moving on

I suddenly stopped blogging a month ago, with a week still to run of #blogjune. Life in my neck of woods quickly became rather tense and exciting; though there was still a little angst as well. Some may recall my concern at the start of June with regard to a job I’d applied for and the suspicion that I may have missed out.

I got the job!!!

That was the day after my last blogging effort and I wasn’t able to announce the news at that point. I spent the following couple of weeks negotiating both with my new employer and my current employer as to how best handle the transition. After all that, my current employer (Gale – Cengage Learning) is allowing me to go after 3 weeks instead of 4, so long as I return for a week later and train my eventual replacement.

I’m now madly writing up as many procedures for my job as I can :-)

QueenstownI finish up with Gale in a week’s time on the 29th of July. On the first of August, I commence work with the State Library of NSW, as a “Librarian Grade 3” with the Online Information Services Branch. The new job title is not quite as nebulous as my current “Electronic Solutions Consultant” (which I have loved much), but at the same time, it’s nice to have “Librarian” in my title. The new position is a mix of things though the primary responsibility will be supporting SLNSW’s Digital Assets Management (DAM) system as well as coordinating the customisation of external electronic resources. Yeah, I copied that last mouthful from the position description :-)

The position is a good progression from the work I’ve done with Gale and builds on skills I’ve acquired as well as taking me in some new directions. With that said, there’s going to be a good learning curve for some of it; though nothing in the position that I can’t handle. To do the same sort of work within Gale I would probably need to move to Detroit where head office is or possibly one of the other US locations.

Loooking forwardI’m really looking forward to starting the new job but finding it sad to leave the current. I still enjoy my current role but need some new challenges ie I want to go while I’m still enjoying it. The Australian office of Gale has a wonderful sense of a small company operating within the infrastructure of a bigger company. There’s a freedom in that that I didn’t expect. So too, I didn’t expect the amount of freedom and independence I’ve experienced on the vendor (“dark side”) of the industry. I’ve presented papers at conferences, been on conference committees and been able to do all the sorts of professional development stuff I’d be able to do were I on library-side. I’ve been able to be vendor and remain a librarian: the two are not mutually exclusive.

The other big challenge of the new position is more of a cultural/technological one. I’ve spent 7 years with my work laptop as my primary computer for both work and personal. The current laptop is XP only though previously I had a dual boot with Debian Linux. I have separate folder structures to keep my work and personal stuff apart. I even run two email programs: Outlook for my work stuff, and Thunderbird for all my personal stuff. Wherever I was, all my stuff was me, no need for any of that cloud stuff.

In a week, I return the laptop. A mate has come to my rescue and is giving me his old desktop Mac Pro as he’s upgrading himself. At SLNSW, I believe I’ll have a Windows based desktop PC; I don’t yet know which version of windows. Under this scenario, I might have to consider keeping some stuff in the cloud afterall. I’m going from one computer that goes with me everywhere, to two computers both location bound. With the development of smart phones in recent years, that’s less of a problem than it used to be. Though of course, I also need to return my iphone. At this stage, I’ll probably be getting the new Samsung Galaxy S II.


Though I have a few posts in draft that need a little tidying up, I am also very aware that I’ve spent a bit too long in front of the computer. My eyes are getting tired; lack of sleep probably doesn’t help either. So I’ll leave the drafts alone and go with a simple meme along with flexnib, Jo, Tania and I daresay others. Afterall, we’re three quarters of the way through #blogjune and I have little doubt that lots of folk are looking for ideas…any ideas. I have the ideas but not the consciousness to write them up :-)

A. Age: 42
B. Bed size: double but with a queen size doona
C. Chore that you hate: cleaning the flat
D. Dogs: nope
E. Essential start to your day: coffee
F. Favourite colour: purple
G. Gold or Silver: silver
H. Height: 5 foot 6 I think…I still do an odd mix of metric and imperial
I. Instruments you play: zilch
J. Job title: Electronic Solutions Consultant
K. Kids: n/a
L. Live: Inner West, Sydney
M. Mother’s name: Beryl
N. Nicknames: snail
O. Overnight hospital stays: dunno…several, perhaps a few weeks altogether
P. Pet peeve: apostrophes
Q. Quote from a movie: Abso-fraggin-lutely! (Babylon 5 I think)
R. Right or left handed: right
S. Siblings: one; younger
T. Time you wake up: sometimes 5 or 6am, sometimes with alarm at 8am depending on how body clock is coping
U. Underwear: yes
V. Vegetable you hate: avocado (but love guacamole)
W. What makes you run late: the internetz
X. X-Rays you’ve had: teeth, head, back, crotch, legs
Y. Yummy food that you make: mashed potato
Z. Zoo animal: kangaroo

what’s in a name?

I’ve become very fond of my moniker over the years. “snail” has been my self chosen nickname for over 20 years. Initially, it was online only in those days, these days I tend to wear it as my name everywhere and more folk know me face to face as snail than by my real name. I have occasionally considered changing my name officially however that would get a little expensive as I would need to get a bunch of legal documents changed including my mortgage contract. Perhaps I can revisit if I ever pay off my mortgage. The other issue with name changes, is that I would have to retain my surname as too many online forms require both a first name and a second. I think having a single name would simply create too many headaches for too many people.

One of the reasons I chose the moniker initially was to distinguish myself in online forums, such as usenet, by having a name that was unique and that others were unlikely to use. This was fine for many years, though these days it’s a different story. I’m generally finding it hard to get “snail” as a username on many systems. Sometimes, it’s because others have beaten me to it, occasionally there’s a 6 character minimum. I am reluctant however, to sign up to every system that comes along simply to preserve access to my preferred name. I have a few backups including vvsnail (some email) and snailx (twitter, wordpress). I have a personal domain,, and even then I had to go through several domains before finding one with “snail” available.

With much thanks to a good friend, I do at least have a unique avatar which has proven useful for some folk who find me in other forums. Though it must be said that I have a lot less hair these days, nor do I dress entirely in black anymore. The glasses and coffee cup remain constant.

As to why I chose “snail” – when I first got online via electronic bulletin boards in 1984, I’d just read Lord of The Rings and chose the nickname, Gandalf the Grey. Needless to say, as many folk online in those days were ITish and into SF, it was a rather common nickname. A few years later, when I got to uni and discovered usenet, I decided to start again with a new name. I have a vague recollection from school days of doodling snails in the margins of my school exercise books. I doodled snails because they were easy and my drawing skills were, and remain, poor.

oh gawd! #blogjune

How do I get myself talked into these things…it’s June so therefore a bunch of us are blogging every day…again.

You’d think I’d have learnt my lesson last time.

With that said, I did rather throw myself into it last time. Went a bit…mad. As always I suspect filmfest will save me from descending too far into the pit of desperation in the hunt for something to say.

I’m in a bit of an odd spot at the moment. As many folk know I work for a library vendor – yesterday was my 7th anniversary; longest fulltime job ever. I still enjoy my work though there’s things about libraryside I miss. To that end, I applied for a position at a library a while back. I was interviewed 2.5 weeks ago and I continue to wait for news. I am starting to suspect I have missed out. It was an interesting job, working with folk I like and it’s the first time I’ve applied for a position outside the company. I did apply for a position with our London office a few years ago but finished second. I missed out on it and still went on to do other, interesting things. While it can be a disappointing time, I tend to view these sorts of things as journey markers: do I go this way or do I go that way? Either way, the journey continues and the path is different because a decision has been made.

my shell

The thread of my belongings.

Way back in 2001, I bought a terrace in Newtown with my father. I got a mortgage on a quarter and he bought 3 quarters; scary days and meeting mortgage payments was occasionally awkward – some things don’t change. My parents split up when I was 6 or thereabouts and I grew up with mum, though seeing dad regularly; I have a sister a few years younger too. Buying a house with dad meant living him for the first time in 30 odd years – a good move. He died at the start of 2005 and I remain ever thankful for those few years I got to share an abode with him.

With that said, he could be a cantankerous bastard at times, in the nicest possible way, or as someone said in describing me in memory of him: “rambunctious” – the occasion was a dinner and I’d had a little to drink :-) The one downside of the arrangement is that it limited my ability to move elsewhere. In order to meet my mortgage payments I needed to be able to rent out my bit for a sum that would cover my monthly payment. This meant I had to find someone who could share comfortably with the old man…a not so easy task at times, though I s’pose if I’d been really keen to move I could have found someone. I lacked the courage to push in those days I think.

Anyway, I had a lovely 5 years living with my dad.

I now have my own place, with another mortgage twice the size of the old one. Yet, I’m better off. Both my sister and I sold the old place and each bought flats about a 10 minute walk apart, and indeed, about a 10-15 minute walk from the old house. This suits us rather well. Plus it means for me, that should I move elsewhere, the rent I get from my place, will comfortably cover the mortgage/strata/etc. I may even emerge slightly ahead.

There’s a freedom in that. I feel free and that sense of being trapped in one spot has gone. There are good reasons to remain where I am: I love it so, it is what I call home, my friends & family are nearby, I am in a good spot. Yet, at the same time, I have the freedom to go when I need to. I can now move interstate, or overseas.

I have spent my entire life wanting to live somewhere other than Sydney. I lived briefly in Wollongong. I tried for years to move to Adelaide…though ultimately I think I lacked the courage to follow through. A few years ago I went for a job in the UK office, it was after dad had died and my fortitude had changed. I figured, buggrit, I can do this anyway, mortgage or not, I can move and fudge my way through. The death of dad seemed to have revealed a hidden well of courage in me that I had never noticed. So I went hard for the London job and missed out…by 1. Regardless, it was so worth doing.

A year or two back, after the sale of the house and before I bought the flat, I was single and suffering depression. My boss, who is also a friend, suggested I quit and do one of the big trips I’ve always wanted to do – spend 6 months backpacking through South America. Instead, I spent 6 months seeing a pyschologist, and bought a flat ( a wonderful warehouse conversion) once I snapped out of the depression.

Ironically I am now in a far stronger position to do that South American trip :-)

I suspect that at some point in the near future, probably this year or maybe next, I will move out of Sydney. I love my job and it is such that I can do it anywhere…I work from home. I like the broad focus I deal with, from small school libraries, through to national consortia, whether it be NZ or Oz. I occasionally back up the international offices too: Europe, Asia and Ibero. I’ve been doing this job for 6 and a half years now and I still really enjoy it. But at some point I will need to move on and for now, there seems to be two options: Canberra or Wellington. Wellington is my second favourite place in the world, the first being Edinburgh, Scotland.

Playing into this was my recent trip to NZ. I wanted to see if I still liked it, and Wellington, as much as I thought I did. The tramp was really good for me, as I documented yesterday…I felt at home in the bush of NZ. At home and welcome. I spent nearly a week in Wellington at the end of trip, walking lots of places, meeting and hanging with a different bunch of folk almost every day, discovering some new bars and hangs. In all, it was an affirming time. I have occasionally talked of moving there over the years and I think now I’m in the best sort of spot to do it.

Moving is a big step and as I say, I love where I am right now. However I can’t let it hold me back, it can’t ever become a prison. I seem to have a need to keep pushing myself…out of my comfort zone, to try new things. New things always seem to hurt, though the hurting keeps paying off…that sounds sorta wrong. Yet, in those times when I don’t push myself, I feel a little like I’m just marking time…waiting for the next thing.


I seem to have hit something of a block. It tends to be the case that if I have a couple of tasks that need doing, they end up becoming bottlenecks for just about everything…the result of course is that nothing gets done. I s’pose the big one in my head, which I’ve been putting off for years, is getting rid of dad’s books. There’s about 3,000 or so of them, all in boxes. I really need to move them in the next week or so. It’s been hard to make the call though. I have kept a couple hundred for myself but can’t quite bring myself to call secondhand bookshops/bookfairs to get rid of the rest. Partly, I tend to get quite nervous/shy about making phonecalls, and partly it’s a big chunk of dad. I need to get rid of them but it’s hard to take the final action.

Speaking of phonecalls, I have a few of those building up now, not least getting the lightbulb fixed in my study/computer room. It’s a strange bulb setup I’ve never seen before nor can I work it out. All I need to do is call a sparky and I’ve been putting that off too. I did at least manage to call Telstra and get a landline connected to my flat for the first time. I needed a landline in order to get an ADSL connection. I’m getting a Naked ADSL connection  which means the phone will be disconnected once the ADSL is established. Now I’m just waiting for Telstra to send me the account number so I can give it to my ISP. I s’pose I could call Telstra to ask for it but I’ve not been keen on that either.

As a consequence of things like these, other things don’t get done – like blogging, or organising, or just the day to day. Yet, when I’m work mode I get lots done…which is probably a good thing. I just wish I could get the work mode to work for home mode.

Other things I need to include writing up a report of the ALIA Library Camp I co-convened in Brissie in September, plus the Library Camp I attended in Perth a few weeks ago. I daresay I still have more things to write on ebooks, good and bad.

I’ll get there

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 post a day

It’s June. I managed two posts in May, both on the same day. Various folk around the traps have decided to respond to a challenge to blog every day during the month of June. I do have a post simmering, or at least a kindle review, and I have notes in files and bits and pieces, here and there. June would cover Sydney Filmfest too and it’s been a few years since I posted daily summaries so that may be doable, even happily so. Mostly I’m curious as to whether I can maintain the pace and if it contributes to my muse going off in new directions ie thinking with a bloggish sensibility, rather than thinking of things to blog.

to do

One thing that has long had a low priority on my to-do list is to somehow migrate the content on my old, handcoded blog to wordpress. The blog was cobbled together initially as straight html; later I did a full content/style split and created (by copying from others) its own style sheet. Eventually, I split all the main content sections (header, sidebar, body, css, rss) into separate files and used some basic php includes to stick it altogether. Even the xml in the rss feed was handcoded. I eventually moved over to wordpress so that I didn’t have to worry about handling all the code stuff every time I wanted to make a post :-)

I post this here as a visual reminder of what still needs to be done.

delay upon delay and the vagaries of sleep

Been a longish gap since I last blogged, though I will try to rectify that shortly. No news to announce, nor reason why. Simply that I have not had the mood to blog though I have had ideas that I never quite manage to flesh out. I have a couple of bookish posts to add (content collected), perhaps conferencing stuff and travel plans for the months ahead. Much travel ahead including a couple of trips overseas.

The biggest news that has continued to baffle is that I accidentally became a morning person a few weeks ago. Utter oddness. Not to mention scaring the daylights out of everyone who knows me. Being awake, alert and engaging at 7am, not to mention 6am is bloody disturbing. I seem to be waking up around 5am most days. I then lie in bed in mortal fear, waiting a couple of hours for a respectable time to arrive to get out of bed. I’m sure that as this continues I will learn there are things I can actually do in those morning hours; I have a lifetime of mad dashes, zombie drives, and ingrained habits to overcome.

I no longer need coffee to wake up.


I think this may even be healthy. I no longer seem to be spending a chunk of the day in zombie mode. I am going to bed earlier too though I can still do the late nights (in bed after 2am this morning, up at 6am, in the office by 7.30am – In Melb and office is a block away); mostly I’m going to bed around 11pm or earlier. Whereas it used to be 12.30am/1am+. Actually, the “going to bed” earlier does mean that I have less hours in the evening and I’ve not read as much of late. Mostly I’m confused. Transitioning. I will need to work out new habits, and approaches. That can’t be a bad thing.