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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

medium, and power

candles in a dark room

I had a dream that it was before Thanksgiving again and there was some issue and I was displeased. Something about the drive back from Massachusetts always makes my next night of sleep go weird. Woke up happy that Thanksgiving had already happened, and actually had gone really well. Jim and I mostly hunkered down in Westport and ate food and watched movies and played video pinball and went for long walks. I also managed to pull some mystery muscle in my back so I’ve been laying low since then with Advil and a hot water bottle and a lot of stretching. I am mostly fine but I’ve been happy I don’t have a lot to do these days besides showing up places. Places I am showing up this week include

– a meeting today to see if I can take over the local music hall’s emailing function
– picking up the rest of the ground lamb from my CSA
– ukulele class
– speaking of the CSA, doing something with all this squash I’ve gotten from them
– making cookies for a cookie swap
– two scan-a-thons at local libraries, helping people get their pictures scanned and online or into email, on a thumb drive, whatever
– regular old drop-in time
– maybe a trip or two to the gym?

I’ve also got some writing to do, besides this. For the first time I can remember I’m making the bulk of my job income doing writing: my Computers in Libraries column and a bi-monthly thing for Medium. Medium is sort of odd because it’s both a platform, a place where people can put their essays for free, and a place that some people (like me) get paid to write. I wrote one essay there about Buy Nothing Day. You might like it. There’s a bit of stats-viewing involved in writing there. You’re encouraged to “amplify signal” on your posts and other people’s posts. I write for a section called The Message which has a lot of good writing in it so this is not difficult. Great stuff there. One of the curious things about my article was that it got a lot of traffic from being linked from Digg. Digg is sometimes seen as the Reddit also-ran but it apparently it still around and doing well. It’s always interesting to check in on internet culture. Anyhow, this is the long way of saying that I am a writer for a job now, as some people define job.

Update: I started writing this on Monday but now it’s Wednesday morning and we had one of those snowstorms yesterday that went all day including an exciting power outage at 9 pm that allowed me to realize just how many of my battery-powered devices have ancient batteries in them. I lit some candles, pictured, and read a lot and texted with some people on my phone and went to bed early in a cold house. My drop-in time and uke practice were cancelled. I spent a lot of time worrying about whether the pounds of frozen lamb I had would last night night (they did) and woke up to a hot house because I’d left the thermostat up (To 65°! So decadent.) and wore two pairs of pajamas to bed. Today we’re all back to normal and I didn’t even have an excuse to eat all the lamb.

novelty

ready to be transplanted

There’s often a fine line between the positive value of trying something you’ve never done before versus being a persistent novelty-seeker who is never satisfied with just doing the same stuff. Which is my way of saying I tried doing karaoke in a bar full of strangers and did not die. This is an expression Jim and I have. We’re both sort of self-directed folks who dislike doing things that we don’t want to do. I mean who doesn’t, at some level? But this is challenging when you start avoiding things that you should do (going to the gym, paying bills, sweeping, to name a few of mine) just because you don’t feel like it. So we have little “Rah rah!” sessions where we try to encourage each other to do things that are good for us and will not kill us. Presto! So when my friend Kevin invited me to the Halloween-in-November party at the bar I’d never been to in Bethel, I went. And then it turned out we didn’t know anyone else there. And while I was in my full-on bee costume (and got a ton of good suggestions for songs to sing) he had put on devil’s horns and called it a day.

This would have caused more-agitated Past-Me to lose it. Present-Me saw it as a good opportunity to try singing karaoke where no one would see me (except Kevin, who belted out a lot of classics in very good form). It was fun. I’ll try it again. I’m trying to remember why I never did karaoke every before. I’m sure I had a good reason.

Other highlights of the week included getting elected to another Justice of the Peace term, getting paid by everyone I’d invoiced (Massachusetts Library Commission, you are impressive in your promptness!) and taking a half day off to refill some of my poozly-looking mossariums. Jim was up last weekend and we hit ten more towns for my “photograph all the 251 Vermont towns” project. I’ve got 75 towns to go. This upcoming weekend includes maybe a Jonathan Richman concert, a possible sock sale and Cabaret at the Chandler Film Society on Sunday night. Before then I have a few articles to write and maybe some sweeping to do.

the rest of the year

So now that the Virgo Month of Leisure is over, I’m back into it. Back into it can mean a lot of things but to me it mostly means working and some traveling. It also means a little shopping, which is weird.

The work news is the same and a little different. I’ve continued my writing for Computers in Libraries magazine and I’ve picked up another writing job with Mozilla’s Open Standard project. You can read my first article here: After Some Victories, the Time Has Come to Legally Define ‘Fair Use’. I’m pretty happy with it. And I also like having paying work doing something I like. My other job has started teaching a class to the teachers at RTCC (the local school where I do drop-in time and adult tech classes) learning how to use their new Gmail and Google Docs environment. This is via Castleton College, but takes place in Randolph. The teachers will get a credit for successfully completing this which means I am now a college teacher! Sort of! So between teaching and writing and public speaking and working at Open Library, it’s sort of like a whole job. Which doesn’t mean I’m not open to interesting opportunities but it does mean I’m not worried about where my income is coming from.

Other highlights of the last few weeks

  • Went to Mississippi to give a talk in Vicksburg at the MLA conference. Talk is here, some photos are here.
  • Hosted some friends down in MA and had a great time doing that lazy sit on the porch and talk thing that I like so much (also went to the beach,look at these cute birds and their little legs!)
  • Got a new mattress and a new fridge which is the first time I can remember getting either of those things. The fridge is a marvel of quiet chillness. The mattress feels like a sack of wet cement but in a GOOD way which may only make sense if you know me.
  • I’m the ladyops person at tilde. If that doesn’t mean anything to you, that’s just fine. You can read this link for more.
  • Going to ComicCon on Sunday. In Vermont, yes. The Vermont Library Association is sponsoring David Newall AKA Mr. McFeely from Mister Roger’s Neighborhood, so we’ll have a table! Say hi if you are there.
  • Giving a talk in Sturbridge MA on Wednesday at the Massachusetts Library System’s Small Libraries Conference.
  • Bee-costumed candy handing out on Halloween

And that’s it for talks and marriages in 2014. I’m running for Justice of the Peace again. I’m also staffing the polls on election day. I was also on the front page of the newspaper talking about the Wikimania conference which should help with name recognition since my name is low on the list of candidates. I have a pile of magnets and a pile of things formerly on my old fridge and a pile of mail and a pile of pieces of cardboard (from my library-card-that-turns-into-a-refdesk costume) and I’m waiting for the days and my todo list to get shorter. What have you been up to?