Skip to content

inexorable

clocks form the British Museum

So one of the many many museums that Kate and I went to was the British Museum. It was almost an afterthought. I knew it was full of treasure but we’d been to a lot of great “stuff in jars” museums and had eaten a lot of food and were feeling pretty pleased with everything but we were done with the Wellcome’s amazing reading room and Forensics Exhibit (it’s like they’d known we were coming) and had some extra time. And speaking of time, the little brochure that you get when you enter the museum suggests some places you can go to chill out if the museum is crowdy and a little suffocating, places that are … less popular. One of these places was the clock and time exhibit. Which … what? It was the best thing! There is something about being in a room full of timepieces that just makes me all shivery and delighted.

So that was the end of the trip. The beginning was the Club Class upgrade as I’d mentioned. In-between we kept a little list of places we’d been. Here is that list with some annotations. Here is a set of 90 photos of the trip, somewhat representative, except for most of the museums.

  • TESCO – the place we were staying was right near a giant supermarket. We went there often.
  • Bloomsbury (Lamb Pub) – met up with my friend Deb and her friends as they were on their way to a conference in Manchester.
  • St Paul’s Cathedral – accidentally walked in right before an evening choral recital, lovely
  • Crystal Palace – no palace is there anymore but it’s a great post-apocalyptic seeming big empty space in the middle of London.
  • Crystal Palace Dinosaurs – worth it! Thanks TimeOut London for the suggestion
  • Tube – love it
  • Aboveground – love it
  • Horniman Museum & Gardens – sort of a fusty old “things in glass cases” place but had a wonderful garden area and we enjoyed looking at bad taxidermy
  • Hunterian Museum at RCS – very best things in jars museum. I am so sorry there were no photos allowed
  • RCS Library – lovely, did not look super busy.
  • Canada Water Library – this was right near us and a good place to get internet before we got our phones hooked up
  • Soane’s Museum – everyone suggested this, it was a good suggestion
  • Operating Theater Museum and Herb Garrett – possibly the onlymuseum we paid for, but totally worth it for being weird and quirky (and photos allowed!)
  • Fox Park – WE SAW A WILD FOX AND IT WASN’T SICK OR ANYTHING
  • V&A (& Cafe) – Very nice museum, very nice cafe.
  • Spitalfields (Water Poet) – funky neighborhood with crazy packed bar to start off the MeFi Meetup
  • Shoreditch – where we wound up for dinner at an Indian place that was terrific
  • Art Gallery thing – Jan ran into a friend in the street wo had just come out of a gallery and told us to pop in. We did, it was … interesting.
  • British Museum (& Cafe) – more museums! More cafes! More clocks!
  • Wellcome Collection Forensic Exhibit – totally up Kate’s alley and I enjoyed it as well. It’s nice to go to an exhibit that you feel like you know something about “Hey, the body farm!”
  • Wellcome Reading Room – the best reading room I’ve been in, hands down, ever.
  • Emirates Gondola – a much better deal than the London Eye and with a view that was pretty excellent
  • Picadilly Square – wandered in here by accident one evening after dinner and showed up just in time to see Critical Mass ride through, totally charming

I’m still a bit laid out with sinus crud but very happy to have been away and very happy to be home.

welcome to the club

high life

So I am in London. Apologies if I didn’t let you know I was coming. I’ve been down with some sort of sinus thing for the past few weeks (yes, weeks) and while I’ve been treating it and superstitiously wishing for better health I haven’t wanted to make a lot of plans. Except for getting out of town which we did, me and Kate.

Yesterday was one of those Long Days where you get a flight in the evening and have three dinners and then sleep for an hour and have breakfast and then wander around like a zombie for ten hours wondering why you decided to come to this awful place. To be fair it WAS raining yesterday and the AirBnB place we got WAS a little cold (and maybe a little strange) but there’s some peculiar frame of mind when you’re over tired and overtraveled which makes you believe that these problems will never get any better. But of course they do. Today looks a lot nicer.

And the ootchy feeling was despite the fact that we mysteriously got upgraded from Business Class (slightly larger seats for not a lot more money) to Club Class (a seat that turns into a bed which would have cost six times what our tickets cost) for no reason we can discern. Like we were just sitting in the airport with bellies full of french fries and heard our names and went to the counter and they said “We’ve moved your seats” and we were all “Awwww, we picked those specially” and they looked at us like we were insane and said “No, seriously, you’ll like these” and we did.

Club Class is clubby. There was a special room in the airport to eat free food, special nonsense on the plane (multiple packages of slippers and toothbrushes and free magazines and alcohol) and even a special passport line when we got to Heathrow. I have traveled first class once before in my life (got bumped and upgraded) and it was full of odd people at least one of whom was actively rude towards me the entire trip in that “You don’t belong here” way. Which I totally buy into because hey, I don’t think I belong there either! While I think it was sort of obvious that Kate and I maybe didn’t belong in the Club Class section (who else plays with the seats for 20 minutes?) we did enjoy it a great deal. I try to take nothing for granted. This was a gift.

Now we’re having a slow loris morning figuring out how weird is TOO weird for an AirBnB place (are two towels enough for two women for six days? Is turning the oven on to get the place above 62 degrees reasonable? Is expecting more than one of the four pillows in your bedroom to have a pillowcase asking too much? Is the place otherwise pretty decent?) and seeing which museums are open on Monday. When I was here in August I went to a lot of meetups and walked around a just looked at things. This time around we’re planning to go to fewer meetups, more museums and work on getting our travel mojo back. So far so good.

old and new stuff

jess and jim try snapchat

So if you only read this page by going to the website (as opposed to clicking a link from facebook or something) you might not know that I redesigned the site’s “front door” which is just Jessamyn.com. It had been a while. Some of the stuff there didn’t actually work anymore. What looked vaguely fresh at the time now looked antique. I am not that person who says “It’s only five years old…” about technology stuff and expects that to be some sort of justification for anything. So, this time I borrowed a template from someone instead of hand-coding it myself. It still required some tweaking but not much. Responsive design (a page that looks the same across all phone/tablet/computer devices) is for people who do web design for a job. That is not me. I think it looks good, feel free to check it out.

Also in ancient technology stories, Jim and I learned how to Snapchat. I am leading a small workshop on some technology topics as part of a local Internet Safety program the schools are running. Part of what I am doing is running down some things parents might not know about or understand. Some of these are things I am pretty good with like Instagram and Facebook. But I’d never used Snapchat before. And so Jim (who now has a smartphone as of last month) and I decided to try to figure it out. Over Skype. Because we are old and a little ridiculous. And it was fun. Jim has an older phone so his version of the app and mine were different. I couldn’t use any of my usual logins because they weren’t available.

The deal with Snapchat is that it’s a way to send texts and photos back and forth. The photos allegedly “self destruct” so you can send racier things that won’t wind up on someone’s phone and eventually the internet. Except for the hacking, of course. I took this (completely tame) screenshot just to highlight that point. The little 5 indicates that the photo will self-destruct in five seconds. Except I screenshotted it before that. I’m glad I’m only learning this for fun and not because I’m worried some child of mine is sexting with a stranger.

Any other apps worth learning for an Internet Privacy talk with parents of kids age 6-16?

the whole “day off” thing and office hours

corner of Selma and Lawrence

Having an internet job with no real hours means that there’s no such concept as a day off or a snow day, not really.

Today is a holiday, but a lot of my friends are at work and so am I sort of. Students are home from school but the teachers are at in-service days. Now that I don’t have as much of a regular job organizing the hours of my days, it can be a challenge to accomplish things that I don’t really want to do. Jim has this problem in a different direction, he’s juggling sometimes too MANY things and has to triage some of them. Less-fun things go to the bottom of a list that never gets fully cleared.

We’re going to start having office hours. By this I mean that we’re going to set aside 15-20 minutes once or twice a day for doing all that stupid built up paperwork and phone calls and other five minute projects that just need to be set in motion. Part of this is Pomodoro Technique stuff but part of it is just grouping like with like. Make a bunch of phone calls in a row. Put packages and letters together. Answer those three emails. Sometimes when I feel like I’ve been super lethargic I look back on the time I spent procrastinating about a certain email or other tiny project and realize that I’d been “working on” that email for a month. Unacceptable! So office hours are for this sort of thing. Filing. Putting things back in the toolchest. Etc.

And while I’m home today, I do my librarian thing and put listening/reading lists together. I grew up in a not-very-diverse location and moved to an even-less-diverse one. My mom spent a lot of time when we were kids making sure we were exposed to different kinds of people and ideas and cultures since the town itself wouldn’t really do this. I’ve tried to bring this into my adult life. It was interesting to see Selma become a big hit movie because I went there in 2006 when Greg and I were on a civil rights vacation in Alabama (a great idea and I suggest it for everyone). It’s a place with a lot of history but in 2006 there was very little going on except for annual civil rights remembrance events. I hope that changes. This picture (identical to the one I took above eight years ago) indicates that it isn’t changing quickly.

Today’s reading/listening list.

1. My annual MLK listen, a remake of the I Have a Dream speech with beats added by my friend James.
2. A playlist I made of many different people from all over the world covering Bob Marley’s Redemption Song
3. A report I found on Open Library: Racial harassment in Vermont public schools by the Vermont Advisory Committee to the United States Commission on Civil Rights. This report outlines the racial harassment endured by students of color in Vermont in 1999. Not 1899, fifteen years ago.

We can have trouble, in places where “tradition” is one of the commonly held values, appreciating and properly prioritizing diversity of all kinds. This needs constant repeating, but today is a special day to remember that making that happen is a personal responsibility of all of us, every day.

My internet resolutions, an article

When I started writing for The Message (on the website Medium, I know!) one of the things I was asked to help do was help the group cohere, encourage participation, help put some there there. I can’t even really explain to people “Hey I get paid for writing things that are sort of personal essays on a blog-like site that isn’t mine” because it sounds nutty and not-totally-real. But it’s real to have a job and the people I work with are real (and wonderful) and it’s been a month and a half and I like it. So this article was an attempt, mostly successful, at getting some group participation around an idea that is a good conversation starter. There aren’t built-in tools on Medium for multiple people to take credit for a story. All the views and stats and whatnot are linked to a person. It’s coldly efficient. But everyone helped, both with contributing their own Internet Resolutions and helping me refine the parts of this I wrote myself. I even got Jim to pitch in and use the give-me-comments feature.

I’m not saying everyone should use it, I’m just saying it’s nice to interact with a new interface that isn’t terrible. I got so spoiled at MetaFilter where everything was custom made just the way we wanted things. I didn’t really think it was possible to have something I liked out of the box. Medium is, so far, that thing.

Our Internet Resolutions

where to find me, socially

guestroom

I don’t have a good touchstone single-point place where I mention all the other places I might be, so here’s the place for now. I have a resolution to try to mesh more of my online presences. Not like single-stream or anything but at least not have Instagram-jessamyn seem any different than Twitter-jessamyn. Its all me after all.

In short: if you want to get ahold of me there are a lot of good relatively synchronous methods. You can also come visit, the guest bed is nice. If you just want to maybe know what I am up to or share some sort of media stuff, there are a few places where you can get my attention, or tell me I should get yours. Some of these are the usual places. Some are new.

Personal spaces that I more or less own: this blog (crossposted to facebook), librarian.net blog (crossposted to twitter), jessamyn.info for people who might want to hire me, the books I read, the movies I’ve seen.

Social spaces: facebook, twitter, tilde club sandbox (I built a store!), flickr for chunks of pictures, MLKSHK for goofy pictures (crossposted to Tumblr), Instagram for a photo a day (crossposted to facebook), Tumblr for my JP blog, This.cm for one link a day.

I do writing on Medium but that’s more “read me” than “interact with me” though I love getting people’s comments and I guess you can follow me there. I never did much with Ello. I never interacted much on YouTube, though I’ve put a few videos there. I use Slack for a few work-oriented things and I like it. I’m on a lot of random mailing lists.

my year in cities and towns, 2014

Here are photos of the places I slept in 2014. I know I didn’t keep photo-track of the guestrooms I stayed in during 2013, but I didn’t know it had been so long since I’d made a blog post about them. A few years? I’ve been traveling less (and enjoying it more) so a lot of last year was just me going to Westport or my sister’s place. A few notable trips: first visit to London and an epic journey to Mackinac Island.

Here’s the list, it’s short. I decided to stop talking about traveling less and just … travel less. Sixteen places, six different states, two non-US countries. Stars indicate multiple visits to the exact same place. Past years: 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008 2007, 2006, 2005.

Westport MA* – visting/summering
Sun City West AZ – to see Jim’s folks
Manhattan, NY – library talk
Brooklyn NY – returning from library talk & visiting
Stow MA* – visting
Amherst MA – memorial service
Kewadin MI – Michael’s house
St Ignace MI – en route to talk
Mackinac Island MI – library talk
Montreal QC – heading home from library talk
Duluth MN – library talk
Ashfield MA – library talk
London UK – Wikimania
Brandon VT – wedding
Vicksburg MS – library talk
Sturbridge MA – library talk