number of ways technology has enhanced my life. also: my new car

new (to me) car

Here is a story about ways technology has enhanced my life.

I got a car. Here is a photo of it. (1) For some reason I like having two cars. Part of this may be that I like having a back-up car. Part of it may be that it costs almost nothing to insure a second car in Vermont. Part of it is that I’ve wanted a wagon for quite some time and the opportunity presented itself. So, this is my new (to me) car. It needs a name.

The way I got it wasn’t really your typical deal. In fact, it’s a neat story. My pal Erica just left her librarian gig at Cornell to start a nifty new job in San Francisco at Second Life. (2) She was selling her car on Facebook. (3) You might know Erica because her blog and my blog are the first and second blogs that show up on Google when you search for “librarian” (4) Yeah, that’s us. I saw the photo and said “oh hey that’s the car I need.” My car is totally fine, but ever since a scary run-in with a guardrail last winter, I’ve been thinking I might want something a bit more AWD-ish. Plus, I’ve wanted a wagon or at least something I could, in a pinch, sleep in. I haven’t slept in a car in a few years now, but I like having the option.

Since these cars are basically Vermont’s State Automobile they’re tough to get good deals on. And I don’t really enjoy driving all over the place looking at cars from Craigslist (5). So, Erica’s seemed decent and when I said the price was maybe a little high for me, she made it not a little high and I emailed (6) and said said “I’ll take it”. I sent her a check through my online bank. (7) It was forwarded to her in CA. She mailed me the title and the bill of sale. I called my insurance company. They emailed me proof of insurance. (8) I got a ride from my very good friend Forrest out to Ithaca (thanks Forrest! I met him on MetaFilter (9)) where we found the car in the Ornothithology lab parking lot with a note to me and the keys under the mat. Erica said “It’s the one with the flying spaghetti monster (10) on the back, to distinguish it from the 45 other green subaru legacies in the parking lot.”

We drove back in tandem keeping a sharp eye out for danger. The trip would have been shorter but Forrest heard on the radio (11) that there was a huge wreck on 87 North and we took a detour through Saratoga Springs to avoid it. I got home and made a few moves in an online Scrabble game (12) to chill out, answered some personal and work email, (13, 14) prepared a book to put in the mail for (15) and went right to bed.

a nice patch of radio silence

When the phrase “radio silence” doesn’t make me think of Thomas Dolby, it makes me think of a bunch of guys in a submarine turning off all of their soundmaking equipment and engines and floating quietly in the water looking nervously around waiting to see if something bad happens, expecting something bad.

So, I’ve been MIA because I’ve been waiting for some test results from the doc that turned out to be nothing but had a small chance of turning out to be something and I sat around with my noisemakers off for a week, worrying. I am developing a very very annoying [to me] habit of becoming irrational about my health during periods of great stress. Now that I’m back into rational-land [or “illusion of rational” land which will have to suffice] it’s something I’m officially working on.

Or will, when I get back from Boston, and Puerto Rico, and Ann Arbor Michigan, and New Hampshire. I know, I know “Gee, Jessamyn can’t imagine what in your life could be stressful!” Today I can mostly laugh at myself, yesterday things weren’t seeming so funny.

But despite my seeming hibernation, a lot has gotten done. I helped install an online catalog for a public library. I used a reel mower to mow my lawn. I sent out some letters. I almost finished a book. I took a lot of people out to lunch in the past week or two and got taken out to lunch myself. Yay for lunch. Today I get in the car and drive down to Massachusetts. Check me out on this list of fancy people! I hope to be checking in here a little more often. Thanks, as always for checking in with me.

wonky bad week turns into good week – recap

It’s tough when it’s school vacation. This is not because there are more teenagers on the street or because the library isn’t open as much. It’s tough when it’s school vacation because the pool schedule gets erratic becaue most lifeguards are on vacation. When I’m having an otherwise good day that goes south, I can’t work it off in the pool. Or, I may show up all ful of piss and vinegar expecting to swim and then can’t. In this case only vegetable soup will save me, apparently. I’m up to 35 miles for the year.

In any case, these are the milestones from this week, both up and down.

  1. Ola is getting relocated to Botswana. I got a series of confusing emails from her where it looked like she was leaving Kiribati because of safety/transportation issues (not hers personally as I understand it, but the country’s generally) and might be back soon. I went through about 24 hours of “Oh my god, I just got this place working like a finely oiled machine” Then she emailed and said she’d be going to Botswana instead. She’s getting back to California on Monday and heading out to Africa in mid-April. I will likely not see her, but I’ll probably talk to her on the phone. She seems okay with the change, but she’ll have done more plane travel than me without all the fun vacation part of the trip. I’ll keep you posted on her whereabouts.
  2. I had a Kafkaesque run-in with the health insurance company. They bill on the 15th of the month. If you haven’t paid by the first day of the next month they cancel your health insurance, effective immediately. Now, I’ll jump through a lot of hoops for low cost health care, but I sent a check and… something happened to it. I was jetlagged, who knows where I sent it, or maybe it arrived and slipped through a crack. By the time I figured it all out, it was Tuesday and I spoke to many nice people who claimed that the ONLY way, the only way to pay my health insurance bill was via check, via the mail. No person could take my money, no phone representative would take my credit card, no state worker would confirm my check had been delivered, no one would take my eleven dollars. Their back up plan was to give me an address to Fedex a check to when I asked where I could drop one off. I was very nice and, in my most pleasant phone manner asked if they were really going to cancel my health insurance because their system was so antiquated they did not have a post-1950’s system for taking my money. Eventually I got through to someone whose job title included the word “grievance” and was given an address, in Waterbury, where just this once, I could drop a check off. It felt like a somewhat hollow victory but at least I don’t have to worry about getting his by a bus.
  3. I went to see a fancy ear doctor about the ringing in my ears that’s been going on for the past few months. She says my hearing is fine, but the ringing may not go away. It was nicer the way she said it than the “suck it up” way my doctor said it. I’m not being driven crazy by it, but that’s partly because I’ve been doing my best to ignore it — been working okay so far. Don’t expect to hear anything else from me on the subject, it’s one of those weird topics where endless talking about it actually makes it seem worse than it is.
  4. I got an article published in Library Media Connection magazine (yay!) and they screwed it up (boo!). One of the hardest things for me about writing is that I dislike being edited, a lot. I’ve found a few editors I work really well with, but maybe it’s the profession or maybe me being a perfectionist but I swear I’ve had more errors injected into my articles via editing than taken out of them. In this case a perfectly good screenshot that I’d supplied was replaced with a different screenshot, of a completely different part of the website, that didn’t illustrate what the caption said it did. My first inkling that this had happened was seeing it in print. I got a very nice apology from the editor but also a “gee I don’t do layout” admission so it’s still a mystery what exactly happened.

Good things that happened included my Excel class that has been going gangbusters and my hilarious (to me) sample spreadsheet that I whipped up for Seven Dwarves LLC for everyone to work on. I also got a copy of my friend Meredith’s book Social Software in Libraries in which I am one of the two back-cover blurbers. I went to Maine last weekend for a MetaFilter meetup and to see some friends and it was a great excuse for a day away. You can see some dorky pictures here. I also went to Small Dog and finally bought a dongle for my newish laptop so that I can use it with a video projector. I then came home and showed it off to Forrest and Kelly who already had one that they never used. It never occurred to me to ask “hey before I drive off the Burlington, do you guys have a spare dongle?” I made another little semi-boring movie. The house next door is for sale again if anyone would like to be my neighbor. The property value has been decreased by one birdhouse which I stole because squirrel piss destroyed one of mine. Won’t you be my neighbor?