Winding the Clock

I love clocks. I know there are people who can’t stand listening to something tick tock it’s way incessantly through the day and night, but to me, a home isn’t really a functioning thing until it’s got that beat to it.

I’m not sure why. My dad had a cuckoo clock I liked when I was growing up, and I liked to watch it get wound. (Three chains that you’d pull to raise weighted metal pine cones.) My house had a clock in the kitchen for the last . . . seven or eight years I lived there? Something like that. I just grew accustomed to it. I think part of it is I like a house quiet enough that you can actually hear that tick tocking, wherever you are. Not all the time, but at least several times a day. I don’t like having the television on just for noise.

Quiet is good. (You can leave the librarian jokes at the door, thanks.)

About a year ago, I got a grandfather clock. I was extremely excited for the acquisition, as that’s sort of the best clock I can imagine. It takes its ticking and tocking very seriously, But it also has very precise demands on when it must be wound. If you don’t take the time to wind it, then it will inevitably stop. (Like any clock, I know, but for some reason the big grandfather clock is a much better reminder of this for me. Probably because my smaller clock can be wound once every three weeks or so, but the grandfather clock needs it once a week.)

As I was winding it this morning, it occurred to me that I view people in much the same way. I believe we all need time to wind the springs and gears to keep everything running smoothly. Ideally, people figure out what works best for them. I’m not talking about regular sleep, a good diet, and exercise. In my book, that’s just keeping the clock in good repair. Rather, I mean doing things that take yo you away from the regular chores of everyday life and work.

For me, this is time spent reading, watching movies and television, and playing games. Ideally with my family, but I can do it on my own in a pinch. I know that if I have enough time to make time for these “extra” things, the rest of my life works so much more smoothly. I have the patience and attention to get all the things I have to do done. So doing those fun things are as much a part of doing the actual work as the work itself.

And that’s my deep thought for the day.

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve been posting my book ICHABOD in installments, as well as chapters from UTOPIA. Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

A Thanks to Senator Collins for Her Net Neutrality Vote

The Senate voted to restore Net Neutrality yesterday, a great step that might have far reaching effects (assuming the House actually got with the program and did the same thing, which I doubt.) But I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention a short personal experience I had that touched on this. When we were in DC last week, meeting with our Senators and Representatives, one of the points we were emphasizing was the importance of broadband and an open internet. It’s a point we touched on last year as well, for all the good it did. (At least, that’s how I felt at the time.)

Our delegation raised the issue with Senator Collins again, and she immediately spoke of her desire that an open internet return, talking about how important it was to the future of Maine. She spoke of how her first real job was in a library, and how she worked in a public library all the time while she was going through grade school through high school.

I was glad to hear of her support, but I knew as well how often politics ends up steamrolling any personal feelings people might have when it comes time to vote. Things are quite clannish these days, so I wouldn’t have been surprised if she had gone along with the rest of her party on the net neutrality vote. I’ve respected her willingness to depart from party lines on issues that have been important to her.

So I was very pleased to hear she had done so again for the net neutrality vote. Politicians get a reputation for saying one thing to constituents and then going off and voting another way, and I wanted to note that this time that wasn’t the case. She was true to her word and her stated convictions. Her aides remembered what we’d brought up during our visit as well, and they made sure to send along the following statement she’d made:

Washington, D.C.—U.S. Senator Susan Collins issued this statement following her vote today in favor of restoring the FCC’s net neutrality rules, which passed the Senate by a vote of 52-47.

“I have long supported common-sense regulations to prohibit Internet providers from prioritizing certain content over other.  I also support regulations to clarify that Internet providers must not manage their systems in an anti-competitive way.  Restoring the FCC’s net neutrality rules will ensure that the Internet will remain open and continue to be a powerful and transformative platform of innovation and economic opportunity. 

“Net neutrality could also make it easier for broadband providers to expand service in higher-cost areas, such as rural Maine, by reestablishing FCC’s oversight over interconnection points that allow rural carriers to connect with the rest of the Internet.  Without this protection, rural carriers’ ability to deploy broadband in underserved areas will be hindered, undermining efforts to bring adequate broadband to all Americans. In December, I joined my colleague, Senator Angus King, in sending a letter urging the FCC not to set aside its net neutrality rules without addressing the legitimate concerns of rural providers and the tools needed to support continued buildout of rural broadband.

“We must also do more to protect consumer privacy on the Internet. Facebook’s role in allowing Cambridge Analytica to access its user data illustrates the need to strengthen consumer protections.

“Congress should not use net neutrality to pick winners and losers among these competitors, but must instead adopt bipartisan legislative reforms to the 1934 regulations that put consumers first.

“A careful, deliberative process involving experts and the public is warranted to ensure that consumers have strong protections that guarantee consumer choice, free markets, and continued growth along with meaningful consumer privacy and data security protections.  With a bipartisan commitment, I believe Congress can enact legislation to achieve these goals.”

Thank you for your vote, Senator Collins. It is noted and very much appreciated.

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve been posting my book ICHABOD in installments, as well as chapters from UTOPIA. Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

A Belated Birthday Present

Denisa’s no longer really big on getting Stuff for her birthday or Christmas. (Not that she ever really was to begin with, but she’s even less now.) This year, she insisted she didn’t really want anything other than a trip to Sugarloaf to ski the day after her birthday. But we were given free tickets to the mountain for that, so how could that really count as a birthday present? So I bought her tickets to the touring Broadway production of Cabaret and promised a fun evening out.

The date of the performance was last night, and we traveled up to Bangor for dinner and then Orono for the show (at the University of Maine’s Collins Center for the Arts.) We ate dinner at Timber, a nice restaurant in Bangor that I’d eaten at a few years ago and wanted to revisit. I first ate there soon after it opened, and it felt to me like it’s really improved since then. (And it was very good the first time I went.) Great atmosphere and staff, and I had this Buckeye Tart for dessert that was one of my most memorable desserts in the last few years. A ball of peanut butter mousse encased in chocolate, on a chocolate tart, with caramel corn sprinkled over it. Worth every calorie, and if you’re up in Bangor for anything, I really recommend the restaurant.

Afterward, we drove up to Orono and walked around the campus for a bit until the musical was to begin. That morning, as I was looking into the final details of the trip, I discovered one key bit of information I’d missed when I’d bought the tickets. In the description of the show was a simple statement: “For mature audiences only.” I’d never actually seen Cabaret. I knew some of the music, I knew it took place in a seedy nightclub, but I didn’t know much more than that. It won the Tony for Best Musical, and this version won for Best Revival. I hadn’t really thought much beyond that.

So seeing that statement made me panic, just a bit. This was supposed to be a nice birthday present for my wife. What, exactly, had I bought tickets for? I researched the production some more and saw some of the costumes. They were definitely . . . seedy. I called Denisa in and showed her, warning her that the evening might be . . . a tad more risque than perhaps she’d been expecting. (Sigh.) But I’d bought the tickets, and how raunchy could a Tony-award winning production be?

Pretty raunchy.

That actually takes you to a chain of videos that contains pretty much the entire production. The televised version, at least. There were quite a few jokes that weren’t in the clips I browsed through just now. Hand gestures, body movements, etc. Someone had brought her three young daughters to the show, and I really wondered right off just how comfortable she was with that decision.

I’m not a prude (I don’t think), but some of this was quite over the top. Denisa wasn’t demanding we walk out, but she also was far from pleased with her birthday present for the first while. The production values were great. Fantastic singing and music. But the content was definitely designed to be as button pushing as possible. I wasn’t ready to give the show up, though. For one thing, I didn’t think a musical would win the Tony for Best Musical based solely on raunch. There had to be a “there” there, and I was catching glimpses of it as the show progressed. Much of it seemed symbolic to me, and there were undertones of larger themes at work. Themes I explained to Denisa at intermission, which helped her see where the show was coming from as well.

(We had seats in the literal front row, which I thought was a great idea when I bought them. The opening number of the second act has the Emcee coming out in the audience to interact with them, however. He came right up to me and almost had me dance with him, until he pulled a last minute switcheroo and danced with a guy three seats to my right. That’s one way to get the pulse pounding.)

The second act really came through for me. It took all that raunch of the first act and twisted it all, having it come together in a way that was quite moving. Very thought provoking in a way I don’t really want to spoil for anyone who hasn’t seen it. I was glad I didn’t have a full knowledge of the plot and the content going into it, so it could have an impact on me.

Overall, Denisa also enjoyed the show, though she said it could have done without a fair bit of the raunch. No need to push the envelope that far. But then again, sometimes it’s only when we’re put into vulnerable, uncomfortable positions that we actually can have thoughts have an impact on us. I’m still not sure where I come down on it. Not that it matters to locals. The show was there for just one night, and I doubt it’ll be in the area again anytime soon.

In any case, it was definitely a fun, memorable evening. Though I think I’ll screen the shows I buy tickets for Denisa’s birthday a bit more carefully in the future . . .

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve been posting my book ICHABOD in installments, as well as chapters from UTOPIA. Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

One Vote to Rule Them All

I blog about the school budget a fair bit. Okay, a ton. And some of you are no doubt sick and tired of hearing about me prattle on about the topic.

Boy, do I have a deal for you.

If you go out and vote to APPROVE the budget TODAY, then I won’t blog about the school budget again until next year. How’s that sound for a deal? Last year we had to do this vote about . . . four times? Three? I lost count, between all the meetings and referendums. Sometimes we had to vote no. Sometimes we had to vote yes. It was an absolute nightmare, and it really strained our entire community in a very unpleasant way.

We can avoid all of that if everyone who finally turned out to show their huge support of the schools last year turn out right now. Today. To vote YES on the budget.

It’s true that the budget has gone up this time. It should. We’re falling woefully behind, and our students are feeling the impact of this. I’ve blogged about the topic (at length). Anyone who tries to start arguing that our budget is bloated and full of fluff isn’t someone who’s taken a realistic look at the cost to educate students in the modern day. We can have a discussion about who should foot the bill (the state vs. local tax payers), or what the state mandate should be for various pieces of education (special education costs, etc.), but the bottom line of that bill as it stands today isn’t really up for debate in my book. All those other conversations are separate, and should be handled in a different forum.

Today, vote yes. Approve the budget with one vote, and let’s be done with it.

Please?

Poll times are as follows:

Chesterville – 12 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Industry – 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.
New Vineyard – 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Temple – 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Weld – 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Farmington – 12 p.m. to 7 p.m.
New Sharon – 12 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Starks – 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Vienna – 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Wilton – 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Graduation

Confession time: I’ve worked at my university for more than ten years, and Saturday was the first time I’d ever attended graduation.

There have been many reasons why I didn’t go, ranging from family crises to just plain laziness. It seemed like something ancillary to what I did. I didn’t really have any strong connections to any of the students, did I? Not like they would have with their professors. I didn’t even go to my Library Science graduation. Why should I go to someone else’s?

So what persuaded me to go to this one? Some of it was my new role as Library Director, certainly. I felt like the library has a part in student lives, and it would be good for students to see a representative from the library at this, the most important last step of their schooling. Don’t get me wrong: I don’t think my presence there made any students tear up or anything like that. I’d honestly be surprised if any students really noticed I was there. (Well, except for the part where they asked university staff to stand up, and I was like the only staff person in a twenty person radius of seated people . . .)

If anything, I think it was important to me to go to the ceremony. It had a bigger impact on me than I expected, certainly. Because as much as I liked to tell myself I hardly knew any of the students, when I was watching them go across the stage and get their diplomas, I was surprised to see just how many of them I did know. Students I’d taught in the graduate program. Students who had worked at the library. Students I’d played Magic with over the years.

And then of course there were the other members of the university in attendance. The professors, administrators, fellow staff. It was moving to see so many people I know and work with day to day gathered to celebrate. After all, the whole reason we exist is to do what we did on Saturday: to take in students and send out graduates. It’s a very rewarding feeling, seeing so much success gathered in one spot.

So will I be going back to graduation? Without a doubt. Not just because the library should be represented, but because I’d like to experience that same thing again. It’ll be a great reminder on days when I’m feeling pulled in a hundred directions, overworked and exasperated. A reminder for why I do all that I do. Paychecks are definitely a big part of why I work, but I’m very grateful for the reminder Saturday that they’re not the only reason I work there.

Congratulations, Graduates!!

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve been posting my book ICHABOD in installments, as well as chapters from UTOPIA. Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

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