winter beach fallow


I think I mentioned that I’m traveling. For the last week I’ve been staying at my Dad’s place in Westport MA while he’s in Mexico. I have the run of a house with five bathrooms, six TVs, four pets, a delightful kitchen, an SUV and a beach within almost-walking distance. And I’m on deadline to write a few talks, so I’ve mostly been hanging out inside doing some typa typa work, listening to bhangra music and making the cats purr.

At first this was all novel, now it’s just hunkering in a new hunkerplace. I’m a fan of hunkering. Vermont got several feet of snow. There has just been rain here. I’ll take the dog out to the beach in almost any weather, but he’s not raring to go in this sort of downpour. At first I was taking a lot of photos and making a lot of plans and busybodying myself around here [I washed the couch cushion covers, oh yes I did] and now I’ve adapted to a slower pace, a different rhythm, a little more Johanna Newsome and a little less bhangra.

Jim was up last weekend and we did a lot of food eating and Olympic watching and Valentine’s Day catchup. Kate and Ned are coming down this weekend along with a friend who is having a birthday and we’ll have some sort of cupcakes. It surprises me sometimes how staying in one place for a while seems to settle me down to an almost non-vibratory state, but that I also don’t have as much to talk about. And I say I’m surprised by things more as I get older and shouldn’t I be getting surprised less?

A friend from library school [hi Anne!] had the words STAY and ROAM tattooed on her knuckles. When I travel to tiny libraries to tell them about how we do things in rural Vermont, it’s unusual because the people in these small towns rarely leave them. When I go home I’m unusual in that I’m rarely in one place too long. I tell people that I travel because they can’t, that I talk about the people in my town because others don’t. But at some level I just have the fidgets and there’s something to the appeal of elsewhere.

valentine’s day bookshelves


There was a small amount of “Are you doing something special with Jim today?” questioning on Sunday, which seems normal. The short answer was “no, we decided not to” and the longer answer has more to do with the nature of long-distance relationships and the fact that we’d been together both the weekend previously and will see each other this coming weekend. We did more of a five-day virtual thing. I sent him some bamboo to his office on Friday [who knew you could use frequent flyer miles on bamboo?], we played Scrabble on Saturday, sent some schmoopy photos back and forth on Sunday and talked yesterday. Today I’m heading to the post office to pick up my valentine [received: 1210 songs with love in the title, wowie!]. And tomorrow I’m leaving town for three weeks.

The three weeks thing was sort of a gaffe. I made plans to go give a talk on a day I wasn’t actually free. I’ve never done this in six years of speaking, so I apologized like crazy and said “Pick a new date and I’ll go down there!” The date they picked — this is the NorthEast Florida Library Information Network — was wedged firmly between two existing trips, one to house- and pet-sit for my Dad while he goes to Mexico and one trip to Alaska. So as much as 2010 is going to be the Year of Sensible Travel, March is going to be a little insensible.

So I did the be-your-own-valentine thing and assembled some bookshelves that I’ve been sort of slow-motion working on for a few months. I made a valentine for my facebook friends and added a different photo to Flickr. I sent some email and had some fried cheese for dinner [on sale at the supermarket!] and had a bangup hilarious phone call with my favorite [and only] sister and called it a day. Moderate expectations, amply exceeded, and a five day Valentine’s Day. Hope you had, have, or are having a happy whatever-you-have.

stuck in the past

image of a machine shop from Google Books

I was discussing with friends lately how the 1890s is my favorite decade. Back when this blog was just a teeny “what I did today” ramble, I’d take machine shop photos and colorize them so that I could have images to use next to some of my posts. This usually involved, in the late 1990s, taking a photograph of a book. Well now I can go go Google and read an entire book from 1895 full of fun machine pictures and even add it to my so-called bookshelf.

Nothing has been going on this week other than the normal stuff. I have had a cold and have been doing the lay low thing in addition to my usual work. I got very “rah rah” about blogging stuff when I was doing it for BoingBoing, but coming back to my little “hey here’s what’s been up” box that I type into does not make me want to go off and research 19th century dictionary advertisements [though I have a great old advertisement for one]. Here are the photos of my trip to Florida. I had a nice time.

that was the week that was – where I got my ideas

dismevowel me?

So hey, I was over at BoingBoing this week. This was also the week my friend Dawn came to visit and I was in Florida for three days. I also worked at the school like normal. It was sort of a hectic week. I don’t read BoingBoing usually. I like it but can’t keep up with it. This past week, I enjoyed getting to see the other side of it. I’m more used to the world of MetaFilter where posts are for other people, not about yourself, don’t have photos, etc. I had a hard time adjusting.

So, in case anyone’s curious, here’s an annotated list of what I blogged about there, with some extra “where do you get your ideas?” notes tossed in for good measure. I’m typing this on a plane [with wifi! expensive! too expensive for me!] on leg three of my six leg [car-plane-plane-subway-bus-car] trip home from Florida. Update: I am now home. My last post appeared on BoingBoing flanked by McDonald’s ads.

  1. At the edges of libraries – a few links I liked and a small “thanks for having me”
  2. Phil Agre located, search not quite over – I had been paying attention to this story since I heard about it. Phil is brilliant, haunted, and vanished in 2008 sometime. I saw this update on and made a quick note.
  3. What’s really on bittorrent anyway? – found when reading the Freedom to Tinker blog which I read regularly.
  4. “The only perfect reference work” Nelson’s Perpetual Loose-Leaf Encyclopaedia – a friend emailed me about a friend of his who was coming out with a fascinating book about… something. He also mentioned this encyclopedia which I think I may have a few volumes of. I did some digging.
  5. Airplane bird strikes are now public information – my friend Mike twittered about public FAA databases and I lost myself clicking around this one.
  6. Slime as Engineer – brainless mold mimics Tokyo subway – I found this by accident [or serendipity] as I was looking up something else but it had a “bb would like this” vibe to it.
  7. The peculiar challenges of Chinese Braille – judith twittered about someone reading Braille on the bus and I went off reading about Braille.
  8. Read Houdini’s books via Google Books and Library of Congress – a pal emailed me a link to the original blog post about it. I’ve always been a fan of Houdini and full-text books available online.
  9. Catch a cold for the holidays: a history of The Common Cold Unit – I answered a question for Ask MetaFilter about how communicable the common cold was and what we knew about it and everything I looked up pointed to the work done at the CCU. May be one of those things fascinating to me and only sort of interesting to other people.
  10. Skin contact between performers creates a positive social environment – Melissa and Hiram posted a link to this on facebook. I enjoyed the video and the goofy musician’s take on things.
  11. “If we’re there, where aren’t we?” — PBS looks at life online – Doug Rushkoff emailed me about this and it seemed like something the BB crowd would enjoy. I was hoping to use the tawdry photo of the girl in her underwear that graces the Frontline page [stay classy!] but opted instead of Patrick Stewart.
  12. Copyright disputes in the 1840s – my friend Hugh thought I might like his Mom’s blog where she wrote about Dickens and some other terrific stuff.
  13. Lessig on Copyright and Culture: “Things could have been different” – found this somewhere on Twitter. I suspect there’s some sort of Lessig history on BB because I was surprised that this got zero comments.
  14. Funny easter egg – David Weinberger’s twitter pointed me to this one. Surprised it was so popular.
  15. A concise history of the [Judas] Priest logo – Modcult is one of my favorite blogs and it was all I could do to not just point to every single post they made.
  16. Book Sharing Bankrupting Publishing Industry! – not sure where I originally found this, but anyone who is making amusing satire about ALA deserves more exposure.
  17. Build privacy into national broadband policy says CDT – I read the CDT’s blog in my RSS reader and this sort of thing is 1) important 2) woefully under-reported
  18. Pietenpol’s DIY airplane:”a common man’s airplane” – an email correspondent/library buddy of mine posted about this documentary on his blog. It had a DIY aesthetic that I enjoyed.boing-mac
  19. Valentine: serialized multilingual device-independent comics – a friend of mine is working with the artist/writer of this comic and pointed it out. I’m impressed with multi-lingual efforts and though tthey did a great job with this one. Plus hey, comix!
  20. Puppets are fun – the last puppet theater in LA. I like the idea, was sorry I couldn’t find more catchy media for this post.
  21. The longest-running open source project: US Federal Depository libraries – I have very good friends who are the authors of FreeGovInfo and they suggested this post.
  22. Make your own mossarium! – the post I was born to make.
  23. Librarians for Fair Access resists exclusive content contracts – interesting issue in the library world this week, maybe a little inside baseball for BB, but I thought people would understand it and appreciate it.
  24. The unbearable awfulness of pine mouth – my friend Dawn mentioned this to me and I looked up some stuff about it.
  25. Robots + Monsters reopens today, donations to aid Haitan relief – I have loved these illustrations since R&M first opened and it was timely that they had something to announce this week.
  26. 310 class photos from 80 years of PS 99 in Queens NY – one of my favorite posts but maybe not as punchy as it could be. Watching this neighborhood change via the school photos was, I thought, fascinating.
  27. Illuminated 15th c. Manuscript – full of hidden demons – a friend made a post about this on MetaFilter and I repurposed it a little for BB.
  28. Superman – The 1948 Serial – not sure how I found this, I think randomly by looking at free stuff in the Internet Archive.
  29. music for/by the birds – a favorite recent post on MeFi by a friend who just became a dad! Seemed like a safe starting post.