31may04: postal mail and emerging technology
No my guest were not throwing up. I just had no new content or ideas to pass on yesterday, so I took an anecdote out of context. It's unusual for me to have a whole pair of days stretched out in front of me with nothing particular that needs to go into them, not even procrastinating
from the things I should be doing. I've always thought that the smart way to procrastinate
was to put off what you don't want to do by doing something else you also don't want to do, but are slightly less averse to. I've been doing this for months lately and have gotten completely out of touch with what it was I did
want to do, once I had the time to do it. The ubiquitous entry on this to do list is READ MORE, so I've been trying to get started. Even though I've had little time to read, I've been taking home books from the library at the same dizzying rate. As a result, the horizontal spaces of the house are filling up with tantalizing volumes that are just simply going to have to wait.
I also skipped the big item this weekend which was transferring the library website and ten email accounts from one hosting provider to another. This could have majorly sucked and it didn't. Thanks to my pal Blake
for stewarding all of this. I've been invited to give a talk on "emerging technologies" to some Vermont and New Hampshire librarians in a few months. As someone who is pretty skeptical of emerging technologies in favor of proven technologies and appropriate technologies, I'm thinking about this one early. Most public librararies in Vermont just barely have computers in them and their concept of emerging technology may be more along the lines of having a voice mail message announcing the library's hours after hours over doing reference services via instant messenger and providing wireless access for their patrons with laptops [n=0 unless I come to town].
We are also down one laptop in this household thanks to some slippery stairs and that old devil gravity. If anyone has any positive experiences with getting powerbook hinges replaced, please do let me know.
30may04: still not quite back
Greg thinks there's two types of families. The ones who give a sick queasy kid a bucket, and those who give a sick queasy kid a towel. I was a bucket kid. Greg's family was a towel family.
This is just my way of saying that we've had guests
since we got back from DC and I'm still opening mail, doing laundry and showing them the sights. Good news is I have a four-day weekend.
Driving six hours through suburban Maryland and DC and New Jersey is not at all the same as driving six hours through rural New England. I will remember that for next time I decide to drive instead of fly on one of these whirlwind trips. Here is the bullet list recap of the events of the past week or so.
- quick visit with Tom and Cindy which included a lot of good food and a lot of computer repair.
- long agonizing drive to suburban Maryland where we were greeted with a tasty roast and good company at the house of John, Laura and The Baby.
- Day off in MD suitable for catching up on other work and fretting about my talk. More good food, more good company.
- Gawked at cicadas. Over Greg's protestations, collected a cupful of cicada skins to take home.
- Stuffed waffles with Chris and Jen
- a talk that went quite well [moral: the more you fret and panic, the better it will be]
- Lunch with Liza and Jill
- Dinner with the super-charming GLBT MLA-ers and friends
- Home late, up early to go visit the Holocaust Memorial Museum, and tour the library thanks to Ron [now at his fancier job]
- On the road to see Sandy and Helen in New Jersey
- Early morning breakfast at some excellent NJ diner. For the unintiated, at a New Jersey diner sides of bacon cost about $2 and include eight strips of bacon.
- A slow lazy drive home stopping by the library for some movies.
And now, hopefully, a good night's sleep in my own bed before three straight days of work and a three-day weekend.
Sometimes it's hard to explain to visitors -- in this case, my sister -- that I actually manage to get a lot MORE done when they're here because I'm not spending all my time fruiting around on the Internet, messing with stylesheets and trying to catch up on my reading. Visitors means active time. Then of course there's even more active time working directly following. So, in the 30 minutes between when my sister has left and when I have to go to work, here's a bullet-list format recap.
- Got my car back from the mechanic after getting the gas tank and fuel lines replaced. So far so good, much cheaper than it should have been. We have a mechanic that also races Yugos.
- Left the state to get Indian food which is pretty much what you have to do on this side of Vermont.
- The plan was to make Coke can chicken on the outdoor grill but then there was a dinnertime thunderstorm, so we made it inside instead. Everyone who likes chicken should try this recipe. I only wish we'd taken some pictures.
- Checked out the little seasonal restaurant where fried mushroom caps are $2.
- Went to a little rummage sale at the White Church. Got a pair of pants, a set of pajamas, two pairs of socks, a tank top, two sweaters, two pairs of shorts, and a working manual typewriter, all for $5.50.
- Got a little inflato-needle for the basketball. Went down to the park and messed about some.
- Kate got a banana cookbook, among other things, from the sale, so we made some sort of baked banana thing.
- Kate also got a cookie cookbook, so we made some amazing two-tone brownies.
- Greg shaved off his beard. I am comtemplating shaving my legs because it's damned hot here some days and I have a straight job.
That's just the top of my head memory. We also sat around in the sun, got some reading done. I did some work-at-home work, we watched birds and looked at flowers and ate junk food from the dented can store. My sister, who lives in Somerville, thinks I may have some trouble with re-entry if I ever try to go someplace where you can't buy pants or a typewriter for a dollar. I am fascinated at the dividing line between what costs money and what doesn't, and what has value to whom. The trick I guess, if you do it for a job, is to take items from the free-or-cheap world, and bring them into the sell-for-money world. I mostly just like things that are useful and don't cost a lot of money. The big trick for me lately is trying to figure out how to get stuff that seems to always
cost money [stamps, airline tickets, healthy food, good footwear, Internet access] for less.
There's a lot of talk here about going for walks. This is partly because of the amazing weather, partly because it's a way to de-stress before finals and conference talks and partly because there's not tons of stuff to do in any conventional sense out here
. Checking out the bulletin board in front of the Central Market, going to the post office to get and send mail, seeing what the water level over the dam looks like, checking out the specials at the dented can store and just checking on the general level of greenery around here are all parts of what happens on walks. It's also a good way for Greg and I to get some time to just chitchat without talking with our mouths full over a meal, or talking over a movie at night when we're too tired for Scrabble or even cribbage. Once his finals are over and he's "only" working a full-time job, I expect things will get back to something resembling normal. For now, walks are the way we stay in touch. I took some pictures on the last walk
. Think about coming to visit. We have a river side park
that can't be beat.
more birthday & some rural notes
My Mom and I went for a walk down to the old railroad bridge last weekend and saw a lot of what looked to be deer hair on the side of the road. We walked a little farther and saw an animal skeleton pushed down an embankment. Fly-by-night tanners?
All the bulbs are coming up around the house and Greg and I have been going for walks pretty much every day. This morning we were up, breakfasted, and on our way to the dented can store before 9. We brought our basketball so we could shoot a little hoop at the community playground, and there will be cake this afternoon since having your birthday in the middle of law school finals plain old sucks
. You've gotta grab cake while you can.
I've been smitten with the weird little buzzphrase "culture eats strategy
" [for breakfast, for lunch, or for dinner] lately. It's a management catch phrase
that basically tells managers that their business strategies better take into account their corporate culture or they will fail. The rub is that people believe that, when faced with a culture v. strategy conflict, it's the culture
that is "learned", and can change
. I guess this saves bosses from having to do any extra work to customize
their top-down frequently vendor-driven strategies to accomodate different types of people, or different sorts of ideas. More interestingly, the corporate/office/job culture is quite often the hidden variable in new workplace
initiatives, not something on the table for debate.
You can imagine how enamored I am of workplace culture
in general [to me, being a different person when I'm at work verges on painful and yet oh-so-necessary] and yet I envision a different reading of the "culture eats strategy" soundbyte. Human culture emerges victorious from the battle with integrity-crushing profit-driven duplicitous and crass business strategy, and we can all come in late when we're sleepy, or linger over lunch if the conversation is good, or wear the clothes that are truly comfortable, or stay home when the roads are dangerous, or just pay everyone the minimum wage because it's the right thing to do. There are no notes saying "Your mother doesn't work here, pick up after yourself
" and no office cheerleaders
who enforce morale by making you smile
[this does not happen where I work, incidentally, praise Jehu]. Here on Planet Jessamyn culture ate strategy, and now it's hungry for more.
happy birthday Greg!
Two signs of relaxation in me are my fingernails growing long [because I am not gnawing on them or using them to pick at my toenails] and forgetting what day it is. So, when Greg said he got email from my Mom today, I remembered what it was that I had been forgetting. So happy birthday to my sweetheart boyfriend ... who has a new favorite band every five days, who thinks 10th Circuit Court decisions make good pillow talk, and who cuts my grapefruit into little sections very early in the morning. It was only last night that I was realizing that since we've moved to Vermont we manage to stay pretty busy, but we rarely spend time with other people. It's been just about a year of this, and yet I barely noticed.
from the mailbag
My friend Joe
tells it like it is
"I have a new definition of chutzpah. George Bush:
- Fought the establishment of the 9/11 commission with every tool at
- Installed Henry Kissinger as the chair, until he resigned due to
- Gave himself final say over every word that appears in the final report.
- Ordered that the report cannot be released before the election.
- Refused to testify until he was forced by public sentiment.
- Agreed to meet with the committee only if he would not be under oath,
Cheney would be with him, his lawyer would be with him, and the session
could not be recorded, transcribed, or documented in any way.
Then he walks out of the meeting and says to reporters, 'Hey, if I had
anything to hide, I wouldn't have met with the committee.'"
day after may day/international worker's day/beltane/loyalty day
I grapple with some of the fundamentals
of anarchism, and I miss the big anarcho-holidays
because my Mom is in town. The coming of the lovely weather, the really heart-breakingly astonishing weather, where no matter where you look you see nature bursting out in abundance all over the place, makes me wish that people everywhere could be free to enjoy this as much as I do. This is hard to do when you're being tortured by American soldiers
, trying to figure out where your next meal is coming from
, are stuck in a refugee camp
, or have untreated mental health problems
One of the reasons that I liked Seattle and its gloomy weather was that I would say "You can always be cheerier than a cloudy day." Now that each day is a marvel, rivalling the day before for sheer beauty and splendor, I sometimes feel guilty for my privilege.
This weekend was a surfeit of riches including town-wide sidewalk sale
where I met neighbors, ate fudge that cost a quarter, got a basketball and
a soccer ball for $1 each, and pretty much got to show my Mom the town at its finest. We put the koi into the outside pond and realized when we were cleaning out the tank that they had left it full of hundreds of tiny fish eggs which were busy becoming mini-fish. They're now in their own tank. Every day we sit on the sun porch and check them out and just watch them swim and eat and live.
Incidentally, this Loyalty Day thing
is such freaking