hemming, also hawing

I’ve been in need of some new clothes lately, so I’ve been getting on that. I found a perfect pair of pants except they’re made for someone taller than me. Story of my life. However, I’m getting to the point where cuffing just isn’t going to work if I’m trying to look halfway professional. So I got out the sewing kit and started hemming. As I did that — just sat in one place and measured twice and pinned and cut thread and threaded needles and sewed — I realized that it’s been a while since I’ve done one thing at a time.

I complained at the library conference last week that the free wifi was worse than no wifi at all because it was oversubscribed, so you could really only do one Internet-thing at a time. I no longer knew how to do that. As soon as I’d open a tab or try to IM someone or even click a link to open in another window, I’d get booted by the network and remember “oh yeah one thing at a time…” It’s worth remembering. While I truly believe that the cell-phone-while-driving contingent isn’t paying enough attention to the road, I do drive and listen to the radio, or read and eat, or fly and watch a movie. There’s a media aspect to all of this that isn’t really present if you’re, say, walking and singing. Or swimming and thinking. Or eating and laughing, mouth open and all.

I know the difference. I’m not trying to draw weird fake-o conclusions about “OMG technlogy convergence made me impolite!” but I notice how getting things done [not Getting Things Done, lord help me] often involves this sort of media-lumping to get more done faster. Which is great if what you’re saving time for is pie, or time with friends, or a good book before bed, or the river. I just spent a lot of time with this artificial throttle when I was already in hyper-productivity away-from-home mode and resent that my lack of multitaskability made me come home with a few things left undone in the internetto-blogoland. On the other hand, last night I listened to the radio and hemmed my pants, and looked out the window, and listened to the rain, and heard my nemesis the mouse invade the downstairs and it didn’t really seem like multitasking at all.

coasts and libraries

turnbuckles, sort of

I was really worried when the flight I was taking to Vancouver Canada was switched at the last minute and I was suddenly on a new plane with no seat reservations. I usually plan these trips pretty carefully — the connections, the things I’m going to do, the places on the plane I sit — and one small derail can send the whole thing down like dominoes. However, that’s not what happened.

I was going to Victoria Canada to speak at the Access 2007 conference, keynote actually. The week previous had been Glory Week in Vermont and I had a lot of fun visitors and things to do so while I worked on my talk I didn’t pay a lot of attention to things like “How to get to Victoria from Vancouver BC” and “How to print out my final set of notes for the talk.” I drove down to Kate’s place right after work on Tuesday, steeling myself for an early morning (well, 9 am) flight so that I could show up in Canada with a reasonable amount of time to figure out the rest of the travel stuff. And then my flight was cancelled.

What followed was a strange series of good news/bad news escapades. My United flight wasn’t flying because of some mechanical thing so they put me on Air Canada. Air Canada, in case you don’t know, is a superior airline. Seats with TVs and music players, really professional staff, decent connections. I even got good seats. Since United’s problem was “mechanical” and I nicely explained the whole “I’m giving an important talk the next morning” thing, they put a note with my old ticket to be cool and put me up someplace if Air Canada couldn’t get me there. Not bad. I transferred in Toronto instead of O’Hare (score!) and found out there was a flight leaving earlier than the one I was one and they were pleased to put me on it. Then I dropped my boarding pass into the heater vent by mistake which it turns out is no big deal — they just printed me a new one.

I got to Vancouver before I was even supposed to have arrived and did some librarian reconnaissance to figure out how to get to Victoria. There are a myriad of ways ranging from expensive and fast to slow and cheap. I had time so I decided on slow and cheap and had a great time taking the bus to the bus to the ferry (which was an amazing sunset cruise which was a totally fortuitous accident). Inside the ferry there was actually a bus which you could get tickets for so I climbed aboard and took the bus off the ferry and down through Victoria. The bus dropped me off about ten blocks from the hotel which I then gladly walked. I even turned down the ride offer of some nice-seeming man on a Harley who kept driving by me.

Then I went to bed. It had been a very long day. The next day I got up and gave my talk which went pretty well though it was a bit of a stretch for me. I hung around for a while to talk to people and hear a few more presentations and then took the Helijet back to Vancouver in about 30 minutes. The previous day’s trip had taken almost ten times that but what a trip it was! I went to a MetaFilter meetup, stayed with a friend of a friend right in downtown Vancouver and took the bus back to the airport the next day.

By the time I finally got back to Logan — at about 1 am after a bunch of weird travel delays thanks to weather — the Red Sox had just won some major game and the taxi stand was completely empty when I got outside. If you don’t know Boston well you may not also know that all public transportation also stops running around this time. I waited and watched as the folks who checked bags queued behind us until there were about 40 people waiting for zero cabs. I was scheming how I could politely ask other people, when my time came, if they wanted to share a cab (I’m not that hip to cab lingo and etiquette) when the guy at the front of the line asked “Anyone else going to Somerville?” which I was. I squeezed in with two other people. Turns out he was going two blocks from my sister’s house and refused to let me pay for anything. I let myself into Kate’s place and was pleasantly surprised to see her still up and chatty, so I got to do a little debriefing about my trip and she told me about the baseball game.

This morning I’m preparing to go to Sturbridge MA for the New England Library Association Conference where I’m giving a few talks on social software, Firefox and library 2.0 pretty much in that order. I don’t think I was on the West Coast long enough to really have jetlag. I have a second bag of clothes here to bring with me so I don’t have to spend all day doing laundry. Also, since this is a conference I can drive to, I’ve brought my favorite pillow. I am usually pretty happy with whatever pillow I have available but figured there was an off chance that the previous three days would have been wretched and I might want something familiar and comforting during my three additional days away. Turns out I probably won’t really need it after all.