it's also the smaller and less desirable apples.

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