Dave Brubeck, "Take Five"

Noah's Ark Replica Coming to Northern Kentucky

I'd heard rumblings of this in the past, but was surprised to read in the newest issue of The Atlantic, that not only is the Ark project going to happen, it's going to be a full-scale replica, and address many of the logistical questions that arise when considering the flood.  The builder says it will be the "second-ever" full-scale Ark built from God's instructions.

From the article

"Ark Encounter—which is to sit on an 800-acre plot of land in Williamstown, about 40 miles south of Cincinnati—will be filled with actors and animals (some real, some mechanical) and will also feature a Tower of Babel, a walled city, an aviary, a “first-century village,” and something called a “Journey Through Biblical History,” involving a boat ride down the Nile."
I'm personally excited to see Answers in Genesis applying hard science to demonstrate that a literal reading of the Bible is plausible.  Paired with the nearby Creation museum, the organization is clearly taking its mission seriously, and not cutting any corners.  Whether you regard the Old Testament accounts as literal or not, I hope you'll appreciate the initiative of those who would seek to intelligently put forth proofs that those accounts could be taken at their word.

"The Journey: Walking the Road to Bethlehem", a Review and Encouragement to Contemplate

"The Journey" by Adam Hamilton
One of the great anchors in my spiritual life is my Sunday School class.  Adult Sunday School is unfamiliar to many, but ours is almost 40 people strong, committed to missions and supporting the work of our local church, and studies a wide variety of material throughout the year.  I am more accountable to study when I know this group will all have done so, and I get more from scripture when I hear a variety of insights.  It's not unusual for our class to study material that fits with the church calendar, so I didn't think too much about the decision to undertake The Journey: Walking the Road to Bethlehem, by Adam Hamilton this Advent.  I am excited to write that the study has already made a marked difference in my appreciation of Advent.

In the book, Hamilton explores the birth of Christ from a historical, archaeological perspective.  He relies heavily on Scripture, but adds relevant information about the geography and character of the Holy Land, that many modern Christians might not be familiar with.  For example, simply considering that Bethlehem is about an eighty mile journey from Nazareth by foot, changes the way a person thinks about the trip.  

A Perspective on the Christian Calendar

Many thanks to my wife, Pam, for first sharing this with me.  The church calendar is important to me, and I appreciate the efforts of this church to contextualize it for those who aren't familiar with it.  Perhaps this will help you understand why you hear me talk about Advent as much as Christmas, and why I crave the season as much as the celebration.

Working Hard

I am a huge proponent of small businesses.  I think it's an awesome thing to watch a small business find a niche where they can succeed and thrive.  I recognize that there are all kinds of forces, economic, governmental, and financial constraints to name a few, that can impede, and end a small business. I also happen to believe that most of the time, when a small business fails, it is not primarily for any of those reasons.  Small business is inherently about working hard.  

Earlier this week, I found myself this morning standing outside the door of two small businesses, both whose name and trade are closely linked to breakfast.  It was 7:55 AM.  I was not standing outside of those two doors trying to decide which to enter, though.  I had already parked, and was now standing in the cold outside, when I read on their respective doors that both opened at 8AM. I decided to be patient, and wait to see which would open first.  At 8:00, one of the doors did open, and the owner let me in.  We turned on the lights together, and she let me know that most of the baked goods were still in the oven.  

I respect that small business owner for having a vision and pursuing it.  I hope that she succeeds and the business sustains her family, adds to the community, and is a blessing to many.  If the business would struggle, though, I'll wonder why someone opens a breakfast spot and isn't jumping out of bed early each morning to greet the day and its opportunities.

I'm not trying to point fingers at others, but to encourage thought for myself, and others who may read this, to think about what makes small business work.
Am I, in my work, a baker who doesn't come to work and open shop until breakfast is half-over for many of my customers?  
When I can't find customers, have they already passed me over at a time or place that I wasn't ready to meet them?  
What is the very core of the business that I work in, that demands no sacrifice be made there?

As much as I love supporting my town, the people in it, and the small businesses here, I'll be at Starbucks most mornings, sipping black coffee that I could buy anywhere in town, if only anywhere else was open as early as the local branch of the largest coffee shop in the nation.

Perhaps Thomas Edison said it best, "Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work."

People Generally Do What They Do for Good, Politicians Included

Today, many of us voted.  Many of us are hopeful about the outcome of several races and issues.  Some of us have invested emotionally, financially, physically in the outcomes.

It's easy to forget that ALL of us want the best for our nation, our states, and our communities.  I've been fortunate to meet several politicians over the years, and, with almost no exception, they all had altruistic aims in their political work.  More than power, or compensation, or lifestyle, politicians become politicians to make a difference.  In fact, some of the best people I've met in politics are no longer politicians.  They gave as much of themselves as they could to public service, until it wasn't worth it anymore.

So, tonight, whether your candidate won, or mine, or one neither of us preferred- I am hopeful.  Hopeful that the men and women who sacrifice to serve in the critical public eye have a desire to do real good in their hearts.  I'm hopeful that if we accept the results with grace and dignity, that we really can make things better than they are now, as a nation, a state, and a community.

Lest I be accused of writing this in response to the outcome, please note that these thoughts were put down well in advance of Election Day.

Chuck Pagano's Speech to The Colts, Nov. 4, 2012

The stories behind sports, are often what make me care about the games themselves.  Here is Chuck Pagano, coach of the Indianapolis Colts, leaving the hospital from receiving leukemia treatments yesterday to encourage his team.  There are people in organizations who, when gone, are "out of sight, out of mind." There are also those whose absence is a encouragement to do better for the day they return.  Pagano is clearly the latter.  If a man fighting leukemia tells you to when him a Lombardi trophy, you better try and win a Lombardi trophy.

Do. Love. Walk.

A verse from Bible study last night that I can't get out of my head:
"He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God?"
Micah 6:8
In my absent-minded, half-halfheartedness, I can do one, sometimes two, of these, but three out of three, at once, is a hard goal to attain.

A Perfect "Autumn"

You might have heard of the idea of watching for, and sharing  "closest to Christ" moments in our lives.  I meet weekly with some other Christian men, and as part of our routine, we share our "closest to Christ" for the past week.  

Today, I had a closest to Christ experience that I feel compelled to share with others.  I attended the funeral of a lady whom I greatly respected and was a mentor, with her husband, to my wife and I in our marriage.  It was a unique service.  She was 92 years old, and had been in good exceptional health until recently.  The service was filled with songs, poetry, scripture, quotations, and recollections- all from her own journal.  It was one of the most personal funerals I have ever been to; even the closing prayer was mostly her own words as she had put them down in her journal.  More than a simple funeral, it was a powerful time of worship for most of us there.

As I reflected on her life, and the carefully selected elements of the worship service, I was reminded of the near-perfect autumn day outside.  Many people think Spring to be the best season, with flowers bursting forth, wildlife new and abundant, and lush green grass finally replacing the browns of winter.  Others love the long days of Summer.  Me, I've always been a Fall man.  I love the bright colors of the trees' changing leaves, the just-right crispness of the air, the smell of cider and bonfires- it's all just perfect to me.

Today, the season outside, and the message inside the church were in tune.  There was a sense of the autumnal season of life being a time of great beauty.  A time of completion.  A time of fulfillment of purpose.  In as clear a way as I have ever known it, I was aware that there is nothing better than looking forward to that great autumn in each of our lives, when the leaf of our bodies will shine brightly, and then fade away, as we move on to be with our father in heaven.  

If you're not ready to face the autumn of your own life with certainty in Jesus Christ about what comes next, then I'd encourage you to seek Christ and commit to him.  As surely as one season follows the next, we all have a next season to prepare for in our own lives.

Thank you Betty, for your faithful witness, even today.

Twitter > Facebook (Especially during Election Season)

5 Reasons I prefer Twitter to Facebook:

  1. Comments are focused.  On Facebook, dozens of people can comment on, and argue over, any idea you share.  On Twitter, comments are directed back to the original poster, and maybe a select few.  Your comments occur in your own posting, and are a part of your tweeting record for all to see.
  2. The Re-Tweet.  The primary mode of engagement on Twitter is the re-tweet (RT); re-tweeting encourages thoughtful, positive messages.  People obviously RT items they agree with, so positive messages are more likely to spread.
  3. One-Way following.  Twitter allows anyone to follow anyone.  I don't expect the people I follow to necessarily follow me, and I don't necessarily follow those who do follow me.  This one-way street allows people to fine-tune their stream of information so that they don't see information they don't want to.  In fact, I often unfollow and re-follow people later, when they share a political view too often that I find unpalatable.
  4. Twitter seems more fact-oriented.  In my observation, Twitter users tend to post links to articles to share a point more often than Facebook users.  Additionally, the public, searchable nature of the site means that people who are stuck in rhetoric without any fact basis, tend to be ignored.
  5. Twitter isn't about self-congratulations.  Again, maybe more my experience than true fact, but the lack of a "Like" option on Twitter encourages people to post things they want to say, without an attempt to have others congratulate them for saying it.  Similarly, the simplicity of the site tends to negate vague or passive-aggressive posts.  Sure, a user can posts an open-ended plea for attention, but it will likely get lost in the noise.
Don't get me wrong, I still use Facebook for certain things, but it is awful for politics and sharing thought-provoking ideas.  Bring on the family pictures though!

The Planting, and Care of, "Trees"

There's a popular saying in the green industry that asks,
"When's the best time to plant a tree?  10 years ago.
When's the 2nd best time?  Today."
The saying makes a point, and as someone who has been raised to appreciate trees, I plant at least one tree in our yard, every year.

More important than trees though, when's the best time to share God with a friend or neighbor? The answer has to be today.  If I had done so 10 years ago, they would be well on their way to spiritual maturity now, providing benefit to generations after them, not unlike the sturdy Linden in my front yard.

Also like that Linden tree, I need to be attentive to my own growth, and that of those around me. We care for literally hundreds of trees that we have planted at work.  In a drought year like this, we slowly water the root balls of trees that show stress, some of them transplanted 5+ years ago.  Like those trees that are showing signs of stress, we need to be diligent about caring for the spiritual growth of those trees in our community, whatever their age, or however long they have believed.  Slow, steady prayer, study, and communion with God is the only way to grow a believer; a quick splash of love or worship now and again might keep faith alive, but a person will never thrive.

He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field.  Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.” Matthew 13: 31-32 (NIV)

Reality Vs. Rhetoric: "Growing the Middle Class"

I suppose that most of the time when  people hear a politician talk about wanting to "grow the middle class," they think it's a great notion.  The line seems to a big applause-getter if you watch political speeches.  However, stop and think about what that really means.  Keep in mind, most of "us" are already middle class.  Most of "us," whoever we are, are striving to improve our lot in life, if not for ourselves, then for our children.

I worry that when we talk of growing the middle class, most of don't realize that we're endorsing policies that not only retard people from slipping out of their "middleness" into poverty, but we're also limiting the opportunities for upward mobility.  It's the old trading risk for security equation.  Sure, life in the middle classes will be more secure, and life in poverty will be more comfortable, but high taxes and reduction of liberties also mean that it's harder for people to escape their averageness, and go on to great success.

So, I'm officially against "growing the middle class" as a political metaphor or ideal.  Instead, how about we work on reducing poverty, and leave the middle classes to their own devices?

Sen. Akin and the Bigger Issue

No one can deny the mess that Sen. Akin has made for himself, and I won't go as far as to defend him.  However, I do think the media, and the rest of us, are missing the bigger point: he was not trying to talk about rape, per se, but was trying to talk about abortion.  He failed miserably, but in doing so, illustrated a bigger point, rape and abortion should not be common issues.  In fact, I believe that "rape" when discussed in the context of abortion, is almost always a red herring.  It get's our attention, and distracts us from the real issue.

The reality is, most abortions in the U.S. are not the result of a rape.  In fact, almost every source I can find, pro-life, or pro-abortion, agrees that the percentage of abortions that are performed annually as a result of a pregnancy resulting from a rape, are somewhere between .4-1%.  I've not been able to find even a speculative suggestion that the number might be greater than 1%.

What about the other 99%?  There is some disagreement on the number of abortions performed for the woman's health and safety, with estimates ranging between .5% and 6%.  The problem lies mostly in definition, it is difficult to quantify if the procedure is done to save a mother's life, or for more ambiguous health-related reasons.

That leaves 93+% of abortions that are performed for social or convenience reasons.  Ninety-three percent.

As a man, I do not think my voice should be diminished when I cry for a complete cessation of that 93% of the total abortions performed yearly.  Stop those, that's all I'm asking when I talk about abortion.  The rest are too morally ambiguous for me to pontificate on in this context.

As long as 93% of women who terminate a pregnancy do so for their own personal selfishness, any talk about "rape" or the "mother's safety" is just a distraction, and carries little weight in sensible discussion.

Immigration Reform, From the Other Side. Part 2

I recently started writing about immigration from the perspective of a family trying to comply: ours.  If you've not read the first article, I'd recomend reading it before this one: http://john.connollyclan.com/2012/07/immigration-reform-from-other-side-part.html

After people are aware that Pam has had some difficulties with her immigration journey, going back to when we were first married several years ago, the next question they usually ask is, "so you're done now, she's a citizen?"  After we tell them no, she's very close to that, but not there yet, they inevitably follow up with, "why doesn't she just do it?"  This is the question that I think is stuck in so many American's heads: "Why don't immigrants just 'do it', and get their paperwork in order."  If only people knew how many days, nights, and weeks we have cried out in anguish wanting to do just that!

On Healthcare for Immigrants

"What are you supposed to do with a bleeding Mexican?" 
From Sorkin's, Newsroom, aired 15 July, 2012

Immigration Reform, From the Other Side. Part 1

More and more people, especially conservative friends, seem to be comfortable sharing their extreme views on immigration in the United States.  Every few days, a friend will share a joke, social media posting, or simple remark about immigration, that makes it perfectly clear that they have their minds made up, and feel no qualms about broadcasting their borderline-racist position.  For many, immigration is the lone issue where they have no filter, no limits, and no compunction for the people whose fates they are debating.

As the spouse of a non-United States citizen, you would think I would be enraged, but I'm simply not.  Most political cartoons, trite sayings, and misinformed bits of policy that people share, are so far off the mark in terms of the real immigration problem in our nation, that they don't even rise to the level of "debatable."  When a friend shares one of these, I enjoy the opportunity to engage them and describe our family's experience, and have so far not had a single person who didn't come away with a more informed opinion.

"______" while driving.

Sign proudly displayed on the Cleveland
Police Department's homepage.
That latest trend in state and local government seems to be making it illegal to "text while driving."  Many people just nod their heads and agree that it's probably a good idea to do so.  Not me, I think it's insidious over-stepping of government authority, and a veiled flavor of ageism.  (Pam says I'm just crotchety and complain too much!)

Why am I against laws specifically blocking "texting" while driving?

Disqus: a Tech Giant in the Making?

Never heard of Disqus?  Think you've never used their service?  You're probably wrong, and have used many websites with Disqus, even if you don't yet realize it.

As long as "social media" has existed, I've been a proponent of openess on the Internet.  The quality of discourse goes up dramatically the instant people start using their real names, attaching a picture, and even listing where in the world they are.  Of course I recognize that security should be a concern, and that there is value in your family not knowing what you're buying them as gifts before they open them, but in most cases, the Internet is a much better place when there is openness.

The Kids' Swingset

Pam has suggested that I post some pictures of the swingset we made for our kids, so here they are.  Ours is larger, cheaper, sturdier, and more eccentric, than the kits we could find in stores.  Plus, the kids  built it from scratch, with our help.
I was most excited about the big, sloping roof that sheds snow and rain, and 12-foot long piece of 24" pipe we found as a leftover, to serve as our slide.

Proving that they're big enough!

Clubhouse and counter for snacks.

Little guy looking big
Testing out the pulley.
Keeping an eye on things.
She loves the slide!

"Loose Lips Sink Ships" (and deals!)

You've surely heard the saying, "loose lips sink ships," but the old saying translates surprisingly well to real estate development.  No disrespect meant to those whose lives are actually at stake like they were in the old military addage, but livelihoods are certainly at risk to rumor on a daily basis.

Personally, I'm a firm believer in honesty and openness- I've seen secrecy destroy relationships of all kinds, like a tree rotting from the inside out.  When I see secrecy for its own sake, or as a cover for other motives, it angers me, and makes me suspicious.

Putting Yourself in the Game

If you've been watching the NBA finals this week at all, then surely you noticed Chris Bosch returning to the Miami Heat's starting lineup last night.

Of course, we can assume that he spent hours in consultation with team doctors and the coaching staff, including head coach Erik Spoelstra, before the decision that he was ready to play after his injuries.  That assumption would be wrong, though.

Early reports being discussed on the radio this morning indicate that when the Heat started their off-day practice on Wednesday, coach Spoelstra ordered the starters, in red practice jerseys, to the floor first.  When Spoelstra turned around, there was Bosh, standing under the rim, in his red starters' practice jersey.  By the time practice was over, both Bosh and Spoelstra were telling the media, in uncoordinated agreement, that Bosh was starting.

If you're waiting for someone to put you in the game, any game, maybe it's time stand up, put on your starters' jersey, and put yourself in.

Family + Building Projects + Photography= FUN!

We've recently put the finishing touches on the kids' swingset & clubhouse in the back yard.  This week's cool, clear evenings have made for some great pictures.  I'm going to post some more soon, but here's a teaser, the first GIF I've ever made.

"Buy Local?"

"Buy local."  We hear it all the time.  We read it everywhere.  Local officials pound it into our heads as if the very fabric of our society will be at risk if we don't spend money as "locally" as possible.

Orthodox Christianity for a Modern Man?

To those whom I am closest to, it's no secret that in the past year and a half, I have drastically changed my thinking in terms of how I experience Jesus Christ, God the Father, and the Holy Spirit in daily living.  While I have long held scripture to be sacred, the doctrine had become hollow, and it is only through prayer, and prayer alone, that I can claim any relationship or faith in God.

Perhaps the biggest part of that transformation for me has occurred as I have learned to appreciate the historical, rote prayers of the Church.  One cannot explore historical prayer for long, without finding themselves on a deeper, more complex, journey into the history of the Orthodox Church, whose desert fathers (and mothers!) explored prayer like no other people on the face of the planet, before, or since.

Unfortunately, Orthodox Christianity and its ancient traditions seem very mysterious in our modern society.  This makes it very hard for me to both rationalize my own experiences, and to convey them to others.  So, recently, when I came across the article, "Eastern Right, Conservative minds convert to Orthodox Christianity," in The American Conservative, I was excited.  It is comforting to read of others who share a similar experience to mine, and a privilege to share some thoughts on the modern immigration to Orthodoxy occurring in America.

Even as an admirer of the Orthodox Church, I'm surprised by how much I relate to this statement from the article:
“From the outside, Orthodoxy seems exotic,” an Orthodox academic convert tells me. “From the inside, it feels like home.”
Far from mystical and strange, the prayers and traditions of Orthodoxy seem to only the draw us closer to the heart of God, which is a far more wonderful thing than it is an oddity.  I am continually surprised and thankful to read in essays and and books on Orthodox prayer reminders that the prayers should never become a mantra or chant that only bring comfort in their own rhythms.  Again and again, Orthodoxy teaches that prayer is a way we approach God, never a comfort in its own right.  When's the last time you heard that taught in Western Christianity?

The article also talks about an exciting trend in the United States- converts from "evangelical" Christianity.
Yet converts keep coming, and they bring with them a revivifying enthusiasm for the faith of Christian antiquity. One-third of Orthodox priests in the U.S. are converts—a number that skyrockets to 70 percent in the Antiochian Orthodox Church, a magnet for Evangelicals. 
It's refreshing to see that some clergy of mainline denominations aren't necessarily following those denominations' paths into an increasing bland flavor of liberal Christianity, almost indistinguishable from societal self-help groups in their message and practice.  Some clergy are actually looking for a church that celebrates the Christendom of the Bible as much as possible; changing themselves to be more God-like, instead of their churches to be more worldly.

One such example highlighted in the article linked to above is Frederica Mathewes-Green.  Frederica and her husband actually left the Episcopal church, and her husband is now an Orthodox Priest.  Frederica is a respected Orthodox teacher in her own right, and her writings have been a jumping-off point for many modern Christians who want to learn more about Orthodox tradition.  Her book, "The Jesus Prayer: The Ancient Desert Prayer that Tunes the Heart to God,"  is a well-thumbed favorite of mine.  If you are interested in learning more about how a modern person might begin to pray like the ancient Christians, I would highly recommend it as a starting point.

As Rob Dreher says in the article above, "Orthodoxy’s pre-modern traditionalism can be a rich new source of spiritual and cultural renewal."

A Prayer of St. Francis, for "National Day of Prayer"

This is one of my favorite historical prayers, because it calls for action.  In fact, I keep it on a card in my desk drawer at work.  Too often, I fear that we beg God's sympathy, when we should seek his will and beg for more of him in us.  For a Christian, I think that there can be no greater desire than to be filled with God and used by him.
A Prayer of St. Francis
Lord, make me an instrument of Your Peace
  Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
  Where there is injury, pardon;
  Where there is doubt, faith;
  Where there is depair, hope;
  Where there is darkness, light;
  Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may seek not so much to be consoled, as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; for it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life. Amen.
I would encourage you today especially, as you contemplate prayer, to consider incorporating the rich tradition of rote and historical prayers in your own life. 

A Prayer by St. Teresa of Avila

Let nothing upset you,
Let nothing startle you.
All things pass;
God does not change.
Patience wins all it seeks.
Whoever has God lacks nothing:
God alone is enough.

Bees and Butterflies

A few pictures of bees and butterflies pollinating the malus sargentii ('sargent' crabapple) in our front yard last week.

Words Per Minute READ testing App

I always think of WPM as typing, but this app from Staples shows how many words per minute you read.

Very cool, what do you score?  I got 542, and the instant I read it and the notes, I wanted to try again, but figured that's cheating.  

Sourcing Books

As promised in an earlier post, here's where I acquire most of my reading material.

Amazon Prime
Amazon keeps a long history of your purchases, so I can go back in my history and see that I've been buying books from them since 1998.  The "Prime" membership is well worth the upfront cost, and gives me very quick access to any title I can think of.
Biggest Benefit:  Always the lowest price on current titles, best reviews by real people.
Favorite Use:  Used books.  With Prime, I can often find "like-new" titles for a few dollars, and get them shipped for free.  I always check their used books before buying new.

Amazon Kindle
I received my Kindle Fire as a gift, and it's been a game changer for me.  I don't seek out titles in that format specifically, but it has opened up the door to books that I might not have read.  Titles by A.W. Tozer, E. Stanley Jones, and other Christian authors are available FREE.  Lots of other authors and genres are available free too; if you enjoy Dickens, Twain, or classic poetry, prepare to be blown away.  Additionally, publishers frequently push Kindle titles for a fraction of the cost of printed copies, to build exposure for the author.
Biggest Benefit:  Cost, and exposure to new authors.  I'll confess to reading some titles just because they were free or a great deal.
Favorite Use:   Reading anywhere.  I can carry dozens of titles on the small device, so I always have something with me that I want to read.

Half-Price Books
I always thought that Half-Price books was small, unorganized, and full of 30-year old books I didn't want.  Not so.  When I finally explored the nearest store, the wife and kids had to drag me out.  They have a wide range of materials, neatly organized, and very contemporary.

Biggest Benefit:  Lots of books for cheap when you just want to browse

Favorite Use:  My three favorite purchases so far are: my NKJV compact leather Bible which I had looked other places for and could never find, great landscaping references, and I buy 1 "antique" hardback Hardy Boys book for Ben to enjoy when he's older on every visit.

The Lighthouse Christian Bookstore
Recently under new ownership, the new management is excited about breathing new life into the local icon.  I honestly am just re-discovering it myself, but each visit is better than the last.  There will always be a benefit to browsing the aisles, flipping through titles, and getting the shop-keeper's input.  For Christmas, I browsed the aisles and took pictures of several titles on my "wouldn't buy it for myself" list, and sent them to Pam, who blessed me with some good books I really wanted for Christmas.

Biggest Benefit:   Very convenient for me, staff is a huge help in finding that book I think maybe I heard of but am not quite sure really if it exists or not.

Favorite Use:  Ideas.  I don't always buy a book, but I always leave with more information to ponder about the topic that sent me in.  If I ever get to the bottom of my reading list, this is where I'll go to refresh it.

Marysville Public Library
A friend told me a couple years ago that he discovered he paid over $80 per year to the local library in real estate taxes.   After the discovery, he made up his mind to get at least $80 of value out of the library every year.  I was intrigued but not sold, until he told me he reserves most of his books online and just picks them up at the counter.  Since then, I've been doing the same thing, and getting my "$80 of value" out of the local library.  Oftentimes when I see books, especially novels, that I'd like to read, I add them to my list on the library website.  When the books is available, they send me an e-mail and I go pick it up. 
Biggest Benefit:   Free.

Favorite Use:  I use the library for two things: novelists I enjoy, and reference material I don't want to own.  For novelists, I reserve new copies of their releases, and when my time comes in the queue, the library sends me an e-mail letting me know to come pickup the book.  The only downside is, sometimes I'll wait months for a novel, and then it will come at a time when I'm too busy to read it.  As to reference, an example is the aquarium we recently purchased for the kids.  I don't want to be an aquarium expert, but I was able to check out a few books on tropical fish and pick up some great pointers that will hopefully help us delay the trauma of explaining floating fish to toddlers.

So where do you get your books from?  I'd love to hear suggestions!

That Musty Old-Paper Smell

"My name is John and I like to read books for fun."   [group]: "Hiii John."

Ok, so maybe it's not so bad that I need to seek  out a group.  I do, however, prefer a good book to a television sitcom or bad movie.

Lately, it's become fashionable for bibliophiles to decry the advent of e-readers as the end of published, hard-copy books.  In fact, there are some very cool pieces of media and ad-campaigns to promote reading (and buying) hard copies of books.

Here's one of my favorites:

So far though, I have yet to settle on any one particular form, but instead find that the more options for reading that exist, the more I read!  I'll always have shelves of books I love, but for "disposable" reading, like novels for entertainment, I have less and less interest in owning a copy on the shelf.  More on that in another post.