30sep04: heh, npr
NPR and I got at the same points in different ways yesterday. But don't take my word for it, read the onerous terms of the debate yourselves. [viciously large pdf] I'm in Maine for the weekend as of tomorrow morning, meeting some of Greg's extended family and watching two dear friends get married.
29sep04: lies and leaves
If the amazing seasonal scenery were not buoying my spirits to giddy heights, this part of the election cycle would be leaving me spitting mad. I have a very strong opinion that tomorrow's debate is not an actual debate. I call it "synchronized press releases." When I was in debate class in high school and arguing pro choice positions in a room full of Catholics, I had tough questions to answer. There are no actual tough questions at these so-called debates, no unscripted moments, and I assure you there will be nothing we haven't heard before. The debates are a sham, and have been since the League of Women Voters withdrew their sponsorship once the Commission on Presidential Debates indicated their intent to use the debates to "strengthen the two-party system." The LWV even issued a press release using the word "hoodwink"!
The League of Women Voters is withdrawing its sponsorship of the presidential debates... because the demands of the two campaign organizations would perpetrate a fraud on the American voter. It has become clear to us that the candidates' organizations aim to add debates to their list of campaign-trail charades devoid of substance, spontaneity and answers to tough questions. The League has no intention of becoming an accessory to the hoodwinking of the American public."
So, the Bush and Kerry camps have meetings, agree to terms [stuff like camera angles, make-up of the audience, and 32 pages of other demands] and then tell everyone including the Commission, the networks, and the viewers at home, that if we don't like it we can lump it. What total bullshit. What a bunch of spoiled children. But don't take my word for it, Mark's got a degree in political science, let's see what he has to say. Just because I'm seething, I have this little comparison.

A. Amount of money I spent at the DNC, including lodging, transportation, one ticket to the Museum of Science for my sister, and food: $150.
B. Amount Boston Mayor Menino and his entourage spent on their hotel bill during the DNC? $50,000. Coffee and bottled water? $20,000.

More nauseating statistics can be found at the Boston Globe. Don't kid yourself that the Democrats are the party of the underdog, they hate your poor ass as much as you hate yourself aren't.

But enough about all this, it's Autumn in Vermont, how about a weekend library tour? [my page, not my idea]
26sep04: me around the e-town
[leaf in the sand by the river - click to see more of my pictures] In the online universe, I've been busy. I wrote a longish report on my trip to the DNC for LLRX. I worked with some library geek pals to develop a little bookmarklet so that you can see if a book you're browing on Amazon is available from a local library. Jon Udell improved upon it here. Andrea discusses what we did here. This all came about because I wanted to have little icons on my booklist where a reader could look to see if the book was in their local library, not just buy it from Powells. Now I have the solution, I just need to code it in. After giving my technology talk on Monday I decided I needed to know even more about what I was talking about, so I set up a wiki using phpwiki to use for a new collaborative writing project I'm working on. No live URL yet, it's still pretty nascent.

Meanwhile, it's "Banned Books Week" in my chosen profession and I've got a fairly typical ambivalent post about it over on librarian.net. Also, I took some pictures yesterday.
25sep04: some thoughts on the media and syrup
We went out to the co-op in the next town this morning when we realized we were out of coffee and in the mood for a drive. I like bulk foods where I get to pour out as much as I need into a recyclable bag and pay for the product, not the packaging and not the advertising. I also like buying vegetables that are grown by my neighbors, and being able to get grade B maple syrup in bulk.

This put me in the mood for thinking about the newspaper when I got home. Our local daily paper The Valley News costs fifty cents and covers towns in the "Upper Valley" area which includes Vermont and New Hampshire. They have things like a social column where they mention who went to visit whom, who has a new baby, who is moving to Florida for the Winter and so forth. Each town has their own little news page. They also have my favorite thing, a two page calendar spread of events put on by non-profits. I can look there for things going on that aren't going to break the bank, that support good causes, that advance various things I believe in [organic farming, leftie politics, the library], events that are open to everyone that don't have commerce as their sole purpose. The thing is, all papers could be like this. Every newspaper could have a section devoted to community events [many do, but it's a crapshoot whether your event will be listed], or town news, or labor issues, or farming news, or nutrition [some do, but I'd call this section "food shopping" in most papers] or something besides hot new technology, the current political pissing matches, and police and fire reports.

When people ask me about media consolidation, and why it matters that, for example, two-thirds of the newspaper markets are monopolies, I mention how non-local owners see their newspapers as cash cows and not instruments of information dissemination. How non-profitable, non-revenue generatisng reporting is viewed as standing in the way of the purpose of these newspapers, which is profit. Our newspaper still exists to tell us what the heck is going on in the great big world out there, but also to let us know what's going on here in town, and among my neighbors, and at the library, and for that I am supremely grateful.
20sep04: emergent
There have been some successes. My little interview on the BBC World Service isn't online but I got them to email me an mpeg file. You can click through to it right here. I gave a talk about emerging technologies in libraries at one of the most beautiful libraries in New Hampshire today. I almost missed the talk because I thought it was in Newport, Vermont not Newport, New Hampshire. I guess it could have also been in Newport Maine, Newport Rhode Island, Newport Connecticut or Newport, Massachsetts. Damned coastal states.

As an indirect result of this talk, my Mom now knows what a wiki is, and my good pal Sara decided to try out instant messenger. Greg and I went on a date to the Tunbrige World's Fair this weekend [no derby alas] and we each took a set of pictures [mine|his]. The weekend also brought in the cold weather and there have been frosts up North. In Summer. I would like to point out that it is still Summer, or was.

The trees are starting to get that muddy color that isn't quite red but definitely isn't green like it was green last month. Something good is going to happen real soon now.
16sep04: reported again
[from the haskell opera house] Just after I wrote yesterday's post -- being a little concerned about possibly ratting out my landlady for being an unprofessional vote counter, but hey who reads this site anyhow? -- there was an article about me in Wired, a little one. Now I'm getting lots of good library porn suggestions in my inbox, librarian.net is Feedster's feed of the day and the nice folks from the BBC called to chat about the USA PATRIOT Act and the Anarchist Cookbook. They don't archive their shows, but I was on sometime in the middle of the night; you'll have to trust me on that one.

The funny thing about all this is that just last week I was having despondent "I've hit my peak in this damned career!" moments. I felt like I was losing my edge, failing to stay relevant and involved, suffering from lack of focus, stagnating. Greg used a little indie rock metaphoring on me and said "Hey it's like you had a hit single... now you've got to go back in the studio." So that was my angle "I'm heading back to the studio, working on some new sounds, forming some new collaborations, approaching some new audiences." The next day, the phone rang and it was Wired.

In any case, I'm gearing up to do a little talk on emerging technologies in libraries up in the Northeast Kingdom on Monday. Greg and I have a date to go to the demolition derby this weekend, unless he has desk hours for his legal research class. I'm finishing up a long retrospective essay on my time at the DNC and we're heading to Maine in a few weeks for a wedding and some rendezvousing with some of Greg's family. Looking back on all this with a bit more perspective, I realize that my problem may not be having to go in to the studio, my problem may be that I just don't leave it enough.
15sep04: reported
Living in a small town means that when your boyfriend votes for you for state Senate [no, I am not running but it's nice to know that I got one vote] you find out because your landlady, who is counting the votes, comes home and rags on him for it.

I've been getting nerdy with Flickr lately and have been experimenting with using it as a way to share photos without doing the whole little php app thing. Not a total substitute but good if I want to just say "hey look at this picture".
08sep04: repaired
[thanks kate, what a nice cake] It's taken a while but all the stuff that has slowly been falling apart all Summer is now mostly repaired. Greg's car has some new power steering lines. His laptop is en route from the fixit people. I've updated almost all the online crap that needs updating -- new pictures from the most recent trip are here -- and have fresh laundry on the way, and one more birthday taken care of. I have no upcoming travel except a fun trip back to the Northeast Kingdom to talk about "emerging technologies for libraries."

The water level is really low here and when you walk over the bridge and look down at the dam, you can see big bird footprints in the mud flats where the river used to be. The water is so clear that you can see the tracks go all the way through the shallow water and back out again. I think they're heron tracks. Up on Seymour Lake, there are loons nesting, one of the few places in Vermont that they breed. The first morning we were there we sat on the porch swings and watched the adult loons skate across the water and call to each other. I'm not sure I've ever really taken a "vacation" in the sense of going somewhere and paying someone else just to sit in one place, but this one time it was pretty enjoyable.
06sep04: returned
I'm back from three days without a keyboard. Three days sharing a room with my sister and boyfriend in a remote B&B by a lake up near Canada. Three days driving around looking at stuff and coming back to a place with no telephone, no radio, and almost no TV. We schlepped around and looked at libraries, ate good food [my first poutine!], talked with strangers and their dogs, made a cake in a toaster-oven contraption, got turned away at the Canadian border, kayaked on my birthday, messed with sparklers, peeked at graveyards, investigated moose tracks, and lay about and read. It was as good a way to spend my birthday as I can remember having. I'll put up some pictures sometime this week.
02sep04: selling, out
[another fading flower] I sold my DNC press passes to the highest bidder on Ebay [$15!] and haven't paid much attention to the RNC at all, except to hope my friends there all wound up okay. Since I made my decision about how I'm going to vote, the rest is just details that I am choosing to ignore. This whole voting thing is great and I wish I tried it sooner. I make my choice, cast my ballot, and then can roll my eyes and complain away with total moral righteousness for an entire year or maybe even four, because after all.... I voted.

I'm sort of kidding, as I'm sure you know. I've voted before, and recently even, for some things. But heck, if you're so pissed off about the nasty idiot Republicans and their appaling and absurd logical leaps and total disregard for most Americans as well as everyone in the rest of the world, you know you could do a lot more than just vote and yell at your TV.

I'm going away for a few days this weekend with my favorite [and only] sister and Greg to someplace with no internet, and a big lake, and kitchen privileges. There was a rumor that my landlady's son, his girlfriend, and their two dogs were coming up this weekend, so we made plans to beat feet out of here. I want to turn 36 in peace. Birthday cards -- which I love -- can be sent to po box 81, Bethel VT 05032, and I'll read them when I get back.
Jessamyn is in...
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