Technology

Should libraries be obsolete?

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Let’s get real for a sec, shall we?

Just yesterday I tried to download an audio book on an app that the local library uses. Sure, it’s been more than a year since I used my library card, but that shouldn’t really matter right? Nope. Turns out my library card has expired (it has to be renewed every year) and I can’t just do that over the phone. I have to show up and show them my picture ID. Really? Do we really need to be that rigorous in our library security?

That got me thinking? Should we really need a “membership” to access a library? I mean, in the practical sense, yes I understand they want to make sure books are returned and they can collect fees if they are not, but when it comes right down to it, is it really necessary? But I only consume audio-books and the only time I have stepped foot, literally, in a library is to renew the stupid card. That is absurd and impractical if you ask me.

There is a wealth of information on the internet and most of it is controlled by memberships via electronic registrations and whatnot. Can’t a library be like that also? Netflix, Amazon, Pandora, and a whole host of other companies/institutions have memberships all generated electronically and it seems like it is a fairly efficient way to deliver content to consumers. So why can’t a library do the same thing?

Does a library really need to be the gatekeeper for information access? I don’t think so. That’s why I have said many times in the past that libraries are kind of a waste of space. Sure, it’s nice to hold a book once in a while. Yes, it does take some getting used to consuming what is normally “printed” data via an electronic source. I get that some people prefer to do it the “old-fashioned” way.

So, readers? What say, ye? Do we need libraries or can we (better yet, should we) do away with them?

Brush with celebrity

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Every once in a while, you just feel special. Not because you did anything, but because you were in the right place at the right time. Not because a person you admire has done anything extraordinary (though some times they have), but because they took time to notice you when they didn’t have to.

I have had brushes with celebrity, to varying degrees. The encounters make me smile. The celebrity likely doesn’t remember the encounter or know that they even made someone’s day. But they did, and it matters to you.

I am sure that I will have more encounters, hopefully that is. I am also sure that I have probably had brushes with celebrities that I didn’t even know I had (someone becomes famous after knowing them or maybe I didn’t recognize them). But so far, these three are the ones that stand out, so I get to tell you about it because I can.

Buck Compton

That name probably doesn’t ring a bell for you, at least not right away. But, it will once I tell you more about who he is.

Buck was a real American hero (read about him at the link). A man of extraordinary accomplishments who was as humble as they come. He was just doing his job and that’s all it was. It just had to be done. He was one of the soldiers featured in the Band of Brothers series.

As a result of my time with Buck, I also got to meet other celebrities. The actors from the Band of Brothers series showed up at his 90th birthday party. It was cool to meet them too.

Unfortunately, I met Buck late in his life and I didn’t get to spend a lot of time with him. He came to my classroom and talked with my students. He knew my name and appreciated that I was a history teacher. We met a couple other times since he lived here locally and was accessible. He liked to tell me his experiences. I loved to listen.

Mike Rowe

I’ve never met him, but I admire him.

I ran into Mike on social media. Facebook, to be exact. It was a chance encounter. It was the result of a little podcast (not so little any more) called, “The Way I Heard It,” which he created along the lines of the genre that made Paul Harvey’s “The Rest of the Story” iconic. I just happened to listen to episode 88, “The Missiles of December,” and loved it so much that I commented on his Facebook post regarding the podcast.

I never expected a response. He is, after all, a celebrity and doesn’t have time for me (though if you look at many of his posts he does respond to quite a few people). So, once again, my day was made and he doesn’t even know he put a smile on my face.

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Beauty Beyond Bones

Finally, there is a blogger who has captured my attention. Not in a weird way, but in a way that slightly intrigues me because someone else is paying attention to me, or at least what I write.

She is a “celebrity” of sorts, though I have a feeling she would say she isn’t. She has over 40k followers, people who take notice when she speaks, when she shares, when she tells it like it is. The gets lots of comments, likes, and her influence is growing. She has lots of things going on in her life and she is doing pretty well at making people take notice.

I have never met her either. But, I can say that it brings me great pleasure when I see the notice below in my email box. She has “Liked” one of the posts from my two blogs (this one or the other shown below). Sometimes she even likes a post from each of them in the same day! Imagine that!?!

Here’s the thing, though. It isn’t just a “like” (at least I don’t think it is) because “likes” in social media are usually turned around so that you “like” their stuff and follow them, only to get ignored or “unfollowed” shortly thereafter. I truly believe she reads what I have written and she likes what I have to say. That brings a smile to my face as well.

It is something small, but it feels good.

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So, have you had a brush with celebrity? Tell me about it in the comments. Share your story!

Why isn’t this reality?

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For just a short minute, my car hit max fuel economy.

I bought a new car a little while back. Like, a brand NEW car. Not a car that is new to me. I have never had one of those before so I was kind of fun.

I did my research and though I probably could have gone out and gotten myself a “mid-life crisis car,” I did not. I was relatively responsible and tried to keep it affordable when it comes to fuel since I drive over, on average, 2200 miles a month. Fuel economy is kind of important. However, I didn’t get the most fuel efficient vehicle because I did want something that was more attractive than the last vehicle.

Anyway, it occurred to me in my search that perhaps a hybrid would be better than an all electric (thought Tesla is intriguing), mostly because places to charge your vehicle are limited at this time.

So, why a hybrid? Well, it seems to me that it is the best of both worlds. The fuel obviously is needed to help supply energy to the car. But the electric motors also help with lowering fuel consumption at the same time. So, after doing some research I decided on a vehicle that I thought was most attractive and relatively efficient – a 2018 Kia Niro.

Now, I am not going to go into a sales pitch. That isn’t the point of this post.

The point is the picture at the top of the post. Why can’t we get max fuel economy all the time? It seems to me that 99.9 miles per gallon should be the standard. I believe the technology is out there to make it happen, so why doesn’t it?

My guess is that the oil industry/lobby has a great say in the matter. Of course they are protecting their profits, who wouldn’t want to do that? But, at the same time, perhaps investing in or creating engines that maximized their products for the consumer would be just as profitable if the consumer had the option? Oh, I am being silly. I am sure the oil industry is or has already been doing that. But, at the same time, we don’t see fuel efficiency in vehicle continually going up so someone is holding or killing the tech to make it happen.

I guess I am preaching to the choir here. I know you all want the same thing too. Just imagine, a small tank of fuel (10 gal?) and 100 mpg. Who doesn’t want 1000 miles on a tank? I know I do!

What do you think? How do you feel about the issue?

1 year later: Branching out, er, expanding?

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It’s been a little over a year and the project keeps growing! More people have looked at the page and more people have joined me on Instagram so see what comes up next. Have you taken a look yet? Have you followed on Instagram yet? I bet you get a giggle or two if you do! Go ahead, grab a morning coffee, and go visit and take a scroll.


Just a quick note to have you take a look at the new page on the blog. You’ll find it up there in the top next two “Home,” “About,” and “Contact.” If you can’t figure it out from all the hints, try looking for “Stupid Board: Classroom Quotes.” There is an explanation about what it is and where to look as well.

Happy viewing, and I hope you will be intrigued enough to join me on Instagram as well!

School Picture Thievery

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It’s that time of year again, folks!

This school picture thing is a pretty big racket if you ask me, and if you’re a parent you know what I am talking about. If there is any place you know it and can feel yourself being ripped off but can’t do anything about it, it is definitely with school pictures and sports team photos.

I have felt this frustration in the past, but it kind of boiled to a head this year when I went to order my daughter’s school pictures. It usually isn’t a big deal trying to order them, but being the “non-custodial” parent who usually gets the information second-hand sometimes it takes a while to get it done. (Yes, I realize I could just have photographer friend take the photo and avoid all the trouble so I guess I am a glutton for punishment).

Anyway, I logged onto the website with my special code and wanted to just download the image to my computer and then go have them printed in the quantities and styles I desired. So, I selected the outrageously overpriced digital image – $22. Say what? Yeah, you read that right…let’s do some quick math…

If a school has 300 hundred students and the photographer can get 60 students through a line and photographed per hour, then the photographer would work for five hours. The photographer is, most likely, using a digital camera to take said digital images @ $22 each, therefore making $1320/hr, or $6600/day. That is of course presuming that each parent purchases just the digital image, let alone one of the other overpriced packages they offer. Now we know not all parents purchase the pictures, but you get the idea.

So, after choosing the digital image for download I get to the check out page only to see that I am going to be charged a “Shipping and Handling” fee of $7. Uh, wait, what? I am downloading a digital image. Why is there a shipping and handling fee? What’s worse is that I can’t remove the fee either. The radial button is greyed out. I either pay the fee right now, or wait until the next day to call them. So, I opted to call the company the next day since surely the fee for a digital download isn’t $7 bucks…

I called the next day and waded through their automated answering system until I got to a real person to talk to. I explained my situation and asked if there was some kind of error on their website that wouldn’t allow me to remove the shipping and handling fee. The response?

“No, that is a flat fee we charge for all late orders.” 

Late? Yes, it is true I didn’t order when the pictures were taken in the fall, but your website says they can be ordered at any time until the following fall AND there is nothing to indicate this is a “late” order on the website. I was a little dumbfounded. I said, “You’re joking right? How does downloading a digital image warrant a $7 late fee or even a shipping and handling fee?”

“Well, we do have to mail you the rights release so you can have the picture printed.”

So what you’re saying is that you are going to charge me $7 to mail me a sheet of paper and an envelope that costs, at best, a stamp or maybe two? I said, “Listen, I understand it costs money to send a piece of paper and envelope out to me but I have ordered digital images from other photographers in the past and they didn’t charge me an extra fee for the rights release, they included it with the digital image download. Surely you have the ability to do that right? So, why would I need a piece of paper mailed to me? It takes less than three minutes to compose a generic email and attach two image files to it.”

“Ok, I suppose I could waive the shipping and handling fee. What email address would you like the images sent to?”

Thank you. Now was that so hard and how about you waive all shipping and handling fees for all digital downloads from here on out? I probably speak for everyone who has encountered this ridiculous fee. There is no reason for it other than you can, and you have families over a barrel. I would venture a guess that many people just pay the fee, which is sad.

Highway robbery, I tell ya, only there was no highway and the bandit holds parents and other family members hostage every dang year around school picture time.

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I am not an Idiot: Celebrity Endorsements

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Dear Capitol One (or any other advertiser),

I am NOT a idiot, though you keep insisting that I am.

Why do you keep running ads with a celebrity endorsement that you had to pay too much money for? Do you think I am that weak minded enough to run out and get your product just because a celebrity holds it in their hands?

Just recently I saw your ad, “Musical Chairs,” with the likes of Jennifer Garner praising the merits of your travel miles credit card. Why, oh why, do you think this would compel me to get your credit card? She isn’t going to sell it to me any better than Samuel L. Jackson, or Alec Baldwin. I didn’t get your credit card then, so what makes you think I am going to do it now? Really? Like those two are gonna sell anything to respectable adults.

How much money do you have to pay these celebrities to hock your wares? Does Jennifer’s husband, Ben Affleck, not make enough money so she is out earning a living again?

Why don’t we make a deal? How about we agree to leave each other alone? You stay off my television/computer, stop clogging up my online shows with your stupid commercials (and my mailbox for that matter) and in return, should I need a credit card, I’ll seek you out. I’m sure I know where to look if I need you. Deal?

And to you celebrities, knock it off! Has your shine worn off enough that you prostitute yourself to any company that will pay you? It doesn’t matter the product, or even if it is a charity. I DON’T CARE! Entertain me. That is all. That is what I pay for. Not your opinions or your endorsements. You only show how desperate you are to stay in the limelight that faded long ago.  Stop. Please.

Please, Capital One, if you are going to run lame commercials, don’t employ B-list (or any other list) celebrities.

Not so sincerely,

Smartus Assimus

Restored faith in humanity, for now.

I saw this video on another blog (though it can be easily found on YouTube) and thought I would share it. To some degree, I think we all need a little something like this video to restore some faith in humanity as the world seems to wobble off its axis on a regular basis.

Is there any redeeming value left in humanity? I often ponder this. Maybe it is my natural tendency towards cynicism and pessimism that bogs me down because the value gets harder and harder to find. I know its out there, and I know it will come back some day. At least I pray that it does.

Thankfully, the video below, “200 Wallet Honesty Test,” will help restore some of that faith in humanity again. Albeit, it is something small and maybe isn’t the best indicator that there are still lots of good people out there, but it is something and for that something I am thankful.

So, after watching it, does it restore a little faith in humanity for you too? I hope it does. Now, let’s band together and go out there and do something good for someone today!

I got nothin’…and maybe that’s somethin’.

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Well, I ain’t got nothin’. I got nothin’ to say this week because I haven’t really had my focus on blogging. Maybe it’s because I am having a hard time motivating myself to write. Maybe its because I have been focused on other things. Maybe its because I haven’t had the time I would like to write. Probably, it is all of those.

The last week, well maybe two, I have been working on getting the new Facebook account for @Stupidboard set up and running. I have placed my first “ads” out there and have been getting some interest, so that is exciting and I will continue to play around with that. I don’t know, its exciting but it has been taking time to feel my way around it.

I have also added two new links to the menu, up at the top of the blog. One is for the website I created for my classroom many years ago, Grenz History. It is the place my students would go to get their assignments, download handout outs, and generally just be my place to to centralize things – especially for students who were absent. It made things easier to keep track of and the students all knew that is where they needed to go. I am having a hard time letting go of it. I don’t have a classroom any longer, but I spend hundreds of hours putting it together and I think I could probably make it useful at some point again, but for now it just sits there. Take a look if you like.

The other new link at the top of the page, in the menu, is for my Teachers Pay Teachers store – Learn ’em Fast History. I no longer have a classroom, but after 15 years of teaching I have a lot of lessons and units and handouts and stuff I think could be useful to others. Now that I am not using it and have a little time, I am adding more and more things to the store. I started the store about four years ago, but there were only a few things out there and so there wasn’t a lot in the way of sales. Over the last year and a half, I have added more and more of my content (and will continue to add more) and sales have started to pick up. This month has been the best month in my store’s history, so that is kind of exciting too! If you are inclined to check it out, or recommend it to a teacher friend, I would be grateful.

So, there you have it! I an’t got nothin’. Or maybe I do…

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“Like” – Its a Milestone

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Just had to put this out there…even though it isn’t on my regular schedule for publishing (“rules” are meant to be broken, right?). It might not mean much to some of you, but it is something to me!

500 TOTAL likes for the site. It feels like it has taken way too long to get to this milestone, yet at the same time if I consider the number of followers I have then I guess not. Perhaps the next 500 won’t take so long.

Anyway, thanks to everyone that has followed so far and for those who have pressed LIKE. Knowing someone is actually reading (well, maybe not but it feels that way) what I wrote makes me feel good – as I am sure it does you too.

As always, if you see something here on the site that you like – please press LIKE. If you see something you really like, I would appreciate it if you would SHARE or REBLOG it.

Thanks to all.