badger&fox

Cate's Schedule: Updated for the Summer Fall Spring Unanticipated changes

My schedule is complicated, so I'll post an outline here where people can look it up as needed. There's some variation, but in general:

Starting after MLK Day...
Monday.....Working 9-12pm and 2-10pm in Boston
Tuesday....Gym in the morning followed by Working 12-4pm in Boston and 5-9pm in Cambridge
Wednesday..Working 9-12pm in Cambridge and 1-5pm in Boston, Date night with Danielle
Thursday...Working 9-1pm and 3-10pm in Boston all day
Friday.....Day Off! I could be anywhere, but am often sleeping, shopping, or cooking
*****Twice a month D&D 4.0 @Menagerie
Saturday...Working 10-5pm, evenings open
****once or twice a month D&D 3.5 @Menagerie
Sunday.....For February, March 20th, and April 10th and 24th: Working 12:30-5:15 at CPL; For all other dates: Off!
****2nd Sundays are board games at my house @7pm
****3rd Sundays are Contra dance in Porter Sq. @7:30pm
****Occasional D&D 3.5 @Scoggatt's

Trips/Events: Chicago and Boulder Feb 2-11th, Intercon K March 4-6th
Nimue

When can I go home?

Oh god, so bored. I haven't even been able to read effectively for the last week. I can listen or watch fiction, but can't concentrate on print. I can't write either, although there are a few things I'd like to be working on. Running my game held my attention as long as that lasted, but now that it's over, I'm just done. Can I just sleep tomorrow instead of working? How about tonight? The chances that anyone will actually need my help are minimal; this is one of the times I want to call in the librarian robot to just get people their books, show them how to log-in, and leave me free to veg out or go home early. Even cool articles about the history of the # cannot hold my interest or attention.
  • Current Mood
    lethargic lethargic
steampunk, babage, monkeys, lovelace

I hate uninformative declarative statements because they steal our jobs and raise our taxes.

I hate uninformative declarative statements because they steal our jobs and raise our taxes.

And if that was all I said, how would you learn anything? For example, today I went to learn a little more about Question 3 on the Massachusetts ballot. I read the two "argument" pieces to be found on boston.com and learned nothing, here are some examples:

"[Question 3] does NOT reduce spending for cities and towns, police, firefighters, schools, roads - NOR any essential service. Not a dime."

"We all want good schools, police and fire protection, safe roads and bridges, clean water, and quality health care. Cutting the sales tax by more than half will prevent us from achieving these goals we share."


How am I to know which is true? Neither "article" cites sources, the sources (the secretary of state's election website and boston.com who reprinted them) are moderately authoritative. Both authors work form activist organizations, so one *might* construe that they are experts, but really they just sound like kids on a playground.

So, to find more information we go to the Hidden Web. I searched for "Massachusetts Sales Tax" and "question 3" but because this is such a recent issue, there wasn't much. Top hits consisted of:
--A Nurses Union publication against question 3 with additional unsubstantiated, but better explained claims [Ohlson, R. (2010). GET THE FACTS! What are the facts about Question 3-- the ballot question that would cut the Massachusetts sales tax by more than half?. Massachusetts Nurse, 81(7), 8. Retrieved from Academic Search Premier database.]
--A USA Today article about how many states are considering lowering sales tax [Dennis, C. (Oct 10, 2010). Final push on for votes. USA Today, Retrieved from Academic Search Premier database.]

So now what? New database new search found: Massachusetts Sales Tax Could Be Cut by More Than Half in November. July 19, 2010 v373 i33351 p36The Bond Buyer, 373, 33351. p.36. Retrieved November 02, 2010, from General Reference Center Gold via Gale:
http://find.galegroup.com/gtx/start.do?prodId=GRGM&userGroupName=les_main (Lesley access only, sorry). This article states:
"Roughly $4 billion of Massachusetts School Building Authority debt and $3.4 billion of Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority bonds are secured by a dedicated 20% of collections from the 5% tax, or one cent for every five cents collected...The money helps to pay down bonds used to finance the Central Artery project, known as the Big Dig. The 1.25 percentage point boost also supports $160 million of aid the state allocated to the MBTA in fiscal 2010 and fiscal 2011 to help the mass transit agency balance its operating budget."

So we're still paying for the Big Dig. The article also brings up the fact that currently MA bonds are very highly rated (AA+), which means we can sell them to investors to raise money. Many pension funds are required to invest only in AA or better rated assets (I learn that from Planet Money). If Massachusetts' rating went down, say because we could no longer back up our promise to pay back bond purchasers, the state's ability to raise capitol would be diminished. Here's a Reuters article on the same subject. Also, we know what happens when the MBTA even starts to talk about cutting back service...no one wants that.

Since this is such a current issue, most of my sources will be online. I want to know when this thingy (law? bill?) was proposed and by who. I found Ballotpdia which, much like Wikipedia, is probably only as trustworthy as it's users make it...but they cite sources!
  • The Roll Back Taxes website, sponsors of the measure
  • the Opposition, has a scary map and tiny list of articles in the lower right corner (mostly editorials)
  • The Massachusetts Taxpayers Association, they're against Question 3, there are many allegations that they are "fat cats" (just Google it, I don't have time for everything)

    But even those are not so good. Here's a pro-question 3 article from the Boston Globe, but it only sort-of gives evidence. The author does cite a study by the Beacon Hill Institute at Sufolk that claims jobs will be created by a tax cut. I intend to read this study as it comes from an academic source and has many citations. HOWEVER, the press release quotes the BHI's executive director David G. Tuerck...who is listed as a speaker for the Third International Conference on Climate Change, hosted by the Heartland Institute. This conference is generally attended by people who don't believe in global warming. [EVKIN, A. (2009, March 9). Skeptics Gather to Discuss Why Global Warming Isn't Such a Big Worry. New York Times, p. 12. Retrieved from Academic Search Premier database.] Although this doesn't entirely destroy Tuerck's credibility or the report issued by his institute, it certainly increases my skepticism.

    In the end, especially since voting closed an half hour ago, I guess you could do worse than pick an organization whose values you believe in and do what they suggest, be it a union, non-profit, political party, or pundit. I guess it's nearly impossible to actually evaluate these things in advance.
  • Nimue

    "Professional" Libraians

    I've talked before about what I think of the MLS credential and it's relation to librarianship (if not here than in person) but to summarize: you don't really need 2 years and a Master's degree to do the things a profession Librarian (with a capitol L) does. I don't just mean fixing the printer and shelving, I mean the real work of being a librarian: collection development (aka spending money), instruction (aka how to find/use databases), managing (aka managing). These are things you can learn from other sources, on the job, or at least in a shorter period of time. I think Librarians need training AND experience to be really good at what they do, so you have this conundrum: either you
  • a) get the degree and then tirelessly build up your experience until you can do the job you've been trained for well and earn a decent living or
  • b) work in libraries for awhile before earning the degree and then pop out of school and get that job you've been denied because you didn't have the piece of paper but could totally have done anyway without it

    This guy has written two posts entitled "The Masters Degree Misconception" in which he whines about discusses his dissatisfaction with being equated with paraprofessionals who, to the general public, are indistinguishable from Librarians.

    Ok, I understand the frustration. I want my MLS to be worth the thousands of dollars of debt I'm in as a result of getting it. I think librarians should be paid more, not less. I think we should be respected for the information experts that we are; blazing paths through the ever-thickening proliferation of information crowding the digital jungles of today. BUT, I still didn't need to spend 2 years and thousands of dollars to get here. I'm better at this then a student worker, possibly better than a "paraprofessional" (though in Boston with it's high density of MLS grads, the parapros may have degrees too) but if patrons can't tell the difference between us, maybe that's a sign that we (the librarians) don't need to make such a big distinction ourselves.

    No one wants to spend a lot of money on a degree to get a job that doesn't pay much. Honestly, an MLS has a really low return on the cost. Many people would say, "If you elevate the job to a Profession, with a Professional degree, the pay will increase making the expensive education worthwhile." It works for doctors, lawyers, and business school grads (what do you become when you graduate from business school again?). But it doesn't work for librarians. I think it's because we usually work for non-profit organization and we give away our product, our knowledge and skills, for free. That's as it should be. Information wants to be free; I believe that and I do what I can support that. And who wants to pay someone to help them find the free stuff? I guess libraries could start putting advertisements on their websites, but really that's not the point of the job.

    It seems clear to me, as a working librarian, that librarians are never going to be rich, which means that really expensive "professional" degrees aren't going to get more affordable. So why not dump the degree? I've already bitten the bullet and bought the thing, but why should the librarians of the future be doomed to repeat my mistakes?

    So don't get pissy if the paraprofessional (with or without a degree) standing next to you is "mistaken" for a librarian, she is a librarian...do what you can to make her a better librarian by sharing your knowledge and experience.
  • steampunk, babage, monkeys, lovelace

    Monkeys!

    Question of the week: "Do you have the English book?"

    Ne project! What should I call my forthcoming professional blog where I can post both inane curmudgeonly comments like the one above as well as serious library stuff. I hope to write about technology (which I don't always understand), instruction (which is what I do), and rare books (which is what I studies and wish I did).

    Also...new user pic...Monkeys! You should go to 2D Goggles and read "Lovelace and Babbage Vs The Organist!"
    Nimue

    GenCon 2010: Summary

    On the whole good. I wish I'd had more time to browse the exhibit hall and played more board games, but I got the minimum done I think. And I really stretched the limits of what I can schedule. I really felt like I could have used more time though.

    Things we have learned:
  • the exhibit hall closes at 6 on Saturday, plan accordingly
  • doing the TD roster early is worthwhile
  • having backups is worthwhile
  • getting the room for Wednesday night is nice, but not strictly necessary
  • staying 'til Monday might be cool
  • the map will never be perfect, but it can improve
  • checking bags can be really nice, trust the airlines
  • trade day is worth considering
  • bad games are not worth sticking around for
  • approach the exhibit hall with a wishlist/plan

    Next year's plans:
  • improve the map!
    • don't mark the obvious restaurants everyone can find
    • utilized the blank spaces
    • put useful info (hours) somewhere
    • finish early
    • try scanning the smaller hotel maps to enhance

  • don't forget goggles/TD tokens/skirt/networking cards
  • play more board games
  • Games:
    • True Dungeon!
    • 7th Sea LARP
    • try for a Call of Cuthulu game
    • Dresden LARP (maybe)
    • other Infinite Imaginations LARPS


    See you next year!
  • Nimue

    GenCon Sunday

    Got up early and traded in my remaining generic tickets for system credit. I basically didn't use any. I got 4 from trading with people and used only a few more of my own to get Dan O'H into 7th Sea and do the games library. They're nice to have, just in case, and more useful in board game-dominated year. Then I went to the exhibit hall to get DC Heroes for jadasc. Met John and we wandered around a bit. I bought some card sleeves for Dominion, though I forgot to try and get the promo card I don't have from the Rio Grande booth. I oohed and ahhed the various steampunk accessories, but decided against any impulse purchases. John showed me the game table from Geek Chic he put a downpayment on (it's not actually on their website, and it's smaller than the Emissary). So now I know that sometimes *I* make the GenCon Mistake, sometimes someone else does. It's an awesome table and he'll get a lot of use out of it, but man those things don't come cheap.

    I went back to the hotel to get a later checkout, pack, and then went to "breakfast" with Dan, Lia, Jenn, Allen, and John. We went to a cool place, (also not on my map, curses!) and then parted ways. It was early, but I checked out and caught the shuttle to the airport anyway. Return trip was uneventful, I slept a lot.
    Nimue

    GenCon Saturday: the rest

    After leaving Dresden early, I went to grab food (I was starving) and then the exhibit hall...only to discover that it was about to close. So double-fail on that one. Not only had I just spent several hours not having fun in a game, but I'd missed the exhibit hall almost entirely.

    I met up with Trysh and Katrina, we got dinner at the Claddagh Irish Pub (on my map), which had Strongbow on tap (for the win!). They had gone shopping and acquired many cool things that I was most envious of. We returned to the convention center and played the Catan collector's edition at the game library, allowing me to use my remaining generic tickets not in my name (trades from Dresden LARP and RPG). It was nice. Up to that point, I had been feeling that having not played a single board game I had somehow failed at GenCon, but even playing one (and one I've played before) solved the issue. We tried to see if Dominion Prosperity was still out in the Rio Grande room, it was not and I adjourned to the hotel to get ready for the White Wolf party.

    I stopped along the way to chat with John and his friend Brian, made myself late, but made it back before the crew was leaving and changed into my blue pirate getup for the dance. I neglected to bring a long black skirt this year or my pirate pants, so I had to wear a shorter skirt, but it was ok. Lia did my makeup and we were off to Club Industry (also not on my map).

    They've got a new pyramid-shaped dance floor in the center betwixt the cages. And there were cage dancers. They seemed ok with female attendee's dancing in there, but not male. The booze was free and flowing fast. They were even giving out sloe gin and 1800 tequila; not sure if this is an upgrade to encourage people to attend the Grande Masquerade, or just standard operating procedure and I've never noticed before.

    I left a bit early to try and kidnap John for a little alone time, but was interrupted by Dustin's return to the hotel room. He'd had much to drink and needed to lie down and we got to reminisce a bunch, which was fun.
    Nimue

    GenCon Games: Saturday

    Exalted
    We got up stupid early to play Exalted run by John in the Hampton's breakfast room. We being: me, John, Niki, Alix, Mike, Dustin, and Daniel M. Despite that fact that John's never run Exalted before, or played much that wasn't a Dustin Game (i.e.: alternate rules reality), it was really fun. I also failed to make a new character or update the character I had to 2nd edition, but I was mostly a social person so I just roleplayed everything and avoided rolling dice as much as possible. We were playing a module, which I've always been suspicious of, but I actually think it can be a really good idea. It means the GM can devote his/her prep time to learning the system instead of having to come up with crazy plot twists and doesn't have to know about every possible eventuality.

    So, the game. If you know anything about Exalted, you know that being a Solar is a dangerous thing. Generally, one doesn't announce one's status. HOWEVER, in this game we had two characters who didn't care at all (a Twilight and a Dawn) mostly because they were total tanks. And then we had two Zenith castes, and they have some evangelical duties and tend to be a bit more open about things. The other players were me (an Eclipse Guild merchant) and a Night caste who most people didn't realize was there anyway. I denied I was a Solar until the last when we had to get into the camp of the Abyssal under treaty. Of course, this was mostly just an in so we could destroy their siege weapons. There was a plague we had to cure, a magical golden ram to capture (the only way to cure the plague and win the war), or yeah, and a minion of the Mask of Winters to defeat. I missed the last part b/c I had to go to my next game at 2...
    ____________________

    Dresden RPG
    This was *the game* of GenCon. Everyone wanted to play this thing. When I arrived (early) to the room, there were 2 Dresden games scheduled, only 2 people with actual tickets were there yet (more came), but the room was packed with about 20 people all on the joint waiting list for both games. I had two tickets, so my extra went to the first person on the list, but no one else got in b/c everyone else showed up...which was a shame considering how bad my game was. Here are the facts:
  • it took 1.5 hours to even get started

  • WE, the players at a con game, many of whom didn't know the system and/or the setting, had to provide some of the character creation

  • After 2 hours of play (that would be 3.5 hours into a 4 hr slot) we still hadn't entered combat and I, a combat based character, left


  • One of my fellow players summed it up well on RPG.net. The GM was a man I'll call S...I'm sure he's a perfectly pleasant guy normally, but he can't run a con game to save his life. Apparently, he did a lot of playtesting.

    S. has emailed me since I wrote this post and asked for formal feedback and been very receptive to it. Furthermore, I gather that he was ill while running. He also asked that remove his name from my journal, which I have done. If you really wanna know more, contact me in person.

    The system seems to be decent despite his lack of skill. I'm not convinced it's a good system for a convention, but I will say that the other Dresden game that was going on in the same room looked like they were having fun, I wish I'd made that game my first choice.
    Nimue

    GenCon Games: Friday part 2

    After TD, which was awesome, there was the 7th Sea LARP. I've been in this game a few times before and generally find it wonderful. It's run by a group called Plaid Chameleon. The beauty of this game is that game wrap doesn't take forever, you aren't left with dozens of plot threads or burning questions hanging, and not only can you play if you don't have an official ticket, you generally can get really involved in the many well-crafted side plots.

    In this year's game there was me, John, Mike, Daniel M, Lia, Alix, and Dan O'H (used generics). Mike played my womanizing husband and John my swashbuckling son. We were very French. Alix and Lia were mother and daughter and from Avalon. Daniel M was a mysterious Frenchman and Dan O'H was one of the graduating knights of the Rose and Cross (it was their party). I was collecting money to fund the Revolution and trying to get back at this woman who'd embarrassed my husband over one of his affairs (we were very much in love btw, it was adorable). I did not have Porte magic, but someone did. There was a giant dragon that arrived through a portal and tried to kill people and many of our goals were cut short. Still, much fun had by all.

    Right before game began, Dustin arrived. He was unable to play in the game, but we met up with him and Jim B and Rex after the game at Scottie's Brew House (not on my map, curses!). There was socializing, there were wings. Good times were had by all.