Jessamyn is in...
10mar... AmLib deadline
balloon of perhaps
30mar03 . . . .
happy birthday kate!
Happy birthday to my favorite [and only] sister Kate whose age is now, for the second and last time in her life, a fifth power.
I buy stamps for cheap off of eBay sometimes. I don't know why people sell perfectly good stamps below face value when you can always use them to mail letters. I suspect there are people who don't send enough mail. I have a bad feeling that sometime in my lifetime we won't be able to send nutty overstamped letters with old stamps like this anymore.
In other federal matters, I filed my taxes today. When I clicked on the "compare your return to others" link, I was surprised to discover that fully 30% of people who filed income tax in 2000 made in my same bracket, from zero to 15K. That seems low to me, hard to pay rent, get ahead, etc. I don't kid myself into thinking that I am poor just because I have a low income; I have health insurance, good dental care, a roof over my head, good food to eat, and a huge support system if any of those things fall through. Poverty covers much more than just presence or absence of spending money.
29mar03 . . . .
So I got better, or I cheered up, or something. I've always found that whenever you think that things are as bad as they're going to get, or you're as mad as you're going to get, and Changes Must Happen, because whatever is happening is intolerable.... changes often come on their own. My job got easier, though not less frustrating. My house got cleaner, though not much more finished. My hormones levelled out, though are no less mystifying.
I still wake up every morning and feel sick and horrified at what our government and soldiers are doing to people in other countries, and to a lesser extent to people in our own country. I went to a meeting last night, widely advertised in my circles, that seriously forwarded the idea of armed revolution as a means of making the bad people stop, now and in general. The argument was somewhat simplistic, and off on some facts, but the room was packed, and no one was quibbling over details. I have a hard time believing that sitting home and moping is the best solution to what ails this country, I only wish there were some better alternatives than "sending a message" real or figuratively.
Incidentally, my article about the PATRIOT Act which was published in Slingshot and the Vital, got some sweet linking from boingboing this week. Worth a read if you don't know too much about it. It's pretty easy to get published if you don't split hairs about stuff like getting paid. And the less money I make, the less I owe the war machine.
25mar03 . . . .
Now one of the troubles with my odd endocrine system lately may be that I have too much testosterone flowing through my system. It has certainly been said before. This might explain the blind rage I was in from sometime Monday afternoon until mid-morning yesterday. I have never gone to bed mad and woke up mad before, this was strange. The troubling and annoying part of this is that it's my own damned fault that I signed up to work eight straight days in a row. This, of course, coming from someone who generally works four straight hours in a row in any given week, and likes it that way. Scoring leadership means that not only do I work eight hours a day but I spend a lot of it on the phone talking to people. This is a mixed bag. On the one hand, I am one of those extroverted people who actually gets more energized the more I talk to people. On the other hand, some people are just problematic, and I must manage them, or try to. So far I have been lucky; some people in my position have said that they have had to deal with either very crabby people, or very sad people [since I do sometimes have to tell people they cannot work for the day]. I think if I had to give bad news to a crying person I would quit on the spot. But back to me, I was angry. It was just too many people needing too much stuff and I was doing too bad a job prioritizing, which is usually my strong suit. I don't know what was wrong. It's fixed fpr now. Some good beet risotto and green tea with a friend straightened my shit right out.
I refuse to admit that the fact that my roomate decided that my first week of work was also a great time to rip all the plaster off the walls of the living room and replace all the big windows might be a factor in all of this. Signing off from my remote office in my bedroom....
23mar03 . . . .
shut 'em down
Had a talk with my friend Robert the other day about activists' plans to "shut down" various cities. This is a common way of phrasing what is basically a large scale organized street protest. There was one of these in Seattle that I only caught the tail end of because I was working. By the time I got there, it had been cordoned off into an area where music was playing in front of the Federal Building and the riot cops [40 by my count, one for every five protesters] were just starting to cross the streets. I had gone downtown to do my stuff and visit friends and I wasn't at all worried about this supposed shut-down. As I explained to Robert: my electricity and water were still running safely, as was my network connectivity and phone. There were no holes in the walls of my house and my life was in no danger. My family and friends were likewise fairly safe. Food was readily available and inexpensive. I could take a bus to within about eight blocks of my final destination and I like to walk. I had no shopping to do, or businesses to visit, and I feel comfortable among teeming throngs of activists. Shut down? Not to me.
18mar03 . . . .
Short notice: I will be on TechTV tomorrow. Transcript and more info here.
Sometimes I feel that I pretty much only write about the post office, the doctor and the crazy state of my job or house. That said, here's the update on the three topics near and dear to me
- post office: when I took my package in to mail it, I had already put the stamps on it. I have a lot of neat old stamps at home that I use to mail stuff. I also have a postal scale that lets me get postage pretty close. I was going to put it in the mailbox but I was holding it when I went to buy some stamps from the lady at the counter. She said "is that postage correct?" and I said yeah, or at least I thought so. She then looked me straight in the eye and said "okay then, I'll just postmark it, send it on its way, and trust you" It seemed like a flash of postal worker defiance and I for one appreciated it.
- doctor: says my cholesterol is high but not stratospheric. could lose a few pounds. my blood looks okay, prolactin levels are strangely high, going to see an endocrinologist just to be on the safe side. it was a completely mellow visit, on my way out she said "have a happy healthy year, bye now" High prolactin means big tits. I get no mileage from this, unless you count attention from the men on the back of the bus as social currency.
- job/house: had training yesterday where I sat in on a conference call with 15 other people and watched a Powerpoint presentation over the Internet.... for three hours. wireless connectivity means that I got to do all this from the comfort of my own pajamas and -- even better -- my own bed. I feel like this is really some pinnacle of my existence in one direction, and a big big crash in another
From where I sit, I can see two different types of woodpeckers go at the trees in the side yard. This year Spring seems to me like that indie rock boy that always stands in the corner who finally for some reason has taken off his polyester sweater and begun to wildly dance. Shake that thing!
17mar03 . . . .
Okay I made it back safe and sound and yesterday was the travel-and-take-a-nap day. The day before it, as usually happens with the last day of any vacation, was chock full of stuff to do as opposed to my leisurely walk-around-the-bay day on Monday. To recap:
- got to bed late after the Google Bought Blogger party, turns out the medium "ladies" T-shirt that I was grousing about actually does fit, though it's a bit on the racy side on me. Of course there is no such thing as a ladies size large, or a men's size medium. Feh.
- Woke up on the couch & then had coffee and hung out with my gracious hosts
- tried and failed to have lunch with my excellent pal Phil
- was interviewed by the nice folks at TechTV for a teeny bit on a show to be airing next week. Topic: blah blah Google Answers blah
- met up with my friend Alex at the downtown library
- sat in on the taping of my uncle's new show The Active Opposition -- political TV where people get to talk for over 20 seconds at a time, really interesting though it was odd to feel myself get all fidgety & realize how attuned I'd become to more conventional short-on-facts reporting.
- drinks at the Odeon and a remarkable puppet show from the Insurrection Landscapers who, of course, come from about 40 miles from my house in Vermont. Holy shit, what an event! It's really great to see political satire that pulls no punches and yet isn't hopless and bleak. Catch them if you possibly can.
So I'm back and doing taxes and adding phone numbers to my handheld and catching up on mail. I must say that thanks to the Terribly Expensive Nose Drops, I don't keep myself awake at night snorfling. I missed my ETS training this morning because I hadn't yet gotten to the post office. Apparently the package they mailed to me two days ago [express mail, paid for by you the taxpayer!] was mandatory, even though it is a set of xeroxes of all the stuff we've been seeing on the website anyhow. Now that I've read it all, the training session where we have it all read to us will seem extra dull.
People sometimes ask me, when we discuss feminism, if all that wage inequality is really still an issue. Well, at Wal-Mart it sure is. In other words, the nation's
largest employer routinely pays their male employees more than their female employees and advances male employees more quickly and more frequently than their female employees. This lawsuit is going to be ugly, if under-reported.
11mar03 . . . .
Oh, this list has a link to the Playboy pictures I was talking about yesteday. Naked librarians indeed!
It's strange for me to travel to San Fran sometimes. I'm here enough that if I can't see people, there will be another time. On the other hand, I really want to see as many people as I can. On the other other hand, most people work during the day and are free at night... so no matter what I do, I tend to have big expanses of day free and a surfeit of options for things to do at night. Yesterday I walked down Potrero Hill, took a short bus downtown, then walked from the Embarcadero stop up to Fisherman's Wharf. Generally I find the Pier 39 area to be a teeming mass of tourist humanity that I'd rather avoid, but I really like looking at sea lions. San Francisco is also a bus-rider's paradise because almost every bus stop has a complete bus map of the city as well as a "you are here" dot so you can walk and walk and when you are tired of walking, you can check and map and figure out how to get back.
My iSchool lecture is now available for listening online. I got some good news when I was on my way to the lecture. Apparently one of the current iSchool students is also a former Odd Fellows Hall caretaker [after me, but before the present caretaker] and he related to me the long saga of getting the weird harassing Odd Fellow kicked out after my caretaking successor also complained terribly about him. It was a weird years-after vindication from a most unlikely place.
09mar03 . . . .
happy birthday, Mom
My Mom's birthday is today. Happy Birthday Mom!
I have no great picture of her to link because I am out of town in San Francisco and all the pictures I have are the naked librarian Playboy centerfolds I got in email a few days back. The birthday picture thing isn't always good anyhow because the last time I used it, the object of the good birthday wishes revealed his true stripes within a few weeks and is now on the Jessamyn and Kate shitlist, which is a bad place to be. The picture will stay up as a testament to hopefulness and perhaps better times, but I will shake my fists at it when I see it. So, no picture of Mom and maybe it's all for the best, huh? You likely know what she looks like anyhow.
San Fran has been running me ragged and making me realize how little I am used to big events full of strangers. Subtly, over the past few years, due to encroaching domesticity and perhaps not-so-latent control freak tendencies, I have stopped going to as many venues where I might be surrounded by punk rock kids bearing accordians, or ladybug-sticker-covered women imploring me to dance, or people laughing and looking at me while speaking another language. It's not that any of these things are bad, in fact many were quite pleasant, but I get rattled more easily lately. I can also forget that my tendency to hurl myself into new and unfamiliar situations is partly why I am where I am today, even if it doesn't always go in a direction I was expecting or maybe even desiring. Lately I just consider myself lucky that I have a cartel of fearless friends willing to take me to these events, or at least try them out with me.
05mar03 . . . .
healthy, wise, and working on it
My talk at the iSchool was the best talk I've probably ever given. Poor old library and information students -- they are bright and engaged and interesting and will still never get jobs. If you don't read librarian.net, be sure to at least check out this picture.
According to my doctor I haven't been in since 1999, but I think that's wrong. Maybe it's the last time I was in for a checkup and not a thumb infection, a herpes scare or something else.This was sort of a neat checkup in that we basically sat down and talked for a while about what's been on my mind whch was mostly asthma and weight gain and a few missed periods. Since I have a boyfriend, I needed to get a pregnancy test, even though I was sure I was not pregnant. On the other hand, I bet they see tons of women who are "sure" they are not pregnant every day.... In any case, I am not pregnant, but I did find myself having an irrational panic attack between the time I peed in a cup and five minutes later when they said "It's negative"
So I got more asthma medicine and some stupidly expensive [$30] nose drops and had some time while waiting at the pharmacy to really dwell on the idea of ordering medicine before you know how much it is going to cost. I'm on a fairly tight budget, but I have health insurance which covers some stuff, especially normal stuff like asthma meds and checkups. It does not cover fruity nose spray and who knows, maybe it shouldn't. However, my doctor didn't know the cost of this medicine and neither did the pharmacist until I was at the cash register dealing with a cashier who couldn't answer my questions. At this point, it was sort of too late to call the doctor and say, "Can you prescribe me something a bit cheaper?" and besides, she doesn't know what's cheaper anyhow. Meanwhile the cashier is glaring at me while I try to make some snap decisions about what to do, and there's always someone who will give you the fish eye when you try to bring economics into your health care, as if to say "Isn't money no object where your health is concerned?" At some level that's true, if I would die without medicine, sure. But this may only help me sleep more easily and for all I know the over-the-counter stuff, or even salt water, might work just as well for a fraction of the cost. These nose drops might even be some flavor-of-the-month price performer that the pharmaceutical industry rep brought by along with some free post-its and a t-shirt. I didn't have enough information, I already don't feel too well, and I had to make an immediate purchasing decision with no ability to retract it. Now I'm just feel like a sucker and am angry about the whole ordeal and that, more than anything else, is likely bad for my health.
02mar03 . . . .
far away so close and busy
I have a picture on the Mirror Project that is a good metaphor for how my time with Greg went. Or maybe it's not a metaphor since it is a picture of us. I'm speaking at my old library school this week. It was sort of antiquated and crappy when I was there and now its much more updated and hip. The name is different, the degree is different and, of course, I am different. Not sure what I'm going to talk about, likely what I often talk about "PATRIOT Act blah blah, your freedom blah blah, public library blah blah anarchist librarian blah etc" I'm getting to the point where I really know my shit, so I'm happy to go speak, just nervous to face the new generation of librarians [I was clearly educated in the Old School styles] and explain myself to them. Plus, in lieu of a speaker's fee I asked for them to procure me a UW Library Card and they could not deliver, alas.
The day after that, my caretaker comes for a visit, to check out the gig in Stehekin [WA] where he will likely be a ranger this Summer. While he is in Washington, Greg is staying at my house in VT instead of down the street in Barre. Greg was just here with me last week, he was staying at my place with the caretaker during the plumbing fiasco. This is nearly the whole complement of caretaker/Jessamyn/Greg arrangements except to have them both here and me in VT. We'll work on it. Thursday I get on a plane to San Fran where I will be for eight days. Contact me if you'd like to hang out, I will be in Portrero Hill.
01mar03 . . . .
So to keep people from getting killed over Mardi Gras in Seattle, the entire Pioneer Sqaure area was flooded with police last night, and probably will be again tonight, and tomorrow, and on til Tuesday. I saw a few of Seattle's finest standing on the corner when I was waiting for the light to change after work. They had new gear on that I didn't recognize and they seemed like they were in a jovial mood so I asked them what it was:
Me: So what's that thing you guys are wearing strapped to your leg?
Cop: [laughs] Oh this, this is where we keep our lunch
[all cops laugh]
Me: [are these guys fucking with me?] Ha ha, really? [all cops laugh]
Cop: No, they're gas masks. [all cops laugh]
Laughter has been getting some really weird press lately. What did happen at Ari Fleisher's press briefing anyhow? Some people think he may have been laughed off the stage.
And in other news, I got a promotion and a raise in the test scoring biz. I'll get 50 cents more per hour to be nominally in charge of people doing what I was doing a few scant weeks ago. No real power, no more ability to give good scores to bad students or vice versa, one more mailing list to read in order to create one more level of hierarchy between me and the people who really make the decisions and control the world of standardized testing in this country. I'm really conflicted over whether this is a step up or down for me personally.
I've been thinking more and more about accountability lately in terms of feedback loops and larger organizations. I'm one of those people who writes a letter [a real letter] if my frozen orange juice is brown or there are weevil eggs in my brown rice. For my troubles I'll usually get a coupon or a check, and a nice letter and then a feeling that I've been bought off for another while until the next bad product comes my way, but at least I feel noticed. When I send email to companies [like Hansdspring for example who claims to have free email support, but their support consists of mainly trying to get you to call their pay-per-incident phone line] I often feel that it goes into a black hole. At least on the phone you can hold to talk to a supervisor, take some names and numbers, basically get some sort of real-time handling of your issue from someone with a real human voice. With email, it seems like we're in a weird in-between phase in technology adoption where accountability isn't ramped up or built in, and so troubling issues over email can just be ignored, deleted or passed off to the next shift of emailers. More often than not, support and service email comes with no name attached to it and seems often to come from other countries and from outsouced workers with little familiarity with the company or the products.
The whole time I worked at Google Answers, the email I got from my supposed employers never had a name attached to it. I was hired and [sort of] fired by the organization, not any real person. This is a bad and sucky trend; one of my resolutions is to try not to be a part of it, or not accept it when it is foisted upon me. In a completely related bit of news the Poets Against the War project is pretty much wrapping up. More on them later this month.