[this is the sound I start making when I begin talking really really quickly....]

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Jessamyn is in...

the archives

17jan... puzzles
31jan... slingshot deadline
19feb... greg
10mar... AmLib deadline
01apr... RefLib deadline
28apr... MIT
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30jan03 . . . . . okay

[start the fire, put out the fire] When I went to sleep on Monday night, there was water pouring underneath my house from the water main that had broken upstream of the on/off valve. The plumber was due in the morning, which was the earliest he could get there since the plumbers are actually people who work on plumbing and heating. When it is 30 below zero, getting people's heat on is more important than stopping their leaks. As of Tuesday, it looks like the main is fixed [damned downside to gravity fed wells, there is no shutting them off if you need to] the interior pipes are repaired, and the sewer line is thawed to the point where my caretaker can now use the bathroom inside the house.

And all the water? It just went away. I don't know how. Temperatures are rising possibly above freezing for the first time in 2003, people are threatening to wear shorts. I am struggling along here in 50 degree cloudiness remembering to thank my lucky stars every once in a while.

27jan03 . . . . . rains & pours & floods

Good news: got invited to speak at a conference at MIT in April. All expenses paid.

Bad news: subzero temperatures for weeks on end mean my VT house is freezing, solid. This is bad for things like water systems, sewer systems, and caretaker morale.

I'll know tomorrow morning after the plumber visit if it is an epic catastrophe or not. Right now it is both a catastrophe and a non-catastrophe in that Schroedinger's Cat way that is my least favorite of all mental states -- simultaneously preparing to be relieved and to be totally freaked out, and unable to even start to be either until more data comes in.

24jan03 . . . . . hazy shade of whatever

[little snap taken with my new camera] There has been a robin explosion here these past few days. Literally, between the time I leave my front door to the time I reach the end of the street [about a block] I have seen hundreds of robins. A lot of them look like younger birds and their behavior seems to verify this [they don't get out of the way very fast, for example]. In warmer areas, I guess they don't migrate and so they hang out having brood after brood. This must be the latest bunch of babies. The cat just sits on the table making little yelping noises low in his throat but when he goes outside he realizes the birds are fifty feet up and he's not much of a climber. The air is positively shrieking with birdcalls, I like to envision a planet where there are other domainant species.

I start some work again next week. ETS has me scheduled for a 48 hour week, which I am sure is some sort of accident. Working for people in an all-email and phone environment is weird; I never know how to resolve conflicts in the most appropriate or tactful way. In this case, I am sure they don't want to pay me overtime [as much as I might like to make it] and I feel responsible for telling them about their oversight and saving them some money. Actually though, I want to save myself from getting e-yelled at for possibly putting them in an "overtime situation" and having them take it out on me since they don't know me from the 300 other numbers on their roster. The question, then, becomes how much is this my problem? And also, whose overtime rules apply for a company that is based in New Jersey but works out of an "office" [I assume, I've never seen it] in Oakland? California says overtime starts any day an hourly employee works over eight hours in a day. NJ law doesn't. I think if you start tossing around overtime regulations in email they have just cause for firing you with extreme predjudice, but I never like playing the clueless employee: "Overtime, huh? I never thought of that...."

But the real problem, aside from it being winter, is that I don't like playing the employee at all.

21jan03 . . . . . no, we did not win

So, the MIT Mystery Hunt went on a really damned long time, exacerbated by the fact that -- like the WWII soldiers on remote islands -- we didn't know it was over until well after it was really over, roughly eight hours by my estimation. The good news was, this allowed me to see some of the puzzles through to actual completion as the puzzle masters were free and easy with the hints once the game was over. We had a team that included people from Australia, London, Canada, Boston, New Haven and San Francisco, which was good, timezonewise. I also slept. I think most of the people on our team slept, at night, somewhat. This may be why we lost. The winning team had upwards of fifty members. We had upwards of twelve. Once it was all over, I fled the house, went for a walk, had dinner with friends, and got some sleep where I didn't dream of lists and lists of words. I was in charge of bringing dessert for six to the dinner and had about seven dollars in my pocket.

jessamyn's dessert for six


  1. an assortment of fruit including, if possible, kiwi fruit and blood oranges
  2. lemon sherbet
  3. honey
  4. fresh rosemary
  5. stroopwaffles [what?]
Before dinner, mix a few tablespoons of honey with equal parts water, add a teaspoon of rosemary, stir, and let sit
After dinner, cut stroopwaffles into quarters, slice fruits, peel oranges and kiwis.
Strain rosemary out of honey mixture
Arrange in bowl in roughly this order: waffle pieces, fruits around edge, sherbet in the middle, honey on top
Fancy bowls really throw this recipe over the edge.

16jan03 . . . . . gone puzzling

[click to see the full cover of my book] MIT Mystery Hunt starts tomorrow at noon [nine,my time] which means I hang out and eat burritos and anything else that can be prepared without too much muss or fuss or time away from the computer until the puzzle is solved, usually about two days. The addition of the new wireless network to our house means this is easier than ever. The team I'm on has people in at least four countries and most if not all US timezones. If anyone wants to swing by and help I should be here a lot of Friday. Saturday I'm changing venues and hanging out with Dan and Lisa to try to combine our puzzle-solving skills over the tantalizing tastes of Uwajimaya.

Other interesting news in the meantime: I sent out a call for papers for anyone who has been involved in virtual reference in or out of the library. Also, my book is now listed on Amazon for pre-ordering. For fun, click my name, look at all those books I wrote before I was born! Amazon doesn't separate same-name authors. So me and the other Jessamyn West have all of our books lumped together. Amazon considers this a "feature," I even asked them. Your library does separate authors, even if they have the same name. This is just another good reason to go to the library. Please, order my book from your library, if you want to read it all.

13jan03 . . . . . fairness

Why is this man laughing?

Russell Mokhiber: Ari, other than Elliott Abrams, how many convicted criminals are on the White House staff?
Ari. Fleischer: (Laughter.) You tell me, Russell. You seem to keep count.
RM Can you give me a list of convicted criminals on the White House staff, other than Elliott Abrams?
AF: I'll go right to the convicted criminals division and ask them to turn -- (Laughter.)
RM No, seriously -- why isn't being convicted of a crime a disqualifier for being on the White House staff?
AF: Russell, this is an issue that you like to repeat every briefing. I refer you to the --
RM But you don't answer --
AF: -- repeat I gave you the third time you asked it, which matched the second, which corresponded to the first.
Q A question on Venezuela, Ari.......

Note: the District of Columbia does allow convicted criminals to vote.

12jan03 . . . . . done done done

[multiple baby postcards, very popular for a brief time] I finished all the jobs I was working on. They sort of all wrapped up at once, so now I am in a strange position where I have forward momentum but no job-type applications to put it towards. This is not all bad. I finished the math worksheets, I finished my expert read on the anti-capitalism textbook, and my latest Google Answers article [the last one on this particular subject, sorry for the crappy formatting] is now online. The stuff I have coming up is all freelance, some writing for American Libraries, editing a periodical for reference librarians, some more test scoring and whatever else comes up before May. I redid my resume. I redid librarian.net somewhat; I feel like I am waiting for the Next Big Thing.

Spent a lazy Sunday looking for pushpins and wound up at Chubby and Tubby, a local discount place [think Spags if you are from Massachusetts]. C&T is going out of business sometime real soon now and they had the same random assortment of stuff and empty shelves that I saw at Ames when it went under and Caldor before that. A lot of local people are gearing up to miss Chubby and Tubby, just like I miss Howard's Friendly Markets which is out of business in Barre, replaced by a boring chain store. On the other hand, I'm in the awkward position of really not spending enough money anywhere to really support a business that I think is worthwhile. Aside from the food store, and an occasional breakfast at the restaurant my roomate half owns, I don't really shop, period. If I need a package of pushpins, I'm likely to go anywhere that's nearby and cheap. When I get food, I've been tending towards organic, or local, and the less processed the better. I have jars of grains at the house and that makes me happy. So, I have mixed feelings about the death of a business. On the one hand, it's sad when local color is replaced by corporate hegemony, on the other hand, my utopian vision has almost no stores in it at all.

09jan03 . . . . . on freedom

Three things

1. My friend reports from his job

I went over to [large private New York institution of higher learning] yesterday to fill out tax forms and stuff to officially begin my employment there & they made me sign a loyalty oath!! I was like "what the hell is this?" and they explained that since the 60's anyone who works for an institution of higher education that recieves funding from the state of New York has to sign one...The bittersweet part is that it requires loyalty to the *Constitution*, so, in this day and age, it could actually *prevent* me from cooperating with the government...I asked if the policy was instituted in the McCarthy era and they said, "No, the sixties".... I also wanted to point out that [said school] is a private institution which makes it extra weird....

2. I saw the guy who checks the water meters riding a Segway down our street today. I felt like I had just woken up like six months [or ten years] after I fell asleep and woke up on The Jetsons. I have nothing else to say about the Segway, I hope they stay off the sidewalks when they're not ridden by city employees.

3. My publisher wants me to replace the word "moron" in a first-person essay about the dumb people one health librarian has encountered at her job. We are suggesting "fuckwit" as a more PC alternative.

Incidentally, I refused to sign the oath I was asked to sign when I was in VISTA. The oath said that I would protect the country against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Since I was working with ESL students and likely illegal immigrants, I felt that I couldn't uphold the oath and do my job. I explained this to the nice lady who was taking our paperwork and she said "Oh that's fine,just cross out the parts you don't agree with" I crossed out everything after "I will swear to uphold the Constitution of the United States" and handed it in. Case closed. If my name is on a short list somewhere, i don't know about it.

06jan03 . . . . . I bore myself to death sometimes

[Oh I don't know] Some of the better news this week: Kill Rock Stars [the record label] decided, for some reason, that librarian.net was one of the things that made 2002 fun. Neat! My indie rock fanboy boyfriend is beside himself with my new assertion of indie cred.

2003 continues to be a hard-at-work month though I managed to sneak out for some green onion pancakes and some pizza at various times. This whole "five minutes to get a to a restaurant" still amazes me, even though I've been in town for almost a month. We live in a bit of a cloud forest here so when I went to leave the house in my car yesterday, I noticed it was starting to grow a thin layer of moss. This is some sort of testimony to how often I drive it. I like driving a mosscar, when I must drive. The mosscar just passed emissions here, so it may be a legal car in the state of Washington any day now. I don't think I mentioned that when I went to get license plates, the nice lady gave me a set of 15-day temporary plates, those paper things, for free. She had tried to call the VT DMV and they were closed, so she couldn't verify my lack-of-title. And I had the wrong registration anyhow. But I was super nice and polite, didn't expect everything to be done yesterday, and since we live in a country where not having a car for even a few days is unthinkable, she wrote me out some plates and told me to "Pay me when you come back next year". !? I generally enjoy this undeground economy thing I have going, but I always thought that government services were somehow exempt. I may have to start exporing more options in those directions....

The MIT Puzzle Hunt is the next non-work thing on my calendar here, though I'm sure I will be finding other things to do between then and now. If you are smart with computers and/or math and/or trivia and want to hang out for 36 hours the weekend after next, drop me a line.

02jan03 . . . . . oh won, oh three

If my New Year's Resolution had been to work every day of 2003, I would be well on my way to not breaking it. However, that is not the case, I just have a January eighth deadline and I like staying inside and typing more than going outside and damply freezing. I went to a little place outside of Mount Rainier with some friends and rang in the New Year like adults: playing some good games, drinking a bit, telling good jokes, watching the clock and heading to bed shortly thereafter. Honestly, I was too busy almost shooting milk out my nose when I read the fashion magazine's list of resolutions [something like shop more and worry about it less, buy a bigger bed so you look thinner to your lover, fight cellulite every day, not just every other day] that I forgot my own petty problems. I think my only real resolutions are: to do as little harm as possible; and to remember that there is beauty everywhere. Also, since I now can locate almost every country in Europe, I'd like to start on Africa. Happy New Year, this journal is entering its seventh year.

Happy birthday to Kristen, one day late.