Who says nothing good has come out of California's famous budget crisis?
For me, it means a longer weekend. I'll explain.
One of my biggest sources for getting DVDs is the public library. Every branch in the area has an excellent collection of at least a thousand titles. They'll let you borrow three at a time, and they don't care which branch you return them to. (I really wish Blockbuster would learn this simple little idea.) The only problem with borrowing those three movies is that you have to have them back only two days later.
That is, unless you rent on a Friday. If you rent on a Friday, it's really three days, because the library isn't open on Sunday. It doesn't matter if you watch all three movies, because it didn't cost you anything, but the extra day gives that a more realistic chance of happening.
So for awhile I had a ritual of driving to the branch nearest my work at lunch on Friday to pick out three movies for the weekend. It was always fun not knowing what I might come away with.
But then, in trying to reduce hours for certain free government services -- including closing the DMV an extra day each week -- the city of Los Angeles (facing its own specific budget crisis) limited the library's Friday hours to just four, 1:30 to 5:30. This wasn't so great, as it meant the Friday lunchtime visits weren't really possible -- since my workday runs until only 3:30, I need to be eating lunch a lot earlier than that. And I wasn't that big on visiting the library after work, because then I'd get snarled in Friday night traffic, and tack on an extra 45 minutes to the time I arrived home.
As the budgetary problems have gotten worse -- or at least, not cleared up as quickly as they hoped -- they've tweaked the hours further. Only this time they benefit me, even though the total number of hours are fewer -- in fact, because they are fewer.
Starting this Monday, all branches of the library are now open only five days a week -- those five days being Tuesday through Saturday. So now any movies borrowed on a Friday are not due back until Tuesday -- Tuesday at 8 p.m., at that. Not only that, but the full-day closure on Monday means that Friday can go back to having regular hours. So now when I rent at lunch on a Friday, I'll get the movies for possibly as long as 100 hours, and have it count as just two days on the library calendar.
It's the little things, right?
Well, I can't say that I've made particularly good use of my first four-day library weekend. I returned my previous three movies just before closing on Friday, which means I had to abbreviate my usual sweep through the movie shelves to just a quick two minutes. Trying to fulfill the joint viewing needs of my wife and myself, as well as my own viewing needs, I grabbed The Private Lives of Pippa Lee and The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (for us) and Saw VI (for me). I have no idea if any of them will be good, but I have a pretty good idea Saw VI won't be.
Funny thing is, all three probably won't get watched even with the extra day, since I was out last night and will be out again Sunday night. But just having that possibility is a nice feeling.
I feel for the library employees who have seen their hours cut back. They don't deserve to be the victim of years' worth of poor budgetary decisions by the local and state governments.
But the situation does have its benefits.