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Showing posts from February, 2015

A haiku journey

I've been writing haiku since my sixth grade teacher, Mr. Smith, introduced them to me. I generally follow conventions: three lines of 5 syllables, 7 syllables, and a final 5 syllables. Usually there's a seasonal reference, and often I try to make connections between up to three distinct images. But sometimes I break with convention.

Last week, I drove from Castle Rock to Saint Paul and back for a memorial service of one of my best friends, Bill Johnston, who died of cancer at 64. The memorial, the loving labor of his wife, Claudia, and 150 of Bill's many friends (he not only never lost a friend, he never even fell out of touch) happened a few days after what would have been his 65th birthday. 
These poems don't really talk about that. Instead, they were about just being open to the rolling vignettes along national highways. But Bill was also a poet, and a fine one. So this is my tribute to him. It's also worth noting that I left amid dire predictions of Siberian sno…

Defragging ALA

So I'm running for ALA presidency. And I'm trying to listen, and trying to make sense of what I hear.

One of the big, recurring issues I heard at midwinter was a sense of a fragmented membership. ALA is a large, complex institution serving members with a multitude of highly specialized interests. How then, can they communicate not only to and from ALA leadership, but coordinate their activities with other divisions, committees, and roundtables?

Yet there's also a lot of duplication in ALA. Almost every group I talked to mentioned "advocacy." But to frank, we have different understandings of that word.

Effective advocacy, in my view, is based on three things:

marketing strategy (reach and frequency);the findings of neuroscience (emotional appeal);the importance of planning (pulling it all together).
Let's break those apart.

Reach and frequency means getting a message to a target audience (that's the reach), as many times as possible (that's the frequency…

ALA Membership: the rhythms of change

Shortly after I got my library degree, I joined the American Library Association (ALA) and went to my first conference. It was, for a young man of my modest means, insanely expensive. I don't mean registration and membership dues, I mean travel, lodging, and meals. I got a little help from my employer, but not much.

And ALA was big. It was impossible to catch everything I wanted to, and I spent a lot of time running between things.

In retrospect, I think I could have planned better. But at the time, I concluded that ALA activity, particularly involving conferences, was simply out of my reach. So I paid my membership, read the magazines and a couple newsletters, and that was about it. I focused my attention on local, then statewide and regional professional groups. I wound up in leadership positions in many of them (the state chapter's public library division, the state library association presidency), which was terrific experience.

I came back to ALA in a big way when two thin…

Listening at ALA

Listening is not waiting for the other person to stop talking. It's paying close attention both to the person and the topic.
I'm just back from American Library Association's midwinter 2015 conference. It was in Chicago, which happens to be not so far from where I was born and raised (Waukegan, to the north). 
I am a candidate for the presidency of the ALA. I met with some 30-odd groups in my time there, as well as speaking with dozens of conference attendees in the halls.
My spiel (the 10 second intro) was something like this: "here come my flyers, articulating my background and platform. But I believe that leadership begins with listening. So I won't read to you what you can read for yourself. My question to you is this: what do you want your next ALA president to know about your key issues or initiatives?"
And then I shut up. And I listened. It turns out that there are a lot of insightful and articulate people in the association, well worth paying attenti…


I found another wonderful tool for writing, definitely worth sharing. It's called Haroopad.

It's an open source, cross-platform, markdown-based, code folding-capable editor. You can download Mac, Windows, and Linux versions from here.

The defaults seem to be set up for writers. You can toggle views: editor and HTML viewer side by side, or viewer (on the left) and editor (on the right) if you prefer that orientation, or just one or the other. It has a constant word count display on the bottom status bar. It has lots of themes. There's an automatic focus on the current paragraph.

The best thing is code folding. (This is a neat trick that turns a text editor into an outliner. By that, I mean that you can selectively hide and reveal big blocks of text, allowing one to see or rearrange the structure of a document.) I did have to toggle it on (on the Mac, it was under File>Preferences). It works reliably and consistently by structure (header level). I love outliners.

Other co…

My boots

Today I picked up a pair of re-soled and re-sealed work boots. I have worn these boots for an incredible 37 years. I bought them in Bloomington IL, right after college. At the time (1978), I was a truck driver in central Illinois, delivering produce (green goods) through what turned out to be one of the most brutal winters in a century.

Later, I wore them through my hitchhiking around the country. Most recently, I find them to be the perfect boots for Rocky Mountain trails.

Not to be too sentimental about this, but these boots KNOW my feet. They are molded to my bones. We have known each other longer than I have known almost anybody.

They have 10 eyelets, so I suppose are about 8 inches tall -- I only thread seven of the eyelets, then run the laces around the boot for a secure fastening over the ankle. They have a double-lined leather interior. The outside leather is dyed GREEN. The soles (my second ever) are Vibram.

These boots were made by Supreme - a company I cannot now locate. I …