Thursday, February 28, 2008

Buddhists, Books, Bikes and Beer

In the 6 short days I've been in Portland, I've really come to like this town and it's people. Last night we went to Bailey's Taproom, which has 20 local beers on tap. And even though I didn't personally taste them all, I hear they were all very excellent.

This morning dawned bright and sunny and during a long walk alongside the Willamette River I got to watch a real live bike commuters. Hundreds of them all riding using their bikes to get to work. How cool is that! I also got to see Mt. Hood for the first time this trip. The picture certainly doesn't do it justice.

The after the conference ended I (and several other library-types) headed up to Powell's Books for some excellent browsing and coffee.

Add all that with last Saturday's amazing Buddhist retreat - and Portland is definitely in the running for my favorite city.

Oh-and the people, they're just great. Friendly and outdoorsie, and just my kind of people.. here's a book recommendation by way of example.

Hiking Hot Springs in the Pacific Northwest: Hiking through the woods, stripping down to nothing, getting into hot smelly water, and then reeking of sulfur for the rest of the day is one of my very favorite things to do. Lucky for me, this book exists solely to inform me as to the location of some of the best hot springs in the Pacific Northwest.

Tomorrow I'm heading up the Columbia River Gorge - no stinkie hot springs however, I'm going hunting for waterfalls.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Day 3

The presentations are starting to blurr together.

Basically a lot of cool people are doing some very cool things. I'm putting together some organizational spreadsheets grouping (yeah - classifying) the talks together by:

  • Open Source Library Systems
  • Content Management Systems
  • MARC related
  • Other topics (which will probably break into other categories

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Internet Archive

This morning's keynote was delivered by Brewster Kahle. It was on the Internet Archive; Open Library. The talk was much the same as the one he gave at the Technology in History conference last year at Brown, however while that was theoretical, the project is now up and running. There was even an article on it, and its issues in the Journal of Higher Education.

(They are also working with zotero (see previous post) on creating a scholarly commons)

Meanwhile a code4lib regular told me about the irc channel that a lot of people log into during the conference. - basically its a chat room. So right now while listening to the presentation there is a comment conversation going on in the chatroom - sort of a reality check, and very informative.

Next: Rob Styles from Talis - a UK vendor
"Finding Relationships in MARC" appears to be about RDF but with a really good slide show which I hope becomes available, but they are also recording it, and it's on Rob Styles blog at:

"Delivering Library Services in the Web 2.0 Environment" OSU

Put resources where the student were - put links/info on the course pages. There is an opensource client. Takes only a few minutes to make a page.

Alot of the libraries were comparing this to Libguides. (which I can't load right now to read more about.)

Another one to check out is Vu-find. Still looking good, but I can't forget our goals - that the data only lives one place. It can be harvested but again, can only live in one place.

The real reason I'm here

You know you're at a geek conference when you spend the day trying to download ubuntu, but the connection is too slow because the other 200 people in the room are also using the internet...and then, the next day you discover that all along, they had free ubuntu CD's at the registration desk.

Yesterday there were 3 sessions, 2 workshops on installing open source library systems, LibraryFind and Evergreen, and 1 on Zotero. From the first 2 we learned that the systems are just as complex as they ever were and you need a mid range knowledge of linux and its quirks to be successful. Of the two systems I'd say LibraryFind offers the most potential for MSM. At the same time as those sessions there was a rogue group doing an install of koha which I heard went much smoother, nice looking system too.

The zotero sessions was good and I started building a translator (zotero code4lib page) for Mobius. With the zotero extension in firefox users can create custom collections from various sites. In the next release they are working toward making those collections shared. They are also working on various geographic interfaces and are looking for beta testers for the next release.

Afterwards about 10 of us headed to a the Rogue Brewery where we ran into another group of 20 or so attendees. I had a hazelnut beer which was interesting. We spent a good deal of time talking about the California Digital Library (4 of them were in the group) and debating why the restrooms were labeled "Barley" and "Hops".

Monday, February 25, 2008

Best Cities and States

What makes for a great city, a great state? Is it the people, industry, coffee, parks, restaurants, shopping, weather, bookstores, transportation systems or something else entirely?

I'm not sure but Denver, CO is my favorite city so far. Arizona/Utah my favorite state (actually what they call the four corners area)

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Adventures in Buddhism

Saturday I attended a retreat on the Heart Sutra that was given by Ken McLeod. I've been reading his books and following a podcast of his Tuesday night classes for the last 3 months and was very happy to find he was holding this retreat in Portland a few days before the conference. He lives and teaches in L.A. and I've no desire to go there.

It was very good to see and hear him in person. Really amazing. I've never run across anyone who made so much so clear. By the end of the day the Heart Sutra was revealed. Of course, I'm not enlightened yet...just know a little more. It's the experience that continues to allude.

The other people were great too. There were about 50 all together, and everyone very welcoming.

The Hawthorne district, where the Portland Dharma Center is located, is a charming neighborhood. Nice houses, many bungalows, great coffee shops, and gardens! Spring flowers are just starting to bloom. Daffodils, and crocus were just starting to open. The sun was out and the walk there and back from City Central was lovely. Bittersweet too considering we won't be enjoying this in New England for another month or two. Ah well. All form is emptyness, emptyness form anyway.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Gee Wiz!

Mystic gets snow and I'm in Portland Oregon. Can't complain too much because it is 50 degrees and sunny, but still...

The trip was eventful. The snow starting a little earlier than expected caught the PVD airport crew off guard and we had to wait 45 minutes for them to plow the runway. There weren't many on the flight so atleast we could spread out for the wait and the flight. Once in Chicago we discovered that there were about 10 of us who missed our flight to Portland and we all got to go to Kansas City. That flight was packed. I met Ricky and Ann. Ann lives in Lawrence and after a lifetime of being a Republican has become a Democrat (and not just because of George), she's even donated money to the Obama campaign. Ricky was an engineer of some kind. Friendly guy who liked to talk.

Once in Kansas City the Portland-bound gang boarded the plan waiting at the next gate and in less than 30 minutes we were in the air again.

Portland. So far all I've done is take the Light Rail downtown to the Embasy Suites where I'll be for the next few days, and then walked around Pioneer Square. The light rail was cool. I do love mass transit, but down town was not so impressive. I could be tired however.

Back home you're all enjoying the snow.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Tanya's Pictures

Tanya's also posted her pictures of the big ice climbing adventure.

This is a great shot. Gives a good idea of the scale and site. That little head is Crystals. In my album there is a picture of Tanya on top of the wall taking a photo down at us. This is that photo.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Alls well that ends well

Last weekend in a series of comedic twists worthy of Shakespeare, although minus the gender mix-ups, Chris, Gerald and John ended up climbing on Saturday in Smugglers Notch, VT while Crystal, Tanya and I climbed on Sunday somewhere near Kingston, NY.

Ice Climbing is great way to spend a winter day outdoors. You get to hike into the quiet winter woods to what is inevitably a beautiful place where ice has formed high enough to make a scalable wall, and then you get to play there for as long as your calves and arms will allow. Personally I liked repelling the most, but climbing was nice too. Trying to read the ice and learn which spots would hold the axe, and how to get your toes into the wall was challenging, and 'standing' on the wall when you found a good spot was exhilarating.

Our guide, Bill, was perfect. You could tell that he knew what he was doing and he was such a good instructor that I learned a lot without realizing it, and I got a good 2/3 of the way up the highest wall. Much further than expected.

If you ever consider going Ice Climbing, here's a few recommendations:
  • Do pick up the recommended gaiters - they really don't cost much, and work much better than duct tape.
  • Bring a small pad or other foamish thing to sit on during lunch - ideally it would both keep your butt from getting wet and insulate same from the ice.
  • Make sure you are in reasonably good shape and good health. I'd say I was borderline.
  • Starting a few weeks beforehand do calf raises, and pull ups - you'd probably be okay without this but I suspect your experience would be better if you had as much strength as possible.
  • Dress for a day sitting outside at the forecasted temperature. You'll be much warmer when climbing, but you're not always climbing.
Enjoy the slideshow:

Photo album

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Worlds Collide

  • Activity world - I still on a stationary bike and watch the watt read out
  • Ethical world - - wondering if there is a way to tap into that wattage to power equipment and thereby leave even less of a trace on this world.
  • Work world - a post at Slashdot announces a knee brace that generated electricity from walking

KaBoom! - why not set up all gyms so they actually mini generators? It solves two big problems facing America.
1. The energy shortage
2. The increasing obesity rates

hey - it's not just the superbowl that could benefit.
Buy the pedal-a-watt

The Next Adventure

So the time to begin pondering the next adventure is here. The Pacific Coast bike trip has been canceled, the leg is healing, vacation days are accumulating.

What to do?

First and foremost there is a bike ride across Legacy Annual Bike Ride Across Utah. And I'm definitely going for that, but its not until Sept. 7 - 13, 2008.

Some options between now, then and beyond include:

  • Backpacking the New Hampshire section of the AT
  • Driving to Amy's graduation in Iowa and continuing on to Yellowstone or something out that way (with bike if possible)
  • A week cycling Quebec's Route Verte
  • Backpacking in The Grand Canyon (but you have to apply for the backcountry permit 4 months in advance)
  • All the above!
In the meantime I'm going Ice Climbing with some of the ACO/EMS crew this coming weekend.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7...

Late last night while the rest of the world was kicking back for some Saturday night fun, the gang at ACO were counting. We were counting techwick, luna bars, Denalis, shoes, jackets... you name it, if ACO sells it, we counted it. (Adam - pictured left is counting 235 hats).

Yes, faithful readers, last night was Inventory! It's what I consider the actual end of the Christmas season because this is the low point, merchandise-wise, of the year. Prior to Christmas the racks and the back room are piled with stuff. Everywhere we can hang, or pack something it is hung and packed. Immediately following Christmas the sales begin and the racks empty. And when they are at their very emptiest, Inventory-specialists from out of no-where descend on the store for a wild night of counting. They count everything once, then we count everything again. Not a bad system when you think of it.

In past years the Inventory Specialists have been late (a big mean nasty snow storm - of 2 inches), and humorless. This year however we had a great crew and during the Irish music selection I managed one of my longest juggling sections ever, (nothing beats the Dubliners for setting a good rhythm), Chris, Gerald and I had a sing along to Flogging Molly's "What's Left of the Flag", Adam attempted a jig, and we almost got Luis to actually do one.

Next week the Spring gear will start arriving, and the year begins again.

PS To all past members of the ACO Inventory Crew - Brandon, Adam, Brian, Jeremy, Karen - we missed you!

Friday, February 08, 2008

One Quote to Say It All

An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered.
An inconvenience is an adventure wrongly considered.

- GK Chesterton

This guy is a genius.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Philospohical musings from the saddle

What are they thinking? Or perhaps they're not? As I pedal away on the stationary bike I can't help but wonder why, oh why, do they still have those fat saddles on these bikes. Hasn't the bike community learned, tested and perfected women's saddles. They work on road bikes, why not use them in the gym?

Today I snuck into the "spinning room" and even those bikes have the fat seats.

Soon, I will sneak back on to my real bike!

Saturday, February 02, 2008

One of the many

Going to the gym day after day is much more of a mental than physical task. While some may say every day at the gym is not necessary, and they'd be correct, one of the keys is to develop the habit. And the only way to develop the habit is to go every day until your body takes over and demands to Go.

Until that magical time, which is a bit longer than the three days a friend once told me, I've learn to rely on is motivational literature. Strides: Running Through History With an Unlikely Athlete is one such book. Written by "plodding" marathon runner Benjamin Cheever, the book takes you through his history with running, western culture's history with marathons up until the present day and the marathon's history with Kenya. Cheever also does a great job of describing why those of us who will never excel at a sport, especially the long distance ones, still carry on, enjoying it for the sheer joy of doing it.

I'll never run a marathon, I'll probably never even run a mile again, but I do love the long distance bike ride and Cheever's book both helped pass away a few of those convalescing hours and gets me to the gym day after day in hopes of many more hours on the road.

PS. For a better description of the book here's a link to the New York Times Book Review.