ceci n’est pas un cactus

"that weird cactus"

I like keeping pictures of green things on my phone to look at when outside is all just frozen wasteland. This is a plant that looks like a cactus but is actually some sort of stapelia. It grew from a clipping of my grandmother’s plant and sits in the windowsill being green. My landlady comes in to water my plants occasionally when I travel and calls it That Thing.

But this is just to say that Winter is still here and that is fine but I see Spring on the horizon and that is better. I traveled to Massachusetts this past weekend to give a talk at a library that was not to librarians. It was at a brunch hosted by the Cary Library in Lexington and I gave a no-slides talk about blogging. It went off even better than I expected it to. Longtime readers sort of know my whole history of online nerdery and self-promotion via this and other blogs but people who know me from more recent times might be interested in the talk I gave. It’s online (of course) and you can read it here: Blogs Bloggers and Blogging.

Was really nice to see some friendly faces in the crowd including my Mom, James Fox and Shannon McDonough. Now I’m back home with freshly-done taxes and big weekend plans to play Rock Band and talk to some library trustees about rural libraries.

why I don’t live in paradise, for some definitions of paradise

It’s been a good long while since I’ve used this blogospace to talk about other blogs. I still read a lot of other people’s news in the form of twitter, facebook and yes, blogs. Rafe Colburn pointed me to something I never would have seen otherwise, a post on a NY Times sports blog where Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick talks about why he moved back to Indiana. Since I’m one of those lucky people who could probably live anywhere in the world, people sometimes ask me what I’m doing here. This guy’s answer resonated with me.

I’m really all Bay Area at this point. I’m loving it out there. In the course of this dinner, Tom tells me that he’s moving back to Detroit. I said, ‘That’s crazy, why are you doing that?’ He said: ‘If you can live anywhere in the world, you ought to live here, because it’s fantastic. It has all this natural beauty, and the weather is great. As a consequence, so many people who live here don’t have a reason to be somewhere else. They’re attracted by those thing as opposed to something else.’ He said, ‘I need to be someplace where there’s a sense of community because that’s what motivates me.’ That was an absolutely light-bulb moment for me. I said: ‘That’s me. That’s what motivates me.’ On a dime, I switched and said, ‘Where can I get involved in the community?’

It’s not so much that I think Randolph, Vermont is the only place for me, or that my family has been here for generations or whatever. It’s that I really like living in a small town, where I have a special job to do and where people still need to learn the sorts of things that I teach. And I like living in the woods and despite my grousing about the mice, I like living close, really close, to nature. I like having a short list of options even though I’m aware it’s a sort of artificial constriction of the whole list of what’s possible. There’s always the larger bloggy world when I need to go someplace I’ve never been before. Thanks, Rafe.