Showing posts with label work. Show all posts
Showing posts with label work. Show all posts

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Out West for 11 Days

On Sunday the 7th I jumped an aeroplane and headed to Salt Lake City for a conference and meetings at the University of Utah Libraries.


If you've not been to SLC, it's kind of an amazing town. It's new, of course, and Mormons like to make sure things are nice for folks, so the whole place is well laid-out, clean as a whistle, full of friendly people and has things like public trains and buses and bike lanes.  I mean, it's all that Blue Velvet "if there's bad stuff here, you know it's super @#$%ing not-mundane bad"-bad, but aside from low-percentage booze beer, I found few quibbles with the city.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Real Life Information - I'm Outta Here For a Few Days



I may not have a life, but I do have a fulltime job.  I like it.  Good gig.  Sometimes it requires travel.

Months ago and far apart, I scheduled attendance at two different conferences, and - fun - they're on consecutive weeks.  Starting, like, now.

"Great," you're saying to yourself.  "So the @#$% what?"  

Well, first, why are you so angry?  Second: Things will slow down here for a short bit.  Most of you won't notice.  But, I like to keep you posted.  Makes me feel important.

But, that doesn't mean no content.  You will get Halloween PodCasts on Sundays through the end of the month, so keep checking in.  

Coming up:  
  • Ghostbusters
  • Isolation
  • Night of the Demon and The Haunting
and I think I can get The Thing edited for Halloween itself.  We'll see.


Sunday, July 29, 2018

Travelogue: I was in Indiana - Plus, Frankenstein and whatnot in the special collections



The project I'm on at work is a joint partnership between Northwestern and Indiana Universities, and while I've been to Chicago plenty to get to NU (it's my institutional "home"), I'd not been to Bloomington, Indiana where a good chunk of my team lives and Indiana University resides.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Travelogue: Up to Bozeman, Montana and a day in Yellowstone

So, on June 2nd I flew out from Austin to Bozeman, Montana to attend a conference.  I never tack vacation days onto my work trips, but this year I'm doing it twice.  I had never been to Montana, and as this event took place on the campus of Montana State University - and I really had no idea when or if I'd get back this direction - I booked a few extra days to just take it in.

A lot of us stayed at the Lewis & Clark Motel. 

My colleagues feel welcomed, indeed!

A fine place for a bed and some sleep.  They were really pushing the sauna, but... I dunno.  I don't want to see my colleagues in just a towel any more than I suspect that's how they want to see me.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Where In The World Is The Signal Watch?


For the next week, I am in Bozeman, Montana on a work trip.  Big conference.  And if noir has taught me anything, we will all wear matching fezzes and get drunk and provide cover for someone trying to hide out in a hotel

I'm also taking some vacation days while I'm here because I've never been to this part of the world, and I'd like to see a mountain, a moose, a bear and water that is neither gross Texas creek water or gross Texas lake water.

Thus far I've eaten lunch here, had some coffee and walked around to see Downtown Bozeman, which is high-end knick-knackery and touristy eateries.  Which serves my purposes well.

So, no movies for me this week, I'd guess.  I might read a Superman comic or two.  But expect a slowdown in posting, etc...

Yes, Jamie is still in Austin, but The Dug is set to be there by this evening and is hanging with her all week.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Work Trip - We Were in Palo Alto/ Stanford



There's a bit of a travel season in Library-land, and it started this week (for me). 

This week was a 72 hour turn around to Stanford to meet up with colleagues, plot the future, etc...

In my 9 years of working at my last job, where I traveled quite a bit, I never dealt with anything but the barest of inconveniences while flying or driving.  And, the bit of travel I've had so far with this gig, it's been the smoothest of all possible sailing.

Nothing "bad" happened, but Wednesday I was set to fly out at 10:30 AM to be in San Jose pretty early (I think 2:30 Pacific) so I could get my hotel, get some work done, meet up with colleagues to do dinner.  Instead a pretty standard issue awful spring weather system cut through Texas.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Doc Watch: Tower (2016)



About thirty minutes into Tower (2016), I realized that the soundtrack to the film included the ever-present sound of cicadas, a tree-dwelling insect which emits a steady humming that all Central Texans know as the droning background noise of the hottest days of summer.  I'd tuned the sound out the same way we all do, and I began to realize part of why the film felt so immediate - and why the film is so effective.  What the film captures is very real, from glimpses of the University of Texas campus to the sound to the casual chatter about campus life, torn apart on August 1, 1966.

I'd wanted to see this film from when the producers first released footage maybe a year ago.  Then friends saw it as SXSW and had positive things to say, and I was encouraged that the documentary would do the event whatever justice could be done.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

I'm Going to Harvard!


For a two day conference that starts Monday morning.

Just, you know, something that is happening.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Travelogue: Work Trip to Dublin

Your fearless blogger amongst the tomes of Long Hall


So, the reason I went to Ireland was to attend a conference called "Open Repositories 2016", which is sorta/kinda the premier very-specific conference for people who do what I do, professional-like.  Unfortunately, I didn't take any extra days or time to go touristing, so I didn't see much of Dublin and nothing of Ireland beyond a couple kilometers of my hotel.

OR is one of those conferences that has great material in every session across 5 rooms running concurrently, is competitive to present in (we got in!) and that's still only, like, 40% of why you go.  The rest is the out-of-band conversations you have after hours.  This means you're at the conference for formal stuff from 9 - 6, then at conference social events until maybe 8, and then you go out with conference people to get the real work done until, oh, 1:00 AM.  Then do again until you get on a plane and leave.  It's a long 5 days.

I did skip out and go see a sight as it was on the Trinity College campus, but the rest was finding bars and restaurants and holing up for work chatter.  I really like the people I meet up with at conferences, but let's be honest, what we have most in common is what we do between 8 and 6 at our desks.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

I Went To Ireland and Forgot to Tell You People I Was Leaving

Well, I am in Ireland.  No idea what that means for posting this week.

I'll be in Dublin til I fly out Friday.  So.  Yes.  Work stuff.

No, I will not go to this one bar you hit in 1996 while you were here, but thanks for the hot tip.


Photos as events warrant.  This was one I pulled off the internet, but I went over this bridge today, so there you go.

I'm going to collapse now.

Friday, May 6, 2016

I Spend Too Much Time Leaving

Travelling for work is strange.  Especially once you get into a job where you travel regularly.  The romance of travel fades away, and, air travel, in particular, becomes a series of repetitive, boring, sometimes risky events.

"Have you been to Atlanta?" people will now ask me.  "Yes.  Twice," I'll say.  "What did you see?" they'll ask.  "A hotel, a conference room and a hotel bar.  And another bar that served cheeseburgers."  And they always look disappointed.  Because for reasonable reasons people assume it's a grand romantic trip to America's Peach Land! or however people think of Georgia when you're travelling.  But it's not.  It's a series of steps you're taking, all of which you want to go as smoothly as possible.  You don't want a story.  You don't want an adventure.  You want to just do your conference, talk with work pals, get a reasonable amount of sleep, get home without any fuss.

What struck me on this go-round is how much time I spend leaving.

Maybe Shane had the right idea.  Just saddle up and bail.


Friday morning I woke up at 6:00 Central Time to get ready for my day (I never bothered to adjust to East Coast time), as well as pack up, and do that triple-check of the room you kind of have to do so you don't leave your power supply or vital cord behind (or ditty bag with your toothbrush and all that, which I did last summer).  Then I have to check-out (virtually, this time, from my phone).  Then find a bell station to check my bags.  Then go to my conference, then make my good-byes.  Then putter around the hotel looking for a functioning ATM.  Then find a store to buy gum so I can get change and I don't have to tip the bellhop $20 for 2 minutes of work.  Then I get a cab.  Then I fear for my life in the cab.  Then the cabby gets mad because I want to use a credit card instead of paying cash (this was entirely new in Atlanta, and a dick move.  What business traveler doesn't need a receipt?).  Then the kiosk and bag check at the airport.  Then whatever adventure awaits you in security.  Then the train ride you take in the Atlanta airport.  Then finding your gate.  Then sitting.  Then boarding.  Then sitting.  Then flying.  Then sitting.  Then de-planing (and all the shenanigans people get up to seemingly as if they've never gotten off a plane before).  Then baggage claim.  Then the shuttle.  Then my car.  Then the booth where I pay to leave parking.  Then I drive home.  Then I'm home.  Then I have to unpack.

If I'm driving, yeah, it's a drive, but it's so many fewer steps, and so much more is under my direct control.  Plus, audiobooks and scenery.  And a lack of annoying seatmates.  And way, way more legroom.

There absolutely was a time when I liked being A Guy On The Move.  But, the romance of air travel died in the 1970's, and airports somehow became just places where snackfoods have a 250% markup.  They're dull and depressing, and no one has ever invented a comfortable airport seat.

In short, I'm a bit over it.


Friday, April 8, 2016

Murder on the University of Texas Campus



Waller Creek runs alongside and through the University of Texas campus.  At all points, it's been left alone, one of the few places where a narrow strip of "what was" winds and trickles between buildings and along roads, a narrow grove of trees surrounding it on both sides for the entire run.  It's not just a ditch or arroyo.  It's a deep cleft in the earth, ten feet down or more in most spaces.

When I was a student living in Jester Dorm, we all took a shortcut from the parking lot a fair distance from the dorm, where we'd have to descend into the wooded creekbed, hop across the rocks poking out of the water in our Doc Martens and Adidas, and then mount the steep rise to pop back out of the treeline and onto the athletic field backed up to the monstrosity that was my home for a year.  There, the creek ran wide and shallow.  Twenty-odd years later, a bridge spans that area.

Further toward MLK, the creek runs even more deep and wide, and I've seen exotic fisher birds standing at the water's edge, odd and out of place with five lanes of traffic on the bridge running by them 20 yards away and 13 story dorms looming in the background, but a reminder that this creek is part of the world, that the campus came long afterward, and may well be here long after the buildings are torn down and the people all gone.  

A couple hundred feet from my freshman-year short-cut, Waller Creek also runs behind The Alumni Center, a facility conveniently located across a wide street from Darrell K. Royal - Texas Memorial Stadium.  The Alumni Center is a low-slung facility, lodge-like, great for banquets and housing the loyal donors on gameday, windows facing the trees reaching up out of the creekbed.  This intersection also includes a classroom building for the Fine Arts as well as the Performing Arts building.



On Monday morning, the UT Austin Police, alerted by a roommate to the fact a freshman was missing, began searching for the missing student.  Around 10:30AM Tuesday, police found the student in Waller Creek behind the Alumni Center.  

Friday, February 26, 2016

A Short Stay in Houston: Old Pals, Work Stuff, a GOP Debate




This week I was in Houston for a short conference at which I presented.  A nice, friendly little conference we have once a year with folks that have known each other a while, and where new folks are usually made to feel very welcome.

I was staying at the hotel on campus, a Hilton commissioned by the late, great Conrad Hilton as part of the hotel management school at the University of Houston that bears his name.  During the conference, the candidates for the Republican party were slated to have a debate on the other end of campus, but CNN had set up adjacent to the library.  So, yes, yesterday I saw the back of Anderson Cooper's magnificently silver head.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

If you see me on the news, it's going to be because I followed my lesser angels



So, a while back I scheduled myself to be at a conference at the University of Houston.  It's a small, local conference and important to my professional community.

And, ha ha, that is the same campus at the same time where the Republican Party has scheduled it's next debate.  That's right.  As I'm eating the most-food like substance librarian money can buy and talking about the excitement of Thesis and Dissertation workflow over a glass of iced tea, somewhere on that same campus, Trump, Rubio and Cruz will be hollering at each other.

It's gonna be a disaster.

I was working at Arizona State University when President Bush and Senator Kerry had a debate on campus, and it was one of the worst days at that job.  And that was a job where I pulled all-nighters and 100 hour weeks.  Basically, it was super loud and crazy on campus, and I failed to leave early (because I was working.  Like a chump.) and it took me two hours to get home as a post 9-11 Secret Service thought it wise to shut down all the useful roads.

So, we'll see what's up.  Could be fine, but I'm staying at a hotel on campus that I assume will be filled with press and party faithful, so, if I get no sleep Wednesday or Thursday night, I blame the free-wheeling ways of an overly-excited bunch of political conservatives loaded up on Pixie Sticks and too many sodas.

Basically, I'm saying - I may go dark for a few days.  Unless, of course, I see a news camera.  In which case - LOOK FOR ME.  Then, send bail.  Because I have a LOT to say about this election cycle.  Also: workflow for theses and dissertations.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Tracy & Hepburn Watch: Desk Set (1957)



I admit to not having watched too many/ any of the classic Spencer Tracy/ Katherine Hepburn pairings.  It's not that I don't like either Tracy or Hepburn.  Look, I'm busy, okay?

I'm not.  There's no excuse.

But I have wanted to watch Desk Set (1957) for some time.  Neither Hepburn nor Tracy were kids anymore by the time this movie shot - Hepburn at 50, Tracy at 57.  And the movie dealt with the era when computers were first making their way into companies as a sign of progress as much as for the practical considerations.  What I didn't know was that the movie would actually touch the area I work in, tangentially, but certainly in recognizable ways.

Monday, June 3, 2013

The Internet Archive and What I Do For a Living

Pal JuanD sent me this video. I'm sharing it because it's a really, really good glimpse into the problems I work on every day at work.  Sort of.  Half the time I think I'm just looking for receipts or figuring out how many stuffed mushrooms we can afford on our conference's cheap-o budget.

Man, I wish I could just focus on the technical problems.


Internet Archive from Deepspeed media on Vimeo.

Our office actually has two missions. We're providing tools to enable researchers to publish born-digital content in both traditional ways (but using new technologies for peer review journals, etc..) and providing options for new media options such as blogs or other modes of scholarly writing. And we're doing this whole preservation bit of both scanned materials and born-digital materials.

What we're doing that's somewhat different from the video is that we're attempting to capture all of the scholarly output from universities and bring it up and online - not scan kid's books that we think someone else will likely handle.

Of course, a lot of people I work with are cogs who don't necessarily get the bigger picture, or work for people who can't pull it all together to get the big picture and so a lot of mistakes are made. A lot of preservable items are lost. The common consensus is that in 200 years, this early digital era will be a dark ages in many ways as we still aren't smart about keeping anything digital. We still think of print copies as the final edition.

As we also commonly say, it's going to take a lot of people retiring or dying before we have a generation promoted to decision making positions who will work with the technology to make sure the digital copies aren't seen as something to rot on a 3.5" floppy in a drawer.

Anyway, great video.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Gone to Big D For a Few Days

Tonight I went and saw Enter the Dragon at the Alamo Ritz with Juan, CousinSue, Amy and Jason.  if you're never seen this Bruce Lee vehicle...  I am not sure I can help you other than to recommend you check it out as soon as possible.

I'm not the world's biggest Bruce Lee fan, and maybe that's a mistake.  I dig what that guy is up to, and he is absolutely fascinating to watch.  I still don't think American film has seen his like since, and even in imports, I'm not sure the guys I used to watch in college quite captured the athleticism and intensity of Lee.  Well, maybe Jet Li.

Tomorrow I am headed off for Dallas for a few days for work.

this trip will be tragically short on Victoria Principal

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

SuperMOOC Week 6 - wrapping it up with Gender Through Comics

Fortunately for me, my class extended it's timeline by a few days without adding any additional content, and so I was able to finish last night despite the fact that I'd basically missed a week thanks to work and other factors.

This is what I think about when I consider returning to grad school, by the way.  I travel for work.  Really, an online program would be ideal for me to get a masters at long last, as I can't match the attendance that comes with being a 23 year old with nothing else going on but growing facial hair and caring about what sort of beer I'm drinking.  I'm seriously considering the need for an MA, but, man, the idea of walking into a classroom again at age 38 or 39 sounds like a nightmare.

Yes, I agree that the education system and how we deal with college degrees in the US is broken, but the trend to want to turn colleges into trade schools also isn't really an option (they have something for that.  It's called Trade School).  MOOCs are seen as a possible way to share courses across universities, and it sounds good on paper.  But I was sitting through a presentation at my conference last week and one of the presenters pointed out that most parents paying for someone's degree really don't want to hear that their kid was in a class with 40,000 other students, only 10% of which completed the course.  It's really opening the door for private schools and any university to stroke parents on college tours to promise a generation of helicopter parents that their kids will get special attention by sitting in a class with just 50-100 kids.

But I digress.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Possibly Otherwise Occupied

It's May, and that means I'm once again helping to run the conference my organization throws every year.

Really, tomorrow is sort of a Board of Directors meeting prior to the conference, and then from Tuesday morning until Wednesday night, I'm going to be participating in all sorts of conference malarkey.  This year I don't present (by choice), and I'm mostly lurking, hoping to actually enjoy the show.

It's a libraries conference, and you KNOW these people are going to want to party.

they're gonna get crazy and talk @#$% about the Dewey Decimal System

The reason I post here is:  I'm going to be out of commission for a few days.

You guys are on your own.  Try not to leave the place too much of a mess.

Weeks 4 and 5 of MOOC: Gender Through Comics

Attrition rates for online courses are fairly high.  In the years I worked in distance education and eLearning, we always knew that external incentives were a huge reason anyone signed up for a masters program online and why they would complete the program.  We didn't keep in-house stats when I was working at UT or ASU, as many students blended their learning between on-campus and online, but I believe in our cohort of 15 students to begin a unique program we designed, we only lost 3 of the 15 or so who started.

Massive Open Online Courses have an estimated retention rate of about 10%.

Depending on who you talk to, this is either a problem or it is nothing to worry about.  What's interesting is hearing the various excuses and pointing of fingers I've seen lobbed in my personal experience over the years - from "it doesn't matter that the students leave in droves, they came in to get what they needed and left" to "if the faculty can't hold the students' attention, that's really saying something about the faculty".

What nobody is apparently willing to say is that maybe we already have ample evidence that this isn't working as originally intended.  Moving the posts in the first quarter of the game turns it into Arena Football, it doesn't improve the NFL.

Look, if you have a TV show and if by week 10, you've lost 80 - 90% of your audience, your show is getting canceled. It doesn't really matter how great of a debut you had.  If your whole network loses 80-90% of every program it runs, everyone is getting fired and you're shutting down.  If you had a play, and by the time you closed the final curtain your formerly sold out house was left with 10% of the attendees wanly applauding, you'd figure maybe the place was on fire and nobody had told the cast and crew.

I find the idea that students are dipping into classes, getting what they need, and then exiting a naive and groundless assumption and, frankly, the sort of useless hand-waving that folks in higher ed are good at.  I suspect they know better, but it's something to say until they put together some actual data on what's happening.