A Series of Annoying and Inconvenient Events

1. The switch for the ceiling heater in our bathroom finally got all the way stripped this morning, leaving me in a panic about our apt burning down while I was at Computers in Libraries.

2. Wireless at Computers in Libraries was just about the worst I’ve experienced at a conference or professional meeting.  Please take a moment to reflect on the irony if you will.

3. Wireless at Starbucks, however, works beautifully, thanks to my newly purchased Starbucks Gold card.  Yes, I went there.  The mental health savings today made it entirely worth it.

4. I get to my presentation space.  No wireless.  A curtain barely conceals the door to the loading dock, through which a strong breeze is escaping.  I plug in my flash drive, and my presentation is corrupted and/or can’t be opened.  I save another copy on my laptop, put it on the flash, plug the flash in, file has some weird incompatibilities.  I upload the file to Slideshare from the presentation laptop thinking it’s a compatibility problem.  No luck.  I upload the file to Google Docs.  File is corrupt.  I open the file on my laptop, print as PDF, and then open the PDF on the presentation laptop.  FINALLY.

5. 7 people come to my presentation.  This is not a technology problem, but it is a bit annoying, especially since I gave one of the best presentations of my professional career.

6. I leave the conference in order to go straight home to attend my LEEP class.  I hustled from the disco shuttle to run to the train, then run to the bus, then hustle the few blocks from the bus home, getting there 10 minutes late, which isn’t bad considering the amount of hustling involved.

7. And then, after 3 minutes of connectivity, our network drops out.  Cue the hysterics.

8. Shane texts to say he’s going to Buzz to work on his presentation.  Instead he picks me up and we BOTH go to Buzz, where the wireless immediately flakes out.

9. I finally, finally get what seems to be a stable connection just in time for the mid-session break.  At least now I have a cookie and a coffee and I don’t have to run anywhere for a while.


JOEmo Love

Let me tell you something about this beauty on the left here.  His name is JOEmo (or JoEmo, if you’re Soy), and he is the best travel mug I have ever owned.

Finding a truly leak-proof travel mug has been one of my quests for a long time.  I’ve tried Shane’s trusty Starbucks mug with the sealing top, which was then tossed in a Ziploc bag to avoid backpack spillage.  We’ve owned mugs from each of our workplaces, and a mug from Espresso Royale, all three of which have dribbled on both of us at various times.  Shane’s been really happy with his I am Not a Paper Cup mug, which has while aesthetically pleasing and spill proof in non-mobile situations, but is still not bag-safe or spill proof for my commute.

See, I take the Metro in to work every morning.  On the Metro, you are not allowed to eat or drink.  This means that if I make coffee at home in the morning, I can drink it in the car on the way to the train, but not on the train itself, so by the time I get to work, my coffee is cold, and I’m tempted to go next door and buy coffee, thus negating the time and money savings created by making coffee at home.

Enter JOEmo (JoEmo).

When I was in Illinois two weeks ago, I found myself killing some time at Art Mart while waiting to meet a friend for dinner.  And then I found JOEmo, which is billed as a totally spill proof thermal mug.  You can turn it upside down!  It will keep your stuff warm for up to 6 hours!  Sucked in by the hype, I picked it up, and had a long discussion with the clerk about it.  Is it really spill and dribble proof?  Yes, she said, unless you over fill it.  Have people been bringing them back?  No, she said.  The only complaint is that it’s a little hard to clean.

And you know what?  It works.  For two weeks I’ve been carrying the thing around in my bag, full of coffee, half full of coffee, with the dregs of coffee sloshing around in it.  The only spills have occurred when either I overfilled the mug – didn’t she warn me? – or when I’ve left it on the ground with the top popped and someone kicked it over.  In both of those cases, the spill was a result of human error, not of JOEmo error.  My coffee is hot, and my clothes are free of spills.  Thank you, JOEmo.

Man Oh Man

In the last week, I have:

  • Flown from DC to Chicago
  • Read a 500+ page book
  • Took the train from Chicago to Champaign, and then back again
  • Ate my first cheeseburger in 13 years (which Ingbert toasted, appropriately, with another cheeseburger)
  • Successfully defended my thesis, the link to which will be shared soon (with thanks to all that attended the event)
  • Went to Kam’s, where Dan, Jeanne, and I consumed beers the size of our heads
  • Participated in my last LEEP on campus day as a CAS-ter.
  • Had a Symposium in my honor
  • Saw a lot of old friends and didn’t spend nearly as much time with any of them as I would have liked
  • Ate at old Champaign favorites: Jupiter’s, Kopi, Aroma, Esquire, Papa Del’s, Murphy’s, and the Courier.
  • Slept on Molly’s couch.
  • Watched the 1978 Star Wars Holiday Special


  • Took the 6am train to Chicago
  • Had brunch with the ladies
  • Went to a fun game store and an amazing bakery


  • Took the train to the bus to Rockford
  • Slept for a ridiculous and much-needed amount of time in the very cold basement
  • Spent quality time with Gypsy
  • Saw my sister, her fiance, and their cats for the first time in more than a year
  • Visited my plaque on the Wall of Foam


  • Missed my flight out of O’Hare because I thought it was at 11:10 instead of 10:10
  • Arrived in Seattle 2 hours later, thanks to the wonder of standby
  • Was joyfully reunited with Shane after being apart for a week
  • Met up with Mel, who picked us up at the airport and gave us our first taste of Seattle
  • Tried local beer at Elysian Brewery and Pike Pub & Brewery
  • Panicked a bit when our pet sitter lost his keys, which were later found
  • Killed a number of happy hours at the Pike Place Market
  • Worked on my presentation for ACRL
  • Bumped into 3 friends and counting at the conference!

I’m here in Seattle through the weekend, flying home on Monday, at which point I will not leave my house until someone MAKES me do so.  I miss my cats and my own bed and not eating expensive meals.  It’s been a pretty fantastic run, though, and the time has gone much more quickly than I expected.

Subject: [Cas] Congratulations to Elizabeth Edwards

————— Forwarded message —————
From: Caroline Haythornthwaite
Date: Fri, Mar 6, 2009 at 5:47 PM
Subject: [Cas] Congratulations to Elizabeth Edwards
To: cas, itsupport_staff, all_faculty, phd

Congratulations to Elizabeth Edwards on successfully completing and defending her CAS project, “Examining the Preparation for Reference-Based Instruction Among Academic Librarians”. Committee members were Caroline Haythornthwaite (chair), Linda Smith, and Melissa Wong.

Raise a glass of (green) beer!


I’m leaving on Wednesday to hop across the country – a few days in Illinois, with my CAS defense in the middle, followed by about a week in the Pacific Northwest, with a conference presentation in the middle.  I’m not anxious about either of the presentations, but I am feeling overwhelmed about being away from home for so long.  Other than that, it’s been a lovely sort of long weekend.  We got ~4 inches of snow between last night and this morning, which was enough to cause delayed openings for both of our works, which was enough to convince both of us to work from home.  I didn’t leave the house at all today.  It was fantastic, and probably just the sort of thing I’ll need again after two weeks away.

Bread Love

Our friend Chris asked for my bread recipe, and since I’ve been raving about baking bread, I thought I’d also post it here.  I won’t promise that it’s foolproof – but it’s solid and not precise, which is probably what makes it solid for me.  This recipe is from Jamie’s Dinners, and has been slightly adapted to reflect my experience of making it at least 15-20 times in the last 3-5 years.

For a single loaf:
~3 C flour
1/2 oz yeast
~1 1/2 C warm water
1 T sea salt
1 T sugar

Put the flour in a mixing bowl and create a well in the center.  Add half of the water, then pour the yeast, sugar, and salt into the water in the center of the well.  Combine slowly, adding enough water to make shaggy dough.  I do this in my mixer with the dough hook – you can also do this by hand, but it’s a little messier.

Turn out onto a floured board and knead until lovely and elastic – about 5 minutes if you’re doing it all by hand, about 2 if you’re just finishing off the kneading started in with the dough hook.  Place in oiled bowl and cover loosely with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel.  Let rise until doubled.  In the winter, I turn the oven on to the lowest temperature and place the bowl with the dough on the counter right next to it to make sure there’s enough warmth to help the dough rise.  This usually takes around 40 minutes.

Turn out dough again and work into the shape you want it in for baking.  The instructions say to knead again, but I find that just moving the dough around into loaf shape (or whatever) is enough to get the right texture.  Place in loaf pan (or however you’re going to bake it) and let rise another 30-40 minutes.  I like to line my baking pan with parchment or wax paper as it makes removing the loaf INCREDIBLY easy.  Seriously, this is the biggest improvement in my baking in the last month.  It’s like a dream world improvement over what I was doing before, which was just greasing the pan.  Preheat the oven to 375.

Bake ~40 minutes at 375, or until thumping the bottom of the pan produces a hollow sound.  Remove the bread from the pan and let cool on a baking rack.  If you used the parchment paper, this is dead easy – it should just lift right out.  Slice and enjoy!

I have had baking mishaps with this recipe, but I think the flexibility has made it way better for the way that I bake.  If the dough is wet, you can add a bit more flour.  If it’s dry, add more water.  Etc.  The more you bake, the more you’ll get to know the way it should look and feel, and then it’s really easy to make small adjustments.  There’s also the no-knead method – but this has been so reliable and so rewarding for me that I don’t see any reason to go another way.