finished, start again


So hey, Autumn! I’ve broken free of the rapturous stupor that is fall around here. There has been some rain. The leaves are more a mushy brown memory than a glowing poppy field of possibility. And I’ve been getting stuff done, somewhat subdued by the seasonal allergies that characterize this time of year for me.

The biggest thing that’s been on a ten year To Do list was the 251 Club. I can now say that I’ve set foot in every town in Vermont. I started this officially sometime back in 2004, when I had to roll my own website just to keep track of this stuff online. Now there’s an official website and hey I’m helping them maintain their mailing list in exchange for a membership. The last town on the list was Somerset, population five, mostly home to a giant reservoir, a campground and some hiking trails. I couldn’t tell from the gazetteer, but it’s also in the shadow of Mount Snow, a place Jim used to go when he was a kid, so the closer we got, the more he was saying “This all looks familiar” It’s interesting driving around a deserted ski area in off-season.

So, with little fanfare, I finished up. Jim and I split a beer by the reservoir. I’ll write the 251 Club and probably get a note in the next (print) newsletter. And because I’m not much for resting on my laurels, now I want to go back and “do it right” and take a photograph in each one.

In other accomplishments, I sent in the second draft of my book and it’s on its way to the production department. It should be ready to ship on March 30th, my sister Kate’s birthday. And I went to the doctor to figure out why my nose has been half-stuffed up since April. And I’ve started my drop-in time up again, teaching people to use a computer mouse and related basic computer stuff. I don’t know if I mentioned that the panel I proposed for SXSW, Offline America, Why We Have A Digital Divide, was accepted in the first round, so I’ll be in Texas again in March.

Meanwhile October is ramping up. The public speaking stuff I do has been dropping off some. I’ve gotten more picky, there’s less work, and it’s possible people are less interested in me and/or the things I talk about. I have very little perspective on this sort of thing. I had someone turn me down, after inviting me, because I said I wouldn’t, really couldn’t, work before 11 am. So starting in November there are big gaps of free time. I know I often say this and then fill it all up before it arrives. We’ll see. I am hoping to be able to get used to being okay with big open spaces on the calendar, good times for woodshedding some new ideas, reading books, dreaming new dreams.



Because I have a rich online life, I sometimes have to nudge myself to have an equally rich offline life. I’ve been finishing a few more books lately, and yesterday I went for a drive. I have a family friend, who turns out to be a relative, who is 96 and who I just learned was a sort of neighbor. That is, he lives in Vermont which is neighbor enough. I made a plan to go see him saying I was going to be more or less in the area and made a plan, then, to be in the area. My relative is Irving Adler, my second cousin twice removed. He is 96 and he has strong opinions about health care. I spent some time visting with him and then did some catching up on the 251 project I’ve been working on for the past five years or so.

To catch you up, I want to visit all of Vermont’s 251 towns. I’m 90-someodd percent there. Before there was a widget for everything, I made my own web page to track my progress. I have a Delorme gazetteer that I cover with highlighter pen to track where I’ve been. Now there’s a widget that sort of does what I want but like all widgets, it’s imperfect. Through some concerted efforts and marathon driving, I went to sixteen new towns yesterday, though I missed three — Middletown Springs, Somerset and Windham — that assure I’ll be going back. The widget says I am 94% complete. The widget does not track gores and grants.

The gazetter is also imperfect. Even though I crosschecked with Google maps to see that the road that they said was a road was, in fact, a road, it was not a road. It was a road up to a point and then the road became a riverbed and then the riverbed became a footpath for goats. I turned around, which is awkward when you are in a car on a goat footpath. The nice people with 4×4 trucks, beer and few teeth were incredibly nice to me as I drove back past them and asked politely if the road I had been trying to drive on was, in fact, a road. “Not for that car!” they told me. I think AWD is sort of hot shit until I hit roads like this.

You can see my rough route in these two google maps (down, up). I checked my email twice during the day, once from the burrito place and once when I pulled over to take some photos of a nice looking lake. I pulled out my laptop to use my EVDO card to “check my web” and I saw that there was a nice four-bar signal coming from … someplace, called linksys. Now I’ve got 2-4 towns to visit in each quadrant of the state including the vexing Lewis which I swear can’t be reached by road. If anyone would like to go on a doomed hiking trip with me sometime in early spring, do give me a call. I can’t guarantee success, but there’s a 90-someodd percent chance of fun.