I come from an extended family that has always prided itself on military service. My Grandpa Smith was a combat engineer in France during World War II, and numerous uncles and cousins have served in the Army and Navy. For me, Veterans Day is always a day of profound appreciation for all veterans in this country. The holiday, which was originally called “Armistice Day” to celebrate the signing of the treaty that signaled the end of World War I on the 11th day of the 11th month at the 11th hour, is now a federal holiday. The library offers a variety of books for readers interested in learning more about the veteran’s experiences.
Returning home from war can be difficult, and countless books have recounted the perilous journey after discharge. One of the more recent titles to come out about this struggle is Michael Anthony’s memoir, “Civilianized.” Anthony immediately struggled with depression, severe anxiety and an escalating drinking habit after returning to the States, before he got back on his feet and became a published author. Some of Anthony’s fellow soldiers continue to battle far worse demons; several members of Anthony’s unit have taken their own lives. Continue reading “Literary Links: Veterans Day”
Author William Claassen will be speaking about his new book “Risks” on September 14 at the Columbia Public Library. One of Columbia’s many nationally recognized authors, Claassen has authored four books and one play in the last two decades, along with numerous articles. “Risks” is Claassen’s first true memoir, recounting a life spent traveling, learning and performing humanitarian works across the globe. Among many common themes that stand out in these books is the initial influence of Thomas Merton’s classic autobiography “The Seven Story Mountain” on Claassen’s life and how it led him to take a different path. Continue reading “Author William Claassen”
The Humane Society was founded in the United States in 1954 as an animal advocacy and welfare group. The Society has since grown to sponsor thousands of shelters throughout the United States, as well as serving with the mission to educate pet owners about the importance of spaying and neutering their animals. It must be noted that the Humane Society is also almost entirely run by volunteers, and opportunities are always available at the Central Missouri Humane Society. My 11-year-old daughter is a volunteer at our local chapter with her G’ma, and they accept people of all ages and backgrounds.
Concern for animal welfare is not a new concept. History is filled with those individuals and groups who have been dedicated to helping our non-human friends. Indeed, the concern and reverence for animals is as old as humanity itself. Consider the religion of Jainism, founded in India in 500 BCE, which teaches a philosophy of non-violence and kindness toward all animals. Continue reading “Animal Welfare and the Humane Society”
May is National Bike Month, sponsored by the League of American Bicyclists. We are extremely fortunate that in Columbia we have a world class network of paved and limestone trails, bike lanes, lightly traveled rural gravel and asphalt roads and single track mountain bike loops basically a doorstep away. One might even go so far as to say that Columbia, Missouri is one of the country’s hidden cycling gems. Bicycling magazine thinks so — we were recently rated as the 42nd most bike friendly city in the nation.
To get a good feel for the current cycling-friendly projects that the city (and Boone County) are working on, please visit Pednet, a nonprofit alternative transportation advocacy group in Columbia. The fine folks at Pednet have assisted in cycling-related development and have pushed for many of the infrastructure changes and redesigns that have made our city so welcoming to cyclists and pedestrians. Their website also offers solid information about non-motorized advocacy and opportunities to get involved at the ground level. Continue reading “National Bike Month”
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) and its less severe cousin, concussion (also known as mild traumatic brain injury) have been getting a lot of attention lately, partly because of the concussion crisis in the National Football League. This attention is a good thing. TBI and concussion can be considered a silent epidemic in society; an estimated 1.5 million head injuries appear every year in United States emergency rooms, and at least 5 million Americans currently live with disabilities resulting from TBI. The suffering caused by the loss of mobility, career, hobbies and even family because of TBI is not often reported, partly because of the stigma attached to brain injury.
Unfortunately, from personal experience I can say that I’ve been there. In March of 2015 I had a bad spill on my bicycle that caused a head injury and serious concussion that took me over a year to recover from. I had a helmet on, thank God, or I would now be dead. It was a painful, long and sometimes completely disheartening journey, but I did indeed recover fully. March is Brain Injury Awareness Month, and the library has some fantastic resources about recovering from and living with traumatic brain injury. Continue reading “March is Brain Injury Awareness Month”
Presidential biography is a popular form of nonfiction. There are some true classics out there; I consider Carl Sandburg’s lyrical tribute to Abraham Lincoln one example of biography as fine literature. What about the biographies and stories of those who influenced the president — advisers and friends, even family? Where do these lie in the pantheon? As it turns out, there are a lot of them, and we carry many in our collection here at the library. (Although I do not believe a biography currently exists about Steve Bannon, one day soon there may be many.)
First, let’s go back in time about 80 years. A little known figure and private secretary in Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s inner circle, Missy Lehand, was one of the few very close advisers to the president. In “The Gatekeeper” by Kathryn Smith, this relationship is explored in depth. Indeed, Missy Lehand was the first person in the White House to learn about World War II: “The ringing of Missy’s bedside phone jarred her awake sometime after two on the morning of Friday, September 1, 1939. Could she authorize the switchboard operator to wake him?” Smith argues that not only did Lehand have unfettered access to the president, she was also extremely influential in the construction of the myriad government services needed for the New Deal. Continue reading “Presidential Biographies, Presidential Confidantes”
I’ve never been very good about keeping New Year’s resolutions. Life gets in the way, and promises that I’ve made to myself can no longer be kept for a variety of reasons. So, this year I’ve made “End of the Year Intentions” (leaving out the word “resolution”), with the vague starting point of around mid-December. This way, I can hit January 1, 2017 running. Why not make this holiday season the healthiest and happiest ever? The library has some good resources to help you along that path.
In my extended family, we have at least one vegan, two vegetarians, two pesco-pollo vegetarians and many red meat eaters of various degrees. My saint-like parents, both in their early 70s and still incredibly vigorous, host a phalanx of in-laws, kids, grandchildren and others during Christmastime, and they cook as best they can to suit all their guests’ needs. This holiday, keep the cooking simple, healthy and easy, and follow some of the fantastic recipes in Isa Moskowitz’s “Superfun Times Vegan Holiday Cookbook.” I’ve suggested this delicious cookbook as a resource for the common family denominator and to support healthy eating habits. Continue reading “Healthy Holidays: Start Your New Year Early”
American presidents come and go, but the White House staunchly stands as a beacon of hope to the free world despite the building’s surprisingly complicated and sometimes difficult history. As we close in on yet another changing of the guard, it’s a good time to take a fresh look at this iconic building. How many times has it been renovated? Is it really haunted? Continue reading “Literary Links: Our White House”
The popularity of the 5K running event is soaring these days. Nearly 8 million people competed in a 5K event during 2015 according to the official entity that keeps such statistics, Running USA. That is a significant number of people pounding the pavement in pursuit of a personal running best. Probably the hardest thing about the process is actually getting started! Fortunately, there are many “couch to 5K” types of books to help.
My wife and I have two small children, ages 6 and 10, and we love running with them. I really enjoy it – an after-work two-miler with my kids is just what the doctor ordered. I get to spend time with my girls, and they get to stay fit and active. A great book about starting a running program for kids is titled: “Young Runners: The Complete Guide to Healthy Running for Kids From 5 to 18.” Some of the challenges facing young runners are age and growth specific injuries such as shin splints and knee pain. “Young Runners” outlines training programs so that kids can avoid these pitfalls, stay motivated and even run their first 5 or 10K. Continue reading “Couch to 5K: Books (and Other Resources)”
Imagine this: you are a citizen of a Democracy where individual rights and privacy are supposedly its most sacred principle, and yet 24/7 you may be tracked by the government, corporations and even the city in which you live. You constantly wear or use devices that send out signals and information transmitted to millions of different data-gathering entities. A future such as this, predicted by the likes of George Orwell and Aldous Huxley, may have seemed very frightening little more than 20 years ago. Such a future, however, is in the here and now. Continue reading “Big Data and "Choose Privacy Week"”