we all have our hobbies

we all have our hobbies

So I started out trying to find an image of a medal or some other ribbon to commemorate 100 days of flossing. My previous flossing record was in the single digits. I don’t know why it’s a thing I always had trouble with and why I suddenly started being able to do it regularly. Meditation too, 100+ days. Helpful.

But I wound up flipping through some books on Open Library and found this entry in an auction catalog which led me to this coin from 1860 (above) and this forum posting explaining what the heck it is. And I still only sort of understand it, but it was an enjoyable 15 minutes poking around search engines with synonyms until I got an explanation.

I celebrated National Library Week (which was last week) by making a post a day on MetaFilter and listed the posts I’d made over on facebook. Similar stuff. You might like it. This week is nominal vacation week after giving a talk at the University of Rhode Island about the digital divide so I’m down in Westport, cleaning out closets and fixing toilets. More fun than it sounds.

rabbit hole

IMG_9338

I’ve been doing some slow pokey updates around here and realizing that even though I’ve been thinking I’ve been at this for fifteen+ years, this year really rounds out the twentieth year I’ve been writing stuff down here. During that time I’ve had three (at least) different content management systems and only two web hosts which is something of a miracle. I’ve lived in six different places (seven if you count #dadshouse) and driven eight cars in that time period. Went cross country about ten times. The last few years have seen a lot of that leveling out. And then there’s some stuff I just can’t remember too well. This site has always been an outboard brain in some ways, reminding me about things I had forgotten or maybe misremembered. So giving the place a tune-up–just upgraded to the latest version of WordPress, made sure things were still showing up in Google, added a search to the sidebar–is one more small way of keeping my own brain a bit more together.

The day-to-day here is about the same. Flossing and meditation continue and seem to be helping. I got some sort of conference crud which means my sinus situation has downgraded to “again with the sinus rinsing” but it’s mostly okay. The longer days, some of them even sunny, have raised everyone’s spirits and it truly is a rising-tides-lifts-all-boats situation.

I’ll be heading down to Massachusetts to participate in a librarian panel at Hampshire with some other librarians. The situation morphed from a “Hey can you come down and be on a panel for an hour?” into a “We’ll give you a one hour tour, then a one hour interview with our Communications team, then a one hour break, then a one hour panel, then a dinner with everyone…” and as much as I’m looking forward to the panel, I’m also feeling a bit bait-and-switched since I heard about their million dollar Mellon grant (they are reimbursing my mileage for the trip). Which just reminds me why I asked Hampshire to take me off of their mailing lists in the first place, a decision I’ve never really regretted. Liked the place just fine, but feel they don’t owe me anything and I don’t owe them anything. It will be interesting to go back. I’ve been on campus a few times since the bulk of my friends graduated but never for more than an hour or two. If you’re in the area, here’s the announcement. Free and open to the public.

Escape from DC

Library of Congress Interior I

Note: If you happen to read this blog on its actual website you may notice that I have updated the template. Let me know if you see anything weird.

I got back from DC on Friday night. It’s a decent story, the whole trip. I was invited down to go to an all-day meeting for a library-adjacent project that Mozilla is doing along with IMLS and some other folks. I got invited because I understand tech and digital literacy and understand digital inclusion issues. “Great,” I thought, “I’ll extend my trip a few days and see a few DC sights while I am down there…” Great plan, mostly. I got in Tuesday and went to the MLK Jr. branch and caught an MLK movie playing the Black History room. The meeting was fine, just sort of long and I am not great at meetings. I got in and they had misspelled my name on my name tag and even though I’ve been doing a lot of meditating and other uncrabby-me work, it still set the day off on a bad foot. I appreciate being invited to high-level meetings. I like the people there and feel like I contribute usefully, but there is something about them that brings out the worst in my psyche. I wish I understood it.

By the time the meeting was over on Wednesday, and I was having dinner with a Twitter friend (Hi Kyle!) it was clear that leaving town on Friday was going to be a mess because of the snow. I called the airline and they could reschedule me for a fee but not cancel my flight without a fee. Later in the week this moved to free rescheduling options but still no cancelling. I bet on it being cancelled and bought a train ticket for Friday. Since I flew out of Providence and not Burlington this was a shortish ride. When I went to bed at a friend’s place (Thanks Mary!) on Thursday after a long day of walking around downtown DC and dinner with a friend my flight was cancelled, entitling me to a refund (I can pay for my ticket online but a refund takes several weeks and forms to fill out). I got up Friday and went to the train station to get my train only to find that my ticket had been purchased for the day before. I accept this absent-minded professor brain I have been gifted with, but it’s a pain sometimes.

Despite all the news of people fleeing the city, I was able to get another ticket and had a nice Acela ride to Providence. The quiet car is a thing of beauty. Took the MBTA from the train station to the Providence airport and as I was lugging my bags from the train station to the parking garage (a schlep of about twenty minutes) a bored newslady grabbed me and asked how my day had been. Apparently there were no more flights in to or out of PVD and she was thin on story material. I blabbed for a while and then got to my car to find that I’d lost my parking ticket. Nervous about “lost ticket” threats I explained my “I just left DC!” story to the guy who took pity on me and charged me about half of what I would have paid if I had my card on me (money Mozilla doesn’t have to reimburse, you’re welcome!). Got home via the Miss Cranston Diner just in time to see myself on television.

Spent the entire day at home Saturday watching it snow and didn’t see another human being. I also visited the White House on Thursday (actually the Eisenhower Executive Office Building) to talk to the folks I spoke with over the summer, but there’s no real news and I said I wouldn’t be blogging about it. You can see some nice photos of the four-story library which is inside it and a photo of the bowling alley in the basement. Apparently once you get inside you can just walk around with your Appointment pass all day long.

Today was shoveling (Westport for eightish inches) and watching some football with Jim. I head back to Vermont tomorrow. Being back on the road has been great since I’m feeling good enough to do it. Here’s to more good days.

Resolved 2016: Let This Day Be Good

sunset over exit four

So 2015 was more challenging than usual. Mostly okay now but I had a lot of various maladies many of which took a while to resolve. This was partly because of the usual stuff–trouble getting appointments, things taking a while to heal, travel and vacations–but partly it’s because I got in my own way a bit too much. I’m smart and anxious and the first trait has a terrible multiplier effect on the second. So the end of this year saw me really working on calming down. Which sounds like an oxymoron but it’s really helped. Doing some regular meditation, staying offline for the first and last parts of the day, letting things slide more than seems reasonable at the time (but turns out to be ok!) all helped to wrap the difficult year up nicely. And I got better health insurance. And I’m working towards looking for a job that will handle this part of my life for me, the insurance part, but my status as itinerant freelance librarian doesn’t always lend itself to this.

So anyhow, I did my year end wrap ups which are listed here in one place:

And I checked back on my resolutions last year, both my offline resolutions and my online resolutions. I got my laundry done in decent fashion last year. I read before bed almost every night. I quit being only an armchair activist (mostly) and collated my online activities. It helped. I’m one of those people who resolutions work for. Making a promise to myself has motivational power. Totally AOK if they’re not your thing.

This year, in addition to flossing (because WTF why can’t I floss?), I have a meditation-inspired mantra which is the title of this post. I like it because emphasizing any of the five words can give you a different starting point and personal assignment for the day.

LET this day be good – get out of the way and leave the day be and it will be okay
Let THIS day be good – you can’t control what’s happening or what happened, let’s focus on today
Let this DAY be good – just a few hours, we can pull it off
Let this day BE good – the day without me will be fine and does not have to be special or exceptional, it can just be
Let this day be GOOD – good is okay. Good is fine. Settle for good.

That’s what I’m up to on this chilly January morning. Best of luck for a peaceful new year.

my year in cities and towns, 2015

mattress on floor, groton ct

Here are photos of the places I slept in 2015. Another short list. Now that I’ve solidly put my dad’s place on the my “projects and hobbies” todo list, I travel to other non-dad’s-place places less. So even though I didn’t go to too many places in 2015, I was away from home for several months. Which was fine.

Here’s the short list. Twelve places plus an airplane, six different states, one non-US country. Stars indicate multiple visits to the exact same place. Past years: 2014, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008 2007, 2006, 2005.

  1. Stow MA* – stayed at Kate’s place quite a few times, very nice guestroom, constantly improving.
  2. Aboard a British Airways flight – we got upgraded to business class, very nice.
  3. London UK – I got the bottom bunk in the tiny bunk bed room and found it quite to my liking.
  4. Westport MA* – stayed in a few different beds in this house (three? five?) and was here most of the summertime
  5. Raleigh NC – visited Steve and Heather and went on an actual vacation
  6. Amherst MA – saw Matthew and Michelle on my way down to Connecticut
  7. Groton CT – decided to stay in an AirBnB instead of a hotel, it was … fun and weird (and htis is me deciding to sleep in a hallway, the place itself is quite nice)
  8. Burlington VT* – saw Dave and Linda when I was in Vermont for VLA and again for ComicCon
  9. Boxboro MA – visited Mom when I was planning to stay in a hotel with Jim and the hotel was full of children. Good decision.
  10. Bangor Maine (2) – gave a talk to a bunch of fun librarians and had SO many pillows. Stayed at a hotel across the street the next time.
  11. Pasadena CA (2) – stayed with a friend and then at a snazzy hotel while I was there for CLA

Summer wrapup

math triangle thing

So I got back from Westport last weekend just in time to go the Scully’s for their annual BBQ that can not be beat. And then BAM I was home with class starting in two days. I was a little surprised that school started so soon, so I was only sort of prepared. I missed the orientation because I was at a baseball game so I was a little out of my element. Turns out I have an ID and a key and even a fractional office in the same building as this cool art math triangle thing. I teach one class which is called Web Development but is really more like HTML and CSS. My students are over half CS majors but a few equine studies majors. The class is set up to have two hours of lectures (?) and two hours of labs. I have 34 students. It’s been challenging for all the normal reasons and some digital divide reasons. Here are some photos of the VTC environment that I work in.

The last ten days have been a little busy. I spoke to the White House. I was briefly on Science Friday as a caller. I recorded a podcast talking about the White House talk. I opened a lot of mail. I taught for almost six hours.

I also just got 800+ images off of my phone (I save them all until I get home, my archiving system is ridiculous so I will not share it with you) so I can do a little “What I did this summer as determined by my photostream because my memory is shot” bit here.

  • Did my only kayaking in Ferrisburg (VT) with Kristen and visited the clan up there before I left Vermont after the 4th.
  • Enjoyed getting occasionally buzzed by a local immature red tailed hawk (I think) when I got to Westport. It eventually grew up and wandered off.
  • Fixed the labelmaker, got rid of the old lawn tractor, failed to get rid of three giant television sets, fixed the wifi situation and the sink faucet.
  • Had a great Thai meal in Providence with a bunch of MeFi folks.
  • Walked on the beach, swam in the ocean.
  • Did outdoors/wilderness training for women in MA with Kate and Deb and Andrea. Shot a bow. Enjoyed it!
  • Several trips to the Claire T. Carney Library at UMass Dartmouth including getting a tour which included the basement!
  • Fixed up the mailbox with stickers with our name and some mermaid reflectors. It’s nice.
  • Explored new restaurants with Jim and with Kate. Had a chow mein sandwich. Worth trying, probably will not have another one.
  • Went to an all new (to me) movie theater with Matt and Jen and saw the regrettable but fun with nerd friends Jurassic World.
  • Saw Ed at the Cranston Library and all the great things they are doing.
  • Tried to go kayaking in Cambridge but wound up going to Castle Island instead since it was windy. Free parking! In Boston! Amazing!
  • Hosted Tim and Pam and Deb and John and Susan and Kevin and Karen and the Childnado Crew (Dave, Lizzie, Alex, Eli, Tex, Beth, Jillian, Spencer, Dan, Kathy, Max, Henry and Sophie and later arrivals Dawn and Elliot). Special visit by Colin, Gina, _____ and Brixton
  • Watched the Red Sox powerfully lose to the Cleveland Indians.
  • Had dinner at One Main with Virgil and Nicole and was thrilled to find they have real beer flights now.
  • Met Ronni’s new dog, Cory Bean who is a Dandie Dinton.

I’m heading back down to Westport next weekend because hey it’s my birthday. I decided that instead of doing a Labor Day blowout as in previous years I was just going to hunker down with Kate and Jim and do what my dad used to call The Nothing. I vaguely remember liking it.

outdoors

image of me and a bullseye that I shot with an arrow

So thanks to my friend Andrea, me and Kate and my other friend Deb all went to a Women in the Outdoors program this weekend. It was a one-day event put on by a local (Auburn MA) fish and game club. You show up early in the morning and take wilderness/outdoorsy classes all day long. I learned to shoot a bow and arrow in a friendly supportive environment and even (once) got a bullseye! Kate took this photo. Jim supplied the color commentary. We did some other fun stuff like learned to identify turkey signs in the woods and build a makeshift shelter if you’re trapped outdoors. Some of the best parts of the day were the parts that weren’t even part of the actual classes we took: seeing a bunch of HUGE snakes swimming in the water and talking to trappers about “nuisance beaver work.” It was also sort of fun watching the falconer try to get her kestrel out of the tree, but it may not have been much fun for the falconer.

So my continued efforts to Do Summer Right and stay offline a bit more and socialize a lot more have been going well. The accessory parts of the house–garage, garden shed, basement areas–have been organized. I feel much better doing this sort of thing when I feel it’s me and my hobby and not me and my unpleasant tasks. We’ve been slowly de-accessioning some of the things in the house that are old, non-functional or just not for us. Anyone need a 15 year old 99 pound television set? I didn’t think so, no one does.

Some of this is also distracting myself from the fact that I’ll be teaching my first ever college class in August: HTML and CSS to about 30+ VTC students. The class is taught in a lecture/lab format which some people think is the way to do it and some people (including myself) think is nuts. But I’m up for trying it and I’ve been trying to maintain enthusiasm and excitement for this which is good for keeping anxiety and impostor syndrome at bay.

My other summer hobby appears to be lobbying to get the right person elected to the Library of Congress. I made a website called Librarian of Progress and recently wrote an article fleshing out some of those ideas. Ultimately this is probably the most important librarian job opening that will happen in my lifetime so I sure hope the people who are selecting the new Librarian of Congress make sensible choices and aren’t just swayed by big companies who are lobbying out of greed and not concern for the cultural history of the country. The thing about the big political machines isn’t really the voting so much–I also have an article I’m writing about my compromise position on anarchism lately–it’s the machinations that never get voted on.