a few worthwhile things from the internet

coral snake fights alligator thing.

Every so often I rue the fact that this part of my website is really more of a journally thing than a bloggy thing. Sometimes I have internet things that I want to refer to that don’t fit on librarian.net. This is one of those times. Here are those things.

  1. I made a post on MetaFilter about a chapter in the excellent book my friend Matthew gave me. The book is called Amazing Rare Things, about the history of nature illustrations with tons of lovely drawings, and the chapter I found links for was about The Paper Museum
  2. My friend Adriana made a few great posts on her blog about the poetry of ASL. You may want to read Flying Words and Good Things. A while ago I also made a post on MetaFilter about my favorite at-the-time YouTube trend of people who spoke sign language doing signed versions of popular songs. I guess it’s standard fare for ASL classes, and some of the people whose songs I enjoyed were clearly hearing folks, but I had a good time watching people signing songs I was familiar with and perhaps you will too. And, amusingly, my favorite of all these is a Mexican Sign Language version of Hips Don’t Lie (originally by Shakira) who is a singer Adriana turned me on to originally.
  3. I am speaking on a panel at SXSW next weekend. My panel is called Social Network Coups: The Users Are Revolting. It’s amusing because the name of the libraryland book I co-edited has the word Revolting in the title too and yet has nothing to do with this. The panel is on Saturday at 5 pm at the same time as seventeen other SXSWi events. If you’re nearby, stop on in, but I’ll understand if you don’t.
  4. Someone else on MetaFilter helped me remember a book that I loved from when I was a kid: The Animated Thumbtack Railroad Dollhouse and All-Around Surprise Book! by Louis Phillips and Lynn Braswell. As I related to someone, I can remember going to visit my great grandmother in Pennsylvania and she had this book, among other things as distractions for us kids while the adults did that boring “sit around and talk” thing they always did. I loved it and its wacky humor and think it went a good ways towards my love of Donald Barthelme later on in my adult life.

I can’t remember what else there was I wanted to show you, but I may add it here at some later date if I remember.


Everything is fine here, nothing is really wrong. That doesn’t stop some things from seeming, in the short term, like emergencies. I have a problem accurately assessing urgency of situations. For example.

1. At the pool on Friday a girl cut her toe and bled all over the place. It was very dramatic and, from my perspective as the lifeguard on duty, scary. She hadn’t bled into the pool — which is a pretty obvious “everybody out!” scenario — but was cut and walking around etc. She was clearly okay, but also needed attention. I went to find the first aid kit and remember what I had been taught to do. I called upstairs to get someone to cover the pool while I dressed her wound and found that the phone didn’t work. Then I went looking for the first aid kit and I couldn’t find it [it was in the unmarked black toolbox, which maybe someone told me at one point] meanwhile there are thirty people in the pool who are sort of watching me do my thing. I put on gloves because that’s what you do with blood, but when I offered gloves to one of the moms who was helping me clean up she said “nah, I don’t need them…” and I wasn’t sure whether to insist or not. The kid wasn’t her kid, but she was the kid’s guardian. I didn’t insist. The kid got a good bandage put on her foot by the building manager who was working that day. I think I did okay, but it was startling to me to realize that the place is a little slipshod and, more to the point, when I reported all of this people said “oh yeah we’ll look into that” I hope to hell they’ve fixed the phone by the next time something happens at the pool.

2. It’s been snowing here a lot this year. This is great. I like snow. However this weekend there were a few warm melty days and the predictable ice damming happened and some water was leaking in to the back porch. I had friends over and they helped me get some of the snow off the porch roof but things really started moving when the fearless neighbor kid hopped up with me and attacked the ice/snow in earnest. We got the roof cleared, the leaking stopped and the neighbor kid’s dad, who is my age, did that thing that people around here do… He said “Yeah you really need work on the front porch too, you’ve got a lot of snow up there” When I lived in Topsham people, well men really, would regularly come through and tell me my barn was six months away from falling down or that my woodstove was a fire hazard or that they could smell propane in my house or whatever. I would get flipped out, try to rectify the situation, get another “What? Nothing is wrong with your ___________ ” comment from someone else and then be totally confused.

So Monday and yesterday I decided to deal with the snow on the front porch. I started with the stuff I could reach through the windows, which wasn’t much but it was a good start. Then, as the first flakes started to come down, I actually borrowed the neighbors’ ladder (had to call my friend up the road to help me lift it) and climbed up it and attacked the ice crust on the roof drifts with a rake. All the while I was wondering whether the snow on the roof was indeed at critical levels or whether I was just a ridiculous flatlander with a too-little-too-late approach to winter home maintenance. Like I know the true emergency steps, when someone breaks a leg or something, but the same way it can be hard to tell if an unfull moon is really full or not, I’m not good at the “is this an emergency?” assessment. Did I need to call roof shovellers? Did I need to climb on the roof at all costs at possible threat to life or limb? Did I even need to go outside yesterday at all? As it was, I got some good exercise and a tuff-looking scratch on my face from the roof rake and I felt like I made a good faith effort to clear snow off the roof. Ultimately though, the only thing that matters is the post-game wrap-up where we see if the roof collapses (so far it has not) and if it doesn’t, I still don’t know if what I did mattered at all.

alert: february not always a pit of snowy despair


It’s been a while since I’ve been too busy to write here. I mean there are a few sorts of busy. For me they break down into busy online — where my online world/job/friends have all gone crazy and my typing is all devoted to that — or busy offline where either I’m away, socializing, ill, working, or some combination thereof. This was a nice offline time because I was all of the above, except ill. Before I mention anything else, let me say that it is pancake week in Vermont at the King Arthur Flour store, starting tomorrow. Free pancakes and real syrup. There was an IHOP Pancake day on Super Tuesday, but there is no IHOP in Vermont and their syrup is crap anyhow.

So… I went to Canada which is my favorite out-of-country destination. This time was particularly good because I could just drive up there to get to McGill. I managed to grab my mail before I left town and opened a priority mail envelope only to find that an associate of mine had sent me a book aboyt the madness that is the USA PATRIOT Act. I made a mental note to read it and tried to hide it beneath my seat. As I crossed the border I somehow managed to get into the truck lane. As I craned out the window wondering why the customs guy’s window was so high up I noticed he was laughing at me. “Are you a truck?” he said. “I’m in the wrong lane, aren’t I?” I said. Except for a little back and forth about whether I needed to declare the 50 lbs of birdseed in my trunk as “food” my border crossing was otherwise uneventful.

I gave two talks — or rather the same talk twice to two very different groups — and had a lot of delicious food at various restaurants representing totally unavailable food in Vermont. I drove home and my friends Andrea and Corey were just getting out of their car in my driveway for a weekend in the country and we did a bunch of country things including snowshoeing, geocaching, sitting around the fire, making soup, making hats, making pizzas with Wayne and Jill and Casey, eating birthday cake (Corey’s) and eating waffles. Andrea and Corey know they have shot right up to Favored Guest status in my mind because when I drag my sleepy ass into the freezing kitchen in the morning when they are staying with me, there is a hot waffle waiting for me. Also, Andrea crocheted me a hat. Everyone went home yesterday and I was happily exhausted enoguh so I went to bed less than twelve hours after I woke up.

Today will be my first day just hanging around the house since last Wednesday and I have a to do list with such exciting activities as “laundry” and “transfer station.” It’s vacation week here in Vermont which means no drop-in time and a few lifeguarding stints towards the end of the week and then more friends coming up from Western MA which is my impetus for making short work of the to do list early in the week.


  • Talked to Ola and she says “April.”
  • Talked to my neighbor from Topsham. He had not called to tell me my house had fallen down, he had called to say hi and sorry for being a jerk a while ago. I forgave him.
  • My car, the one that was broken, that I gave away? Apparently it’s okay and I can maybe have it back.
  • I watched TV on two special days with the word “super” in them but since neither were at my house, my Nielsen rating booklet goes back blank. I’m keeping the dollar they sent me though.
  • I swear it’s been snowing nonstop for 24 hours. I’ve really been enjoying the snow this year with my AWD car.
  • I set up a Twitter account for Donald Barthelme. It was time.
  • I gave my first real talk of 2008 and it went well but not awesome which seems okay because it keeps me on my toes, though I always secretly hope for awesome.
  • I am going to be on a panel at SXSW on March 8th. I am going to be on at the same time as one of the more interesting people who is presenting there. Alas.
  • My Mom is on facebook, feel free to go be friends with her.
  • I succeeded in sending out some piece of mail — fun mail, not bills or anything — every day of January. The resulting deluge of fun mail in response, not from the same people of course, just general karmic response, has filled up my house (Ola’s house) with books and postcards and stickers. I’ll try to do this every January.