Life, Three Things

THREE THINGS 2016.8

HOW WE ALL FEEL THESE DAYS

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Gosh. Everyone in the USA is very angry right now. Some have legitimate reasons (the poor are getting poorer, crippling health care and student loan debt) and some (in my opinion) don’t. But we’re all very angry and our anger is leading us to make some very poor decisions. We seem to be aiming for a magic bullet, someone with enthusiasum and ideas that will solve everything ASAP. But it’s not gonna work like that. It never works like that. It takes time and patience. It takes balance. Someone who has ideas that are too far towards one end of the spectrum is gonna polarize a whole lot of people on the other end of the spectrum. And you know what’s gonna happen? Those folks are gonna get even more angry. Anger, anger, anger. We have to achieve a balance.

GET UP

Most people probably haven’t thought about Bryan Adams since his 80’s hits or his early 90’s foray into Robin Hood power ballads. His most recent album, GET UP, has really caught my ear. It comes from the fact that it was produced by Jeff Lynne (ELO, The Travelling Wilburys), who is one of my all time favorites. Jeff just has a way with producing albums that gets me to listen to any artist that works with him. I think it has something to do with his quest to make the songs sound as authentic as possible. Well, it really worked with this album, as I have been listening to it quite a bit. I enjoy simple songwriting and production these days, and this album just nails it for me.

THE SUN WILL SHINE ON YOU

And to end, we go back to Jeff Lynne. This song makes me happy. It gives me a feeling that everything is going to be alright in the long run.

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Family, Life

These Silly Little Things That We’ve Invented

Money. Politics. Drama. Ego. Self-Importance. Popular Culture. Schedules. Work. More things that I cannot think of at this moment. Doesn’t it feel like that we’ve totally fucked up this whole “being a human being” thing? Don’t you think that we should start over?


Every time I talk to someone they mention how they’d just love to have a more casual approach to their life. They want to be able to wake up in the morning without an alarm going off. Everyone wants to have a nice and healthy breakfast, take a shower, go for a walk, and then go about doing their daily tasks. We all wanna have it a bit more relaxing and not have to live a life full of rushing around and worrying about the next possible bad thing to come.

I think we could’ve had it that way if we had just done things a bit differently back in the day. Instead we created modern society and filled it with things like money, material goods, and self importance. All of these things give us headaches. All of these things give us anxiety. None of these things are good. We have invented some silly little things that have ruined the human experience.

I aim to find a way to live a life that incorporates the following ideas:

  • Waking up every morning without an alarm clock
  • Eating a healthy breakfast everyday
  • Going on 2-3 walks everyday
  • Spending more time with Haley, Finn, and Aero
  • Raising chickens and rabbits and using their waste to help fertilize our gardens
  • Being patient with every human being that I interact with
  • Working with Haley to run Fidelia Hall and have it focused on community and events above profits and politics.
  • Spending more time sitting in the yard
  • Performing and composing music that makes me happy
  • Reading and listening to great stories and music
  • Playing video games that make me smile
  • Going to bed when my body tells me it is ready for rest
  • Eating things that are not poison

TL;DR: I think modern American society is rubbish and that there’s a reason why we feel so stagnant these days. In theory, modern society was a great idea, but in reality it hasn’t worked out well.

PS: I share a birthday with Wade Boggs.

Music

“He came to my window”

“My lifestyle is like…eating breakfast, going to the park and taking walks, playing my piano, talking with my kids and my wife and that’s my day….a very simple lifestyle”

-Brian Wilson

*Title from At My Window*

Chattanooga Public Library, Kids, Libraries, Social Media, Technology, Teens

An Update on THE AWESOME BEAR

I’ve been thinking a lot about the Awesome Bear recently and have learned a lot! Who knew you could learn so much from a bear that tweets!

THE AWESOME BEAR PART ONE

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I drew this picture of the Awesome Bear because I wanted to draw a picture of what I see in my head.

I recently got to sit down with James McNutt (Employee of The 4th Floor and all around great human being) and work on a new version of THE AWESOME BEAR, Chattanooga Public Library’s tweeting bear.  It was a lot of fun to share ideas with James and then watch him make those a reality when he wrote the code that runs The Awesome Bear.

Now The Awesome Bears lives online and anyone can go to THE AWESOME BEAR and tweet a positivity, kindness, and wonderful ideas.

You can also follow THE AWESOME BEAR here.

THE AWESOME BEAR PART TWO

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I think that THE AWESOME BEAR is a pretty cool idea and I want to develop it further. I think it’s a great tool because 1) It’s so very simple AND 2) It’s a great first lesson on creating, sharing, and publishing content online AND 3) It’s fun, so I decided to submit a Knight Foundation News Challenge Proposal to help take the Awesome Bear to the next level.

I’ve had mixed feelings about this proposal and let me be honest with you on why I am having those mixed feelings:

I looked at a lot of other amazing proposals and saw that they were…..I don’t really know how to say it….really great and really heavy! Lots of big time ideas that I didn’t fully understand where proposed (and I love them!) but I got a bit scared. How would THE AWESOME BEAR be received?  Would it be laughed at and tossed aside with a simple “A tweeting bear that shares good vibes and ideas from the community? Now that’s gotta be a joke.” After seeing so many great ideas that came out of the News Challenge, I was toying with the idea of deleting my submission and moving on.  THE AWESOME BEAR came from a pretty pure place in my heart: share good ideas, share good vibrations, and have fun. I didn’t want it to be laughed at.

I thought about it a lot. It weighed on my mind for about a week. My wife Haley was extremely helpful with thinking this through. She said something along the lines of  the Awesome Bear is unique. It’s fun. It stands out. Sure it may be simple but…that’s what makes it unique. It’s easy to use and that’s something people respond to. So I kept up the proposal and now we see what happens.

THE AWESOME BEAR PART THREE

I would love the Awesome Bear to live in every city and be a unique part of what the public library can offer their community. Have you read the news today? Oh boy! There’s just so many negative stories and headlines written to make you want to click them so more advertising money comes through that it can just really put a damper on your day. The Awesome Bear can counteract that. Imagine The Awesome Bear everywhere, sharing the little things that really make a community thrive…the tiny moments of kindness, the simple ideas to make your day better, the goodness in all of us. That’s the kind of world I want to live in.

 

Libraries

Less is More

The 2011-2012 fiscal year is ending in my library and with that I like to look back at some of the things we’ve done here at the teen library.  It also serves nicely as a six month year in review that helps guide the rest of the year.

The prevailing thought this year was “less is more”. I know it’s a catchy, buzz-word like  phrase but it helped guide the work I did with teens. Don’t worry, I won’t be putting the phrase on shirts or making a #lessismore hashtag. The idea started from this post which I wrote over at Tame The Web:

The next time you want to focus your energy and budget on a Twilight themed prom style event, think about your other options? Is it worth spending your energy sitting and chatting with the teens in your library instead?

I’ve recently grown tired of planning programs, having grand ideas, and just thinking and talking and thinking some more but not acting as quickly as I could.     So that’s where all this started

When it comes to library PROGRAMMING, I realized that it’s just about bringing people together to enjoy something.  Our Teen Soccer Club is the simplest program we have.  We subscribe to Fox Soccer 2 Go and we watch matches in our teen lounge.  Sometimes we have one person watching, other times we have ten.  Sometimes people talk about the matches and get very passionate, other times the conversation is non-existent.

My overall thought is this: just have something that people may enjoy and from this community and happiness may be created.

When it comes to the things we collect in the teen library for the community to borrow, I now see myself as a mere fund manager who purchases the materials that the community wants.  Sure, I still make decisions based on what I read in VOYA and Game Informer to help build really cool collections, but if a library member asks for it…I’ll get it.  Why?  This is the PUBLIC library.  It’s not mine, it’s not their’s…it’s everyone’s.  And what a better way to make it everyone’s than to have as much of the community involved in the building of the collection.

And finally, we come to the DAY TO DAY STUFF that happens in the library where it all comes back around to what we’re talking about in the first place: people.  I do my best to say hello, give hi fives, fist bumps, hugs, or whatever to the teens using the library.  “It’s nice to see you today” is often the last thing that comes out of my mouth when talking to a teen.  I also do my best to play little jokes on them: “sorry, we don’t have books here” or “didn’t you hear? The library is closing FOREVER!” Whatever it takes to get them to smile and enjoy this place.   Sometimes I may have to ask them to leave the library for the day because of the typical teen things (raging hormones, drama) but the next day they come back and it’s business as usual.

So that’s what I’ve learned.  Less is more.  Leave people smiling.  Build community.  Connect.

Music, Weezer

REVIEW: Natural by The Special Goodness

Artwork by Ali Bromberg aka @mutantmanifesto

Sometimes bands stay in your life longer than family members or friends.  When this becomes the case, it gets really hard to listen to their music.  You start to feel like you’re part of the band and the music and that “you would’ve done this or this differently” to make the album “perfect”.  That was my worry when I listened to Natural by The Special Goodness, the band’s second or fourth album (depends on how you’re counting). I have been a longtime fan and supporter of Patrick Wilson and his projects.  In 1998 I tracked down their first album (known as The Bunny Album) on Ebay and got it for about $100 from Japan.  Approaching Natural as an almost 15 year fan was gonna be tricky.

Turns out I didn’t need to worry about it at all.  Time has a way of changing everyone’s outlook on life.  These days, I’m still very much into music yet at the same time there’s a disconnect…I have a wife and two boys that trumps over any kind of love of music that I may have had in my youth.  I feel that Natural represents that kind of idea in music form.  Whereas past Special Goodness efforts were pretty awesome but just not all there, Natural manages to pull it all together with a sound that is simple yet big and warm.   And to top it all off the songs are the best batch to come out of the Weezer camp in years.  For the first time, The Special Goodness sounds like The Special Goodness.  It doesn’t sound like a project, an experiment, or a band.  It sounds like Patrick Wilson making sounds that means something to him.

The songs on Natural are simple.  The words don’t have any giant revelations when you read into them, the music is stripped down to the basics, the performance is never flashy just for the sake of being flashy, and the production keeps the instrumentation at the minimum.  With this album, you get guitar, bass, drums, vocals and that’s all.  And there’s a beauty in that simplicity.  The songs are able to breathe and the unique parts of each production work together to form something really beautiful.

I guess there’s a reason why the album is called Natural.

Libraries

Simplifying

I think this program sums up my general feeling towards library programming over the past year. I always wanted to give teens something huge at all times….bring in big names, big ideas, etc, but personally I would just get burnt out and the ideas didn’t always click.  Simplifying a library program sounds best to me, and it doesn’t get any simpler than getting teens together over food. We eat, we talk, we wash the minutes away in joyous conversation.