4.29.2006:   stormy
There was a crazy thunderstorm in the morning which made me wake up thinking something was being tossed down the stairs. Then I realized that I was in a hotel, in Houston, and it was not the middle of the night but rather a very grey and wet day. I got up and read for a bit and turned on my laptop to upload some pictures. The wifi in the hotel is "screw you" expensive, so I paid for the one day pre-talk and refused to pay for a second. However, something had happened. When I opened my browser to check out my talk, I got a "there has been an error" message, and then free wifi. Maybe the authenticator got the zap and the failure mode is to break with free access for everyone, not no access for anyone. In any case, it blew a lot of my morning but the weather was terrible anyhow.

Turns out that a lot of downtown Houston is underground. I went out for two meals with Jenny, just sort of "let's walk around and see what we find" meals and we found... nothing. I know that conference centers are often in desolate empty parts of cities, but we seemed to be in the downtown core, at lunchtime, and there was still no one outside and no place to eat. All the ground level storefronts seemed weird and empty. Where I'm from, you only hide your retail areas because it's freezing, not because it's hot. Apparently in Houston, you bury them because it's hot. Once we found the elaborate interconnected maze of tunnels spanning most of downtown, by following nearly hidden signs, we found the mole people busily at lunch and had some tasty jambalaya.

Today is my day off. My host is at a daytime wedding and we're rendezvousing before dinner. The Hilton will hang on to all my bags, so I've been on my own with my laptop and a bag full of apples and soda. I got a $2 all day transit pass and headed for the museum district. I'm sitting in the MFAH cafeteria which has music just loud enough that you won't stay long. I've been to the Holocaust Museum and the Buffalo Soldiers National Museum, both of which seemed to be having some big tours/events at the exact moment I was there. I stopped in at the MFAH library and a really nice library student who worked there took me on a tour around the basement and I found a Barthele essay I'd never read before as well as a Jessamyn West introduction to a book of cat photography. Sometimes I feel weird bugging the librarian with a "hey I'm a librarian too, let's make funny acronym-laden convertsation" but it went well this time and I may stop in for more book reading before the museum closes.
I tend not to post when things are going poorly and while last week wasn't exactly poor, it wasn't great either. For reasons unknown I've been having tooth pain in some of the same usual suspect teeth. I dislike the dentist, but mostly I dislike having to call dentist after dentist seeing if there is anyone who will see a new patient, one that probably should have called earlier, but didn't. Big thanks go to Dr. Yoshikawa in Randolph and Dr. Endodontist-with-the-smooth-voice for taking a looksee. Of course the verdict was either "We don't know" or "You grind your teeth" allowing me to explain here that unknown etiology is often a good thing because it means that most of the normal things (failed root canal, cavity, popcorn kernel) have been ruled out. I am doing well on ibuprofen. I think one of the big terrors for me was going to another state only to have a dental crisis.

So, by the way, I'm in Houston, Texas, preparing to give a talk about progressive librarianship tomorrow. I swam in the 24th floor pool which was sort of excellent except that it was way too chloriney (I assume this is because it's attached to the hot tub and who knows what goes on in there) and it was connected to the restaurant/bar which meant that as I crawled and backstroked, lots of library vendors were walking through chuckling with their margaritas. I left the pool feeling better than I came, so that's a win.

Apparently TLA -- which I have always thought stood for True Love Always -- is the second largest library conference in the country, second only to ALA. I hope the talk goes well. I have to admit being a little surprised when they asked me to come talk about progressive librarianship in Texas, but I guess this is as good place as any to start.
Happy birthday and happy new home, Pat!

Greg got back from Buffalo no worse for wear and had some grat pictures of him in his newish suit with his folks [mom, dad], neat happy pictures. We spent our brief morning together outside drinking coffee looking at all the birds flying around -- goldfinches, woodpeckers, juncos, grosbeaks, finches, titmice, nuthatches, ducks, starlings, doves, chickadees -- in a frenzy of ohmygoditsfreakingSPRING. It's bittersweet for Greg and I because he finishes up his last semester which means the last final, the end of school, the full-family-and-friend graduation and then eight weeks of full-time bar review studying where as near as I can tell he has to sit in a room and mostly watch video tapes for an obscene amount of money.

All of this, especially the bar review will take its toll. I have two colleagues from work whose wives took the bar and they both gave me advice "Move out of the house" So I'm taking advantage of the time off I have this week (yay school vacation) to try to spend some quality time with Greg as he ramps up to finals and bar prep. Then I'll move.

Easter is not one of those holidays like Christmas which I sort of mind, just a little bit. Easter doesn't affect me too much one way or the other. It makes people dress nice, act happy and eat candy which seems okay. As I was driving today I even saw some kids on an Easter egg hunt on their front lawn, nice.

However, the fact that it's not a total holiday like Christmas means that places like here, with a lot of Easter-celebrators, things go a little flibberty-gibbet. Greg has been gone for a few days visiting his folks and I have been home doing my thing. I got up early today to try to get a dress to fit that I bought at the thrift store. It's a nice dress but it binds a bit in the chest area. Either this means that I am buxom (or fat) or the dress is too small (or fixable). I decided to see if I could remedy this with some sewing, remove a seam or two, add a little fabric. It was fun sitting around sewing, I haven't done it in a while. I stabbed myself under the thumbnail not once but twice -- a pain so shocking that I just sat up and opened my eyes wide "What the HELL?!" -- and this was where it started. The dress didn't fit, still, and putting it on made me feel so blobby and out of shape that I hurled myself poolwards.

I got dressed ate a quick breakfast and went to the pool only to find it closed. The schedule on the door said it was supposed to be open, but it wasn't. The pool is staffed by teenagers, sort of Lord of the Flies-ish, so sometimes they're late. We waited around a while, me and the other lady who was waiting, and then went home. I called, no answer. I checked their website, nothing. I checked the library's website. It said they were going to be open normal hours. I called security, they thought the pool was open.

I've said this before but one of the reasons I think I became a librarian is because I believe that facts can, for the most part, be known. I grew up in a family that told a lot of stories, really interesting stories, but at the end of the day I was always wondering "What really happened?" I can be a little overly literal, some people call it dense, but I believe there is a trueness to physical reality that can be ascertained. The intriguing part is figuring out what you need to do to find it out. So, you can imagine the combination of fun and frustration that faced me as I tried to figured out what the hell was up with the pool. I called all the numbers. I emailed people. I checked websites. I checked lists of holidays. I asked other people "Do you think a community college would be closed on Easter?" and the whole time I realized I had no idea if Easter was the sort of holiday that would close things down in a small town. I knew Greg was at his parents' house going to church in a suit and then having a meal with his family, but I didn't know how Joe Vermonter might spend the holiday. This was a fact that could not be known, amazingly.

End of the story. I called around 5 and the pool was open. When I asked when the opened the resident teenager said "Oh, we opened at 4 today. I guess we didnt' put up a sign" I got there and had the pool almost entirely to myself, a rare treat. I swam off my frustrations in a record-breaking (for me) 30 laps (5/6 of a mile, close, so close) and then left to go food shopping. When I got to the grocery store, it was also closed. They, it seems, had closed early.
[I wrote some letters this weekend]
The librarian reads my blog and now she knows that I have been enlisting others in my swap-food-for-tech-advice scheme. Hi Andrea! I had another good day fixing computers and wrassling with technology generally over in New Hampshire. Twelve hours at three times my regular rate, I'm going to go out and buy myself some shoes! I'm not sure when the last time was I bought new shoes, probably before my last library job started.

I'm a little mopey today. One of my favorite local activists William Sloan Coffin died this week. He had always been a model for me of how to believe in something fiercely and strongly and have that belief inspire and motivate, not threaten. And yet, he's been outspoken about the craven emptiness of war -- this one and the one in Vietnam -- and what he feels is the general ill will coming towards the American people from their own government, to say nothing about the rest of the world. In an American gone mad with zealot Christian fundamentalists, his steady faith and willingness to challenge the beliefs of others within his faith while still being an outspoken yet caring advocate for social justice and the power of faith always impressed the hell out of me and left me wanting to do better at all the things that I do. Here is an excerpt from a PBS interview with him two years ago

Q: How about your own death? Do you think about that?

A: Not very much. I'd just as soon live a little bit longer. But when you're 80 you can't complain. To quote Franklin Delano Roosevelt in his inaugural address, "We have nothing to fear but fear itself." Fear of death is what is insidious, and once the fear is behind you, then it is only the physical death which is ahead of you. If we didn't die we'd be immortal, like the Greek gods, and perhaps up to their same dumb tricks. It's a very good thing we die. In fact, it's death which brings us to life. But we need to be scared to life, not scared to death. I await death with no protest. "Do not go gentle into that good night, rage, rage against the dying of the light": I'm sorry, Dylan Thomas, but that's not always the case. You can go gentle into that good night. Stop complaining. Remember that, as old Hamlet said, "The readiness is all." Basically, when I said I don't think much about death, I was really thinking, I don't think much about what comes next because I believe our lives run from God, in God, to God again. And that's enough. We might want to know more, but we don't need to know more, and demanding that I know more about the afterlife somehow demeans my faith. I think, one world at a time. The second world will be in God's hands, whereas we were lucky enough to live in this world.
4.12.2006:   prosocial
This has been a week without a weekend, but with a lot of meals. Not that we didn't enjoy the company on Saturday, but the day after the dinner party we were fixing sinks and heading over to a student's house for DSL and dinner. I had made the offhanded remark that I'd install her DSL if she made dinner, and Sunday happened to be the perfect day. So, we made a big meal one night, and ate a big meal the next night, at someone else's house.

Then, on Monday a librarian bought me lunch as part of my helping her with her library computers, and today my boss bought me lunch because she knows how little I get paid and I think she likes to have someone to have lunch with. Tonight the free meal was the open house at the Randolph Technical Career Center. It was sort of neat to have a ready-made name tag because hey, I work there. Greg met me there and we wandered from classroom to classroom seeing all the kids' projects and sampling the snacks in every room. The Culinary Arts kids can really cook up a storm, and I was there to help the guidance counselor get the newsletter on the website just in the nick of time before everything got going. I can remember going to this same event last year before I was really working at the school and thinking that it seemed like a ncie place to work and my opinion on that hasn't changed.
4.09.2006:   dinner party
I got a little nervous at some point when I realized that we had invited twelve people for dinner and we had eight, maybe nine chairs. I've had it with being indoors and looking at the outside and wondering when we could be sociable again, so we invited people over for some grilling. And then it snowed for a day or so. So, it was cold, and we cooked the two chickens inside but it all went well. We missed Stan and Hannah who stayed in Montpelier and Jill and Wayne who may have gotten the date off, but we did wind up with just enough chairs, just a little too much food and the right number of slices of pie.

Since everyone didn't really know everyone else, here are some URLs casey, sonny rachel and finn, meredith, adam, rick, sarah and of course greg and me.

After everyone left, we ran the dishwasher. I went upstairs while Greg did the final clean-up. I came down 30 minutes later to find him mopping the floor as water poured from underneath the sink. Not a fun job for a tipsy guy. As it turns out, the pipe in the U-joint had chosen that minute to break in two and we ran the dishwasher through the rest of its cycle hauling the water from under the sink in pans to the bathroom sink. After an early trip to the hardware store, we got replacement pipes and all is well with the world again. Thanks to everyone who showed up or almost showed up. We'll do it again real soon.

I've changed some things around here, though the changes are minimal. I'm using Blogger to add and update entries. This means it's easier for me to update this site from anyplace. It also means I can have comments and an RSS feed that updates itself and doesn't require painstaking re-coding and re-uploading by me. You can see a before and after set on Flickr if you're curious what's really changed. I'll add redirects to the RSS feed but if you are still doing this by hand, the new feed is at http://jessamyn.com/journal/atom.xml.

We've had a busy week this week, lots of classes, computers and car maintenance. You can read Greg's story of swapping MP3s for syrup in lieu of more how-it's-going news from me. If anything is desparately broken, please drop me an email or leave a comment. It may be bumpy until Monday.
4.04.2006:   test

I made an appointment to get my snow tires taken off the day before it started snowing. However, I am crafty, the appointment is for after it stops snowing. Smart, huh? It's been a pretty prosaic month so far. A shopping trip to the mall to replace our gross pillows. A new adult ed class for me, email, where I have four students including TWO great-grandmothers. Greg's been told he's getting a new bike for graduation and so the house is slowly filling with catalogs and scribbly notes about wheel sizes and phone numbers of bike shops. This weekend we are having friends over for a biggish dinner party and today it's snowing fit to beat the band. Ola's away for her annual three week trip to the West Coast so we're playing house in this big Victorian dollhouse and thinking about the post-law-school, post-Jessamyn's-job world with a mixture of trepidation and anticipation.
Jessamyn is in...
Bethel VT

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17sep... novascotia
24sep... NH lib thing
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