30jan04: rural
As I ease more and more into my job and spend more and more time with things librarian, my two websites -- this one and librarian.net -- overlap with more frequency. This is an excerpt from an interview with Annie Proulx from Public Libraries magazine that speaks more to rural living than it does to libraries in any real way, so I'm placing it here.
Public Libraries: Your stories are frequently about people on the edges of civilization --
Annie Proulx: I beg your pardon, sir. Rural places are not the edges of civilization.
PL: I apologize. But areas of life that the general public doesn't know about --
AP: There you go again. You're talking about urban people as the only people in the world who count as being real people while people who live in rural areas are somehow subhuman?
PL: Maybe I should rephrase it as, "What is it about these characters, who aren't often talked about in popular literature, that attracts you?"
AP: Right, most people write about suburban or personal or urban affairs. I write about rural areas by choice; I live in rural areas, I have for almost all my life except for brief stints in New York City and Tokyo which I figure was my lifetime's worth of urban life. I'm keenly interested in the rural surroundings partly because they are neglected. Urban people and power centers [see rural areas] as places for use: use of extraction for minerals or crops or products of some kind. Or for disposal of unwanted wastes that cities won't have. And this colonial attitude is something that really irritates the hell out of people who live in rural areas. It's hard to take being treated like invisible people, or people who simply don't count. And I write about these people and these places because I like them....
26jan04: dogs
[toeses, and my new dictionary] I wonder sometimes, if there will come a time when I will feel that I own enough dictionaries.

There are all sorts of interesting things you learn if you haven't been through a really cold winter in a while. The most recent discovery is that wild animals are really quirky. Since it's been freezing for weeks now, with no recent snow, you can see all the animal tracks in the spaces where in the Fall, Spring, and Summer, there would be corn. You'd think in freezing weather animals would hightail it wherever they were going but a lot of them have these little meandering paths, taking left and right turns for no apparent [to me] reason. My favorite set of tracks was on the river. Some smallish mammal, probbaly a dog, walked right up to the edge of the waterfall which is frozen solid, likely peered over [or heard the rushing water which flows beneath the mantle of ice] and said "heck with this" and took a right turn along the lip of the falls and continued on down the train tracks that go next to the river.
20jan04: spam
[fishhead] The big new idea around these parts is filtering spam by X-Mailer. There's only about ten email programs that 98% of everyone uses. Everything else goes to the spambox which I clean out once a day. When I find something in the spambox that doesn't belong there [every now and then you'll find someone who uses The Bat for mail or some such] I add a rule. So far it's been about four days and the spam in my inbox has dropped to nearly zero and I only get one or two false positives a day. Foolproof? No. Better than anything so far? Yes.

This weekend was the first time in a few years that I've had no participation at all in the MIT Mystery Hunt. Since I was in San Diego most of last week, I had hours to make up at work that required me working Friday and Saturday all day which were the first two days of the Hunt. Sunday I finally gave in to jetlag and lay around reading all day. The Hunt wrapped up on Monday morning and, as usual, the team I am on did admirably but did not win. I have very mixed feelings about missing the hunt because of work, but I figure this is what most people learned to deal with when they started their regular-job-lives a decade ago and I am just now having to suck it up.

Also, Greg got his grades.
18jan04: big media redux
You may or may not be aware of Adbuster's ongoing campaign to try to get airtime for their anti-capitalist commercials. They're not having much luck. Apparently the networks and other big media have a distaste for any advertisements that would piss off their other [bigger money] advertisers. This isn't totally surprising, but it's still sort of revealing in terms of what it says about freedom of the press and freedom of speech. At some level, just the exercise alone is a pretty interesting media stunt. Listening to what the TV stations say -- essentially "You're money's no good here" -- puts a fine point on what TV is all about. Not that Adbusters isn't fairly annoying, and too slick for my tastes, but I appreciate their mettle.

Now Move On -- every Progressive's favorite activist concern -- is trying to get Super Bowl airtime for the winner of their Bush in 30 Seconds contest. Guess what? CBS said no. It also nixed another ad promoting vegetarianism. Claiming that the spots were "issue advocacy" and stating "we don't think the debate ought to be controlled by people with deep pockets" CBS rejected those ads while still managing to include anti-drug ads from the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. I am not one to talk really since I only heard about this when I was watching Saturday Night Live news last night. Their take on the issue was "Yeah, CBS only likes issue ads if the issue is 'Girls are sluts for beer'"

I've got a new About Me page up.
17jan04: parting is such sweet sorrow
If you've been following along you'll know that in the past I've done some work for ETS. I haven't always felt good about this. I dislike the No Child Left Behind business, and don't think it's really the way to help kids learn, or fix broken schools. I get angry when people abbreviate the act and call it NCLB [or "Nickleby" for people with too little or too much of a sense of irony]. I feel bad when I read essays that just say "Please help me." or "I don't speak English. I can't." In any case, that was all tough, but the appeal of money plus working from home was hard to ignore. At some level I was disliking myself by continuing to work there, even though I liked a lot of my co-workers and was surprised at how rigorous a lot of the work and scoring metrics were.

When I started, I got paid something in the $13-14/hour range which isn't bad for work you can do in your PJs. Then, the new scorers started making $12 instead of $14. Now, everyone is getting a pay cut. Scoring leaders still make $14.50/hour I think, but all test readers, -- one notch down from leaders -- even people who have been with the program for years, will make $10/hour. For me, this would have been a pay cut of over 30% if I had stayed. It's easy to say "Screw you." to a 30% pay cut and yet still, I agonized over deciding not to work there anymore. Saying goodbye to a few thousand dollars a year when you make less than 20K [and not even into the five digits last year] is rough. It's nice here on the moral high ground, though sometimes lonely, but I get the feeling that decisions in my life henceforth will just be getting harder, not easier.
15jan04: 80 degrees to 15 below
[fishtail] I left San Diego last night around 10:30. Here are some particulars, financial and otherwise, about my trip to the ALA conference:
  • my round trip ticket cost $218 total, the way back was a red-eye
  • I got a press pass for the conference [LISNews cub reporter] so it was free
  • I spent $40 to park at the airport for six days
  • it's a two hour drive to and from the airport, when I left VT I left my house at 3:30 am
  • I got four hours of leave from work for the five day conference
  • I stayed with friends in San Diego for free [and free Power Bars in the morning]
  • $15 for a four day trolley pass
  • one ALA attendee took me out to eat, the rest was cheap and/or free at those weird vendor feasts
  • I paid for coffee twice
  • I am in love with the San Diego central library; the rest of San Diego was hit or miss for me
More from me when my jet lag abates.
06jan04: nice, me?
[fishtail] I got email from a relative stranger today asking "How did you get so nice, anyhow?" My first response to these sorts of questions is "What, are you fucking kidding me?" but I realize that the sort of laid-back rural lifestyle we're becoming accustomed to comes with some niceness built in. If you're like me and you like people, that is. I generally jump at any social occasion be it a Christmas party, Calvin Coolidge impersonator appearing at the White Church, or bingo. Actually, Greg and I skipped bingo last night in oder to stay home and make bread, but I keep meaning to go.

Last week I went to an all-women Yankee Swap. You know the kind where you bring some present you didn't like and swap it for some other present you probably don't need. The last one I went to, I blew it by bringing firecrackers. People in Seattle acted like I'd wrapped a carton of cigarettes. I mentioned this to the women this time and a few people said "Aw, you should have brough them this time...." It was a small affair, probably eight people. I was the youngest by about ten years and the oldest woman must have been in her eighties. It was a potluck and people cooked. No one brought anything from Trader Joe's, or a bag of chips, people made rolls, roasted potatoes, baked cookies, you name it. Even the punch was home made. I walked out of there with one of these little dangerous numbers and warnings from two of the women there about injuries they had received while using it.
04jan04: damn am I old
Seven years ago I started this weird journally/blog thing.

The last year ended and this one began with not a lot of fanfare. I am four days for four as far as getting more exercise goes. Greg and I are getting known for being out walking in all sorts of terrible weather, to the point that the corner store guy says "Hello Mr. and Mrs. Frosty!" when we walk in all covered in snow. Being a walker in this town is sort of like being a driver in Juneau -- the sidewalks all just end [or aren't plowed] not too far outside of town. This limits our walks to reasonable lengths, we just have to decide if we want the walk to end at the dented can store, Peavine Park, just over the railroad bridge, just past the post office, or just past Nelson's corner. All the walks are about 20 minutes long and all of them require turning around at the endpoint and going back the way we came.

Here are a few photos from this year's holiday season.
Jessamyn is in...
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