I'm writing this on a plane over the Midwest somewhere but alll I see are clouds. I brought work with me on my work trip to California so that when I'm not working I can .... work. At least the World Series is over so the house TV goes off at a reasonable time and the snot has finally drained out of my head so that I can sleep. It was a heck of a good time watching the balllgame and then running out to stare at the moon in an almost clear night sky, then running inside to catch the game.
The airport routine, a combination of hurry-up-and-wait and no-don't-do-that-do-this, is good practice for the frenzied last days of the US elections. While I have my preferences in the election, I am tired of getting lectured to by my email, pandered to by my TV, and hollered at by my enemies. I am literally exhausted by the fake anticipation of wondering which Yale educated, Skull & Bones, gun loving, pretend-moderate, God fearing, millionaire is going to be America's choice to lead us into more free market expansion and a lot of happy talk about health insurance and freedom from fear that won't materialize. My in-state choices for national level representation don't make me quite so angry: all my guys will probably win, and they won't even embarass me while they're in office. If Vermont gets health care, maybe the US doesn't have to ... what a crappy way to have to think, huh?
I'm actually in a good mood, all things considered. When I can ignore politics -- which, let's face it, most of America does every day of their lives -- things are looking pretty okay for me. I've got some conferences coming up that look fun where I'll be able to spread my quirky brand of library gospel. I'm heading somewhere where the temperature is in the 70's. Then I head to Vermont for a few weeks and head back to seventy degree weather. I'm off the hook for major holiday obligations except for work which, despite my griping, I really do like. Like many of the Red Sox I'll be a free agent come May. Anyone know any expansion libraries that need a librarian MVP?
25oct04: my adult life
In my library we have a section for young adult graphic novels. The section for the graphic novels is called "adult graphic novels
" which always makes me wince, but people just don't have that finely honed ironic sensibility out here. If you don't believe me, check out this headline
from the local paper.
I've been doing adult person things lately. I got my car inspected. I sent away for my [free] credit ratings and read them carefully. I wrote letters to my elected representatives about the latest outrage
in the headlines. I got prescriptions filled. I also fixed a nagging pesky issue I'd been procrastinating on: the car radio.
Greg and I disagree on this issue. I say if my radio is 80% broken, it's not all
broken, it's sort of working... So, I've been putting off fixing or replacing it. He says that a radio that works 20% of the time no longer fulfills the functions or responsibilities of a radio so is as good as 100% broken. In any case, I was dreading getting a replacement because new radios suck. They all blink and beep and have 30 buttons and a video screen and way too many colors and features. My stock Honda radio has a display that either says the time or the radio station. It beeps when you change the station. It does nothing else, including work most of the time lately. So, we arranged a compromise. We headed over the border to Best Buy and got a tax-free radio. It plays MP3s. It has an AUX jack on the front. It's ugly as hell but it was fairly cheap. Greg installed this new monstrosity into his
car [also a mid-90's Honda sedan] and extracted his radio and put it in my car. Simple. Functional. Problem solved. I hadn't realized until today that what I was missing wasn't listening to music in the car, it was singing along to the radio on my long drive home.
I may have also neglected to mention that I am going to Australia
to deliver my first ever keynote speech. I'm going to also see my friend Tim who I haven't seen since 1997
when this web site was only six months old. In a weird turn of fate, the library conference
I am going to is walking distance
from his house in Adelaide. I'm still making travel plans. If anyone has any going-to-Australia advice, please send it my way.
20oct04: on the heels of the bear
I drive past a beaver dam on my way to work. It's in a little lake area and looks quite lovely, set against the foliage backdrop, very rural, picturesque. Today when I drove by I could see that it had new sticks on it. Someone actually lived there. This wasn't stunt nature, this was the beavers living nearby, and doing their beaver things. It's one thing to have a little tree sticking out of a sidewalk that provides some shade and stands in for the forests that used to be where the newspaper boxes now are....
But that tree only looks
like a tree; it's removed from its ecosystem. It's not really doing its tree thing. Its seeds don't find fertile ground to grow in. When it dies
it doesn't decompose and nutrify the soil and have other little plants and trees grow from it. It rarely gets to crosspollinate
with other members of its species. It's inert, an impostor in the human ecosystem, not a member of its own. I read a book
recently about how to co-exist with wild animals. The author starts from the position that at some level, we have moved into the homes of the wild animals, so we should not be surprised that they see our territory as theirs. All of this is just a roundabout way of saying that I like living here, where the beaver builds its home within viewing distance of the road, and where the bear eats the fish that we think we can just "grow" for ourselves.
Also, I just sent little Eric Snowdeal a postcard
. If you'd like to cheer up a micropreemie baby and his folks, you can too.
18oct04: two not so small things
- It snowed yesterday while we were at the Raptor Center. I didn't mark the first snowfall the past few years, but I know that in 2000 we had snow almost a week earlier than this. Then again, in 2000 I wasn't commuting over a mountain to get to work.
- We saw a bear last night on our way home. It was in our town, crossing the road on the way to the fish hatchery. Since the roads out here are pretty much dark, we only saw the bear because it was a part of the general road area that wasn't reflecting our headlights back at us. Big bear. Lumbering bear. Bear on the way to get some easy dinner. I've never seen a bear in Vermont and I've only ever seen two bears before in my life, this was quite exciting.
14oct04: rethinking voting
eloquently articulates many of the good reasons for not voting
. I am messing with Google Print this evening because the debate is on and I don't have to watch it because I am [mostly
] done with my political obligations
for the next two years.
I have passed another milestone today and actually gotten mentioned in a Vermont newspaper
[next to one of the VT political bloggers, natch]. Since this is Vermont, that link will only work for about five days, so if you must look, look quickly. Cathy
, who wrote the article, is trying to get a bunch of us together for a Vermont Bloggercon
of sorts together to talk shop next week. She says the room we'll be in has wifi. If so it will be the only wifi I've used in the state outside of my own house and the Vermont Law School library. Cathy is also pals with Alison Bechdel
[who has a blog
] who lent Katia
and I the use of one of her strips for Revolting Librarians Redux
. The small world thing seems more sensible when you live in a state that has the poulation of Seattle. Of the five bloggers she mentions on her page, I've met two of them, and I am
one of them.
Interestingly, I'm looking back at the list of people I met at the Seattle Blogger get together
in February 2000. Of the ten people that were there, six of them have gotten married [four to each other, two pairs of bloggers actually, I went to two of the weddings], at least one is engaged, two of them have had children, most have changed URLs and almost all of them I've been in touch with in the past six months or so.
Holiday or no "holiday" I was at work today. My pal Matthew has a good set of links
useful for anyone with a critical eye towards today's celebration of domination. Don't miss the "parked on stolen land
" tickets. Then there's the letters to the editor. This one is excerpted from the Denver Post
Many of those who weigh in on the debate over Columbus Day miss the real point. The real issue is not whether Christopher Columbus was a great explorer or a genocidal despot. The real issue is whether Columbus is a figure of sufficient national importance to merit a U.S. national holiday. The answer is clearly "no."
Columbus was not American, and played no role in American history. He is an important historical figure, but not a heroic one, and not one who relates uniquely to the history of our nation. We now acknowledge that our land was already populated at the time Columbus landed in the Americas. Columbus did not "discover" America, as I was taught in my childhood in the '60s. The reality is that he was one of many European explorers who were pursuing far-flung lands to further the cause of European colonialism and wealth.
08oct04: getting the vote
Hey I voted
so now I feel like a complicit
pain in the ass instead of a "no right to complain" pain in the ass. Thus, according to this well-worn maxim, I have now handily earned the right to complain
for the next four years or so [not that it ever stopped me before] so please leave me alone
. Astute readers may point out that the reverse of an IF-THEN statement is not necessarily true, though the contrapositive
is. The only true statement that derives from "If you don't vote then you can't complain" then, is "If you complain, you vote." Am I right? See how worthwhile my liberal arts education was?
The cool thing about voting in Vermont -- as an "absent
" voter, not an absentee one -- is getting to vote for champion
of the middle class, lover of librarians
, and Ashcroft ass-kicker Bernie Sanders
. The weird thing about voting was realizing that one of my classmates from Hampshire, Ben Mitchell
, was running for Senator. The fun thing about voting was that giant ballot which made me feel that I was a cartoon character. Sadly, I had no crayons to mark it with. I also got to vote for [no more than] five Justices of the Peace.
We saw seals in the ocean when we were in Maine and last nght I dreamed about bears. The shorter and colder days are causing a setting-in of impending-winter orneriness around the house. It's a strange mixed blessing that the beautiful
weather and the hordes of guests, tourists, and opportunities come to the state at exactly the same time as the circadian clock says "Hibernate! Conserve Energy! Sleep all Day! Eat Donuts and Meat!" I'm hanging in there making pans of brownies and trying to sit under the bright lights in the morning before getting on the road and doing the Tourist Photographer Slalom all the way to work.
04oct04: travelling even further out
I am testing out this Flickr badge thing. The picture on the left should show a snippet of whatever I've recently uploaded. As of this writing, it's showing a goofy picture of Ari and I. You can click on it to see the rest of them. Lately this would mean some pictures of lighthouses, my goofy college friends being goofy and a few nice shots of spiderweb-dew thingies. Anyhow, I'm back from my trip. The best part -- even though it was a very small part -- was dropping by the Fletcher Free Library on my way out of town and grabbing a few books from the booksale. At $2 a bag, I could afford to be a bit greedy. In addition to the bike repair book, Plain English for Lawyers, A Dictionary of Modern American Usage from the fifties and some other trivia books, I grabbed a nice book of Edward Lear's Nonsense Songs
, with illustrations by L. Leslie Brooke. Greg hadn't been introduced to Lear before and he struggled through some of the rhymes and meters before getting the hang of it and reading it to me as I drove Mainewards. There's something so stupidly fun about nonsense. If you want to see some of Brooke's other work, he has two illustrated books online at Project Gutenberg
And all night long they sailed away;
And when the sun went down,
They whistled and warbled a moony song
To the echoing sound of a coppery gong,
In the shade of the mountains brown.
'O Timballo! How happy we are,
When we live in a Sieve and a crockery-jar,
And all night long in the moonlight pale,
We sail away with a pea-green sail,
In the shade of the mountains brown!'
Far and few, far and few,
Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
Their heads are green, and their hands are blue,
And they went to sea in a Sieve.
There are quite a few hidden illustrated gems
among the texty sameness of the Gutenberg books.