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Running through the woods banging on a pot.

July 29, 2013

If you live in a neighborhood currently afflicted by rude children with loud trucks, I can offer no solace. However, here’s a reflection that might lead to some equanimity.

On yet another night of having both conversation and sleep interrupted, while trying to imagine what state of mind prompts such willful incivility (ha—I started to type imbecility), it suddenly hit me. I understood. I could feel the desperation in the young men driving these things.

Remember Jane Goodall’s chimps, how one small male got lots of attention by running through the woods banging on a pot. Of course, everyone ran away, but he had his effect. For a time, he was “someone.” It’s sad, but this reflection does take the edge off my anger.

I thought the library had this Goodall video, but maybe it was long ago on videotape. There are several Goodall DVDs available elsewhere in our Marmot Library Network.

Certainly, movies and TV shows are popular, but I’m happy to see documentaries check out regularly. I’ve got a couple of new ones: “Seeds of Awareness: Anapana meditation for children and teens” and “Somewhere in New Mexico before the end of time.”

And also “The Corporation.” I may return the last two unwatched for now. Sometimes, I just don’t have an appetite for unsurprising bad news. Life is short.

“Seeds of Awareness” is short, and I’m interested to see how this meditation technique—mindfulness of breathing—is introduced to young people.

It seems the most hopeful thing we can teach someone. It’s outside popular culture, outside religion, outside commerce, etc., but it helps with all of these.

Perhaps I should refer to “non-fiction films.” The term “documentary” applies but brings to mind films such as those of Errol Morris, Ken Burns, or Roger Moore. The library’s collection includes “how-to” instruction—how to play guitar, do water-wise gardening, or paint landscapes. Also “Great Courses” on DVD.

We have a lot of DVDs. In fact, if they all were checked in at once, we wouldn’t have room for them. It’s nice that they take up less room than videotapes, although I confess to missing both video and audio tapes. It was a tougher technology than DVD/CD media.

One day, there may be even more on-demand streaming of multimedia content. Maybe there will be a legal place for public libraries in such a future. We’ll certainly find out.

This brings to mind Netflix. I haven’t used it, so I don’t know how their system for making suggestions works. You may know of the Internet music service Pandora, which has a system for refining its understanding of the kind of music you like.

There is now the book equivalent to Pandora in development: Book Lamp. Go to and see. It’s a good idea.

There are subtleties to suggesting books. If you want something “like” Harry Potter, your sensibility may lean towards a magical world while someone else’s leans toward the power of friendship in a difficult world.

Our library catalog also can suggest authors or titles similar to ones you’ve liked.

One interesting way to find suggestions is to search for “read alikes,” including the author or title of interest. Many libraries maintain such lists, and each differs according to the sensibility of the list maker.

You can strike out with something too obscure. In fact, Google occasionally strains itself. I was looking for something comparing Nagarjuna’s ideas of the nature of time with St. Augustine’s, and top hit was a chart from India comparing the Nagarjuna Talent School with nearby St. Augustine High School.

Like an earnest librarian throwing everything and anything your way.


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