Are you a helper?

We saw “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” today. I’m not a film critic, but in my opinion, this documentary was well done.

As I watched, a few key points came through. Fred Rogers was deeply influenced by his Christian faith and he was a life-long Republican. He lived those values. He felt all people had value. He knew how to really listen.

I’m disturbed by those who would like to lecture others about how we should follow Mr. Roger’s example when those same people say hateful things about groups of people they disagree with. (Hypocrites!) Or tell us to look for the helpers. (Why not actually BE a helper?)  Or talk about how terrible Christians are and silly people are for following any faith.

But, you know what? Most of that garbage plays out on social networks. People feel free to be as mean, hateful, and ugly as they want online because they don’t have to face the consequences of their words. I’m having a hard time in finding much value in social networks anymore…except in a very focused, narrow way.

It’s too easy to be drawn into the muck with all the negativity. I’d rather find other places to engage – in real life, in well-moderated discussion groups, and other places where thoughtfulness, kindness, free-thinking, common sense, and tolerance of different opinions are considered. (And yes, I do understand there are certain opinions that have no value and those aren’t the ones I’m talking about. People are misleading when they use that argument. It’s an excuse for being jerks to everyone who doesn’t agree with them or won’t go along with what they want.)

I’ll still be writing short book reviews and other random stuff here.

Not a ripple

“I could disappear from the face of the earth, and the world would go on moving without the slightest twinge. Things were tremendously complicated, to be sure, but one thing was clear: no one needed me.” ― Haruki Murakami, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

Occasionally I’ll read a story about someone who has died and their body was found several days or weeks or even years later. People wonder how something like that can happen not realizing how easy it can be to disappear from anyone’s notice. I’m not talking about going off the grid. That is much harder to do. But, if someone lives alone, doesn’t have a job or somewhere they regularly go where their absence might be noticed, it’s easy to become invisible. Maybe even more so these days when people seem more determined to be self-involved and self-absorbed.

I think about all the things that I have scheduled that don’t require much attention if I choose to ignore them. Like bill payments, lawn service, etc. I can even schedule blog posts here. I could disappear and the my dogs might be the only creatures that noticed right away. Of course, if I run away from home, I’m taking them with me!

What’s my point? Do I ever have one? Maybe my point is to put your phone down once in awhile. Look at someone when you pass them on the sidewalk and smile. Say hello to your next door neighbor. Take the time to see the people around you.

Book Review


Gilchrist by Christian Galacar

This book reminded me of early Stephen King or Dean Koontz in the weird/creepy factor. You get a good dose of shivers from the supernatural elements, but at least one character probably didn’t have all that far to go into pure evil. The “otherness” in the book helped him along, because it was good eating after all.

But it was heartbreaking to watch good people be twisted and manipulated. (In some ways, reading this book was timely considering how outside forces like to twist truths and manipulate people’s minds, causing them to behave in irrational ways.) I was disgusted, horrified, and angered in equal measure by the darkness that lurked under the surface of the town of Gilchrist.

You’ll find yourself hoping Peter can figure things out quickly enough to save the people he loves and himself. You’ll wonder if he finds enough answers in the book that oddly parallels his experiences in this weird town, even though the book was written years before. You’ll wish, in the end, he’d never decided to go for a drive that very first day and instead had turned toward home.

And you might want to reread this book and think about all these things again.


Book Review

The Outsider by Stephen King

I used to be a big Stephen King fan. Every time he published something new, I was excited to get my copy. Not so much anymore.

The premise of The Outsider is typical King suspense – kind of a body snatcher story with a twist. But it never really develops into the hair-raising terror or nerve-tightening stories that he’s well known for.

There are so many missed opportunities for the creepiness factor to be upped. I won’t presume to tell an author his craft, but I was sadly disappointed with the story. I kept reading hoping for a glimmer of the former King.

The end felt rushed and almost trite. Yes, the monster might have been destroyed. Maybe, maybe not. Just like characters tend to come back in King novels; monsters often re-appear as well. The Outsider was a disturbing monster, but not particularly scary as it was written. I’m used to having nightmares from King stories. It could have been much more and I was left wanting.

At least I finished this one. I haven’t been finished his last couple of books due to sheer boredom. I’ll probably pick up whatever he writes next…eventually.

Flag Day

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I’ve always felt a certain pride when the National Anthem plays or when I say the Pledge of Allegiance. Call it corny. For me, it’s about saying to my fellow citizens “We’ve got this. We’re in it together.” Fortunately, for all the bad things people want to say and think, you don’t have to look very far for the good examples of people caring about each other, helping each other, and working to make things better for all. There is still a lot of humanity left, no matter what all the nay-sayers might have you believe. Of course, you have to get off your couch and step away from your computer once in awhile. (That’s a reminder to me, more than anything.)

Of Interest to me

A place to study, a place to pray  At one time, our campus had a meditation/prayer room in our Student Services area. I haven’t heard about it in over a year and am not sure if it still exists. We used to have a student worker who used an underutilized room here in the library to pray sometimes. I like the idea of students having a space on campus to practice whatever their spirituality might be…or even just a quiet place where they can sit and decompress and nothing else is expected in that space. We don’t have a lot of room in our library for this type of thing, but I’m considering what we might be able to offer.

Who’s left out of the conversation.  This was interesting because something related came up in another conversation I had with some other colleagues this week. I’ll be exploring this more along with my research on the Framework.

A Practical Guide to Improving Web Accessibility   We are working on redesigning our webpages, but are limited somewhat by the college’s platform. This guide will be helpful as we move forward. Lots of useful information to think about.

No One Can Copyright These 15 Things, and They May Surprise You  An interesting read about copyright and trademark around the world.

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