Family, Life, Music

THREE THINGS 2017.5

OPINIONS ON THE INTERNET

On the day before Thanksgiving my family and I did our traditional “half day of work so that means we go to a movie matinee” event. We saw Justice League, a film that we were all pretty excited for despite the kind of average/negative reviews on the internet. And guess what? All four of us really enjoyed the film. It’s no life changer that’s for sure, but we enjoyed a lot of the moments, the characters (especially Flash and Wonder Woman), and the overall story. It got me thinking about the internet these days and how, even though it still has great moments, mostly a place where people come to have opinions, fight with others, and yell about things. It has become one giant drama filled clique, with people coming and going from conversations and every day a new topic for us all to post our opinions on. And I think that is very tiring. What can be changed? What can we each individually do to disrupt this trend? My plan is to be kinder, to think before I post, or to post less or maybe not at all. All in all, these things that we feel like we need to yell about on the internet are not all that important in the great grand scheme of things.

LOSE IT

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About two months ago it just *clicked* in my head that a big reason why I didn’t feel that great and that I wasn’t all too happy mentally may have something to do with how much I eat. I have always understood that what you eat can affect you, but I never thought about how much you eat affecting you. I’m of the mindset that I wanna eat what I wanna eat….and you know what sometimes I just really want Taco Bell. And that’s cool. I just can’t eat Taco Bell more than once a week, and if I do have Taco Bell I should be getting one maybe two things from the menu.

The LOSE IT app has really helped me. I got the free edition and I don’t ever plan on buying into the system. I use it to track my day to day weight and count my calories. This has worked well for me, as it has given me a better understanding of what I eat and how much I eat. Knowing these two things has increased my mindfulness when it comes to all this stuff. It has worked for me. I’ve lost 10 pounds and overall I just feel better and more alert.

HOLIDAY 2017

https://itunes.apple.com/us/playlist/holiday-2017/pl.u-J3oZsob7YR

Click on the link above for our 2017 HOLIDAY playlist. You’ll find a lot of the same stuff we put on there every year, but that’s because we love it! My all time favorite is still THE VENTURES CHRISTMAS ALBUM, which you can listen to below!

Enjoy and Happy Holidays to all.

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Libraries, Life, Technology

Sensory Overload

Jonny Nintendo, I like this tweet and you know what? I can’t prove you wrong because I agree with it so very much.

I’ve never seen the show Rick and Morty but someone tells me it is about time travel. I really like time travel. But you know what? I read about what their fans did after they didn’t get some special sauce at McDonald’s and you know what? I don’t ever wanna watch this show.

I struggle with being a Weezer fan, and a big part of it has to do with the band’s fan base. Sometimes it is great and sometimes it sucks. It is a thing that now weighs on me heavily when I listen to this band.

This is the way of the world these days. Fans believe that passion should be brought to the table at every moment. Coupled with the internet, a place where people feel the need to be as loud and obnoxious as they can dream of being, and what you have is a hot mess. Things just don’t feel right these days. The world feels a bit off, and I just can’t help but to point a finger towards fandom and being loud on the internet as one of the things contributing to this feeling.

Of course I still have social media accounts. We all do and we’re not getting rid of them anytime soon. These feelings have been brewing in me a long time. Facebook has basically replaced email with Messenger as one of the defacto ways to communicate with another human being (texting being the other). The Facebook News Feed however, is a mess of rubbish, noise, and advertising. Twitter seems to be the place to figure out a way to wittily relevant things in 140 characters or less. It used to be my favorite social media channel that would inspire me endlessly. Now I just want to close the window and log out.

Things are moving so very quickly. Things are so very loud. Sensory overload has taken us all over. We need a break from the fans, from social media, from the world. We need to learn what how to be human beings again.

 

Benson Memorial Library, Family, Fidelia Hall, Libraries, Life, Music, Three Things, Video Games

THREE THINGS 2017.1 (Mini Deluxe Edition)

  • I am very uninspired with library work. I have two major projects in my mind for the Benson Memorial Library but I feel stuck. The projects are: bringing high speed fiber internet into the library and repairing and renovating our Community Room. Both of these projects are much needed and would be well received by the community. I am having a hard time finding the funds to pull these projects off which then leads to a general malaise inside of me that festers with time. Money and the lack of it really holds things back. My brain then reacts to being held back in a negative way. I want the path forward to be clear and positive, yet money is always standing in the way. I’ve researched grants, foundation money, and other paths but nothing is clicking. Maybe it will click soon enough. In the meantime, I am right here sitting at my desk feeling like the end of libraries is right around the corner.
  • I am still very excited by disco. When I use the term “disco” what I really mean is the following: Music from the NYC club THE SAINT, Sleaze/Morning Music, Italo Disco, and everything else in between.
  • I have signed a contract to provide a library related news platform with 6 articles/pieces from now until June 2017. Writing is something that I enjoy doing and the challenge to come up with a 2,000 word piece has been tough but ultimately rewarding. I’d love to write more of these. Heck, maybe someday I would like to be my full time job. I enjoy the opportunity to craft all of the thoughts inside my brain into well structured sentences. I also enjoy talking to others, getting their insight into the topic I am writing about, and sharing their story. There are so many good people out there.
  • One of my favorite things to do on the weekend is to do our laundry.I have developed a system in which I tackle certain segments of the laundry one at a time. It helps me manage the flow of work to be done and provides a good feeling once each segment is done.
  • I am not happy with my weight. I am over 200 lbs for the first time in my life and my body does not feel good. While I do not have the world’s best eating/exercising regiment, I feel as if I’m doing pretty well. There is room for improvement and I will get there.
  • I am well over 50 hours into The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild for the Nintendo Switch and I still cannot recommend this game enough. It is what I’d call a perfect video game: a marriage of great gameplay, visuals, sound, and experience. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing or where you are headed in the game. You will be amazed every step of the way.
  • And finally, the rehabbing of Fidelia Hall continues. At a recent auction, we acquired 8 radiators, 3 steel doors, 1 set of track lighting, and 1 hot water heater for $125. My mother and father also made one of the nicest donations to us: they got a furnace for our downstairs space. Both of these things were so very inspiring in the restoration process. The next steps look something like this: repair and paint the tin ceiling downstairs, repair and varnish the floor downstairs, install and hook up gas pipes to our new downstairs furnace, build a bathroom downstairs, repair/install new outlets and light switches downstairs, and finally rip out the upstairs radiators and install our newly acquired radiators. The work never ends, but the end product will be glorious for our family and the community so I am OK with the process.
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“Don’t talk, take my hand and let me hear your heart beat” -Brian Wilson and Tony Asher

 

Life

Something To Think About

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Quote by Judd Apatow from this NYT article

I read this quote in a NYT article yesterday and felt like I had to share it. I think it nicely sums up something that I’ve been trying to articulate for awhile now. It is very easy to get caught up in the internet and all things digital. The internet connects all of us and provides us with a nearly infinite source of entertainment. It is a great place to be! I’ve seen myself and pretty much everyone around me get sucked into it from time to time. This is ok! It is perfectly normal and fine to be pulled to the internet.

At the same time, I believe in balance and the flipside is that we need to remember that our actions on the internet also need to be balanced with our actions in the physical world. I have begun asking myself how I can translate every tweet/share/post that I am a part of on the internet into something else in the physical world. These things don’t have to be big personal acts…they can be as simple as holding the door for another person, saying hello to a stranger, or just simply being kind in any moment.

Benson Memorial Library, Community Building, Kids, Libraries, Library Director, Management

Library To-Do List: 2017

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EXPAND OUR LOCAL HISTORY/GENEALOGY OFFERINGS
Titusville, PA has a wonderful and rich history (for a glimpse of it, just read this). As our local public library, I believe that we should be doing as much as possible to make that history accessible to our everyone in the community. To date, we’ve done a few things to increase awareness of our great history. Jess Hilburn started up a blog to share some great local stories she digs up in the Titusville Herald Archives. We’ve got the Titusville Herald archive online for in library use. But in my opinion we’ve got to do more, and slowly but surely we are getting there.

A partnership between the library, the Titusville Historical Society, Drake Well Museum and Park, and the Titusville Alumni Association came about in 2016 and resulted in the beginnings of the Titusville PA Heritage Connection, a website/digital portal that aims to bring all of our organizations together in one online space to make it easier for people to find what they’re looking for. While the site isn’t anywhere near complete, the fact that we have it up and the framework is there is a step in the right direction. A big thank you to our Clarion University of PA intern Kerry Neely for her help in getting this set up!

UPGRADE OUR INTERNET CONNECTION
Living and working in Chattanooga, TN was pretty great and one of the big reasons for that was their gig fiber internet connection. Speeds were fast, reliable, and the excitement of having something so state of the art created such a positive buzz in the community which led to some great things being tried out to make Chattanooga TN a better place for all.

Since moving to Titusville, PA, I’ve been wishing we’ve had that kind of thing to spur some excitement. Our internet options here in town are lacking, and the ones we can connect to have average to terrible service. HOWEVER, I hope to change that in 2017. To my excitement, I discovered that the town does have fiber internet lines in a few places. After some conversations with people around the community and others in the state, I found out that THERE’S FIBER LINES SURROUNDING THE ENTIRE BENSON MEMORIAL LIBRARY. Here’s a beautiful image of that fiber line coming right down in front of the library and turning right down our alley. Wow.

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In 2017, I’m gonna do my best to get us connected to these fiber lines so that in the future we can offer better internet access to our patrons. I don’t know how this will look, I don’t know how much this will cost, and I don’t know if I’ll fully succeed, but I’m going to try. As far as I know, we’d be the second institution in Titusville to access this connection (the University of Pitt at Titusville is the first) and the first public space to offer high internet speeds. Like I said above, we’ll see, but for now I’m gonna dream big and try out something that’s potentially huge for our community.

PROGRAMS, PROGRAMS, PROGRAMS

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Yup, these are my kids Aero and Finn at a library program. They come to a lot of them because they have a lot of fun and they enjoy getting to hang out with other kids. That’s what it is all about!

One of the big things that libraries do best these days is to offer educational and fun programs for all ages. In 2016, we’re going to have offered 320 programs that were attended by over 8,000 community members. That’s not bad for a public library that has a service area of around 14,000 people.

2017 is gonna bring a lot more of that and hopefully in larger numbers. I can’t and won’t take my foot off of the gas pedal when it comes to programming in libraries. We have to constantly be offering something to our community members. Programs are unique to libraries and something that we do very well. Story times and after school clubs work best for our younger audience, while nighttime events and musical performances work well for our adult and senior citizen crowd. We plan on having more of those throughout the year.

DO MORE TO ESTABLISH THE LIBRARY AS A COMMUNITY SPACE
One of the best things public libraries have going for their is their space. Most, if not all of us, have amazing buildings in centrally located areas. These buildings are one of our biggest assets. They do some of the simplest things that a library can do: provide space, warmth, comfort, and adventure. I’ve been thinking and speaking about this idea for a few years, and in 2017 I hope to do more to make that idea more cohesive and understandable to everyone out there.

STAY POSITIVE
No matter what we face directly in front of us in 2017, we have to remember that there is love and support all around us. Take a look around at your online social networks, groups like EveryLibrary, and your local community organizations that support the library. Take a moment and look at the community members you serve on a daily basis at your library. All of these groups and all of these people believe in the work that you do. I’m going to do my best to keep that up front in my head and my heart in 2017. I urge you all to do the same.

Family, Fidelia Hall, Libraries, Life, Titusville, PA

Food Stamps, the Feeling of Failure, Student Loans, and Life as a Library

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Last week, Haley and I applied for food stamps. Our family, which has been going on strong for 11 years and now includes 2 awesome kids, Haley’s mom, our dog Sonic, 3 chickens, and 2 rabbits, have hit a period in our journey where we couldn’t do it without help anymore.

I know that there’s a reason I pay taxes. They are there to help….my family and I, others in need, and more. This is one of those situations where we needed help. I understand this very well. I am all for taxes that help out others in my community. We are all in this together and together we can do amazing things. At the same time there’s a stigma that comes from applying for and using food stamps: that somehow you’ve failed, you’re lazy, or you’re just downright an average human being. I try to have a healthy mind and outlook on everything, but I’ve gotta admit that I’ve fallen into this pit recently. I’m a 36 year old human being, I’ve got a wonderful job which I’m pretty good at, an amazing and happy family, and I’ve done some other things that I’m also really proud of. But here I am at this point where I feel like a failure just because I need some help. It shouldn’t be this way.

We’ve used the support of food stamps before. When Haley and I first got married, we were finishing up college. We both had part time jobs in addition to our full time school workload. The food stamps helped out a lot. Back then, the feeling of being a complete failure because you’re on food stamps wasn’t as big as it is now. Having a family and needing food stamps feels like you’ve hit the bottom. I think about this feeling that I’m having and then I think about all of the others out there who are on food stamps, especially those with families just like mine. What happens when you have all of those people out there in the same situation? You have millions of people out there feeling that they’ve lost all hope, that they’re somehow pathetic, and that they’ve failed. You have millions of people who feel like shit just for wanting to make sure their family doesn’t go hungry. When you have that many people feeling bad in the country, those bad vibes add up. It can’t be proved, but I really think the general malaise surrounding things in our country is somehow related to feelings like this.

On our end, I know that student loan debt is crippling. We’re both on programs that give us flexibility with our payments (income based repayment). While these do help, it’s still tough to have around $100K of debt total hanging over your head just because you went to college, got an education, and pursued a career in something you felt could make a difference in the world. I also understand the argument “well, you went into college knowing full well what would happen.” I’ve heard this many times before. I can see it from two sides: of course I knew (something) about how I’d be in debt once I left college. When I went, they told us about it. Did they tell us the specifics? Sort of kind of maybe not. I started college in 1998 and at that time it was just “oh yeah, you’ll have some debt but it’ll be OK because you’ll be a college graduate.” Most of us became the first great generation of student loan debt holders. And we’re still here! * Can America Afford This Approach to Solving Student Loan Debt? (it’s behind a paywall, but it is a great read) by Haley Sweetland Edwards is a great read that sums up the collective “wow, so much student loan debt”weight of a generation.

The amount of money we spend on student loan debt per month could help us in a lot of ways (FYI: it is around $337/month). First up: it could help with the grocery bills, thus giving us enough money to not go down the food stamp route. Second: it could help with the startup of Fidelia Hall. Have you ever tried starting up a business or a non-profit? Maybe I’m really stupid, but it’s really difficult and confusing…and it costs a lot. Just this week, our Fictitious Name Registration cost us $70 to file an application, $41 to advertise the application in our local newspaper, and $75 to advertise the application in a legal journey. That’s $186, and we’d still have $151 to spend this month on something else (groceries! Fidelia Hall repairs and infrastructure!) What am I trying to get towards? The debt we’re saddling people with for school, health care, and more are crippling us. They’re crippling us mentally. They make us not want to get out of bed. They make us want to sit around and do nothing when what we really want to do is something, because I believe that all human beings (no matter which political side they are on) just want to get things done for their communities. They’re also crippling our ability to move forward and do better things for our communities. You can’t start up a business/non-profit when you don’t have time or money.**

I better wrap this up. We just hit 1,000 words.

I’m not asking for a raise. I’m not asking for donations. I’m not even asking for an “oh man I feel you.” I just wanted to get this out there so that if you’re in a situation similar to this that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. We’re here. We’re successful. We’re pretty happy. We’re in debt and we’re also on food stamps.

*On a side note, I remember credit card companies and banks lining up at the dining halls doing everything they can (“here! have a free beach ball for taking our credit card!”) to get students signed up for their first horrible credit card. They succeeded with me and so many other of my friends.

**Go ahead and leave a comment telling me to suck it up and “pull myself up by the bootstraps just like an American would. I’ve been trying to do this for years. This is just what my Dad said and continues to say. But there’s more to it than “sucking it up” or “taking it like a man” or “pulling up your bootstraps”. There has to be some give and take.

 

Chattanooga, TN, Family, Fidelia Hall, Libraries, Life, Technology, Titusville, PA

How the Internet Should Work in America

Today I received a check from EPB Chattanooga, which provided my family and I with high quality fiber internet while we lived in Chattanooga TN between April 2013-June 2015. The check was for $29.94 and was a refund for overpaying them during the time we used their services.

Here’s a photo of that check: IMG_0281

Let me also take this moment to say that when we were living in Chattanooga TN that our monthly bill for 100 Mbps/sec internet service was only $57.99 and that there was no data cap. Here’s a copy of that bill: Screenshot-2

I moved to Titusville PA knowing that the internet situation wouldn’t be the same and I was ok with it. I knew Chattanooga TN and EPB was special. But here’s what I’m running into month after month with our internet service provider here in Pennsylvania:

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What’s different? First and foremost, the price of the actual internet: $89.95 for a service that gives us 30-50 Mbps. FUN FACT: we just got an email saying that the price is going up to $99.95/month for this same service. What else do we see here? ADDITIONAL INTERNET USAGE fees. Yes, we have a data cap. How much data do we get? 400 GB/month. I know that sounds like a lot, but when you have 2 tech savvy homeschooling kids, a wife that does virtual assistant work from home, and your awesome mother in law lives with you and everyone streams YouTube and Netflix the data usage goes through the roof. We usually go over by 50-100 GB, but as you can see in January/February we went over by 350 GB, costing us an additional $70. That’s $70 taken away from either our monthly grocery bill or the money we’re spending to repair Fidelia Hall. It’s tough, especially when I believe that everyone out there should have equal, cheap (I also like free but hey I get it), and accessible ways to get the internet.

I’m not writing this to specifically call out Armstrong Internet because hey you’ve actually been really kind to us and have provided a great service. You may want to think about your ADDITIONAL INTERNET USAGE fees and how you should reconsider what those may be financially doing to a family living in the modern age where internet is needed to function from day to day.

I’m writing this to give a real world example of what equal and cheap internet access SHOULD look like in our country. America is pretty awesome and a lot of us have a really good life here. Access to the internet should be available to everyone and should be available at affordable rates. There should be no ADDITIONAL INTERNET USAGE fees. No one should worry about using too much internet. No one should have to pay more for using too much internet. HECK, no one should have to decide whether to pay a student loan or put food on the table or use the internet at home. These things should just happen.

I ask you to think about this. Armstrong, I ask you to reconsider your ADDITIONAL INTERNET USAGE fees. We’re not using your service for evil. We’re using it to learn and to enjoy a movie together as a family.

Thank you.