old and new stuff

jess and jim try snapchat

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?

the whole “day off” thing and office hours

corner of Selma and Lawrence

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.

where to find me, socially

guestroom

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.

my year in cities and towns, 2014

Here are photos of the places I slept in 2014. I know I didn’t keep photo-track of the guestrooms I stayed in during 2013, but I didn’t know it had been so long since I’d made a blog post about them. A few years? I’ve been traveling less (and enjoying it more) so a lot of last year was just me going to Westport or my sister’s place. A few notable trips: first visit to London and an epic journey to Mackinac Island.

Here’s the list, it’s short. I decided to stop talking about traveling less and just … travel less. Sixteen places, six different states, two non-US countries. Stars indicate multiple visits to the exact same place. Past years: 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008 2007, 2006, 2005.

Westport MA* – visting/summering
Sun City West AZ – to see Jim’s folks
Manhattan, NY – library talk
Brooklyn NY – returning from library talk & visiting
Stow MA* – visting
Amherst MA – memorial service
Kewadin MI – Michael’s house
St Ignace MI – en route to talk
Mackinac Island MI – library talk
Montreal QC – heading home from library talk
Duluth MN – library talk
Ashfield MA – library talk
London UK – Wikimania
Brandon VT – wedding
Vicksburg MS – library talk
Sturbridge MA – library talk

medium, and power

candles in a dark room

I had a dream that it was before Thanksgiving again and there was some issue and I was displeased. Something about the drive back from Massachusetts always makes my next night of sleep go weird. Woke up happy that Thanksgiving had already happened, and actually had gone really well. Jim and I mostly hunkered down in Westport and ate food and watched movies and played video pinball and went for long walks. I also managed to pull some mystery muscle in my back so I’ve been laying low since then with Advil and a hot water bottle and a lot of stretching. I am mostly fine but I’ve been happy I don’t have a lot to do these days besides showing up places. Places I am showing up this week include

– a meeting today to see if I can take over the local music hall’s emailing function
– picking up the rest of the ground lamb from my CSA
– ukulele class
– speaking of the CSA, doing something with all this squash I’ve gotten from them
– making cookies for a cookie swap
– two scan-a-thons at local libraries, helping people get their pictures scanned and online or into email, on a thumb drive, whatever
– regular old drop-in time
– maybe a trip or two to the gym?

I’ve also got some writing to do, besides this. For the first time I can remember I’m making the bulk of my job income doing writing: my Computers in Libraries column and a bi-monthly thing for Medium. Medium is sort of odd because it’s both a platform, a place where people can put their essays for free, and a place that some people (like me) get paid to write. I wrote one essay there about Buy Nothing Day. You might like it. There’s a bit of stats-viewing involved in writing there. You’re encouraged to “amplify signal” on your posts and other people’s posts. I write for a section called The Message which has a lot of good writing in it so this is not difficult. Great stuff there. One of the curious things about my article was that it got a lot of traffic from being linked from Digg. Digg is sometimes seen as the Reddit also-ran but it apparently it still around and doing well. It’s always interesting to check in on internet culture. Anyhow, this is the long way of saying that I am a writer for a job now, as some people define job.

Update: I started writing this on Monday but now it’s Wednesday morning and we had one of those snowstorms yesterday that went all day including an exciting power outage at 9 pm that allowed me to realize just how many of my battery-powered devices have ancient batteries in them. I lit some candles, pictured, and read a lot and texted with some people on my phone and went to bed early in a cold house. My drop-in time and uke practice were cancelled. I spent a lot of time worrying about whether the pounds of frozen lamb I had would last night night (they did) and woke up to a hot house because I’d left the thermostat up (To 65°! So decadent.) and wore two pairs of pajamas to bed. Today we’re all back to normal and I didn’t even have an excuse to eat all the lamb.

the rest of the year

So now that the Virgo Month of Leisure is over, I’m back into it. Back into it can mean a lot of things but to me it mostly means working and some traveling. It also means a little shopping, which is weird.

The work news is the same and a little different. I’ve continued my writing for Computers in Libraries magazine and I’ve picked up another writing job with Mozilla’s Open Standard project. You can read my first article here: After Some Victories, the Time Has Come to Legally Define ‘Fair Use’. I’m pretty happy with it. And I also like having paying work doing something I like. My other job has started teaching a class to the teachers at RTCC (the local school where I do drop-in time and adult tech classes) learning how to use their new Gmail and Google Docs environment. This is via Castleton College, but takes place in Randolph. The teachers will get a credit for successfully completing this which means I am now a college teacher! Sort of! So between teaching and writing and public speaking and working at Open Library, it’s sort of like a whole job. Which doesn’t mean I’m not open to interesting opportunities but it does mean I’m not worried about where my income is coming from.

Other highlights of the last few weeks

  • Went to Mississippi to give a talk in Vicksburg at the MLA conference. Talk is here, some photos are here.
  • Hosted some friends down in MA and had a great time doing that lazy sit on the porch and talk thing that I like so much (also went to the beach,look at these cute birds and their little legs!)
  • Got a new mattress and a new fridge which is the first time I can remember getting either of those things. The fridge is a marvel of quiet chillness. The mattress feels like a sack of wet cement but in a GOOD way which may only make sense if you know me.
  • I’m the ladyops person at tilde. If that doesn’t mean anything to you, that’s just fine. You can read this link for more.
  • Going to ComicCon on Sunday. In Vermont, yes. The Vermont Library Association is sponsoring David Newall AKA Mr. McFeely from Mister Roger’s Neighborhood, so we’ll have a table! Say hi if you are there.
  • Giving a talk in Sturbridge MA on Wednesday at the Massachusetts Library System’s Small Libraries Conference.
  • Bee-costumed candy handing out on Halloween

And that’s it for talks and marriages in 2014. I’m running for Justice of the Peace again. I’m also staffing the polls on election day. I was also on the front page of the newspaper talking about the Wikimania conference which should help with name recognition since my name is low on the list of candidates. I have a pile of magnets and a pile of things formerly on my old fridge and a pile of mail and a pile of pieces of cardboard (from my library-card-that-turns-into-a-refdesk costume) and I’m waiting for the days and my todo list to get shorter. What have you been up to?

greetings from hibernia

[Note: In real life Hibernia is the Latin name for the island of Ireland and has nothing to actually do with hibernating. A hibernophile is someone who is fond of Ireland, not fond of sleeping.]

So the annual joke here is that my landlady doesn’t like to turn the furnace on (not the thermostat, the actual machine that makes the heat) before October 1st. As anyone who has been in New England this week knows, it’s been cold. It used to be a situation that brought me a fair amount of anxiety. My landlady wouldn’t want to turn the heat on. I’d ask her, she’d say no. I’d grow colder and grumpier. She’d stoke her wood stove. My apartment comes with heat included, this no-furnace business is technically illegal but I don’t know how to tell a scrappy 89 year old woman that she is breaking the law and I suspect she wouldn’t care anyhow. I have an electric mattress pad warmer and have been pretend-miserable but not actually miserable as a result of this. Plus everyone likes to brag about how long they can go without turning the furnace on and I am not at all hardcore in this regard compared to some neighbors.

Over the past few years, the routine has shifted a little. Two years ago she asked me “Are you freezing up there?” and I said I was okay maybe a little cold, I’d just put on a hat. The implication that I got was that she was maybe also a little cold but her Yankee morality wouldn’t let her relent and turn the furnace on just for her. The furnace went on when I had guests coming and I said it might be a little cold… for guests. Last year I did give her a running account of what the temperature was in my place and when it got down to 58 she decided that was too cold for me and the furnace kicked in. Today I woke up and it was about that temperature in here, but I put on a few layers and it was mostly fine. I stayed active, determined not to give in. I heard the furnace rumble and the baseboards start to make their little jingling sound this evening and opened my email to a note saying “Just turned on the furnace!!!!!!” I see this as some sort of victory.

I’ve been reading a lot about hibernating since I don’t think it’s just the mattress pad warmer that makes me want to take to my bed in this weather. I learned that fresh water turtles can stay underwater for months at a time. Months. Underwater. Their heart rate drops to once every ten minutes. It’s nuts. And true, not just internet-true, I read it in a book. Then there are the internet fables about human hibernation (some heresay, some sort of true, some about hypothermia, some about who knows what) that would benefit from a bit more research.

My favorite of all the stories is this short story, fully fictional, called The Sleep by Caitlin Horrocks (you can read it on Google books or feel free to find/purchase it elsewhere or maybe get it from your library) about an entire town and a hibernation experiment of sorts. Every time the days get shorter I re-read it. I think you should read it too. Happy resting.