Thursday, June 25, 2009

Newsy stuff

Kara and I are both up in NY now which is just amazing. Having Kara here is so very, very good. I think the apartment is going to be a good fit for us. Our downstairs neighbors are fantastic and really friendly w/ all sorts of tips about where to get stuff. I think it will a good living situation with them. Moving went really well w/ many thanks to Dad Morse and Drew w/ whom I packed the truck until 11:15 pm on Friday night which enabled us to be on the road by 10 am on Sat. This was the scariest drive I've ever done. The truck was only 16 foot but there were a handful of times where the back started swaying like some giant hand was rocking the load back and forth. I'm not going to lie-these were times that very short, direct, vocal prayers were uttered. I was not going especially fast 55-60 but the bumps in the road apparently were not congruent with the truck's load. Serious kudos also go to Jeremy Finn, Hanan and Brent from 1st Presbyterian for helping us unload after spending the morning doing hard labor elsewhere. (Hanan is about 6'2'', 225 lbs. plays defensive tackle for SUNY Brockport and has quads that are bigger than my chest. He was running up and down the sidewalk w/ boxes, basically treating the whole thing like some sort of football drill-it was awesome!!) It was also excellent to have my mom lay out some serious food for us afterwards.
Kara and I went with Jeremy and Alisha and Alisha's parents to walk through a building in downtown Endicott that Jeremy and Alisha are contemplating buying in order to turn it into a community center/outreach place/youth center/apartments/music lessons which we are planning/hoping on being invovled with. The building is huge. It's two storefronts but zoned as one building w/ both buildings measuring 29'x90' and three stories. At the very least the heating pipes and system would need revamped, the electrical needs revamped and some very serious cleaning/painting would need to be done. There's all kinds of volunteer labor lined up but this would be a lifelong investment for Jeremy and Alisha (Endicott real estate sells even slower than hot coffe in the Sahara and has approx. the same value) so please pray for them as they contemplate this decision. This building has some tremendous potential but it would require an porportionally great amount of energy and work.
Kara is working two nights a week at the barn where our two (2) horses are being kept in order to help pay for their board. It's a pretty sweet barn and the owner is quite nice and cool even though I almost let Johnny (our horse) out bc I didn't close the stall door all the way and after taking off his halter he pushed past me and the door and went galumphing around the barn. Bah.
Work has been seriously awesome. Davis College is working towards establishing a elementary educaiton program next fall and they gave me a serious chunk of change to buy books w/ so my office is currently invaded by stacks of ya/juvenile ficiton. The difficult part is not to read them all-there are some seriously good things being written. We're also weeding our cassette and VHS collection to make more space on the main floor for students to study and hang out. There were 6,000 tapes of which there are about 300-400 left to delete. I finished up removing the unwanted VHS tapes today, of which there were about 500 so those will move upstairs. All this to say I'm really pleased with the schedule. However I wanted to upgrade the library catalog system to Koha 3.0 and I haven't even come close to touching that and I'm also teaching two sections of a freshman computer course next semester and so far I have a rough outlined schedule and the syllabus mostly done. Got some work to do on that.

Things approaching
We are headed up to Maine next Friday for a glorious 9 days in Maine.
I, finally and for real this time, finish my masters at the end of July.
Kara and I are headed out to the Newport Folk Festival on August 1st w/ Lori and Geoff.
Please note that FLEET FOXES, Iron & Wine, The Avett Brothers, The Low Anthem, The Decemberists and Pete Seeger are going to be there on Saturday.
There is a DFW conference in November for which I'm working on a paper that needs to be submitted by Aug. 8th; got notes but need to do a bit more research and writing for that to be ready.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Dave Eggers Interview

Via Steve Schenkberg's blog/site here's an awesome interview with Dave Eggers from The Rumpus. He talks a lot about his new nonfiction book coming out soon named Zeitoun which, based on the interview, looks likes it going to be a good read. The best part of the interview, in my estimation, is toward the end where Eggers is talking about print and Internet.

Eggers... I have optimism about print because I see these kids [students from Egger's 826 groups] and how much they love to read. And they work on our student newspapers and anthologies and a dozen other print projects. They really have a thing for print. And I do too. I fear sometimes we’re actually giving up too soon. We adults have to have faith. And we have to rededicate ourselves to examining what in any given issue of our daily papers is really speaking to anyone under 18. That’s a challenge. I was just in Chicago, and the Tribune there does all kinds of very interesting stuff to reach out to younger readers. It’s something that we all have to think about.

Rumpus: So you’re not looking at a post-paper world.

Eggers: My admittedly strange opinion is that we need to try harder with print. We can’t just give up on it. Inevitably there will be some loss of newspaper readership, but even that will stabilize. Not everyone wants all their news online. Do we all want to look at screens from 8am to 10pm? There’s room in the world for both online and paper. It doesn’t have to be zero-sum. I guess that’s one of the things that’s always frustrating to hear, that the rise of the Internet means the death of print. There’s always this zero-sum way of painting any given industry or trend, while the reality will be more nuanced. I think newspapers that adjust a bit will survive and still do great work. But we do need to give people reasons to pay money for the physical object. The landscape right now does require that we in the print world try harder. We have to think of the things that print does best, and do those things better than ever before. We need to use the paper, maximize the physical product."

Happy Bloomsday!!

Bloomsday is the name given to June 16th which is the day that James Joyce's book Ulysses occurs. Around the US, and I think the world, people get together for a whole day of reading through Ulysses. People will also sing the several musical sections as well.(These are not regular people either-these are individuals from the Phila Academy of Vocal Arts and from the Philadelpiha Opera. So when they sing it's tremendous.) I had the distinct pleasure of going to the Rosenbach two years ago for the last three hours of Bloomsday there and it was awesome! Most, if not all, the readers bring their own copies of Ulysses and follow along in their own copies. The Rosenbach gets permission to block of the street setting up a large semi-circle in front of one of the steps of the row homes directly to the right of the museum. The orators then read from the podium.(Here's a list of this year's orators. Passerbys, wondering what a large group of people sitting  in white metal/plastic folding chairs or standing, squatting, leaning against walls, crouched on curbs while a man appears to talking about being in a pub w/ no apparent pub in sight, swing by for a short listen and then move on. There's also a Bloosmday newspaper of which I do not recall the exact name. This newspaper contains events from Leopold Bloom's day as well as the schedule of reading and a crossword puzzle which, if you win (the crossword puzzle) you are then offered the chance to read a section at the following year's Bloomsday festivities. I did find out that Syracuse has a James Joyce society and is much closer than Phila so I'm going to try to plan for next year to head up to Syracuse. There's a decent section of Ulysses that is marked Ithaca but I've have not done any hard-core research to see if Itahca, NY (also close to me) fully appreciate this with a day-long reading.
I was hoping to go this year but that didn't quite fit with the schedule of moving at the end of this week.Since I cannot bring Bloomsday directly to you, please enjoy the following Bloomsday rag.

Bloomsday Rag

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Preparing to Sell E-Books, Google Takes on Amazon

Preparing to Sell E-Books, Google Takes on Amazon

My favorite sentence from this article: "Google’s move is likely to be welcomed by publishers who have expressed
concerns about the possibility that Amazon will dominate the market for
e-books with its aggressive pricing strategy." Wait a second. So the same company that 1) maps our streets, 2) has the highest used search engine available 3) tracks/records/remembers you and your searches 4) creates sidebar ads in gmail that attempt to be related to the email text are now not only selling e-books but in selling e-books are helping to prevent a monopoly? I'm not entirely sure that excitement about one gigantic company dominating another gigantic company in a particular area is really cause for celebration. Yes it is good that Amazon has competition but does it have to be from Google? Maybe instead of releasing e-books maybe they could get one of their projects out of beta-testing. (cough*GMAIL*cough) Just a thought.