Back to School Advice

Schools are now back in session. I’ve decided to make a list of things I think kids should do to make the school year better.

  1. Be Nice – Smile at people when you pass them in the halls. Say hello, good morning or another pleasant greeting when possible. help people who need help. Talk to people who seem to be alone. Invite them to eat lunch with you and your friends. Making someone else’s day better will make yours better as well.
  2. Be Yourself – Or Batman, but I think the school would frown on that. so be yourself. It might seem easier to pretend to be something you’re not in order to fit in, but it’s not. If you need to change to be someone’s friend then they are not a friend worth having. Spend time with people who like you for who you are. You need to like you for who you are as well.
  3. Stand up to bullies – You might not be bullied yourself, but you probably know people who are being bullied. If you see it, say something. Tell a teacher, tell a counselor, tell the bully to back off. Do something. Don’t just let it go and hope someone else will take care of it.
  4. Work hard – Studying and doing the best you can on assignments will not only improve your grades and your chances of getting in to college, but also help you develop good habits for the future. College will be harder and the more you get in the habit of doing the work now the easier it will be to adjust later. Also, good work habits now will make you a good employee in the future.
  5. Have fun – Work hard, but also find time to enjoy the high school years. Join a club that interests you. Go to football games. Go to dances, with or without a date. Hang out with your friends as much as possible.
  6. Make the best of this time while you are in it. Don’t be someone who looks back with regret on the things you did or the things you didn’t. This is your only life. Live it well.

What Do You Want From Me?

We bought a new laptop yesterday. It is a very small, very basic laptop and the basic purpose of having it is to manage my music library and transfer pictures from my phone and Dawn’s camera to an external hards drive. I was thinking, however, that I could use the laptop to start blogging more since I’m still really bad at typing on my iPad. Now with a working laptop and a somewhat clean desk in the office at home I have the means and the space to be more active with my blogging. So, the question is, what should this look like? Here are my options.

  1. Continue as I do now and blog about random stuff that crosses my mind regardless of topic but do it on a more regular basis.
  2.  Focus my blog on a particular subject. For me that would likely mean TV and/or books. I could do a daily what to watch on TV(all year and not just at the start of the season), reviews, news, etc.
  3. I could do a combo of the two. Daily “What to watch” posts, TV/book news and reviews and then throw in random posts as they come to me.
  4. I could just stop blogging because no one cares and no one is reading this anyway.

So, if anyone is out there and reading this, let me know your thoughts.

What We Have Here Is Failure to Communicate

I always think it is interesting to note who will respond to messages and who will not. I spend a lot of time online on Twitter, Facebook, email, etc and am not shy about tweeting to a “celebrity” if they tweet something for which I have a response. I have sent messages to people of note either to comment on their work or to invite them to an event. Sometimes I get a response and sometimes I don’t. Generally, a very big star will not answer because they have too many people trying to get their attention.  I’ve also noticed that people who aren’t really celebrities, like local media, also tend not to reply. I’m not sure if this is some sort of inflated sense of self worth or what, but it drives me crazy when they won’t even respond with a no thank you. You aren’t “big” enough to completely ignore people.  Show some common courtesy and acknowledge the request, question, etc.  Below are some examples of people who have and have not responded to me:

Governor Bob Ehrlich – his office called me to send his regrets

Governor Martin O’Malley – sent a nice note with regrets

Pat Sajak – sent me a nice note with regrets, but wished me luck with my event

Ashley Judd – has responded to me on twitter several times.

Meg Gardiner – has talked to me on twitter several times

Christopher Moore – still answers my messages even though I’m sure he regrets answering the random email from a stalker fan years ago

Kirker Butler – answers my messages even though I’m not sure he knew who I was in high school

Everyone at FOX 45 I have ever contacted. Amy Fadool judged my Idol event several times

Gregg Doyel – nationally known sports writer has actually read my blog a few times

There are probably more I’m forgetting.

The type of people who ignore me:

random local media types from various organizations, unaffiliated local meteorologists

Seems to me if the above list can take the time to answer a question, invitation, etc the local people could do the same.

The Elusive Generation

One thing I have found working with young people in both libraries and churches is that it is very hard to reach the college/young singles groups. A lot of time is spent at libraries trying to devise programs to bring in this  elusive age group. I’ve seen churches dealing with the same thing. Trying to answer the question of how to draw in this demographic. I think part of this problem can be solved by trying to figure out how we lost them in the first place.

Most of us attend church or go to the library for the first time as children and are brought by our parents. I think most libraries and churches do a very good job of providing what families with young children are looking for. For the most part, the kids enjoy the experience and even if they didn’t, they are a captive audience. They have to go where their parents take them. I have rarely seen a church or library devoid of children. The beginning middle school age is similar. They still mostly arrive with parents(unless the library is within walking distance) and still enjoy attending library classes and church events. Sports and school are starting to get busier, but not at the same level as high school. After this, though, is when things start to get harder.

In high school, kids have more school work, a more active social life, more activities and more freedom. They no longer have to go when the parents go. The parents can be at church or the library without dragging the kids along. The kids are busy with school and friends and won’t just show up at the library or at church just because it’s there. There has to be a very compelling reason for them to show up.  They won’t attend library classes or youth groups that are mostly geared toward younger kids. They won’t attend scheduled events and classes just because they are there. It takes more work to hold the interest of the older teens. Unfortunately, this means in many cases the older teens drift away and we focus our attention on the younger kids who show up.

After drifting away, the teens then go to college. This takes them even further away from the home church/library, gives them more freedom and much busier lives. They might go to the library on campus to study, but they aren’t flocking to the public library on break to pick up books or attend events. They might fall out of the habit of attending church while away and balk at attending with the family while they are home. Eventually, they graduate and start their independent lives. If we are lucky, once they have kids they will remember how much they loved church or the library when they were younger and come back with their kids, but until then they typically are hard to reach.

So, what does this all mean? I think that it would be better to take a look at the high school and college years to determine how to keep them from drifting away rather than how to get them back once they are gone. We need to look for classes and events that will keep the older teens and college students interested. Churches need to have separate classes for middle school, high school and college students. Grouping them all in to one class does them all a disservice and usually results in the material being too young for the older teens. Libraries need to hold events and classes geared toward older teens and keep at it until you find the right ones. Don’t give up and focus on the younger kids because it’s easy. Libraries should try to hold events in the summer to attract the college kids home for the summer. If we can figure this out, we won’t have to worry about bringing them back. They will never leave.

Why I Keep My Facebook Public

I generally keep most of my Facebook statuses public. Periodically, something happens that makes me consider changing that. Usually, it’s when some random person I don’t know decides to take offense at something I shared without actually reading the article or knowing why I shared it. I always make the decision to stay public. Here are my reasons why:

1. The only time anyone reads this ridiculous blog is when it posts to Facebook.   If I’m going to insist on writing stupid stuff on occasion, I would like to get a few hits. The only way that happens is if a lot of people see it on Facebook. Keeping it public allows for the possibility of new people reading it.

2. I enjoy seeing random people who are friends of friends liking my posts on Facebook. It is a narcissism thing, I know, but I like to see that my posts are reaching people outside of my circle of friends.

3. I don’t post things I wouldn’t want my boss, mom or pastor(all friends on Facebook) to see. I admit that I do share some articles, mainly by Drew Magary, that have profanity, but I have issues several warnings about those. Besides those, most of my posts are random innocuous thoughts from the weird place that is my head and boring posts about what I’m doing. No reason to hide that.

4. Along those same lines, it makes me thinks about what I post. If I have filters and assume they are working I might feel comfortable posting in anger something I will regret. If I know the whole world could see it it makes me thinks about what I’m about to say. 

5. Last, and most important, I think I’m hilarious and that the world should not be deprived of my humor. Everyone should get a chance to read my posts. Why should my friends be the only ones who get to enjoy the awesome and hilarious Tater?

A Song of Ice and Wah

The only thing more popular than Game of Thrones these days is writing blog posts and articles saying you are done with Game of Thrones. I get why people don’t want to watch a show that has rape scenes, murders, deaths of favorite characters, etc. What I don’t get is how people watched for five seasons and just now realized the show is extremely dark and depicts scenes of very bad things happening to people.

Below there be spoilers

In the first season a young boy is thrown out a window after he witnesses the queen having sex with her brother.

A guy is killed by molten gold being poured on his head.

Ned Stark is beheaded.

It gets worse from there. There is the red wedding, the Cersei and Jaime scene that most believe was rape and then this season we have the repeated rape and beating of Sansa, a little girl burned as a sacrifice and a fan favorite being killed.

I get that these scenes are very hard to watch. I get that plenty of people don’t want to watch a show with these scenes. I have no problem with someone deciding not to watch the show. What I have a problem with is how it seems to now be the fashion for reviewers, writers, etc to loudly announce that they will stop watching the show because of all the bad stuff. OK, that’s great. Why did you keep watching until now? It’s no secret that the Game of Thrones world is a brutal world and is especially bad for women. It’s been shown over and over again. It’s been shown not just with the brutality on-screen, but with the scenes where Daenerys struggles to try to change the status quo as a ruler.  If this is something you can’t watch, you probably should have stopped watching in season one or reading after book one.

Again, I’m fine with someone deciding not to watch the show for personal reasons.  Everyone has the right to make their own decisions on what to watch and what to read and when to stop watching a reading. The problem I have are the bandwagon people who are jumping on the “I’m never watching again” bandwagon because it is the in thing these days. Stop watching if you want. Just don’t feel the need to tell the world about it in a “look at me. I’m better than you” blog post or review.

Me No Talk Good

As I resign myself to the fact that I will not get a job offer after my last interview, I also resign myself to the fact that my poor interview skills will likely prevent me from ever getting a new job. I’m just not good at speaking in front of other people. It doesn’t matter if it is a large room full of people at a conference or just a couple of people at a table. If it is a formal setting I get nervous, talk too fast and ramble. I could speak in front of a crowd or interview every day and the best I would ever be at it is mediocre. It seems weird considering I have a Communications degree, but it’s just not something I’m good at. That’s why I concentrated on taking classes in mass communications. I was horrible when I did my public speaking course and I’m really not good even in some informal settings unless I know the people well. I’m not good at small talk. I’m not comfortable with mingling at social or business events. I’m probably bad at it even when talking to people I know. They’re just too nice to tell me.

Unfortunately., it doesn’t matter how good I look on paper or how good I am at my job. If I can’t convey that verbally. I will never do anything other than what I am now. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Most days I like my job. I like my coworkers. I have some good friends at work. I just hate that my lack of communication skills makes me feel like I’m stuck. It’s hard to know that I am completely happy where I am when I know there is no option to leave. It also limits my willingness to pass along my expertise at the MLA/DLA Conference. I might feel like I know a lot about a topic that should be presented at conference, but I would never volunteer to lead a session. I just quietly stay in the background, writing the pub quiz and offering a few suggestions along the way.

20 years in to my career and 46 years old is probably the time to accept my limitations and make the most of where I am and who I am. I’m the quiet guy in the corner who does good work and that should be enough.