link to it 27oct05: the return
It's becoming a bit of a joke that I only write these entries when I'm not home. On the other hand, when I'm in motion, I don't have the usual distractions ["wifi" and "other people" coming in first and second on that list] to keep me from just telling some stories. This was an incredibly enjoyable and interesting trip. I haven't really been to California since Greg started school in 2003 and I'd missed it. The trip was highlights from start to finish, but these are the things that stand out.
  • My friends Pete and Ana have bought a house that they're renovating which is blocks from my favorite burrito place.
  • Andrea got upgraded to a red Jeep for our trip to Monterey which we took down Route 1, stopping to see the seals and the beach on the way
  • Extreme B&B is what I call the place we were staying. Lace to the MAX. TOTAL ceramic bunnyland. Comfy and pleasant otherwise [and with wifi]
  • Most of the smartie tech librarian bloggers were at Internet Librarian. I have missed them.
  • I talked about Flickr and it went great. By the time I checked the web in the evening six people had blogged about it. Very gratifying.
  • Getting to be on hand for the Open Content Alliance project was sort of a dream come true. When I met Brewster Kahle, he acted like he knew me. Maybe he does.
  • The guided tour of the Prelinger Library confirmed my suspicions that it is a place I could spend the rest of my life Brautigan-Library style.
  • My talk at SJSU, which followed the fun tour of the fancy library, and was followed by beers and food with smart energetic and intgeresting library students.
  • A good night's sleep in the best hotel I've stayed in all year. When I came in last night the guy at the desk who had checked me in earlier said "How was your talk?" and I told him, and then we talked about the Digital Divide.
Other non-highlights worth of a mention are: giant calculators, beautiful plants and animals and birds, lots of intense discussions with super-smart people, meeting a lot of folks I had only known online before, and adding a few more images to the guestroom category of my Flickr pictures. I'm having a hard time believing that it's still October and I've slept in more than 20 places that were not my own bed this year.

Lastly, I got to spend the last leg of my trip amicably chatting with a gal who does "reality porn" who was travelling to Vermont with the cast and crew to do some location shooting. More interesting than you can imagine. We talked about the digital divide and about giving blowjobs to 15 guys at once I led the first discussion, she led the second.
link to it 20oct05: the story thus far
I am feeling nominally better than when this picture was taken. However, at that point, I hadn't slept more than five hours in the last three nights, I was nearly constantly wheezing, and I had classes and a cross-country trip and two talks to prepare for. Now I'm done with class, the wheezing has mostly abated thanks to some overhyped but seemingly effective medication, I got a full night's sleep last night, and my trip is so soon I have to pretty much be done preparing for it, no matter how un-ready I feel.

I'll be in California or travelling to and from it, for about a week.
link to it 14oct05: poison
I'm not sure I linked directly to the pictures of last weekend: here are the pictures from last weekend.

One of the things I have had to get used to, being on the East Coast again, is dealing with seasonal allergies. You'd think that in Seattle all the damp mold and mildew would set of my allergies but in fact they went away pretty much for a decade. Now they're back with a vengeance, something to do with leaf mold, exacerbated by the fact that my landlady really loves those scented candles, and strong smelling things generally. Allergies breed allergies, so I've been noticing that I have an increased sensitivity to the smell of her perfume, to the deodorant soap in the bathroom, to Greg's shaving cream, to the dryer sheets. It's all mostly manageable thanks to modern medicine, but since I grew up basically constantly allergic to everything [thanks horsehair mattress, thanks shedding cats, thanks ancient plaster] I'm not sure how much allergies are too much allergies and I haven't yet gone to a doc to get scraped and tested.

However, this is nothing compared to jumping in the pool on Tuesday after a three day weekend and a generator outage. The pool has chlorine in it. The levels are usually on the low side since it doesn't get that much use. On Tuesday the chlorine made my eyes sting and tasted terrible when the water got in my mouth. I finished up quickly doing a few laps backstroke and got out to take a shower. For the next four hours my eyes burned, dripped, and stung, depite repeated washings. My vision was cloudy. I dropped the pool people a note since as swimmers go, I'm one of the hardier ones [many seniors do stretching and other exercises in the pool]. Turns out the chlorine level was twice as high as it usually is -- it's usually 1.5ppm, and it was up to 3, with the close-the-pool level being around 5. So, I'll be getting some swim goggles in addition to continuing to mutter about the haircut I should be getting to streamline my swim routine. Did I mention this all happened six hours before I taught my first-ever adult education class [Excel for Beginners]? Apparently the red demon eyes didn't put people off, or they were swayed by my supreme command of the Format Cells function.

Shamus got sprayed by a skunk this same day. He darted out the door during a moment of opportunity and came back with a pissed off skunk behind him. Then of course, like a man on fire he started to RUN all over the house rubbing his face on everything. Excellent. We slept through a lot of this drama, but woke up to find the house half-skunky and half filled with some sort of smell-neutralizer which, to my country nose, smelled worse than the skunk itself. The dog got washed, the house got aired out, most of my things smell like themselves again, and it's STILL RAINING for whatever that's worth.

In other news, I got a bicycle award for my work on the Wikipedia midget wrestler article. If anyone reading this is Wikipedia-curious, or has an account, let me know and I'll be happy to tell you about my experiences doing some work there, or add you to my user page. I'm also [a small] part of a loose group of people developing a formal bid to try to get the Wikimania conference for 2006 hosted in Boston. In case you're local and think that sort of nerd horde stuff is interesting, feel free to offer to help.
link to it 10oct05: pie, room left for
After all of that blah blah blah about swimming, I've managed to miss quite a few days in a row because our friends were visiting from Brooklyn and we just had to do the whole "Autumn in Vermont" thing with them. This involved not one but TWO chicken pie community suppers, as well as a trip to the local farm museum and a few meals involving syrup.

People who nod their heads and say "That is JUST how community is disintegrating" when they read Bowling Alone may want to come for a visit to Vermont during the Autumn. There is a lot of celebrating going on what with the harvest, the leaves and the last gasp before it gets too cold to really want to go anywhere. We went to chicken pie suppers in Chelsea and in East Bethel. Astute readers may remember the East Bethel Grange because it was the site of the talent show last month. The first night we went to Chelsea and the Old Home (Methodist?) Church. There were four seatings for dinner: 4, 5, 6, and 7 pm. You get there, buy a ticket and wait in the pews until they call your number tog et seated. Of course, they call the numbers by group so it's the first 75, then the next 75, etc. Think of Southwest's seating procedure. I'm not sure why each ticket has a number. We were number ninety-something. I think they sat 75 people per hour. That's 300 people fed in four hours. At $7 a ticket, that's a nice $2100, minus the food costs which are fairly minimal since it's locally grown I believe.

Robert asked them about the process. Apparently all the foods [potatoes, squash, chicken, and cole slaw fixings] are given to the cooks who take it home and prepare it in small batches. Once they get to the church, they mix all their individual dishes together, so the squash is a mix of maybe ten squash dishes, same with the potatoes. Everyone makes a dessert. Chicken pie is actually chicken with gravy and biscuits on top. Once you're seated, they serve you quickly -- there is also cranberry sauce, coffee, juice or water -- and then give you a bunch of dessert choices. You sit, eat, talk to your neighbors a bit, and leave, in time for the next seating. I even brought a take-home box of food for Greg who got some dental work done and is eating soft foods for a little bit.

The next night we went to the East Bethel Grange where there were no specific seating times, and again you waited for them to call your number. We hung out in the Grange Hall with a lot of other people unclear on the process. When our numbers were called, we were behind some group of 15 that all wanted to sit together. It was confusing and many people were caught behind an older person who was a little slow going up or down the steps. The result was more or less the same [lots of good food for a ridiculously low price] and I think they managed to seat even MORE people in the time they had, but getting in and out was a bit more chaotic. They also had coconut cream pie. Greg came with us this time and managed to east most of what they served him. We ate in a big room with maybe 150 people, many of whom lived within ten miles of me. It was a lot of noisy fun.

I'd be in the pool today, but it's a holiday apparently.
link to it 02oct05: sorry no leaves
I've started swimming enough that I've developed a bit of a pattern, and enough so that I'm going to re-learn all the stuff about MHR and THR that I sort of glossed over in health class. My standing pulse has dropped from the 80 bpm range to the 65 bpm range which is odd to suddenly notice. I've been swimming about a half hour every other day, after slacking off for a lot of early September. I'm not getting a tan like I was over the summer, but I like to pretend that I can see a little more definition in my upper arms. The VTC pool is mostly empty, and when it's full it's older people who are working on muscle strength and cardiovascular fitness. My goal for the winter is to teach Greg to dive off of the 3' board. Continuing to write about swimming is one of the ways I keep myself doing it. Thanks for indulging me.

October's trip is to the West Coast for Internet Librarian in Monterey California along with a speaking gig at San Jose State. I may even get to spend a day or two in what used to be my third home, San Francisco. November's trip is to Phoenix and Tucson. December's trip is up in the air. January's trip was going to be New Orleans and is now maybe going to be Phoenix again. I have been having a hard time making these trips short and manageable. There is something I really like, in a quirky, almost self-defeating way, of making my travel plans as convoluted as possible. I feel like I've really accomplished something when I'm done. The last trip involved driving to Manchester NH, flying to Indianapolis, taking a shuttle to Bloomington, getting a ride to Plainfield [IN], getting another ride to South Bend, flying back to Manchester and driving to Boxboro [hi Mom!] before driving home. I come home tired and sleep for an entire day, and then the next trip I plan, I'll do it all over again.

I'm not saying I don't like the weird travelling, because I do (especially now that I have some proper luggage) but I watch myself making these Rube Goldberg-esque plans and think "What motivates her?" and I'm not certain I know the answer. The CA trip will be six nights, in probably four different cities, two talks, and interactions with more friends and colleagues than I have in this entire state [details]. If I had to guess, I'd say the remoteness of Vermont means that 1) lots of travel HAS to happen for anything to get done, and 2) given that it's so nice here, it's essential to compact the long list of things you want to do on "the outside" together so you can get back and feed birds and press flowers and read books and drink tea and on and on and on.
Jessamyn is in...
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24oct... CA, IL
12nov... AZ
26apr... TLA


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