Behind the masks

College started back again this week, and I was a bit flummoxed as to what my reflections might be today. I have stewed about writing it for days, then I realised that this selfie pic, of my massage course colleagues and me wearing Covid-19 face masks that featured my own artwork from my Redbubble store, might be inspirational.

Masks to be CovidSafe

As I had suspected, in the first few minutes of our new term, we had to focus on the new government and College requirements to keep our workspace CovidSafe – strict, new procedures for fetching and returning patient files, using PPE (personal protection equipment) correctly, appropriate physical distancing, etc – on top of the stress of moving from therapeutical to more remedial massage treatments in the Clinic sessions. The Monday and Tuesday train rides into the city were eerily quiet. My standing-room only express trains have been so empty, and yet a different trip on Friday, in the middle of the day, saw all of the socially-distant seating occupied. My masks are coming in handy, although as yet they are not compulsory.

I mentioned in a previous blog entry that I am struggling – as are most of the world’s population in this Bizarro World of the pandemic – and it is usual for me to feel this way for an extended period. I have recently made concerted efforts to reach out to a range of friends, relatives and acquaintances, with very mixed results. A lot of them are struggling, too. At the same time, I have been the sounding board for other contacts, who seem to be coping less-successfully than I am. So I am buoyed in the knowledge that I am not alone, but the extended periods of alone-time are daunting. More time for the voices in my head to interfere in my day. I am also aware that those not reaching out may also be in need. I am sure I have developed a phobia to using the telephone. The home line, which changed numbers when the National Broadband Network came, rarely rings. Magically the “junk” cold calls have also stopped. Somehow, they never found my new number? And recently many of those cold callers seem to have lost their jobs, although I always assumed they worked from home? Maybe not.

As the “second wave” attempts to take hold in Melbourne and the rest of Victoria, the debate rages about the effectiveness of face masks, so the ones I ordered for myself (and friends) from Redbubble, may became even more important if the virus keeps leaking into New South Wales. But I am struck by the irony that I seem to wear several masks that are not made of fabric. Very different times, for sure.

One year ago this week…

Facebook reminded me this week that my Diploma of Remedial Massage course at Endeavour College started one year ago. A four-term, one-year course that turned into five terms, as we spent the second term doing lots of the online subjects (that are normally evenly distributed throughout), while we waited for more students to do their Term 1, then combine the two groups to form one class.

Palpation

Unfortunately, that term did not run – and now we have just come from another term at home, due to the unanticipated delay created by the Coronavirus Pandemic lockdowns. We are now not scheduled to finish the course until the end of the year, but there is really only practical clinic sessions (and accompanying theory) to go. Frustrating, yes, but a comedy of errors that wasn’t really anyone’s fault. So we are just going with the flow. I am grateful not to be dependant on the delayed income from working as a massage therapist and the additional delay gives me more opportunity to consider my options for renovating the house to create clinic space.

Next week is the commencement of our delayed, penultimate term. First up we will be unpacking the latest updates for ensuring our space is – and remains – CovidSafe. A brave new world, and our “New Normal”, at least for the time being. Hopefully, Sydney continues to win the many battles. The recent return to lockdown for Melbourne reminds us all how tentative the situation still is.

I look forward to the next learning hurdles with some trepidation. I guess if I can palpate a human hair hidden under 16 sheets of newspaper, I can palpate a human client through disposable nitrile gloves…?

VARK learning styles

The VAK learning styles model* suggests that my preferred style of learning is “VISUAL”.

“Someone with a visual learning style has a preference for seen or observed things, including pictures, diagrams, demonstrations, displays, handouts, films, flipcharts, etc. These people will use phrases such as ‘show me’, ‘let’s have a look at that’ and will be best able to perform a new task after reading the instructions or watching someone else do it first. These are people who will work from lists and written directions and instructions.”



My results from the self-assessment questionnaire were: Visual 19, Auditory 6 and Kinesthetic 5. So quite convincingly “Visual”. (*In the VARK version of this model, an additional learning style is given as Reading/Writing.)

How would this impact upon the future professional development opportunities that I may seek to undertake?

The recent rise of online instructional videos (eg. on Youtube, etc) would be an efficient and cost-effective (sometimes free) professional development activity well-suited to my learning style. To this end, I have already begun ‘liking’ channels and practitioners that I find appealing or highly commended.

Recent changes enforced upon physical learning venues, due to Covid-19 lockdowns, have seen a huge jump in the uptake of conference software, such as Zoom, and I imagine the next few years will continue an exploration in its possibilities. I can see online conference facilities being useful for learning new skills, enhancing existing ones, building mentor relationships (both as mentee and mentor).

The various professional associations may well be moving more to audiovisual conferencing to satisfy the increasingly strict requirements (eg. social distancing) for a Covid-safe future, certainly as travel to interstate and overseas conferences continues to be unpredictable.



In my Business Plan assignment last year, I had established some goals for the next five years of a remedial massage therapy career. The ones relevant to planning for future Professional Development needs include:

• becoming certified in a new massage technique each year and add them to the treatment menu.

• continuing to network with other local massage and allied health professionals at professional development events.

• tracking referrals each month on a spreadsheet (online update of skills?)

• becoming certified in mindfulness techniques to complement the remedial massage therapies (ie. helping others to deal with post-traumatic stress, overcome sleep disturbance, reduce chronic pain and depression and rediscover their essential wholeness and resiliency).

Reflecting on the making process

“We do not learn from experience, we learn from reflecting on experience.” John Dewey, quoted in User Generated Education blog by Jackie Gerstein, 5th October, 2015.

This week, we have been asked to think of a time, during our student lives, where something did not quite go as planned, or the outcome was not quite as desired. By using the steps in Gerstein’s flow chart, we should review the situation and answer each step individually, for sharing with the group (or beyond, with this blog).

Gerstein flowchart
A Making Reflection, Jackie Gerstein.

One of the most challenging assignments so far (for me) would be last year’s Business Plan. Ideally, this crucial assignment, completed via the guidance of online lecture notes and a blank template, would be scheduled towards the end of the one year Diploma course in Remedial Massage. Due to several unforeseen circumstances (and not even counting the new unforeseen circumstances of this year, ie. the current world pandemic, which has required that more subjects be reshuffled), we had to complete this assignment early. I was aware that, in a real-world situation, several of the elements of a Business Plan would be devised with the paid consultations with experts, and at times, I did find that going it alone was intimidating. However, I did survive!

Was I resourceful…?

For the Business Plan, when an aspect was causing me to feel indecisive, or in need of further information, I did a lot of Internet searches, used college resources (including a consultation with the lecturer at one perplexing point) and lecture notes.

Did I ask others…?

I also sought assistance from five different friends/contacts, making sure I directed specific questions in their realm of expertise. Their feedback was essential. This did require starting the assignment early enough, which I managed to do, to account for the extra time needed to field phone calls, set up meetings and collaborate on how to present aspects in the template. The assignment would certainly have been more stressful if I had left it until the week it was due.

Did I share…?

As a result of some of my discussions with my friends/contacts and the lecturer, I did offer advice to my fellow students on how I approached calculations used in the Business Plan. Of course, their answers would end up being very different, since we were all describing different business models in our plans.

Did I learn…?

I definitely felt like I learned lots of new things. Certain parts of the Business Plan were familiar to me, due to past experiences, such as: analysing the content and design of websites of the rival, local businesses; aspects of Work Health and Safety; and designing a meaningful, appealing business logo. New aspects included: determining market targets; estimating Profit & Loss; and laying out and interpreting a Financial Summary.

Did I play and have fun…?

While completing this assignment was very daunting, I found that really enjoyed comparing and analysing the local competitors and evolving my own logo.

Did I try to create…?

As much as I searched for existing sample Business Plans online, the uniqueness of my situation meant that the final assignment was uniquely mine, and wasn’t going to be valid if I tried to pass off an existing Business Plan as mine.

Did I approach learning as an open-ended process…?

The responses from my various contacts led me into areas I had not previously considered. Similarly, analysing the websites, shopfronts and services of my existing competitors, and the unique makeup of my local area’s residents needs (such as the large number of new nursing homes in Penrith), provided insights into very real gaps in the market that I had not previously considered.

Did I accept failure…?

I almost started the diagram’s cycle here, as the mere mention of “failure” can seem a bit negative – but since I know I passed the assignment, I obviously did not fail. Acceptance of the possibility of failure is always worth keeping in mind. It is the key attitudinal part of the process and I do typically use possibility of failure to inform my learning. Most educational institutions also offer a pathway to convert a failed assignment into a pass, but ideally it will be couched with feedback from the marker, further reading, discussions with the lecturer, etc.

I think the only (rare) times I have admitted defeat in my past – and walked away from an unfinished project – there has been some complicated political situation, in which I have felt that others in power were taking advantage of my efforts and motivations. Sometimes, for mental health reasons, walking away from a difficult project/situation can be… therapeutic.

The way forward?

Developing goals for my eventual massage therapy practice is really stretching my brain at this point. I do love these ideas from massage therapist – and avid Youtuber – Spencer Harwood (HM Massage, 19 February, 2018). I found these points to be useful to ponder as I started setting my own goals this week.


5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Going Into Massage Therapy

Spencer lists the following main points, ie. the things Spencer wished he’d known before going into massage therapy as a career:
1. You probably won’t make as much money (in your first few years) as you thought.
2. Massaging clients is hard work. Therefore…
3. Self-care is necessary/essential, including strengthening and stretching exercises, yoga and regular (monthly) massages. Many therapists, he notes, only last in the job for about three years.
4. At first, be prepared to work unusual, perhaps inconvenient hours.
5. You are not only your client’s massage therapist, you are usually also their therapist.

I realised that I appreciate Point 3, in particular. Embracing the requirement for regular self-care is probably the aspect of being a massage therapist that I have deliberately avoided so far, but it does seem inevitable that creating a plan for regular strengthening and stretching exercises, especially as a warm-up before performing a massage would be… preemptive. I have (perhaps reluctantly) made a self-care goal the one I will be following up as this term progresses. It has been the niggling doubt since starting the course last July. Through a comedy of errors, it is the one I have avoided.

Meanwhile, blogger susygg‘s article, Goal-setting for your massage practice at Canadian College of Massage & Hydrotherapy (July 23, 2013), identifies massage therapist Stephanie Beck‘s hints for evolving a practice:
1. Take stock of your practice.
2. Make goals. Divide them into multiple lists, such as personal, professional and financial.
3. Picture yourself one year down the road, having accomplished all of these goals. Record the changes that you’ll need to make.
4. Identify challenges. List all obstacles and hurdles in your way.
5. Brainstorm solutions.
6. Write down the advice and inspiration that you take from your mentors.

I really like the message about recording advice from mentors. It’s also nice when you find yourself repeating someone else’s advice to remember where it came from, and give credit for it, before making it your own.

Dr Joelle Jay‘s blog entry, Make your SMART goals WISE goals (Massage Magazine, 24 June, 2016) considers WISE goals. To summarise:
1. Writing your goals forces clarity of thinking. It allows objectivity, instills commitment and puts thoughts into a durable form you can revisit.
2. Integrating ideas means bringing them together in the same place, so you can look at them all at once. Allow personal and professional lives to intermingle. “You get to have it all. There are no rules. You make it up.”
3. Synergising means making the goals work together; one idea advances another.
4. Expansive – Think big! Your goals should inspire you to stay on the path to your dreams. “This may be the biggest differentiator between SMART and WISE thinking…” Spending too much time and energy boxing objectives into a tight formula “can squeeze the life right out of them.”

Sounds good to me! I am feeling a lot better about goal-setting after absorbing and reflecting upon these three pieces this week.

SMART goals and the GROW model

This week, we are required to take a moment to think of an area or skill, relating to our professional lives, that we are:
1. Doing well with (and would still like to improve), and
2. Would like to improve.

Although some quite antiquated statistics are quoted by Ali Boehm at The Massage Business Mama, it now turns out to be a fictitious example. I guess to prove a point with a blatant bluff, relying on the fact that most readers won’t double-check the sources?

The reports were said to have found that:
• 84% of the graduates [at Harvard University, in 1979] had no specific goals.
• 13% had goals but had not taken the time to write down said goals.
• 3% had taken the time to sit down and write out their goals and a plan to accomplish them.

When re-interviewed a decade later, the results were no surprise:
• The 13% who had goals, were earning on average twice as much as the 84% who had no specific goals.
• The 3% with clear, written goals were earning on average ten times as much as the rest of their classmates.

The decisive question asked of the students listening to the presentation: “Do you think that maybe being a part of the 3% that take time to write out goals might set you apart from your competitors in business? Not to mention the effects it could have in your personal life…”

Sounds good! But… the figures and the studies are “fake news” – and so old they are not even “news”. I was intrigued that 1979 was a very old study to use as an example. Supposedly, that 1979 Harvard University study interviewed new MBA (Master of Business Administration) graduates about the setting of career goals, and again exactly ten years later, to compare the results. Blogger Sid Savara has determined that, prior to this, the same statistics and findings had been attributed to an even more ancient (1953) Yale University goal-setting study. Neither of these goal studies actually occurred.

Savara sums up thusly: “The moral of the story: Don’t believe everything you read online. Nonetheless, the initial advice I put forth is still sound – write down your goals!

So, now to print out a template for my Strength-based and Deficit-based SMART Goal Components, and fill it out… I shall return.

LATER:

Mmmmm. I am definitely not enjoying tackling these goals on my own. I find goal-setting to be very challenging. In education circles, I have been involved in formulating SMART goals for primary schools and while serving on various professional committees, but most times we have brainstormed and discussed our goals in small groups, and then larger groups, until consensus is reached, with all stakeholders having a chance to contribute.

My Strength-based SMART Goal must be Strategic, Measurable, Attainable, Results-based/Research-based and Time-bound. The obvious one is to complete my current course, which will involve a Remedial Clinic next term (condensed to respond to lost time over the current pandemic situation) with the prescribed number of massage sessions, with a passing grade and satisfactory supervisor feedback, by the end of September 2020.

My Deficit-based SMART Goal must also be Strategic, Measurable, Attainable, Results-based/Research-based and Time-bound. Through the readings I have done this week (discussion and links in my next blog entry), it seems inevitable that my goal needs to be extended beyond my customary brisk daily walk. I will compile a plan of essential strengthening and stretching exercises, complete them every day, in two 15-minute sessions (which is almost 30 minutes more stretching than I currently do), mark each session on a calendar, completed at the end of June 2020. (This will allow for a reevaluation and another plan put into place for the end of September 2020.)

I now come to the GROW Model.

1. Choose your GOAL!
• Select one of the goals you set earlier using the SMART criteria to work on in this exercise. What is your chosen goal?

It seems obvious that a plan for regular strengthening and stretching exercises is what I need to put into place, not that it thrills me. I know that physical exercise (except walking) is something that I have always avoided.

2. Is your goal REALISTIC?
• Explore this question further. Why have you not already reached your goal?

Regular physical exercise comes with plenty of baggage from my childhood and teenage years. My Dad was a first-grade cricketer and talented in several sports, so I often felt I was a disappointment to him. PE was one of my least desirable activities in teaching, too. I often escaped it as a teacher-librarian, but not always. It’s really just not me. But I can see that regular strengthening and stretching exercises will be a preemptive insurance against injuries, and a way to keep my new career active and less difficult.

• What has been stopping you from reaching it?

Lack of discipline, forgetfulness in performing tasks I do not find enjoyable, procrastination, other priorities have been more urgent…

• Where are you now in relation to the goal?

After some research and reading this week, I have certainly found some compelling arguments for getting my act together.

• Do you think the goal is achievable for you?

Yes, but it will be interesting to see if I end up enjoying following a routine. Last time I felt longterm benefits and self-satisfaction from regular exercise would have been… 1972. (I must tell that story some day. It’s hilarious.)

• Do you know anyone who has already achieved a goal similar to yours? What can you learn from them?

Mmmmm. No one coming from my particular anti-sport stance. I shall have to think about this question.

• What have you already tried and what could you do better?

Over recent years, I have managed to keep to a fairly strict routine for daily physical exercise in the form of brisk walking. It needs to be extended to include complementary strengthening and stretching. The old reliable diet plans are not working the way they did in the 90s, though, and I get quite discouraged, having already given up many “sometime foods”.

3. What are your OPTIONS?
• What could be your first step towards fulfilling your goal?

I need to research and create a list of appropriate strengthening and stretching, and do them twice a day. My lecturer has been adding videos of such exercises to the Endeavour College Facebook page.

• What do you think would happen if you took this step?

My body would start to feel positive benefits. And that would be motivating to continue.

• Are there any obstacles to you taking this step?

Procrastination.

• Are there also other options for moving forward?

Now that pandemic lockdown restrictions are being lifted, I could could contact a friend who does running as a series pastime for some encouraging and mentoring.

• How would these make you feel?

I would hope for a bit of an endorphin rush as the calendar days get checked off, or when boasting to my runner friend about my progress?

• Which of the options that you have explored do you feel ready to put into action?

My lecturer has uploaded two stretching videos so far. I have watched them, but only followed one of them a few times.

4. What is your WAY FORWARD?
• Now that you have gone through your options you can set up your “game plan” which will act as a framework to implementation. It can be as simple as – Step 1… Step 2… Step 3…, etc. (Be sure to review regularly to keep on track and make adjustments as needed.)

Gosh, no excuses now, huh?

As mentioned above, some links to my lecturer’s first batch of stretching and strengthening video clips from Endeavour College of Natural Health’s Facebook page:

• “Desk exercises with Anthony Turri” video is HERE.

• “Bad posture busting exercises for the upper body with Anthony Turri” video is HERE.

Is the glass half empty or half full?

Glass half full

This week, our Zoom lecture focused upon building an awareness of self, and personal motivations and behaviours that are fundamental to creating: a strong and sustained manual therapies practice; and a fulfilled personal and professional life.

It was a conscious effort on my part, when creating this blog all those years ago, to keep an optimistic view when discussing aspects of my teaching, and I hope that I can maintain that philosophy with my new focus of undertaking tertiary education in a whole new field.

“Optimists have a tendency to hope for the best…” says Stephanie Stokes Oliver in Seven soulful secrets for finding your purpose and minding your mission (Crown, 2001). That doesn’t mean they hope for the best only sometimes, treating the glass as half full, instead of half empty, becomes a mindset.

When I moved back into school libraries, after a stint at State Office and then a return to the primary classroom, I noticed some teacher-librarian colleagues were using social media as a sounding board for complaints in their professional lives. But, it seemed to me, some of these people had a “glass half empty” view most of the time. A few would even angrily resist any help. (Now, one crucial aspect of working as a teacher-librarian is that one is usually the only teacher-librarian in the school. Teaching colleagues can be important people with whom one can debrief, but some issues are unique enough to require debriefing with another teacher-librarian.) I had a habit of wanting to share positive examples that I thought might provide comfort. It would sometimes have the opposite effect. I would regularly get admonished that I should let people “have a wallow” in their miserable situation, to offer them only my sympathy, and not give a pep talk or a personal success story. The complainer’s glass was not only half empty, it was half empty of spilt milk.

Sorry, but that attitude just seems so destructive, especially longterm. I became determined that, rather than get involved in someone else’s dilemma, I would put more effort into finding the positive angles to my own situations which I had found challenging, and share them here. As Oliver suggests, “there may be opportunity in the situation as well as trouble.” The feedback towards this blog, especially in its early days, was very encouraging. Several award nominations – and a win, the SLA NSW “John H. Lee Memorial Award” for 2012, for “excellence in leadership in innovative and collaborative teaching practice through the integration of learning technologies” – was a delightful vindication that the “glass half full” is right for me.

I love this quote: “If speakers describe positive things in positive terms, listeners should infer positive things from positive terms.” [Shlomi Sher & Craig C. R. McKenzie, “Information leakage from logically equivalent frames”, Cognition 101, Department of Psychology, University of California, San Diego, 2006.] It has certainly worked for me, and is a comforting touchstone to return to in (thankfully rare) gloomy times!

Life in lockdown

The days, weeks and months blur into each other in retirement. I am used to that already. But now the days, weeks – and months? – are blurring even more, due to the abrupt changes imposed upon the whole world as a result of the Coved-19 pandemic. The 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic was the stuff of legend. After a crazy couple of years of drought in Australia, followed by 2019’s weeks, then months, of unprecedented bushfires – not to mention political turmoils in so many countries – a new worldwide coronavirus outbreak seemed like the last thing we all needed.


Ian as Massage Therapist

In July last year, after a couple of strange and frustrating dead ends, I finally commenced a full-time Diploma of Remedial Massage Therapy at Endeavour College, Sydney. Brave New World: terrifying and wonderful; challenging and rewarding. It should have been a four-term, one-year course, but we had already accepted that subjects would be stretched across five terms, mainly due to the small number of students who had joined us. Term 1 went swiftly enough, and the last term of 2019 switched to a fully online component, which caught us up on all the regular online subjects that usually would have been dripped throughout the course. No matter! As challenging as the Business Plan assignment was, it was nice to have at-home time to tackle it properly, and in context with the other online topics, which did complement the tasks in the business plan.

After decades of creating activities for young students that encouraged the sharing and discussion of ideas, and collaborating with teachers and teacher-librarian on units of work and conference programs, working on a business plan alone was not doing my confidence a lot of good. I was missing the daily banter with my colleagues, though. I did organise one in-person consultation with my lecturer, mainly to reassure myself that I was on the right track. But I survived! And I came to grips with a few of the trickier questions about my future possibilities for how this course might earn me some future spending money.


Towels

I also had a welcome reunion with former teaching colleagues when I attended their annual Christmas shopping bargain bus trip. (Once again, token male on the bus, but always such a fun day.) My mission, of course: towels for my future clinic. Twelve towels, in two sizes, plus four hand towels. I answered lots of questions about my course that day. And then: an afternoon on Youtube learning how to roll the towels to have a professional look. (I also taught this skill to the staff at my local bathroom renovation store, and their display towels look spectacular, as do my two new bathrooms!)

2020 started with clinic hours, with therapeutic/relation massages for real, paying clients, to reinforce all of our skills learned so far. Very daunting, but I am thrilled with how my confidence grew. So much more to learn. I came into this course as a novice. The other students all had some massage experience, or came from a sporting background. My only experience with massage was having had a few massages as a client. We barely made it to the end of the term before the national lockdowns happened. We knew the next term was going to be… unusual. Of course, therapeutic massages were one of the first “non essential” service industries to close. By government decree. (Remedial massages were still allowed, but we weren’t approved for those yet, of course, having not started any remedial work in our clinic sessions.)

So the current pandemic lockdowns mean that, instead of moving to our next set of practical clinic hours, to practise our newly-acquired remedial massage skills, we are back doing another online subject, although this time complemented by weekly Zoom meetings. (Very welcome addition, I think.) This one covers professional development, self-reflection and journal writing, so I have spent a few days reevaluating this blog (which I already pay for to get access its professional capacities). I am thinking that “Booked Inn” can morph into a series of self-reflections in further education, rather than its previous theme of self-reflections in teacher-librarianship. I have reconfigured a few of the attached “Pages” and I am sure other ideas will come to me.

As always: a “Glass Half Full” will be my attitude to any dilemmas. The power of positivity has always worked for me before, so I think it will be a good fit for this term’s reflective journal writing.

The search for homeostasis

Where have I been?

Homeostasis

Two weeks into Term 1 of 2019’s school term year, I officially “separated from the NSW Department of Education”. Despite keeping tabs on the doings of my teacher-librarian colleagues, I haven’t felt a burning desire to do any casual teaching or library work. Instead, have renewed my writing efforts on some fiction manuscripts and started making preparations for a future career(?) as a massage therapist. Recent changes in courses and career paths (to formalise which courses’ graduates can access health fund rebates for their clients) saw me gravitate towards a Diploma of Remedial Massage rather than a Certificate 4 course. Endeavour College in the Sydney CBD offered my best option and I have just completed my first ten weeks of study. Some days, it hardly feels like studying: ie. give a massage, receive a massage, break for lunch, repeat. Now that‘s the way to study.

Diploma of Remedial Massage

First homework involved removing a ring that has been stuck on my finger for about ten years…

Homework

All of which led to a firm resolve to lose some weight. This was a momentous landmark.

100kg

A few weeks into the course, the other students and I spent a day volunteering at the City2Surf marathon, massaging doctors and nurses who have their annual post-race gathering on the roof of Bondi Surf Club. (Talk about being “thrown into the deep end”.)

City2Surf

We are expected to do at least two practice massages per week to consolidate our skills. When human volunteer crash test dummies aren’t available for practice sessions, there are always other stand-ins…

Massage for bears

Finding my way around the college LMS (learning management system) has made the last ten weeks relatively easy. Certainly a different way of submitting assignments since my last full-time course in 1990. Now I can take a three-week breather before the next term commences…

Academic Integrity

Meanwhile, I am back to writing Draft #2 of a Young Adult novel manuscript. No rest for the wicked, even a retired teacher-librarian.