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1November
2013

that time again

maura @ 10:21 pm

That’s right, it’s November, the month of writing. Like last year I’m planning to eschew NaBloPoMo in favor of the academic version: AcWriMo. I’ll try not to ignore this blag too much as well, though this has been a low-blagging semester already, so take that with a grain of salt, I guess.

Goals! It’s good to have goals. I’m not going to set a word count goal because I’ve got some deadlines that involve presentations and other non-strictly-writing work that I want to be able to accommodate. Really for me this month should be AcScholMo, because I’m going to count anything I do that’s related to my research and scholarship (as opposed to librarianing or service). This is the first semester since my junior faculty research leave has run out and I am frankly struggling to find time for my scholarship. But I really should be able to fit it in on most days even though there’s always lots going on. At the very least, I have a lunch hour. Right? Right. (She typed optimistically.)

So, my AcWriMo goals for this month include:

– prepping for our undergraduate scholarly habits conference presentation at the American Anthropological Association meetings in three weeks

– thinking on another conference submission due on 11/15

– radical revisions to the book proposal, because we have a new plan (yay for a new plan! related: getting a book contract is hard work.)

– creating a compelling one-sheet description of our book project that we can bring to the AAAs and use when talking with publishers

– once the proposal and one-sheet are done, implementing the radical revisions on the manuscript draft

– is working on the CUNY Games conference a scholarly thing or a service thing? whichever it is, the conference is in January so there will doubtless be lots to do this month

– if I have time, thinking on a possible new idea for a conference proposal that’s not due til January but will take some research to determine whether its truly feasible

There are a couple of potential stumbling blocks too. Thanksgiving, of course — it’s always hard to carve out time for scholarly work when we’re visiting family (and maybe I shouldn’t sweat that too much). Also the 4 days at the anthro conference. I should be able to get some work done on the plane, and with my research partner and I together for 4 days won’t we basically be working much of the time anyway, as we discuss the project nonstop and shop the new and improved book proposal around? Let’s go with yes, and if I end up eating flaming cheese* as we discuss the project then so much the better.

* Because the conference is in Chicago, and apparently saganaki was invented at the Parthenon, a Greek restaurant there. Which I think we went to during orientation week — can any faithful readers confirm that?

ANYway, I’ll check in every so often here, but also will tweet with the #AcWriMo hashtag. Game on!

7April
2013

spring break index

maura @ 10:23 pm

Days Gus had off school for Spring Break: 7 weekdays
Days I had off work for Spring Break: 2 vacation days taken

States or state-like entities visited: 3 (Delaware, Washington DC, and New York)
States driven through in transit: 2 (New Jersey, Maryland)

Cousins who were sick during our visit: 1.5 (out of 5)
Immediate family who got sick: 0 (incroyable!)

Plastic eggs filled by me and Jonathan playing the role of the Easter Bunny: 40
Peeps microwaved: 0 (they were chocolate-dipped, too messy)

People sleeping in my mom’s extra bedroom the one night we allowed a sleepover: 4
Times Gus and his cousin woke up (and woke us up): too many to count

Inches of snow predicted for the day we drove from DE to DC: 6
Inches achieved: 4ish in DE, less as we got there, just raining in DC

Days I attended the US Dept of Education’s Institutional Services grants Project Directors’ Conference: 2.5
Times I walked through Dupont Circle: 7
Times the Dupont Circles’ “Everywhere Girl” was in my head as I walked through Dupont Circle: 7

Museums visited by Gus and Jonathan: 4 (Postal Museum, Museum of Natural History, Spy Museum, National Zoo)
Museums visited by me: 2 (Postal Museum, National Zoo)

Sleepy pandas spotted at the zoo: 1, snoozing mostly behind a log
Spazzy Asian short-clawed otters spotted at the zoo: about 12 (OMG so cute and funny!)

Books read by a 6th grader during the break: 2 (Ender’s Game and Animal Farm)
Hours of 6th grade homework that awaited us upon return from parts south: approximately 8
Days until the standardized tests are over: 19

Most surprising (in a nice way) part of the break: watching Adventure Time *live* in the hotel in DC! Very fun.

12January
2013

trips to faraway lands

maura @ 2:02 pm

We took a trip for the holidays, a longish trip to a warmish place, not the usual for us at xmas. It was lovely, which took me somewhat by surprise: as someone who is especially sunburn-prone I don’t tend to seek out sunny places for vacation. But I’ve also become more and more grumpy as I age about winter’s short dark days (even worse when there’s no snow, which is pretty much the whole point of winter), so I was happy to find myself with the opportunity to relax in a warm place with beautiful scenery and few obligations.

I ended up reading more than writing while on vacation. Partly because I was reading a book about Lynda Barry and partly because I’ve been thinking more about zines recently, I’m mulling over making a zine about the trip, though I might cave and just write about it here. Not sure how I would illustrate the zine since I can’t really draw. I could cut pictures from magazines? The only paper magazines we get anymore are the New Yorker, Entertainment Weekly, Ranger Rick, and Science Illustrated, which might actually cover it.

Before that, a couple of weeks before thanksgiving, I took the train up to Saratoga Springs to speak on a panel at the New York Library Association annual conference. It was a fun time presenting with some of my favorite folks in the CUNYverse. Because there aren’t that many trains to Saratoga I ended up having to get one very very early in the morning the day before our panel, and took advantage of the travel (and the rest of that day alone in my hotel room) to finish up our book proposal. It’s been so hard to get more than a few hours at any one time to work on the book that it was just incredible to have one whole day — I got so much done!

Saratoga Springs was quaint and odd and dreamy. I called a taxi and when it pulled up was delighted to find that my cabbie was a lady! The ride was fairly short, maybe 10-15 minutes, and it cost FOUR DOLLARS. 4. $. I couldn’t help myself, I gave her a huge tip and blurted out “you can’t even get into a cab for $4 in the city!” On the cab ride we chatted about the fact that there was no snow at all, nor damage from Hurricane Sandy, that far upstate (this was right after the weird snowstorm). She called me a downstater — not in a mean way! — which I found surprising.

Wandering around the town I came across a carbonated spring and took a picture. Skidmore College is just up the road and I have to say that, now that I’ve been to Saratoga Springs, it brings Steven Millhauser’s writing to a whole different plane in my brain. I mean, of *course* you’d write stories like that if you live in Saratoga Springs. Or maybe you live in Saratoga Springs because you write stories like that? It’s hard to explain, but between the carbonated spring and the huge beautiful public library and the sullen yet charming teens hanging out on the swinging bench in the Ben & Jerry’s parking lot and the carousel on the edge of a pretty park overrun by fat noisy ducks… I could almost see the edges of the flying carpets whizzing by or the dust of the invasion from outer space settling onto the sidewalk.

Anyway, I started writing a blog post on the train on the way up to Saratoga and feel weird leaving it abandoned and unfinished, so here it is:

So much water. The river seems high, seems somewhat threatening now, even though it’s a lovely crisp fall day and the sun shines bright.

I don’t know that I’ve ever taken the train on this route before. This is the way we should have traveled to Montreal last year, but we took the bus instead, silly us. This train goes up up up along the Hudson River. Not through the old brick factory towns in Massachusetts like when we used to train to Vermont. Not through the Eastern cities like when I last took a train to a(n) (un)conference. This route’s all bluffs and cliffs and hills and trees and houses nestled in. And the wide river, I forget how wide it is in parts.

I still feel all kinds of messed up about living near water, the hurricane wasn’t long enough ago, so many folks (esp. in public housing) are still powerless and displaced. But it’s hard not to enjoy a train trip, train travel is just intrinsically delightful, Amor de Dias in my headphones and my laptop plugged in so I can work on the book proposal as the trees fly by. Jonathan called this my traincation, and he’s right.

19November
2011

bussed out

maura @ 10:26 pm

We’re home today, having only taken the quick trip north. Where quick = the length of time we spent in Montreal, not the length of time we spent on a bus. Lots of sitting, oof.

Tired tonight and lots of TV to catch up on, so please enjoy some of my random photos from the trip!

We stopped at the Duty Free on the American side of the border on the way up, and in addition to cigarettes and liquor there were many somewhat unusual finds:

lotrpez

Who doesn’t love the full set of Lord of the Rings Pez dispensers? Look at that Gollum head!

chocolate

Enormous candy abounded. I’ve only ever seen a Hershey bar this big at Hershey Park!

chupa

Also how would you even eat this gigantic lollipop? Wouldn’t it get all icky before you had a chance to finish it, like Homer’s sandwich? (Okay, how weird is it that I can only find that clip in German? Copyright stinks!)

bandages

When we got through Canadian customs we were waiting to reboard the bus near a door with this sign on it. I get that it means first aid, but it *looks* like it means “extra bandage-wrapped hands in here!”

poutine

And then there was poutine, and there was beer, and there was great rejoicing. Followed by cafe au lait and tarte de sucre, not pictured here. Candy bars were brought home as well, one Coffee Crisp and one Crunchie for each of us. Heaven forfend we ever move to Montreal because we will clearly become enormously fat!

19November
2011

this totally still counts

maura @ 10:48 am

This conference has been an interesting experiment in connectivity detox. I’m typing this on Friday evening at about 10pm, but I won’t get to post it until tomorrow because I’m too tired (and in my pajamas!) to go to the hotel lobby and it seems silly to pay for wifi in the room just to post my blag.

When we got here yesterday we thought we’d pay for wifi today, but then we were barely here at the hotel all day. There is wifi at the convention center — I won’t mention which toll access publisher sponsored it. But before our paper (at 8am!) I tried to connect and couldn’t get on. Which was probably just as well — what’s the etiquette on livetweeting your own session, anyway?

I finally figured the wifi out later on and greedily caught up on twitter and email. Otherwise I’ve been grabbing wifi in the hotel lobby as we’re coming and going, and using that to face time with Jonathan and Gus.

I guess that’s enough. Since it’s Canada here I’m not using the phone for internet, which means no connectivity except for wifi. And there’s been less wifi than I expected. I admit that I’m a little twitchy, much more so than when we were in a similar situation in London 2 1/2 years ago. There’s the usual email and rss and twitter reasons to use the internets, of course, but I also feel like there are lots of conference tweets I want to catch up on since there were sessions that seemed interesting yesterday that we couldn’t go to.

Fingers crossed there’s wifi on the bus home tomorrow. You’ll know we’re wified up if you see this post in the morning!

16November
2011

like leaves in the wind

maura @ 10:50 pm

I’m jumping from task to task right now, having a hard time focusing on getting done what needs to happen: blagging, packing, tech prep, last minute email answering, figuring out where to get poutine.

Tomorrow I’m off to Montreal for the American Anthropological Association meetings. My research partner and I are presenting about one small part of our huge honking research project on Friday morning, yay! It’s been a long time since I’ve been to a really academicy conference. Yes, we wrote a paper, and yes, we will probably read it. But our slides are good, and I think it’s okay to read a paper sometimes (she reassures herself).

Once again I’ll be traveling without my laptop, with just my ipad. I flirted with bringing the laptop for a long long time, because we will be on a bus for a long long time. But it’s just not practical to schlepp it around with me. So we’ll see how much I can get done on the bus with the pad, yo. (Fingers crossed for wifi!)

I’m looking forward to visiting Montreal again, even though it’s only really for one day. Maybe we’ll go to the archaeology museum! And the rad library, too. Right this very minute Jonathan’s verifying the quality of the poutine and tart sucre place we’re eyeballing, yum. Considering bringing an extra suitcase to stuff with coffee crisps.

Ah, go away, I have to pack!

2August
2011

elevator love letter by stars

maura @ 11:18 pm

This song used to remind me of working for Amex Publishing, because that’s when I first really started listening to Stars. When I did production on the websites I’d often put something on the headphones on repeat (we had a pretty open cubicle plan so headphones were a useful signal that someone was hunkering down to get stuff done) and Stars went well with HTML. Then we went to Montreal two summers ago and now I only think of Montreal when I think of Stars because that’s where they’re from.

Last week my research partner and I got an acceptance email from the Anthropological Association of America (AAA, but not the car kind) for the conference proposal we submitted as part of a panel on library ethnography. The conference is in Montreal this fall, so it’s been Stars in my head ever since. It’s been years and years since I’ve been to the AAAs, should be an interesting trip. The conference will be in the rainbow-hued Palais de Congres so I will finally get to see the inside, too.

13December
2010

i’ve got blu-tack on my back

maura @ 11:04 pm

As part of my 11 days 4 presentations early December extravaganza, my research partner and I presented a poster last Friday at a local conference. The speakers were great — more about them elsewhere later this week.

It’s been a long time since I’ve presented at a poster session, and I came away having had a great time and with new respect and admiration for this type of conference experience. I feel like posters are the least-desired of conference options. Everyone wants to give a paper, of course, or a panel. At the national conference for academic librarianship, at least — we didn’t really have panels back when I used to go to archaeology conferences. Papers are more exclusive, have a higher rejection rate, and thus they seem more serious.

But after last week I think posters should get more respect. It took us — by which I mean my research partner, who took the biggest time hit working with the very pretty but fussy template we were using — hours and hours and hours to get that poster laid out for printing and full of compelling text + images. It also took time to create a handout and to get the supplemental materials up on our project website, just in case anyone followed the link on our handout.

The poster session was also lots of work on the day of. At this symposium poster time = breaks, so we sort of ran back and forth between our table and the poster, running out in turns to grab coffee or hit the restroom when things got slow. There were only about 8 or so posters and 180-ish attendees, so our traffic was pretty good.

Despite all the work (and my complete inability to ride the subway home without whacking numerous passersby on the legs with the damn thing), I thoroughly enjoyed our poster presentation. It was so nice to have the opportunity to spend some time speaking *with* folks about our research rather than talking *at* them. I still get a bit nervous delivering papers/talks, too, and there are (thankfully) no butterflies when you’re just standing by an easel talking to a few people at a time. I got to meet and talk to lots of colleagues from CUNY and beyond.

Would I preferentially submit a poster in the future, given the option? That’s a good question. There is that pesky prestige problem — papers just look better on the CV. But the experience was definitely eye-opening. For sure I can say that I will certainly not avoid posters in the future. Especially if I can find a simpler template.

les tags: ,
10June
2010

just a second

maura @ 10:09 pm

I was going to write a real blag tonight, but I’m too tired. Today’s the mysterious holiday Brooklyn-Queens Day so I took the day off and Gus + I went out to the incredibly deserted, surprisingly clean beach at Fort Tilden on the Rockaways. From Brooklyn to Queens, get it? I hate the beach, really (ugh, sand) ((double ugh, sun)), but it was a gorgeous day and the kids had an utter blast, running themselves around til they were exhausted, so it’s hard to argue with that.

So, in lieu of an actual blag post, here’s some Twitter. Warning: I went to a conference last Friday so there will be a bunch of library-specific tweets in there. I also presented at the conference and was tickled to find that my talk was both livetweeted and liveblogged, w00t! Will try to post something about that soon, but probably over at my other, less goofy blag.

Today’s fun: a mostly deserted Ft Tilden. Happy Brooklyn-Queens Day! http://tweetphoto.com/26552301
about 4 hours ago via Echofon

RT @JenHoward …please email me at jennifer DOT howard AT chronicle DOT com. Thanks! That 370-page conf program is daunting. 2/2 #ala10
about 6 hours ago via web Retweeted by you

RT @JenHoward Academic librarians! If you have some advice on what sessions a higher-ed reporter should attend this at #ala10 ths year year…1/2
about 6 hours ago via web Retweeted by you

@What_Went_Wrong Cool, have fun! BTW, Gus is totally into the Warriors books, thx for the rec!
about 14 hours ago via Echofon in reply to What_Went_Wrong

Curriculum night: all about rhinos http://tweetphoto.com/26403494
Wed Jun 9 18:48:29 2010 via Echofon

Popping in to rejoin #TeamAchieve with 656 hard-fought words this morning. Better than powerpoint, at least!
Wed Jun 9 09:41:59 2010 via web

RT @TheRepoRat: RT @liber8er: Possible Boycott of Nature Publishing Group Journals at UC. http://bit.ly/d3GoGq (Yes!)
Tue Jun 8 23:39:32 2010 via Echofon

Too much powerpointing recently, need to try and do some writing tonight.
Tue Jun 8 18:55:34 2010 via Echofon

@librariAND Thanks! I sent my slides to the nelig folks if you’d like to take a look.
Mon Jun 7 23:49:23 2010 via Echofon in reply to librariAND

@What_Went_Wrong ooh, have fun!
Sat Jun 5 20:17:26 2010 via Echofon in reply to What_Went_Wrong

@aegisnyc O M G
Sat Jun 5 14:02:00 2010 via Echofon in reply to aegisnyc

Farmers market goers: +1 for buying healthy local food, but -2 for double parking yr bigass SUV at the top of the park. #ecofail
Sat Jun 5 11:36:27 2010 via Echofon

Not that there’s nothing to do, but the crunch is over. My summer of not working (most) nights & weekends starts…now! *exhale*
Sat Jun 5 09:36:27 2010 via Echofon

@divanoir yeah, you know, manhattan is just one big mall these days anyway. Brooklyn FTW!
Sat Jun 5 09:08:09 2010 via Echofon in reply to divanoir

@divanoir no way, funny!
Fri Jun 4 21:10:13 2010 via Echofon in reply to divanoir

@lifelobsters cool, thanks for the link!
Fri Jun 4 21:09:05 2010 via Echofon in reply to lifelobsters

Hearing 1 min wrapup of the day’s sessions really makes me wish I could have been in more than one place at the same time! #nelig
Fri Jun 4 15:50:12 2010 via web

RT @niathena Students more engaged with media projects than with research papers: they’re excited by sharing w/audience beyond their professor. #nelig
Fri Jun 4 15:18:19 2010 via TweetDeck Retweeted by you

Wow, awesome student podcast assignment at Colgate U w/research, writing script, peer-review and reflection paper #nelig
Fri Jun 4 15:10:47 2010 via web

credibility issue flipped is an equitable way of participating in knowledge creation, the opportunity is enormous #nelig
Fri Jun 4 11:41:39 2010 via web

Strategies for libraries: look to our peers for inspiration and collaboration #nelig
Fri Jun 4 11:33:39 2010 via web

Wow, asked kids to make videos interpreting each chapter of the book (Born Digital) — so interesting! #nelig
Fri Jun 4 11:23:50 2010 via web

Kids steal music but don’t know that there are lawful ways to use/remix other people’s copyrighted materials. #nelig
Fri Jun 4 11:18:05 2010 via web

Found big range w/kids re: credibility but most use wikipedia to get background info and find sources (good news!) #nelig
Fri Jun 4 11:13:46 2010 via web

We can encourage kids to participate and to build their own learning spaces. #NELIG
Fri Jun 4 11:07:09 2010 via web

Very long tail of participatory digital culture with kids from making a Myspace page up to writing code #NELIG
Fri Jun 4 11:04:23 2010 via web

@jtheibault hoping for the latter (tho the former would work, too). but I’m hoping to be able to draw on similarities for my work. #NELIG
Fri Jun 4 10:59:23 2010 via web

Gaming is the big thing that joins kids across socioeconomic statuses #NELIG
Fri Jun 4 10:53:13 2010 via web

Hoping to takeaway lessons about non-elite institutions from Palfrey’s talk. #NELIG #CityTech
Fri Jun 4 10:48:59 2010 via web

John Palfrey getting started w/his keynote at #NELIG
Fri Jun 4 10:43:33 2010 via web

@jrrnyc absolutely. unless it’s your own panel, then it’s not so good.
Fri Jun 4 10:39:36 2010 via web

RT @notjonathan OMG “@CarcassonneApp: Available now on the App Store: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/carcassonne/id375295479?mt=8”
Fri Jun 4 09:15:49 2010 via Twitter for iPhone Retweeted by you

No electrical outlets on the Metronorth trains :( #firstworldwhining
Fri Jun 4 07:23:50 2010 via Echofon

@edrabinski hot damn! me too — finished w/paper + slides + taking today to ignore it before presenting tomorrow. good luck!
Thu Jun 3 10:10:52 2010 via web

@ChrysalisArch Awesome — congrats! Thanks for the photo, too.
Thu Jun 3 10:09:10 2010 via web

@Annefesto Har, u crack me up! I’m working hard prepping 4 a conference pres on Fri & appreciate the early wishes!
Wed Jun 2 23:41:59 2010 via Echofon in reply to Annefesto

@cryptog xW00t!
Wed Jun 2 19:42:09 2010 via Echofon in reply to cryptog

Commencement! http://tweetphoto.com/25209221
Wed Jun 2 11:24:10 2010 via Echofon

@captain_primate I bet there will be links. we could probably get a group order going + divvy them up. (2/2)
Tue Jun 1 21:29:40 2010 via web in reply to captain_primate

@captain_primate yeah, the place we got from was min order 50. can’t find details on SPARC or OA week websites, but as Oct gets closer (1/2)
Tue Jun 1 21:28:46 2010 via web in reply to captain_primate

@captain_primate Last year we ordered ours from a place linked from the OA week website. I can try and dig up the vendor if you want.
6:09 PM Jun 1st via Echofon in reply to captain_primate

@divanoir nah, not up so late, just a coffee addict.
3:49 PM May 31st via Echofon in reply to divanoir

What the park really needs is a roving coffee vendor.
1:43 PM May 31st via Echofon

@Annefesto I know! We’re actually trying to get him to start a blog so he has an outlet for videogame details that isn’t us. Stay tuned!
11:53 PM May 30th via Echofon in reply to Annefesto

Gus & friend are deconstructing the relationship btwn Bowser, Peach & Mario over dinner. Hilarious. And such attention to detail!
7:22 PM May 30th via Echofon

@edrabinski As well you should! I’m tired & having a hard time banging out the words, but 700 should finish the presentation so I press on.
5:15 PM May 30th via web in reply to edrabinski

@lwaltzer Dude, the hidden downside of literacy. Happens to us too.
12:17 PM May 30th via Echofon in reply to lwaltzer

Guess how long the bike ride lasted before we had to stop for a hot dog? http://tweetphoto.com/24742398
12:14 PM May 30th via Echofon

les tags: , , , ,
31May
2010

a sad confession

maura @ 9:57 pm

I’ve had my laptop for over a year now, and have been proud to have very little closed, corporate software installed. A few smallish applications here and there — e.g., BBEdit, Omnigraffle — all fully purchased, thank you very much. But I’d avoided the big evil: Microsoft Office. Instead I went with OpenOffice, the open source, freely available word processing/spreadsheet/presentation software alternative.

The interface is a little clunky, but I’ve gotten used to it by now and I know which menu options have all of the tools I commonly use. Sometimes there’s a bit of weirdness moving files between OpenOffice on my home machine and Word on my PC at work, but it’s not that big of a deal. Usually it’s just on the order of bullets being replaced with little checkboxes or something similarly innocuous. The bullets print out okay so I figure all’s well that ends well.

There is one quite significant stumbling block with OpenOffice though, and that’s the presentation software. No matter how hard I try, bad things seem to happen when I move a file back and forth between OpenOffice presentation and PowerPoint. Backgrounds disappear, fonts go wacky, I can’t print the slides in Notes view, that sort of thing. For the past year I’ve managed this mostly by creating all of my presentations at work using PowerPoint, since it’s pretty much guaranteed that any computer I’ll need to use for a presentation will have PP and not OO. But this weekend I hit the wall with that strategy. I’m giving a presentation at the end of the week, and it’s a long enough talk that I really need to be able to create my slides while I’m at home. The presentation is at a conference, and I realized yesterday that I’m just not willing to leave things to chance by using OpenOffice to make my slides.

So I installed Microsoft Office on my machine yesterday. The whole kit + kaboodle, even Entourage (does anyone even use that? what the heck does it even do?).

It makes me feel low. I wanted to stick with the open source stuff. I hate the MS monopoly. But then I realized that I hadn’t even gotten away from it when I was relying solely on OpenOffice: I never once saved a file in the native OpenOffice format. Every file I have is saved as a .doc or a .xls, which I needed to do so I could use the files at work as well as at home. I was locked in to the closed source system without even using the applications.

Now I’m part of the MS matrix again, sigh. Except that the joke’s on me, in two ways:

1. The interface for the Mac version of Word is significantly different than for the PC version, so I’m kind of lost when it comes to menu options.

2. Word and Excel display with such a high resolution that I need to increase the view size to comfortably compose text. I hate it when I get docs from folks who have the view cranked up to 150%, now I know why they do it!

I guess I will get used to these new “features.” But in the meantime I am still using OpenOffice to view .doc and .xls files. Old habits, etc.