Ike, Take a Hike

We at the Rochester household weathered Ike fine, bunkered down in North Houston. We were without power and water for a few days, but we survived and that is all that matters.

With much trepidation, we journeyed back home on Tuesday. Happily, we found our home intact and water free. Even more exciting was the fact that we had power. Sadly, we have no Internet or cable, so I am typing this at the good ol’ public library. Thanks HCPL!

I will post more soon, when we are back up and running like normal.

–Jane, happy to be here

Cones and Uncertainties

Ike is on his way and we are in the (cue ominous music) Cone of Uncertainty!!!!!!

I think this is a crazy name for the situation in which your house may or may not be battered by wind, rain, tornadoes, and storm surge, but I do not have a better label. The problem with uncertainty is that it is… uncertain. Outcomes are unpredictable.

You may remember, dear readers, that I live with two boys. One young and useless, except for his smiles, and one old and an engineer. This means all planning happens in my brain because to an engineer, uncertain is not certain, and until the formula equals out on both sides, i.e. Our City = Mandatory Evacuation, there is no planning to be done.

It makes me wish weather could me measured in formulas. At least then Mr. Rochester would be a little more wary of the storm. I myself only want to be prepared. I grew up in Houston and therefore have respect for hurricanes, having rode some out hunkered down in a bathroom, but I do not worry much. You can only prepare as you are able and then pray for the rest.

It occurs to me that many things in life are uncertain. There is only so much preparedness that can occur when your cone of uncertainty is so large. Whether you are expanding your family, hiring a new employee, launching a program or a website, or starting a new job. There is always a large amount of unknowns and it is how we deal with the unknown that shows our core.

I think it may help to know what our cones of uncertainty cover. In my life, cones of uncertainty cover the next 3 days (because Ike still has some directions to choose), how my now part-time writing and professional obligations fit into my new full time job of being a Mom, and if I will ever be able to sleep all the way through the night again. Ever. I would settle for 4-5 hours at a stretch really. I am not too greedy. I can not really plan for these things. I can plan for different scenarios and pray and that is about it.

Being prepared is the only thing we can ever really do about uncertainty. Preparing without worry, that is. I try not to worry, though I am not always successful. I at least rationally know it is a useless endeavor. Just do what you need to and let things happen. In that vein, I have a full tank of gas, in case of evacuation, a freezer full of ice, in case of power outage, and other things in case we are hunkered down for a few days.

Are you prepared for your cones of uncertainty?

–Jane, watching the storm

Back-up Plans, the A Team, and Flexibility

It is important to have a back-up plan when creating the plan you hope will work. Sometimes even the best laid plans go awry and then it is time to revamp, evaluate, call in the A-Team, or whatever is needed to keep the levy from breaking.

I recently gave birth in a Birth Center with a midwife. Because we were not at a hospital (the hospital was only a few blocks away) we had two birth plans: the everything goes normal and the emergency plan in case of, well, emergencies. It included what we wanted in a worse case scenario, who was to go where, and important numbers. Though we appeared prepared, we forgot to plan for the contingency that something might go wrong with the baby. Our back-up was great as long as the problem only resided with me.

Sometimes even the best laid back-up plans go awry.

The thing is that, though we may not be able to plan for every facet of a failure or problem, we should have some notion in our minds of what we will do if Bad Things happen to our plans.

How do you plan for the worst while hoping for the best? What does this look like when implementing technology?

When planning a new venture at your library, consider these things:
What if something (funding, staff support, technology, training, the weather, or other things governed by Murphy’s Law) goes wrong or simply does not work? Am I willing to scrap X entirely or in part? Am I willing to adjust? What is the ROI, loss or gain, if we change gears?

This all sounds entirely pessimistic, but flexibility is a pillar of Web 2.0. Flexibility is one of the things that makes Web 2.0 work the way it does. I think we tend to treat the flexibility of Web 2.0 like it is a new concept when really we are just creating things that have built-in back-up plans.

Perhaps this is the way we should have sold the flexibility of Web 2.0 technologies in the beginning, because back-up plans are a known idea. Of course, many back-up plans require committees and actual written plans. This is not the sort of path I would recommend. Perhaps simple discussion of flexibility as a concept of back-up planning is still a way we can start discussions with people who struggle with the idea of beta and flexible technologies.

We should still remember that not all plans, normal or back-up, will work for the situation as it presents itself. The technology that looked great on a small scale may crumble when scaled for the masses, but we will never know until we try. Taking chances, even with a back-up plan in mind, is still a chance, but the benefits can be sweet indeed.

–Jane, all back-up plans should involve the A Team

Thursday, packing

Today, I am packing up the car with animals, Wee Bairn, myself, and all the crap that must accompany us for a three day jaunt from home. Mr. Rochester will be following us later in the day. He has work and bachelor party festivities tonight. Sadly, I am fairly certain there will be no disreputable ladies in attendance. (I was not invited, you see.)

My baby brother is getting married.

Having the Wee Bairn and my brother getting married is making me feel like an old hag.

I am looking forward to the wedding and the surrounding festivities. My family, never one to back down from a party, beer, or other adult beverage, should be in fine form this weekend.

I have finally started to read some things here and there, catching up on things I have missed, but I have barely made a dent. I feel like I have been living at the bottom of a really long hole. Where is the shovel and rope when I need them?

I hope everyone has a lovely weekend.

–Jane, has used up all of the Wee Bairn’s patience in writing this bit of nothing

Almost Action

Don’t get too excited if this has turned up in your aggregator. Jane is not back in full time business. I am going to turn on Twitter updates to this blog because I have been able to write a couple sentences here and there some days.

I expect most people are drowning in post Annual information floods at this time, so I do not want to bounce back into your lives until you have all had a chance to recover. Besides, I am still recovering from the arrival of the Wee Bairn. Recovering in the sense that I always will be.

So, Twitter updates back on and movement around this joint is imminent. Next week.

Jane, can’t believe she took a break for this long

Time Flies

I have thoroughly enjoyed the small vacation of sorts that I have been taking the last month or so. I have immersed myself in the domestic needs of the Rochester household and concentrated on the business of gestating the child in my belly. I have not missed work, but I have missed being caught up on the goings on in libraryland.

I have already heard about some of the excitment from CiL including some not so Swift things and an incident involving the Brickskeller. I plan on catching up on everyone’s goings on in the next couple days. I am going to make an effort to be in this space more the next couple of weeks, until Baby Rochester makes his appearance. After that, I am taking about a month off for maternity leave and it will be very quiet around here, but a little more chatty over at Defying Genetics.

–Jane, must go get organized for the day has suddenly filled

“The Last March of the Ents”

Leaving Letter

(picture inclusion with a nod towards Helene Blowers)

This post has been a long time coming. If all works out accordingly, this post will be published directly after or right before I hand the interested parties my letter of resignation from the University of Houston Libraries where I have worked for three and a half years. I am sad to be leaving my friends and colleagues behind, even though I will see most of them often enough. Those who know me or have been paying attention will not be surprised at my departure. I have needed, searched for, even longed for a change in work scenery for quite awhile.

I am trading my crazy, traffic filled commute for domesticity and working from home. Instead of a Social Sciences Librarian, I will be a stay at home wife, mother, and Geek Librarian At Large. In addition to changing diapers and walking around with a baby attached to my chest, I plan on engaging in the following professional activities:

  • Blogging in this space and over here
  • Writing for ALA Techsource Blog
  • Working on a book on Strategic Planning for ACRL
  • Writing a chapter for an upcoming book on Millennials
  • Serving on Jim Rettig’s Presidential Advisory Committee
  • Serving in LITA in various positions
  • Possibly working with SOLINET as an adjunct
  • Consulting
  • Rabble-rousing from afar
  • Friends and long time readers will surmise correctly that I am going to continue to do the things that I love the most about being a librarian, teaching and advocating for technology education in librarianship. Due to the impending arrival of Baby Rochester, I am placing a hiatus on most professional travel for almost a year and half. I expect my next conference to be ALA Annual 2009, though one never knows what life will bring you. Box of chocolates, anyone?

    I plan on writing at least one more post reflecting on working in an academic library, based on my experiences in the one that fostered me these last few years, and the kind of job I would love to have some day. Those should be coming along shortly.

    Until then, I am excited about this new phase of my life, happy for the change of pace, and pleased to be able to finally tell you, gentle readers and friends, my plan.

    –Jane, tickled baby boy blue

    Bette Davis, Being Famous, and Some Darn Good Advice

    Karen Schneider, who has always given me great advice, is sharing some of her wisdom about being “famous.” Timely, the post is, being just before Midwinter, when we will all scurry around trying to meet old friends and new ones in chilly Philly.

    I really enjoyed the post and was reminded of all the people, like Karen, who have helped me in the past few years.

    I liked that she placed “famous” in quotes. Famous is a meaningless thing compared to our lives outside of the limelight. What really matters is how we live our whole lives, not just what we do at conferences, in front of audiences, and when people are looking. I love all the things I do as a librarian, but getting to lounge on the couch with these handsome boys is better then anything else I have ever gotten to do.

    Karen also mentions Bette Davis, who played the best bitches on the silver screen. I am partial to her portrayal of Regina Giddens in The Little Foxes. I highly recommend it to anyone who loves Davis, old movies, or good, old fashioned, evil women.

    My favorite piece of advice from Karen’s post was to help others. I think, whether you pull weight or not, helping others is always important. There is always someone who could use your hand or a smile.

    –Jane, hopes she lives up to her ideals on more days than not


    The past week has been a whirl wind of catch-up. I still have to post photos from the iHCPL fun that occurred last week. I finally put up a TechSource post on some misadventures I had with social networking.

    This week, things will start to be more normal around here even though I am gearing up for two conferences and other assorted fun. And my day job. Can’t forget the thing that pays the bills.

    It finally feels like almost Fall here which translates to a little less humidity and only 90 as the high. I am longing for October when I might actually get to wear a long sleeve shirt.

    –Jane, back to the to do list

    On Managing Anxiety, Work, Life, and all Things in Between

    This Spring, you may have noted that I posted a little less and bitched a bit more than normal. I have long considered writing this, but Karen’s post recently and the evaluating one’s life posts that have been floating around for the past year convinced me that now was the time.

    Karen’s post talks about what we do to our motivated leaders. We overburden them. We steal their shiny with promises that never come. I am sorry to say that this has happened to me gradually over the past year. I am still an optimist, often annoyingly so, and I still love my profession, but this past semester made we rethink what my job and my life was and where the lines needed to be drawn. I needed more lines.

    In between TLA and CiL this year, I spent a day on my couch, crying, overwhelmed with anxiety that I would not get my house clean ever, and thus become the worst wife ever (and later a terrible mother) and that I would never finish all the things at work that were on my plate and thus be a terrible person. I had too much to do and I was only one little person in a big, big world.

    Was my To Do list that terrible? Well, it was pretty full, but not crying over it full. I realized I had some anxiety issues that I needed to deal with and I found a professional to listen to me. I feel better about things and I am handling my To Do list better. Self Awareness is a powerful thing.

    I also realized a few other helpful things:

    • This is my job, not my life. I can go home and go home. I can leave all the drama, malfunction, and swamped To Do lists where they belong, in my office. It is hard, and some days I fail, but I try.
    • I can say no. Boundries are a good thing. I am saying no at work a lot lately and to some of my professional organizations.
    • I can say no to enabling malfunction too.
    • Doing small chores every day makes house cleaning easier.
    • I define my own success, it does not look like yours, and I am ok with that.
    • My family (right now only consisting of a husband and a slobbery dog) is more important than anything else in my life. Period. No negotiations.
    • I am still a librarian no matter what my job title says and what I do, because sometimes you just are.

    All of those things are important, but the last one was what has really affected my thinking. I am starting to consider possibilities for jobs that I never would have pondered a few months ago. (and if you are surprised that I am looking, you should not be, most of us are always keeping our eyes open) A new addition to my blogroll is the Brazen Careerist, which I have mentioned before. Penelope Trunk has been writing lately about balancing work and home life and defining your own success. I find myself nodding emphatically to many of her thoughts. I would love to meet Penelope one day. She seems like a great person to share big ideas with over coffee.

    I think that as long as I am doing something I like and can feel like I am doing something worthwhile, I will be content in my job. It does not matter if I have librarian in my title. I will always be one in my heart. *big sigh of relief*

    I suppose the real point of writing this post is so that you, my readers and friends, would know why I have been behaving oddly. I also want to encourage those feeling overwhelmed to step back, let go, and find someone to talk to, professional or otherwise. It is amazing what a few words and a listening ear can do.

    It also does not hurt that I have the Best. Husband. Ever. God knew I needed a man like Mr. Rochester. What a lucky wife I am.

    What is next for Jane? I have a handful of projects I am working on this summer, some big, some small, small related to MPOW, and some not. I am excited about all of them and will share them as I am able.

    Now, I am going to cross some things off my To Do list. 😉

    –Jane, thanks world