Sunday, August 23, 2020

A Little Happiness from the Archives!

Times are tough right now. And we're all struggling to find a little happiness amidst a pandemic, wild and unpredictable weather events, a polarized presidential election, all sorts of nastiness from media talking heads and, sadly, sniping among friends in our social media. So how can we find happiness amidst this chaos?  

Strange but true: Scientists believe that happiness is a skill that can be learned... and like any skill, with practice, you can get better and better at it! Check out this three-part series of articles (loaded with links to free stuff!) from the archives and learn how you can learn the skill of being happy. Enjoy!




Friday, July 24, 2020

Get award-winning movies & TV shows, audio books, graphic novels, & ebooks FREE (no ads!) from your local library.

Rare, festival-quality films, blockbuster movies & TV shows, best selling digital and audio books, even graphic novels -- you can get all these free from your local library!  All you need is your free library card and the free Libby, Kanopy and Hoopla apps. 

Here's how it works: Libby, Kanopy and Hoopla are services that have set up relationships with most libraries to stream content to their library card holders. Since we are already supporting our local public libraries with our taxes or our college and university libraries with our fees, we can get all this content for free and with no ads or commercials!* 

So why pay to stream a movie? Why buy a book or graphic novel? Why not borrow and return them for free? Your library card and these apps will get you connected.

Your Golden Ticket: A Free Library Card

To get started, you'll need at least one library card** and your matching user ID, pin number or other account info. This is probably the only time that you'll be required to physically show up at your library. They'll want to see your driver's license or other documents to confirm your identity before they give you your card. After that, you can do the rest online from the comfort of your home. (TIP: While you're there, ask the librarian if the library has a relationship with Libby, Kanopy or Hoopla and ask if they have any advice for you about setting up the services.)

Libby: The Reading (and Audio Book) App

Using the Libby app on your phone or tablet you can download and read ebooks or listen to audio books. Depending on your library's rules, you can keep a book for up to two weeks, though you're typically able to renew it if you need more time. The app itself is feature-rich and really easy to use. And you can set it up to draw from more than one library if you have multiple library cards. You can use either the Libby app to read your downloaded books or, if you prefer, switch to your Kindle app. From within the app you can search each of your registered libraries for a book, reserve it, download it, read or listen to it, set bookmarks, highlight text and more. Check out the links below for more info.

More Info: 

Kanopy: Great Movies, Documentaries & Hard-to-Find Films

This is the app for film buffs, self-directed learners and popcorn-on-the-couch movie fans! You can use it on all all of your mobile devices or fire up that big, beautiful TV and stream HD through your Roku app or Chromecast.

The San Francisco Public Library summarizes:  "Kanopy is an award-winning, on-demand streaming video platform for public libraries and universities that offers access to more than 30,000 independent and documentary films ─  titles of unique social and cultural value from The Criterion Collection, The Great Courses, Media Education Foundation, and thousands of independent filmmakers."  - SF Public Library FAQ  

More Info:  

Hoopla: All of the Above, Plus Music, TV Shows & Graphic Novels

From the Hoopla website:  "Hoopla is a groundbreaking digital media service offered by your local public library that allows you to borrow movies, music, audiobooks, ebooks, comics [graphic novels] and TV shows to enjoy on your computer, tablet, or phone – and even your TV!"

Think of it this way: Hoopla provides the same categories of media as Libby and Kanopy, plus music, TV shows and graphic novels!  What's more, it has a special Kids section with loads of boredom killers for your kids. While it's available via an app on all your portable devices, you can also stream the treasures you find via the Roku app, Chromecast, Fire, Apple TV & other devices.

More Info:


* The number of media items you can borrow in a given period (week, month, etc.) will vary depending on your library's rules and the contract restrictions placed on them by Kanopy or Hoopla. Libby automatically limits your downloads based on your library's rules.

** Don't have a library card? 

I hear you! I was raised in the country, far from the many libraries that are easily accessible to us city folk. However, as a country kid I learned, much to my delight, that many nearby cities, counties or even larger state regions allow people to use their libraries free of charge, as neighbors and citizens of those broader areas. What's more, some local college and university libraries have community outreach programs that allow the public to use their services. So... If you don't have a library nearby, do a Google search for "closest public library" and see what you find. It may be worth a bit of a road trip to get hooked up with a shiny new library card and, in turn, one of the free services described here. (But don't forget to call ahead & tell them what you are looking for.) Good luck!


Related Articles: 

Sunday, June 28, 2020

White folks: It's time to go beyond "not a racist" & become actively anti-racist.

My inspiration: Black Lives Matter activist Janee (say "Jahnay")


Two events inspired this post:

1) The sickening video of police officer Derek Chauvin slowly crushing the life out of a handcuffed George Floyd by kneeling on his neck. I've seen that look before on the face of a hunter crouching over a mortally wounded deer, waiting patiently for it to die. But how could this be happening to a human?

2) The relentless determination of a local Black Lives Matter activist named Janee (pronounced "Jahnay"). Day after day, week after week, despite having two jobs, she makes time to show up on a busy local street corner, sometimes with her comrades, sometimes all alone. She holds a sign that says simply, "Be anti-racist." Drivers passing by honk their horns in support. At first "be anti-racist" seemed to me a rather understated admonition. But as I would come to learn, it is meant to emphasize action, rather than merely holding good thoughts.

Passing Janee on this street corner every day on my cardio walk, I shared brief conversations with her. I encouraged her activism and expressed my support in spirit, which she welcomed. Then one day she suggested I check out the book: "White Fragility..." I Googled it and began watching YouTube videos with the author and others explaining the concept. At first I found it to be abstract and difficult to relate to. And I told myself this surely didn't apply to me. But eventually something shifted and I absorbed this powerful truth: For white folks, simply being "not racist" is next to useless... In fact, it can be an impediment to true racial justice. What really matters is that we "be anti-racist." The former ("not racist") is a benign state of being. The latter ("be anti-racist") is all about taking action -- changing the status quo that has allowed America's white supremacy to manifest in subtle, and not so subtle, forms for over 400 years.

But talk is cheap. Words are easy. At this important moment in our history I want to share some specific, observable actions we can all take to help change this. The 4-step "To-Do" list below is inspired by my journey along Janee's suggested path to "be anti-racist." I know I'll be doubling back and repeating some of these as I try to grow into a new consciousness. In the meantime, I hope they help inspire you to start on your own path to "be anti-racist."