More Than Meh

A blog about the good things of life.

ACRL Conference in Portland March 31, 2015

Filed under: Food,Friends,Travel,Work — dwhren @ 8:00 am

*Tap* *Tap* *Tap* Is this thing on? Sorry for the radio silence around these parts. I’ve been in a bit of a funk lately and just haven’t felt like blogging. Probably I should do it anyway seeing as how I started this blog focusing on things that make me happy in order to try and break myself out of a similar funk I was in a few years ago. I’m going to try to be better about posting around here.

Another reason for the lack of posting is that I spent most of last week traveling to Portland, Oregon for the Association of College and Research Libraries conference. I had always heard amazing things about Portland, but had never had the chance to go before so when they announced it as the location for the 2015 conference I marked it off my calendar to attend.

Neon Portland, Oregon sign

picture of carpet at PDX

The famous PDX carpet. It’s apparently obligatory to take a picture at least until it’s finally all replaced.

I know most people reading this don’t care about the actual conference, so I won’t say too much about that. As you may recall from an earlier post I was doing a poster presentation at the conference. I think it went well. A number of people were interested in the topic, and I even had someone try to recruit me to apply for a job they have open right now. It’s in Michigan though, and given my hatred of the cold I don’t think that would work out for me.

There unfortunately weren’t a lot of presentations that were focused on the types of things I’m doing in my job these days, but I did attend a couple of really good round table discussions. I also thought the keynote speakers for this conference were excellent. Librarian conferences weirdly have a tendency to have keynote speakers that don’t really have anything to do with libraries or only in the most tangentially related ways. This conference was no exception, but they were all great speakers and I loved what they had to say even though I’m not sure how much of it was applicable to my actual job. G. Willow Wilson, the writer for the new Ms. Marvel series was the least relevant personally to me, but still a great speaker with a lot of great things to say. Most of Jad Abumrad of NPR’s RadioLab’s talk was entertaining, but obviously a mostly canned presentation he’s done before. Parts of it did resonate with some things I’m feeling about my life and job at the moment even though I’m not sure it helped make any of that more clear for me. The closing keynote speaker was Lawrence Lessig, who I was super excited to hear speak. I literally did a little dance in my office the day they announced him. His speech as expected was really inspiring and did help make me feel more inspired about some things I think about a lot but haven’t done much to actually try to drive into action.

Aside from doing stuff at the actual conference I did get to play around Portland some. I got in Tuesday night. My friend Alison happened to join me on my plane in Chicago during our layover, so I got to take advantage of her work paid for cab to get to my hotel. After that we grabbed dinner at an excellent Japanese restaurant around the corner from where I was staying. I don’t remember the name of it, but it’s in the Roosevelt hotel. I said you can tell it’s good Japanese food when you walk in and 90% of the people eating in it are Japanese.

The opening keynote wasn’t until Wednesday afternoon, so my friend Natalie, who I was rooming with, and I started off the morning with breakfast at Voodoo Donuts.

picture of Voodoo Doughnut

Captain, My Captain doughnut from Voodoo doughnuts. It was delicious, but I admit I felt a little ill after eating that much sugar.

We then did the proper librarian thing and headed over to Powell’s City of Books. It was slightly overwhelming. After that we walked over the convention center to register, then walked to meet up with Alison. We then did a lot more walking. We stopped at a thrift store, that amusingly was catering to librarians at the conference with a special discount and gift thanks to the owner having a librarian friend who alerted her that the librarians were in town.

Sign saying Dewey Love Librarians? Yes We Do.

After that we grabbed lunch at a delicious place called Cheese & Crack that specialized in well lots of cheese plates. It was delicious.

photo of a cheese plate

Delicious cheese plate

Natalie and I made the trek back to our hotel after that to get ready for the opening keynote. At that point we had walked about 10 miles. I reached 12 by the end of the day. As you can tell if you’re someone who likes to walk Portland is a very walkable city. I very much appreciate that about it. I walked to the convention center from my hotel every morning.

Photo of the Steel Bridge

The Steel Bridge, which I walked across on my way to the convention center every morning.

I have a lot of librarian friends in Maryland who were at the conference, but when I’m at conferencesI like to try and hang out with people from other places that I don’t get to see all the time. I didn’t have any plans with anyone for dinner on Wednesday night, but used Twitter to find someone to dine with me. The power of social media at work. We had a nice dinner at a place called Bottle + Kitchen.

Although there are always a plethora of receptions and other after hours parties, meetups, and activities that go on at library conferences I’m usually pretty lame. The 3 hour time change didn’t help anything. I was pretty much ready for bed by 8 every night given that equalled my normal bed time at home. I generally just went back to my room after dinner, and am completely fine with that. As an introvert conferencing takes a lot out of me, and I generally am not up for much more after dinner even when I’m not contending with jet lag.

Thursday afternoon I decided to bail on the vendor lunch I had signed up for because the location was really inconvenient. I was just wandering off to find some lunch on my own when I stumbled into a gaggle of my Maryland library friends headed off to some thai place whose name I cannot remember in the least. I guess they have two food truck locations, plus the brick and mortar place. It was pretty tasty.

Thursday night I got to meet up with my Twitter pal Holly. We’ve determined that she is my west coast doppelganger. She’s not an academic librarian so wasn’t at the conference, but lives in the Portland area so came over for the day to hang out with us conference people. I got to snag her for dinner and we enjoyed a delicious dinner at Southpark Seafood. It was great to finally get to meet her in person. Sadly I’ll be out of town when she’s over my way in a few months.

Friday night I made plans to meet up with another Twitter pal, who I often get together with at conferences or when I’m vacationing in San Diego where she lives. We just wound up grabbing dinner at Swank, which was the restaurant in my hotel. It was pretty darn tasty though. Friday night was also the all conference reception at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. After dinner we headed over to that. It was fun to wander around the museum and play with all the things, though I’m not smart enough to figure out any of the brain teasers they had scattered around the museum.

Saturday afternoon after the keynote I met up with Alison and our friend Julie, a friend who used to live in Baltimore and work with me but who abandoned me and moved to Seattle. It was great to spend time with her. We had access to her car, so we got to go a little bit farther afield than I had made it at that point. We grabbed lunch at brew pub and then continued tasting Portland doughnuts at a place called Pip’s. They are mini doughnuts that come in denominations of 4. They were delicious and very different from the crazy overload of Voodoo Doughnuts. Everyone says Blue Star is great too, but their schedule never seemed to jive with when I would have been able to make it to one so they sadly went untasted.

Photo of Pip's Doughnuts

Pip’s Doughnuts. Raw honey and sea salt, Nutella and sea salt, and Meyer lemon pear butter.

After that we headed to the Chinese gardens, which is a lovely little oasis in the middle of downtown Portland in Chinatown. The gardens were beautiful, and if you couldn’t see skyscrapers sticking up over the walls of the garden you would have no idea you were in the middle of a city.

Chinese gardens in Portland

Chinese gardens in Portland

After that we headed to Powell’s books because they hadn’t made it there yet. It was a lot more crowded on a Saturday afternoon than it was when I was there on Wednesday morning. I totally cracked up though when I overheard to employees talking to each other. One of them was saying to the other that they needed to keep better track of librarian conferences because tons of librarians kept coming and immediately looking for copies of the Ms. Marvel comic, which they had apparently been sold out of since Friday morning. We finished out the day by wandering around the stores in a neighborhood called Nob Hill and grabbing some dinner at a sushi restaurant.

All in all it was an excellent trip. I’m really glad I finally made it to Portland, and I can definitely see why so many people love it there. I’m not sure how well I would deal with the gloominess they deal with for much of the year, but everything else about it that I could see makes it seem like an excellent place to live. The next ACRL conference which happens in 2017 is going to be in Baltimore, so I look forward to showing off my beloved city to some great librarians.

Mile marker sign saying Tipperary: Long way

This sign in Pioneer Square cracked me up because of the Tipperary arrow. I’m not sure anyone else was amused by it as I was.

 

Staycation March 15, 2015

Filed under: Life — dwhren @ 3:20 pm

I have more vacation time than my husband, so I usually wind up using some of it on staycations instead of actual travel. Our vacation time rolls over at the end of June, so it’s around this time of year that I start figuring out that I have a lot of vacation time to burn before then and decide to take a week long staycation. I usually pick a week in March that coincides with the spring break of one of the two schools my library serves since it means things are a bit quieter. They don’t have a the same break so I was debating which week to take. I’m glad I chose the second one because otherwise I would have missed out on getting my snow day and would have been so mad.

I probably could have done a bit more relaxing, but it’s also good to use the time to catch up on some errands and see friends I don’t get to see that often. Monday I went down to DC to hang out with my friend Alison, who moved down there from Baltimore a few months ago. We started out with a ramen lunch at Daikaya. We went to the Natural History Museum to check out the orchid exhibit they have going on right now. It’s pretty small, but there were a lot of pretty orchids. After that we just wandered around the rest of the museum. They also had a special exhibit about Indians in America, which I thought was pretty interesting. It was a beautiful day outside so we did lots of walking and finished off our afternoon with some gelato from Pitango. Their original location in Baltimore was one of our favorite places, so it only seemed fitting that we should hit up the one in DC together as well.

Tuesday wasn’t really much of a vacation day. I’m taking an online copyright class right now, so I spent Tuesday doing my homework for that in the morning. Then I did get in a little shopping. Though I sadly didn’t find what I was looking for and came home empty handed. After that I actually headed into work for a meeting. We’d been trying to set it up for awhile and people’s schedules wouldn’t jive, so I took the bullet and went in on my day off so we could get it done and the project could move forward.

Wednesday the only notable thing I did was get a massage, but that was nice. Thursday I had lunch with my friend Kristen. Friday I had the discussion section for my online class, so I had to sit through that. I also baked a couple pies for pi day Saturday and my friend Heather’s birthday. Then Friday night we went out to dinner with some friends.

It was a nice week, but as always not nearly long enough. Vacation weeks always go by way faster than work weeks. Hope the one I’m returning to isn’t too painful.

 

Songs I Love: I Really Like You by Carly Rae Jepsen March 7, 2015

Filed under: Music,Pop Culture,Songs I Love — dwhren @ 4:17 pm

I first heard Carly Rae Jepsen’s “I Really Like You” a few weeks and like “Call Me Maybe” I found it to be immediately catchy in the best pop song kind of way. Today the video for the song was released and it made me love it even more. It features Tom Hanks delightfully lip syncing the song, and it made the song even better.

“Call Me, Maybe” was definitively the song of the summer a few years ago and despite it being on the radio every other second at the time I never tired of it and I still enjoy it every time I hear it. Hopefully the same stays true for “I Really Like You”. Carly Rae Jepsen certainly knows her catchy pop singles.

My mind was kind of blown the other day when someone pointed out that she is 29 years old. I seriously thought she was in her early 20s at this point. Today I saw someone tweet something about hoping that she never stops releasing pop songs no matter how old she gets. They’re on board for a new pop single from her every year until she’s 80. I wholeheartedly agree. Do yourself a favor and take a minute to watch the video and listen to “I Really LIke You” before it’s everywhere and you can’t escape it.

 

Poster Presentations March 6, 2015

Filed under: Life,Work — dwhren @ 9:38 am

I am giving a poster presentation at the Association of College and Research Libraries conference in a few weeks. I just have to give a shout out to posterpresentations.com because so far this experience has been 100 times better than the last time I had to put together a poster presentation. Someone suggested that instead of printing the poster on paper it’s better to get it printed on fabric because then you don’t have to deal with trying to fly with a giant poster tube. Instead you can just fold it up and put it in your luggage.

The last time I gave a poster presentation I did in fact fly across the country to Seattle dragging a giant poster tube and worrying about whether or not I would be able to carry it on or whether I would be forced to check it. It was a huge pain and I wound up just mailing it back home to myself so I wouldn’t have to deal with the return trip. I absolutely was going to jump at the chance to not deal with that hassle even if it was going to cost more.

I started searching out online sites that would do the printing to compare prices and I came across posterpresentations.com. They were competitive in price, but what really sold me on using them was the easy templates they provided. The last time I made a poster I struggled my way through creating it InDesign and was dreading having to deal with that again. I don’t think I’ve used InDesign since I made that last poster and I certainly had little to no recollection of how to do it.

Instead I got to work with a PowerPoint template, which is easy peasy for me. It was so much easier to design the poster this time using their template. It took me so much less time than it did last time. I just had to upload the PowerPoint slide when I was done with it. They sent me back a proof, I approved it, and then the printed it and shipped it out the same day. Even that part was better. I didn’t have to drive back and forth to Kinkos with the files and then go pick it up again.

I got the poster in the mail a few days ago and it looks great. They even sent me thumbtacks and velcro hooks to hang it with. If you ever have to do a poster presentation I would highly recommend them.

 

Snow Day Redux March 5, 2015

Filed under: Baltimore,Life,Simple Pleasures — dwhren @ 6:17 pm

You will recall my recent post on the weekend snow day that I got. I had pretty much given up on getting a snow day that got me off of work at this late date in the season. It’s not unheard of to get snow this late in Baltimore, but a snow storm in March big enough for work to close is rare. I was happy to get a day off of work where I didn’t have to think about going anywhere or doing anything. I actually have a staycation planned for next week to use up some vacation time and the week is already pretty full (including actually going to work for a meeting, boo!), so a day where I’m obligated to just stay home is always welcome.

It was also a great day for neighborliness. Before we got a chance to get out and shovel our sidewalk this morning our neighbor 2 doors up did it in conjunction with the neighbor between us and the two rental houses she owns on the other side of us. I returned the favor a couple of hours later. Then our next door neighbor shoveled. My husband got the next round. Then we never had to shovel the walk again. The next two times I was literally all suited up to go out and shovel the 2 neighbors were each outside shoveling our sidewalk when I opened the door to go out. Although we’re friendly enough to say hi if we see them and know their names, we’re not friends with our neighbors so it was a nice little moment.

Now that I’ve had my snow day I’m definitely ready for spring to get here fast. The record low temperature of 8 degrees does not make me hopeful that winter is on its way out though.

 

Friends and the Aquarium March 1, 2015

Filed under: Baltimore,Friends — dwhren @ 4:05 pm

Yesterday I got spend the afternoon with my friend Erin, her husband, and their 6 year old son. They came down from Philly for the afternoon so we could have a chance to visit before they have their second child next month. Usually when we get together I’ve gone up to Philly, so it was fun to have them come down to Baltimore this time.

After grabbing lunch in our neighborhood we headed down to the aquarium. If you’re not familiar, Baltimore is actually home to the National Aquarium, so it’s one of the better aquariums I’ve ever been to. Since we figured at some point in the next year we’ll wind up going to the aquarium again with our niece and nephew we went ahead and bought a membership since you only have to go twice for that to pay off. The extra bonus of that was getting to avoid the ticket line and also go in whenever we wanted to. The tickets at the aquarium are timed so you can’t just walk up to the window, buy a ticket, and immediately enter unless you’re a member. It was definitely nice to be able to do that yesterday since we weren’t sure exactly when we would get down there.

It had been a few years since I had been to the aquarium for a proper visit, though Paul and I did go down for a behind the scenes tech tour in the past year or so. I hadn’t realized until yesterday that they had stopped doing the dolphin shows. I know that they’ve been considering removing the dolphins from the aquarium, but I hadn’t realized that even though they were still there at this point they had discontinued the actual shows. You can still seem them swimming around in the pools, but they don’t do a show like they used to.

It is a still a great aquarium though and it was fun to walk around and see all the fish and spend some time with friends.

2015-02-28 15.35.51