31jul05: august round the corner
A couple that I teach basic computer skills just got their very own computer, a Dell laptop. Laptops are sort of amazing for seniors because they can bring them to you
and you can help them. So, my students with laptops get better tech support than the ones with desktop machines. My other students brought me some organic blueberries and we all sat around in the basement of the library and marvelled at the way the world has changed. My first laptop cost around $2500. I still have it. We call it the brick. This one cost $450 or so, and comes with half a year of free AOL and a bunch of other neat things. I'm not shilling, but it's interesting to see computers become more like appliances and less like esoteric toys for hobbyists, nerds and rich people. My Dad called me yesterday and said he was on Skype. Crazy.
This weekend was family weekend. My Mom and Greg and our neighbor Chris and I went to the VINS Raptor Center
and looked at birds
and went through Woodstock
and even stopped and ate which I something I've never done there. I did a side trip up a mountain to Braintree
where I snapped a picture that I put up on Wikipedia and found this nifty sculpure
on the lawn there. Trying to learn more about that led me to the Save Outdoor Sculpture Vermont
records as well as the larger program page
and the Inventory of American Painting and Sculture
. Good stuff.
Two other interesting notes this week. I was a contender in the Flickr Do Your Worst
unofficial face-making contest [my entry
]. I learned that for some reason Greg cannot really make an ugly face, though I have been trying to teach him. Lessons are fun. Second, I was e-interviewed by my wonderful friend Rebecca
for a blogger interview series she has been working on. She interviewed Matt Haughey last month
, and me this month. She has a way of asking questions that wind up making you feel smarter when you're done answering them. I tend not to use this space to talk about the medium -- in that "the map is not the territory" way -- so head over there
if you want to hear me use the word blog more than once in a month.
25jul05: summertime, continued
Matt describes the sort of radio silence
that falls over the North American online community when the weather starts to get unreasonably nice out and I have to agree. You haven't been hearing from me because I'm busy, not because I'm not busy. Work is going well. Home life is going well. I've been exercising which has a side effect of making me really sleepy at night and disinclined to noodle around online. In fact, yesterday Greg and I even went hiking, something we've been planning to do forever but have never gotten our asses in gear to actually do. We're still ironing the bugs out of the Jess and Greg Go Hiking routine -- which is a polite way of saying the day was pretty stressful but the results were great -- and I've made a little how-to page for people trying to do the same hike we did. Take a look at the pictures
or read How do you get to Kent's Ledge
16jul05: summertime, thus far
Try to swim at pool. Kid puked in pool. Pool is closed. Swam in river. Grilled dinner. Finished book. Went to drive-in. Boombox on car hood. Wool blanket. Big field. Mr & Mrs. Smith. Star Wars III. Chilly & dewy. Woke up. Flea market. Cheap bookshelf. Laptop lapdesk. Took pictures at pool & en route. Swam in pool. Fixed grill. Fixed inner tubes. Dented can store. Four kinds of cereal & three kinds of iced tea. Grilled dinner. Out for ice cream (peppermint). Read books. Sleep. One more whole weekend day left.
11jul05: beware of all enterprises requiring new clothes... or monthly payments
A few weeks ago Greg and I went down to Hoboken to visit with family. When people find out I work with computers, it's like I told them I was a doctor. Everyone's got a little technological pain that could use some attention. Fortunately, I am not a doctor and can spend some free time helping out. Such was the case with Arthur and Anna Mae's work computers. We spent a nice afternoon straightening out the network, listened to some great bluegrass music, and had a really nice time catching up. A package arrived last week with a little thank you gift, one of those XM radio receivers [named the Roady2, lord help us. All I can think as I look at the thing is "the old grey goose is dead..."] and a paid up subscription.
This is my long way of explaining why Ms. I Don't Have a Cell Phone is talking about satellite radio. When I drive around here I listen to one of two non-Clear Channel stations or the technical college
station if I can get it. I have an iPod in a drawer somewhere and I just never fell in love with it, but I'll take it out on long car trips and listen to books on CD that I've ripped down from the library, terrible librarian that I am. I sort of feel that once I've uncovered the mysteries of a thing, learned how to do a few hacks to it, the allure wears off. Greg, on the other hand, is more excited about new gadgetry.
So, you can see the problem here: two cars, one new fancy car radio. We had pretty much agreed that Greg could use it unless we were taking a long trip in my car and we'd move the thing. So, first step in the "install process" I'd heard about was making sure we could move it from car to car. Since each of our cars had been made iPod-ready this was a piece of cake. We sat in the driveway and listened to it for a while, since we didn't really have any place to go and the instruction manual clearly says on each page
not to mess with the damned thing while you're driving. That said, they either must assume that you have a willing co-pilot, or this is like the cell phone
thing: everyone cheats, since the UI and the buttons aren't real simple to use if you're not squinting right at the thing.
However, what I really wanted to talk about was the XM Roady Home Kit
. Apparently this was free via rebate earlier on, now it costs $40-50. Since the radio in the car is powered via the cigarette lighter, I guess they assume that people will pay money to not have to do the complicated electronics math required to figure out how to plug it into a wall. There's also a stand for it [the thing already comes with enough plastic crap add-ons to last a lifetime] and a remote in this kit. Greg and I were more enterprising. We tore apart the house looking for power transformers until we found one that promised to deliver 6V. Of course, the little plug on the end didn't fit, so we did have to make a minor purchase of a set of plug ends. If I had a nickel for every Best Buy employee who ignored me today, I could have gotten these plug ends for free, as it was they were less than $10 and they threw in another transformer for free. Two nails in the wall for mounting. One trip out on the roof to position the antenna [side bonus: trip to the roof!]. One line-in cord to the stereo that is already set up to play music from our laptops and -- presto -- a few hundred channels of commercial free music. All in all it was worth it just to play the 50's channel and have our landlady light up when she recognized Istanbul (Not Constantinople)
. I also enjoyed the look of concern on Greg's face when he realized I knew all the words to Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini
, and telling him that I learned it from a friend whose dad had it on a player piano roll didn't help much. You can see a few dorky photos here
. I promise you now that this will not become the thing that sells me on the idea of low-end content and/or delivery subscriptions. If I'm immune to Netflix, I figure I can weather this.
It's a rare weekend where I get no online time whatsoever until Sunday evening, this has been a rare and lovely weekend. Also, I swam in the pool.
05jul05: the day after independence
This is the first year in quite some time that I haven't done a 4th of July party up in Topsham. I met Greg just days after my second one and have had ALA Conferences the week before the 4th for the past three years [is it unromantic to be reminded of your anniversary in your RSS feed? I don't think so]. As a result, a good time for everyone else to be having a party is a bad time for me to be giving one. Add to this that the house still has no running water and no definite 100% "yes I'll be there" RSVPs and we decided to just go it alone.
Of course, living in this house, you're never truly alone. Ola's son, his girlfriend and their two dogs helped fill up the house. Then she had another few folks over for dinner on Sunday. Then we all drove up Christian Hill to watch the fireworks. Ola has friends who are building a house up there, so we roasted marshmallows, played badminton and sat in lawn chairs and watched the fireworks practically from above. I had a sunburn because I'd been reading outside for too long on Sunday, so our trip to Randolph on the 4th for the parade
was somewhat brief. We came home intent on crawling under the porch and sleeping the hot day off but somehow managed to drag our asses to the river and spent an hour just standing around in the current watching the kayakers float by and wondering why on earth we ever did anything else.
So, I miss my friends, though I feel that I saw a lot of them last week at the conference. I was worried that I might feel bad about not having a party, but I've found over time that tend not to be a person with regrets, not social ones anyhow. If you were thinking of coming and didn't, the offer is still open for later in the Summer. I know a great little beach by the river.
01jul05: the economies of travel
So I managed to get through an entire week in Chicago at ALA for $150. This included some windfalls like a free plane ticket and a free place to stay. It also included some tough decisions like not buying overpriced alcohol and food, taking the bus at all times, eating breakfast before I left the house, and not going to anything with an entry fee. Seriously though, $150, at my age! I'm pretty proud of that. It would have been 15% less but I got held up in Chicago for hours and arrived in Boston well past the time that any and all public transportation stopped running, thanks Boston
Sorry to not mention anything here, but there were mitigating circumstances such as
- ALA always leaves me exhausted
- no wifi at house of hosts, set up of wired connection meant I had to use my laptop on my lap. laptop is hot. totally impractical in 105 degree Chicago
- lack of CMS means that when I have less than 45 minutes, sometimes I just don't bother. type, spellcheck, ftp, re-spellcheck, type rss feed, collapse
I got over most of my feeling weird and had a good time at the conference. You can read about it at librarian.net
or see some pictures -- including some fuzzy ones of the bookcart drill teams -- over on Flickr
. A lot of really useful and important resolutions got passed including one on the Iraq War [against], one on community broadband [for], one on disinformation [against], one on proscription of materials in libraries on GLBT themes [against], and one on library access to non-citizens [for]. I also got to see friends who I wasn't sure I'd be able to see, and had enough clothes and gear to occupy me up until the last hour of my last bus ride from Boston to Vermont at which point I finished the book I was reading and didn't have another one. That was the worst thing that happened this week [other than the weather, which is never worth complaining about] which is not bad, not bad at all.