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

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Status, Reading, Grillmaster 2012, Writing


Returned from Dallas this evening.

I like the UT Southwestern Med Center campus.  As with so much in Dallas, its very Logan's Run.  Its also crawling with young soon-to-be-doctors in scrubs and white coats all looking very stressed.


A long, long time ago AmyD suggested I read Michael Chabon's Manhood for Amateurs, and I am now listening to the audiobook.

I am, obviously, not a father (at least not to anyone I'm telling Jamie about), but I'd recommend friends who have taken the bold step to bring human life onto this miserable rock (either male or female) to give it a whirl.  Mr. Chabon's essays and observations are not all exactly something I agree with, but they're interesting, and I think they do an excellent job of exploring the headspace of us products of a generation raised on TV but who did not have the interets, play-dates and Pixar movies its now common practice for middle-class folk to foist upon their children.

Chabon's geek-media-fueled POV is of particular interest to me, even if many of his choices don't reflect my own.  But anyone who writes a paean to Big Barda gets my respect.

I am also finally reading The Jugger by Richard Stark (aka: Donald Westlake).  Its more Parker.  And its very, very Parker.  Nice to get back to Stark's punchy, brisk style.

Grillmaster 2012

For my birthday/ in order to engage in better living, I have finally moved from the charcoal grill to propane, something the me of 7 years ago would have found horrifying.  But the me of both Sunday and Wednesday evenings found absolutely fantastic.

Cooking meat inside your home is for chumps.  As is doing anything to vegetables but grilling them.  Especially when Matt T. Mangum pushes you aside on the maiden voyage of said grill and insists this is his show, and on Wednesday when Jamie wants to do this herself, so maybe you don't get to use that grill you bought, but you do get to just sit in a porch chair, watch the sun lower in the west and then enjoy a lovely dinner.


I'm at a very strange point in working on the thing I'm working on.

1)  To some extent, I'm now playing connect-the-dots with plot points I've always known were there, so I feel like I'm straying from character development, world-building, development of themes, etc... in favor of "let's get this told", which is a huge departure from where I spent several chapters/ years hacking away.

2)  Some items that popped up in the news were scheduled to happen within three chapters of where I'm at. Its both disarming and useful to see what actually happens in real life so I can see how close I was, and what the parties involved actually do.

3)  Writers, can you be kind to your protagonists?  It seems counter productive to raising the stakes or maintaining a certain goal or theme.

4)  Tween Vampire Fiction is fun to write.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

No Post Tonight - Yo Soy En Dallas

I'm in Dallas for work related reasons, staying a bit down the road from Medieval Times.  I've not been to Medieval Times since the 1980's, and, because I like doing things that take a lot of explaining later to Jamie, I was going to take myself there for dinner tonight.  But its closed until Thursday.  Its also $70.  That seems a bit steep for a staged fight and a bad chicken dinner.

J.R. is a tremendous fan of The Red Knight
Alas, it was not meant to be.

I have a book to read and other stuff to do.  I'm taking the evening off.

Here is Ms. Louise Brooks, busily being iconic:


Mit Koala for some reason

Thursday, March 22, 2012

By the way, I am in New Orleans


Yes, I am in New Orleans for a work trip. Fortunately, my conference ended at 6:00. Kermit Ruffins started playing at Vaughan's at 8:00ish.

in some ways, I never travel alone
I was unable to round up anyone to go with me, and so I headed to Vaughan's where New Orleans musician Kermit Ruffins and his band play a regular Thursday night gig all on my lonesome.  I highly recommend you take it in, were you in The Crescent City.

Like most white people living in the suburbs outside of Louisiana, I first heard about Kermit Ruffins thanks to the power of HBO and their series Treme.*  And that was more or less who showed up for the Thursday night gig at Vaughan's, I'd hazard.  Me and a bunch of other 20-30something folks who wanted to see THE Kermit Ruffins.

Well, as it turns out, Kermit and Friends put on one of the best shows I've seen in years, and I had to leave at what I took to be the mid-point so I'd be in some condition to get to my conference tomorrow.

if you squint, that's Kermit there in the middle
I do not usually venture out from hotels while on work trips, but as it was a Thursday and I was in New Orleans, I figured nobody would forgive me if I didn't at least TRY to do something fun.  So I did.  And it worked out.

Now, I rest.

Have a good Friday, y'all.


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Fantastic Voyage (to Denton, TX and the movies)

Wednesday I head to Denton, TX for a 2 day conference on...  you know what?  I'm pretty sure you don't care.  But, yeah, 48 hours in Denton with Librarians and Degree Evaluators.  Should be a hoot.

Anyhoo, on Saturday I'm hoping to join SimonUK at the Alamo South Lamar for a screening of one of my favorites from middle school, shown to us in Life Sciences in 7th grade in order to demonstrate exactly where we might need to know this stuff.

Fantastic Voyage is the original "we've shrunk them down to microscopic size and injected them in a submarine into someone's bloodstream to save this important person's life" story, which is way less specific than you'd think.  Its been ripped off on numerous occasions.

But the first is still the best.

World's least efficient way of keeping your cholesterol under control
Doesn't that look exciting?  13 year old me certainly thought it was amazingly exciting.  I think 36 year old me still sees the appeal.

The movie starts at 11:00, but as Kid's Club at South Lamar is free, be there early as 10:00.  Have some coffee with me and Simon.  We're good company.

And if you need further incentive:  Raquel Welch wears a white "scuba suit" for a good chunk of the movie.

You can microscopically swim around in my bloodstream anytime
You can never have enough scuba-suited, laser-toting Raquel Welch for my dollar.

Come out and join us!  Wear your Slim Goodbody costume so we can map the progress of our crew!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Higher Ed, Moving Technology and Trying not to pick fights with Lauren

Before we begin, two things:

1)  Go read Lauren's post. 
2)  I agree with a very large chunk of what Lauren says and/ or brings up from the article she's citing.

I worded something funny in my response to Lauren's post via Twitter, and I am afraid she took it as me saying "this will never happen" or "you're wrong", neither of which was my intention.  I love what Lauren has to say, and unlike what you do see occasionally (ie: "how do we turn all these college classes into video games?", which has been asked to me before) the ideas make sense. Its mixing the technological with the sociological in a way that understands the dynamics of a bad situation and proposing plausible solutions.

Now, what started the great Twitter debate of 2011 was that I made a comment about cost and culture as barriers. What was I on about?

Some background:  Of my 13 years since graduating, I've spent more than ten working in higher education (and a year in the employ of higher ed prior to graduation).  In that time, I have always been employed in offices which have been responsible for rolling out new technology to universities, faculty, researchers and students (going back to when pages were written in this stuff called HTML), several years getting courses online in all shapes and forms, and now working in Digital Libraries (or, as I wish to re-configure it:  Research Networks).  So let me share a few things.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

I should of stuck with that job

A long time ago, some colleagues at my current job and I were chatting, and I was describing the most troubling part of the job I'd had when I worked at the Disney Store during the summers of 1993-1995.

"And so we had this thing at the back of the store, it was called 'Plush Mountain', and it was this pile of stuffed animals.  Brand new stuffed animals, all brightly colored, all these familiar Disney characters piled up way higher than any kid could see.  And these kids, they'd see it from way, way back in the store from between the racks of toys and coffee cups.  We had these high pillars filled with all kinds of Disney stuff.   It was too much.  It would just overload their little kid brains to see this amazing pile of Disney.

"So the kids would see it, and they'd start running at the mountain from half-way through the store, just barreling at full-tilt, ready to fling themselves into Plush Mountain.

"What these kids didn't know, and what their parents didn't know, I guess...  was that the only way you can have a mountain like that is to have these shelves built in.  It looks like a pile, but its this tiered thing, with these hard, wooden shelves built in in there, covered with laminate or something.  If any kid actually ever made the leap, and was able to jump in there headfirst, you know, the way they were trying, they'd have smashed their little faces in.

"So every Saturday, when the store was really busy, I'd get stationed at the back of the store.  And, yeah, you're helping people find stuff, but what you're really doing all day is catching these kids before they throw themselves face first into this mountain of stuffed animals, and that's just going to end badly.  All day, just kid after kid, you see them start running, and you're grabbing them.  Some of them, I kid you not, in mid-air.  Stopping some of them by the seat of their pants.  That's all you'd do all day."

My co-worker looked at me, and I could tell he had something to say:  "You were The Catcher in the Rye".

We kind of eyed each other for a minute and burst out laughing really, really hard.

"Jesus, I should of stuck with that job."

Nobody else at the table got it.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Sort of what I'm Up to

In my head, this just improved Santa 1,000,000 percent
From Comic Alliance

I'm doing my last bit of traveling for 2010 and am attending a conference in Houston.  Lots of nice folks doing interesting stuff in libraries.

In a lot of ways, traditional public and academic libraries are likely behind corporate entities who have been struggling with business needs issues for decades in data management and deep storage.  In an institution such as a library that is asked to store literally anything that it is handed (and make it available to the world on demand), that management becomes a complex issue.  Its not enough just to have the item, but that item has metadata around it that describes the item.  The web's half-baked manner of tagging, keywords, etc... kind of works, but its not useful for preservation, curation, true findability and longterm use and storage.  Ie:  Its not enough to just have the thing and have it sitting on a server where Google might find it anymore than a traditional library would be terribly useful without a card catalog.

So.  Anyway, that's some of what I work on most days.  And its pretty focused at this conference.

The big challenge (not one that really falls into my jurisdiction) will be the mad scramble for the next few decades to turn paper into 0's and 1's, describe it and make it available.  Its one thing to have... stuff in a library, just sitting in a box or on a shelf.  Its quite another to imagine actually dealing with every page, every picture, every...  everything that can be in even the smallest library.  Not to mention trying to wrangle the brand new stuff created everyday and all the stuff that's deteriorating on shut-down hard drives, etc..  that never really existed as paper created in the past 20 years.

Its...  a big task.  So be nice to your local archivist, digital librarian, metadata librarian, what-have-you.

My part is the fun part, and that's working with these folks and trying to provide them with solutions, support, tools, etc...  And finding new opportunities for researchers to work together and find one another's work thanks to TECHNOLOGY.

Also, the catering at this thing was really good.  I confess to liking prosciutto more than I ought.