Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Everything Matters

Reader, I don't want to imagine worse for our world then what is happening now:  the most devastating of hurricanes, continuing gun violence, world governments in chaos from Hong Kong to the U.K. to right here at home.  However, if Game of Thrones and 2019 have taught us anything it is to be prepared for yet another turn for the worse.

I'm here to tell you two things:  Everything matters and I'm still optimistic.

First of all in the Everything Matters category--don't you listen to anybody, including yourself, if you hear it doesn't matter what we do.  Everything matters.  Every moment.  Every opportunity you have to refuse plastic, walk or bike or take public transit, to connect with someone, to offer kindness.  To be humane.  It is the everyday practice of humane acts that is going to pull us out of this dreadful situation.  Go new places.  Tip generously.  Give money and time.  And talk.

That gets at the second thing:  I have finished reading Rising out of Hatred:  The Awakening of a Former White Nationalist by Eli Saslow.  This is a well written book, a testament to Saslow's skill as a journalist.  The heart of his investigation is the mental shift experienced by a young man who had been raised in a community of white nationalists, even raised to be a leader in that community.  He grew up as Derek Roland Black and in his experience of attending a small college in Florida he met other young people who not only challenged his views but embraced him and never gave up on him.  I am awed by their intellectual rigor, stamina, and determination.  I remember lots of long conversations in college, but ultimately we all retreated to our own corners and more firmly grasping what we brought to the conversation.  Granted, most of of were pretty liberal to begin with so our conversations were not nearly as intense as the ones recorded by Saslow.  I recommmend you read the book to see the process that unfolds--how a campus community becomes the location of a life changing dialogue.  It will remind that in the end, all we have is each other and that can be more than enough. Hate can be learned and unlearned.

In closing, I am remembering to tell you about a third thing everyone should know about:  the 1619 project.  This is a monumental piece of work that first appeared in the New York Times and is available full text along with curriculum materials at https://pulitzercenter.org/lesson-plan-grouping/1619-project-curriculum 

Read it, share it, think about it.  It isn't too early to be planning an awkward Thanksgiving!

Kidding, but only sort of.  Things will only get better when we face down and get through the awkward moments and learn to work together, get together, get along.  Denial and lies do not bring truth and without truth there will be no lasting peace.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Dealing with 2019

Dear Reader,

I assume that you may also be experiencing the sensation of being appalled at a disorienting speed.  But I'm checking in to remind you that we are almost halfway through 2019 and while we need all the time and energy we can muster to turn out progressive Democratic candidates in 2020 and get them elected in record numbers I suspect that many among us want to fast forward to a better future and be done with this mess called 2019.  So take the time to celebrate the wins and be energized by them.  Here is my current list of groups that you should know about to stay informed and galvanized: 

Sister District:  https://sisterdistrict.com/ Wow, do I appreciate this group.  Their mission is specific and strategic and successful:  identify candidates running for state legislatures that will flip a state from red to blue.  Go check out their candidates!  This group also activates communities through postcarding, phone banking, and other creative projects that bring people together. 

Raices:  https://www.raicestexas.org/about/ an important refugee aid project in Texas that assists refugees seeking asylum.  Please support them financially if you can as well as signal boosting their efforts as widely as possible. 

Mueller She Wrote:  https://www.muellershewrote.com/  Thank goodness for this website and podcast--it is the sanity saving breakdown of news that will make you laugh and help you temper your outrage into action.  Love.This. Podcast.  These fine women have been tracking the Mueller Report for over two years so you have a lot to catch up on but you'll love every minute.  Right now they are providing the community service of reading every unredacted line of the Mueller Report so that is a good way to digest this long and significant document. 

Those are 3 groups that help keep me sane and grounded.  What do you recommend? 

Part of what makes this time so turbulent and perplexing is that there are some solid wins contrasting with the abysmal news that can feel overwhelming.  What is this world that can celebrate the (underpaid!)  USWNT winning the world championship while the Current Occupant of the White House is embroiled in truly repulsive lawsuits regarding sexual abuse of _young women_ which is so profoundly upsetting I can't even type about it here but if you need the details find a reputable news outlet and search the names Epstein and Acosta but warning:  you will be enraged.

If you are already outraged or freshly outraged, let's level up together.  Don't get stuck, don't get burned out because there are some important things to celebrate.

Let's focus on the one and only Megan Rapinoe of the USWNT and her galvanizing speech, watch the whole thing here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wS86ERg07bA

Highlights of her speech:

“This is my charge to everyone. We have to be better. We have to love more, hate less. We’ve got to listen more and talk less. We’ve got to know that this is everybody’s responsibility, every single person here, every single person who is not here, every single person who doesn’t want to be here, every single person who agrees and doesn’t agree, it’s our responsibility to make this world a better place.”

Get yourself your favorite snack of choice, container of ice cream or huge bowl of popcorn and have a youtube party of the USWNT parade, rewatch those winning shots, and revel in the image of Megan Rapinoe with her arms spread wide in celebration or holding a trophy in one hand and a bottle of champagne in the other.

And grin widely at the women and men at the parades and speeches chanting "Equal Pay!"

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Furlough, Flickr, and the Future

Well it's 2019 and...hmm...wow, where to start?

I write at a time when the Federal Government has resumed after an entirely nonsensical shut down orchestrated by the most useless of electeds.  I write to praise speaker Nancy Pelosi for galvanizing the democrats and standing strong against the entirely useless idea of a border wall. 

When the government was shut down for some 35 days, I was reminded of the dispiriting days of 2008 when the state of California furloughed employees for 2 days a month, resulting in a ten percent salary cut.  Besides the pressure of completing the same work in less time and getting paid less for it, I recall the bitter taste of disrespect for my work as a librarian and a university employee.  I can't imagine being a federal employee who does critical work for agencies like NASA, the EPA, the Coast Guard for goodness sake, and being told not to come to work.  The government of people you serve that need you can't see its way past compromise and negotiation. 

Again I say praise to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who it seems is one of the few people in national leadership who has the temperament and presence of mind to reject the idiotic demands of the current occupant of the White House. I am encouraged by the number and quality of women elected to national office in this election cycle.  It is hard to be patient at this time for change at a time when issues like the environment, homelessness, and public health are such significant problems.  When will we learn?  When will be do better by our own country?

The future is a bit on my mind lately because I have to take a close look at some images of the recent past.  My once beloved Flickr is finally admitting that hey, endless free digital storage isn't really going to supported by some advertisements.  Back in the day I adored Flickr and I don't regret any of the time I spent there--I saw so many beautiful photos there and I know that my photographic activity and skills improved as a result.  I loved the "groups" where I could happily admire photos of flowers, dogs, buildings, and photo styles.  But the time to pay the digital piper has come, and I either have to pony up and pay for a subscription or lose easy access to about 5,000 photos.  Sure, I have the digital photo cards, but am I going to reload them somewhere else?

It is an odd thing to curate your memories--sure, I've sorted through the odd box of old letters or postcards before moving and deciding which ones to keep, but to suddenly start looking at 5,000 some memories of the past ten years?  They aren't physical objects so I can't do the "spark joy" test (google Marie Kondo if you don't get that) but there sure are a lot of memories and experiences recorded in these digital objects.

It makes me think about where our country will be in the next ten years.  Despite the incredible tools for planning, documentation, and communication that have been deployed in the past ten years, there is so much work to be done in terms of equality, equity, and compassion in building a peaceful and healthy environment. 

So, signing off now to begin my attempt at sorting my personal digital archive...but as usual I will direct you to some good projects to support:

As always I recommend Donors Choose, and here is a classroom my family is supporting:


Poets.org because National Poetry Month is around the corner:  https://www.poets.org/academy-american-poets/help-champion-poets-and-poetry

And also, take time for an in person or virtual visit to National Museum of African American History and Culture, who is leading the way in using physical and digital objects to learn from the past:  https://nmaahc.si.edu/ and click on their Donate page while you are there!

Saturday, November 17, 2018

I Love You, California

I love you, California, and I've never been more worried about the present and the future.  I was bobbing along with the other people concerned about environmental impact due to development and climate change and then...just days ago you caught on fire in Malibu down south and Butte county up North and now I put on a face mask to go outside.

What.  Is.  Happening. 

The official state song is a frilly ditty called "I Love You, California" which dates back to 1915, have a look and a listen on the State Library home page:


California is the redwood trees in my neighborhood, the lemon tree in my backyard.  It is the scent of sage plants and eucalyptus trees.  It is pelicans flying in formation or resting on a dock.  The sun setting over the Pacific, the cooling fog that wraps the Golden Gate.

I hate to hear about anyplace being consumed by fire, but my heart aches as I see the ash of lives and homes from neighbors up North hanging in air.

We will need to grieve, and to help our neighbors.  And to maximize your gifts, please keep in mind what rescuers are asking for, which is money not items.  If you have food or clothing that you wish to donate, find out what your local food pantry or clothing drive needs.   There are many articles stating that the cost of storing donated goods becomes a burden, and that is already happening in Butte County.  Right now people need money to buy food, pay for shelter, and replace critical items like medicine. 

If you want to give, here are places vetted by Charity Navigator:


I also want to signal boost the work being done by the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine and their emergency response team that is assisting animals from koi to horses:


2018 has unraveled in an ongoing array of environmental calamities, and the final count of the lives and homes lost in Butte County is not yet in.  Right now we need to help, and to grieve, but then we need to plan for ways to live and grow that are not setting up entire towns for future disaster.

I love you, California, I do, and we need to better by the planet and each other.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Black Comix Returns

Yes, hello, greetings!  My librarian side is emerging.  Please find a comfortable seat and prepare yourself for a book review! 

Damian Duffy, John Jennings, and their collaborators have produced a magnificent piece of book art that you should know, and if you have even a spark of curiosity about comic art, you should own it or have ready access.  I am writing this post as a paean/review of Black Comix Returns, published 2018 by the Lion Forge, LLC.  I had access to this title courtesy of #Netgalley.

The few frequent readers of this blog may know I am not one to pull punches or withhold my disapproving pen.  In  this case, there is nothing but praise, hearty praise at that.  I came across this book as a reviewer on the Netgalley platform and am writing this simply in exchange for having had access to this title and to signal boost this book.  My stamp of approval is such that halfway into to reading it online, I knew I had to have a copy of my own.  Fortunately, this oversize, full color book is very affordable because the organizers held a Kickstarter campaign to assist in covering costs.  However, don’t wait in getting your copy because this is the kind of book that will only increase in value when it is sold out. 

On to the book itself:  it is a broad survey of African American comic talent ranging from recent self published breakouts to established syndicated strips.  The book is a follow up to the 2010 Black Comix: African American Independent Comics, Art and Culture.  Each artist has a two page display that includes a biographical entry and several images.  From sweet superheroes like Jamar Nichols’ Leon to sleek steampunk figures created by the Gibbs Sisters, there is a panorama of artwork to explore.  The spectrum of comic characters, from movie inspired superheroes to pin up style beauties, and styles of artwork--sketch, full color, fairy tale, movie poster...in trying to write this review I simply revert to turning the pages slowly and soaking in the colors and stories.  But despite my inability to resist the joyful distractions of these pages, I would be remiss in telling you that it also includes artists that tackle history in comic form, like Joel Christian Gill, and artists like Keith Knight that address current social issues one box and panel at a time. 

The richness of images and artist information is supported by essays about the industry, taking to task the consumers and the mainstream media.  Joseph Illidge shares what it is like for an artist of color to break in and hold space in a media world that values sameness and financial security. Enrique Carrion takes the measure of comics as an art style like hip-hop and a place of identity. Comic artist Brandon Thomas offers the challenge to readers to support this art--to support it in the most meaningful way, which is to buy it. So where do you buy comic art?  There is a helpful section labeled “Conventional Wisdom” that describes the locations and scope of what are called Comic Cons across the country.  You might have heard about the massive San Diego ComicCon, but in addition to events like the Black Comix Art Festival in San Francisco and Onyxcon in Atlanta there are also specialized book fairs and small press events around the country where you can buy comics, books, and artwork.  Thomas’ essay addressing the basics of supporting diverse artists applies to library collections.  You can’t have a truly diverse collection if you don’t buy those materials, and if your library has “policies” about not buying materials that don’t arrive pre-catalogued or that can only be purchased from a specific distributor...well, guess what?  You are going to have to work a little harder to get these meaningful materials into your collections and into the hands of readers who seek representation.

I would also like to praise the book designers for the beauty of this book.  To pack so much content into one book and make it a seamless reading experience must have been a tremendous task.  The harmony of the layout, fonts, and borders make an excellent package.  The heavy, coated pages rest inside sturdy covers with a sewn binding, and to add an additional flourish, a purple ribbon bookmark. 

Start with acquiring this book.  The ISBN is 1942367376 and you know what to do, get it from your favorite independent bookseller or ask your favorite librarian to get it for your local library. 

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, July 4, 2018


Fourth of July, July 4th.

Hello, Reader.  I know, it's been awhile.  But every time I think I have a handle on how I want to say what I want to tell you, something else horrible happens and I have to think about that, and so on since March.

Not even a recap, but:

Hurricane Maria and power still out in many parts of Puerto Rico
Volcano in Hawaii
The wretched "leadership" of Republicans like McConnell, Sessions, and 45
And now Justice Kennedy retiring

But most wrenching of all are the reports of families being separated at points of entry to the United States because the current administration has made it impossible to apply for asylum.  In the "this is not who we are but it is happening" part of news, this is where my brain begins to short circuit into anger. 

Mr. B and I have donated to the following groups and I urge you to donate to them as well.  If donating is not in your budget, then donate your voice and energy and attention.  Here are the groups:

RAICES Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services

Women's Refugee Commission https://www.womensrefugeecommission.org/

Check on their webpages every day and post, retweet, and use your personal and media connections to support their work. 

I want to recognize my own Congresswoman Anna Eshoo for traveling to Texas to examine the situation personally.  This is what many of our elected representative should also be doing to see the consequences of the decisions of the current administration. 

It is easier to let one's brain persevate on the frustrating things happening nationally so while letting one part of my brain react to the news, I'm cultivating the other part that can boost good news, support progressive campaigns, and attempt to stay balanced.

Good news:

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez https://ocasio2018.com/  So exciting to see someone with her candor and energy!

Poet Kwame Alexander  https://kwamealexander.com/  Check out his website for the fantastic work he is doing and prepare to anticipate his next work(s).

Sister District.  I'm fully on board with the strategy of supporting candidates in other states that will help build a national coalition of elected officials that give a damn about the environment, health care, and equal rights.  C'mon check it out:  https://www.sisterdistrict.com/

So, that's my fourth of July message.  Know, be aware of the bad stuff and dig down into the good to make things better.  In order to form a more perfect union. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Twenty Years

Friends, think back with me to 1998.   What stands out in your mind?

Because I was younger and a more rarin' librarian then...giddy with excellent book budgets and the emerging world wide web, I had bigger expectations of what this year 2018 would look like. After all, we were knowing better, weren't we?  We were learning what was causing diseases, we had the tools to measure and compare effective treatments, a century of information to look back on as well as the outcomes of so many wars and political conflicts.

In my little higher education bubble where I was focused on the happy humanities (art!  music!  literature!) and the power that new technologies like instant communication could bring, I wasn't expecting scenes of misery and destruction.  That was the past, right?  Now (then) we had the powerful WorldCAT database, decades of journals online, databases of full text of information formerly trapped in microfilm to explore.

So, how is this little experiment turning out?

The ugly has been unveiled.  I know now I was living in a luxurious bubble.   I remember you fondly, Camelot.  But I'm going to hold on to the idea then when you know better, you do better.

The bigger truth I'm seeing is that there are in fact people who do not want solutions.  People who enjoy their sense of power so much that they will do anything to keep it. They are not logical, they are not kind, they are not caring, and they don't feel responsible.

I'm angry and I'm also disappointed.  I'm a citizen of one of the wealthiest countries AND one of the wealthiest counties in this country, and this is how we're behaving?  We collectively have access to more types of media the world has ever known, but the gaps of people left behind (digital divide sounds too quaint anymore) combined with the people who weaponize mis-information and fear mongering have left us more divided. 

Two places to find encouragement:

The brave young people of Majory Stoneman Douglas High Stone who are banding together and supporting each other.  They also have the knowledge and presence of mind to acknowledge the work of activists who have been working on the issue of gun violence and they are demonstrating their awareness of the divisive tactics of the gun lobby.  They are saying enough is enough.  A national walk out is planned for March 14, described by organizer Cate Whiman:  "It’s going to last for 17 minutes to commemorate the 17 lives lost on February 14, and we are asking people to wear orange in solidarity. We want each school to spend those 17 minutes doing whatever they feel comfortable with and whatever they think is going help them heal most and whatever they think is going to make the most impact."  Source:  https://www.vox.com/identities/2018/2/28/17059254/gun-control-parkland-florida-shooting-students-national-school-walkout

Sister District Project.  I attended a meeting this past Thursday of the South Bay chapter of the Sister District Project.  I was humbled to hear from the founder of this project, Rita Bosworth, and two other leaders who have stepped away from their careers to work on the Sister District Project.  I am deeply encouraged by the success rate of the SDP in supporting candidates across the country to leverage grass roots change and increasing the number of democrats and progressives in elected positions.  Find your Sister District chapter here:  https://www.sisterdistrict.com/

This past week-end was the annual remembrance of "Bloody Sunday," the march for the right to vote in Selma Alabama that resulted in the attack on the peaceful protesters by state troopers.  I used to think that was a long time ago--not only personal age wise, but also as in "well that was the past."  The stories, narratives, evidence of so many people, our own people, our citizens, our fellow humans...that we are not done beating on each other but have moved on to devastating levels of violence on each other?

I had a recent conversation with Mr. Bookcharmer about my puzzling over the rise of rapid technology and the increase of the spread of vapid or useless information.  As usual, he had an excellent answer for me:  curation.  With few curators, i.e. editors, mis-information is galloping out of the starting gates faster than ever.

While wandering around the Internet today, I found a marvelous document I didn't know about before and that I think is well worth people reading today:  the report of the Hutchins Commission.  You can read it online from our good friends at the Internet Archive, which, by they way, is the open access publisher I would urge you to donate too rather than the one that rhymes with Ickypedia.  Here's the link to the Hutchins Commission:


Care to discuss?  Hashtag #HutchinsReport on the Interwebs.