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You can't catch swine flu by kissing a Bearded Pig

My standard line, usually delivered to the hotel guys who are helping us schlep equipment, is, "When you're over 50 and still playing rock n' roll, you've long since given up on the hit record.  You don't even care so much about the groupies.  What you really wish you had were roadies."

It's a lot of work, and it amazes me that we're still doing it -- the gig in Honolulu was the sixth year in a row that we've done the Sunday night thing as the Bearded Pigs.    It's taken on a life of its own. 

This year we were "an enucleated band" -- so said the legend that TG put on the shirts.   The past several years SG, Duke and Russell had worked up a mini-set as a power trio -- we called them The Nucleus.  But SG retired from the band after the Chicago gig and Duke, Russell and Cogman weren't able to make it to Hawaii -- hence, we were "enucleated."  Did that slow us down?  Of course not.  We had Boutch filling in on drums and Fearless Frank on harmonica.  We even had Sparky running sound (which was a tremendous help since we couldn't hear a damn thing on stage -- I really screwed up with how we arranged the amps).

Little Lulu joined us on tambourine, as she has the last few years, and we even got the Princess Josphine up for a few tunes before she announced that it was time for her to go to bed (she'd just flown in that afternoon).   IMG_0128

Count the Memphis weekends, Atlanta, Savannah, Chapel Hill, Edinburgh, London, the Presidents' party in Philadelphia, a couple of North Carolina Pigs gigs, along with the two or three "proto-pigs" performances and some version of the band has played nearly twenty times or so since 2002.   Mister TomCat and I were talking about it and we're pretty sure that we've never had exactly the same lineup twice.

Never could've happened without The Thicket Society.  It still astonishes me that so many people are willing to put up $40 apiece to make it possible for us to play every year (and to get the t-shirt, of course!)   When we put The Thicket Society together I thought we'd get maybe ten of our crazy friends to put up a few bucks to help us out.  This year we ended up with 65.  (Good thing, too, 'cause Hawaii was expensive!)  Can't possibly thank them all enough.

When I started playing music again, back in '92 in St. Louis, after a hiatus of a dozen years, I took it as a life lesson about never saying never and seizing crazy opportunities when they come your way.  What we love most about being The Bearded Pigs is that we're playing without a net.  Give it everything you've got and make a glorious noise.

That's rock n' roll.

MLA is my professional home

My first MLA committee appointment was in 1988.  I'd been a member for five years.  The last year in which I did not have some kind of official role was 1996.  I'm ready for a break.  I've enjoyed most of my MLA work, but when I stepped off the stage last Tuesday after finishing my term on the Board of Directors, it was with a light step indeed.

I'll continue working with the Ethics Task Force as it completes its recommendations, but once that's done (probably by the end of the summer or so), I would really like to have a couple of years where I don't have any organization responsibilities.   Next year, with the meeting in DC, I'm looking forward to going to Josie's dance recital on Saturday morning, flying to DC in time for the welcome reception, spending a couple of days hanging out with friends and colleagues, going to a few interesting sessions, and coming home on Wednesday.  (That plan will have to be altered if we go ahead with the Chicago Collaborative symposium, but I'll indulge in the fantasy for now).

This doesn't in any way mean that I'm done with MLA.  I've got another decade or so of active career and I fully expect that there'll be more association work for me.   I can't imagine it being otherwise.

I'm always taken aback a little when I come across medical librarians who speak of MLA as if it is something "other," or who question joining because they can't see what the immediate practical benefit is, or who complain about the cost.  I guess I was just brought up differently.

It was a given, when I went to NLM as a Library Associate (what's now called an "Associate Fellow") that I would join the association and get involved.  I accepted the notion that it was part of my professional responsibility.  It was about what I would give to the association and the profession, not what I would get out of it.  In that year, living in DC, my government salary was $16,500, my wife was working part-time as a department store clerk and I would no more have considered not paying my annual dues than not paying the electric and water bills.   This year, when I eliminated my travel funding due to the economic situation, there was no question that I would still go to the annual and chapter meetings.  To quote Sonny Rollins, "This is what I do."

And while personal benefits may have been the least of my reasons for joining back in 1983, those benefits have, in fact, been tremendous -- professionally, in terms of what I've learned, and in terms of the opportunities that I've had to influence the direction of librarianship in this most exciting of changing ages; and personally, in that almost all of my closest friendships have come about through the connections I've made in the association.   For heaven's sake, Lynn and I got married at a chapter welcome reception!

It's been exciting in the past couple of years to see an increasing number of energetic and creative librarians who have come to the field within the last five to ten years digging in and working to make the association responsive to the changing times.  It's been rewarding that during my time on the board, focusing on leadership development and the needs of new members and recent grads has been a top priority.   I've said many times that this is the most exciting time to be a librarian in the past 500 years.  We have opportunities that were unimaginable just a couple of decades ago.  MLA has been, and will continue to be, a significant force in making the most of them.  And I intend to be there.

Rush is not the Republican party and Dick Cheney is a man of principle

While I'm fixing supper I turn on the little TV in the kitchen to watch the commentariat dissect the day's news.   It's their job to view everything through a political lens, which seems sometimes to leave them fairly blinkered about the motivations of the actors on the stage.

I was amused at Rove's comments on the Powell/Cheney flap.  "Neither one of them are candidates," he said, dismissing the entire matter.   He's only interested in winning elections.  Anything else is the "false debate that Washington loves."

The talking heads on MSNBC continue to be baffled.  They're trying to figure out the strategy.  If Cheney & Limbaugh continue to be polarizing figures, then how is that going to help the Republican party make a comeback in the next election cycle?  They shake their heads in puzzlement and disbelief.

Except that there's nothing to indicate that either Cheney or Limbaugh are particularly interested in helping the Republican party win elections.  Limbaugh, for all his bluff and bluster, is consistent in one thing -- he's an entertainer whose interest is self-interest and driving his ratings up.  If the Republican party falls apart and the ensuing controversies raise his profile and get more people to tune into his show, that's a good thing.  Zev Chafets's profile of Limbaugh in the Times Magazine last July makes it pretty clear what drives him.  You will consistently misunderstand Rush if you think that he's trying to build, preserve or further the interests of the Republican party.

Cheney is similar in that way.  But much scarier.   If you take him at face value -- and I see no reason not to -- he believes deeply that the actions that he took, the agenda that he drove until even W. couldn't stomach it anymore, kept the country safe.  And that what the Obama administration is doing now is terribly wrong and is opening the door for another attack.  His mission now is to do as much as he can to hammer home that message in hopes that public and congressional opinion can be turned enough to put roadblocks in Obama's way.  Whether or not that serves the interests of the Republican party is irrelevant.

Once you quit trying to view their actions through a political lens, they're both remarkably consistent.   I was never outraged at Limbaugh's comments about wanting Obama to fail.  How could he not want that?  Obama's vision for the United States is fundamentally antithetical to the view of the U.S. that Rush holds.  If Obama were to succeed, he would be moving the country in a direction that would make it much more difficult for Rush to sustain his riches and his notoreity.

I imagine that during the days between the election and the inaugural, Cheney must have wondered if there wasn't a way to stop the succession from happening.  He must have considered the implications of declaring a state of emergency, of some sort of martial law.  His actions over the past eight years have made it very clear that he believes that the President has unlimited authority to do whatever is necessary in advancing the war on terror.  It must have been deeply disappointing to him to realize, finally, that he'd made a president who just wasn't as tough as he was.

In the water

I'm vain enough that I'm uneasy about displaying my pale plump torso to the multitudes around the pool or at the beach, despite the fact that I'm far from the plumpest or palest one there.  (Well, not the plumpest, at any rate; I am pretty damn pale).  But as with most things Josephine, the prospect of getting out for a swim with her overcomes my venial inhibitions.

There were plenty of places to swim, and we didn't get to all of them.   We started with the lagoon on Wednesday morning, and over the next few days spent time in the little blue pool, the slide pool, the ocean in front of the hotel, and at Kailua Beach on our way back from Kualoa Ranch.  By the time we were at Kailua, she was at ease enough in the ocean (with her arm floaties on) that she was swimming back and forth from Nonni to me, and letting us toss her around some in the water.

Josie's always loved swimming.  I think back to the trip to San Francisco, August 2007, when Mom and I took her down to the pool in the hotel.  The way she paddled around, I was sure that Marian had taken her to the pool several times, but it turned out to be her first.  She'd swim every day if given the chance.

I'm often in hotels with pools and almost never think of taking advantage of them, but on this trip I was determined.  During the conference itself I was only able to get in the water once, but after it finished up I made sure to swim for a bit every day, and I am trying to pledge to myself to do a better job of it when I'm travelling.  When I was a kid there were few activities I enjoyed more than swimming, and that lasted well into my teens.  (When my dad received a small inheritance from a relative he spent a portion of it putting a pool in our backyard and I loved diving in on mornings after I'd been out late).  But it's something I've lost the habit of as an adult and it's time to get it back!  Think Brisbane.