It took a really long time before I felt like myself again after The Sinus Troubles. And then I was out running around hollering “THE KID IS BACK” and not so much writing things down. But now whatever the crud was is slowly sneaking back into my ear (maybe?) and so I’m on a slightly less manic-pitch and I figure it’s time to play some catch up.
I went on a vacation! I visited friends in North Carolina because 1) they’re awesome and 2) I had some airline refund-ticket-money I had to use or lose. So I got to go someplace where it was warm enough to walk in the grass in bare feet. The best. Some photos from that trip (including Kelly/Rachel’s 40th Birthday Bash and Fakesgiving, our family non-holiday turkey dinner) are here. That trip also included a visit to see Matthew and Michelle in Amherst and a stop by the Connecticut Library Association to give a talk that went well, like really well. Titled How to Bridge the Empowerment Divide by Being More Like Vanilla Ice, it was the first talk I’d given this year.
Taking time off was useful for me, now stopping taking time off is where I am headed. I’m giving a talk at the Vermont Library Conference (a pecha kucha if you know what that is) on Tuesday and today I am getting together with some librarians to assemble 1000 Vermont Library Passports which is an extension of my 183 project to include … all Vermonters. It’s going to be great.
I’ve also been JP-ing. I sat in on a deposition this week and got to administer an oath to some witnesses. And next week I have 1.5 weddings to perform (one is a big ceremony with family/friends and one is just a local “OK you are married” occasion). In a month or so I head down to MA for the summer with a few trips up and back. In the fall I am teaching an HTML and CSS class at VTC which is going to be interesting. It’s a lecture class with additional labs scheduled where students can actually work on computers. I’m interested to see how that goes.
As someone who has been maintaining a blog that has required some level of CSS/HTML knowledge for the past 18 years, I think this sort of thing is important but it’s been interesting talking to people who have asked “Who needs to know that?” about this sort of skillset. And I’ve been so buried in dealing with offline populations and getting them basic email and link-clicking skills, I may be out of touch with what “mainstream” tech skills look like.
So cross your fingers for me that the crud is not coming back (and, as always, I really do not want health advice) and I hope your springtime is the way you want it.
So it’s been a set of months. I did go to London which was great, but I’ve spent most of the rest of the time dealing with variants on a “My sinuses hate me and the feeling is mutual” theme. I’m not even better but I’m at the point where I’m not taking Advil every night to sleep which means I’m well enough to sit up and type and not just want to recite the litany of remedies which I have been trying (and I DO NOT want your advice on what else to try, thank you for caring but I have had it). So hey, I had a weekend which was notable because it was fun and not just because it was pain-free or because something really fascinating came out of my nose.
Jim came up after I’d gotten through watching Gone With the Wind for the very first time with my friend Wendy. It’s hard to explain how you can dislike a movie viewing experience so much (all those characters were awful) but also be glad you went. It was about time I saw it. I enjoyed reading about Hattie McDaniel very much. Then Jim met us and Forrest and Kelly for food and beer at the restaurant across the street and it was great to see people and hang out and be hungry. Jim and I retired home to watch a good episode of Saturday Night Live (we have a standing date to watch it together, if not in person then at least at the same time with a chat window going). Got some good sleep and woke up the next day to have a late lazy breakfast and then went to Silloway Farm with Kevin and Karen to have maple snacks (sap boiled hot dogs, maple kettle corn, cider donuts with syrup for dipping, sugar on snow with a pickle on the side) and sit around in a room full of maple steam, saying hi to neighbors and friends.
Afterwards, I dragged Jim to my “Bethel University” graduation. I taught a class for a little pop-up school thing that Bethel is doing and had ten people learning iPads for a few hours at the town library. The graduation was a chance for teachers and students to get together in the Bethel Town Hall and have a potluck meal and share some of what we learned and taught. I met some people who took line dancing, one of whom is a longtime driver for the Dartmouth Coach who I sort of recognized. Jim headed home and I hunkered down and got some reading done and prepared to start my week. It was so nice, so normal, so devoid of tissues and sneezes and random pains.
I also wrote two things that you might like to read in this past week. The first was a nerdy copyright article about Flickr and why they didn’t have a public domain setting and why that meant SpaceX’s photos (which they wanted to be in the public domain) were not actually available. And then a funny thing happened… Flickr changed their policy. Now I don’t think this was a coincidence, but it also wasn’t one of those “I did this!” things. It was just a cool thing that happened as a result of the work me and others have been doing for a long time. I wrote a nice little follow-up article sort of summarizing and giving credit where it’s due. They’re both worth reading. No foolin.
So one of the many many museums that Kate and I went to was the British Museum. It was almost an afterthought. I knew it was full of treasure but we’d been to a lot of great “stuff in jars” museums and had eaten a lot of food and were feeling pretty pleased with everything but we were done with the Wellcome’s amazing reading room and Forensics Exhibit (it’s like they’d known we were coming) and had some extra time. And speaking of time, the little brochure that you get when you enter the museum suggests some places you can go to chill out if the museum is crowdy and a little suffocating, places that are … less popular. One of these places was the clock and time exhibit. Which … what? It was the best thing! There is something about being in a room full of timepieces that just makes me all shivery and delighted.
So that was the end of the trip. The beginning was the Club Class upgrade as I’d mentioned. In-between we kept a little list of places we’d been. Here is that list with some annotations. Here is a set of 90 photos of the trip, somewhat representative, except for most of the museums.
- TESCO – the place we were staying was right near a giant supermarket. We went there often.
- Bloomsbury (Lamb Pub) – met up with my friend Deb and her friends as they were on their way to a conference in Manchester.
- St Paul’s Cathedral – accidentally walked in right before an evening choral recital, lovely
- Crystal Palace – no palace is there anymore but it’s a great post-apocalyptic seeming big empty space in the middle of London.
- Crystal Palace Dinosaurs – worth it! Thanks TimeOut London for the suggestion
- Tube – love it
- Overground – love it
- Horniman Museum & Gardens – sort of a fusty old “things in glass cases” place but had a wonderful garden area and we enjoyed looking at bad taxidermy
- Hunterian Museum at RCS – very best things in jars museum. I am so sorry there were no photos allowed
- RCS Library – lovely, did not look super busy.
- Canada Water Library – this was right near us and a good place to get internet before we got our phones hooked up
- Soane’s Museum – everyone suggested this, it was a good suggestion
- Operating Theater Museum and Herb Garrett – possibly the only museum we paid for, but totally worth it for being weird and quirky (and photos allowed!)
- Southwark Park – WE SAW A WILD FOX AND IT WASN’T SICK OR ANYTHING
- Victoria and Albert Museum (& Cafe) – Very nice museum, very nice cafe.
- Spitalfields (Water Poet) – funky neighborhood with crazy packed bar to start off the MeFi Meetup
- Shoreditch – where we wound up for dinner at an Indian place that was terrific
- Art Gallery thing – Jan ran into a friend in the street wo had just come out of a gallery and told us to pop in. We did, it was … interesting.
- British Museum (& Cafe) – more museums! More cafes! More clocks!
- Wellcome Collection & Forensic Exhibit – totally up Kate’s alley and I enjoyed it as well. It’s nice to go to an exhibit that you feel like you know something about “Hey, the body farm!”
- Wellcome Reading Room – the best reading room I’ve been in, hands down, ever.
- Emirates Air Line (Gondola) – a much better deal than the London Eye and with a view that was pretty excellent
- Picadilly Circus – wandered in here by accident one evening after dinner and showed up just in time to see Critical Mass ride through, totally charming
I’m still a bit laid out with sinus crud but very happy to have been away and very happy to be home.
So I am in London. Apologies if I didn’t let you know I was coming. I’ve been down with some sort of sinus thing for the past few weeks (yes, weeks) and while I’ve been treating it and superstitiously wishing for better health I haven’t wanted to make a lot of plans. Except for getting out of town which we did, me and Kate.
Yesterday was one of those Long Days where you get a flight in the evening and have three dinners and then sleep for an hour and have breakfast and then wander around like a zombie for ten hours wondering why you decided to come to this awful place. To be fair it WAS raining yesterday and the AirBnB place we got WAS a little cold (and maybe a little strange) but there’s some peculiar frame of mind when you’re over tired and overtraveled which makes you believe that these problems will never get any better. But of course they do. Today looks a lot nicer.
And the ootchy feeling was despite the fact that we mysteriously got upgraded from Business Class (slightly larger seats for not a lot more money) to Club Class (a seat that turns into a bed which would have cost six times what our tickets cost) for no reason we can discern. Like we were just sitting in the airport with bellies full of french fries and heard our names and went to the counter and they said “We’ve moved your seats” and we were all “Awwww, we picked those specially” and they looked at us like we were insane and said “No, seriously, you’ll like these” and we did.
Club Class is clubby. There was a special room in the airport to eat free food, special nonsense on the plane (multiple packages of slippers and toothbrushes and free magazines and alcohol) and even a special passport line when we got to Heathrow. I have traveled first class once before in my life (got bumped and upgraded) and it was full of odd people at least one of whom was actively rude towards me the entire trip in that “You don’t belong here” way. Which I totally buy into because hey, I don’t think I belong there either! While I think it was sort of obvious that Kate and I maybe didn’t belong in the Club Class section (who else plays with the seats for 20 minutes?) we did enjoy it a great deal. I try to take nothing for granted. This was a gift.
Now we’re having a slow loris morning figuring out how weird is TOO weird for an AirBnB place (are two towels enough for two women for six days? Is turning the oven on to get the place above 62 degrees reasonable? Is expecting more than one of the four pillows in your bedroom to have a pillowcase asking too much? Is the place otherwise pretty decent?) and seeing which museums are open on Monday. When I was here in August I went to a lot of meetups and walked around a just looked at things. This time around we’re planning to go to fewer meetups, more museums and work on getting our travel mojo back. So far so good.
So if you only read this page by going to the website (as opposed to clicking a link from facebook or something) you might not know that I redesigned the site’s “front door” which is just Jessamyn.com. It had been a while. Some of the stuff there didn’t actually work anymore. What looked vaguely fresh at the time now looked antique. I am not that person who says “It’s only five years old…” about technology stuff and expects that to be some sort of justification for anything. So, this time I borrowed a template from someone instead of hand-coding it myself. It still required some tweaking but not much. Responsive design (a page that looks the same across all phone/tablet/computer devices) is for people who do web design for a job. That is not me. I think it looks good, feel free to check it out.
Also in ancient technology stories, Jim and I learned how to Snapchat. I am leading a small workshop on some technology topics as part of a local Internet Safety program the schools are running. Part of what I am doing is running down some things parents might not know about or understand. Some of these are things I am pretty good with like Instagram and Facebook. But I’d never used Snapchat before. And so Jim (who now has a smartphone as of last month) and I decided to try to figure it out. Over Skype. Because we are old and a little ridiculous. And it was fun. Jim has an older phone so his version of the app and mine were different. I couldn’t use any of my usual logins because they weren’t available.
The deal with Snapchat is that it’s a way to send texts and photos back and forth. The photos allegedly “self destruct” so you can send racier things that won’t wind up on someone’s phone and eventually the internet. Except for the hacking, of course. I took this (completely tame) screenshot just to highlight that point. The little 5 indicates that the photo will self-destruct in five seconds. Except I screenshotted it before that. I’m glad I’m only learning this for fun and not because I’m worried some child of mine is sexting with a stranger.
Any other apps worth learning for an Internet Privacy talk with parents of kids age 6-16?
Having an internet job with no real hours means that there’s no such concept as a day off or a snow day, not really.
Today is a holiday, but a lot of my friends are at work and so am I sort of. Students are home from school but the teachers are at in-service days. Now that I don’t have as much of a regular job organizing the hours of my days, it can be a challenge to accomplish things that I don’t really want to do. Jim has this problem in a different direction, he’s juggling sometimes too MANY things and has to triage some of them. Less-fun things go to the bottom of a list that never gets fully cleared.
We’re going to start having office hours. By this I mean that we’re going to set aside 15-20 minutes once or twice a day for doing all that stupid built up paperwork and phone calls and other five minute projects that just need to be set in motion. Part of this is Pomodoro Technique stuff but part of it is just grouping like with like. Make a bunch of phone calls in a row. Put packages and letters together. Answer those three emails. Sometimes when I feel like I’ve been super lethargic I look back on the time I spent procrastinating about a certain email or other tiny project and realize that I’d been “working on” that email for a month. Unacceptable! So office hours are for this sort of thing. Filing. Putting things back in the toolchest. Etc.
And while I’m home today, I do my librarian thing and put listening/reading lists together. I grew up in a not-very-diverse location and moved to an even-less-diverse one. My mom spent a lot of time when we were kids making sure we were exposed to different kinds of people and ideas and cultures since the town itself wouldn’t really do this. I’ve tried to bring this into my adult life. It was interesting to see Selma become a big hit movie because I went there in 2006 when Greg and I were on a civil rights vacation in Alabama (a great idea and I suggest it for everyone). It’s a place with a lot of history but in 2006 there was very little going on except for annual civil rights remembrance events. I hope that changes. This picture (identical to the one I took above eight years ago) indicates that it isn’t changing quickly.
Today’s reading/listening list.
1. My annual MLK listen, a remake of the I Have a Dream speech with beats added by my friend James.
2. A playlist I made of many different people from all over the world covering Bob Marley’s Redemption Song
3. A report I found on Open Library: Racial harassment in Vermont public schools by the Vermont Advisory Committee to the United States Commission on Civil Rights. This report outlines the racial harassment endured by students of color in Vermont in 1999. Not 1899, fifteen years ago.
We can have trouble, in places where “tradition” is one of the commonly held values, appreciating and properly prioritizing diversity of all kinds. This needs constant repeating, but today is a special day to remember that making that happen is a personal responsibility of all of us, every day.
When I started writing for The Message (on the website Medium, I know!) one of the things I was asked to help do was help the group cohere, encourage participation, help put some there there. I can’t even really explain to people “Hey I get paid for writing things that are sort of personal essays on a blog-like site that isn’t mine” because it sounds nutty and not-totally-real. But it’s real to have a job and the people I work with are real (and wonderful) and it’s been a month and a half and I like it. So this article was an attempt, mostly successful, at getting some group participation around an idea that is a good conversation starter. There aren’t built-in tools on Medium for multiple people to take credit for a story. All the views and stats and whatnot are linked to a person. It’s coldly efficient. But everyone helped, both with contributing their own Internet Resolutions and helping me refine the parts of this I wrote myself. I even got Jim to pitch in and use the give-me-comments feature.
I’m not saying everyone should use it, I’m just saying it’s nice to interact with a new interface that isn’t terrible. I got so spoiled at MetaFilter where everything was custom made just the way we wanted things. I didn’t really think it was possible to have something I liked out of the box. Medium is, so far, that thing.
Our Internet Resolutions