By MBPDLPayday Loan

Wed, Dec 31, 2008

This thing still on?

Deadlines! Love 'em! I can't very well allow this calendar year to pass without a single post, so here I am. Hi there!

As it turns out, I usually don't do things that I don't feel like doing. It's not a rule or anything, it just turns out that way, like water flowing downhill. Not to say that I don't delay gratification in pursuit of higher goals, or that I don't do things for other people -- I do. I do a lot of those things, happily. But posting to this here blog is not one of those things. And so since I haven't felt like doing it, I haven't. But today I do feel like it! And so we rejoin our protagonist, nearly two years later....

If you & I are in touch at all, or if you've even glanced at my Flickr feed, you know the main thing that's up with me: I have a baby now. Witnessing 9 months of pregnancy, being there for childbirth, and now participating in the first 7.5 months of Neva has been the richest experience of my life so far. Many of the things that made my pre-Neva life fun have been sharply reduced by necessity, but it's all good, and all totally worth it.

There is SO much to look forward to, with Jiwon & Neva, with friends & family, with an Obama presidency, with vegetable seedlings in the garden, with all the new music & podcasts that land in my ipod.

Maybe I'll be back here soon, perhaps not. In the meantime, fresh bits of me can be found on Twitter & Flickr.

Posted by Jason at 01:29 PM

Wed, Jan 31, 2007

The month in brief

Ah, January, done already? I started this month in a warehouse in San Francisco, at a New Year's party that went all night, and then I moved on, watching the first dawn come as I entered Breakfast of Champions. And again this year there were probably a thousand people in there by 8am, and it was so raging I can't even begin to tell you. I'm just flabbergasted that this event even happens the way it does every year -- that the Space Cowboys pull it together, and that this many people (including almost everyone I know) actually want to do such a thing, and do it with such gusto. Along with my usual BOC fare, dancing upstairs to the breaks & freakin' out with friends, I also spent the bulk of the afternoon taking care of a stranger who had a meltdown at the event. It was an intense experience to sit & hold space for someone while she totally loses her shit, but it really felt like the right thing to do at the time, and I got a lot of support from friends in the endeavor. So it was hard, but an honor. And then all of a sudden it's getting dark out again, and I see that after twelve hours at BOC, it's time to go to bed. The next morning I'm at work, no worse for wear.

On January 5 my car is stolen out of the Mission some time after midnight, and the next day I'm having a party at our house, so someone has to take me shopping. And it's nine days later when the police call to say the car's been found down near Daly City. It's beat up, and some stuff's been stolen, but it's OK. I had no theft insurance, so I'm just happy it's back. I'm not sure why I needed that lesson, but I got it anyway.

A little construction project started here at home mid-month, and banging commences outside our bedroom window at 7:30 in the morning. There's the disruption, and there are decisions, and there are unforseen costs, and it's an effort to not stress about it. Oh yeah, and it's going to be very cool when it's done.

On January 22 I got sick. I rarely get so much as a cold, so I guess I'd forgotten just how miserable it is to spend time in an ailing body. My week of bodyaches and sniffles and goopy lungs was more than enough to give me a newfound appreciation of the excellent health I almost always enjoy. And while still ill I had to go to a meeting of the Northern California Consortium of Psych Libraries, because at the end of the meeting, The Gavel was passed to me, and I assumed the office of president of the organization. I'm thinking it's more duty than honor, but either way, it should be interesting. And I do get to wield this here gavel.

Finally, before the clock runs out on this month of January, and before it passes unnoticed again, let me note that it was a late January evening 16 years ago -- the exact date having long since evaporated into the mists of time -- when a Jason and a Jiwon, both freshly twenty-one, met at a brewpub in Ithaca. She followed him home, and that night was followed by another, and another...and here we are, nearly 6,000 nights later. Oh my, do I have blessings to count or what? Seriously.

Posted by Jason at 11:34 PM

Thu, Dec 7, 2006

Deep in my Seoul

Friends in Korea: I'll be in Seoul for the next four days. Not a lot of time, and sorry for the short notice. If you want to meet up, send your number to: jstrauss AT

Friends everywhere else: I'm flying to Korea today!

UPDATE: I've joined the Mile High Club! No, not that one! I'm talkin' internet access, five miles above the earth. There's wifi on this Korean Air flight, and I'm writing this from seat 30J, now looking out over the Sea of Japan. Travelling at 500 mph. And since I came gear-laden, I've also shot and uploaded some photos to Flickr, mid-flight.

See the latest:

Posted by Jason at 08:26 AM

Wed, Dec 6, 2006

A Skeleton In Her Closet

You just never know what you're going to find when you push that button on your answering machine. I got a message from someone named Ron, asking to speak to either Jiwon or Jason. He identified himself as a private investigator, and left his number. I called back.

A woman answers the phone at LRS Investigations, and transfers me to Ron. Ron informs me that Jiwon Shin, previously of Somerville, Mass, currently residing in California, is married to a man named Kevin L., and that he wants a divorce. He's going to send the sheriff to serve the divorce papers. He goes on to say that Kevin's been unable to contact Jiwon, and he just wants to get a divorce and move on with his life. I hear him out, fascinated, and then tell him that I think he's got the wrong woman.

He says, Are you sure? I'm talking about Jiwon Shin, originally from Korea, who went to graduate school at Harvard University....

[cue creepy music]

At this point, I short-circuit a little bit. I'd quickly looked Ron up online, and ascertain that he's for real. And his description, which presumably came from this guy Kevin, and has been checked out by Ron, is dead on. I protest: Jiwon & I have been together nearly every day since we were both 21. When is this supposed to have happened? Before I met her? As Ron pokes around to find the answer to that, he tells me that apparently it was a marriage of convenience, and that they were never really together. And then it occurs to me that this Kevin may be a stalker or something, albeit going about it in a strange way.

And then Ron says, does Jiwon also sometimes spell her name another way? And then I get it! Jiwon has never has, but in her early days at Harvard, there was an advanced graduate student in another department with the same name in Korean, but slightly different romanization. And it was the subject of occasional confusion in Cambridge. I told Ron what I knew about this other person, and he was happy to have a new lead. He apologized for freaking me out, and bid me adieu.

Whew. I called (my) Jiwon to tell her about it, but not before asking her if she did, in fact, have a second husband out there somewhere. Second husband?, she recoiled, when would I have time for that? Indeed.

Posted by Jason at 11:25 PM

Fri, Sep 29, 2006

Yes yes, it's all true

Crazy shit - Burning Man 2006
Yes, I'm quoted in an article on CNET today. Elinor Mills interviewed me about the perils of search engine use and the importance of librarians. I'm an expert! Yay!

Yes, I'm still introvered. This week I've turned down requests to teach a hooping class (at the Crucible) and to perform at a party (the Conexus fundraiser).

Yes, I got an Ipod, a 60gig. Currently listening to Boreta's Sike! Wanna hear some of what's been moving me lately? Yeah you do!

Yes, I'm going to a baby shower tomorrow.

Yes, my week at Burning Man was sublime. I'm not yet feeling moved to write about it, but you can look at my photos, if you like.

Yes, my camera got playadust in it, and now it's actin' funny. Then again, I got playadust in me, and now I'm actin' funny, too!

Posted by Jason at 05:00 PM

Mon, Aug 28, 2006

Of course I still love you!

I've been having a fantastic summer, and now here comes the cresendo: It's time for Burning Man! I leave at dawn for the Black Rock Desert, and I'll be there for a little more than a week. I'm camping with Conexus, and our project is building a massive cathedral on the playa.

I have Burning Man on the brain all year, but this past month has been intense, what with working on the cathedral, getting my own gear together, and feeling the excitement build all around me as the time approaches. An overwhelming majority of the friends I've made in California are Burners, and in the past year I've really deepend bonds with many of these friends, and made quite a few wonderful new ones. The experience blew my mind the first year, when I hardly knew anyone, and now it just keeps getting richer.

Here's a shot of Black Rock City taken during Burning Man last year by the IKONOS satellite. You can't tell it from 400 miles up, but there are some amazing things going on down there.

Here we go!

Posted by Jason at 01:06 AM

Fri, Jul 7, 2006

My stolen backpack: what I lost...and what I found!

Howdy true believers,

What's new? I'm doing really well. I'm doing so well that even when something bad happens, it somehow turns into something good. Like last weekend, at a big multi-day party-campout on a beach not so far from from Santa Cruz...well, I'll just let you read the letter I wrote to a couple dozen friends after I got back home. Check it out:

dear ones,

i’d like to share how i feel about having had my stuff stolen at the beach sunday morning. it might surprise you. for those of you who weren’t there, or only heard about it third hand, here’s a quick summary: i left my backpack & cooler sitting at the door of andrea’s tent saturday night. i last saw it around 3am. at 7:30am, as a few of us came back from lounging on the beach, i saw my backpack was gone. among the contents were all my keys (car, house, work, etc.), my camera & memory cards, a fine selection of [stuff], sunglasses, headlamp, [other stuff], blahblahblah.

all it took was a quiet word from me, and kelly, holly, andrea & todd were totally on it, searching everywhere. by the time holly, kelly & i came back from the office (to report it, and tell them not to let the thief steal my car from the upper lot), todd & andrea had my pack—found behind the porta-potties, contents all dumped out. everything of value was gone. these four scoured the area—a pretty nasty location, too—mainly looking for my keys, in the undergrowth, picking through the trash cans, everywhere. word was spread, and others went on the lookout, and offered me support.

i’m pretty good at separating what’s really important from what isn’t, so i was never really too upset about any of this. it was bad news for the community, knowing that someone was around who would do this. and i was tallying up in my head what a pain in the ass it would be to replace all my keys, plus the loss of all the other stuff. but at the same time, here i was, in the company of friends who were COMPLETELY with me. i’m not used to needing help, or asking for help, and when it came, with such selflessness and love, it surprised me. i really wasn’t expecting it. and you know what it did? it lifted me up, up way higher than the loss had taken me down. it’s true!

the worst part of a loss like this is feeling that you’re alone in it. and this time, i never felt alone, not for one moment. the support i got was complete, and it was really moving to me. when i gave up searching and sat down in a camp chair, i was recalling the sight of kelly, picking through a trash can in the early morning light—for me! and just then, carnen came over to me & said, “sweetie, can I get you anything? something to eat, something to drink, anything?”—i had this overwhelming sensation, of ABUNDANCE.

i know, you were just doing what you do! and yes, i know i’d do it for you, too. to know it is one thing, but to feel it like I felt it sunday morning…well, you all won me over in a whole new way.

and so now i can tell you what would’ve probably sounded crazy without first offering the story above: having my backpack stolen was the best experience i’ve ever had at [this location].

thank you all. i’m feeling it deeply.

with love, jason

And what do I get for offering my friends this appreciation? I get more appreciation heaped back on me! (And how nice is it to have your appreciation appreciated? Pretty nice.)

Two other things: First, what I didn't mention is that these fine folks had been up all night when this happened—not a time when you'd expect people to make such a generous effort. But they did! Shoot, I was almost too exhausted to care myself. Second, did you know that a locksmith can fabricate a new key to your car, on the spot? On the Sunday morning before July 4? In the middle of nowhere? Yes, with money, all things are possible. :-)

Posted by Jason at 04:48 PM

Fri, Jun 2, 2006

Where we's at

Jiwon's in Korea for ten days. She gave a paper at a conference yesterday. She's staying at the SNU faculty house for now, then going to stay with her family in northern Seoul.

Being alone in our new house is weird. Shenly came over last night, and now I'm leaving work early to go camp out in the Santa Cruz mountains. Raindance, here I come!

Posted by Jason at 02:28 PM

Fri, May 26, 2006


There's now a link, over there on the upper right, for you to see my newest photos on Flickr. I'm uploading new photos much more often than I'm posting here.

  • See the Golden Gate from my living room!
  • See the "internet famous" Sarah and Eddie on my deck!
  • See silkworms wriggling on my desk at work!
Hint: if you'd like to see a larger version of any photo, click on the "all sizes" icon found at the top of each image.

Another hint: Join Flickr, add me as a contact, upload & manage photos. It works really well, and basic accounts are free.

Posted by Jason at 11:21 AM

Fri, May 12, 2006

Good as gold

each one numberedIn the fall of 1999 I bought two one-ounce bars of gold, as a hedge against potential Y2K-related disaster. (Yeah, remember Y2K? Ha!) The idea was that, should social breakdown occur, cash would lose value, but an encased bar of 24K Credit Suisse gold bullion might just buy enough gas or favors to get the hell outta Dodge.

At the time, gold was under $300 per ounce. In the past year, and in particular the past month, gold's gone through the roof, and is now up at $725 per ounce. I still have my survivalist streak, but am doubting the gold bars' usefulness. Should I sell 'em?

Posted by Jason at 03:06 PM

Wed, May 10, 2006

In brief

Here's last night's sunset. This morning we saw this deer outside our bedroom window, then we walked to work together for the first time. We met for lunch on Telegraph, chose Indian, found William by chance, and ate together, mourning the news that Cody's will close its flagship Telegraph store. At 8pm I locked up the library, and we walked back up the hill together. We sat outside, drank a beer, opened mail and looked around in wonder.

Posted by Jason at 11:30 PM

Fri, May 5, 2006

Adventures at Number 9

We've taken to calling our new house "Number 9" — after it's street address. As we continue to settle in, we're getting to know Number 9 and its habitat, its creaks and quirks and trees and stones. And there's remembering which light switches do what, how full afternoon sun will pour through those big west window & bake the place if you don't leave windows open. I'm also thinking about what I can do myself and what I should leave to the pros. The back gutter was clogged, but since it's a good twenty-five feet above the ground, I hired someone to do that. And then there's the automatic irrigation system that came with the house....

The lower boundary of our new back yard is a vine-covered fence atop a ten-foot high retaining wall. Below the retaining wall is La Loma Avenue. The irrigation system covers the entire grounds with drip emitters, microsprayers and few big sprayers, and is divided into six zones, with a central controller. To test it, I turned on each zone, one at a time, and watched it go. I identified broken or misdirected elements, and made some minor repairs. After finishing with zones one through five, I went back to the controller at the front of the house, turned on zone six, made a quick front yard repair, then sauntered into the back yard to see how zone six (labeled 'lower backyard sprayers') was operating.

I arrived in the back yard to the sight of a geyser. The first big sprayer was missing its head, and a fat, high-pressure stream of water was shooting high up in the air...and disappearing over the retaining wall. My moment of stunned confusion ended when I heard the sound of a car...running through a jet of water. Yes, the geyser was coming down right in the middle of La Loma's northbound lane, and since it was just beyond a curve in the road, I'm sure it was totally surprising drivers. Most surprised, on this warm, sunny Sunday afternoon, must've been those driving with the top down. Yikes!

Unable to wrestle the spout in another direction, I ran back up the hill, around the house, and turned it off. The hazard existed only for a few minutes, but still, it could've caused an accident, or at least an irate driver coming up to hunt me down.

I'm naturally wary of stuff like gas & electric, but who'd've thought I could get in trouble with irrigation?

Posted by Jason at 04:44 PM

Fri, Apr 21, 2006

I feel like such an adult now

I have some big news to share. Are you ready? No, we're not having a baby, but it's approaching that order of magnitude: We bought a house! It's in the North Berkeley Hills, a short walk from the UC Berkeley campus...and it's BEAUTIFUL.

The housing search was an intense process. I put a lot of energy into trying to find the right place. We both had long lists of things we wanted, and in this house we found allthe things we desired most: an inspiring living space, a yard, Bay views, room to grow, and walking distance to work for both of us.

And now you know why things have been relatively quiet here the past few months. I thought about sharing the process as I went along, but like a high-risk first trimester pregnancy, I decided to keep it under wraps until I was sure things were going to work out. (And if you're not from around here, let me tell you: Buying real estate in the Bay Area is a most uncertain venture.) The fact that we got the first house we bid on is unusual. But that there were multiple overbidders is not. How did we succeed? By bidding pretty high, of course, and with a seventeen-day close, with zero contingencies, and a brilliant agent. I still can't believe we got it!

West-facing windows
It's all happened so fast: We saw the house, and fell in love within ten seconds of walking in the door. We got all our financial ducks in a row, took a deep breath, submitted our offer, and waited for the phone to ring. I've never had a moment quite like when that call came. It was like applying to your dream college, then opening up the mailbox to find that BIG envelope. In an instant, a new realm of possibilities are opened to you. What was a dream, an aspiration, is now a trajectory, and you're on it.

We closed escrow last Friday, and got the keys, and now we're moving in. I took photos of the house while it was still empty. Right now it's a mess of boxes, and we're fumbling around, trying to find things, wondering what should go where. We slept there last night, and this morning I took my first shower there. Today I awoke to the sound of the Campanile, and walked to work. DSL won't be on at the house 'til next Monday or Tuesday, but once it's on, I'm sure I'll have plenty of tales from the homefront to share.


Posted by Jason at 06:00 PM

Thu, Apr 6, 2006

American Inventors (and freaks!)

Lura & Aaron made it to the next round on ABC's American Inventor. Yay! Tune in next Thursday at 9pm to see if they make it further.

I first saw the Boing! — Aaron(aka Dr. Friendly)'s invention — at Aaron's loft late last year, and just last week I spent a few hours with them lying around & bouncing on two of them. That is, using the Boing as intended. It's good fun, and strangely comforting. Not (yet) sold in stores.

For a sneak peak, see the bouncin' baby of a new website: Boing!

Posted by Jason at 11:55 PM

Sun, Mar 19, 2006

March 19, 1996

Following up on my previous post, I got to thinking about that trip we made ten years ago. I found the journal I kept during the trip. Precious! Ten years ago today, I was in the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh. Jiwon & I had arrived just the day before, to find a war-shocked city still in the early stages of recovery. Things were bustling, but the city appeared to be largely ungoverned and quite lacking in city services. Garbage rotted in the streets and there was not a functioning traffic light anywhere. We arrived late in the day on March 18, and got "a $4 room on stilts at Guest House Number 9 on the edge of Boeng Kak Lake." The next day we went out to look around.

March 19 - Phnom Penh

We awake early, but not really early enough to get out and see something before the really oppressive heat sets in. By 10am we're at Wat Phnom, an important temple/shrine. Lots of incense. Funky Khmer xylophone music on tape in the Buddha Hall.

Later we ride on the back of a motorcycle, Jiwon & I, passing a pickup truck loaded with about ten heavily armed soldiers on the side of the street. Security patrol. We arrive and I give the driver 2000 riels (about 80¢).

Heart of Darkness is a bar. Almost exclusively foreigners. "Best bar in the world," said Dennis, who was already there when we arrived. "Black walls. Great music. I can play pool for free. There's a big wooden bowl full of gangja and you can roll your own joints. And shots of tequila are a dollar."

And there it all was. We stayed for a while.

We'll head up to see Angkor Wat one of these days.
There was quite a wild little community of foreigners there at the time, a mix of UN staff, aid workers, and adventurers appearing to enjoy the free-for-all. We thought about sticking around for a while, and even interviewed at an English language school being run by an ex-US army colonel, but after a few days we got on a boat heading north toward Angkor, and never looked back.

Posted by Jason at 10:26 PM

Fri, Mar 17, 2006

10 Years Gone

Ten years ago, a dance community called The Rhythm Society was founded here in San Francisco. In the lead up to tonight's quarterly ANDC (All Night Dance Celebration), those involved are sharing with the community what they were doing ten years ago, in 1996, and how they subsequently became connected to the RS. This is what I just wrote:

Hi, I'm Jason and I'm a procrastinator. I've been loving everyone's stories, but am just now motivated to write up my own. Here goes:

As 1995 ended, I was living in South Korea, teaching English. I'd been there since I finished college three years earlier, and I loved it. Living, teaching and exploring, every day was an adventure for me there. I spent most weekends visiting Buddhist temples and hiking in the mountains, and when I had a week off, I'd fly to the Philippines or take a boat to Japan. My girlfriend Jiwon wanted to go to grad school in the US, but why would I want to go back? I was having so much fun.

She mailed off her applications, we quit our jobs, filled our backpacks, got our shots and flew to Burma in January 1996. We spent the next five or six months meandering about Southeast Asia, moving slowly but continuously from Burma to Thailand to Laos to Cambodia to Vietnam to China. There was no goal, no destination, just the two of us waking up each day and asking: What now? It became a lifestyle, a lifestyle of adventure and wonder and simplicity. We swam in the Mekong, rode motorbikes on Ko Samui, climbed on the temples at Angkor, ate our malaria pills, bathed in rivers, rode some nasty buses, got fined in Vientiene, and got high almost everywhere. We eventually reached the east coast of China and took a boat to Korea, where we learned Jiwon got into grad school.

At summer's end, we returned to Ithaca. We'd met as undergrads at Cornell, and now she was back. We lived in a rural area outside of town, and I helped with the harvest at the organic vegetable farm down the road. And that's how 1996 came to a close for me: With the pond behind our house freezing over, and me baking bread and settling into the quiet American winter, far from the cyclos and durians and monk's robes and modernizing madness of Asia's teeming cities.

The sweeping arc from Ithaca to the RS passes through Boston, where I went for my master's in library science, and where Jiwon went for her Ph.D., and then to Berkeley, as we both got jobs at Cal and moved out here in August 2003. And I found fellow hula hoopers, and the local breaks scene, and Burning Man. I'd struck gold! It was a deep, wide vein, and I dug right in. And soon came the day that I met Lura B, and after a certain number of nights of dancefloor revelry, she said: I've got something I think you'd really appreciate...and she brought me to the Origins ANDC in December 2004. And then sponsored me last summer. And so it begins.

I haven't met all that many of you yet, but those I have? 24 karat, baby. May I have s'more, please?

Thank you! - Jason

And there you have it. It was fun thinking about what I was doing then, but really, I don't think I've ever been in a better place than I am right now. Yay 2006!

Posted by Jason at 11:36 AM

Fri, Feb 17, 2006


With the first fifty years of the rock era now behind us, I'm wondering: Is any of it going to be listened to and revered a hundred years from now? My sense is that, if nothing else, people of the 22nd century will still be digging two things: The Beatles and Bob Dylan. I've always been a big Dylan fan and a big Beatles fan, even before I came to know how powerfully innovative and influential they really were, and still now, the more I learn, the more I like.

To gain a proper appreciation of their creative brilliance, I'd recommend two films to fans and doubters alike: No Direction Home, Martin Scorsese's four hour Dylan documentary now out on DVD, and Anthology, the Beatles' ten hour autobiography. Yes, they're both long, but in recent weeks I've watched through both for the first time, and found them gripping as period pieces, and highly revealing as documents of artistic growth.

Anthology covers the Beatles entire career chronologically, and intersperses interview clips, mainly retrospective, with uncut studio and concert performances. Never mind the Ed Sullivan show or Shea Stadium -- For me, seeing the four of them in the studio working through early versions of tunes from Rubber Soul through Abbey Road left me awe-struck. And to follow them around is to be all the more impressed that in the eye of their hurricaine of superstardom, they remained continuously creative and fabulously prolific.

No Direction Home covers Dylan in his early twenties, from the beginning of his musical career up to his 1966 motorcycle crash. Dylan remains an enigma through it all, becoming the central figure on the folk scene while confounding reporters and fans with his indifference and opacity. dylan-studio.jpgAs the film builds toward its climax with Dylan brazenly "going electric," fans loudly boo him night after night and call him a traitor. And there we see Dylan, and it seems that the more they boo, the more he likes it, and it feels like he's imbued with the most potent mix of self-confidence and absolute artistic integrity: He'll make the exact music he wants, when he wants, and people can take it or leave it.

Dylan's a genius, a conduit to something rare and true, and he's spent a life with the spigot on, letting it run. In the film we have Allen Ginsberg saying that he himself watched Bob at times become "a column of air" -- and then we see clips of Bob on stage, absolutely riveting.

It's interesting to note what a pivotal year 1965 was for both The Beatles and Dylan: The Beatles recorded Help in early 1965, a solid album, but then proceeded in a new artistic direction, leaving the simple boy-girl love songs behind, and embracing a new musical and thematic complexity with the recording of Rubber Soul in the Fall. It was a turning point for the band (and for popular music), and an instant classic.

Dylan recorded my two favorite albums in 1965. The half-electric, half-acoustic Bringing It All Back Home was laid down in three days in January, and released in Spring. In June, he showed up at the Newport Folk Festival, and in one of the defining moments in rock history, debuted "Like A Rolling Stone" to what he surely knew would be a hostile audience (a scene depicted in the film). The camera then joins Dylan in the studio that Fall for the recording of Highway 61 Revisted, and we are witness to the birth of a new sound, with writing like no one had ever heard before. At a time when "Wooly Bully" and "The Name Game" are at the top of the charts, here's Dylan giving us "Desolation Row" and "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues." He's a man on fire, and if we stand near it, we'll always feel the warmth.

Posted by Jason at 11:03 AM

Fri, Feb 3, 2006

About my professional life

Yesterday I was elected Vice-President and President-Elect of the Northern California Consortium of Psychology Libraries. To those of you who didn't even know that I was a psychology librarian, this will come as some surprise. Surprise!

I was nominated, and elected, by the Head Librarians of the Northern California Consortium of Psychology Libraries, of whom I am one. I'll serve as VP for the coming year, and then I'll take up the president's gavel at this time next year. This sort of arrangement is not unusual for elected offices in academic and non-profit settings. What is unusual is that it should be me!

I should back up a bit. I haven't talked about this new job I got last summer, but since I've come this far, I might as well tell you about it. Also, since I'm told that I appear to be having far too much fun, let this serve as notice that it's balanced by a meaningful, challenging and satisfying work life.

About my job: Until last summer, I was a simple reference librarian at UC Berkeley. Now, I'm the Head Librarian at a graduate school of psychology in Berkeley. In short, I manage all aspects of a small academic library. In the words of the ad placed in the Chronicle of Higher Education, my:

[t]wo major responsibilities are: 1) to provide reference and research support to students dissertation work; and 2) to identify and develop appropriate online technology. Other responsibilities include: collection development in conjunction with faculty; education of students in the use of scholarly materials; and integration of web-based and other electronic resources into the library collection and reference services....

The successful applicant will have excellent analytical and interpersonal communication skills; will evidence both professional initiative and flexibility in dealing with diverse populations; and will exhibit a thorough knowledge of computer systems, particularly as they relate to online library functions. Other qualifications include: MLIS from an ALA accredited program or equivalent degree; experience in providing reference services; familiarity with the concepts, goals and methods of information literacy and library instruction; and ability to evaluate and use appropriate technology to improve library service, including the development of online library resources such as tutorials, surveys and guides.

I'm responsible for a whole lot more than I ever have been before, and the challenges and the lessons are coming fast. My skill set is expanding rapidly, as I need to both be aware of every aspect of the library's day-to-day functioning, while also formulating a vision of where I see the library going. It's also my first time supervising people. I've hired several new people, everyone working in the library seems happy, and I think I'm a fair and effective manager.

I'm finding this a wonderful place to work: The staff and faculty are great, I love working with the students, and it's a dream come true professionally—and only two years out of library school! All that said, in general, I won't be writing much here about my work. If I've gleaned an interesting lesson, personally or professionally, while on the job, I may write about it, but I'll always be fully protective of the institution and the individuals I work with, by doing nothing to undermine confidentiality, anonymity or reputations.

So there you have it. I love being a librarian. :-)

Posted by Jason at 10:31 AM

Sun, Jan 29, 2006

Recent photos

Sunset from my house - 1/29/06Today's sunset! Just after it went down, the clouds lit up. It was glorious. (Click on image for bigger size.)

And while you're here, see also:

Photos from Miami

Photos from Austin & San Antonio

Other than to say that both trips were great, I'll let the photos tell the story. OK?

Posted by Jason at 09:33 PM

Fri, Jan 20, 2006

Left, Right and Center

The plan for this weekend: Fly to Austin Friday morning, rent a car, pick up my brother Brian, and drive to San Antonio for the American Library Association conference. I have somewhat serious business to attend to: definitely committee meetings Saturday & Sunday, and I need to meet with ILS & OPAC vendors & go about selecting one for my library. Lots of other stuff, but those are the primary objectives for San Antonio. After the conference I'll go back to Austin & poke around the U of T a bit.

Contrast with last weekend: Photos from Miami and cross-country air travel.

And with two weekends ago: Photos of late night fun in San Francisco.

Posted by Jason at 01:43 AM

Fri, Jan 13, 2006

Missing Missy

I'm in Miami. I wrote this yesterday on the plane:

All ironies are sad ones when someone dies far too young, but this one is searing. My friend Missy Baron died yesterday on Interstate 80 outside of Elko, Nevada. I received the news in an email from her brother Steve, mere hours after the accident, and my heart broke.

Missy BaronThis past fall a dear friend of Missy's in Asheville, North Carolina was dying of cancer. Missy went to her, comforting and caring for her, and her two small children for a month, until her friend Lili died on November 7, 2005. Missy wrote beautifully and lovingly about the process, and her subsequent decision to move back to the East be near her two godchildren. The day before yesterday she had begun the drive East, when her truck flipped over on a wet road, and she died at the scene. And so less than two months after seeing their mother off into death, Missy herself is gone, and those two children will be denied her grace, as we will all miss the compassion and love that seemed to flow from her so effortlessly.

I last saw Missy on December 30, at the Anon Salon Sea of Dreams in San Francisco, and as she anticipated her coming journey, she was as radiant as ever. And now, less than two weeks later, I'm flying over Nevada, looking down on where Missy's life ended, yesterday, at age thirty.

I'm not sure what else to say. I didn't know her for very long, but (and I'm sure many people will agree with me) I felt immediately close to her, and every time I saw her--at the Fillmore, at Burning Man, at the High Sierra Music Festival--I was greeted as an old friend. I'm stunned and sad and feeling this loss, for the life Missy won't have, and for all of us in her ever-widening circle, who won't be blessed and inspired by her love. And for the stark reminder of the uncertain and fragile nature of life--of all of our lives--I feel scared. Yes, it could happen to any of us, any day.

Blessings and love to you, Missy.

P.S. - A celebration of Missy has begun here.

Posted by Jason at 05:36 PM

Wed, Jan 11, 2006

Enough to Say It's Far: Selected Poems of Pak Chaesam

Enough to Say It's FarJiwon and David McCann, her advisor from Harvard, have selected and translated the work of the late Korean poet Pak Chaesam. It's being published by Princeton University Press, and it's coming out soon!

The official publication date is July 2006, but it's already in the Library of Congress catalog, and up on the Princeton Univeristy Press website, which is calling it "[t]he first English translation of selected poems by one of the most important and unusual modern poets of South Korea."

Jiwon wrote a lovely forward, introducing the poet, and she chose the cover photo, too.

Posted by Jason at 07:10 PM

Tue, Jan 10, 2006

Going places

I've got some travel plans for the first half of 2006, mostly for fun, and to some cool places I've never been. Yay!

  • This Thursday I go to Miami, with Jiwon, to hang out with my Mom
  • Next week it's Texas, to attend the ALA conference in San Antonio, and visit my brother in Austin
  • Then Seattle in late February, when Jiwon gives a talk at UW
  • In late March, it's Vancouver, where, again, Prof. Shin's giving a talk, and I'm tagging along
  • Off to the Colorado Rockies in May for some vacay with my Dad & Maxene; and then it's...
  • Korea in June: finally getting my Mom to Korea!
That's the first half of the year, but with all that plus a week at Burning Man, that'll be about all the vacation time I have. Which is fine, 'cause while I do love to travel, I love being right here at least as much.

Posted by Jason at 11:53 PM

Wed, Jan 4, 2006

NYE 05-06

My New Year's Eve was probably not like yours. Mine was kinetic, ecstatic, loud and long. There were three things that I wanted Jiwon to experience with me in 2005: Burning Man, a Rhythm Society event and Breakfast of Champions. By sticking with me through New Year's, she has now done all three.

At 10pm New Year's Eve we arrived at our chosen New Year's party. It was a private dance party, thrown in a warehouse in San Francisco by the fine folks at False Profit, for themselves and their friends. The space was decorated with fabric and chickenwire and lights and video projections, and featured a large dance floor and two cozy chill spaces. There was a pro forma midnight countdown, but other than that, it was a great party, but similar to other all night dance parties that happen around here, except that, as a private party, it had more of a community feel to it. Great people, great music, no place I would rather have been for NYE. Jiwon & I worked the door from 2:15-3:15, sitting outside at a card table, making sure late arrivals had invites and being ready to hit the switch controlling the revolving siren lights inside if the SFPD were coming up the street.

Breakfast of Champions @ 11am New Year's DayThe party was winding down at 6am, and people were heading to Breakfast. Of Champions, that is. Jiwon & I made the short drive over there, and got in line. I'd spent the night sober up until this point, though by the time we got to the front of that huge line and entered Breakfast of Champions at 6:45am New Year's Day, that was changing. I described the event last year, but I'll add that this year, it was even more intense and, to me, more amazing than last year. People kept pouring in, and by 8am on this Sunday morning, January 1, it was packed with probably a thousand people, a no-holds-barred celebration that was still going full force when we finally left...around 3pm. Two things made me most happy at Breakfast of Champions: First, the music & dance scene upstairs, and second, seeing so many friends there. At BOC, breaks were upstairs, house music downstairs. The Space Cowboys throw righteous parties—on the playa and in the city—and their breaks DJs do it for me every time. I spent pretty much the whole day upstairs in the sweaty throng of dancers, getting off on the breakbeats, the bass and the unrestrained energy of the people around me. I'm not kidding: I really can't get enough.

At the same time, seeing so many of my friends at BOC felt special, as if there was some recognition that we were in the midst of something unique, and that it was we ourselves who were making it so. Since most people there had been up all night and well into the next day, you never knew exactly what to expect from anyone. I was not a neutral observer, but my sense is that in general it was much more enthusiasm and somewhat less coherence than one would get from that same person when sober and well-rested. I was feeling pretty effusive myself, and those hours spent there playing and praising and gushing with friends were precious ones.

Jiwon got to meet, and re-meet, quite a few people, and it was gratifying for me to overhear friends speaking well of me to Jiwon. She's my touchstone, my fulcrum, my springboard, and I'm happy for her to know that the energy that I'm bringing to this scene is appreciated. And yes, I suppose by now it's fair to say that I am a part of some sort of scene here, though I've never been comfortable with the idea of being a part of anything really. But as its positive and creative and joyful nature is clear to me, and as it effortlessly cycles back to me at least as much as I give to it, why not embrace it? Why not indeed.

We left Breakfast, I drove Desiree home, Jiwon & I showered, ate some food, slept for fourteen hours, and awoke the next day no worse for wear.

I did take some photos, but I think it's still hard to imagine if you weren't there.

Happy New Year!

Posted by Jason at 12:26 AM

Sat, Dec 31, 2005


Here we go!

Posted by Jason at 08:52 PM