It seems like I've spent all week with people from MetaFilter, but really the people who are part of my real life here also seem to be part of MetaFilter. The weather stripping and insulating plan is going great except that it was 65 degrees today which made me feel a little silly unscrewing all the outlet covers to put little draft-pluggers in there.

Also, I swam a mile today which is today's "make this day RULE" item. I usally swim a minimum of a half mile whenever I get in the pool and usually swim a little bit more. I'm up over two miles a week any week I'm home for more than four days. However, the pool has been flakey since I got back. Today was a perfect storm combination of good temperature, good breakfast, good sleep and good space [i.e. mostly empty pool] so I kept going past my previous best of 32 laps all the way to 36, a solid mile. It took almost an hour. Then I went home and pretty much died and I'm still staggering around a bit but at least I'm not thinking "almost there..."

Yesterday's Column A event was serving on the Advocacy Committee of the Vermont Library Association. You can read more about it over on but we're working to ask the state of Vermont for 1.6 million dollars for Vermont's libraries. Vermont currently does not fund its libraries at a state level. This is a big deal, and one of the more challenging things I've worked on this year.

I've been moving some furniture around the house, mostly swapping hutches and decluttering some of the spaces I move around in at the expense of some of the spaces I barely use. I unpacked my bag for what I think will be the last time in 2006 and finally got rid of the spare toothbrush in my laptop bag. I feel like I've finally got to the end of a really long stretch of waiting. Not that there aren't other things to anticipate and get excited about and work on generally, but there's a lot of spare time around for contemplating, reading and reflecting as well. Here's the article about Ola that was in the local paper. I sure hope she's having a good time.

11.27.2006:   Column A Christmas
I am serious about this. This is what I did today. I gave myself a ton of weather stripping, window plastic, outlet and switch covers, and a cover for the fan in the kitchen. I spent a leisurely evening putting tape around every window in the place. I am not joking. Ola is a wonderful woman, granted, but she would always insist that it was more important that things look good than that they work well. So, we have cupboards over heating registers and drafy windows without curtains. I do not care if this place looks like girl-in-a-plastic-bubble-land this winter, it will not be freezing.


I can't help with the religious part of Christmas since that's never been part of my holiday experience, but I can speak to the rest of Christmas.

I made a post on Vox in response to their silly "when do you start your shopping" question of the day. I appreciate that they want to have little starter topics, in case people want to have a blog and have nothing to say (I think it defeats the purpose of having one, but I am not "most people") but I have this knee-jerky response to shopping talk, it just gives me the fits. Especially since so much of it has some "Woe is me" aspect to it. If you don't like it, then it seems to me that you should not do it, but I digress...

I really like giving things, getting things, finding things, making things, interacting with people, eating tasty food and generally spreading goodwill around. I dislike shopping, enforced fun, enforced religion, excessive protocol and etiquette, and a lot of stressful travelling in bad weather. It should be possible to get what's good about column A without submitting to too much of column B. So, my goal for this time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is to make every day "Christmas" in some way, either for me or someone else. Christmas in a good way. Column A Christmas. I'll probably still do my predictable complaining about the creche that is likely to turn up on the town commons. Column B creche. So that's the plan. If anyone tells me I'm doing it wrong I'll let my big dopey grin speak for itself.

I started after dinner on Thanksgiving. Kate and I unpacked a few containers of stuff that used to belong to my grandmother. Most of it was small things that reminded us of her, stuff from her apartment and especially her kitchen. Kate and I talked about the things we unwrapped and split them up without incident -- a salt cellar for me, the old Sweet n' Low bowl for her, ashtrays for each of us, despite the fact that we both don't smoke anymore. It was Christmaslike, in every good way and it was nice to talk about Grandma Cohon, who I miss and think about often.

Before I left today Kate said "Oh hey, do you want these old boots I have?" and gave me an old pair of lace up leather boots that I seem to recall coveting maybe 15 years ago. They fit great, they're perfectly broken in, they don't go with Kate's lifestyle anymore but they plug nicely into mine. Now I don't have to agonize over braving the malls in December to get a nice-fitting pair of boots before it snows. I have good snow boots for seriously bad weather, but my old Redwing lace-ups don't really keep the water out like they used to.

When I got off the bus from Boston in New Hampshire this afternoon, there was an older woman asking the bus terminal lady to call her a cab. They seemed familiar to each other so I asked the woman if she lived nearby. I had seen her get on the bus in Boston, accompanied by her son who had made sure she got situated okay. She lived a few miles in my direction so I said I'd give her a ride. We had a nice talk about libraries (she loves them), computers (she's getting the hang of them) and families (loves them) and she said she was giving thanks for ME when I dropped her off at the door to her retirement home.

I wrapped up the day with some leftovers and a campfire with Rick and Sarah and their visiting friend Jonah on the side of a dark chilly hill down the street from me, watching the moon set. Then we went inside for pie. Happy holidays everybody. Do your best.

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11.24.2006:   thanks
It's been a wordy month. Kate and I my Mom and Pat all went out to dinner which is such a good idea, I'd like to remember to do it more often on Thanksgiving. Today I am doing my usual routine which is clicking back through my past Thanksgiving posts (nine years of them now) and spending Buy Nothing Day in quiet reflection, not shopping. Vermont is doing a new thing this year where they split the holiday into two days calling the Thursday "thanks day" and the Friday "giving day" the day where we should help out those less fortunate. As the Governor said last year -- there seems to be no official release up on the website this year -- "as we congregate on this Thanksgiving to express our thanks, we must not forget those who are hungry, suffering, frightened, oppressed or exploited and we must extend to them a helping hand." I really like the idea of freedom from fear as something that is important to work towards. It's interesting to compare FDR's definition of freedom from fear from 1941.
...translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor--anywhere in the world.
with the UN Secretary General's current definition which is a lot more about terrorism and international power struggles than it is about peace. Interesting times.

The Governor is thankful to still have his job and Vermonters are thankful that they will get a minimum wage increase starting January first. I'm at my sister's place while she is at work with a skeleton crew at the crime lab. I'll be spending some time getting her fridge in order. You know how you hit that wall sometimes where you know the fridge has some scary stuff in it but you just can't deal with it? I can fix that problem, among others. I'm also calling around to see if we can donate the grannymobile someplace, maybe get it out of the driveway.

I'm thankful for the usual things, from being bipedal with opposable thumbs right on down to this new haircut. I have a hard time making lists of things to be thankful for because I always feel like I'm gloating. I'm not sure how you can be thankful for not being born poor, or having decent access to health care and clean water, without wanting to go leave the house right now to help other people who didn't or don't have those advantages. This time of the year is always a bit of a bumpy ride for me because the notion of "doing the right thing" is even more convoluted than usual.

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"And I'm not doing any more travelling until March!"

This was how I was talking just a few hours earlier when I called to wish my Dad a happy birthday. He was telling me how the house is going to fill up with folks which he thinks will be mostly fun "plus I got a radio controlled helicopter so that will help some..."

I said what I said, but there have been a few caveats. One of them is that I was travelling today, but it's just a small trip down to MA and back to do some Thanksgiving-y stuff with my Mom and sister. The March trip is the big one to Australia, Perth this time, and I'm giddy even thinking about it. I'll be going with Kate who is also pretty excited. I might go someplace for Christmas, then again I might not. I was also just today invited to go to Kansas and talk about the Web 2.0/Library 2.0 thing and they just happen to want someone during school vacation week. I don't talk about it much but my local job is at a vocational high school, so school holidays are also my holidays. This is often handy.

So I might go to Kansas, I probably will. Then I was also asked to give a talk to a library group in New York. This is great because it's nearby and I often find that New England/New York audiences seem to have similar senses of humor to mine, though the Lansing Michigan crowd seemed to enjoy a lot of my dumb jokes. They asked what I wanted for a speaker's fee and told me they were an organization without "deep pockets" etc. I took this to heart and quoted them a low number. The guy I was talking to on the phone said "What!?" and I was thinking "Too high?" and then he quoted me something 2.5 times what I quoted him and said they'd pay that.

I clearly do not have the hang of this. I don't want to wreck the world for other library speakers by undercharging, but I just feel that there's some reasonable limit to how much you should get paid for an hour of speaking and a day of travel. Add to this that I just personally feel that while I'm a good speaker and knowledgeable on the topics I present on, it's not like I'm writing an original research paper each time... In any case, there is still much to learn.

I've got the place to myself now. I wrote a little blurb about Ola leaving over on Vox. I've been getting up to speed running the house on my own and while there is a lot to get used to, there is also a lot to like. I have two (2) big guestrooms now. Please swing by if you're in the area.


I figure there has to be some sort of personality type or brain chemistry that makes you find things interesting, and I have more of it than others. I'm really interested in my own life right now, though I'm also fascinated by the lives of others. One of the things I like so much about travelling is meeting and re-meeting people who are different from me and really getting a chance to see what they're about. Since I live in the country and mostly visit cities, the contrasts are often fairly striking. I've always been a bit of a "connector" one of those people who says "Oh, you're doing X, you should really talk to my friend Y...." and yet at the same time, my little circuit here in Vermont is small and fairly contained. I wonder how this would be working without the Internet.

Here are some people I met or got to hang out with. You can see why trips like this are so much fun.
  • Nichole and JonMichael -- she's a librarian, he's a mathematician who works for the state lottery. They love puzzles and he makes games in his spare time. They are eating their way through Madison restaurants alphabetically. It was my pleasure to help them out with a restaurant in the Gs.
  • The Jail Library Group is doing some great work, even though they didn't get a lot of people going to their poster session at WLA.
  • Abby is half the team at LibraryThing, technically LibraryThing's librarian. She was also in Wisconsin with me and had some funny things to say about the crazy safari we were on.
  • My friend Michael just bought a house in Pasedena on a lovely tree lined street with no sidewalks and dim streetlights. I took photos of his dogs and his license plate. We went book shopping. He wrote this post about my visit.
  • Bryan took me out for carne asada and drinks and regaled me with stories of what happened internally when Conde Naste (where he works) bought Reddit.
  • Lauren, my friend since junior high school, now a law professor, put me up in her lovely apartment and gave me some perspective on all the hubub in my life lately. For my part, I set her up with wifi (slightly self-interestedly), put new RAM in her computer and got Firefox running on it. It was there that I heard the election returns and was mighty pleased.
  • Sara was one of my online pals before I met her in person at a MetaFilter meetup. She offered to drive me around and was responsible for me winding up at Jumbo's. I just got an email from her this morning, subject "Isis says hi." I met her boyfriend and some of his friends while I was at Jumbo's and, though I was seriously out of my element, started feeling a lot more IN my element when one of his friends handed me a Moo card. Even though Flickr has a zillion members, it still seemed like a small gesture that said "one of us"
  • The guy who organizes the HLA conference also has an award winning album. He told me about the time he was asked to join Heart but he couldn't because his Dad forbid him, since he was only 17 at the time.
  • Andrew Wertheimer is another socially responsible librarian who is also tech savvy, an unusual combination. He gave me a great restaurant recommendation and is now a Flickr buddy of mine.
  • Wes Fryer manages to have a semi-corporate job and also be a strong advocate for open source and sensible technology. Aaron took my two favorite pictures of him videochatting with his kids.
  • Speaking of Aaron, having a Hawaii buddy to go to the beach and sit on the balcony with made the tropical part of my trip that much better. Seeing him later, in Michigan was like some crazy timewarp.
  • Michael Porter and I went to get some gyoza and some beer when I first got to Hawaii. He's always been my polar opposite jobwise and yet we have a lot in common. It's fun to compare ideas with him.
  • Meredith helped finagle a ride to a place to eat for me (thanks Rikhei!) when I was late getting in to Lansing. As thanks, I stole her pen. I tagged her in when I left Michigan. I am home in Vermont now and she and her husband are in Florida.
  • Pete and Ana are turning their little house in the Mission into an excellent oasis of calm, good coffee, and fine-looking richly-colored furniture. The unlinkability of it is one of the things that makes it so special.
  • Evette organized the whole Michigan trip and scored a home run with her Tuba Museum restaurant recommendation. She also makes origami and met Utah Phillips!

There were so many more people, from the MLC guy contemplating his first tattoo, to the librarians from the Marshall Islands, to all of Drew's library school students, to Jade the four year old who would not stop talking. Now I'm back at home and Ola is preparing for her big step off the "what will my fuiture bring?" cliff and I'm trying to help her out in all the ways I know how -- installing satelllite radio in her car, getting her email up and running, being a sounding board for all of her thisthatandtheother last minute plans. I feel nice being able to give back something and help someone else go on a long crazy trip while I stay home, for a change.

11.16.2006:   it's a wrap

I gave a talk on blogs and blogging today which I think is my last talk in 2006. I'd tell you how many talks that makes for 2006, but my website is down, which I'd sarcastically say is perfect timing but it was up during my talk which was most important. I'm in Lansing Michigan, South Lansing actually. I was in a funk yesterday due to a bad combination of missing luggage, missing dinner and missing home. The dinner got straightened out after a freaky late night walk under the overpass, the luggage arrived this morning before my talk and home is just a plane ride and a bus ride and a car ride away.

I spent some time in the totally unpopulated sauna/whirlpool this evening and feel scads better. Between that and the restaurant/tuba museum, Lansing is okay by me. I'll be heading down to see family for Thanksgiving and not at all sure what Christmas is looking like though I'll probably do somethign with Kate maybe, if I'm lucky, in Bethel. Anyone who is adrift for the holiday season, please consider a visit.

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11.13.2006:   interstitial
Got back from Hawaii to a rainy San Francisco morning before the sun came up. It's cool how close SFO is to Honolulu, less cool when you have a red eye flight that you thought you might sleep for some of. Blah blah me and my sleep, at least today I have a decent reason for being tired.

The trip went well. Hawaii is lovely and yet lovely in that "I like it here but I don't pine for it when I am not there" way. I pine for Vermont. I miss the coldness. I miss the darkness at night. I miss the absence of automobiles and the presence of my typewriter and my lumpy pillow and my twigs and soy milk breakfasts. I've got less than 24 hours here and then I head to Michigan, talk to some librarians about blogs, and then head back to Boston and eventually home. Once I get there, Ola will be leaving on her Peace Corps adventure (which begins with visting every kid and some family time down in Tennessee) within days and except for a family visit around Turkey Day, I'll be staying at home and living alone for the first time in over five years. To say I'm excited about this would be an understatement.

But, back to Hawaii. I was lucky to have my colleague and friend Aaron to pal around with, so we actually did things like leave Waikiki, do a little snorkeling, go for walks in search of waffles and cadge wifi from 21 stories up, participating in what my friend Judith calls "laptopping." Yesterday Dave Brier, the conference organizer, took me for a drive around to the less concrete-jungle parts of the island and I took a few pictures. I think the view out my windshield is pretty great in Vermont most days, but it's rarely as striking as this.

I get home on Friday. Saturday is the Leonid Meteor shower. While I can't recall seeing a single star dimmer than Orion's Belt in Hawaii, I should be able to see the meteors from my backyard, or I might need to go across the street. If you can get outside and out to someplace dark on Saturday night, you should really try to check them out.

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11.10.2006:   50
All I have to say is this: today I set foot on my 50th -- that is to say LAST -- US state when I got off the airplane in Honolulu Hawaii this evening. More from the Hawaii Library Association Conference &c. when I get some sleep. Fifty!

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11.07.2006:   this is los angeles

I may not have mentioned, Wisconsin was great and I have a few notes about it over at My creeping insomnia is exacerbated by living in a city that is built on cars and air conditioners, but I've been having a good time anyhow. It's hot here. Hot like too-hot-laptop-hot. Hot like the DSL modem is gasping for air. Hot like all the clothes I was wearing when I got here don't fit back in my bag now that I'm just wearing a skirt, tank top and flip flops. I gave away some books to the library. I gave away some clothes to the thrift store (and to Lauren) and I think I'll just make it on the plane tomorrow. I bought sunscreen in the 4 oz size and I just hope that I'll get to LAX early enough to check my bag on my way to Hawaii, otherwise it's bye bye sunscreen, hello Lobster Girl!

I've never really come to LA to visit friends before. I've come to visit a friend but not carried a list of numbers around in my pocket in that "if this is Tuesday this must be Michael" way. Lauren, my oldest friend who was in my tiny homeroom with me when we were eleven, has a delightful apartment full of great cats and good smells and tasty food and a peaceful guestroom. We went out and bought RAM and a wireless modem to help her technology attain the high quality of the rest of her accoutrements. Bryan, my old pal from Speakeasy, is settling in here and took one of the best recent pictures of me in existence. (hope you like swearing, there is some in that picture). And then last night I got to see my friend Michael who has also recently moved into a new place in Pasadena. We went to Cliff's Books and wandered around for hours and I got a few books for my upcoming plane trips.

I also went to what is best described as a "titty bar" called Jumbo's at the tail end of the MetaFilter meetup when I first arrived. It may surprise some people to know that this is my first foray into the world of pole dancing and two drink minimums, but since LA has the "if you are drinking alcohol, you can't see naked people" law, it was actually pretty tame. Mostly it was a lot of tall attractive women in scary high heels and legwarmers (yes, legwarmers) wearing two pairs of underwear and then taking off one pair. And then our meetup newbie, code name hightechunderpants, deciding this was the best meetup ever. In short, LA has been what I've been expecting it to be, only better.

So Portland was really something. A very nice trip all around. I got to spend time with three friends I don't see enough of: Lisa Degrace my pal from Hampshire, and Sara and Steve my friends from the library and PacNW world. The conference center was out in Corbett Oregon at a place called Menucha, a Presbyterian retreat center. It was a quickie 24 hour conference at one of those great rustic places with an incredible view, but I was torn because it was also chock full of smartie tech-savvy librarians who were fun to talk to and even more fun to play speed Scrabble with. If I ever consider a career change, I hope there is room for me in the world of academic librarianship. It seems fun there.

Once I got back to Portland I hung out with my friends (and their friends including one of my fave comic artists Sean Bieri), went to the Stumptown Comics Fest, ate Real Mexican Food, got the aforementioned haircut and went to a MetaFilter meetup. There I caught up with my friend and boss Matt Haughey and retreated to his spacious abode in McMinnville where we had Real Thai Food and hung out with his wife Kay and daughter Fiona. Then it was back to the airport and back home. All in all I guess it was five days but a lot of that was in the air.

I got home to a house without an extra roommate (long story which I may share later, suffice to say that it wasn't working out for anyone) and so I slept in my own quiet house for the first time in six weeks. I like it here, and I have mixed feelings about Ola leaving which she'll do soon after I get back from my next trip which starts tomorrow. I'm happy she's going to hang out with her family and then join the Peace Corps, but it's fun having someone here with a smart mouth and a quirky sense of humor. On the other hand, no more roommates waking up at 5 am will feel good for at least a little while. I now have at least one guestroom, soon to be two, so if you've been putting off a visit to the bucolic wonderland that is Vermont (quick before it freezes solid for three months) drop me a note, and come prepared to haul some firewood.

I'll be gone for two weeks in this latest round of library talks. If you're in or near The Dells, WI, Los Angeles, Waikiki, San Francisco or Lansing Michigan feel free to drop a note and maybe we can get a beer or coffee. Otherwise, you'll always know where to find me.

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Jessamyn is in...
Bethel VT

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