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Librarian Blog

The secret to handling boys

I see in the Austin newspaper today that some school districts in Texas are heading back to the future again.
Here is the back they are heading toward:
When I was a kid, we had 20 minutes or 30 minutes of recess, full of free-for-all play, in the morning and 20 to 30 minutes gain in the afternoon, and right after finishing lunch we headed outside to play, as well.
We ran off a lot of steam.
Here is why these school districts are going back there:
They have figured out that you can't use enough Ritalin to keep boys from being energetic.
We have gone through about 20 years of drugging boys so they would sit still and pay attention. Ironically, that's roughly the same time period when we jailed so many of them for using and dealing illegal drugs.
Coming full circle, we are now back in the '50s, and recess is back on the agenda.
Who knew?
Well, parents and grandparents of boys, that's who.
And where have they been?

High tolerance for pain

I'm surprised by the kind of textbook prices college students consider tolerable.
More than 40 years ago I was left speechless when asked to pay $35 for a constitutional law textbook in graduate school. I paid the price, but not without much grumbling and more than a few bologna sandwiches.
Last fall, kids were willing to pay $175 tops for a college text, according to a survey on student spending published last week by infodocket.com based on a bookstore review.
Last spring, the pain threshold number dropped by about $10.
That's still a lot of money.
And that's still a lot of money for traditionally printed texts. Students spent the most on print books, and the least on digital.
I don't get this. We are well into the e-ink age, and yet college professors aren't up to speed?
I'm not buying that.
What am I buying?
I don't know ... but it's not college textbooks at $165 a pop.

Before you check out

Before you check out, in the most literal of senses, make sure you have your life story in order.
Last Thursday's edition of The Wall Street Journal had an excellent story about an old guy up in Massachusetts who is teaching people how to write their obituaries -- before they die and publication becomes necessary.
This is a great idea.
I've probably written more than 1,000 obituaries in my lifetime, 45 years of which I spent as a journalist. I know the form backwards and forwards.
So, I plan to teach a class this fall on how to write your own obituary.
My thought right now is to limit the class size to about a dozen people. We'll convene in the morning on a Saturday and highlight what's interesting about our various lives, and then come back after lunch and figure out how to put that down on paper and what to do next.
I have learned from my own life that not even my children who care most about me know about what I consider the highlights of my life, the kinds of events I'd want to have mentioned in an obituary. Still, I don't have anything written down.
Yes, some people aren't going to worry about it because who cares what people think after they're dead and gone?
But, as someone who has tried to track down distant relatives to pull together a decent genealogical record, I have come to appreciate the very few people who left a trace of themselves after they passed from this veil of tears.

A third revolution

Without commenting on the content, I will say that the folks in Youngstown-Warren, Ohio, did a fine job on a 3D print project that their chamber of commerce displayed during the recent Republican National Convention in Cleveland.
The life-size bobblehead was pretty amazing.
According to an ad about the project appearing in a recent edition of The Wall Street Journal, the chamber partnered with Freshmade 3D, Humtown Products and Youngstown State University to create the statue.
It used 3,000 pounds of sand (not plastic) and 24 hours to print. The head, though, does have plastic and 5,400 cubic centimeters of it. The head took 225 hours to print.
Not as cool as a 3D printed car. Still pretty cool, though.

No surprise on audiobooks

The latest sales statistics show that audiobooks are becoming more popular than ever before, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The format is so popular that some authors are writing specifically to go straight to audio, bypassing print altogether.
While audiobooks are gaining in popularitiy at the national level, they have actually always been pretty popular here in Wimberley.
Last year, more than 4,000 checkouts were recorded.
That seems counter-intuitive, actually, because Wimberley is a retirement community, for the most part.
But, we still have a substantial number of people who do commute to Austin on a regular basis, and they like to listen to books when they drive.
Remarkably, I have met quite a number of people who drive in to Houston two or three days every week, and they love to hear their books as they go those three or so hours.
I am guessing here, but I think that most audiobooks are enjoyed while people drive.
I can't imagine someone sitting around the house listening to a Stephen King thriller.
Except that, isn't that exactly what my dad and his family did back before and during World War II when they gathered around the radio?
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