For those of you who may not have known, I've been in Ottawa since this Wednesday morning for the Access conference, an annual, Canadian-organized but cosmpolitan gathering of library technology wonks and their friends and well-wishers. As always, the organizers put on a great program. This was my third Access conference, a trend which I hope to continue. So far, I have attended these three conferences as the employee of three different employers, the South Shore Regional Library (Halifax), Okanagan College (Edmonton), and the BC Public Library Services Branch (this year in Ottawa), thanks to assistance from the British Columbia Library Association. This is a trend which I hope not to continue.
Next year's conference is taking place in Victoria, a scant hour from where I live, and a scant(er?) thirty seconds from where my job is officially supposed to be located. This probably means that I will be involved in organizing it somehow. As Cameron Metcalfe said today, when comparing organizing Access to being married, "not a vow you should expect me to renew".
Anyway, last night I went for supper at McDonald's across the street from the Westin. Being the conference venue, that was where I stayed. Now let me tell you, the Westin is divine. The beds had to be made of clouds. And the pillows, bundles of gentle kisses wrapped in the purest silk.
No? Was that imagery too terrifyingly creepy for you?
Anyway, four of these Bless'd Pillows resting atop a spring-loaded box of Providence. So you get the picture. Woot. :-D
Now where was I? McDonald's. Right. So, McDonald's is across the street on rue Wellington, and I decided I wanted to look at other places first. Possibly because of the filthy zoo inside, and the teenaged couple outside screaming at each other. Overheard: "Don't you get that you hurt me when you keep getting f**ked up like that?"
I walked a little way down the street. Someone asked me for a quarter, and I saw a drug deal go down right in front of me, so I decided to turn around, and that McDonald's wouldn't be the worst choice I could make that day.
The ultimate point was, it got me thinking. Sitting on my Bless'd Pillows, covered in the Duvet Sacré that my money belongs in better places. That having been said, I refuse on principle to give money to panhandlers, because I'm afraid it might be feeding a drug habit. The exception to this rule is when I feel physically threatened, and will do it to get out to "safety".
Is this principle, though, or greed? Does it only become principle when I start tithing to charity and trying to make a difference in other ways? Am I a bad person for crossing the street and making my trip longer when I see a panhandler, just so I can avoid having to say no, and feeling guilty? Is my guilt justified? Do I ask too many pointless questions, without offering concrete (if poorly-conceived solutions)? Et cetera.
Oh, and I'm writing this from atop a concrete fence structure outside the National Gallery, overlooking the Peace Tower. Swag. No open wireless in this part of town though. Still friggin' swag.
(Addendum: Wedding bells are ringing. Not mine, though! Nosiree! But there's a huge church right across from the National Gallery. All of a sudden, the bells started ringing, and this huge wedding party just come out and formed immediately into this picture-shaped group, like they'd been praciticing it for months. Remarkable.)