There are a lot of fake springs but I’m pretty sure we’ve seen the real one now. Trees are all popping out their leaves. Neighbors are all rooting around in their yards. Birds have fled the birdfeeders for Real Live Bugs out in the world someplace. I got out the newspaper and spray cleaner and scrubbed their suet smears off the window so I can see them better when they get back.
I went on my first on-an-airplane trip since last June sometime. After all my talk about desiring to travel less I realized that the best way to not travel is to not travel and said no to a bunch of things. Or no thanks, because that’s me. The downside of course is that I like giving talks, telling people what I think, meeting other librarians, and going new places. The downside is that I find travel sort of tiring, I like my home, and one little wrench in the works (a late flight leading to a late arrival leading to a delayed parking lot pickup) can mean I’m driving home from New Hampshire at 1:30 am thinking “Was this trip really necessary?” like one of those old cartoons.
But it worked out really well. I gave a keynote speech to a group of librarians from the North East Kansas Library System about copyright and the work I’ve been doing at Open Library. I got to stay in Lawrence at a nice AirBnB place and meetup with MetaFilter folks. Then I hung out for a few extra days in Manhattan and saw colleagues and friends and ate tamales. This image is from a hike I took out on the Konza Prairie with my friend Donna. I went to Kansas four times in 2007-2008 and had a weird kind of amnesia about some of it. So coming back felt familiar and new all at the same time. It’s sort of a weird thing to say but if I had to go get a library job in a state that was not Vermont, Kansas would be one of the top three places I would look. They have a cool state library system, a lot of librarians doing really interesting things (David Lee King does amazing things at Topeka Shawnee Public Library and Donna is getting great stuff done at KState) and a population that seems to be really into their libraries, though I suppose most populations are.
I came back to exactly zero snow on the ground (less than when I left), a bunch of postcards from people all over (mainly MetaFilter, for dealing with some difficult weeks) and friends who had been scheming things to do while I had been away. Jim came up this weekend and we attempted a straight up a (small) mountain hike and mostly did it. Now on the lookout for new mountains to climb, new things to see. Thanks to Kansas librarians and other friends for making my trip so great.
I’d be lying if I said I thought this was going to be a fix for everything, though I enjoy the share the wealth aspect of Obama’s platform and the fact that he’s so forthright in talking about it that way. I’d like decently priced heath care as well. Living in Vermont means that it’s pretty much academic who I voted for at a national level. It’s nice, still, to like all my national-level representatives in Congress. Then again, the political climate in this state is one of the reasons I moved to Vermont and a continuing reason I stay here.
I spent last night having ice cream with friends by the fire up the road from here having walked there with two laptops in my backpack, one for work (MetaFilter requires more attention during big events, not less) and one for watching streaming video. I spent a lot of the evening watching my friends color in maps of the US, chatting with people all over the world, and listening to the returns on NPR. I walked home last night in a totally quiet neighborhood where most people had gone to bed before the race was called.
Barack Obama is the only president-elect that I have ever met. He came to the Blogger Breakfast when I was at the DNC and spoke to us about the power of the Internet, etc. I remember being surprised that someone running for Senator would even bother to take fifteen minutes to talk to thirty or so web dorks. I remember that he was tall and he smiled a lot. The speech he gave at the DNC was only one of only two that mentioned libraries (Kerry’s was the other) and one of five that mentioned gay people (one of two not given by a gay person) and it was one of the only ones that mentioned civil liberties or really interested me and my self-interests much at all.
Keeping it in perspective, he still voted for the telecom immunity bill and he’s pretty middle of the road for my tastes, but anyone electable would be. I head off to Kansas today to talk about rural libraries and computers and I’ll be curious to get a read from people there — and from Colorodo which is my next step on this trip — what, if anything, they think has changed in their worlds.
My talk in Dodge City went well, though I may be nearing the end of my fly in one day, talk one day, fly out next day trips. It’s tiring. To get to Dodge City you have to fly over it, to Denver, and then back. This airport is teeny. It has one gate, one employee, and one TSA person. It also has free wifi as did the Boot Hill Bed and Breakfast where I stayed. I’m pretty sleepy and the throat tickle hasn’t abated entirely but neither has it gotten worse which is some sort of victory. My photos of Kansas are up on Flickr. I got to walk around a bit during sunset and look at some old buildings in the downtown area. Tonight I get to DC where I’ll be hanging out with Mary Early, a pal of Forrest and Kelly’s who I just met. She makes beeswax scultures. I get on the train Sunday and will be back by Sunday evening. I’d like to say “and then I’ll sleep for a week” but actually I’ll teach a few classes and then drive down to suburban NY to give a talk on Library 2.0 stuff. Then maybe the week-o-sleeping will commence.
I made a little movie about the train ride down. I sat on the “wrong” side of the train which is the side that doesn’t face the Hudson River. It’s definitely a less dramatic view, but I found there was some nice stuff to look at anyhow.