nasig part six

After the RSS tactics session, I took a break from conference stuff. My laptop and I went down to a Dunn Bros coffee shop where I sat out at a sidewalk table, sipped my Americano, and caught up on email using their free wi-fi. This also gave me time to decompress and get ready for the evening’s performance at Windows on Minnesota during the 20th Anniversary Party/Dinner. You can view the results of that here. I’m in the second skit.

nasig part one

Last year’s planes, trains, and automobiles route to the NASIG conference was a fun experience, but the schedule was such that I arrived right before the beginning and left immediately after the closing session. This meant that I missed the social networking aspect of the conference at the beginning and that I didn’t have time to do a bit of sight-seeing and decompress at the end. This year I decided to arrive a bit early and stay a bit longer, and I’m glad I did.

I landed in Minneapolis on Tuesday evening, and my college friends Becky & Michelle picked me up. We stayed up late catching up on the years gone by, and then I caught some sleep on their rather comfortable couch. The next morning, Michelle and I went out and found a few geocaches hidden in the neighborhood. One more notch on my GPSr for a new geocaching convert. We went to a Panera for lunch, and I was able to make use of the free Wi-Fi to log our finds.

Afterwards, Michelle introduced me to one of her hobbies — Half Price Books. I found a nifty Wonder Woman doll and colorful book on the history of Wonder Woman, as well as several sci-fi novels that I have had on my wish list. I would have shopped for more, but I couldn’t remember the titles and authors of everything I’m looking for. It’s probably good that I didn’t, since my suitcase was busting at the seams by the time I left Minneapolis.

Later in the evening, we met up with other college friends now living in Minneapolis at Psycho Suzie’s Motor Lounge for a dinner filled with good food (beer battered cheese curds

wi-fi on the radio

Wi-Fi gets radio coverage this weekend.

On Saturday, I heard a Weekend America program that discussed the NEA report on the decline of reading. In reality, we do not know if there is a decline in reading as a whole, since the NEA study focuses on reading of literature, and with strict definition of literature no less. From what they discussed on the program, very little of my reading would count in the NEA study. Most of the classic literature I have read was while I was in school, and reading done as a part of formal education does not count in the study. (I have little interest in the genre, unless my course grade is at stake.) The program sent a reporter out to interview readers in a city bookstore and used some of those interviews to illustrate the failings of the NEA study. The reporter also spoke with the founder of an internet media company that runs several prominent blogs. This blogger reads 250 blogs a day, which floored the interviewer and host. The interviewer explained the concept of RSS and how it allows the blogger to manage the information flow.

The blogger said that by reading the writings of other bloggers, he is able to keep up with information on topics about which he is not an expert. That’s how I feel about reading the tech savvy librarian blogs. I would like to know more about coding and the nuts and bolts of library oriented software, but I don’t have time or the proper resources to learn. One of the nice things about my current place of work is that we have that kind of expertise in the systems department. However, most of those guys aren’t librarians. By keeping up with what my tech savvy colleagues are doing and writing about, I can pass on ideas to our systems folks who have the skill to implement them. Knowing that something is possible is half-way to making it happen.

Today, I heard a story on Sound Money about Philadelphia’s plan to set up a Wi-Fi network to cover the entire city. The reporter commented at the end that Wi-Fi is something that you don’t know you need until you have it, and then you can’t go without it. This rings true for me. I’ve enjoyed being able to go to my favorite local coffee place, sit with a cup of cafe au lait and do whatever it is I do online (like post this entry). My only frustration is that I can’t get to a Wi-Fi network everywhere I’d want to. I’d be willing to pay $30-50 a month to have secure wireless access everywhere in town (home and wherever else), provided there was as strong signal and the network didn’t get overloaded with the volume of use.

Just think of how a city-wide Wi-Fi network could help libraries and branches provide more internet access without having to maintain the equipment! The library could provide free access by paying the access fees, or at a discounted rate, for anyone accessing from that location. If the city-wide Wi-Fi network funneled users through a portal site when they log on, then the library could have a bit of retail space on the page for an Ask-a-Librarian service. I’m sure there are other ways that a city-wide Wi-Fi network could be used by the library to its advantage, but that’s all I can come up with for now. Anyone else?

KY to WA – day three

I got a good night’s sleep and was feeling more my usual self the next morning.

I got a good night’s sleep and was feeling more my usual self the next morning. We slept in later than we aught to have for our nine hour drive to Twin Falls, but it was worth it. The coffee at the cafe was good, although I was disappointed that their wi-fi connection was having trouble. Earlier this week I commented on enjoying my mini Internet vacation. While I am still enjoying this state of transition and disconnection with the real world, I also know that there were at least 20 messages in my inbox when I checked it late on the evening of Day One. One can only imagine how many there must be now.

After breakfast, we located a geocache near the interstate and pulled out a travel bug to take with us. This bug is trying to visit as many Starbucks as possible. I think we can help with that.

We hadn’t been on the road very long before the coffee kicked in for Dad, so we stopped at the next rest stop. It turned out to contain a memorial for the Lincoln highway, and while Dad used the facilities, I took some pictures. Then we got back on the road and continued west. Shortly before one in the afternoon (local time), we crossed over the Great Divide at 7,000 feet. It wasn’t particularly breath-taking, just a sign along the road.

About an hour after that, we stopped at a rest stop and located the third and final rest stop cache on our trip. I think there were others, but I must have forgotten to download them or lost them somehow.

Dad & I marveled over the changes in the landscape as we drove across southern Wyoming, the northwest corner of Utah, and into Idaho. It seemed that with every mile, the terrain changed dramatically. We went from flat, rolling plains that suddenly opened up to reveal a vast valley with mountains in the distance as we descended. We skirted around mountains and hills that rose up into the sky out of empty plains. The vegetation changed from scattered grasses and brushes to thick grasslands and copses of trees. At one point in Utah we saw a pull-over for a scenic view and seized the opportunity to take pictures of the beauty around us. The official scenic view is a rock formation called the Devil’s Slide for obvious reasons.

As the sun sank into the horizon, blinding us and masking the landscape around us, we pulled into Twin Falls. The main drag into town was a haven of consumerism we had not seen in many thousands of miles of driving. It reminded me of Hamburg Pavilion in Lexington. We drove by all the restaurants and stores, dazzled by the unexpectedness of it all. At first we thought we’d try out one of the restaurant food options, but after we checked into the motel and unloaded the car, we settled on a pizza and bad TV.

KY to WA – day one

I’m uploading the following entries several days after having written them, and they will be “published” on the dates they were written. Hope no one minds. It took me a couple of days to find a wi-fi hotspot in town and to get the pictures ready.

I’m uploading the following entries several days after having written them, and they will be “published” on the dates they were written. Hope no one minds. It took me a couple of days to find a wi-fi hotspot in town and to get the pictures ready.

We started off about a half and hour later than planned, which was indicative of our timing for the rest of the day. Shortly after we got on the interstate, Dad realized he’d forgotten his cell phone in Mom’s car, and she realized the same thing and called me to let me know. We pulled off at the next exit and she met us there. After another goodbye, we were on our way west.

Earlier, Alex had his first experience with being given a pill since he was too young to remember, and by then he was pretty well drugged out, although still conscious enough to complain when we had some sudden braking around high traffic metro areas. The poor thing was also so distraught that he had peed in his carrier. Thankfully, I had an old towel in there which absorbed it, and the smell was restricted to his corner of the back seat. I tried coaxing him out a couple of times when we’d stop, but he wasn’t having anything to do with budging from where he was.

Around noon (local time), we stopped for lunch in St. Louis at an Indian restaurant with a NASIG friend of mine who works at a library nearby. The food was yummy and it was a nice oasis in the middle of a long stretch of driving. On the way in and out of the city, Dad and I reminisced about our many family vacation trips to St. Louis. It’s been twelve years since the last one, I think. I wondered what it would be like to explore the city as an adult without my parents.

We had taken much longer for lunch than we planned, and it was nearly two in the afternoon (local) before we got on the road again. Many pit stops later, we arrived weary and road-worn in Newton, Kansas, around nine-thirty in the evening. Old family friends live there, and it was our only night of the trip not spent at a Motel 6. We stayed up for another hour or so catching up with each other, by which point I was about to collapse with exhaustion.

Alex had recovered from the car trip, and after exploring the house and making use of the litter box, he relaxed into his adorable self and made friends with everyone. I was surprised by how little he ate and drank, considering he hadn’t had anything all day, but it’s probably a good thing. He can survive for several days with a small diet, and not having food in his stomach will help with the motion sickness.

I took him upstairs with me so he’d know where I was sleeping and went to bed. I slept quite soundly and got up sometime in the middle of the night in a haze and stumbled to the bathroom. There is a down side to drinking over a gallon of water in one day.