leaving Kansas

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.

from here to there

I am once agan confronted with the old travelling salesman/Jessamyn problem where I have to get myself from here to DC somehow. The good news is, this is easy. The bad news is, there are a ton of options. If I were going to LA, the answer would be simple “Fly! Find a cheap ticket!” but to DC the possibilities are all over the place. Drive? Bus? Bus + fly? Drive + train? Carpool? Rideshare? Trip + visit? Through NY? Boston? New Haven? Amherst?

I settled on a short drive + train + train plus a quickie stop in Brooklyn to see some friends and their baby who I haven’t seen since she was about a week old. When I get to DC I’m staying in a hotel that costs more than I pay for a month of heating oil, but it’s covered by the conference committee. I am going to be giving a fun talk on how to make Firefox (the browser) do the things you want it to do including make searching easier, make pages easier to read and putting more resources at your fingertips. I’ve been spending a lot of time mucking about with it this week. The real reason the train won out, of course, is that I can read on the train.

I can, of course, read here at home but there are a lot of other thigns to do as well. lately I’ve been watching James Burke’s Connection series and relearning some of the science and technology history that I had long since forgotten. I have also been watching some old Hercule Poirot mysteries with David Suchet, many of which the library has.

It’s supposed to snow here tomorrow. I suspect there will be cherry blossoms in DC.

blah blah me blah blah links, woo

I have two links to show you.

  • There was an article about Wikipedia in the local paper, Sunday supplement even, that has some quotes from me and even a picture. No, I don’t know what is up with my hair. Close readers may notice that this is the second time I have been photographed for the Times Argus holding a laptop. I’m not sure what happened to that other picture, it was almost seven years ago.
  • I went to see the Tunbridge 55th Annual Show (youtube link. their title, not mine) a local fundraising effort from the Tunbridge Civic Club. Apparently in days of yore this was a minstrel show and now it is decidedly a non-minstrel show (except for the guy in blueface?) with an introduction explaining what the show used to be like. I made a little movie of some high points. Still learning how to use all the camera + software + youtubery.

li’l movies

If last year was any indication, it will take another week until I feel that my entire brain is back from Australia but I’ve done better at waking up before noon lately, though the obscene phone call (I think it was obscene, I couldn’t really make out what the kid was saying) at 1 am didn’t help. I’ve decided to learn a new skill: making little movies. I spent part of our road trip hanging out the window taking little videos of the Great Ocean Road and side of the road sights. When I got back I tried to put them together into something that wasn’t just clip-clip-clip-end. Then I tried it again with some different scenery yesterday. Neither of them are high art filmmaking but they have some neat things to look at and some okay music. Every year when I go to the VT Film Festival I say “I should make a little movie” and now I think I may know how to go do that. Also, thanks to YouTube, you can see them.

  1. Great Ocean Road video
  2. Exit Four is Vermont’s Best Exit

welcome to jetlag, population: you.

A quick note to say my sleep is still a little messed up but I have finally uploaded all the photos (or all the decent photos) from my Australia trip. Kate and I may combine our sets of pictures into one huge group at some point, but for now, mine are here and you can see them even if you don’t have a Flickr account: My Australia 2007 photoset.

touchdown in US, wrote this from the airplane

I don’t have much else to say about the Internet situation in Australia except that it surprised me. Maybe if I had been with more net-native locals I would not have found the quest for Internet so taxing, but as it was, I felt a little hunter-gather-y trying to figure out what part of my day I had to dedicate to finding access so I could check email and upload a few pictures. Serious props for the local public library systems of Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney — and the coffee shops of Perth — for having almost the only decent (and affordable) wifi in the whole country.

I’m writing this from the plane. We left at 11 am Sydney time and will arrive in LAX about five hours before we left, timewise. Add to this the daylight savings change of a few days ago and I expect to be thoroughly confused by the time I get home. There’s a real-time map of our journey on the little teevees in front of us so I know, to the minute, when we should be touching down.

A lot has happened, nearly all of it good. We finished our Great Ocean Road drive and I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves. What a totally beautiful unforgettable trip. We got to Melbourne in decent time for a fun lunch with some local librarians. One of them told me that she had the keys to the Melbourne Atheneum and Kate and I and Tim got an impromptu tour. I went to two MetaFilter meetups in 24 hours, one in Melbourne (Japanese food, fun techie folks, ice cream, rooftop bar!) and one in Sydney the next afternoon (harbor walk, emu pizza, silly photos, lots of Americans!). I’ve always enjoyed meeting MetaFilter people and it was fun to have Kate along for these.

The early downside to Sydney, soon rectified, was our hotel room. I booked us a room where I had stayed last time, at the downtown YWCA Hotel. This time it was a more touristy season and so our room — the last in the place, they told us — was small, had a single giant bed (I have now learned the difference between “twin” and “double” in Australian), no windows that opened, and poozly AC that didn’t really work. In short it was a sauna, and we were exhausted and sunburned and in need of rest. Kate and I turned on all of our “How can we make this right?” customer service charm, but the folks at the desk couldn’t fix the problem. I wound up renting a computer at Kinko’s, logging in to wotif.com, booking us a room slightly south of the cental business district, asking for and requesting a full refund at place #1 and walking us a mile with our gear to the new place, all after about 9:30 pm on a Sunday. Yay for us!

The new place was amazing and friendly with ice cold air conditioning and a fun quickie mart around the corner connected to a Malaysian restaurant where all the cab drivers hung out. That restaurant was the source of one of the best meals I’ve ever had — tasty, but also in a “Wow this day has been one huge tiring hectic hassle and now I’m going to get into bed in my PJs and eat honey chicken and fried rice and isn’t life grand?” way.

We had a day in Sydney to wander around, spend our extra Australian money, and be sad that we couldn’t stay longer which I think is always the best way to leave a vacation. Kate and I got along great, just really great. I have to remember that even though I’m sort of used to having a sister who is fun to hang out with, game for almost everything, and has complementary sensibilities to mine about travel, money, other people and how late to sleep in the morning, that most people don’t and I should count my blessings about this from time to time.

backwards australia post

[note: this is from two days ago, but I didn’t have any Internet until today. more recent update in a bit.]

So, hey, it’s been a while. I’m in Robe, South Australia at a camper park of some sort. Kate and Tim and I are spending the night in some tricked out cabin type thing which has three bedrooms. I got the bunk bed room [no one else wanted it, I could not believe it!] and so decided to spend some time in the top bunk catching up a little here. We are across the road from the Southern Ocean and are on our drive from Adelaide in South Australia to Melbourne in Victoria. We’ll spend the day in Melbourne and then fly up to Sydney, spend a day and a half there and then head home.

It’s hard to believe that the trip is half over, or that we’ve already been to two State Libraries in two Australian states. It’s harder still for me to believe that I’ve given three talks to a total of almost 300 people. And, lastly, it’s almost impossible for me to believe how hard it’s been to find Internet access that didn’t either a) cost an arm and a leg (i.e. $30/day hotel prices) or b) have absurd downloading restrictions (Intermod’s 100kB at a time policy). Thank jehu for the public library, really the only reliable source I’ve found on this trip so far.

So, what have we been up to? Well, in short, there was the long (36-38 hour) trip which was actually mostly fine. There was the hanging out with the librarians in Perth, the fancy accomodations at the Parmelia Hilton, the LocLib conference, and going out for drinks with Mom and Pat’s friend Ian. Kate got a sunburn. I slept remarkably well. We found some great coffee shops and rode the bus around a lot, ate kabobs. My talks went well and I met a ton of interesting people who I was sad to not get to spend more time with. We went to King’s Park and took a bunch of pictures only a few of which have made it online at this point.

Then we flew to Adelaide. My friend Tim met us there and we went to the fun animal park that I’d gone to in December 2004. Kate got to hug a koala. I gave a talk which was really more fun than it should have been and great that Kate got to sit in. We ate schnitzel and I got to drink some great beer. We looked around for non-library Internet access (wireless anyone?) and came up short. I took some night photos. Kate and I got to share a bed for the first time since…. since I can remember, maybe since we went to Cape Cod when I was eleven?

Today we got in the car and drove South to the coast and we’re heading east towards Melbourne. At some point tomorrow or the next day we’ll hit the Great Ocean Road which is the highway one of Australia. Nice and scenic and full of strange pull-offs and quirky little towns. Today we already got to see a wild emu, a kangaroo carcass on the beach, a weird lizard and a whole lot of beach/ocean/shells/surf. Even though I loved giving talks and meeting librarians, today I really feel like I’m on vacation, wearing my flip-flops and not worrying about what my email says.