The Grand Library

Location: United States

I am currently working in my local public library while I look for a job in research biology. I have a B.S. in Biology, and focused on molecular biology during school.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

A Good Cause If I Ever Saw One

Well I have been waiting for something to inspire me these past few weeks, something that would prompt me to write a post for this blog. Now, I don't know how many people read this, but if those of you who do could take the gist of this post and pass it around to friend, or your blogs, or such, please do.

I have been a longtime fan of the web comic Penny Arcade. The two authors are funny and talented, and I read the strip first thing every morning that they update. In 2003, Tycho and Gabe (I use their Pen Names as I lack their real ones) started a charity called Child's Play. This charity was dedicated to trying to make the unbearable a little easier to bear. Working in association with Children's Hospital in Seattle, Washington, they made it their mission to prove that Gamers weren't anti-social, amoral, violent, killing machines, and that 99% of us were human and cared about those around us. What the Charity does is get games and toy and such to the people who really need them, kids in the hospital. I play games for fun, sure, but the kids in places like Children's Hospital, they play games to help keep their mind of the pain and boredom they have to face, day in and day out. I spent a large part of my childhood indoors because I wanted to, these kids spend a large part of their childhood inside a hospital because either they are took sick to leave or in the case of a lot of the Chemo kids, it is dangerous to simply take a lung full of air in the great outdoors.

The first year they were active (X-Mass of 2003), they collected $250,000 worth of toys and donations for Children's Hospital, all from gamers like us and some business' that hopped on board. Just do some quick math in your head, that's multiple truck loads of video games and consoles, and craft supplies and toys. In a couple of months a quarter of the MILLION dollars worth of stuff was donated to a bunch of kids whose Christmas was going to be shitty.

The Second year of operation, Child's Play had a enough support to work with five Children's Hospitals across the nation. Corporate sponsors, business donations, a charity dinner and auction, and once again, a community of Gamers who care, made Christmas a little bit brighter for a lot of kids who go through things I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy.

This year, Child's Play is working with Children's Hospitals in US, Canada, and the United Kingdom, 15 hospital's in all, two in Canada, One in the UK, and 12 hospitals across 10 states here in the US. As cliche as this sounds, just think of the children, think of the sheer number of children whose lives we can make a little bit better. These kids go through things we can't even imagine unless we have been there. Also, think about down the road, when these kids get out of the hospital, grow up to have jobs and incomes, and the holidays come around. Maybe they will think back to what we did for them now, and maybe, just maybe, they will find a way to do something similar, something even bigger.

Go to their site, read some of the letters from people who were patients when they were kids, and can testify to how much these toys and games can truly help, read the letter from a father who tells you just how relieving it is to hear their sick child laugh, even though they are stuck in bed and filled with tubes and wires. Print off one of their fliers are toss them up on community bulletin boards, and in your local game store, and your arcade (ask first). Pick a hospital and see what they are asking for and donate, it is all done through, which means you can trust that they are going to get what you buy. Go to the site and make a paypal donation, even a couple of bucks will help get more stuff for these kids. Tell your company PR person about the charity, tell the company president, maybe they will make a big donation. Tell every gamer you know, tell every non gamer you know. These are our kids in our hospitals, I don't know about you, but if I have to pick a group of people I want to help the most, sick kids falls at the top of my list.

Also, pass this info along to your representing and senators. Show them that there legions of gamers out there that want to help this world we live in.

I am going to end this post with a quote from one of the authors of Penny Arcade. If you do nothing else, just go to the website and look it over on you lunch break, it can't hurt to just look, and maybe when you see what's there, you will feel the urge to donate.

"What the Internet has done is remove the barriers to impulsive acts
of generosity," stated Jerry Holkins, of Penny Arcade. "When clicking a
couple of times amounts to an act of genuine compassion, you can find Good
Samaritans everywhere."
Looks like I finally found something to write about, wish I had found it sooner.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Posting without a Topic

Ok, I need to post for this thing, but for the life of me, I can't come up with a good topic to post on. So I am going to try posting about nothing, and see what comes out.

Warning: This is going to start as random stuff I find interesting/funny/stupid/annoying, and more than likely turn political (everything leads to what that moron in the White House is up to these days it seems).

First subject that comes to mind: Pets (or stuff I learned on Wikipedia when I should have been doing work, or observed in my own pets)

  • Cats have a third eyelid, it closes horizontally, and can be seen when they open their eye, are sick or really really relaxed.
  • Declawing your cat, it might seem like a good idea, but is actually kinda mean. It involved removing the tips of the cats fingers from the first knuckle on down. You are much better off getting those little rubber caps at your vets office.
  • Cats have a roughly 200 degree field of view, compared to the 180 degree field of humans.
  • Cats have two moods when awake, pompous or stoned. Watch them some time, they are either demanding attention and preening themselves, or going crazy and running around the house like a spaz.
  • Big dogs think they are tiny, and small dogs think they are big. My Lab thinks he is a lap dog, and my cocker Spaniel thinks it is the toughest dog on the block (both of them are crazy).
Stubby is one of the most famous war dogs, and is considered the grandfather of the war dog. A mascot of the 102nd infantry during WWI, he was smuggled to Europe aboard a troop ship by the men of his unit. During his time in Europe, on top of being a major boost to morale, Stubby is credited with ferreting out a German spy and detaining him until his fellow soldiers could arrest him (Stubby wore the German Spy's Iron Cross on the rear portion of his blanket for years), he warned his unit of impending gas attacks, helped pursue Germans from the town of Schieprey, and received a purple heart for an injury to his leg caused by a German grenade. After Chateau Thierry was recaptured, the women of the town made him a chamois blanket with the flags of the allied nations embroidered on it. The Blankey also had his wound stripe, sergeant Chevrons (three chevrons), and various other medals (French Medal Battle of Verdun, New Haven WW1 Veteran's Medal, Republic of France Grande War Medal, St. Mihiel Capaign Medal, Purple Heart, and the Chatteau Thierry Campaign Medal, and those are just a few from the left side of his blanket, the right has more).

When his unit returned home, he was again smuggled aboard the troop ship, although at this point enough General officers knew and liked the dog, that it is assumed he wasn't smuggled so much as everyone who was supposed to be watching happened to take a coffee break around the time he walked on. Stubby was decorated by General Jack "Black Jack" Pershing (Second highest ranking Military officer in the history of the US [by act of congress], behind George Washington) with the gold hero dog's medal. General Pershing also proclaimed him a Hero of the highest caliber.

When Stubby's handler from his days in the military went to George Town, Stubby went along to, and became the mascot for the football team.

When sergeant Stubby finally passed on, his obituary in the New York Times, was three columns wide and half a page long, longer than most famous people who died back then.


Hmmm, you know I said this was going to end up going into politics, and instead I ended up writing about Stubby. Guess everything doesn't turn political. Hope you all had an informative time reading this. I think I will do a separate post on Baby Bush loosing his supreme court nominee.

sergeant Stubby was one hell of a dog...still I'll take mine any day.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Falling behind the computer age

I work in a library that has public computers. This means we get all sorts of people in the library whose sole purpose for being there is to use the computers. A lot of these folks are older and have never really used a computer before.

Now, I am fairly proficient with computers. I can handle them as long as they don't break too much. I grew up with computers, and nintendo, and my pride and joy, an atari game system, I have Pac-man (I was never very good at it) and pong, and breakout, even space invaders. I can install most simple hardware (CD drives, Video/sound cards), and can usually trouble shoot when a software crashes. This means that, besides the actual IT person at the library, I end up handling a lot of the computer questions that patrons have when they are using our systems.

It's amazing just how many people don't know how to use a computer for even basic tasks. I had someone today that didn't know how to move from one form field to another, or how to click on the button that said log in. Now, I am not saying that these people are stupid or ignorant (the guy I just refered to was wearing a Boston sweatshirt, so he was ok in my book), it is just that I find it amazing that there is such a knowledge gap. I can take a five year old, put him in front of a computer, and assuming that he can spell, he will be just fine. I can take a man in his 60s and he will have serious problems with a computer, assuming that he has never used one before.

I fully understand that there are people out there who simply have never used a computer before, and therefore have no way of knowing how to accomplish easy tasks on it. I grew up with computers, my dad is a computer engineer, and has worked with computers at his job for as long as I can remember. I can't imagine my life without computers, I simply can't do it. As I have said before, I am adicted to e-mail. I have a laptop and a desktop, with one of them, if not both, running continuously.

Some people are scared (to some extent) of technology, and this is a major contributing factor to their not using a computer, others just have never had/taken the time to learn. Someday we will all end up knowing how to use computers, but at that point, something else will have come out that frustrates the older generation, that the younger folks take for granted. Ah well, such is the way of the ever advancing technology level.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Quarter Life Crisis

Ok, so after starting and stopping a post two or three times I decided to scrap it in favor of this one (The other post was going to be on how I think all politicians should hire Arron Sorkin as their speech writer). This post will be on exactly (or as close as I ever get to exactly) what the title say, the good old quarter life crisis. I am currently going through one right now, or at least what I would call one if I had to say what I am dealing with now. My girlfriend is going through one too, again that's my opinion. I don't know if this is a new thing with my generation, or if it is just something parents don't talk about, but being 23 is hard on the mind.

Let me spell my life out for you so you can see where I am coming from. I am 23, I have a Bachelors of Science in Biology from a good school. I have pretty good sized amount of student loans to pay, car payments and insurance payments. I live with my parents, my girlfriend lives 400 miles away, I work at the local public library, and am currently searching (not as hard as I should be) for a job in my field. My friends from college all live in Massachucetts (and I don't), but I still have my best friend since first grade living in the same town as me so I have that to fall back on.

Now don't get me wrong, I have a pretty good life. I have a great girlfriend, great family, and a good life in general, but more and more I feel like I am floundering. I feel like I am stuck in between phases in my life. I am no longer in that student, still depend on the folks phase of my life, but I'm not quite at the completely independant phase yet. I almost feel stuck, where I am, being somewhat afraid of change doesn't really help. Having a semi-decent job at my library, doesn't really give me any incentive to go out and find a better one, if only because I am convinced that a job in my field won't actually pay me any more than I am getting now (whether this is true or if I have just convinced myself of this, I don't know). The one thing that is really pushing me forward right now is my girlfriend.

Us regular early 20-somethings seem to have money issues galore. I don't know if the problem comes from the fact that we are in such tight financial situations for the first time in our lives that we can't see our way out, or if it is the fact that our grand and illustrious goals, the ones we had plan for our selves upon exiting college haven't come true yet. When we are teenagers and college students, we all come up with these goals and plans for our twenties that seem so grand and fool proof, I know I did. I had planned to leave college, get a job in a research lab somewhere for a couple of years and then go to grad school and get my PhD. A year and three months later, I am no closer to that goal than I was on graduation day. Part of this has to do with the fact that I am being lazy, but another is that I am scared, scared of failing, scared of not being able to hack it out there is the real world. I can't afford to live in or near Boston (where I want to live eventually), nor would I with a "real" job. 95% of the time I feel fine and dandy, then there is the 5% of the time where I just don't know if I am going to make it out of this rut I seem to find myself in.

Finding my Girlfriend was the first step to pulling myself out, the end of my library job looming on the horizon will help too. I am sure I will make it through all of this, I'm to stubborn not to. If any twenty somethings are reading this, or even folks who made it through their quartlife crisis are reading this, leave a comment, I want to hear your opinion on it.

And a big thank you to Sarah (my girlfriend, he says with a proud grin on his face), for being a supportive through all of this. Love you.

And the other shoe drops

Well, it looks like I posted too soon. N. Korea is demanding that the US provide it with a Light Water Reactor (LWR) before it moves forward with dismantles it's nuclear weapon program. At some level I think this is fair. Right now they have a Heavy Water Reactor, which in addition to being able to produce power, is also easily convertible to making fuel for nuclear weapons. We are demanding that N. Korea dismantle this reactor, if we are going to do that, it's our responsibility to make sure they have a safe for everyone alternative.

All this doesn't stop me from saying 'I told you so' (to no one in particular). Although I do have a feeling that the US and others were expecting something like this. We will just have to see what happens in the next few months.

Monday, September 19, 2005

A little less likely to go boom.

So it seems that the world is a little less likely to go boom today. AP, Reuters, and AFP, among others, have reported that N. Korea has pledged to give up their nuclear program. It all seems very anti-climatic to me, sitting here on the outside looking in at the talks. I am sure the delegates at the talks all felt like this was the perfect ending, but to me it seems so sudden. N. Korea always seemed like it was the last nation to give in to international pressure. Maybe this is because it is so isolated, I don't know why, but something just made me think they would go to the mat on this one. They had called off the talks a number of times, they were refusing to give ground, then all of a sudden they just compromise. I'm glad that they finally gave up the fight, maybe they got what they wanted all along, maybe they just realized that while they were stubborn, we were worse.

This makes me think of Northern Ireland and the IRA. Who seem to have finally given up the violence aspect as well, but there is something different about the IRA putting down their weapons. Maybe it is because to me, the IRA putting down their guns to me seems more noble. It's feels like they have realized the error of their ways, and that they need to talk instead of fight their way to a solution, where as N. Korea gave up their nuclear program to get the concessions that the other side was giving them.

Sometimes world politics confuses me, sometimes it seems plain as the hand in front of my face. Right now I am just going to wait and see if N. Korea holds up it's end of the bargain, if they don't, I probably won't be surprised.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Rain Rain go away

I have decided that rain clouds need a pause button. As I write this I am sitting at work, and I am soaked. The weather here sucks, and while I really can't complain about the weather with Katrina doing the damage that it did down south, I am going to anyways.

Driving to work today was a pain, had to flash my high beams at like four people who didn't have their head lights on. I got to work, parked and decided to try my umbrella, well as soon as I opened it, it popped inside out and I was stuck sitting there trying to fix it and pull it back inside the car while my leg was getting rained on and soaked. I finally got the umbrella fixed, and put it so it was over my shoulder covering my back and sprinted.

Did you know that even when you run through the rain you get just as wet as if you had walked...No? Well it's true, MythBusters said so.

So I finally get inside, and I am soaked, shirts soaked, pants are soaked (and they are khakis so it is obvious), and the A/C in the building is on, so I am freezing. We are talking catch pneumonia freezing (at least that is how it felt, not that you can catch pneumonia from being being cold and wet, you need to be inhaling the rain to catch pneumonia.

So here I sit, cold, damp (I have dried out mostly as I took the time to write this post), and with muddy shoes as I had to run through a dirt patch they haven't seeded do to construction. I hate rain, but I get to talk to Sarah today, so I am actually doing quite well ::Grin::

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Darn them annoying kids

Ok, I haven't posted in a few days, sorry about that, I know at least Sarah was looking for new stuff, so here you go.

So let me start with a nice preface here to explain the background of the situation. At the Library, we have internet terminals for the public to use, they just log on with their library card and they get 90 minutes, after which a program will log them off automatically, and won't let them log back in until the next day. Well there is this game that a lot of the kids are playing called Rune Scape, it is one of those online multiplayer games on Well, one of the other libraries in the area that used the same program to control the computers gives us a call and lets us know that kids in their library have been playing the game, and somehow it prevents the control software from actually working, so they could conceivably play for hours on end. Ok, so that is the background info, here is the actual story.

So we had these three kids, well preteens really, playing the game. They have been in almost everyday this summer, and once we got the call from the other library we started really watching them. Two of the assistant directors pulled them aside one day, explained to them that while they could still play the game, we were gonna hold them to the 90 minutes. So this was a few days ago, and today they used up their 90 minutes, and then wandered off to other parts of the library. So then a patron comes up to the desk and complains about some kids who are being too loud, my co-worker goes to see what is going on, it's the three kids being a pain in the ass. She tells them to knock it off then comes back to the desk and tells me about it.

So then I get up a few minutes later to go and check on our wayward teens, and walk into the reference room just in time to see one of them with his friend/brother (I don't know which) in a headlock or something and a patron telling them to knock it off. I give them an evil look as they sit down at some study carrels, and then go to the shelf to pretend that I came into the room to do something other than spy on these three pests. I turn around three seconds later to see the older (at least the biggest) of the three standing behind the friend/brother, squeezing the back of his neck (you know that old pressure point thing. Now it's my turn to tell them to knock it off. As I am closer to their age and male they tend to listen to me, at least more than they do anyone else.

Well these yahoos were an exceptional pain in the butt, because they tried to get back on the computer and gave me some line about them not using the 90 minutes. I told them that I didn't believe them and told them they couldn't get back on. I then walked away, and into the back room to find one of the assistant directors, and told her what happened, and what the pains were up to, she went out there and told them the same thing I did, they promptly gave her some back talk, and promptly did what made my day, she kicked them out.

Now, I don't know why this makes me happy, but it does. These pains in the ass got what was coming to them, maybe tomorrow they will think twice before they leave their respect at home.