wraps ups

a small plant in a small plant container, held by a pale looking hand

So I got all my wrap-ups written and here’s the short list

I’m a few days behind last year but more or less on schedule. And like last year, January is a Wikipedia month, staying busy writing articles and making edits. I’ve made sure that all the library associations in the New England states (including NELA) have at least stub-length articles. Only one of them (MLA, Massachusetts, not Maine) was even written a month ago. If you’re reading this and you’re interested in helping make articles for state library associations (so many left to do) ping me, I have a formula.

I know it’s not surprising to Very Online people, though it does surprise local folks, but tech projects make me happy. The big hurdle this month was slowly moving the Vermont Library Association to membership software from the unpleasant spreadsheet that they had been using. Tough work! Slow going! But rewarding because it’s going to make future stuff that much simpler. Next up: moving VLA website to a new web host and getting a new WordPress theme working so it looks a little more kempt. Then maybe I’ll look at my own stuff. Phone needs a new battery (I have the battery, and tools, but lacking motivation). Taxes need assembling. There’s really no end to the tech tidying I could do but I’m also trying to attend to real life stuff. Applesauce making. Friend visiting. Dish washing. Bird feeding. Plant tending.

The little plant in the picture is one I got from the library. I’m not even sure how it happened just I was there and at some point I was walking home with a plant in my hand. I got a new rack to put more plants on. I can hear my mother’s voice “This is how it starts….” Well okay then, let’s get started.

my year in cities and towns, 2019

guestroom in the meredith NH hotel I stayed at.Interesting to look at, bad for sleeping

Really serious about staying out of airplanes now. Two airplane trips this year. A low key summer not feeling terrific. Lots of time doing more local stuff and not regretting it at all.

Here is the short list of places. Four states. Stars indicate multiple visits to the exact same place. Past years: 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008 2007, 2006, 2005.

  • Westport MA* – here most of the summer, in many of the beds
  • Stow MA* – visiting my sister
  • Cambridge MD – a great quickie trip to a great conference
  • Meredith NH – another great location for a conference, less-great hotel
  • Grafton VT – weird old inn, intensive conference
  • Burlington VT – staying with friends for an overnight for a humanities conference
  • Tampa FL – really quirky AirBnB with lovely folks

the list I almost made

two eggs in a nice looking pink bowl

As I was driving back from Kate’s house after a three-day Thanksgiving trip (as opposed to a nine-day one which is my usual MO) I was thinking of a list I’d put here. Whether I’m online or off, I’m usually thinking of lists. To do lists, reading lists, library lists, “crap to fix in my house” lists. Errand lists are a particular favorite because it’s pretty simple to cross all the things off and then, woohoo, you’ve done something! Today I got fed up with my back hallway which was where I had the “Cables to be filed” basket which was turning into a shamehole. So, I turned on a podcast I was listening to and just started untangling, filing, tossing and recycling. By the end of it, I’d learned more about cryptocurrency MLM scams and also gotten the back hall deshameified.

Oh, that was my list! I used to listen to one podcast: No Such Thing As A Fish. The episodes come out weekly. This is usually enough when I’m not traveling much but with holidaytime imminent, I could use some more. Some that I have liked are:

  • 99% Invisible – I mostly like this but Roman Mars is always bringing other people on to do their podcasts and I don’t like them as much. This is good if I pick and choose.
  • Bear Brook Podcast – sort of a complete set of how a weird crime was solved, right next door (in New Hampshire). Loved it but it’s now over.
  • Before Your Time – great little podcast about Vermont history but it doesn’t come out that often.
  • MetaFilter podcast – I am both on this and listen to it

A few I haven’t liked are the Emily Post podcast Awesome Etiquette, Marc Maron’s WTF (I did, but now I don’t) and pretty much anything by VPR/NPR (they are fine, I don’t like their podcasts). I don’t like anything with sketches, dramatizations, or people doing bits. I don’t mind interviews but I especially like to learn something. I like esoteric and hidden histories. I’m fussy about sound quality since I am often listening in the car. I like people who do their own research and prefer “deep dives” to people skimming other people’s blog posts. I don’t mind ads. I do not like TED talks. I do not want to listen to men talk about technology.

A few friends have suggested Outside Online and Heavy Weight and I will try those. Do you have other suggestions for me?

Florida fixit

image of an odd painting heere a hors eis standing in profile holding a tiffany colored box in its mouth

I went to Florida a few weeks back which will be the last time I get on a plane this year unless something wacky happens. Thinking more about carbon footprint stuff even though I am doing solidly well in that regard because I have no kids. It was a good time, pictures are here.

I was well-hosted by the library school at USF. I gave a talk that I really enjoyed which was well-received. I felt good enough to walk around some which was nice, wear shorts and smell smells (it’s 17° here now). I’ll get paid eventually which is also my feeling about the CNN article I wrote in August, and the smaller article I wrote for Online Searcher after that. Freelance cash flow is a bit of a crapshoot.

I also stayed in a funky AirBnB suggested by my host which was great in a lot of respects, but especially because parts of it were maybe a little broken. I’m always at loose ends when I travel alone, and so it was fun to have some simple little puzzles to keep me occupied (think a dog trying to get kibble out of a kong). So while I was there I…

– got the TV back online and attached to Netflix
– also got the TV out of accessibility mode so it would stop reading every Netflix title to me
– cleaned the filter of the hot tub which was full of leaves
– figured out which scented candle was setting off my allergies
– stopped the toilet from running at night
– figured out how to make Alexa stop listening to me

Things I did not figure out included…

– how to make the glowing orb in the hallway stop pulsing in various colors
– how to plug in my phone near the bed without moving a very large mirror
– where the extra towels were

All in all I was nervous about the trip because it’s my nature and because I’m still not really feeling optimal. It went well and now I’m just back on my normal bullshit, going to a ton of meetings, helping people with computer stuff and trying to stay warm.

Virgo Month of Leisure Success?

clouds hanging over a rural farming valley

So hey I think I managed to break a leisure record this Virgo Month of Leisure! The bad news is that’s because I’ve been feeling borderline punk for a few months now. I always thought of myself as someone in pretty good shape, but every so often I just come down with… sinus nonsense, or a weird pulled muscle, or this time some strange respiratory thing of indeterminate origin that also sort of overlapped with the Return of Shingles. So I’m back on the shingles medicine and I’ve been taking it easy which is somehow more fun when I’m at home and can do little things like head out for a chicken pie supper with friends and then go home and flop out and not do much. I’ve been getting an absurd amount of reading done.

In between all that, I’ve been working the problem and getting medical stuff slowly checked out. It’s breast cancer awareness week (you’re welcome for no pink outline to this post) and I got a mammogram (all good). If you’re someone with breasts, you should make sure you’re up to date on yours as well. October is really my favorite month because more things than usual are my favorite color. Even being crashed out on the day bed looking out the window is mostly a delight. Ronni turned the furnace on early this year (it was 32 the night before last) and there’s something peaceful and calming about not shivering while you type.

And my birthday, which was the day after my doctor’s appointment where my doctor said “You seem fine,” was actually nice, just a lovely day wandering around town saying hi to people while running errands, and then wrapping up with some drinks with friends up the road and wandering home through my dark neighborhood by myself. Since then I’ve performed two weddings (one more formal, one less formal), gone to a lot of meetings, played some board games, and spent a lot of time enjoying the lava lamp Jim gave me which has been an unexpectedly fun thing. Next up: applesauce and a quickie trip to Florida because I do still do some work around here.

service

comic with a bunch of hands reaching up towards an earth with the caption 'slowly we are reclaiming this world from the adults'

It was all I could do, when I was reading the Futel Party Line zine, to not just call up their operator and say “I want a free pay phone. In Randolph.” Because, hey, that would be cool. But realistically, someone would have to manage that project. And, if I am being honest, I am maybe full up with service work, as much as I enjoy it. This image is from the brochure I got with the zines. It amuses me that I can still think I am not “the adults.”

It’s a sort of thing about being underemployed (which I am, though not in a bad way) that you try to fill the days. But if you’re not going to a place and staying there for several hours a day, it’s hard to decide what “full” is. I spend a lot of time typing, and going back and forth between communication channels, solving problems. And I’m still feeling a little mystery-sick (have a doc appointment, things are proceeding apace) which limits me a little. Here are my little service projects.

  • I’m on the board and the Technology/Access committee for the Vermont Humanities Council. Was slow in the summer, picking up now.
  • I’m on the board for the 251 Club. There’s a banquet in October, I’m getting auction items for it (want to donate? talk to me.)
  • I’m continuing my work with the Vermont Mutual Aid Society as a qualifying Authority to help print-disabled people get access to online books via the Internet Archive (have a print disability? Talk to me!)
  • I help run MLTSHP, a cute little online photo-sharing community. We have a legal situation and an aggrieved user situation that are taking up some time.
  • I write an occasional newsletter, which I very much enjoy, along with this blog and librarian.net.
  • I’m on my town’s conservation commission and maintain our small part of the town’s website.
  • I maintain the website for the Vermont Library Association along with a few other people.
  • I’m on the rules committee for my nerdy trivia league. Not just that, but on the organizing committee of the rules committee. Sort of the job I was meant to do, honestly.

Otherwise I’m just doing my summer thing. Childnado VII went great; it’s so good to have regular times to see old friends. I feel the same way about Jimsmas (Jim and Other Jim and two other friends with 12/6 birthdays get together for food and cake) which isn’t until December. I’ve put off doing birthday stuff this year until I’m feeling better but Virgo Month of Leisure is in full effect and maybe I’ve got a shot at it this year.

“shoulda taken a before picture…”

I had a small dip in productivity this week. I think I mentioned that at the end of last summer I had shingles. It was a super mild case, but I wound up with something called “post-herpetic neuralgia” which is basically nerve pain. It’s super well-controlled with gabapentin, which also has some positive effects on my mood and anxiety level. But, it’s a lot of medicine and so I figured I’d try to taper off of it once I stopped feeling like maybe my nerve pain was a thing (for most people it stops eventually and many people only deal with it for a few months).

Everything was going fine. Over the past few months I moved from taking 1300mg to… 300 and eventually 200. And then BLAMMO all of the sudden not only did the nerve pain come back, but it was accompanied by a rush of free-ranging anxieties, so instead of saying “Hello nerve pain, my old friend” I got convinced that I was immediately dying of any number of really terrible diseases. It makes sense in retrospect, what was happening, but at the time it was just several days of pure panic. Now it’s handled, I’m back on my bullshit (drugs) and I’ll work on this taper some other time. Stupid brain.

But! Before that I’ve been doing a ton of stuff around here (#dadshouse) and then getting finished and saying “Gee, I should have taken a ‘before’ picture.” I wanted to keep track of those things, so here is a list.

  • Trimmed all the raspberries and volunteer other trees by the dumpster
  • Got rid of all the nonsense paper in the “attic” and all the manuals for things that are no longer in this house
  • Scraped the lichen off of the upper porch railing in preparation for re-staining it
  • Hacked down all the plant life growing in the berm in the backyard by the spruce trees
  • Emptied out the last boxes from Seattle. Prepared 10+ boxes to go to the local book sale, once I feel up to lifting/hauling them
  • With Jim’s help, took out all the vestigial cabling behind the television set (so many cables!).
  • Put away all the stuff that had been on the tables in the TV room since I sold my Subaru (!)
  • Got the two wingback chairs that no one likes out to the garage and hopefully will find someone to take them away (want some slightly clawed chairs? call me).
  • Emptied out drawers of nonsense in the kitchen.
  • Re-arranged coffee can shelf in the garage and got rid of old dead stuff.
  • Got the labelmaker working.
  • Replaced the grotty curtains in the living room.
  • Cleaned the whole area around the woodstove, took all the kindling OUTSIDE (why is it inside in the summertime!) and swept up all the bark
  • Told the wisteria “No, you grow up over this thing, you don’t creep along the ground.”

A lot of these were just dumb little things that had been back-burnered sort of indefinitely, not even difficult projects mostly. Now that they’re done it just frees up psychic space to just be in a room and not have to pretend to not-see the thing that really needs doing.

There’s always something else to be done in this house, but I’m really working to try to get the broken stuff unbroken and the unseen stuff seen. I did get one before/after photo, from today.

two trees in an overgrown berm

after most of the stuff was cut off of it!