Some notes in lieu of a new year’s post and Midwinter post

Call it ego, but I don’t think I can let this go unremarked, although I apparently tried for three days…

“This” is a really interesting post by Dorothea Salo about the power of blogging in specific situations–but that’s not the reason I’m linking to it. (It might be the reason it turns up in a C&I piece–or might not–but that would be because of the real content.)

Nope. It’s this paragraph:

Over the last couple years I’ve learned that I can do professional writing, though it takes a hell of a lot out of me and I don’t think I will ever find it easy. Speaking is worlds easier, and whole universes more fun. (Combine Walt Crawford, to whom good writing comes as naturally as breathing, and me and you’d have one frighteningly effective public-figure librarian.)

Thanks, Dorothea. Not that I wasn’t a pretty good speaker back when I was in demand, but “to whom good writing comes as naturally as breathing…” Wow. Them’s kind words.

And, as I noted back to her in email, “Sometimes I have trouble breathing.” Which, fortunately, is not true (although if I ate a banana I might have terminal trouble in that regard)…but there are certainly times I have trouble with (some forms of) writing. Naturally, I’ve written about that too. When I had two monthly print columns, a bimonthly print column, and Cites & Insights, I managed to use “if you’re not ready to write X, write Y instead” to keep from missing deadlines. With two bimonthly print columns and a supposed state of semi-retirement, it’s easier to say “if you’re not ready to write X, read something instead–you’ll get around to it.”

Which I usually do, but it can be painful. When life offers a range of excellent excuses to avoid writing, it can be really painful.

Which is another way of saying that I haven’t written any of the essays for C&I 8:2 yet–and by now, I should have about a third of an issue ready. (Well, I do, but it’s another Offtopic Perspective.) As acute observers of C&I 8:1 may guess, I haven’t really focused on the range of usual C&I topics for a while now, making an exception for book digitization projects… I’m sure that will change after Midwinter. It had better. Of course, now that I’ve published a January issue on January 1, I could theoretically publish a February issue even a little later in February…

What was that slogan from a six-book trilogy (which we saw as a not-all-that-good flick)? Don’t Panic? I won’t. Of course, writing this post (and another one to come) is one way of procrastinating… (I’ve already done the “do Y”: I’m my usual month early on “disContent” with what I think is a tightly focused 850 words that came about partly because I wasn’t ready to work on C&I. And, for that matter, I finished writing Academic Library Blogs: 231 Examples partly to avoid working on C&I; it will be available in two or three weeks, after I receive and approve proof copies from Lulu and CreateSpace. $29.50, of course, and just a few pages shorter than Public Library Blogs: 252 Examples. So far, I’m disinclined to combine the two into Walt’s Big Book of Library Blogs, but if I thought there was a market for that $50 580-page combination…)

Serious rambling here. Short form: Thanks, Dorothea. It ain’t always as easy as it looks–although, once I’m ready to write something, the words do flow. (No, I can’t and don’t do “15 minutes every day regardless.” For me, at least, that would yield choppy writing that read like it was written in little pieces…and probably take a lot longer than just not writing on Those Days and settling in when the time is right. My practice. Not suggested or recommended for anyone else.)

I didn’t really do a “here’s what I did last year and am going to do better this year” post, except by inference here and there. Fact is, last year was traumatic in some ways, enormously productive in others, and I don’t regard it as emblematic of any sort of succession. At least I hope not: I’m not sure I could cope.

One motto that popped up at several key points last year and that resounds in my mind when I read certain bits of advice these days does apply–for me, at least.

Life is too short.

Yes, I’ve turned down an invitation because it would put me on the same program with someone who I really couldn’t abide (worse, it would have me introducing someone as a principal speaker, someone who’s insulted me in writing and in public). Either I was being asked to increase the audience size, in which case I’d be lending my cachet (my cachet? I have a cachet?) under false pretenses, since I fundamentally disagree with this other person’s approach and persona–or I was being asked either to create a controversy or out of ignorance as to my stance. Either way, I lose. I’d do the same thing again with no apologies. Life is too short.

Oh, and yes, I’ve avoided some situations because I was pretty sure they’d put me in contact with one of maybe three people in the whole field who I really find grating on a personal level, and the situations didn’t have enough going for them to overbalance that. Why not? Life is too short.

That’s also getting to be my internal response when I see someone with a high-profile speaking or writing gig and think maybe I could have done a better job on it, if I was more of a go-getter. Life is too short, and since I’ve made a deliberate practice of encouraging new writers/speakers and treating people as people regardless of their highfalutin’ reputation or lack thereof, it’s absurd to grump when other people do well. I should celebrate their successes. Mostly, these days, I do. Life is too short to do otherwise.

The trifecta section: Why I’m not posting a Midwinter schedule.

Oh, I’ll be there–from Friday afternoon through Monday night (leaving way too early Tuesday morning, to match my middle-of-the-night drive to SFO on Friday), at the Embassy Suites Center City. I could even say “Of course I’ll be there. Midwinter 2008 is the formal launch of the PALINET Leadership Network. How am I not going to be there?”

But that formal launch also means my schedule will be changing up to the last working hour on Thursday and quite possibly beyond. If I can talk to people from library publications about PLN (open to all English-reading [potential] library leaders, free, great stuff), I will, and those who are trying to set things up know that. I’ll probably spend some time at the PALINET booth as well, although maybe not a lot–PALINET has a lot going on this conference, what with VuFind, Villanova University’s “open source discovery tool that replaces the traditional online public access catalog (OPAC) without requiring a new integrated library system (ILS).”

What I think I know so far, all subject to change:

  • I hope to make part of the LITA Happy Hour Friday, and maybe head off with some strange colleagues (you know who you are) afterwards, but it’s a hope, not an expectation.
  • I plan to attend the ALCTS Medium Heads DG on Saturday morning, since it’s on a topic of particular interest for PLN (succession planning).
  • I will most definitely attend PALINET’s member reception, which probably means I’ll miss another reception that I would normally make a point of attending.
  • I might hit LITA Public Library Technology IG on Saturday morning and NextGen Catalogs IG Sunday afternoon. I might not.
  • I’ll probably be at part or all of that saloon thingy–oh, wait, Blogger’s Salon, not saloon. Or not: There may be conflicts there as well.
  • So far, Monday’s wide open. I imagine that will change.

I anticipate having at least two and maybe four or more other meetings scheduled while I’m there. I also anticipate lots of time in the exhibits–and if the weather turns out to be nice, Philadelphia is a great walking town.

Want to get together? Send me a note before Thursday evening. I’ll have a cell phone, but only outbound and only for emergencies–and no, I’m not Twittering.

Ah, what the heck. Now that I’ve killed three birds with one post, why not go for a foursome?

I don’t carry a portable computer. My wife owns one, but it’s one designed for good value rather than light weight.

I’ve thought about the possibility that what I’m doing might make it much more desirable at some point to change that practice–to have “something” along when I’m traveling so I can do web-based things and maybe a little lightweight writing. I’ve also thought about my desire for traveling light, my sometimes-frugal nature, and my bad habit of leaving valuable things sitting around places (otherwise known as “Why I carry a $5 compact umbrella, not a $20 Totes”).

If I did need access on the road, I’m pretty sure I know what I’d buy, at least in today’s market. Hmm. Inexpensive. Semi-decent full keyboard. Decent screen. VERY lightweight and fairly rugged.

Nope, not that one. I’d give you the reasons, but only in person.

This one, silly as its name is: eee–by Asus. Two pounds, 7″ screen, not touch-typable but a plausible undersize keyboard, wifi built in, 4GB memory (flash, of course) for $400…

Yes, it runs Linux (Ubuntu, I think). That seems like the sensible thing to use on this kind of cut-down, hard-diskless PC.

Am I likely to get one of these (or some equivalent)? Unless someone’s in a silly mood, only time will tell. Frankly, all else being equal, I really rather like being off the air when I’m traveling.

3 Responses to “Some notes in lieu of a new year’s post and Midwinter post”

  1. Meredith says:

    You’re allergic to bananas? You are the first person I’ve ever met who is (other than myself). It’s such a weird allergy, though unless you’re in the Caribbean drinking fruity frozen drinks, they’re pretty easy to avoid.

    I’ve been thinking about getting one of those teeny tiny notebooks too. I’m waiting for the Everex Cloudbook to come out though I’ve heard good things about the Eee PC as well. I think Fujitsu is also coming out with one soon. I was thinking about getting a smart phone, but the cost of a data plan was so high that it made more sense (given the fact that I live in rural VT) to get a tiny computer instead for conferences.

    Anyways, hope to see you at Midwinter! Congrats in advance on the launch!

  2. walt says:

    Yep. Deathly allergic; developed it just before teenage years (after loving bananas as a kid). That’s literally the only thing that kept me out of Viet Nam (my birthday was #1 on the lottery! Yeah! Number one!). The only problems are that you have to stay away from most fruit salad–and, as far as I know, smoothies are right out of the question, since all the packaged ones I’ve seen are smooth because they’re based on bananas. Otherwise, no prob. I was told that it’s not all that uncommon among people who (like me) don’t have many of the usual allergies (for example, I was never sensitive to poison oak, although I won’t test that).

    Yes, it would be nice to run into you in Philadelphia, maybe on the exhibit floor.

    Note that I’m thinking about a flash-based mininotebook…and may do so for a while. I still haven’t replaced my desktop (new in July 2002), although that could happen any Sunday now, depending on sale offerings. As long as it’s feasible, I really, really like “traveling without technology.”

  3. I’m lucky never to have been asked to share a stage with anyone I find even mildly bothersome.

    I will say, however, that I’m with you: there are one or two people I will not under any circumstances go anywhere near. (In one case I am actually afraid to.) And I can say with a high degree of confidence that there’s a rather larger group of people who would hightail it away from any stage containing me — and I don’t have a problem with that.

    Speaking is stressful enough. The people around you shouldn’t make it worse.