Family, Fidelia Hall, Libraries, Life, Music, Titusville, PA, Video Games

2017 Year In Review

PAST YEARS: 20162015, 2014, 2013

First and foremost, love and happiness and positivity from all of us to you.

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The collective masses seemed to have had a miserable 2016 but for some reason I felt like I was spared. But oh wait! Quickly around the corner came 2017 and with it came what I imagine to be the baggage, pain, and confusion most everyone else had felt in 2016.

It was a long year. I doubted myself a lot I spent a lot of this year confused about my place in all of this. I looked around at the world, both what surrounds me in the community where I live and what surrounds me everywhere else, and I just felt so lost and tired. At the core of all of this what I realized was that I just don’t feel the connection I had felt to the world that I had felt before. All of this is OK. Things change, people grow, and learning is a big part of the process we all go through during our time here on earth. It was a long year full of some tough moments, but instead of letting it get me down too much I’ve decided to adopt the idea that 2017 was a year of learning and growth. These two things are never tidy. They’re messy but the end result is always positive. That’s how I’m heading into 2018: with the thought that I did some hard work in the previous year and that in the new year that work will pay off.

Now that all of that has been said, here’s some stuff I did and some stuff I enjoyed in 2017:

  • Spent as much of my time awake with the amazing Aero, Finn, and Haley.
  • Continued to work on rehabbing Fidelia Hall. The plan with the space is now this: we will be moving into the downstairs space in early 2018. That space has heat and is in the process of having some electrical work done as well as rehabbing the bathroom and kitchen. The upstairs space (the chapel) will be getting a heating system installed starting on December 26 2017. Once we move over to that space, we will figure out what to do with the house. We envisioned Fidelia Hall as a community space, but have refocused and decided that it’s now more of a space for our family and our closest friends.
  • I recorded and released two albums: Either Way I’m Fine and Prozac Is The Dam & I Am The Dynamite
  • I finished my second full year as a library director. I’ve been doing this for 30 months now. I really enjoy it.
  • I listened to a lot of music and I wish I could keep better track of it, but Apple Music hasn’t done any kind of year in review recap like Spotify did this year. I hope they do that soon. I do know that as my father and I worked on Fidelia Hall we really enjoyed listening to Casey Kasem’s Top 40 Countdown 1970’s edition every Saturday.
  • My most played video game was The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. It was also my favorite game this year, with Super Mario Odyssey coming in at a close second. I played a lot more Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp than I expected to play. And I finally got into Picross…The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess Picross was the one that did it for me.

Love to you and all of those that you care about this holiday season from me!

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Fidelia Hall, Libraries, Library Director, Life, Misc., Three Things, Titusville, PA

THREE THINGS 2017.3

FLAT FUNDING

As I wrap my head around what the 2018 budget looks like at the Benson Memorial Library, I am faced with yet another year of bracing for flat funding. It is slightly depressing to be in a state of mind where receiving word of flat funding is the desired outcome over having your funding cut. It has been this way for many institutions, and it has especially been this way for libraries over the past 5-10 years.

I am thankful for what we receive, as it allows us to continue our service to the community. As a library director, it is my goal to ensure that the community members who use the library do not see the negative effects of flat funding. I want them to have a positive and wonderful library experience, and I will do my best to achieve that with flat funding over a large period of time. However there’s also the other side of me that realizes that I cannot do this forever. While our funding remains flat utility costs and  health care costs are on the rise. The need to give employees a fair wage that is in line with the current cost of living is also something I believe in very highly. At some point, there’s gonna be a line drawn where things need to change. For this upcoming year, we’ll adjust accordingly to the situation in front of us, but in addition to bracing for flat funding I am bracing for the moment where things need to change in order to continue.

RENOVATING FIDELIA HALL

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This summer was not kind to the Hoenke family when it comes to the house we live in on the Fidelia Hall property. Plagued with all sorts of previous “half assed” repairs and renovations and issues that were just covered up (out of sight, out of mind), this summer was the time where the house told us that it was time to move out, fix things up properly, or if need be tear it all down. And that’s where we are right now.

Renovations to the old church in Fidelia Hall have ramped up. The downstairs space is coming along nicely: the tin ceiling is now very shiny and metallic, the new furnace and duct work have been installed, and an entrance-way and bathroom and updates to the kitchen are right around the corner.

All good ideas change over time, and the idea behind Fidelia Hall has changed quite a bit. For the moment, we will be moving into the downstairs of the old church building as soon as it is ready for us to live in it. With that move, we will then be able to gut the house and see what kind of shape it is in under all of the half assed repairs and out of sight out of mind renovations. At some point, we still hope to have Fidelia Hall as an arts and community center, but right now it is the time to focus on our family and get us to a place where we can live. Things change, things grow, and above everything else I have learned that first and foremost the wonderful family which surrounds me is the thing I need to take care of the most.

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Despite how hard it has been recently with renovations, I must say that it sure is neat to be restoring something and coming across a gem like this: this staircase was original to the building and was hidden under a rotting wooden staircase. The stone and foundation are part of the original 1870’s construction of the hall.

AN OVERARCHING IMPRESSION ON WHY THINGS ARE THEY WAY THEY ARE

The overarching theme to this post is the idea that there are so many humans out there who are trying to do something positive in the world yet are faced with quite a number of daunting tasks and obstacles in front of them. At the core, I believe that every human being has a desire to bring something positive to the world. However, with time that desire can be chipped away and eroded….and that is what I believe brings us to right now. We are living in a world where the desire to bring something positive to the world has been chipped out of most people. Flat/slashed funding, crumbling support networks, lack of resources, increasing costs with utilities, health care, school, basic necessities, and to top it off the ever increasing voice we all hear telling us to “buy more you’ll be happy” and what you have is a mix that has led to the current state in which we live. The pressure is there and the pressure can only reach a certain level before it bursts. What I’m thinking is that at least in my lifetime we will see that pressure burst. When it happens, things will be uncomfortable yet it will lead us to meaningful change. This is the way of the world: you have something, that something grows and changes, and when it reaches its point it bursts…and then you being to build things again.

Libraries, Library Director

Your Title is Meaningless

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When I first became a Library Director someone said this to me: “That’s awesome! You’ll never have to deal with the public in the day to day stuff again!” to which I just kind of nodded and changed the subject. What in the world were they talking about? I’m a librarian! The public is my job! I couldn’t foresee a day where I didn’t deal with the public. I had been working directly with the public for about 10 years of my life.

Then someone told me that I should view myself as a “Non Profit Executive Director.” That sounds fancy, doesn’t it? They asked me this question: “Do Non Profit Executive Directors spend their time working directly with the public?” Their answer was no: Non Profit Executive Directors were focused on big picture stuff! Strategic Planning! Vision! Don’t waste your precious mental energy with the details.

I am writing this post because I have something to say about all of that: I think it is a bunch of crap.

If you are or want to work in libraries, your first thought at all times should be on the public that you serve. From the shelvers to the circulation desk to those running library programs to the director, our focus should always be public facing. What does that mean to me? To me, that means not having an office away from everyone. To me, that means helping out with every possible thing that I can help out with from time to time.

I don’t like titles that much. I have always had this rebellious streak inside of me. I am not this or that and you are also not this or that. In the end, we’re all just people trying to do our best in our day to day lives. Read this article about a recent black hole that the Hubble Space Telescope found and tell me that you think otherwise.  We’re all just little blips in this much bigger thing. To get hung up on titles and roles seems silly. It doesn’t mean that much in the great grand scheme of things.

Last night I looked at the moon as I drove my sons home from their hockey class. The moon was so huge and beautiful. I pointed it out to my son Finn and he was amazed at its beauty and power. I started to think about it; what if the moon just started falling from the sky and crashed into earth? We’d all be gone. Everything that we’ve created would be gone. Nothing would be left and all that we’ve worked hard at creating (both physical and mental) would have no record of having ever existed. That’s another reason why I think titles are dumb. I encourage you to be a human being and make an impact in this moment.

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Aero is four and he loves hockey

Do stuff with your life! Do it now and do it well! Are you holding yourself back because you didn’t go to college? Are you holding yourself back because you believe that you are  above” a certain task? Forget about that! Do it! If you’re working in a library right now go shelve some books or talk to a patron. Do something! Do it all!

Family, Kids, Life, Things, Titusville, PA

A List of 47 Amazing Things

In the order that they come into my brain. Of course family and friends are amazing things, but for this list I’m going to think about little things that are not always mentioned. These are the things that I find amazing. I know you may disagree with some of these. That’s OK.

  1. Homemade Bread
  2. Day old Movie Popcorn
  3. Red Rose Tea with a little bit of sugar
  4. Writing professional emails and telling people that they’re awesome and that you appreciate what they do
  5. Going to dentist and having my teeth cleaned really well
  6. Doing 5-10 minutes of yoga with Haley in the morning
  7. Really average soft rock from the 70’s and 80’s
  8. Buying toys with Finn and Aero at Target
  9. Seeing the art that Haley creates
  10. The number three
  11. Music that inspires me
  12. Drinking water out of my S’well canteen
  13. New Zealand
  14. Wearing a nice shirt that makes you feel proud
  15. Prince outtakes and rarities
  16. Growing older and realizing that everyone else all around you is doing the same thing as you: making it all up as they go along and trying their best
  17. Balance
  18. Haley and her mom’s cooking
  19. Shelving, straitening, and shifting books in the library
  20. Pilot G-2 07 pens
  21. Glitch art GIFS
  22. Hockey
  23. Kickle Cubicle
  24. Amiibos
  25. Creativity
  26. Burger King every once in awhile
  27. Well made headphones
  28. Podcasts
  29. Pajamas
  30. Having a home that allows my family and I to spread out, relax, and express ourselves
  31. Forward motion
  32. The moment before you fall asleep
  33. Recycling bins
  34. Rearranging furniture every once in awhile
  35. Working with people who realize that I’m just trying to do my best
  36. Noticing the personalities of many different people and doing my personal best to understand who they are and what makes them happy
  37. People who enjoy their jobs but not take them too seriously
  38. Time away from work
  39. Paying bills
  40. Both the sunshine and the rain
  41. Snowfall that really covers the ground and creates a nice winter landscape
  42. Trees
  43. Really nice sticks
  44. The color pink
  45. Watching the amount and type of food that I put into my body but at the same time not completely cutting things out
  46. Creative and inspiring uses of technology
  47. Talking to someone that really cares about you
Life, Three Things

THREE THINGS 2016.2

IT IS COLD

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It is cold these days in Northwest Pennsylvania (NWPA). I don’t really mind it at all. I think the body and the mind shut down a little bit once that happens and we go into a kind of hibernation mode. This is a good thing. Everyone needs some time to gather themselves. Americans especially. We believe that work is something we must constantly be doing. We sometimes work ourselves into the grave.We should probably relax more.

WHY DO WE LIVE THIS WAY?

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The first of the winter heating bills has come in. I’m not too scared of them because money isn’t a real thing and no matter what everything works out in the end. The bills get paid yo. But every time I see this bill (and the water bill and the electric bill and the grocery bill) I always have the same thought: why do human beings have to pay so much money just to stay alive? It seems kind of weird. You have to work to make money to pay bills to keep services operating that keep you alive. I get the whole “well it pays for other people to have jobs argument” but that’s not where I am going here. I think back to when this all started and we created an idea of how modern civilization would look. In my opinion we kind of messed it up.

I think that the kinds of things that help keep us alive should be free. We should share and trade them with each other. I think life may be a little more enjoyable in the long run if we did that.

FINN THE CREATOR

Finn will be seven years old in 11 days. Wow. Recently his obsession has been the Five Nights at Freddy’s video game series. It’s not so much that he enjoys playing the video games (he makes me play them the most) but instead he enjoys the world that the video games take place in. The characters, the locations, the stories, and the theories all float through Finn’s brain every day. Sometimes he’ll dress up as a character and stay in that character all day. Before the holidays he would spend hours making LEGO versions of the characters . His new thing is building clay characters. He uses sculpy modeling clay and some wire to get what he is looking for. It’s pretty amazing! Our house is now full of these great little characters created by Finn. I’m excited to remind him that in first grade his favorite subject was Five Nights at Freddy’s.

Life, Three Things

THREE THINGS 2016.1

WINTER IS AWESOME

I like winter a lot. It is neat to wake up in the morning and see snow on the ground. It is nice to put on a hat, scarf, mittens, and jacket and take a walk. It is nice to curl up with your family and friends inside and watch movies and drink tea. Pajamas are always wonderful to wear and in the winter you can wear pajamas a lot more. I like it.

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I got this beard oil from my future brother-in-law Gabe. He’s an archaeologist and works at a college. I am enjoying this beard oil! I have put it on my beard after a shower and it not only feels good but it smells great.  It’s like I live in the woods or something. I think it really fits well with living in Northwestern Pennsylvania and at Fidelia Hall.

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I listen to a lot of music by the band Bitchin Bajas. All of their music is great! I would describe it as ambient but it also has some really great melodies that stand out in the forefront. When I listen to their music at work I really get inspired to take care of business and do great things. I love it! Listen to them at SoundCloud!

Life, Things, Travel, Uncategorized

Slow Down

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Besides the people, one of the things that I miss the most about Australia and New Zealand is their speed at which life occurs. Simply stated, it is all just a little bit slower. There’s morning tea. There’s afternoon tea. There’s no clock breathing down the back of your neck. There are times where you have to be somewhere and times where things have to start/stop, but there’s not the nagging sense of I ALWAYS FEEL LIKE SOMEBODY’S WATCHING ME. Time exists, but NZ and Australia are not owned by time. It’s just something that is there. Like it should be to all of us

America has a lot of issues to resolve, but I think one of the biggest that we face is our breakneck speed at which we approach everyday life. For some reason, we need to be the best. We have to be the fastest, the first, the number one. We like to win. But it shouldn’t be that way. It’s OK to be second or third. Heck, it’s OK to sometimes not even be part of the conversation. We need to slow down. Appreciate the trees and the birds and each other. Have some tea and just sit around. Talk about shit. Think about how amazing this could be for our health, both physical and mental! We wouldn’t have to be a bundle of nerves and aching backs and knees all the time. Slow it down!

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Breakfast in NZ and Australia was something that I always looked forward to. It was always full of good food and time to just take in the beginning of the day. The workers who prepared my food and served it to me were always kind (maybe cause they were not working for tips and instead were paid a decent and honest wage??!?!) and did not rush me. This was a good start to the day. I think we all should adopt this practice.

When I got back to the States, my wife Haley started talking about a Danish concept that I was sort of familiar with called Hygge. We chatted about it, shared links about the idea (like this one: Winter Doldrums Got You Down? Have Some ‘Hygge’) and it has really been good to think about. Slow down. Practice hygge. It’s winter for most of us! It is the holiday season! Slow down and enjoy it. We only have so many in our lives. Enjoy every single one!