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Summer wrapup

math triangle thing

So I got back from Westport last weekend just in time to go the Scully’s for their annual BBQ that can not be beat. And then BAM I was home with class starting in two days. I was a little surprised that school started so soon, so I was only sort of prepared. I missed the orientation because I was at a baseball game so I was a little out of my element. Turns out I have an ID and a key and even a fractional office in the same building as this cool art math triangle thing. I teach one class which is called Web Development but is really more like HTML and CSS. My students are over half CS majors but a few equine studies majors. The class is set up to have two hours of lectures (?) and two hours of labs. I have 34 students. It’s been challenging for all the normal reasons and some digital divide reasons. Here are some photos of the VTC environment that I work in.

The last ten days have been a little busy. I spoke to the White House. I was briefly on Science Friday as a caller. I recorded a podcast talking about the White House talk. I opened a lot of mail. I taught for almost six hours.

I also just got 800+ images off of my phone (I save them all until I get home, my archiving system is ridiculous so I will not share it with you) so I can do a little “What I did this summer as determined by my photostream because my memory is shot” bit here.

  • Did my only kayaking in Ferrisburg (VT) with Kristen and visited the clan up there before I left Vermont after the 4th.
  • Enjoyed getting occasionally buzzed by a local immature red tailed hawk (I think) when I got to Westport. It eventually grew up and wandered off.
  • Fixed the labelmaker, got rid of the old lawn tractor, failed to get rid of three giant television sets, fixed the wifi situation and the sink faucet.
  • Had a great Thai meal in Providence with a bunch of MeFi folks.
  • Walked on the beach, swam in the ocean.
  • Did outdoors/wilderness training for women in MA with Kate and Deb and Andrea. Shot a bow. Enjoyed it!
  • Several trips to the Claire T. Carney Library at UMass Dartmouth including getting a tour which included the basement!
  • Fixed up the mailbox with stickers with our name and some mermaid reflectors. It’s nice.
  • Explored new restaurants with Jim and with Kate. Had a chow mein sandwich. Worth trying, probably will not have another one.
  • Went to an all new (to me) movie theater with Matt and Jen and saw the regrettable but fun with nerd friends Jurassic World.
  • Saw Ed at the Cranston Library and all the great things they are doing.
  • Tried to go kayaking in Cambridge but wound up going to Castle Island instead since it was windy. Free parking! In Boston! Amazing!
  • Hosted Tim and Pam and Deb and John and Susan and Kevin and Karen and the Childnado Crew (Dave, Lizzie, Alex, Eli, Tex, Beth, Jillian, Spencer, Dan, Kathy, Max, Henry and Sophie and later arrivals Dawn and Elliot). Special visit by Colin, Gina, _____ and Brixton
  • Watched the Red Sox powerfully lose to the Cleveland Indians.
  • Had dinner at One Main with Virgil and Nicole and was thrilled to find they have real beer flights now.
  • Met Ronni’s new dog, Cory Bean who is a Dandie Dinton.

I’m heading back down to Westport next weekend because hey it’s my birthday. I decided that instead of doing a Labor Day blowout as in previous years I was just going to hunker down with Kate and Jim and do what my dad used to call The Nothing. I vaguely remember liking it.

outdoors

image of me and a bullseye that I shot with an arrow

So thanks to my friend Andrea, me and Kate and my other friend Deb all went to a Women in the Outdoors program this weekend. It was a one-day event put on by a local (Auburn MA) fish and game club. You show up early in the morning and take wilderness/outdoorsy classes all day long. I learned to shoot a bow and arrow in a friendly supportive environment and even (once) got a bullseye! Kate took this photo. Jim supplied the color commentary. We did some other fun stuff like learned to identify turkey signs in the woods and build a makeshift shelter if you’re trapped outdoors. Some of the best parts of the day were the parts that weren’t even part of the actual classes we took: seeing a bunch of HUGE snakes swimming in the water and talking to trappers about “nuisance beaver work.” It was also sort of fun watching the falconer try to get her kestrel out of the tree, but it may not have been much fun for the falconer.

So my continued efforts to Do Summer Right and stay offline a bit more and socialize a lot more have been going well. The accessory parts of the house–garage, garden shed, basement areas–have been organized. I feel much better doing this sort of thing when I feel it’s me and my hobby and not me and my unpleasant tasks. We’ve been slowly de-accessioning some of the things in the house that are old, non-functional or just not for us. Anyone need a 15 year old 99 pound television set? I didn’t think so, no one does.

Some of this is also distracting myself from the fact that I’ll be teaching my first ever college class in August: HTML and CSS to about 30+ VTC students. The class is taught in a lecture/lab format which some people think is the way to do it and some people (including myself) think is nuts. But I’m up for trying it and I’ve been trying to maintain enthusiasm and excitement for this which is good for keeping anxiety and impostor syndrome at bay.

My other summer hobby appears to be lobbying to get the right person elected to the Library of Congress. I made a website called Librarian of Progress and recently wrote an article fleshing out some of those ideas. Ultimately this is probably the most important librarian job opening that will happen in my lifetime so I sure hope the people who are selecting the new Librarian of Congress make sensible choices and aren’t just swayed by big companies who are lobbying out of greed and not concern for the cultural history of the country. The thing about the big political machines isn’t really the voting so much–I also have an article I’m writing about my compromise position on anarchism lately–it’s the machinations that never get voted on.

this is me

BEST COSTUME

The shift from Vermont to Massachusetts is always sort of weird. I feel like I get amnesia for a week or two and I forget what size I am and bump into everything. Then I spend a few weeks cleaning everything up (last year it was pruning junipers and this year it’s been cleaning the garage and basement) and then I settle in to summertime. I’d been back in MA for a few weeks and came up here to Randolph for the 4th. A great but incredibly busy time and (knock wood) everything worked. I saw friends, met a new baby, ate hot dogs, hosted people, was hosted, made some new professional contacts, petted a bunch of pets, watched the parade, got some good sleep, went walking with Jim, bought a library table, opened mail and marveled at how GREEN everything is up here. I even got out on a kayak on Lake Champlain (thanks Kristen!) which I’d never done before.

So today is reversing the flow, getting into the car and puttering back down to Westport where my calendar is empty of social stuff but full of work for the next five days. I like work. But I like it even more when it follows a lot of play.

Photos of some of the clean up efforts.
Photos of the Fourth of July parade.

[note, despite title, that photo is actually not me but I sort of wish it was]

whirlwind

the Greek dance II

Last week! A good busy time.

– Library conference – I don’t often go to the local conference for various reasons but this time I was promoting the Library Passport Project I’ve been working on with a few people (pictures here) and I wanted to see Scott Bonner, the librarian from Ferguson MO, talk about what they’d been through. He gave a great talk. I also gave a short talk about Open Library and the work I do for them. The conference was super fun and super tiring.
– Wedding 1 – a quick wedding for some nice folks who had just moved to town (text and photo on my Vermont JP blog)
– Wedding 2 – friends of mine from MetaFilter were getting married in Vermont even though they lived in St Louis. I wrote the ceremony and then got to attend the rest of the wedding festivities.
– Jim – was up for the weekend as my wedding date (look at him in a suit!) and we took care of neighbor cats and went for walks and got creemees and saw friends and enjoyed the knock-out weather. Even got a photo of Buel’s Gore!

I wound down with the Annual Barden BBQ which is the best driveway BBQ party I could imagine and then welcomed back Karen and Kevin from their trip to the Cape and watched some lady cop show (Scott & Bailey, seen it?) and snuggled some neighbor cats who know me as Auntie Jessamyn. These are the sorts of longish weekends I can only vaguely remember when I’m stuck sniffling in the depths of short chilly winter days. I’m glad they’re back.

where I’ve been

moss

It took a really long time before I felt like myself again after The Sinus Troubles. And then I was out running around hollering “THE KID IS BACK” and not so much writing things down. But now whatever the crud was is slowly sneaking back into my ear (maybe?) and so I’m on a slightly less manic-pitch and I figure it’s time to play some catch up.

I went on a vacation! I visited friends in North Carolina because 1) they’re awesome and 2) I had some airline refund-ticket-money I had to use or lose. So I got to go someplace where it was warm enough to walk in the grass in bare feet. The best. Some photos from that trip (including Kelly/Rachel’s 40th Birthday Bash and Fakesgiving, our family non-holiday turkey dinner) are here. That trip also included a visit to see Matthew and Michelle in Amherst and a stop by the Connecticut Library Association to give a talk that went well, like really well. Titled How to Bridge the Empowerment Divide by Being More Like Vanilla Ice, it was the first talk I’d given this year.

Taking time off was useful for me, now stopping taking time off is where I am headed. I’m giving a talk at the Vermont Library Conference (a pecha kucha if you know what that is) on Tuesday and today I am getting together with some librarians to assemble 1000 Vermont Library Passports which is an extension of my 183 project to include … all Vermonters. It’s going to be great.

I’ve also been JP-ing. I sat in on a deposition this week and got to administer an oath to some witnesses. And next week I have 1.5 weddings to perform (one is a big ceremony with family/friends and one is just a local “OK you are married” occasion). In a month or so I head down to MA for the summer with a few trips up and back. In the fall I am teaching an HTML and CSS class at VTC which is going to be interesting. It’s a lecture class with additional labs scheduled where students can actually work on computers. I’m interested to see how that goes.

As someone who has been maintaining a blog that has required some level of CSS/HTML knowledge for the past 18 years, I think this sort of thing is important but it’s been interesting talking to people who have asked “Who needs to know that?” about this sort of skillset. And I’ve been so buried in dealing with offline populations and getting them basic email and link-clicking skills, I may be out of touch with what “mainstream” tech skills look like.

So cross your fingers for me that the crud is not coming back (and, as always, I really do not want health advice) and I hope your springtime is the way you want it.

up and down and up

pills on my shelf

So it’s been a set of months. I did go to London which was great, but I’ve spent most of the rest of the time dealing with variants on a “My sinuses hate me and the feeling is mutual” theme. I’m not even better but I’m at the point where I’m not taking Advil every night to sleep which means I’m well enough to sit up and type and not just want to recite the litany of remedies which I have been trying (and I DO NOT want your advice on what else to try, thank you for caring but I have had it). So hey, I had a weekend which was notable because it was fun and not just because it was pain-free or because something really fascinating came out of my nose.

Jim came up after I’d gotten through watching Gone With the Wind for the very first time with my friend Wendy. It’s hard to explain how you can dislike a movie viewing experience so much (all those characters were awful) but also be glad you went. It was about time I saw it. I enjoyed reading about Hattie McDaniel very much. Then Jim met us and Forrest and Kelly for food and beer at the restaurant across the street and it was great to see people and hang out and be hungry. Jim and I retired home to watch a good episode of Saturday Night Live (we have a standing date to watch it together, if not in person then at least at the same time with a chat window going). Got some good sleep and woke up the next day to have a late lazy breakfast and then went to Silloway Farm with Kevin and Karen to have maple snacks (sap boiled hot dogs, maple kettle corn, cider donuts with syrup for dipping, sugar on snow with a pickle on the side) and sit around in a room full of maple steam, saying hi to neighbors and friends.

Afterwards, I dragged Jim to my “Bethel University” graduation. I taught a class for a little pop-up school thing that Bethel is doing and had ten people learning iPads for a few hours at the town library. The graduation was a chance for teachers and students to get together in the Bethel Town Hall and have a potluck meal and share some of what we learned and taught. I met some people who took line dancing, one of whom is a longtime driver for the Dartmouth Coach who I sort of recognized. Jim headed home and I hunkered down and got some reading done and prepared to start my week. It was so nice, so normal, so devoid of tissues and sneezes and random pains.

I also wrote two things that you might like to read in this past week. The first was a nerdy copyright article about Flickr and why they didn’t have a public domain setting and why that meant SpaceX’s photos (which they wanted to be in the public domain) were not actually available. And then a funny thing happened… Flickr changed their policy. Now I don’t think this was a coincidence, but it also wasn’t one of those “I did this!” things. It was just a cool thing that happened as a result of the work me and others have been doing for a long time. I wrote a nice little follow-up article sort of summarizing and giving credit where it’s due. They’re both worth reading. No foolin.

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
  • Overground – 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 only museum we paid for, but totally worth it for being weird and quirky (and photos allowed!)
  • Southwark Park – WE SAW A WILD FOX AND IT WASN’T SICK OR ANYTHING
  • Victoria and Albert Museum (& 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 Air Line (Gondola) – a much better deal than the London Eye and with a view that was pretty excellent
  • Picadilly Circus – 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.