Support is the next killer app, so help me. Now that my entire family is using Macs, my tech support hours spent on family phone calls has dropped to zero. This means I can talk to my family about things I actually care about, not about how much Microsoft is really truly guilty of creating a broken operating system that makes people feel bad about computing generally.
And speaking of... the incoming president of ALA had a few choice words to say about blogs
last week. I am only mentioning because it's really becoming a big deal in the blog-world
. Even though Mr. Gorman - who is otherwise sane and agreeable, really - claimed his remarks were "satire
" after the fact, the blogs are abuzz with eye-rolling accounts of just one more librarian who doesn't get it. While I have often lamented the fact that people sometimes take my remarks as speaking for "all librarians", "all Vermonters", or "all people in the West family" I also do try to be responsible to that impression people have, and accountable for my own words. The level of bickering, sneering, and petty backbiting in the library profession generally really suprised me when I re-immersed myself in it a few years ago. When people ask me (which they often don't) why Google is or isn't better than a librarian I can say honestly that Google never sneered at me.
I've had lots of time for pontificating and reflection this weekend because Greg is in Buffalo visiting with his family. I am at home scoring some essays for money that will go into the "my health insurance costs a freaking fortune
" pool that I will be drawing out of shortly. I read about 60,000 words this weekend and this is what I know about American high school kids
- they overwhelmingly conflate Iraq and what happened on 9/11
- they are very good at regurgitating anti-drug and pro-abstinence rhetoric in a way that is both totally self-assured and also totally inaccurate and therefore truly scary
- many believe that God has a plan for them to the extent that they do not believe in free will
- they can't spell worth a damn
Of course I'm looking at a small subset of kids, and ones who aren't allowed to use spellchecker, but I'm already feeling that cranky "back in the day...!" grumble welling up in my throat. You know, back when my librarian
was nice to me and writing well was something you learned in school.
Got in the car to start it yesterday and it would not go. Since I don't have a public transportation option out here and my backup car is laid up with a broken wiper, Greg walked into town, got some new spark plugs, installed them in 25 degree weather and the car started right up and I went to work. There's a few things I don't like about the intensity of small town life and immediate next door neighbors, but a local auto parts store that opens at 8 isn't one of them.
On my way home it was later and darker than usual and so I got to play with making the snowflakes go slower [low beams] and faster [high beams] as I drove home. The snow has been really squally lately, so I could still see the moon as I was driving home in the snowstorm.
This photo is of a lovely full moon lighting up some tree covered hills. However we were driving by it pretty fast and it was dark out, so this is all I got. It reminds me of the moon I saw. We went to a talk at the Norwich Public Library and listened to local political science professor Frank Bryan
and his co-author Susan Clark talk about their new book
and the importance of Town Meeting. I drove home in the cold winter night saying "I
am a legislator" though I haven't decided yet if I'll make the trip up to Topsham to go to mine, or sit in on the local one in town here even though I can't vote.
So, in case you're keeping track at home, I have three, maybe four RSS feeds
that are somewhat interesting if you like that sort of thing:
I just got the "thanks for all your hard work" memo at work telling me that my grant funding is coming to an end. I had known this was in the works, just hadn't known exactly what my last day of work was going to be. On April 15th I file my taxes and leave the library. This is, of course, during National Library Week
which actually means I'll be out of town, speaking at Marlboro College and the New Jersey Library Association conference. I'll be on my own for health insurance [though I can get COBRA which costs as much as my rent], union camraderie, and access to nice old ladies who I can teach to use email which has possibly been my favorite thing about the past 18 months there. I've really enjoyed getting solid work experience in a non-tiny public library and getting to know a wide range of different sorts of librarians and library staffers and patrons. I also like that feeling that I'm approaching the edge of a cliff or the top of a really high mountain and I can't quite yet see what's on the other side but I think I might like it.
We did a Valentine's Day thing today because tomorrow is full of work and school things to do and bound to be messy. Like most holidays in this house, Valentine's Day is mostly the same as other days. Except there's cake
, and a new and hopefully final RSS feed
for the booklist
. I'm behind on the list anyhow, because I like reading books way more than I like writing about them.
I think this trip to New York may have finally made me understand why the people who love it love it so rabidly. I had a fairly flawless trip, saw friends
, met new people
, had good weather, visited a "hip
" neighborhood, hobnobbed with arty types
in a loft apartment, ate cheap Chinese food, talked to strangers, used wifi in the park
, saw a lady walking eleven dogs
, visited a few libraries, drank an egg cream
, watched the Superbowl in a bar, got coffee at Zabar's
, marvelled at weird apartment layouts and tiny bathrooms and walked all the way from Columbia to Times Square down Broadway. Pictures are here
And now, even though it's mostly coincidence, it's snowing like crazy here and has been pretty much since I got back. I'm taking one of my vacation days and staying home because the National Weather Service
ANY TRAVEL IS STRONGLY DISCOURAGED. IF YOU LEAVE THE SAFETY OF BEING INDOORS, YOU ARE PUTTING YOUR LIFE AT RISK.
Don't have to tell me twice! Even though it was a quickie 5 1/2 hour train ride, this place feels worlds away from New York right now.
I got my tickets to fly down to UNC today, and tomorrow I get on a train to New York City. It's strange making arrangements for one trip and then promptly going on an entirely different trip. Greg and I have been watching little indie left-wing short films in preparation for the Media That Matters
event I'm going to on Tuesday. I spent a lot of today printing out Yahoo maps of Manhattan and Brooklyn, copying down phone numbers, and marvelling at the warm weather and clear blue skies. Back to the rural familiar on Wednesday.
Hope you don't mind the biggish pictures. There's more on Flickr
if you like them.
01feb05: wait for it
I have to apologize for the way this whole place has gotten so journally. I swore I'd never be one of those "I woke up, I had an egg" people, but lately I seem to be. There's a lack of stimulus here in the Winter. On the other hand, the things that interest me online and offline lately are so damned complicated I feel like it's hard to even start talking about them unless I've really got the space to do them justice. Things like:
- the utility of posting horrifically graphic pictures of dead Iraquis and saying everyone must look at them so we'll know how horrible war truly is. Yes or no?
- the rampant extralegal antics of the Bush administration's continuing appaling mistreatment and mishandling of torture allegations and the war in general. No.
- the looming specter of library closings that are happening because people who are already pinched feel weird about spending more tax dollars on something that many of them see as only a nebulous social good.
- my future as an unemployed and yet very busy library superstar and the quest for health insurance
- the ongoing questions of "how much is enough?" combined with "how much is too much?"
So, that's what's been on my mind. Kate came up for a fun visit and I think we fixed everything that was wrong with her laptop. We also did something I almost never do which was went shopping
. I got one of those parka things that everyone here seems to have. In fact, Greg and I now have matching parkas except for the color. This is how it starts. It's strange to have a warm winter coat that gives me enough flexibility to actually move around and drive my car. We also swung by the Salvation Army and I got my obligatory three sweaters for ten bucks which seems to be some sort of odd cold weather tic I have. Add to that stew-making and cookie-baking and it was a pretty solidly-pleasant laid-back weekend. I head to New York City on Saturday to be on a film festival jury
for a weekend that is promising to be anything but laid-back.