Saturday, June 17, 2017

Eulogy for my wife - Joyce Shore

Hi. Some of you know me as J. and others know me as Jules and that’s the beginning of our story.
In January 1990, I was assigned to a new base and I was divorcing my first wife. I needed a change, so I changed my nickname to J.
In January 1990, Joyce was already in Oklahoma City, having moved there with her first husband and she was divorcing too.
Sometime in late August of 1990, Joyce was granted a divorce.
Roughly two weeks later, I was granted a divorce too.
Some months later, Joyce and I were over the shock of all the change and we were tired of being alone. Of course, we hadn’t met yet, but we were looking.

The Oklahoma Country and Western Dance Association gave free dance lessons at a club off I-35 every Tuesday and Thursday; Two-step, Schottische, Waltz, and the occasional line dance. The club members would usually stay to dance after lessons. It drew people to the club on off nights.
One Thursday in June 1991, after lessons, as everyone was still hanging around, just as a new song started, I walked over to a table of club members; Ken and Janice James, well, Janice had a different last name then, but remember Ken and Janice because we will get back to them. Anyway, Ken and Janice, and Ursula and Johnny had just sat back down, so I said to a lady at the table, someone I’d never seen before, “Everyone else looks like they need a break, would you like to dance?”

And that, my friends, is the real beginning of this story. After a dance or two, Joyce invited me to join her Saturday afternoon at an event held by a different dance organization in town. I went, I danced, I won a door prize – a gift certificate at a restaurant- , and I asked Joyce if she’d like to go to dinner.

The next scene in the story has Joyce and me moving in together to a rental house with Shadow, a 20 year old grey female cat, and Timothy, an indoor/outdoor heavy weight tabby with one folded ear. You do realize you can’t tell a story about Joyce without a few cats?

Come late October, still 1991, there was a morning we opened the door to hear the howls of a cat across the street. “Hey, J. do you wanna climb a tree?” Turns out the kitten was under the church van parked across the street and not up a tree. He was, however covered in oil; I guess the van had a leak. And that was Beetlejuice.

I know when, because a week after that we took a road trip. A “Meet the parents” type event. We drove from Oklahoma City to Jacksonville to surprise my Sis for her birthday and Joyce got to meet my parents and my sister. Then we drove up to Culpeper and I got to meet Donna and Harold and the kids. On the way back to Oklahoma City, we stopped at Nashville to see the sights. We were in the audience for a taping of a Christmas special by the Statler Brothers and a Crook & Chase show.

We went to dance contests in Muskogee and Dallas, and I met Louise and Robby in Ada Oklahoma, and I met Bowman and Jane in Arkansas, and time passed. We got an invite to Ken and Janice’s wedding, you remember Ken and Janice, I told you we’d get back to them. Ken and Janice had a beautiful wedding with all the club members in attendance, and the day after, I rolled over in bed and said, “Let’s get married?” Not that dramatic as proposals go, nor was it romantic, but it worked. On 8-8-92, the family gathered and a wedding was had.

Then came orders for a 4 year tour at Ramstein Germany. We had a great time in Germany. We saw all the sights. Paris, Trier, Cologne, Heidelberg, wine fests on the Mosel, cruising on the Rhine, Amsterdam, Brussels, there was always something to do; someplace to see. And the cats came too, Pipsqueak, and Minke, she’s the kitten the little German boys found, and Gheist and Weizen born among the barn cats next door and cold and hungry and in our door they came. We rescued some of Gheist and Weizen’s siblings and the base vet would give them their shots and find a family for them.

Then my time in the Air Force came to an end and I wanted to go back to school for my Master’s degree. We had Florida driver’s licenses in our pockets, because my parents lived there and Floridians pay no state personal income tax. I needed a university and a base close together because I had rights to base services for 2 years, so we settled in Tampa. It was great living close to my folks. I hadn’t had holidays with my parents in years. And Joyce worked for a group of orthopedic surgeons and I went to school and worked full time and life was great.

Then came the first of many health scares. Joyce had a triple bypass. Recovery was complicated, but family took turns visiting for a week at a time to keep Joyce company while I worked and went to school. And Joyce got better and went back to work and that semester I graduated and then got a job with Tampa Public Library.

But I was looking for a government job, because my Air Force years count for retirement from the government. I was finally hired and we moved up here. Joyce was thrilled to be back home and visits to see Donna and Harold happened about every two months. Holidays were spent with the Virginia relatives and Denise had married and Ashby had married and along came grand nephews.
Joyce got a job in a Doctor’s office. They loved her. She could do the paperwork while chatting with the patients and generally being friendly. The exact person you want to be the face of your office.

We rescued more kittens. I said no more at 13 and we got to 32 before Joyce realized it was a lot of work and she couldn’t save them all.

But Joyce was a type 1 diabetic, so there were more health scares. In 2006 she had a stroke and the state said she had to stop driving. But she recovered, and transportation was worked out and she kept working for Dr. Sivieri. Her vision was worse. On average her corrected vision was 20/70 meaning she saw at 20 feet what the average person sees at 70. But she got magnifiers and computer software to magnify the screen and she could still work.

Then in 2011, she had a Fem-Pop bypass, to improve blood flow in her leg. And that surgery became infected and they had to re-do it and she was released to home with two different IV antibiotics, given 3 times a day for one and twice a day for the other and I learned to give IVs thru a picc line. The month passed and the antibiotic course ended and Joyce and I both went back to our offices.

And life went on, and we visited Culpeper and we went to birthday parties and Thanksgiving and Christmas and we took care of our cats and we worked our jobs until
dun dun dun duh…
The next health crisis.

In December 2012 Joyce got a cold and with it came vertigo. The cold ended, but the vertigo never did. We saw the ENT and he pointed us to the neurologist. We saw the neurologist and he pointed us to the ENT. We saw the experts at Johns Hopkins and the final answer was there’s nothing we can do about it. Diabetic neuropathy meant there was a lag time in the signal from one inner ear compared to the other. If Joyce moved slow and focused on a fixed point she could walk without falling down, but move too fast or bend over to pick something up and she’d at best feel like she was falling, at worse, she’d fall.

She couldn’t work anymore and retired on Social Security disability. Those were a very lean 6 months until Social Security started paying, so we didn’t go out much or do much. But, as all things in life, this too passed and we got back to normal except Joyce didn’t get out much or do much.

Then Joyce’s oldest sister, Donna passed and Culpeper changed and Thanksgiving and Christmas just weren’t the same.

Then along came the next High School Reunion and Joyce got on the committee and had a ball tracking down info on old classmates and putting together the reunion booklet with everyone’s info and coming to Culpeper for meetings. After the reunion it got even better as a group decided they didn’t want to lose touch. They decided on bimonthly lunches and Joyce became the one to send out reminder emails and we still got to Culpeper every two months and Joyce had something to do.

Then came a day in late September 2016 when Joyce’s chronic dizziness resulted in a fall at home. She said she landed on her butt, but she had a bruise the size of my hand on her right hip. She thought she was okay, but was walking kinda stiff. After two weeks she was still stiff so we started seeing doctors to figure out what was wrong. We started with an xray that didn’t tell us much because her right hip had been replaced in 2015 and metal doesn’t play well with xrays. Then we saw the hip doctor and her walking got worse and we saw the back doctor and surgery was decided on to occur Dec 29, 2016. We released from the hospital to a rehab center for two weeks of rehab, but the surgery was infected and Joyce went back to the hospital and got cleaned out and started on IV antibiotics and we went back to rehab for a four week stay. On February 15th Joyce was back home. There were wound dressing changes and Physical Therapy and she was still on IV antibiotics, but as you can tell from the rest of this story, those were all old hat by now and life went on and Joyce got healthier.
We almost made the March lunch for the class of 68, but Joyce thought a 2 hour car ride might be too much. She was uncomfortable after 30 minutes in a car; 2 hours? Nah. Next time she’d be better.

On Friday April 7th she went to PT and we went to lunch and everything was normal. Overnight between Saturday the 8th and Sunday the 9th, Joyce woke me up to help her get to the bathroom. She couldn’t roll over without pain. Three courses of pain meds overnight didn’t help, so we went to the ER and found Joyce had her second infection of this surgery. We thought it was all over and life was going back to normal.

And I’m going to wrap it up soon because it’s recent and raw and I don’t want to cry or make you cry. Infections are the leading cause of confusion in older people. So each of these infections would be accompanied by periods when Joyce didn’t know where she was or why she couldn’t go home.
But, the second infection led to a third infection and more confusion and unfortunately the confusion never cleared and she was diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia. Fortunately Joyce had told us, in an advanced directive that she didn’t want to live that way, so we withheld all medical interventions and let her go. Her way.

And the story ends, and the second era of Joyce’s life ends and the second era of my life ends.

Hi. I’m Jules.    

Thursday, September 11, 2014

In Memoriam: 9/11/2001

On this thirteenth anniversary of the attacks, I thought I'd write up my memories of activities around me on that day. One thing I've learned in talking with people about 9/11 is the "localness" effect on what they remember. I work in the DC Metro region so memories around here relate to the Pentagon attack. Friends in North Jersey talk about the World Trade Centers.

I was in Tampa working for the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library System at their headquarters library in downtown Tampa. The President was reading to school children in Sarasota, FL. Sarasota is the south side of Tampa Bay, which is surrounded by Tampa to the East & North, and St. Petersburg to the West. The bay is split by a peninsula about 2 miles wide and 5 miles high.  The south end of that peninsula is MacDill Air Force Base. With the President in the area, Air Force One was parked at MacDill and I'm sure the Coasties got the rare opportunity to use the call sign Coast Guard One and flew the Prez across the bay in one of their rescue copters.

My desk was in a processing area on the third floor of the Library. All of the Cataloging department staff had desks surrounding a central area that was filled with book carts. I think there were 10 desks in total with space to pull a book cart over to be the "third wall of the cubicle" while you were working those titles. I was the Serials Librarian, having responsibility for all of the magazine subscriptions and that type work, but I also spent half of every day cataloging.  

(THPL Cataloging department saying farewell to me Oct 2001. I don't remember what was the deal with the shoes.)

The cataloging area was designed to be stacks not offices, so we had the type of windows you find in most basements, 24 inches wide by 12 inches high, installed right under the ceiling, so we couldn't look out to see anything. We only knew if it was raining by the darkness.

My shift started at 9 am, so I'm sure I didn't hear anything until I was already at work. At work, we may have had a radio providing background noise in the area. I think that's how we first heard that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. (Or someone's kid may have called in and said something.)

I do remember that the first inkling we had of something being seriously wrong was a sonic boom. They launched the ready fighters from MacDill and those boys must have been in a serious hurry to get a low cap over the field because they launched on afterburners and broke the sound barrier within 1000 feet of the ground. It shook the building. With 12 years in the Air Force, I knew what it was. (Sonic booms are distinctive.) But I also knew that was serious if MacDill launched fighters without concern for the noise generated.

Shortly after that, we got word from the Director's office that there had been a second plane, it wasn't an accident, and a TV had been set-up in the break area so we could check on the news of the day.  We sent someone from the section up to watch and report back to us what was going on, but someone's kid or husband called in before that to pass on the info that the towers had fallen and all flights were being grounded.

The next big thing in my day was a call relating to a job interview. I was scheduled for a phone interview with a federal agency on 09/12, but they were leaving the office, the government was being shutdown, and they couldn't be sure they'd be back the next day. We rescheduled the interview for a week later.

We'd get random news updates through the day. When my shift ended I went home and saw nothing but news for the rest of the day. We've all seen the same clips now, but I remember seeing as much footage of the President being told about events as we did of the plane crashes into the towers.

President Bush in Sarasota 9/11/2001 

I also remember the news never went off the air. Even though they had nothing new to report, they just kept repeating the same stuff hour after hour. Even the next morning the Today show was still repeating the same old stories.

So, that's my recollections of the event. I'd like you to share your recollections via whatever social media you're most comfortable with. Recording memories is an interesting exercise.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Talkin 'bout the Good Old Days

At the time of this post, I'm 52 years old. I'm not one to reminisce about the good old days. In most cases, they weren't that good. However, two recent conversations and the Miranda Lambert song ‘Automatic’ (link below) have me thinking about some skills and knowledge that kids are missing out on these days.

When I went to Junior High, in the mid 70's, we had a choice of 6 shop classes. In the basement of the school we had 4 shops: electronics, metal, print, and wood. On the second floor we had a kitchen and a sewing room.

In Electronics, you learned the basics of power supply and home circuits. We would repair cassette decks or stereo receivers. Everyone built a crystal radio. You learned basics of batteries, fuses, circuit breakers, transistors, resistors, and capacitors. You understood the difference between series and parallel circuits. That means 13 year olds could figure the size and number of batteries to power an off grid system for one day.

In Print shop, you learned kerning of different fonts; you built a document to be printed from moveable type. Building one 8 x 11 sheet gives you a greater understanding of the process of printing a book after Gutenberg until the advent of computers. We carved designs in print blocks, inked them, and made art work. We cut stencils to silk screen T-shirts.

In Metal shop, we folded sheet metal into boxes with sealed seams that would hold water. We cold pounded bars into wall hooks. We made sand castings and poured molten metal into the form.

In Wood shop, we learned safety around saws. Band saws, table saws, and drill presses were all common hazards. We built wall shelfs and stools; fine wood working and utilitarian work.

In the Kitchen, we'd whip up recipe after recipe. From simple chocolate chip cookies to decorated cakes, we tried it all. Yes, it was the mid-70's so I was the only boy in my home ec class. (Back then, home economics was a woman's domain.)

I didn't take sewing, so I can't comment on the school course. I learned that at home. And yes, I can replace a button or sew a whole shirt from a pattern.

All of that is what we lose when we move to teaching the test and stop worrying about the whole person. One shouldn't need to be an electrician to understand how your home electricity works. Everyone should be comparing electricity needs when they are buying a new refrigerator, washer, dryer, etc.

Building something yourself gives you a better understanding of what is involved in the products you buy from the store. It also makes you self sufficient if there isn't a store nearby. I built my own three level cat tree when stationed in Germany because the locals didn't have anything like it. Just plywood, fence pole, carpeting, and tree branches, but it lasted 15 years and two major moves.

There is a basic core of knowledge and skills one should have to live on your own in this society. Forty years ago you learned both in school. 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

I am privileged to be Pale and Male.

In occasional Librarian discussions online, the topics of diversity and privilege come up. Those topics go hand in hand, but I'm only going to talk about privilege here.

I'll admit that I had a hard time understanding the concept of privilege. It always seemed to be saying that I had everything handed to me and I know that isn't the case. A few months ago, I came across this blog post that did a good job of explaining the concept in a way I could understand and agree with.

In a discussion today, I came across another way of explaining it for those that still don't get it. Privilege is not about getting things handed to you. Rather, it is about factors that are outside of your control giving you a head start in the race.

Think about being given a deck of cards at birth that sums up the total potential you have to rise up the pyramid of the social structure we live in. My analogy says that white males are given a full deck of all 52 cards. They can be anything they want to be. A black male or a white female is given a deck that has only the black royal cards. S/he can still rise up to be an Ace, but they have only half as many chances as the white male. They can never be the King of Hearts; only the King of Clubs. A black female only gets the royal cards of the clubs. She can still be an Ace, but she can only be the Ace of Clubs and not the Ace of Diamonds.

Remember that none of this is your fault. This is the way society is structured. If you apply to an Ivy League school, you're playing your Jacks. Now black females have a Jack, so they can go to Harvard, but they only have one Jack so they only have one shot at it. A white male has all four Jacks so he can give it another shot if not accepted the first time around. Was the difference their studies or their money? No. The difference was what society expects when they see that person. 

For my analogy, I only focused on race and gender, but there are many more factors that can be used to split us into social groups. Rich / Poor, Healthy / Sick, Christian / Muslim / Jewish, Fat / Thin, Athletic / Geeky. All of these groups are seen differently by society and expected to perform differently in any given setting.

You can't earn more cards. They're given at birth. What's important as you play the game of life is you realize the differences this uneven distribution produces. Know that everyone playing along with you can win, but they aren’t all playing with the same odds. The game isn't fair. 

"Everybody knows the dice are loaded
Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed
Everybody knows that the war is over 
Everybody knows the good guys lost 
Everybody knows the fight was fixed 
The poor stay poor, the rich get rich 
That's how it goes 
Everybody knows"
-- Leonard Cohen "Everybody knows" 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

ALA Midwinter 2014 - A Travelogue

Here it is my blog post about ALA Midwinter 2014. Held at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia. 
This may surprise some people, but this was my first ALA conference of any type. I've been a librarian for almost 14 years. The first 3 years, I was a member of ALA because it wasn't full price, but I didn't see any reason to keep paying. Mostly I saw a lot of resolutions on social problems that had nothing whatsoever to do with Libraries or Librarians. People will ask for examples, but I'm concerned that anything I identify will paint me as a jerk. Let me state upfront that I'm not saying the topics were unworthy ones, but they were topics that did not relate directly to Libraries or Librarians. You have to pick your battles or politicians will stop paying attention. (Reference the "Boy who cried wolf")

I've been to plenty of other Librarian Conferences, most notably 6 or 7 Computer in Libraries conferences over the years, but also, FLA, MLA (Maryland not Medical), and NJLA. I even presented at CiL 2012.

My first Facebook message about ALA Midwinter listed the full names of the folks I met on Friday, but then I felt weird about listing everyone's name. So this blog post is mostly going to feature just first names. I connected with people that I've met before and with people that I'm meeting face to face for the first time. For the most part, we weren't strangers; we just hadn't been in the same room before. We've had plenty of conversations, but they were online. I'm going to use 'meet or greet' for these interactions because I don't want to discriminate between the two conditions. I'm also going to apologize from the beginning. I know I've missed people. I don't mean it personally. I just met so many people that I got overwhelmed.
A big part of this trip was to connect with my friends in their little electronic boxes, but equally important was trying to figure out where I fit in ALA. I've come to learn that you can only change an organization from within. I've also become very active with a Facebook group of Librarians, the ALA Think Tank. 

Enough of the preliminaries, let's get to the travelogue.

I drove up Friday from my home in Laurel, MD (about 2 hours), checked in to the hotel, and caught the shuttle bus to the Convention center. I got there in time to tour the exhibits at opening. I ate (pretzel, ours d'oeuvres, sliders) and drank a glass of wine. While touring around, I met some friends that  I'd previously known online only and renewed some existing friendships. (Emily, Emily, Kate, Lauren, & TJ) 

Then I bopped over to the Uncommons where I met some more friends (Paul, Michael, Maurice, and Courtney). They were discussing dinner. I was totally prepared to consider my snacks at the Exhibits as dinner, but the company was just too tempting so I joined. We had dinner at a Chinatown restaurant and great conversation.
Michael was talking about Executive board and he explained a little about it since I had no idea what he was talking about. I asked him what got him involved in ALA and I told him a quick version of my experience so far with ALA. My memory isn't good enough to quote him, but much of what Michael said meshed with my own experiences and feelings on the matter. I'm going to credit him with helping to feed the flame that started in Think Tank as a little spark.

After dinner, I intended to attend the Urban Libraries Unite gathering at the Field House. Even though we passed the Field House on the way to dinner, I got turned around heading there. When I pulled out my phone for Maps and got my bearing, I could see that I was the same distance from the Field House as the Hotel and it was freezing cold. I decided to just call it a night.

Saturday morning started with the NMRT Conference Orientation. I was a little late and ended up sitting on the floor. I'm really too old and too fat for sitting on the floor. That orientation was scheduled in the smallest room I saw during the whole conference. There were 4 round tables that sat 8 each. Maybe someone will take note and schedule a bigger room. I know they don't expect as many newbies at Midwinter as at Annual, but that's just an excuse. I talked with some folks, but none that I had previous connections with.

Next on my schedule was the LITA all committees meeting, but I didn't realize that. I saw an Interest Group meeting on the schedule and that's what brought me to the room. The interest group didn't meet and I didn't find any of the other committees to be interesting, so I left. I did get to meet or greet a few folks. Jason and Andromeda stand out the most. (I spent more time with the LITA folks later, so I may have met them on Saturday morning, but I'll credit them later.)

Leaving the LITA all committees, I decided to head up to the Uncommons and saw Derrick. I put out a call for lunch mates and connected with a Jersey buddy,  TJ. We went over to the Reading Terminal Market for sandwiches at DeNic's.

After lunch I don't remember what I was interested in, but the room was beyond standing room only and the presentation was already in progress, so I gave up shortly. I swung by the Uncommons and caught the end of the Ignite sessions and then hung out for another hour. While there I connected with Marge, Peter, Emily, JP, Patrick, John, Lauren, Annie, and probably some more. I think that was the first time I felt oddly famous as people were coming over to greet me. Some I recognized and some I frankly didn't. I go to these conferences with a mental list of folks I hope to run into. I never thought of the possibility that I'm on someone else's list. It's a reminder that you never know what impact you have on others. Someone thanked me for standing up for them, when I remember the discussion as just my normal day. I was just stating my opinion. It just so happened my thoughts agreed with someone who thought her words were being dismissed.

At 4 or 4:30 I attended the LibTechGender discussion. It was the most important event of the weekend, in my opinion. I've read the blog posts and articles about problems at some tech conferences and the ALA Code of Conduct. I'm aware that tech is significantly male, but this discussion brought up some other aspects I'd never heard or thought of. The tagline is "who isn't in the room?" But it is more than that. Cecily ,via skype, brought up the implicit discrimination that you feel when you look around the room and see no one that looks like you. You feel unwelcome and unwanted. The words may be saying we're inclusive, but the actions don't reflect it. Even if you have a diverse pool of workers, are they in the room asking the interview questions or are they just workers. 
I really wish they weren't ending so close to the last shuttle bus because I wanted to meet some people that were there like Jessica, KG, and Myrna. But timing was tight so I caught the bus back to the hotel to drop my bag and change for a night of partying.

I tried the car service Uber for a ride to Trilogy for the tweet up organized by Lauren and Annie. (I made sure to thank them on Sunday afternoon for organizing it.) It was a great location where we could drink and talk and we took advantage of both. At 9 we moved the party one block to the Latvian Society for the EveryLibrary fundraiser, film fest, and dance party DJed by Marc Recordz. I volunteered for the 10 pm to midnight shift doing coat check. I figured that would be a great way to connect with people since they had to come by when entering and leaving. It was almost too good of a thing. By midnight, I was overwhelmed by the people I'd greeted. I wasn't drunk; there were just too many of them. Some folks I remember from Saturday night include Michelle, Daniel, Lindsay, Erica, Kate, Ingrid, Craig, TinaMarie, Alisha, Erin, Megan, Jacob, & Mel. I drank another whiskey & soda after my coat check shift then caught an Uber ride back to the hotel.

Sunday morning started with the LITA Top Tech Trends presentation where I got to meet Carson. After TTT, I went to the Uncommons and caught the end of a game of Cards against Librarianship. That was cool. I really wish Emily had been there at Midwinter to see the results of her work. I also got to meet Larry.

I connected with Henry for lunch.After lunch I attended the Authority Control discussion but left early to go to LITA 201. That really told me a lot more about the only subgroup of ALA that I belong to. I connected with Aaron, Andrea, Annie, Chris, John, Cindi, Jenny, Nina, & Rachel.

Sunday was my planned quiet night (Sorry LITA Happy Hour, now that I know more, I have to plan to attend future ones.)

Monday and my last day started with Breakfast with LITA. That continued the introduction to LITA activities and brought up some interesting topics during the table activities. Unfortunately, one of the folks at my table had to be the center of every discussion so we didn't get as much done as we could have. Have you ever been sitting at a table of strangers when someone asks if they can join and you want to say no? Monday morning was one of those times. Folks I met that morning include David, Bree, Frank, Chris, & Evviva.

Next I attended the GODORT Business meeting. It was an incredibly well run meeting and met my expectations of a business meeting. They went around the room and everyone introduced themselves and their library. I was the only Gov Doc producer in a room that mostly involved gov doc depository libraries, but no one seemed surprised. They had regular committee reports and even discussed sending condolences to the families of members that had died recently. The meeting was interrupted twice for the candidates for ALA President to talk with us about their platforms.

Lunch was provided by APA. The most interesting part of it was running into Hillary. I entered the room of round tables and looked around for anyone I knew to sit with. I didn't recognize anyone, but saw someone really looking at me. I guessed it was someone from the Think Tank so I decided to sit with them. Surprise! It was a classmate from the USF LIS program. We'd graduated together 13 years ago and I'm still surprised that she recognized me. I have put on 100 pounds in those years. It was great to catch up some, over the provided box lunch.

And that lunch marked my last event at ALA Midwinter 2014. I swung by the Uncommons for some last good-byes and caught the shuttle bus back to the hotel and my car then drove home.

So, what did I learn?
1) Things you say online may mean little to you, but much to others. Remember the rules are T H I N K. Is your comment: True? Helpful? Inspiring? Necessary? and Kind?
2) You have more friends than you'll ever realize.
3) Pay attention to who is not in the room. Work to get them in the room.
4) I'm running for ALA Council. I think I can make a difference for American Libraries and Librarians. 

Friday, January 31, 2014

Gonna Live, Laugh, Love, just for today...

I went on a tangent in a conversation last weekend and never got back to an explanation of my wrist tattoo. Not that I need to explain my actions, but sometimes the thousand words only come from the picture when context is added.

Around my right wrist are the words Live, Laugh, Love separated by icons of a cat face, a smiley face, and a heart.That  tattoo is my daily reminder to live in the moment. You see, it comes from a song by Clay Walker. The first verse and chorus is:
I'm gonna live, laugh, love just for today
Gonna take all the trouble that tomorrow might bring and put it away
Gonna drink every drop of happiness
'Til they cover me up
I'm gonna live, gonna laugh, gonna love

That's not to say I don't plan for the future, but I don't want to worry about it. I've already spent too much time on worry. I don't think it was time well spent.

The past is over, there is nothing you can do to change it. The future is but a dream. A hope for things to come. This is the day you've been given, your present, do with it what you will.

So that's the story behind the tat. Some context for why I need a reminder to enjoy the moment. If you ever see me looking down & out and you think I need a pick me up, just whisper, sing, or hum a little Live Laugh Love and I'll be back to my smiling self. Try it if you don't believe me.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

America - You embarrass me

Friends, I haven't written in awhile and I'm sorry. Life has been very busy, but that's a discussion for another day. Today I want to talk a bit about politics in America.

I am a Veteran. I spent 12 years in the Air Force forecasting weather. Unlike the folks you see on TV, that meant I was responsible for warnings at my airfield that ranged from stop fueling aircraft due to thunderstorms, to close the airfield due to icing, to take cover there is a Tornado.

I am a Librarian, I've spent 12 years as a civilian working for the government. I can't tell you the details because it is an ethics violation, but I provide a valuable service that is used by over 1 million unique users daily.

I am a Patriot. "We the People, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and ensure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity...." I find that a wonderful and succinct mission statement. One that still has meaning over 200 years later.

Here comes the bad news -- I've lost faith in our system of governance. 

Here's a clip from the first episode of Newsroom:

And the quote for you to read:
"And yeah, you, sorority girl. Just in case you accidentally wander into a voting booth one day, there's some things you should know, and one of them is, there's absolutely no evidence to support the statement that we're the greatest country in the world. We're 7th in literacy, 27th in math, 22nd in science, 49th in life expectancy, 178th in infant mortality, 3rd in median household income, number 4 in labor force, and number 4 in exports. We lead the world in only 3 categories: number of incarcerated citizens per capita, number of adults who believe angels are real, and defense spending, where we spend more than the next 26 countries combined. 25 of whom are allies. Now, none of this is the fault of a 20 year old college student. But you, nonetheless, are without a doubt a member of the worst period generation period ever period. So when you ask, "what makes us the greatest country in the world?" I don't know what the fuck you're talking about. Yosemite? [Pause] We sure used to be. We stood up for what was right. We fought for moral reasons. We passed laws, struck down laws for moral reasons. We waged wars on poverty, not poor people. We sacrificed, we cared about our neighbors. We put our money where our mouths were. And we never beat our chest. We built great big things, made ungodly technological advances, explored the universe, cured diseases, and we cultivated the world's greatest artists and the world's greatest economy. We reached for the stars, acted like men. We aspired to intelligence, we didn't belittle it, it didn't make us feel inferior. We didn't identify ourselves by who we voted for in our last election. And we didn't... we didn't scare so easy. We were able to be all these things, and to do all these things, because we were informed. By great men, men who were revered. First step in solving any problem is recognizing there is one. America is not the greatest country in the world anymore. [Pause] Enough?"

I type this 11 days into a temper tantrum in Congress. They've shutdown our government by not coming to an agreement to fund it. For two years, they've been pushing the problem down the road by passing Continuing Resolution after Continuing Resolution (CR). A CR basically continues to fund the government at the existing levels while you work out your differences to create a budget. That there are differences that can't be worked out after two years is amazing. When I encountered that problem in my life, I divorced my first wife. I guess these geniuses we elected never think of the greater good, but only about their access to power. They'll never think about walking away in hopes that their constituents might find someone that is willing to compromise and elect them. 

Frankly, I wish there was a way to fire the whole lot of them. I'm not going to apportion blame. There are at least two sides to this discussion and all sides are guilty when they can't even gather to discus their differences. That is their most important job. By not doing it, they've shown that they are incompetent. 

Does anyone have any idea how I can get my faith back? Do you still have hope for this country? Why?