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Book Thief

I am a mighty builder. I make mountains out of mole hills. That’s how I treat problems in my life. The unknown. The inconvenient. The wastes of time. The points where failure has occurred somewhere and I need to correct it.

Recently, I returned two books to my local library. I dropped them off in a stack on the return counter as I have countless times before. The library staff collected and checked in one book. The other book escaped.

Once I realized what had happened, via an email from the library. I went in to take care of it in person. Unfortunately, I went on July 4th holiday (Independence Day) and found a closed library. Which made sense, I was off work for the holiday as well, why did I think the library would be open?

So I couldn’t take care of it. Then I forgot about it for a few days. Until I went to look up another book to see if it was available. The website reminded me I had a book overdue.

Filled with anxiety, I was ready to explain and re-explain what happened. Ready with dates and times and the titles of both books. And it was all for nothing.

I spoke to a woman and explained what happened. She cleared the book from my account and went about her day. She sounded hurried and busy. She was short but polite on the phone, and resolved my issue (and my anxiety) quickly and professionally.

I had worried about this exchange. I thought I wouldn’t be able to prove I did not have the book it would haunt me. I imagines building up a huge overdue fee as the days turned into weeks. And the weeks into months. Eventually having to give up all use of the public library after being branded a book thief.

After the fact, my wife told me this probably happens everyday and they’re used to it. Books get misplaced. Scanners malfunction. Computer systems have bugs. And I’m sure some percentage of books do walk away.

But I will not bear the brand of a book thief. A Bad Patron. I did my part. Something else didn’t happen as it should have. It’s not a big deal. It’s a small issue to fix. But those small issues loom large in my brain.

Caps Game 4 Watch Party

The Capitals won the Stanley Cup. Annie and I have watched the playoffs obsessively and gasping, screaming and jumping up and down in agony and exultation through the entire post-season. We were rewarded with a victory and it didn’t even take 7 games or any overtime periods (in the last round).

My wife and I went to a watch party at Capital One Arena. We decided to go on Monday for Game 4 since the weather was nice and there wasn’t a chance they would clinch the series in that game. We wanted to enjoy the evening outside in DC with our 10,000+ closest friends, but I didn’t want to deal with the sea of humanity and possible insanity of a series win. So we watched the series winner from our couch at home.

But on Monday June 4, 2018 we took the Metro downtown (more successfully than T.J. Oshie). We wandered close enough to Fall Out Boy to hear them but we didn’t need to be right in front. We saw a group of people with chairs and blankets setup in front of one of the large screens on the side of the Arena and staked out our little plot of land for the night.

Claiming a spot.

We were ready for the game. We saw a lot of photographers and videographers running around and I’m sure we ended up in the background of some shots (or B-roll) from the game.

This guy and his inflatable Stanley Cup was interviewed right next to us.
Stanley Cup guy

The girl in the foreground had the amazing puck hat and she kept it on the entire game. That’s dedication!
Crowd interview and puck hat.

Selfie.
Rocking the Red!

The game went pretty well too with the Capitals beating the Vegas Golden Knights 6-2. (This was a replay, hence the subdued excitement.)

We made a dash for the Metro home with about 5 minutes left in the game and it took all of that to walk about two blocks through the sea of red.

The next game went even better (and looked to be about double the number of people downtown watching it). The cup was won. The city was (and still is) alive with Capitals gear and people excitedly talking about it.

We are meeting some friends downtown tomorrow for the parade. I’m excited to bask in the afterglow of the win. It’s been an exciting year and a thrilling playoff. I want to surround myself with a hundred thousand fans screaming and cheering the team. You only live once and it took 44 years to win the first one, so we may not get this chance again. So we’re going to take it.

Daddy Holtby

Daddy Holtby will make it all OK.

Did Jakub Vrana need to get Holtby to sign a release? Is he old enough for anything?!

The Three Percent

Why Facebook Is a Waste of Time—and Money—for Arts Nonprofits

I’d argue Facebook is a waste of time and money for any group or organization where your goal is to grow your following. But let’s hear it from an arts non-profit.

The Center for Artistic Activism discusses their experience with their Facebook group.

We currently have 4,093 “fans” of our page on Facebook.

These 4,093 fans were gained over years of activity and posting. They do not pay for followers, choosing to use their dollars on furthering their goals of artistic activism, rather than enriching one of the largest corporations in the world.

Screenshot of C4AA’s Facebook analytics. Courtesy of Steve Lambert.

This shows how many people (anyone, not exclusively fans of our page) have seen our posts over the past three months. With a few exceptions, you can see most posts don’t reach more than a tenth of the number who have opted to follow our page. In recent weeks, we’ve reached an average of around 3 percent.

3% of their audience is seeing their posts.

People think the Facebook algorithm is complicated, and it does weigh many factors, but reaching audiences through their algorithm is driven by one thing above all others: payment. Facebook’s business model for organizations is to sell your audience back to you.

If you pay Facebook, more of your audience will see your posts. If you don’t pay Facebook, you’re better off screaming into the night. Or posting flyers on a telephone pole.

Do we think that Facebook is turning the internet from an autonomous, social democratic space into an expanding, poorly managed shopping mall featuring a food court of candied garbage and Jumbotrons blasting extreme propaganda that’s built on top of the grave of the free and open web? Yes, yes, yes, and yes.

I love this description of Facebook. It also reminds me of the food court in Tysons Corner mall. For those outside the area, think of the last time you were in an airport. Now turn the televisions up louder, make the seats less comfortable and add a dozen screaming/crying children and you’re off to a good start.

I wrote Show at the top of the stairs in an open loft, wearing headphones to try to block out the cries of the baby. Let me tell you: Headphones are not a replacement for a shut door.
– Austin Kleon

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