my long underwater nightmare is over

In some way I think I knew it was coming and so hurried up my efforts to appear to be hurrying it along.

Once I’d written the song, someone passed it on to a friend and the next thing you know the Time Magazine blog, Techland called me about it asking “Is there a video we can link?” And of course I’d been meaning to do one… so I spent an hour or two putting this together, they wrote a nice piece and linked to it and tweeted about it which caught the attention of someone at Google Maps who got to play the hero and fix it practically while we watched [while at the same time entreating us to use the “report a problem” link as if that’s all we had to do in the first place]. So the system works, sort of.

By that I mean that people who can be adorable and agitate politely to get their problem fixed by making use of their high placed connections can really get things done. Was the world ever any different? I’d feel slightly better if I felt that I’d improved the overall system and not just my place in it, but I think being any sort of activist means always remaining a little dissatisfied. It’s pretty cool to see my town in the right place again. I dropped the local paper’s editor a note about it.

moving

randolphnot

I am not moving. I am happy here. However, according to Google the town has moved to someplace in the north part of Lake Champlain. Yes, in the water. This is weird and sort of amusing. The only reason I happen to know this is because I was giving two different folks directions to my house and they both said “I thought you lived in the center of the state?” and I said “I do… WTF?” I have submitted a bug report. I am curious to see how long it takes to resolve this. If you can’t recreate the Fake Randolph on your own, you can click this link to see what I (sometimes) see. You can search for 05060 to see where the town really is.

why I don’t live in paradise, for some definitions of paradise

It’s been a good long while since I’ve used this blogospace to talk about other blogs. I still read a lot of other people’s news in the form of twitter, facebook and yes, blogs. Rafe Colburn pointed me to something I never would have seen otherwise, a post on a NY Times sports blog where Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick talks about why he moved back to Indiana. Since I’m one of those lucky people who could probably live anywhere in the world, people sometimes ask me what I’m doing here. This guy’s answer resonated with me.

I’m really all Bay Area at this point. I’m loving it out there. In the course of this dinner, Tom tells me that he’s moving back to Detroit. I said, ‘That’s crazy, why are you doing that?’ He said: ‘If you can live anywhere in the world, you ought to live here, because it’s fantastic. It has all this natural beauty, and the weather is great. As a consequence, so many people who live here don’t have a reason to be somewhere else. They’re attracted by those thing as opposed to something else.’ He said, ‘I need to be someplace where there’s a sense of community because that’s what motivates me.’ That was an absolutely light-bulb moment for me. I said: ‘That’s me. That’s what motivates me.’ On a dime, I switched and said, ‘Where can I get involved in the community?’

It’s not so much that I think Randolph, Vermont is the only place for me, or that my family has been here for generations or whatever. It’s that I really like living in a small town, where I have a special job to do and where people still need to learn the sorts of things that I teach. And I like living in the woods and despite my grousing about the mice, I like living close, really close, to nature. I like having a short list of options even though I’m aware it’s a sort of artificial constriction of the whole list of what’s possible. There’s always the larger bloggy world when I need to go someplace I’ve never been before. Thanks, Rafe.

misdirection

thegoogle

Because I have a rich online life, I sometimes have to nudge myself to have an equally rich offline life. I’ve been finishing a few more books lately, and yesterday I went for a drive. I have a family friend, who turns out to be a relative, who is 96 and who I just learned was a sort of neighbor. That is, he lives in Vermont which is neighbor enough. I made a plan to go see him saying I was going to be more or less in the area and made a plan, then, to be in the area. My relative is Irving Adler, my second cousin twice removed. He is 96 and he has strong opinions about health care. I spent some time visting with him and then did some catching up on the 251 project I’ve been working on for the past five years or so.

To catch you up, I want to visit all of Vermont’s 251 towns. I’m 90-someodd percent there. Before there was a widget for everything, I made my own web page to track my progress. I have a Delorme gazetteer that I cover with highlighter pen to track where I’ve been. Now there’s a widget that sort of does what I want but like all widgets, it’s imperfect. Through some concerted efforts and marathon driving, I went to sixteen new towns yesterday, though I missed three — Middletown Springs, Somerset and Windham — that assure I’ll be going back. The widget says I am 94% complete. The widget does not track gores and grants.

The gazetter is also imperfect. Even though I crosschecked with Google maps to see that the road that they said was a road was, in fact, a road, it was not a road. It was a road up to a point and then the road became a riverbed and then the riverbed became a footpath for goats. I turned around, which is awkward when you are in a car on a goat footpath. The nice people with 4×4 trucks, beer and few teeth were incredibly nice to me as I drove back past them and asked politely if the road I had been trying to drive on was, in fact, a road. “Not for that car!” they told me. I think AWD is sort of hot shit until I hit roads like this.

You can see my rough route in these two google maps (down, up). I checked my email twice during the day, once from the burrito place and once when I pulled over to take some photos of a nice looking lake. I pulled out my laptop to use my EVDO card to “check my web” and I saw that there was a nice four-bar signal coming from … someplace, called linksys. Now I’ve got 2-4 towns to visit in each quadrant of the state including the vexing Lewis which I swear can’t be reached by road. If anyone would like to go on a doomed hiking trip with me sometime in early spring, do give me a call. I can’t guarantee success, but there’s a 90-someodd percent chance of fun.

how to win at Scrabble and September

Now that I go over to isc.ro for Scrabble, I get to play Scrabble almost daily and not have to click through the morass that is facebook to get to play a game. Here is a great video about how to win at Scrabble. It will not help you beat me, however, because I’m one of those nerds who lets you look words up. Jim and I play most evenings. We’re well matched.

This weekend turned out to be shorter than it was going to be. My colleague Josh bought one of those All You Can Jet JetBlue passes and is scooting all over the country going to MetaFilter meetups. This past weekend was Boston, Portland Maine and Montpelier VT. I was going to go to all three as well, but on my way to Boston I decided I felt oogy and went home and slept for 12 hours instead. I stopped by the doc on the way — gotta love being able to get an appointment in 20 minutes — and he laughed off my fears of the flu. The next day I rallied and went to Portland Maine for a fun meetup and grabbed Josh and brought him back to my place.

We did the normal Vermont things: pet llamas, ate pancakes, looked at leaves, took photos of chipmunks. The next day my boss Matt came to town and we did more of the same [check out this amazing photo he took] and then went to a big meetup in Montpelier which was a whole ton of fun. I got to meet more nerds in my neighborhood and introduce some of my IRL friends to my online friends and vice versa. We had a big mod slumber party at my house and then Josh and Matt got up the next morning to head to New Orleans where they are now.

I’m tidying up the house for my sister and her boyfriend’s arrival Friday. We’re going to the Tunbridge World’s Fair and hopefully have a little bit of time eked out to have some birthday cake. I should also be receiving my birthday camera which has slowly been making its way from my Dad’s place to mine. Yay for extendo birthday remix.

All of this is to say that while normally I’d be all “Awww Josh gets to go on a big adventure and I’m stuck at home!” Being home in Vermont in September is actually pretty terrific.

41!

kayaking2

There’s something pleasing both with leaving 40 behind and having an age that is a prime number. I’m in the depths of a writing deadline so I’ve been scarce since the scarcity of being gone all weekend. Now I’m in the procrastination phase of my writing deadline so I’ll make some notes here.

Hey, I turned 41! I had a really nice birthday weekend. Unlike last year which was a frenzy of friend-oriented activities and houseguests and cake and not much sleep, this year was all about getting out of town and taking a lot of naps. Jim and I went up north to stay at a little lodge on Seymour Lake. We figured while we were there we’d try to

– go to Canada for ketchup chips and ground cherries
– get a lot of rest
– go kayaking
– hit some of the towns that are still blank on my 251 Club list
– go muck around in nature

Which is pretty much what we did. We stayed in Morgan Vermont. Tried and failed to go to Lewis, Averys Gore and Warner’s Grant (got all the way to the one paved road in only to find gates there; I’ll have to go again when I’m prepped for hiking). Did a lot of driving and looking at things. Stepped over and drove over the Canadian border. Got a lot of sleep.

I’d show you a ton of photos, but I dropped my camera in the lake. Amusingly, my already-purchased-but-not-yet-delivered birthday present was a new camera. So, everything is fine. I mentioned over on librarian.net that I’ve got a slightly different job configuration for this school year but things are mostly the same. The same and good.

Also, towns that I still need to visit: Arlington, Benson, Cornwall, Dover,Franklin, Granby, Hubbardton, Jamaica, Lewis, Maidstone, Middletown Springs, Pawlet, Pownal, Readsboro, Rupert, Sandgate, Searsburg, Sheldon, Somerset, Stamford, Stannard, Stratton, Sudbury, Underhill, Wardsboro, Wells, West Haven, Weybridge, Whiting, Whitingham, Wilmington, Windham, Woodford

party of one

I think he sees me

I’ve made a few more mixtape recordings and attached the mp3s to their accompanying photos over on Flickr. Since I’m often hanging out at the computer for work or for play, pressing record while I’m doing that is just not that difficult. I’m a little surprised I’m doing this while the weather is nice, not crappy. I’ve also recorded a few “hey you made this tape for me” tapes that are not popular music, so they’re not part of the public listing but maybe soon will be.

It’s Spring which means my landlady was in the backyard trying to chop down a tree and I have stopped wearing socks. Well I did stop until the temperature plunged into the 40s a few nights ago and I put the socks right back on. I did put my sweaters away however, so that’s either a sign that Spring has come, or a come hither nod to a huge blizzard.

My talk at MLA went fine. I felt it suffered from a lack of narrative, but I’m always my own worst critic. My talk was about Intellectual Freedom and Social Software and it went pretty well. I had a quick trip to Springfield MA which was a lot of fun. That trip was bordered on two sides by visits to the Tunbridge Library where I have slowly and with help been putting barcode stickers on books as part of our slow crawl towards automation. I had the genius idea to do a work party, but chose Mother’s Day as the day for it (dates and times and especially holidays are often a bit of a furze to me) and as a result it was a party of one. That said, I got 900 books stickered. That said it’s difficult sometimes to have a party that no one comes to. I’ll try to plan better next time.

Other big news is that my digital divide book proposal about tech training in the unconnected library “Without a/the Net” has been approved (accepted? okayed?) by Libraries Unlimited. Haven’t seen the contract yet. Pretty excited and a little aghast at myself for taking on another project, but this is one I’ve been wanting to do. Wondering if writing books about technology is approaching the “dancing about architecture” realm of nonsense. Hoping that’s not true for another few years maybe.