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.
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.
Last week! A good busy time.
– Library conference – I don’t often go to the local conference for various reasons but this time I was promoting the Library Passport Project I’ve been working on with a few people (pictures here) and I wanted to see Scott Bonner, the librarian from Ferguson MO, talk about what they’d been through. He gave a great talk. I also gave a short talk about Open Library and the work I do for them. The conference was super fun and super tiring.
– Wedding 1 – a quick wedding for some nice folks who had just moved to town (text and photo on my Vermont JP blog)
– Wedding 2 – friends of mine from MetaFilter were getting married in Vermont even though they lived in St Louis. I wrote the ceremony and then got to attend the rest of the wedding festivities.
– Jim – was up for the weekend as my wedding date (look at him in a suit!) and we took care of neighbor cats and went for walks and got creemees and saw friends and enjoyed the knock-out weather. Even got a photo of Buel’s Gore!
I wound down with the Annual Barden BBQ which is the best driveway BBQ party I could imagine and then welcomed back Karen and Kevin from their trip to the Cape and watched some lady cop show (Scott & Bailey, seen it?) and snuggled some neighbor cats who know me as Auntie Jessamyn. These are the sorts of longish weekends I can only vaguely remember when I’m stuck sniffling in the depths of short chilly winter days. I’m glad they’re back.
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 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.
I don’t have a good touchstone single-point place where I mention all the other places I might be, so here’s the place for now. I have a resolution to try to mesh more of my online presences. Not like single-stream or anything but at least not have Instagram-jessamyn seem any different than Twitter-jessamyn. Its all me after all.
In short: if you want to get ahold of me there are a lot of good relatively synchronous methods. You can also come visit, the guest bed is nice. If you just want to maybe know what I am up to or share some sort of media stuff, there are a few places where you can get my attention, or tell me I should get yours. Some of these are the usual places. Some are new.
Personal spaces that I more or less own: this blog (crossposted to facebook), librarian.net blog (crossposted to twitter), jessamyn.info for people who might want to hire me, the books I read, the movies I’ve seen.
Social spaces: facebook, twitter, tilde club sandbox (I built a store!), flickr for chunks of pictures, MLKSHK for goofy pictures (crossposted to Tumblr), Instagram for a photo a day (crossposted to facebook), Tumblr for my JP blog, This.cm for one link a day.
I do writing on Medium but that’s more “read me” than “interact with me” though I love getting people’s comments and I guess you can follow me there. I never did much with Ello. I never interacted much on YouTube, though I’ve put a few videos there. I use Slack for a few work-oriented things and I like it. I’m on a lot of random mailing lists.