Delayed Sparks Can Still Start a Fire

I read Date Lab in the Washington Post every week. I even had the Date Lab person come to the library to do a program around Valentine’s Day one year. If you read it, you know that a second date is rare. People meet, they have dinner and drinks and then, for the most part, never see each other again. In some cases it makes sense. They just aren’t a good match and don’t really enjoy the date. Many times, though, both people say they enjoyed the date. They had a good time and had a lot in common. They rate the date a 4 or 5 out of 5, but then never go on another date. Why? Generally, they say there was no “spark”. I guess they are looking for something magical, something more than just enjoying their company. I guess they think that will always come on the first date or it’s not worth pursuing. I think I understand why they are single and using a dating service. The “spark” is not always immediate.

I knew my wife for a while before I ever considered dating her. When we first met, she was still dating her high school boyfriend. She probably barely noticed me. We eventually ended up in the same friend group and spent more time in the vicinity of each other. She broke up with the high school boyfriend, but was then dating another friend of mine.  We were around each other a lot, but still did not have the “spark” that everyone is looking for today. Again, I doubt she really knew who I was. Eventually, she was single again and I was interested. I’m still not sure she though much about me outside of my being friends with her friends. Our friends figured out I was interested and started manufacturing ways to get us together. Once they all backed out of a movie night so we would go alone. Eventually, I guess she experienced the “spark” and we were officially a couple. We are still married 25 years later. I guess it’s a good thing we didn’t dismiss the idea of dating because we didn’t “feel a spark” the first time we met.

My advice to the date lab people and dating people in general: if you enjoy spending time with someone, don’t give up after a first date just because you didn’t fall in love immediately.  Sometimes sparks take time.

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The Slippery Slope

I wrote this 7 years ago when a person I know from high school said on Facebook that we should make Islam illegal in this country. Unfortunately, it continues to be a relevant post.

The World's Common Tater

Last night a friend on Facebook posted that they want our leaders to make Islam illegal. I posted a comment in response, but small comments are not enough to sum up the problem with this idea. Of course, the main issue with this idea is the fact that this country has freedom of religion as a basic right. It goes against the ideas upon which the country was founded to even consider this. Unfortunately, it appears people don’t care about constitutional rights, so lets look at another reason this is a slippery slope you don’t want to consider.

Let’s say we do make Islam illegal. Those who pushed for it are happy for a while, but then notice there are still people practicing Buddhism, Hinduism and other non-Christian religions. Obviously, making Islam illegal was not enough. We need to rid ourselves of these as well, so we outlaw all non-Christian…

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Post NBA Draft Thoughts on Coaching

The NBA draft was lat night. Three Kentucky players went in the lottery. Coach Calipari was at the draft and posted pictures with the kids who were drafted. Many of the comments on those pictures are UK fans yelling at him for being more concerned with getting players to the NBA than winning championships. They say that the only thing that matters is winning a championship. These comments made me think about the job of a coach. What is the coach’s job? Is it all about wins and losses and nothing else matters? I can see that argument in professional sports, but not at any other level. Sure, winning games is good and the goal of playing the game should be to win, but that is not the most important thing.

If you are coaching youth sports, even at the all star level, developing the players as both athletes and people should be the main goal. There is no level in youth sports where you stop teaching and start caring only about wins and losses. Unfortunately, I’ve heard coaches as early as 10U opine that since they had a collection of talented players they had to worry less about coaching because the wins would be easy. They have no business coaching kids. The wins over everything else mentality destroys youth sports. We end up with situations where kids are kicked off their local travel teams on favor of kids who live miles away so the coach can notch a couple of extra wins. Instead of working with players and developing their skills, coaches just dump the kids who are in a slump. It’s easier than actually teaching. Isn’t winning all that matters? Who cares if they ever play high school sports as long as I get my trophy.

If you are coaching high school sports you should also be developing the players as both people and athletes. Sure, you have tryouts and you pick the best players.  This is the point where some kids have to hear that they don’t have the skills to play at this level. Once you have a team, though, you have to worry about more than wins and losses You should be making sure your kids are keeping their grades up and helping them develop their skills in the sport. Your job is to get them ready for life after high school. That might mean getting them ready for college sports. It might mean helping them get the grades they need to go to college without sports. It might just mean helping them become better people. Wins are good, but getting them ready for life after high school is more important.

I think the same goes for college. It is a big business and you will be judged on wins and losses. This does not mean that a championship is all that matters. You are still coaching kids and you still have a responsibility to get them ready for the next step in life. For many of the Kentucky players this means the NBA. For some it means getting a degree. If your players are going to class, winning games, having fun and either going pro or graduating from college then you are doing your job. Calipari is excelling at this. The kid good enough to go pro are drafted and are making millions. The kids that aren’t are getting degrees and possibly playing overseas. He’s going to Final Fours and championship games and has won a championship. I think the one and done system is flawed, but that’s the game right now.  Calipari understands that his job is getting the players where they need to be to be successful. He’s doing this and winning games. The people complaining just don’t understand that the players and their futures are more important than the feelings of the fans.

Tater’s Friday Off Thoughts on Crime and Punishment and Other Random Things

I just saw an article about another Manson family member being up for parole. The entire post is not about this, but I did write it when another Manson family member was up for parole. Again, I’m not saying I think they should be released. I’m just saying that 1. I’m amazed that people still have such strong feelings about it and 2. if it was not a famous case the odds of parole would be higher. Anyway, enjoy this repeat while I suffer from writer’s block and/or laziness.

The World's Common Tater

I was out early on my Friday off to run some errands and to take my phone in to the Apple store because it was having issues charging. All of my other errands went smoothly, but the Apple store did not. I got there a little before 10 and they had someone outside the store checking people in. I was one of the first to  be checked in, but no one called my name while others from the line received help. When I went up to inquire about my spot in line they tried the whole “all those people had appointments” line but stopped when I told them I knew that was not true. They finally admitted that they screwed up and didn’t have me in the queue at all. Even with that, they still didn’t put me at the top of the list when they added me back in…

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Father’s Day

I started to write something this morning and then didn’t. I started to write something after church, but didn’t. I’m now avoiding finishing the yard work. It is a good incentive to write. Since it is Father’s Day, I guess I should write about that.

I have now been a dad longer than I had a dad. That seems weird. I had a dad for 18 years. It’s now been 30 years since he died. I won’t spend a lot of time dwelling on that. I will, instead, write about being a dad.

I’ve written a lot about my job both in random posts and in my series of posts about being a jailbrarian. My most important job has nothing to do with a library.  When I retire in 8 years I will no longer be a librarian.  A few years after that the library world won’t even remember my name.  My most important job is being a dad. Being a dad is a lifelong commitment. Being a dad means being remembered, hopefully in a good way. I may be an average, forgettable librarian, but I like to think I have been and continue to be an above average dad.

I’ve done my best to always be there for my kids. I’ve coached baseball and basketball. I’ve spent hours at a dance studio. I even learned to dance and then danced in front of hundreds of people at my daughter’s dance recital. I’ve chaperoned field trips, volunteered in the classroom and hosted numerous play dates. I’m not  perfect dad. I’ve been impatient and angry with my kids. There are times when I was happy to end them off to spend time with their grandparents so I could get a break. I do think, though, that even in the worst of times my kids knew that I loved them.

My kids are now 21 and 17. Both are very good students. Both decided to get a job to earn their own money while in high school. Both have spent time on church mission trips helping others. If people judge me based on how my kids turned out, I think I will look pretty good(with the exception of passing a weird sense of humor on to my daughter).

I may not be remembered for anything else in my life, but if I’m only remembered for being the best dad possible, I can live with that.

My Life as a Jailbrarian: Getting to Know the County Jail

We have now reached the point in the story where I have started working at the place where I would spend my next 19 years. The stories from here will not necessarily be in chronological order. This is mainly due to the fact that I am old and forgetful and won’t remember when a lot of them took place. Some posts might be a collection of stories from various time periods. I really won’t know until I decide to write them. This post is just some general information about the facility to give you a picture.

The county jail has a variety of inmates. There are people who are sentenced to a short amount of time for less serious charges. There are people who are awaiting trial for various charges. There are both male and female inmates. There are wok release inmates. There are ICE detainees(this was not the case when I started the job).  Basically, you can have inmates with charges as small as petty theft all the way up to first degree murder.

You enter the jail through a lobby with an enclosed officer’s station. To enter the secure part of the facility, you go through two secured doors to another officer’s post and a metal detector. They will check you for contraband and then you are free to move about the facility.  I won’t go into detail about the inside of the facility. I don’t want any of you to use the information to try to facilitate a prison break.  I will just say that it is a very secure facility. I would go through several locked doors, controlled centrally, to get to the library. The library was on the same hallway as several of the housing units. For most of my time there my next door neighbor was the women’s housing unit. They were very loud. Each day was set aside for specific units to visit the library. Some days I had more of the lower level crime/sentenced inmates visit the library. Some days I had the pre-trial/serious crime types visit the library. Many times the petty criminals were more annoying than the ones facing serious charges.

I will try to tell some of the more interesting stories from my time there, but I have to confess that many days were boring and uneventful. When you work in jail, boring and uneventful is what you want.

My Life as a Jailbrarian: Seeking Parole

While my job at the state prison system provided a few interesting stories, there were two good reasons I needed a new job: my boss was a horrible person and the state job was contractual and provided no benefits.  After being rejected when I applied for the job I was already doing, I knew that I had no future with the organization. After working in the office with the person in charge of the organization, I knew I didn’t want a future there. So, it was time to seek parole and/or escape from prison.

I once again hit the job trail. I started actively seeking new employment. My horrible boss was very angry when she found out and called me in to an office to yell at me for looking for a new job without telling her. Apparently, I was being unfair to her by trying to escape the misery of working for her. This just made me look harder for a new job. I sent out a multitude of resumes. I got three interviews.

Interview 1: The memory of this one is very hazy. I think it was the American Psychology Association, but I could be wrong. I can say for sure that it was at a professional association in DC. It was a decent interview where they walked me around and introduced me to people in the office as part of the process. I remember it feeling like it was a place I would fit. They must have felt the same way. I did not get an offer.

Interview 2: My second interview was at a private school north of Baltimore. It was a beautiful campus. It was a very good interview. I really felt like this was the place I would land. When I received the call from them, however, I discovered it would not be the place for me. I had applied to be the assistant librarian and the school felt that I would not be happy as the assistant and would leave the job quickly. I tried to convince them that this was not the case. They didn’t believe me. I wanted to point out that the librarian was old and that I could wait her out, but I felt that was a mistake. I did not get an offer.

Interview 3: My third interview was with a public library system. The position was for the local detention center. It was also the library system that had returned my unsolicited resume back to me stamped rejected. It was not a good sign. At the interview, while shaking hands, I noticed one person had the list of interviewees face up in front of them. I quickly took a sneak peek while shaking their hand and discovered I was competing with someone else from the state prison system. I seemed doomed to fail. The interview went well and I received a call from the library asking me to come to a second interview with the administration from the jail. This one did not go as well. I was 26 years old and looked much younger and am not exactly an imposing figure. The security supervisor at the jail was furious that they had chosen me and said I wouldn’t last. He was not shy about saying that with me in the room. He was completely against me being hired. The rest of the room was not quite as hostile, but they were not friendly. I was sure that I was headed back out on the job hunt again. Instead, as we walked to our cars, the library people told me that it didn’t matter what the jail thought I was their choice and the job was mine if I wanted it.  I was so desperate to get out of my current position that I readily agreed to go work at a place where the people in charge clearly did not want me. Spoiler alert: I outlasted every person in the room who said I wouldn’t last.

I was heading back to jail. I felt comfortable doing this because I was not intimidated my jail and also because I thought for sure I could work my way up and out of the jail before too long. I was so young and stupid.