my year in cities and towns, 2011

photos of the beds I've slept in, in 2011

Here is where I stayed this year. Last year I said I’d be working towards less travel. And my travel-for-work was down significantly. However my travel-for-family was up a lot [for both good and bad reasons] and that seemed to level it out. Ninety-nine days away from home. Almost all of it in Massachusetts, but a few visits to Michigan and Texas and Maine. Did not leave the country.

As before, stars indicate multiple visits to the same place. Numbers indicate number of distinct guestrooms at each geographic location. Different beds in the same house are, for all intents and purposes, one “guestroom” but perhaps multiple photos. Past years: 2010, 2009, 2008 2007, 2006, 2005.

Belmont, MA *
Westport, MA *
Austin, TX (3)
Somerville, MA
Danvers, MA
Stamford, CT
Cambridge, MA (2)
Portland, OR (2)
Hood River, OR
Boxboro, MA
Lewisville, TX
Decatur, TX
Irving, TX
Stow, MA
Lubec, ME
Bar Harbor, ME
Augusta, ME
Burlington, VT
Ann Arbor, MI
Milwaukee, WI
Kalamazoo, MI
Pittsboro, NC
Raleigh, NC
Grand Rapids, MI

what I did to my nose, and other stories

solstice bonfire

So I was just getting around to the end of the year lists when I realized I haven’t said much about the end of December. Not a lot to tell. Classes wrapped up well, the general holidaytimes went just fine. The Solstice Bonfire was great as always. I finally took care of a long-standing sinus issue I’ve been having [since last year] and went in for outpatient endoscopic sinus surgery this Tuesday. I am home and I am fine. I am also superstitious, so I basically didn’t mention it to anyone except a few close friends and my family. It was a non-event but it sort of made me nervous since I simultaneously believe that something terrible will happen at something like this, but also that I am being totally irrational. So I have no useful way to center the reasonableness of my concerns as anything other than this 100% fine/100% dead duality, so I just keep my mouth shut. This is suboptimal but it’s what I’ve got.

Anyhow, I now have a “shaved down” turbinate which, once it’s healed, should allow me to breathe better through half my nose and also maybe not cause me random tooth and eye pain. Also maybe fewer sinus infections. Worst case, it’s about the same. I can already breathe okay through my nose and all the horrible warnings nonwithstanding [“thinking injury” warns the anesthesiology consent form, “blindness” warns the surgery consent form] I feel fine, have abandoned my prescribed pain medication after a day and made up a great chart for when I’m supposed to take all the other stuff [including the nasal rinsing, though no nose-blowing for three more days]. I’m happy I got it done and I should have gotten it done sooner though with all the stuff happening last year, this was about when I was ready to deal with big complicated things. I have to give big props to the Dartmouth Outpatient Surgery Center for not only being full of nice and easy to interact with professionals, but also for not being all Christmassed out on December 27th. This is my surgeon, he was great. He is also growing a goatee.

So I’ve spent the last few days laying low here and watching movies and taking pills and telling everyone I am fine. I wrote up my end of the year reading list over on and I’ll be working on the other few lists over the next few days. Hope your holidays brought you peace and well-being. Mine are going okay so far.


I’m still sort of experimenting on what works here and what doesn’t. Uploading photos–such as the one above, of the ORCA Media studios–took about twelve tries to get right and I’m still not totally sure I like what I had to do to fix it [chmodding 777 for those of you who are curious, please ignore this for those who are not]. But anyhow, here’s a photo of what the space looked like when I was on public access television last week. A fellow teacher, Mike Abadi, does a public access show about blogs. Which is a smart idea around here because we’re still in digital divide-land. So I got to talk about my book and the digital divide and corporate ownership of the internet and all those things I like so much. You can see the full video on YouTube in case you’re not in the teeny public access coverage area (and I wouldn’t be able to tell you if you were honestly, being one of those no-tv-having goobers) of the station. Interestingly, I got to see a coverage map for the entire state and Topsham, where I used to live, has NO public access channel. I’m surprised that’s allowed but I guess they have no cable. Surprising. I am thinking it might be fun to have a public access show.

This weekend was a big weekend of cooking and walking around in the winter-but-not-snowy-winter. Jim and I finally checked out the bowling alley in town and it’s pretty nice. After a mercifully boring trip to the dentist (I have finally found the perfect non-chatty non-radio-listening dentist of my dreams) I am hunkering down, trying to get some sun and getting ready for the Christmas Bird Count which is this weekend. If you want to count birds in your area and help the National Audubon Society track bird populations, check out how to get involved.


I’m just going to update this place all the time now that I don’t have to deal with the dread of having something to say and then finding out that the site was down and would remain down for two days. Terrific. Today I was dealing with some annoying paperwork and scheduling stuff and decided I’d just chill out and work on my little moss gardens instead. I’ve made four of them this week–another project that has been backed up because I was out of spanish moss and having a difficult time motivating to get more, wintertime is all about achieving escape velocity, I’ve found–and they all came out nice in different ways. You can check out a few of them over on Flickr and if you’re a real bryophile, you might want to check out the moss photos I collect over on MLKSHK.

thanks for your patience

I’m back sucking at trivia again. But I’ve done a lot since I last left a note here.

First and foremost, I’m on a new webhost. This is after… maybe fifteen years at eskimo? The timeouts were too frequent, the support too slow. I understand the reasons but it was no longer worth paying money for, so here I am. The site lives in a friend’s closet in North Carolina, up the road from where lives at UNC. I think it will be happy there. Now that these things aren’t auto-posted to facebook, I’ll have to think about whether I’ll import them there or not in some other fashion. I get a lot of comments, people are clearly reading stuff, I’m not really afraid of facebook in any real way. But I’m also winter-lazy, so I may put it off. I had a list, called the Things You Are Putting Off list, aka the Albatross list, that had a lot of crap on it that I’d been putting of. Estate stuff, other paperwork, selling the place in Topsham, and switching web hosts. Most are done, house is still sort of for sale, I’m feeling less dread which is a good way to go into the shortest days of the year. Speaking of, here is a story in two pictures.

As you know, I work part time at a public school. I am also more Jewish than anyone else who works there. Every year the public school does a holiday display and we get into some light-hearted ribbing about how their idea of diversity is putting up a coloring book cutout of a menorah in the holiday stocking-and-tree display. I guess I could make a bigger deal out of it, but I’m not mad, just sort of “C’mon guys, try harder” about it. So two years ago when the menorah was stolen, one of the shop teachers actually made another one (very cool) which for whatever reason the principal forgot to make sure was part of the display this year. So I nudged him. And here we go. I could live somewhere else, but I really like it here, the pervasive Christmasness around wintertime is just part of being part of a more homogenous (and religious) community than I might otherwise like. There are many other benefits. I’m thankful for both my larger and smaller communities at times like this. Next update on the blog: Solstice Bonfire. Stay tuned.

Related: if you see anything weird happening here that shouldn’t be, please drop me an email. Still troubleshooting.

winter is coming


Depending on what circles you travel in, the title of this post is either just a normal thing that neighbors say to each other, or a reference to the first episode of the highly popular HBO series Game of Thrones. I haven’t seen the show but when I say it sometimes my friends will start riffing off of the tv series and I get all lost. Similarly, this costume showed up on Forrest and Kelly’s porch and I was all “Awesome!” and they were all “What?” [answer: Shufflebot, a character from LMFAO videos].

So my neighbor next door has a large pile of logs in his yard and I just saw that there’s now a wood splitter out there. I am hoping that maybe a team of people is going to help him get through them in a reasonable amount of time but when I mentioned this to another friend of mine he said “Nah that’s a week’s worth of wood cutting for sure.” So I am in nervous mode wondering when this place is going to erupt in wood-mauling noises and hoping it overlaps with my trip to North Carolina next week. Or maybe Thanksgiving. We didn’t get any of the bad weather that the southern New England states got. No power loss, almost no snow up where I am. I was enjoying a quickie trip to Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids for the Michigan Library Association conference but was, again, mildly concerned that my plane was going to be landing in some weather. It’s been a nervous set of weeks.

October was the busiest month I’ve had all year and back around a time when I was ready to be busy. Highest grossing too, which shouldn’t matter but does somehow. Now I’m back and teaching weekly Mac classes and I have what seems to be a staff retreat at the library tomorrow [thought it was going to be a short meeting until I was asked what I wanted for lunch] which I am really hoping goes well and does not include trust falls or other nonsense. I have to reassure myself that if I think most team-building exercises aren’t great, the three people who have been working at the library together for the last decade probably think they’re awful. Anyhow, we’ll be doing some strategic planning and I am sort of a little psyched about that.

So the days suddenly got short which is weird for sleeps-late me since MY days got really short, really quickly. In the “one more thing on the ‘positive self-talk’ list” shorter days means less time for wood-splitting action next door, though it may also mean it starts earlier.

Ultimately though I’m trying to pay attention to things that matter which include finding a new dentist [mine retired, I never thought I could find another one I liked, this new one is smart, nice, in town, and has a seashore print in his office that I swear my dad had in his house], a courduroy party with my fella tomorrow for 11/11/11, and a fridge full of soup I made myself [since the dented can store is closed for the forseeable future I have to make do]. Winter is coming. Maybe I can watch some of Game of Thrones.



Managed my first epic travel event since my brain went away and I have to say it went pretty well. I’ve even got to the point where I’m not using my ancient backpack for traveling and I got a proper travel bag (thanks to the world of social media, I got it at a discount, thanks Tom Bihn folks!). The bag was waiting for me when I got home so even though the zipper of my backpack failed and my soggy bag of toiletries fell out and was jammed back in where it didn’t belong, I could look past it and say “This is the LAST damned time this is happening…” and mean it.

So the trip took me down to Westport to start shutting down my dad’s house for the winter. Kate and I will be back and forth there (we’re keeping the house for the forseeable future) but the place needs thermostats set and outside spigots turned off and with a big house there is always Shit To Do. Then I flew out of Providence, really a great airport for travel, and headed to Ann Arbor where I did two programs for the library. One was a panel on community moderation which I got to be on with a librarian, a UMich professor and CmrdTaco formerly of Slashdot. The next day I got to do a long presentation about running a Q&A community at a staff development day which was fun and went well. You can see slides/notes here if you’re interested. This is one of my favorite talks. The next talk was in Milwaukee and so I decided to head there via train which was a really great way to spend a day, staring out the window looking at the midwest. I gave the closing keynote, a talk about the digital divide to folks at CLIR (Council on Library and Information Resources) and got to stay in a beautiful old hotel. From there it was back to Providence, back to dad’s house (when does it stop being dad’s house?) and some hangout time with Jim including a four mile hike through the Weetamoo Woods. I gave a talk on Monday at Olin College to undergrads and faculy about the digital divide which was also pretty fun and then scooted home after a great dinner and chat with my pal Deb.

Came back late at night to a Vermont that was nearly leaf free and have been trying to get on a normal [i.e. not 4 am til noon] sleep schedule which may be a losing battle until I get back into my routine here. All in all I was away for twelve days, went to nine states and while I was happy to get home, it was also a really nice time away seeing friends and eating food and roaming in new and familiar places.

The photo up top is something Jim and I saw when we were in Fall River. There is a street that we walked down, up the road from the Aroma Grille which is my new favorite food find, which is literally covered with these pencil scribblings. They seem to internally cohere, but I have no idea what they mean and I assume they are perhaps they are the notes of someone who is a little unhinged? They are on every building for a few blocks and have dates going from the 1970s to the present and a lot of initials that seem to be people. Curious, and a decent metaphor for all the things I still don’t know.