Category Archives: productivity

Maps and sundries

so at this recent IAJGS 2013 Boston conference on Jewish genealogy i was so excited there was going to be a Birds-of-a-Feather (BoF) group that included many of my shtelach (sp?).

however as i have waded in the deep end to corral and collocate the information into a quick blog, it has become really clear that the geographic locale included in the BoF — unless it is expandable — is not going to cut the mustard for me.

unfortunately i think this means i will need to set up my own research group. which makes me really nervous because even with the full time job searching and applying for temp positions and the revving up of applications and teaching myself new technologies i have already committed to a lot of volunteer work for IAJGS.

and then there’s the bigger and higher priority issue of getting Frank’s stuff in a better organizational structure. i talked to Frank tonight and he’s amazingly patient given i went to Grad School (!) during our work but he did say, bluntly, that he’s not going to be around forever. it’s a shanda. and is starting to be upsetting to me. so it is clear priorities will need to be reshuffled.

anyway, here’s the google map [i created that lists the 30 towns listed] for the Kolo-Rypin-Plock (“KRP”) Area Research Group

Google Map [i created that lists the 30 towns listed] for Kolo-Rypin-Plock (“KRP”) Area Research Group

This is a clickable Google Map of the towns listed in Kolo-Rypin-Plock (“KRP”) Area Research Group

this is Ken D’s map [REMOVED]– which instantly seemed wrong to me because (a) neither Frank nor i were connecting to the Kolo town name — it’s very far south and (b) the lines are too straight. the districts are a lot more curvy (if that is the divining principle). even if geographic elements like the rivers are used, it’s still curvy, not straight lines like this.

also, mission critical is that Frank, a native born Jew from this region in Poland — he really needs to give the selection an okay. he just knows the region so well. heck, he walked it — that’s what they did back then. so his viewpoint is a mandatory part of this conversation in my opinion.

and compare and contrast, this is the Polish Provinces and Districts map (Voivodeships (provinces) and Powiats (districts or counties) in Poland). Administrative districts of interest for my Jewish genealogy — area is north / northwest of Warsaw.

Google Map for Polish Provinces and Districts (my areas of interest)

This is a clickable Google Map of the towns listed in Polish Provinces and Districts in my areas of interest

so basically what i am doing is going through a list of all of the Voivodeships (provinces) and tagging them on this new google map to try and trace the geographic areas that are important to both me and Frank’s trees.

and select the individual smaller Powiats (districts) from this map (below).

Easy Peasy — NO PROBLEM!!!

i’ve had a stress headache for a few hours now realizing the magnitude and issues involved. i think once i get going it won’t be so bad but right now it feels sort of insane.

Frank will give the region a good eye. it looks like the region of interest for me and Frank overlaps the KRPARG (blech on this acronym) only across the northern swath — and there are a lot of towns that are missing. namely my “home” shtetl of Radznow. and Mlawa is not included either, which is where a lot of family lived — as well as being where the region was funneled during the War into the Mlawa Ghetto — before that got liquidated. very important geography. so that is really critical.

the good news is that i can use this list from my genealogy website as a rough guideline of place names in all of the trees i host. oy.

Place names, collocated

Place names, collocated



this post has been adjusted (see brackets) to remove the map from the “official” group and edits are made to clarify the google map i created with the towns listed in the group was a map i created myself.

summer 2013

it is june, that time of the year when i am grumpy (29 years as of June 10, RIP MGH) but also sort of amazed and glad to have a lot of light and sun and nice weather.

well it has been raining nonstop here in NYC, but summer, in general, as a principle, seems to be here and/or coming.

freaking raining non-stop

freaking raining non-stop

so i have a couple of summer projects.


i’m beyond frustrated with how many files i have, how impossible it is to find stuff, and the fact that i have duplicate copies of things like my itunes library (in various iterations) in multiple places. plus the fact that i need to deal with Frank’s vital records archive. aagh.

so i decided to do Network Attached Storage (NAS) and got a Synology. very reasonably priced. and two Western Digital reds in a RAID setup.

i took loads of pictures during the unbox and installation, which i hope to do in a more detailed blog post but for right now it’s broad strokes time until i feel less sour about stuff.

this is it, fast forward, up and running.

my Synology NAS, next to my new TrippLite ISOBAR strip. see the blinking lights. they are staring accusingly at me

my Synology NAS, next to my new TrippLite ISOBAR strip (at left).
see the blinking lights? they are staring accusingly at me

so that is one summer project.


the other summer project is that — from the hours of time i seem to be keeping my balcony door open lately — i was inspired to actually try to get some greenery out there on the balcony. i need to liven this joint up if i’m going to be home so much.

so i got an EarthBox Junior (organic). yeah it might be a nightmare / overkill but i wanted a kit and it looks sort of cool.

as a hedge — and just in case it looks to be a long-term project similar to the Synology (which is taking longer to play with than i expected) — i also got the following:

Garden-in-a-Pail (Lavender)

Catnip Kit

and for the EarthBox, couldn’t resist the idea of a non-controlled, semi chaotic bomb name….:

Wildflower Seed Mix (2)

Pet Dog & Cat Grass (2 bombs)

i like purple. and don’t mind the smell of lavender.

don’t have cats, though i plan on skilling up to them here chez moi hovel. but i read catnip retards mosquitos, which seem to mercilously bother me here at the hovel. so the smell will hopefully help mitigate that.

flowers… yes!

this pet grass should also help with greening up the joint and fill the EarthBox. it is an uncontrolled plan / experiment.

and so

am feeling a little burnt out on the blogging, social media, screens, etc. so this is a brusque, less friendly blog post than i usually aim for.

Mandala i colored in

Mandala i colored in

i am trying to keep it on the road, stay in the driver’s seat, keep on truckin’, etc.

Keep on Truckin (in homage to R. Crumb)

Keep on Truckin (in homage to R. Crumb) photo credit flickr user St0rmz, some rights reserved

but this under-employment situation is not a comfortable fit for a workaholic, no-life person such as myself. i am pretty discouraged and yet at the same time i am not trying hard enough.

though i feel very strongly that the right fit is out there for me, the right position with the right team of people and please oh please god a manager / supervisor / mentor who appreciates what i bring to the table, can provide structure and guidance, and will let me, well, blossom.

i know, a tall order. we shall see.

onward June…

brrr it’s cold outside


freezing temps here in NYC…. has me thinking of that cheer in the seminal cheerleading movie, Bring It On.

I said…


It’s cold in here

I said there must be some Toros

In the atmosphere

always a dicey proposition posting a clip like this in the blog. it will probably expire / get pulled from YouTube due to copyright. and i may or may not notice it and if i do i may try and find a new clip, which will have the same problem. again and again. sigh.

but at a certain point when a movie joins the zeitgeist — at least for me — and it is over 10 years later, the copyright issues and reuse issue get more and more hindersome and impractical. big sigh repeated.

i wish the movie studios would understand what a disservice they do to their own product by not letting anyone have fun with the material, by not capturing the possibilities that people would maybe pay a little bit of money if the usage was clever and smart enough. the MPAA and recording industries take no responsibility for their part in this problem. if the usage and deployment was more usable, their products would be even more popular, and they could actually monetize it more effectively.

aaagh, copyright is just a flipping nightmare.

/rant & handwringing (for now)….

blog template

have been trying a different template for the blog in hopes that the load time of the graphics, etc. would be improved, but i haven’t found (a) a good solution and (b) a template i like as much as the Matala template i used for my old blog, so i’m going to stick with the initial one i think….

the things i am looking for in a blog template is a clean graphic, preferably a dark background, and social media icons. i think the social media icons should be available on all of these templates, but it seems to be a relatively new option.

wish i “clicked” with this one the same way i did with the Matala — and could figure out a quick fix to the slow loading of pictures, APIs, etc. that didn’t seem to be a problem with my other blogs. it could just be this buggy and slow Chrome browser. or my lazy approaches to making sure photos are small file sizes.

it might also be the distributed computing i am doing via Boinc that is slowing things down, but i am starting to use other browsers. Chrome performance issues are concerning. though i love so much about the browser. ugh, Google isn’t always better, it turns out. 🙂

i will figure it out eventually. hopefully.

current recalibration

color balance

color balance card
when i worked on movie sets, the Director of Photography (or their assistant) would always do a “white balance” for the cameras.
i always loved that technical side of being on set….

after spending time and energy on applying for jobs via USAJOBS and other job search websites — and at least blessedly hearing back from the USAJOBS folks on the status of my applications, that i haven’t even gotten through the initial filter because of lack of experience. so i have recalibrated my efforts.

i simply don’t have enough quantifiable, relevant, library and/or archival experience. i understand that. own it, as Stuart Smalley says. because i rushed through graduate school and didn’t maximize my internship opportunities, i am in a bit of a pickle. my own damn fault. but i am hopeful, as i have retrenched.

the new plan: i am going to temp for money and will volunteer like crazy, but only at places and/or on projects i feel passionate about.

the benefit of doing internships while matriculated in a degree-granting program is that most internships require there to be some formal structure and connection to your educational institution. i get that, there is protection in some sort of monitoring of the internship.

but now that i am “out the door” on my degree, this is a big problem. not matriculated = no internship. however, not matriculated = volunteering. yay!

potential opportunities

i have two excellent potential volunteer options.

one potential volunteer project is at CUNY. another potential volunteer opportunity is at the newly relocated National Archives at New York City.

until these options become finalized <knock wood> i don’t want to jinx them or go into much detail. yet.

but even if i have to find other options, the best part of this new approach is that i have had positive responses to my inquiries. responses! and i even had a phone interview. an interview! which in this market and with my relative inexperience in the field is just something i am so grateful for, even in the context of volunteering.

i hope to blog these projects if it is allowed. i kept a blog for my one official internship during grad school at the NYPL. i did a blog in lieu of the required paper that was the academic side of the internship. but i initially misunderstood and thought i needed to blog every day, not just once a week or periodically. which was actually a happy accident and got me into a disciplined habit.

so the blog really stretched me, and i was constantly thinking about the work i was doing at the library and how i could translate my learning experience into an interesting and engaging record of what i was doing in the internship. i started to think of the blog as it functioned as a “process blog,” or a “project blog.” the functionality really made sense to me, helped me to document the experience so effectively.

and really, i had such a good time, and i got positive feedback from the librarians, so a love for blogging began.


as far as temping for money while i do these internships, that has been more difficult than i anticipated as well. the temp scene in New York City has completely changed since I temped full time back in the late 1990s. it used to be that you could find a really good paying, interesting, plentiful temp job that was flexible with no problem. and your fellow temps would be other folks like yourself, chasing dreams to be opera singers, actors, directors, filmmakers, undergraduate and graduate students. the jobs were “money jobs” that funded your career, your vision, your life.

these jobs used to be everywhere in New York. in the financial sector, in the legal sector, in publishing, advertising. everywhere. and if you had good computer skills, could type and problem-solve, these opportunities were almost assumed.

post-globalization, post-outsourcing (domestic and international), and especially post-2008 these opportunities are few and far between. and the rates that we used to assume we could make are gone. you need more technical skills in a more diverse set of programs for a guaranteed lower hourly rate of compensation. and getting a temp-to-perm gig that was flexible, like i had, forget about it. and definitely no benefits.

so this is scary and stressful. but not impossible.

i was grateful to have a chance to test at one agency this week, though i am not sure if i passed the very difficult test, sad to say. there were some native tricks that my 15+ years of dependance upon macros meant i was slow and had to dig around for solutions. as well as battle Office 2010, which is always a barrier.

however, the folks at the agency have been sympathetic and amazing and full of really valuable advice. they are familiar with my skills and the market and they will do what they can to use my talents. but the whole setup has changed.

if i can skill up and get some deliverable projects i hope to leverage myself to either a better “money job” and/or start to freelance maybe. the last resort will be a 9-to-5 job doing secretarial work. but i suspect the competition for a job like that — and a good fit for me for a job like that — will also be something i will need to either luck upon or will need to do a lot of legwork to land.

Licensed nurturer Stuart Smalley

Licensed nurturer Stuart Smalley

as Stuart says, “Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt….” trying NOT to do that. and taking comfort from places where i can (like Stuart Smalley’s Daily Affirmations).

MLK day

Martin Luther King Day

it is Martin Luther King Day today, and also the Presidential inaugural — though Obama and Biden were both sworn in officially for their second term yesterday.

via the amazing

via the amazing Public Domain Review
James Buchanan, head-and-shoulders portrait, facing front
Source: Library of Congress

illin: flue

i haven’t been feeling well enough to blog for a while. had this danged flu — which i always spell flue cause i like the way the letters look (plus it reminds me of the flues in our chimneys in all the houses we had growing up)….. had the flue for about 3 weeks total i think.

finally went to acupuncture, felt better immediately (and was kicking myself for not going sooner!). plus i got some Chinese herbs that you drink like a tea that is some kind of miracle tea. i drink 1 to 1-1/2 packets 3 times a day and voila!

miracle flue medicine(front of packet)

miracle flue medicine
(front of packet)

miracle flue medicine(back of packet - with ingredients)

miracle flue medicine
(back of packet – with ingredients)

In my Joker cup that i procured from McDonald's.... the tea in drinkable formyumula!

In my Joker cup that i procured from McDonald’s….
the tea in drinkable form
yumula! cod liver progress

have been making painfully slow but steady progress on the UNIX for Mac OS X Users. i need to make sure i don’t just whip through these UNIX basics but truly absorb and understand as much as possible. so i rewatch and play around on Terminal and try not to go mad. sitting and watching these tutorials is a little bit maddening for me. i think i am anxious to acquire knowledge, so much that i get bored and fidgety very easily.

i always tell people who i help with computer stuff, that the biggest barrier to learning stuff is being anxious and/or afraid. i am definitely both of those when it comes to the programming / technical side of computing. which is ironical because much about computers is easy and fun for me. but this is sort of like cod liver.

going to embrace the cod liver!!!

Cod LIver Oil

Buffalo, New York.
Lakeview nursery school for children of working mothers,
operated by the Board of Education oat a tuition fee of three dollars weekly.
Taking cod liver oil after lunch
Source: Library of Congress

holiday time


Wishing you a merry Christmas. Digital ID: 1585592. New York Public Library


for a long time now i have not been a huge fan of holidays.

my family is one of those fractured families of the 1970s and 1980s. not saying this as a sob story scenario, just the way it is. so there is no traditional big family holiday gathering with presents and the like. i had that growing up sometimes, and it was great. but it’s not my life now.

although i went to my sister’s for Thanksgiving this year, traveling during the holidays, well, forget about it! travel is stressful, especially for the zaftig / non-crowd lovers. so it’s happily home for the holidays.


so i am trying to set up a plan of things i want to do this holiday season.

the amazing resource, “Ask A Manager,” has been a great voice of reason during my job search. i especially appreciated her advice on what to do during the holidays — or even during “regular” times — when applying for jobs. apply and then move on, keep going, but try not to obsess. grateful for the smart words of wisdom.

i have been spending a lot of time applying for jobs. but since it is the holidays i am going to take this time to work on skill building, will resume the job hunt — and will probably start temping and/or trying to volunteer somewhere interesting in January.

my websites need to be completely overhauled. it is a bit shameful at this point. i don’t feel super equipped technically, though, with web design. so i am going to focus on training myself — using the fabulous


it’s important that i listen to myself — and focus on the technical things that i enjoy doing. then build from there.

i am very intimidated by a lot of this technology, like PHP and MySQL. heck, i am intimidated by coding and computer languages, have never been great at learning new languages (see my college transcript). oy. so i am going to heed my instincts and passions. and move on from there.

the great thing about the videos is that they are in movie-length bits. if i can manage to watch TV and movies, i know i can get through these videos. and enjoy them.

for some inspiration, the awesome Scott Miller playing Neil Young’s “Hawks & Doves.” (i prefer Scott’s version…)

Ain’t getting old,
ain’t getting younger though
Just getting used
to the lay of the land
I ain’t tongue-tied,
just don’t got nothin’ to say
I’m proud to be livin’ in the U.S.A.

and so it goes…

and my favorite New Multitudes track:

Cobook – Address Book app (Mac only)

a big W

a big W

big win

so while i’m applying for all of these jobs and trying to finish moving furniture around…

…i’m trying to get organized.

let me out of here!

let me out of here!

it’s sort of working. baby steps at this point, sometime literally. but slow and steady, progress….

have been pretty frustrated with Apple’s address book and all of the different email addresses and contacts there are to keep track of. i need the information to be on my iPhone, and it needs to sync between all of the different sources.



pleased as punch to have found Cobook.

TechCrunch had a great article that sold me on the desktop app instantly. the headline says it all: “Cobook, A Slick Address Book App That Doesn’t Upload Your Data.”


Cobook — an application to keep your contacts organized


what i like most

  • the privacy thing is awesome — files are not stored with Cobook, everything is stored locally
  • it’s deceptively simple
  • it works!
  • it looks great
  • incidental plus — duplicates begone! finding a great solution like this forced me get over myself and take the initiative to delete all duplicates on my email accounts. a blessed thing i was hoping i wouldn’t have to do manually

on the duplication issue: Yahoo! has a delete duplicates function. the gmail solution is more of a merge thing, but it was fine too.

i am trying to approach all of this data mining from a more librarian / archivist perspective — like with EAD, go top down and set up the system. don’t have to be super granular in the approach, as it takes too much T&E (Time & Expense).

it’s almost magical how smart that approach can be!




back to Cobook, i like the desktop version graphically a lot better. the iPhone app is a little too much like the Apple Contacts. the interface makes sense though, so…. but the Cobook desktop app hides in your toolbar up top, and when you click on the phone number it’s these huge white numbers that even someone old like me can read from far away. LOVE this.

this was all discovered before the awesome news this week: Cobook came out with an iPhone App this week!

for all you non-Mac folks, an Android version should be coming out soon.

official info

here’s a video about both the desktop and the iPhone apps.

Cobook – Desktop app

Cobook – iPhone app

i’m a huge fan of these guys at Cobook. this will make my life exponentially easier. yay!