Farewell, 28

It’s my last day as a twenty-eight year old! When I wake up tomorrow, I will be 29. Rumour has it that’s a good year, in general. It’s going to have to work prettttty hard to top what came before it.

This year I:

  • levelled up to Librarian III
  • got married!!!!
  • started running and ran a 5k
  • got my G2 license

As well, I:

  • wrote a (short) novel as part of National Novel Writing Month
  • went hiking in the Lakes district
  • volunteered for my first political campaign
  • saw a little more of America, travelling to DC, Baltimore, Austin, and Charleston, with lovely friends at every stop!
  • sang all over town with my beloved choir

There were low points as well. Someday the beginning of a great joke will start with the story of how I actually hit another car on the way to get my drivers’ license. People whom I love very much struggled. Sometimes I was my best self to help them. Sometimes it was really hard to be present, and helpful, and loving and I could have done better. These moments are documented as well, just a little more privately.

I would characterize my state of being at the end of this year as calmed. No one has ever used this word to describe me, but it’s starting to be true. I feel more centred than I have in a long time, maybe ever. Wedding planning was not a calming experience, but being married very much is. Running is a huge part of that.

I haven’t dreamed up many lofty goals for next year. Running more! Getting more self-directed projects off the ground at work! Being a good and useful human! Will report back more regularly, I hope.

 

My first race: the Longboat 5k

As I look around the great, wide internet, I can’t help but notice how many people blog their running. As a new (and newly obsessed) runner, I thought I’d write my own little race report, though I’m a bit late in coming to it.

My first ever race was the Longboat Roadrunners’ Toronto Island 5k, which happened September 7th. I had heard a few people recommend the course—flat, scenic, and very friendly, which sounded just right for a first-timer.

The race started at 11 but if you’ve struggled to get to the Island, you know you need to get your butt in gear a lot earlier. As I wasn’t sure how I’d feel afterwards, I figured I’d take the subway rather than bike. It was only when I woke up that I remembered that the subway doesn’t open til 9 on Sunday. Stupid archaic TTC.

I made it to the 9 o’clock ferry with minutes to spare and met up with my dear old pal Leslie in the ferry line. Leslie is too humble to talk about her running, but she is freakin fantastic. She ran a marathon in Phoenix last year and is training for the Scotiabank Waterfront Marathon next month. She is fast, and disciplined, and totally zen about it all. She was the perfect friend to have when I was so jittery.

Love you, Leslie!

Love you, Leslie!

It was an absolutely gorgeous day, sunny and warm, and we got to the race area by 9:45 and checked our bags, looked at all the merch (oops, I bought gear) and then sat in the grass. We stretched, Leslie did a warm-up jog….and then there was still plenty of time.

Ready to go!

Ready to go!

And then, suddenly, it was time to part ways. My shorter run started 15 minutes before Leslie’s, so I said farewell and headed to the start line, suddenly thinking, “oh my God…am I going to run a race? I can’t do that! I hate running!”

And then I was at the start line. I had looked at the times from last year and they ranged from under 15 minutes to over an hour, so I figured I should start towards the middle. I didn’t have a particular goal in mind, but finishing in 30 minutes seemed like a nice idea.

Longboat 5k start

Thanks for the pic, Mason! And yes, I’m wearing my Make Soknacki Mayor hat (sighhh).

I couldn’t really hear the announcements right before the gun went off, and I was suddenly stressing about the logistics of starting RunKeeper and my music at the right moment without bothering or slowing anyone else. How do people do that?! Why hadn’t I practiced that!?

Welp, that turned out to be a non-issue. When the gun went off, everyone around me did the same thing—and we were only walk/shuffling anyway until we were well past the start line. And then all of a sudden the trail opened up and I could just…run. And run I did! Yes, I was consistently passed by groups of small children and yes, the ragweed situation on the Island is outrageous and terrible- But I was running!

I felt great through the first two kilometres, okay on kilometre three, and pretty crappy as I got towards four. We came out of a wooded clearing and on to a boardwalk next to Lake Ontario, and it was hot and running on wood felt weird and suddenly my legs felt tired…but it couldn’t be that much longer, could it? If I got to four, then five must be close, mustn’t it? I was starting to fade when I came upon a really awesome lady cheering wildly for everyone—and then suddenly there was the finish line, with lots of people cheering, and a big clock which told me I’d gone almost two minutes faster than I’d thought possible.

I was handed a medal almost immediately after crossing the finish line, and I walked around breathing hard and drinking a little paper cup of some orange sports drink and just being totally, totally amazed at what had happened. A race! I ran a race! And they gave me a medal! 

Medaled

So shiny!

As I sat down to stretch, I overheard two women yelping nearby about exactly what I was feeling: “We did it! We ran a 5k! We did it!” they kept saying. It was delightful.

Leslie had told me she thought she’d be about 50 minutes running her 10k, so I headed back to the finish line to watch for her and cheer on the rest of the runners, now a mixture of slower 5kers and then suddenly, like lightening, the first of the 10kers. What I hadn’t even considered was that there would be some genuine, professional runners there. Seeing the first elite men and women (including Lanni Marchant and Josephat Ongeri) barreling into the home stretch—the same stupid bit of grass I’d just been running on!—was a thrill. They looked so. damn. powerful.

Leslie came in quite fast too, and we walked around a little and then took full advantage of the barbecue included in registration (but we both got veggie burgers…DineSafe would not have approved of that set up!).

As we were getting ready to go, Leslie said she wanted to check her stats. Stats? I hadn’t thought that such a thing would be so readily available, but there were already papers taped to the wall listing everyone’s time and place. Leslie came second out of 90 in her division at 45:59! Much to my surprise, (and I’ve checked three times since to be sure), I came sixth in my division at 27:54! I couldn’t believe it. I had had so few expectations, had only wanted to finish, and I’d run pretty fast.

We caught the ferry back and parted ways. Halfway through my bike ride back I faded big time (it’s all uphill coming from the lake!), but I came home to find that Jonathan had been working on my old bike all afternoon and that perked me up greatly.

IMG_20140907_143847

In line for the ferry with my medal. Oh, this gorgeous city!

All in all, it was an absolutely marvellous first race experience. I can’t imagine participating in another event that’s as well organized, cheerful, and pain-free.

Blogging What I Do, Day 4

8:30 AM – Into the office, and deleting as much email as possible. A lot came in overnight and a lot of it is spam or listservs I’m not really active in. I get overwhelmed if there are too many open-ended unread messages waiting for me. The truth is, I probably won’t get to them.

9:00 AM – Weird, long copyright question about moving a user’s citation & attachments between schools and jurisdictions. I understand monolithic library company’s desire to be cautious, but as this is the user’s private collection of research materials, I think we’re okay. If said user had the technical capacity to move it on their own, no one would be involved or the wiser. If said user had chosen to print out these materials and carry a box of files between institutions, there wouldn’t be an issue. Unfortunately, it’s all digital, and it’s a lot of data, and we need technical reinforcement from an organization that is only interested in playing it safe.

10:30 AM – Going back and forth on a document, mostly just polishing at this point. Sometimes we have to start writing something before we’re sure who the audience will be. But of course, you must write assuming some audience, so the final stages of editing usually mean making sure we haven’t made any assumptions that are inaccurate: has the recipient been privy to previous communications in the same vein? Are they in a position to make the decisions we’re asking them to consider?

1:45 PM – I have been troubleshooting a couple of different issues for hours in between other emails. Part of the problem was that I read the initial email too breezily (a terrible idea for technical stuff! The tiny details are always where the problem lies!), but we’ve moved well past that and I’m still stuck.

2:00 PM – Brainstorming meeting. We need a name for a new project. A lot of not-good ideas were thrown out, but we’ve got a pretty good short list. I got to write on a chalk board for the first time in a many, many year.

Drawings

(Attempted) renderings of a ‘busy bee,’ a canoe, and a backpack.

4:00 PM – Still troubleshooting. I am now 90% sure the problem is just Capslock on a tablet. Headdesk.

4:40 PM – My choir’s performing tonight at Harbourfront, so it’s time to head out for soundcheck. Happy Friday, Internet!

Blogging What I Do, Day 3

8:30 AM – Into the office.  I have an OLA Hackfest planning call at 9:30 and haven’t done much thinking about what needs doing, so I’m trying to take some notes while deleting the dozens of spam messages that seem to get through the filters between midnight and 6 AM. I also took a minute a couple of minutes to donate to the Women in Toronto Politics (#WiTOpoli) Position Primer for the 2015 municipal election. It’s a great idea, and you too can support it right here!

9:10 AM – Drop everything to watch John Fink’s presentation feed from #c4lmw. Still trying to wrap my head around Docker. This helped a lot!

9:30 AM – Good, quick call. How can we make this a welcoming space for people of different abilities and from different organizations? Figured out some timelines, assigned a few to-dos before our next call.

10:00 AM – Troubleshooting PDFs that look funny, citation managers that crash, proxies that won’t re-direct.  Hours disappear with this kind of stuff.

11:30 AM – I got really good, thorough feedback on a document I drafted earlier this week; feedback on tone, on ordering of different messages, and on making sure to reference earlier communications so people would understand the progression of our thinking.

1:00 PM – Burrito hunting expedition.

2:00 PM  – Editing, wordsmithing, formatting.

3:00 PM – Pulling citation manager usage stats for a university. They want, as many do, to be able to see a list of users by discipline or user type. As users self-identify with this info on sign-up, there is the fairly natural assumption on the part of administrators that you will then be able to actually USE this data. The very sophisticated and expensive software being used for this purpose doesn’t have the ability to do that. (I should add my place of work did not choose this software!)

4:15 PM – Fading fast. Adding items to my to-do list for tomorrow, a somewhat useful form of procrastination.

4:30 PM – Just got a note to say our LibAnswers 2.0 beta site is ready. Oooooh! But nope, I am out of here. Fridays are for beta testing, everyone knows that.

Blogging What I Do, Day 2

Yesterday was too meeting-heavy to be worth reporting on, but I thought I’d step back in to this today. Exercising the writing muscle and all that.

8:20 AM – Into the office. A back-up I started last night and had no faith in seems to have worked! This feels like a miracle. Other emails about mysterious blank screen and proxy issues will have to wait til I’ve had a coffee.

9:30 AM – It’s time to start drafting an email. A big, serious email that needs to be sent to a lot of people. They don’t tell you in library school how much time will be taken up with considering tone and audience, that writing an email can be a long process involving many people, that it’s a learned skill.

10:30 AM – I got into a fight on Twitter. I cannot resist the siren song of terrible opinions on the internet, so my best bet is to avoid anywhere that such opinions might appear. This one was civil, and I’m still so disappointed in myself for engaging. His Twitter bio says he works for Sun News! What did you think was going to happen, woman?

11:00 AM – Back to the email. It’s taking shape and I’m going to send it off for a first round of consultation soon.

12:00 PM – Roles can be a bit loose at my place of work, and this is usually a-ok: we’re a help-y bunch, and people very willingly adjust their priorities if something needs to get done. Today, an actual, semi-formal discussion on who’s in charge of what was much needed. I think we’re in a good spot.

12:30 PM – Falafel at my desk. Email. Software updates.

1:30 PM – Skype call to discuss being more involved with the Public Knowledge Project’s PKP School. First an internal briefing (“Okay, what questions do we have?”), then a chat with the folks at PKP to sort our what our next steps should be as we work on a module.

3:00 PM – Ref Desk! It’s pretty quiet, so between questions about the printers and course reserves I’m sending some last minute OLA Super Conference planning emails (gotta keep those abstracts peppy!), and a bit of 10 Days of Twitter reading.

5:00 PM – Back at my own desk. Remember that back up I was so excited about this morning? It’s a lemon. I should have checked the file size before getting excited, but I’m so used to getting error messages that having a file delivered felt like a win. Welp, not if it’s empty. Email for help.

5:15 PM – I have a choir practice at 7:30 and a book review that will not get written if I go home and get at all comfortable, so I’m off to find a table that will hold both purchased sustenance and my mangy notebook. Good evening!

Missing Nanny Whyte

It’s ten years today since my maternal grandmother, Mary Hayden Whyte, passed away at age 84. I miss her often, and wish so much that she’d lived to meet Jonathan and be at our wedding. I don’t remember her as clearly as I used to, so I thought I’d write out a few bits and pieces I’ve had on my mind today, as I’ve concentrated on remembering how much she gave me.

Nanny, about 2001

Nanny, about 2001

Nanny, Mary Hayden, was born in Toronto in 1920. Her mother died giving birth to her sixth brother in 1927. She grew up hard.

(more…)

Blogging What I Do, Day 1

I am trying to be more productive, and also find ways to better articulate what I do all day beyond “oh…a mess of stuff.” I always enjoy the rounds of “Day on the Life” blogging that happen around library work and digital humanities  a few times a year, but also never know about them til the day of and don’t feel ready to participate. So: on this random day, I’m going to give it a go, and hope that the semi-public nature of this entry  keeps me accountable (I say semi-public because, well, I don’t blog much and I imagine the readership, if it exists, is quite narrowly focussed).

8:00 AM – I am lucky enough to have a husband who gets up early, which encourages me to get up early, which means I can get to work at a nice hour most mornings. I have a pretty empty calendar today, so I work through my inbox  until I come to a non-spam warning that my mailbox is almost full. I read everything, but I’m not good at deleting the non-essentials. A 2013 local folder is born, and about 5000 conversations moved. There are an unfortunate number of emails about sick days and Doodle polls making the transfer.

8:30 AM – I’m a guest editor for DH+Lib this week, which means trolling the internet for interesting blog posts, presentations, and opportunities, and then sending them to the editors. I am also trying to spend less time wandering aimelessly around Twitter (obviously a great source for DH news and works in progress), so I looked through a few news feeds and sent off a slide deck on digital curation I thought would be of interest.

9:00 AM – Starbucks is open. See ya!

10:00 AM – I’m working on a few big projects right now, one of which is a large-scale cloud storage. We have a lot of different schools pouring money and people-power in to this project, but much of the actual day-to-day business is so far happening right in our office. Making sure everyone knows what’s going on here, and what’s ahead, is something myself and a couple of others are trying to do. This often means writing short, perky announcements, translating the back-end systems work into language that makes sense for any library staff. Why should they care about the kinds of servers we’ve bought? What, exactly, are we testing right now?  Today I’m editing a few presentations and loading them on to the wiki so they can be shared a bit more widely.

11:00 AM – Troubleshooting a proxy issue, scheduling a meeting, posting some webinar details, and then I spend some time on conference planning. I’m one of the planners for the technology division (OLITA) of the Ontario Library Association, which hosts a very large (some might even say Super) conference every February. We’ve got a fantastic group of session lined up, and are now just making suggestions for tweaks to titles and abstracts, so they’ll sound as interesting as they’ll actually be.

11:30 AM – Lunch. And this is me being restrained.

12:00 PM – I noticed some weird behaviour on one of our search platforms this morning, so wrote up an email documenting that for someone smarter than me to take a look at. Next up: I’m working on a wiki for a major software transition we’re planning for in the next year. It’s going to take a lot of co-ordination across schools, but they’ll also have the opportunity to learn from each other throughout the process, so the space needs to be flexible and easy to understand how to edit by anyone involved.

12:30 PM – We’re hosting a bunch of webinars in the next week, which means we need to do a bunch of testing for presenters now- do their microphones work as expected? Do they understand how to share their desktop, and who will be in charge of the audience questions? Today we’re having quite a few issues with testing – laptops possessed, plug-ins not installed, and some inexplicable echoes – and it’s taking longer than expected.

1:00 PM – Testing done, and it all worked in the end! Mikes were mic’ed and speakers spoke. I have a book review due for Spacing in a couple of weeks, so I’m going to grab a freezie and sit outside and read for 20 minutes. I’m reviewing On Looking.

1:45 PM – I hope I’m going to co-teach a version of 10 Days of Twitter for graduate students in the fall. Spent a bit of time considering the ways that the Graduate Professional Skills program here will necessitate changes to the format–and if there are any other pieces we’d like to do differently.

Trello, where I keep all my to-do lists, is down, so I float, lost for a little while, and then write an email I’ve been avoiding re: a busted laptop.

3:15 PM – Tech support, tech support, tech support. Lots of troubleshooting on my own machine, a few pleas to those who may know better, and some promises to worries users that it will all be all right in the end.

4:20 PM – That’s it for me, office-wise.

On the one hand, this seems like a silly exercise…stopping every hour to write down a few words about something that won’t make it in to my activity report anyway. Perhaps this seems like a way to procrastinate, rather than be productive. But I liked it! Every time my mind wandered to Facebook or the news (the dreadful, dreadful news), the reminder that I needed to be reporting my work kicked in, and I got back to the to-do list pretty quick. I’m no productivity fetishist, but thinking about how one spend’s one time really does have a huge effect on how it actually gets spent. I think I’ll do this again.