mucking about

Yet another “…been awhile…” sort of post.

Currently at the National Library of Australia for THATCamp, which I’m hoping is a a way for me to reconnect with my techier side. I was last here for THATCamp in 2011 when I was getting into digital assets management. Having moved into eresource management, I haven’t had much of a chance to play at what I call the “command line” level.

I installed xampp on my laptop several months ago but haven’t had much of a chance to do anything beyond some simple html. This morning I participated in a session on dealing with bulk downloads from Trove’s newspaper archives and I spent most of it learning my way round my web server and dealing ultimately, with stuff that was mostly just pathname issues: working out where to store files, and where to reference them. Happily I got most of the way along and got an OAI harvester up and running. Still got a few errors to nut out but feel like I’ve made progress and starting to make use of the tools I have available.

of bits

My good self seems to be returning at a rapid rate. The downside of working from home is that I am always home in the company of myself. With that said, I have a busy weekend ahead with various friends and looking happily to an influx of friends for a conference in February. While my life picks up, news from Queensland continues to sadden though all my friends there are doing ok, though it was scary for a while for one.

As part of my attempt to reconnect with the world, I joined the #dailyimage2011 group and will try and post a photo a day that features some aspect of me. Been fun so far and folk have been able to chart my changing moods.

One of the things I had hoped to do over my christmas break was add lots of my books to my LibraryThing account. Alas, all my time was taken by things beyond my control though all were very, very necessary. The good news is I finally have ADSL2 and a wireless modem which means very fast internet and lots of it, from any device anywhere in my flat. This means I will be able to connect my barcode reader (cuecat) to my Asus 901 Eee and wander the shelves scanning as I go, directly into LibraryThing. A project for January methinks.

I haven’t read a book in over a month…my head has not been in the right sort of space. That space is returning and I have lots of books waiting. I have at least managed to stop buying at least…for now. There are always temptations, and the strength of the aussie dollar against just about everything only frustrates the desire further. Not to mention my strata and bills all fall due in the next few weeks…my quarterly pain…I should investigate the possibility of staggering them across the 3 months…or learn how to budget effectively…ooh shiny thing!

One of the tasks over the break was to move everything out of my mother’s house…and there are now lots of boxes at my place. I managed to rearrange boxes so that I could squeeze my car into its parking spot…just. My study where I spend most of my time (all my computer gear including 22″ widescreen monitor is there – wifi is potentially lovely but 22″ screens ain’t particularly portable) is awash with books. I think I need to rearrange things to regain a better space. I have half a dozen boxes in my bath and there’s the potential to add a lot more with a bit of rearranging. I also have a 66cm WS TV (old, heavy style but bloody good picture and sound that I may need to find an alternate home for) – a friend gave me their old 81cm WS LCD which better suits the space and I am already appreciating the bigger picture. The 66cm though better, looked tiny in my lounge space.

Life is about space: finding space, creating space, rearranging space, me sized spaces.

finding snail

The snail I am is no longer the snail I was.

It’s long been important for me to have a sense of who I am and to be able to say “I am” without additional clauses.

I am

I draw strength from being in a spot to be able to say that. Without it, I am adrift; lost.

Today, I can still say it, but it means something different to what it did a week ago. I’ve changed; a change that was a very definite klunk in my being – like an elevator stopping at a new floor; up or down or left or right; does not matter. On Saturday, I spent a few hours sitting in a comfy, leafy space – on a sort of jetty – at the State Library of QLD, by the river. I was going back through the day before and the conference stream I co-convened (that requires another post – it worked and was good and was fun). Klunk.

My answer to “Who am I?” has changed.

I have spent 12 months or so, very out of my comfort zone…so far out of my comfort zone that I don’t know where it is anymore. I co-convened a committee of 5 to run a full day stream at a national conference. An experimental stream incorporating elements of things that were well known on smaller scales…in the library world at least. I like structure but it was unstructured. I like engagement and there was. I suck at minutae but folk around me covered it, and impressively so.

A year of politics and discussion and fear and planning, and times I simply buried my head in the sand and hoped the world would leave me alone.

It didn’t.

And I changed.

My sense of what I can do has expanded. The passion remains; burning within.

I am.

a summary

Oh my, a month ago, I heard the call to participate in a brave and foolish venture, that is to blog every day in June. I was a wee bit flexible and decided a day didn’t finish until I went to bed, which allowed me to get several posts in after midnight. That was ok, as it was still the same day in Perth. The #blogeverydayofjune challenge was indeed just that, though I had it a little easier than most participants, in that I had 30 films to blog during the Sydney Film Festival. I’ve been blogging in one form or another for near enough to a decade; however in recent years I have become increasingly sporadic: a post or two a month and occasionally a month missed. I said at the start that it would be nice to recapture my blogging sensibility ie to achieve that sense that all items encountered, situations experienced, and so on, are potentially bloggable moments. I haven’t quite achieved that, though I am happy with my progress. I would like to think that I will continue to blog on a more regular basis, but I have said that before. Yet it must be said, my blog has continued to wander ever on, so it will continue and there was never any doubt of that. It remains my own space, though it’s also space I’ve been sharing and people have been commenting and that has been really lovely.

As for my stats for the month of June:

  • 34 posts
  • 30 films reviewed
  • 107 comments on my posts by other people! Having people comment on your stuff is really cool. I don’t otherwise pay attention to stats so comments are really nice.
  • over 19,000 words written in those 34 posts. Oh my oh my! The longest post was my Kindle review at around 1,800 words and I generally strived toward 500 words a day as a sort of goal.

There was a second challenge for June and that was to comment every day on someone’s blog, which dovetailed nicely and encouraged engagement and participation. I know I commented at least twice per day on other blogs, often more…yet I know there were quite a few blogs I never quite made it to either. The joy of the ANZ blog community these days is that are so many participating, so many making a claim to their own space. It was only a few years ago when you could count the ANZ Biblioblogosphere on one hand. Now there are many hands.

Now we have community.

There were people blogging that I had never heard of, whereas in the old days I knew everyone. Old faces still going, and new faces stepping in; there is a vibrancy to the scene and a diversity of interests, though all united via a connection with the greater library community.

All up, the month of June has been bloody awesome!

I don’t think I can manage blogging every day as it was rather exhausting…with that said, June is a busy month with work and films and other months are potentially quieter. I can see, with my trips away, that blogging in July/August will be a tricky business but I shall see what I can do. There is continuing panic ahead too, with ALIA Access moving ever closer. Surprisingly, folk are willing to pay money for an unconference style of event…though the stream ADHD Librarian and I are coordinating isn’t really an unconference though it has unconference-y bits. We now know people are going to spend time in our little experimental space. Some of it will be good and some of it may fall flat – regardless, I’m hoping it will be fun. I am tearing out what little hair I have in anticipation :-)

excitement on the bank

I can see once filmfest is out of the way, that I’m going to have a whole series of more think oriented posts to propel me through the rest of June [I say hopefully :-)]. I now have 4 semi written posts in draft mode, at least one of which will need to be split in two. My head is still a little zombie-ish, though not as bad as yesterday – whilst it’s hard to think thoughts through, I am at least jotting down thoughts as they occur. Prior to the June challenge I had fallen out of the habit of writing things down (admittedly that’s electronically and not that paper stuff). A little bit of me wishes that filmfest would hurry up and finish so I can think about such things. Though really, it’s just procrastination and if I did have plenty of time, even less would be achieved.

Finding it a struggle to keep up at the moment; not to mention I also have stuff to do for ALIA Access too. Co-convening is a weird place for me to be; even stranger, given the Camp approach, I have speakers not to manage and I am at least successfully not managing that aspect…mostly because I have no idea how. I keep waiting for someone else to tell me what to do, then I remember that the rest of the committee is waiting for me to tell them :-) And so we fudge ever forward, progress is being made but this is very definitely a leap out of my comfort zone – getting out of comfort zones is good, though often a scary thing too.

Oh bugger, this post was just going to be two film reviews. Oops! Sorry about that, I got distracted. I really don’t want to work today as I keep having thoughts that need development. However, this is the busy time of year and my break will soon be over so on to the film reviews. The good news is that I have manage to obtain a ticket to the Guy Maddin film, Dracula, pages from a virgin’s diary, on Sunday night at the Opera House. Maddin is one of my favourite directors ever and it would be remiss of me to miss one of his films on the big screen.

On to last night’s films, starting with Lola, directed by Brillante Mendoza, set in The Philipines. A studied piece on folk in poverty, especially two grandmothers: one who’s grandson was killed, the other whose grandson did the killing. This event caused both women much hardship, the former trying to get money to pay for the funeral, while the other trying to get money for an amicable settlement to get her grandson out of gaol. This was set against a rainy environment, with floodwaters, which served to accentuate the hardship both were dealing with. It was also a look at how justice is handled and how the community works. An insight, with feeling, of how life works at the lower end of the economic scales.

The second movie was a sellout. Exit Through the Gift Shop by Banksy. A film by a graffiti artist about graffiti artists, not to mention the change from being covert street art to an accepted art form, attracting the big end of town. This was a lot of fun, it flowed well, and had things to say. Occasional comments with various artists and associated folk in LA and London. Some scenes of the shadowy Banksy at work; a few of the artists had their faces blurred on screen. As Banksy commented, they operate in a sort of legal grey area, ie the cops can bust them. The film referred a bit to the move from straight spraypainting to the use of stencils, transfers and other such to paint their works. It had things to say about the nature of art and how it’s received and perceived. It was fascinating and fun with a good sense of humour throughout; would love to watch it again.

of travel

As always, my travel plans have changed many times. Some of my current travel plans are almost frustrating given how well they line up with the original plans. Having travelled less for work in recent years, this year seems to be a return to something resembling my early years with the company. Already this year, I have had two trips to Melbourne, one of which included a detour via Canberra. The year ahead includes further trips to Melbourne, a trip to Albury, another to Mexico, not to mention Brisbane and rounding out the year (so far) with a trip to New Zealand. All of that is either work related or professional development. I had hoped to holiday in NZ separately and do a trip to Africa with a mate.

The one trip I had originally planned for this year was to visit Easter Island in July to witness a total eclipse of the sun. There’s usually a total eclipse of the sun most years though the ideal viewing location varies. I happened to be in Europe in 1999 and travelled down to Munich to witness such…alas it rained all day – though the darkness passing over the landscape was still impressive. I have friends who are Astronomy enthusiasts and chase eclipses, trying to see it each year; last year China was the best location. Visiting Easter Island is something I’ve long wanted to do and to do so in conjunction with an eclipse would have been awesome. Unfortunately thousands of people are all converging on the island, way more than it can handle. I realised several months ago that the trip was logistically impossible. Then I was looking at doing a trip to Africa with a mate, but didn’t have sufficient leave accrued…in hindsight, that would have limited the Easter Island trip too.

Anyways, the reason for the frustration is that work is sending me to Mexico for the International Sales Conf and this would have bookended the eclipse trip rather nicely. I would have started with the eclipse, spent a few weeks seeing sites in Sth America (Galapagos Islands, Maachu Pichu, etc), and finished off with the work thang. Oh well, it wasn’t meant to be. The Mexico trip is definitely on. The conf is in Merida, which is in the SE bit of the country and is surrounded by interesting stuff. I realised last week that Cuba is not far away, however there are no ferries so I would need to fly. Various coffee growing countries are to the south as well.

At the end of November, this year’s LIANZA conference is to be held in Dunedin, NZ. It’s also the 100th anniversary of the conference and I will be attending with work. As per usual, I’ll be on the Gale stand, but will be able to catch several papers as well. No doubt, I’ll squeeze in a few tweets too :-) The current plan is to fly into Auckland, stay a night, then fly to Christchurch. From there, myself and a sales rep will drive down to Dunedin. There are flights available but the drive option sounded too good to pass up. Post conference, I’m going to take a week or so off, perhaps hang out in the wilds around Dunedin, and go to a few wine tastings in the Otago region. I still sort of hope to throw in another trip to NZ too. I haven’t been for two years, nor to Wellington for three, and I miss it. Would be nice to have a long weekend in Wellington and perhaps the surrounding countryside. Just to see if I stil like the place as much as I think I do. I said to someone recently that Wellington is my second favourite place in the world…the first being Edinburgh, Scotland.

a collection of notes

As I spoon into my latest tub of Serendipity ice cream (much to the regret of my waistline), I have been reading on the future of the book in digital. Craig Mod has put together a nice piece on the benefits of digital: both in terms of disposable books (a fair chunk of most fiction) and keepable books ie in the digital age; printed books will have their own significance and appreciation. I think this manages to capture my own approach: my fetish with regard to nice editions yet my desire for something portable and light to read.

For some books and authors, I am keen to have a nicely bound edition, but for the most part, what I read are disposable books. Books that are nice to see on the shelf, but ultimately, I am less likely to treasure or read again. Though “reading again” is not necessarily a boundary in terms of books I want in print. Reading once, in a nice edition, is often sufficient. Though I realised last night that if my home were to burn down, I already have too many nice books to grab and save – better to let them burn and start afresh once more I think. Speaking of which, I really must get round to contents insurance one of these days. Touch wood.

With all that said, and my predilection for things bound nicely, I have decided not to get my nicely bound edition of Gaiman’s Neverwhere. I’ve not read it but Gaiman has become one of my favourite writers and I do have some lovely editions of others of his works. As I’m trying to arrest my rate of spending and perhaps save some money for a change I managed to refrain, though at leastt in part because I am hoping to buy the cheaper versions of The Club Dumas and The Martian Chronicles. The latter particularly as it’s going to be a comprehensive gathering of all related tales – including one of my favourite stories from primary school: “Dark They Were And Golden Eyed”. Whereas The Club Dumas, is a book I’ve read, having seen the Polanski movie on which it is based, starring Johnny Depp, The Ninth Gate. Fond of both, I’d sorta like a nice edition of the book…which I will re-read. So too, the same Press, Subterranean Press, is doing a nice hardcover of a favourite Oz Author, Terry Dowling. I have several of his in paperback and not read any of what will be contained in this volume…and it is a reasonable price, rather than an “eep!” price.

In other areas, I have managed to get in to the 2010 Ideas Forum at the National Library. Once again, they have an interesting lineup of speakers, and already I am already aware of several friends and colleagues attending. My boss has been very supportive of my attending such, as it contributes to my own professional development. I’ve gotten better at asking for stuff rather than waiting for stuff to happen. Not only that, the trip coincides with some friends going to Melbourne for the Mueck exhibition, which I mentioned to my boss and as a result I’ll be working in Melbourne for the following week as well. Serendipity.

vala once again

I’m having something of an odd time. A good time. A time as part of a larger community of shared interests. There’s people I know, with stories to tell. There is buzz and chat and depth and laughter and most of all, friendship. I have been looking forward to #VALA2010 for months and it is proving to be wonderful and everything I hoped for. I work for a vendor yet feel most at home in the library community; they are my peers, my friends, my colleagues. They made me feel welcome.

I’ve been in Melbourne town for a week, having arrived a week ago for the company sales conference. I’ve been careful and taken it slow; pacing myself. Admittedly all such efforts were cast asunder on Saturday and Sunday and Monday, as I caught up with various library folk.

Twitter too, has provided, or facillitated, conversation and connection. I finally got the hang of twitter mid last year, once I moved it from SMS to client-based on my laptop;nevermind the serious smartphone envying I’m currently experiencing. I work in an office mostly by myself, occasionally surrounded by sales reps; no techies to speak of. My twitter community, those who follow and engage, have provided me with a working environment of sorts. Utterly unexpected. I feel disconnected now without that access; disconnected without that community of friends and colleagues.

I am rambling.

VALA started properly yesterday with the OCLC API Mashathon Boot Camp. This was an all day session for coders, or rather, it turned out to be for folk who are code aware, much to the relief of at least half the attendees. It was led by one of my library gods: Roy Tennant. I’d even convinced my boss to send me to LIANZA a few years ago as Roy was giving a keynote. The boot camp didn’t have much time for coding but that was ok. There was plenty of time for ideas, for interaction, for exchange, for communication. For me, it was the first time I’d been in a room where most people were twittering including the presenters :-)

Boot camp was as much about sharing company as sharing data. Meeting new folk and new data streams. If there’s a theme emerging from VALA, it’s likely to be that of data streams. Exposing the data, developing access, and allowing others to re-purpose that data and create new tools, or enhance old ones. Create stuff, put it out there, and let other folk run with it. It’s about contributing to the community rather than keeping it to yourself.

VALA2010, for me, seems to be about creating a sharing, caring environment on so many levels.

george r.r. martin is not your bitch

Sexual politics of the title aside, I think Neil Gaiman’s comments on the nature of the muse and writing are well worth a read. I recently subscribed to Gaiman’s feed and am finally after many, many years reading The Sandman properly. In his blog, there is a down to earth honesty that appeals. He is a writer first and foremost; and human being too. I subscribe to feeds based on my interest in the content, and I like what Gaiman writes. I also like his physical stuff:  Sandman and The Graveyard Book and so forth; stuff that’s published. In print and nice bindings. I’m currently midway through Vol. 3 (of 4) of the Absolute editions of The Sandman. Beautifully bound, enlarged, etc…mmmm. As a bookaholic, or bibliomaniac or other such term, the 4 volumes of The Sandman are some of the best in my collection. They sit well.

While my life is spent, or not spent…I am spending on books at least. Living still, in the home of my childhood, surrounded by boxes, depressed by many things, not least, my inability to gain a home in my favourite neighbourhood. I missed out on a house and was gazumped on a warehouse conversion. I’m in the running for another conversion that is above the one I missed out on. Though I don’t feel sufficiently lucky at the moment

My own writing has faltered as has my reading much. Just in time I squeezed out a dodgy abstract for VALA, I suspect it’s even dodgier than my last effort. That last one was accepted and I think this one would bookend it nicely. Oh well, if it fails to make the grade, that’s ok. An attempt was made. I have time but no mental space for writing. I miss my words; I have confidence they will return though I know not when.

In the mail today arrived yet another purchase, perhaps I should blog about my new arrivals as they arrive. That might inspire other things, other thinking. Today’s acquistion is a new work, of old, by JRR Tolkien, edited by his son, Christopher. This one is “The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun” which I think is based on the old Norse myths of the dragonslayer. Wanker that I am, I have the deluxe edition, nicely bound, and in slipcase. There is a satisfaction in holding a nicely bound volume in your hand. Paperbacks rarely come within cooee. I’ve mostly avoided the Tolkien publishing industry but I’m happy to have acquired this edition. It cost about AUD $80 delivered from the UK, and will be available locally for about $150. A score.

Speaking of Gaiman, I was recently in Kinokuniya, and scored a first edition, also nicely bound with artwork on the cover (once the paper cover is removed), of his Anansi Boys, for AUD $41. There is one more in the shop.

I refuse to buy the OED, though it is still a mere AUD $1,300. It will not be bought until I have my own place to put it in. If I get the place I want, then too, I will get a large painting for the wall…as that is how I want to honour my father…something larger than life, something that dominates the room, something that brings pleasure, something that is looking for a reaction, something that encapsulates the ol’ bugger.

running around

Conference season seems to be looming though some folk are rushing ahead. There’s a few conferences in local circles coming around such as NLS4, ALIA, LIANZA, and even an unconference or two. A few too many for anyone in their right mind to attend all of though it is good to make one or two. It was interesting to read of strategies for choosing conferences, whether you go to the same one every year or a different one. My own approach has been to rely on MPOW which usually sends me to one of the majors each year (usually VALA or Information Online) and occasionally other conferences such as LIANZA (twice) and NSW Public Libraries (twice I think). Plus if there’s one I really want to attend or prefer to attend as a delegate (with my librarian hat on instead of my vendor one), I’ll pay my own way. Sometimes work sends me to ones I really want to go to too, as per LIANZA last year. Having started the year with two good conferences, I’m hoping there’s one more in the wings but no idea as yet.