Monthly Archives: January 2016
By Lindsay Roseberry, Reference Department
Edgar Allan Poe finished his popular and unique poem The Raven in January 1845. Set on a cold December night, it makes perfect sense that it was released in January. It made him famous, but not what he also craved to be, rich.
Poe chose a raven as the central symbol in the story because he wanted a “non-reasoning” creature capable of speech. He decided on a raven, which he considered “equally capable of speech” as a parrot, because it matched the intended tone of the poem. Poe said the raven is meant to symbolize “Mournful and Never-ending Remembrance”. He was also inspired by Grip, the raven in Barnaby Rudge: A Tale of the Riots of ‘Eighty by Charles Dickens.
Poe really knows how to create a mood, to make his reader feel the shadows, the creepy noises in the room, the croak of the bird. This is a poem that pulls you into a moment. Like anything that scares you in a fun way, this is all about making you feel like you are experiencing the story while you read it. It’s spooky and a little spine-tingling, like a good horror movie. It’s fun to read – it’s meant to be read out loud. Try it and see how satisfying these lines are when they roll off the tongue. He’s trying to make his poem as musical, hypnotic, and captivating as possible. All of this complicated rhyme and rhythm aims at drawing you more completely into the world of the poem.
It’s interesting to think that people have been excited (and scared) by stories like this for hundreds of years. Folks in the 19th century read Poe for the same reasons we read Stephen King: that creepy thrill in reading about scary things happening to other people. When you read a story about someone slowly losing his mind, you might be horrified, but it’s also pretty hard to put it down.
And now a little about Poe the man:
He was born to traveling actors in Boston on January 19, 1809. By the age of three both of his parents had died, and he was taken in by the wealthy tobacco merchant John Allan and his family in Richmond, Virginia. Mr. Allan tried to raise him in his own image as a businessman and a Virginia gentleman, but Poe had dreams of being a writer like his childhood hero, Lord Byron. By the age of thirteen, Poe had compiled enough poetry to publish a book.
In 1826 Poe attended the University of Virginia, where he excelled in his classes while accumulating considerable debt. To teach him frugality, he was sent to college with less than a third of the money he needed, so he soon took up gambling to raise money to pay his expenses. By the end of his first term Poe was so desperately poor that he burned his furniture to keep warm. Angry and humiliated by his poverty, he returned to Richmond to visit the home of his fiancée, only to discover she was engaged to another man. Heartbroken, he left Richmond, vowing to become a great poet and to find adventure. He published his first book Tamerlane by age eighteen and then he enlisted in the United States Army. Two years later he heard that Mrs. Allan, the only mother he had ever known, was dying of tuberculosis, who was hoping to see him before she died. By the time Poe returned to Richmond she had died and had already been buried. He and Allan briefly reconciled, and Allan helped him gain an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point.
Before going to West Point, Poe published another volume of poetry. While there he found out that Allan had remarried without telling him or even inviting him to the ceremony. He threatened to get himself expelled from the academy. His wish came true; after only eight months at West Point he was thrown out, but he soon published another book.
Broke and alone, Poe turned to Baltimore, hoping to find relatives in the city to stay with. His aunt, Maria Clemm, became a new mother to him and welcomed him into her home. Her daughter Virginia first acted as a courier to carry letters to his lady loves but soon became the object of his desire. He started publishing his short stories; one won a contest sponsored by the Saturday Visiter. This allowed him to publish more stories and eventually gain an editorial position at the Southern Literary Messenger in Richmond. He had found a home as a magazine writer. In 1836, when he was twenty-seven, he married Virginia (she was 13!). After six plus years of marriage, his beloved wife died of tuberculosis. (1847) No wonder he wrote of dark and depressing things. His life was depressing. And all his life he was a true, starving artist.
He kept trying to find a better paying job, moving to Philadelphia and to New York, but it wasn’t until he published The Raven that he began to be a household name. Unfortunately, he only lived another two years after his wife died, dying from mysterious causes (still unknown, even to this day) at the age of forty-nine in Baltimore. Oddly enough, after his death he finally became more famous because of author Rufus Griswold. Poe strongly criticized his works, so upon Poe’s death Griswold struck back, but it backfired. It only made Poe more popular.
- Obsessed with cats, Edgar often wrote with a cat on his shoulder.
- Edgar’s one and only novel Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket was about a boat capsizing and the crew members drawing straws for who would be eaten; they drew straws and ate Richard Parker. The book bombed. Even though Poe said it was a true story, in his time most of the critics didn’t believe him. They were right to think so because at the time Poe’s book wasn’t true, but just 5 years later a similar wreck happened with the same lead character name Richard Parker, but no cannibalism. Then in 1884 there was another shipwreck where there was cannibalism, and the one who was eaten was indeed Richard Parker. (And don’t forget the Tiger in The Life of Pi was named Richard Parker. Concidence?)
- The Mystery Writers of America have named their award Edgar, after the great E. A. Poe.
- He introduced the first recorded literary detective in “The Murders in the Rue Morgue.” The detective character would lead to become the prototypical detective we know today
- He was early adopter of the genre of Science Fiction. In 1844, he published “The Balloon” in Sun Newspaper. He described a lighter than air balloon that transversed the Atlantic Ocean in three days. The accounts were so believable that the newspaper had to retract the story two days later. However untrue the story was, the Sun newspaper made a lot of money off of newspapers, and they did not give Poe a cent. From then on, Poe hated the Sun newspaper.
- “The Raven” was a personal challenge Edgar imposed upon himself. He wanted to write 100 line poem, enough for one sitting. He ended up with 108 lines, which apparently was good enough for Poe.
- Edgar changed the writing and publishing world. Before Poe, writing was a noble profession where not many were able to make a living off of solely writing. Edgar insisted that writing would be his career, and he made major strides to find an audience for his entertaining articles, which would become the initial spark of the magazine industry. He even was given $1,500 the last week of his life to start a magazine. However, in his life he was plagued by international copycats where he had no protection that we have now with international copyrights. In many ways, he paved the way for writers to be compensated enough to have a career.
By Stephen McClain, Reference Department
Glenn Frey, singer/songwriter/guitarist and founding member of the Eagles died at age 67 on January 18, 2016. He was born in Detroit, Michigan where he began piano lessons at age five and later switched to guitar. Like many aspiring musicians from the Great Lakes industrial belt; he headed for a warmer climate and more opportunity. Before leaving the Motor City, he worked with fellow Detroit rocker Bob Seger who wrote a single for Frey’s early band the Mushrooms. Glenn would also sing back-up vocals and play acoustic guitar on Seger’s first national hit, “Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man.” He soon moved to Los Angeles where he would meet J.D. Souther and Jackson Browne. It was also in southern California that Glenn met Texas native Don Henley. After playing a tour with Henley as Linda Ronstadt’s backing band in 1971, they would form the Eagles with guitarist Bernie Leadon and bassist/vocalist Randy Meisner later that year. While it was Glenn Frey who was the founder and visionary of the Eagles, he and Henley were songwriting and musical partners in the band. On the heels of the History of the Eagles tour and after Frey’s death, Henley would say,” I’m not sure I believe in fate, but I know that crossing paths with Glenn Lewis Frey in 1970 changed my life forever, and it eventually had an impact on the lives of millions of other people all over the planet.” No doubt. While reviled by some as being fluff and too soft, the music of the Eagles influenced so many people to either pick up guitars or pick up and move. Glenn Frey was quoted as saying that people did things TO the music of the Eagles; they partied, travelled, broke-up… Love them or hate them, that meeting of Frey and Henley would eventually result in the bestselling album of the 20th century, “Eagles: Their Greatest Hits 1971-75.”
The band broke up in 1980 (well, took a vacation) and Frey and Henley each had successful solo careers, Henley’s being the most successful (which certainly prompted a song by Mojo Nixon called “Don Henley Must Die.” Written in jest, I’m sure, and perhaps distasteful to bring up at this time, I always thought it was funny: “He’s a tortured artist, Used to be in the Eagles, Now he whines, Like a wounded beagle.”). Of Glenn Frey’s solo hits, my two favorites were “Smuggler’s Blues” and “You Belong to the City.” “Smuggler’s Blues” from Frey’s solo album “The Allnighter,” was a cool little tune with a great, bluesy slide guitar part. The video for the song inspired an episode of Miami Vice, in which Glenn played the part of a drug smuggler. The B side of “Smuggler’s Blues” was the track “You Belong to the City,” written specifically for Miami Vice. Glenn played all of the instruments on the recording except the drum and saxophone track. The song has such a great street-like feel and the sax typifies the nighttime urban atmosphere. “You Belong to the City” peaked at number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 1 on Billboard Top Rock Tracks.
Then in 1994, fans welcomed the long awaited reunion. Glenn wasn’t even sure that anyone would come to the shows. The “Hell Freezes Over” live album and tour featured four new studio cuts and surprised fans with a stripped down “unplugged” version of Hotel California. Glenn joked at the beginning of the live album, “For the record, we never broke up; we just took a 14-year vacation.”
My first Eagles record when I was a kid was the double live album that came out in 1980. I already knew most of the songs from hearing them on the radio, but there was something different about the energy, the sound of the crowd and the fact that the songs were a little unlike the studio cuts. It wasn’t until recently that I learned that this album was one of the most heavily overdubbed “live” albums in history. Regardless, it’s the way the music makes you feel that matters. Those were the days when you sat down with the album in front of the stereo, read the liner notes and looked at the pictures as the music washed over you. Much like disappearing into a book, you entered another world, where you could draw up all kinds of images in your brain. This was a double, fold out album so there was even more to look at and read, including a huge, 6-panel poster. It went straight up on my bedroom wall, alongside dozens of KISS posters (don’t judge) and an iconic print of Farrah Fawcett in a red one-piece bathing suit, sitting in front of a striped beach towel, a-hem…I digress. Colorful, live shots of the band: Don Felder, Timothy B. Schmidt, Joe Vitale* and right in the top center of the poster between Don Henley and Joe Walsh was Glenn Frey, smiling with an acoustic guitar. (*Vitale played keys for the Eagles live shows and had met Joe Walsh when they were both students at Kent State University.)
I remember in high school, we used to sit around with acoustic guitars and sing “Seven Bridges Road” from the Eagles’ Live album. Like we could ever come close to that five part harmony, but it was fun. The song was written by Steve Young and was on his “Rock Salt and Nails” album in 1969. Young originally didn’t like the Eagles’ cover version but admitted that the more he heard it, the better it sounded. You can clearly hear Frey and Henley’s voices in the wall of vocal harmony on the Eagles Live album and without Randy Meisner’s tenor, it just would not have happened.
Probably my favorite Eagles song sung by Glenn Frey is “New Kid in Town.” Eagle’s biographer Marc Eliot said it best when he wrote, “New Kid in Town” captures “a precise and spectacular moment immediately familiar to any guy who’s ever felt the pain, jealousy, insecurity, rage and heartbreak of the moment he discovers his girlfriend likes someone better and has moved on.” But for me, it was more about the chord changes and the structure of the song. It is so well written with a bit of a Spanish sound …and those major 7 chords, minor 7 chords, there’s a key change after the beautifully constructed bridge then another key change back to the original key of E after the last chorus. Who writes like that today? Honestly, plenty of people do, but you won’t hear it on the radio anymore. “New Kid in Town” peaked at number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1977.
Glenn Frey was the epitome of the American dream. He was a Detroit rock fan who grabbed his guitar and headed for the coast, met some guys, did some drugs, wrote some songs and changed the world. And although he left the Motor City, he never forgot where he came from. Bob Seger said in an interview, “He was so much more than people knew he was … He would never fail to start with telling me how grateful he was that audiences were still there. He loved the band. He loved the fact he could keep doing this. And he kept doing this until six months before he died.” Glenn Frey is gone way too soon. Why do we mourn our rock stars more than other celebrities? Probably because of what they represent and how they and their music shaped our youth and our lives. True rock stars from Glenn Frey’s era were actually what the original moniker characterized. They didn’t care what you thought. They gave the middle finger to the man and conformed for no one. The writers of this timeless music seem invincible and when we lose one, it reminds us of our own mortality, both individually and as a group. So, thank you, Glenn Frey. The Eagles music was the soundtrack to so much of my life. And it’s the music, along with the somber reminder of impermanence and evanescence that makes me want to sit back with a beer and sing while I still can. Or better yet, put me on a highway, and show me a sign. And take it to the limit…one more time.
*Opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and in no way reflect the philosophy or preferences of the Williamson County Public Library, its staff members, their families, friends, or pets.
By Lindsay Roseberry, Reference Department
Kelsea had never known her mother Queen Elyssa, but she knew that when she turned 19 she’d have to leave the only home she’d ever known to become Queen of Tearling. The Queens Guards came for her stealthily, since several parties wanted her dead before she took the throne. Kelsea’s trip to New London was arduous but eye-opening, not to mention the guards who never looked at her. She kept a mental log of all she saw wrong on her trip to the capital. How would she ever fix anything? Where could she possibly start?
She learned about the Red Queen in Mortmesne and the treaty that called for 250 people of Tearling to be sent there each month for who knew what, children included. Tearling had started a lottery to choose those to be sent. And she learned that her mother was nothing like what she imagined her to be. Can she become a strong queen for Tearling? She can do no more than try.
This book, The Queen of the Tearling, has been talked about for months. It was one of the books to read, according to so many review journals and word of mouth. If you like fantasy adventure, you’ll like this book. If you liked Fire by Kristin Cashore, you’ll like this book. (But I think it’s better…) When I saw it on a shelf in my library, I checked it out. I devoured it in two days. Now I have to wait for the sequel. Because there has to be a sequel! There has to be!
The Learning Express Library is a database dedicated to providing learning tools for people of all ages (ranging from kids in school to adults looking to start a new career, to those looking to become U.S. Citizens) and starts off in a great way. There is a 16 minute video providing an overview of all the tools Learning Express offers. It is also broken down into smaller units for those that only need a quick review on specific sections. The smaller units include: library homepage, registering as a new user, logging in, the about centers,
Each center has a number of different topics to choose from and those topics are further broken down into sub-sections for a quicker find to the areas needed. There are a few important notes to remember: your login will be your library account number, and the Computer Skills Center is ONLY available to those with an account and are signed in. The guidance section for each center is a wonderful starting point to learn about the section.
The Adult Learning Center has four topics to choose from. These topics are building math skills, learning skills to become a better reader, becoming a better writer, speaking while also improving grammar, and a topic for helping to prepare to become an U.S. Citizen. Each topic in this center (except preparing for the U.S. Citizenship test) provides practice sections and eBooks for use, and some topics also provide quizzes and test preparation sections. What is great in the U.S. Citizenship topic is that there are sections for preparing for the exam, how to get a Green Card, and a section that provides the two previously mentioned sections in Spanish. There is also a Spanish Center that has five topics. These five topics are writing, literature/reading, math, GED prep, and a Citizenship Preparation area.
The Career Center has a total of six topics. The topics are learning more about different careers (such as green careers, homeland security, fire fighters, nurse, teacher and more), preparing for the Allied Health programs entrance exams, preparation for 16 different occupation exams, information to join the military or become an Officer, improving job search and skills to use in the workplace, and preparation for “WorkKeys Assessments and TOEIC.” The tools used for this center are eBooks and practice exams.
The High School Equivalency Center also has six topics. This center is set up wonderfully. The first two topic areas are a great place to start if you need to figure out where your basic skills (math, language, reading and spelling) stand along with tutorials, practice areas and eBooks to help you improve your skills as needed. There are two sections dedicated to the GED (English and Spanish sections). The last two topics focus on preparing for the HiSET test and the TASC Test Assessing Secondary completion. These two topics have practice tests and a tutorial each.
The College Prep Center has six topics. Three of the topics focus on the ACT, THEA, and SAT. In these three topic areas you will find tutorials, practice exercises, and practice tests. PSAT/NMSQT is another topic that has practice tests and eBooks available for use. There is also a topic called “College Admissions Essay Writing” that provides two eBooks: one on editing skills and the other on how to write a great application. The final topic in this center is AP Exams, with practice exams for the most common AP courses.
College Center has seven topics. Topics cover math, reading, grammar and writing, and a science review topic that uses tutorials, eBooks, and practice sets. The math topic covers eight of the most common math courses offered in college. The science topic only offers chemistry and biology review sections. This center also includes preparing for college placement exams (four prep areas) as well as the CLEP exam. Also to be found are practice tests and eBooks for graduate entrance exams. These exams include the GMAT, GRE, LSAT, MAT, MCAT and PCAT.
School Center has three topic areas. The first topic area focuses on Elementary school with math and language arts improvement sections that is geared towards 4th and 5th graders. The second topic focuses on Middle School curriculum in math (6th-8th grade) and English Language Arts (6th-8th grade), eBooks, and other review techniques are available. The topic of social studies is also covered with a section on American History (the U.S. Constitution) and geography through the use of eBooks. The final section is a preparation area for the High School Entrance Exams. The third topic focuses on High School with a total of five sections. These sections contain a further breakdown of each section along with tutorial and eBook sections for use.
The Computer Skills center has five topics to choose from and starts with the most basic computer skills then moves to learning how to use the internet and all it has to offer. The next topic is learning about and how to successfully use the Microsoft Office products, such as MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint and more. There is also a topic that covers graphic design by using Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. The final topic is about understanding how your operating system works. You can choose from Windows (several versions are available) and the MAC operating system.
There you have it, a look into the Learning Express Library and the contents it has to offer for patrons of nearly all ages. Best of luck!
By Stephen McClain, Reference Department
On Sunday evening, January 10, 2016, David Bowie died at the age of 69. After the sudden death of Lemmy Kilmister of Motörhead and the passing of Natalie Cole, the music world has suffered the loss of yet another icon. As modern rock and roll ages as a genre, we will unfortunately see more influential artists disappear in the foreseeable future. Paul McCartney is 73, Robert Plant is 67, Bruce Springsteen is 66, the guys in Iron Maiden are in their late 50s (sans Nicko McBrain who is 63) and they are all still actively creating new music, but performing takes its toll on the body. Artists like these all seem larger than life. Even immortal. Aren’t they supposed to live forever? Anyway… Bowie had just put out a new album entitled “Blackstar,” his 25th studio album. I never realized it until now, but Bowie’s music has been present in my life for a very long time. Around the time I started playing guitar, I used to repeatedly listen to a crackly 45 of “Space Oddity.” (For those under age twenty-five, a 45 is…never mind. Go ask your parents.) I was in 8th grade when “Let’s Dance” and “China Girl” were in the Billboard top ten (yes, I’m that old). I bought the “Best of Bowie” two CD collection many years ago and have done an acoustic version of Ziggy Stardust at a few of my solo gigs. David Bowie had to have known the impact that his music and career had on the entertainment world, but some question whether or not he was aware of his own global reach.
David Bowie was born David Robert Jones south of London, England on January 8, 1947. After several unsuccessful bands and musical endeavors in the 1960s, he would begin his solo career with his focus not only on music, but image as well. He changed his name to Bowie to avoid confusion with Davy Jones, the lead singer of the Monkees. The success of “Space Oddity” would drive Bowie’s career in the early 1970s and he would be a pioneer of the genre of “glam” rock. He and guitarist Marc Bolan are credited with inventing the genre. With the creation and huge success of the characters Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars in 1972, Bowie’s status as an influential rock icon was cemented, even if he didn’t record anything else. Coupled with his androgynous appearance and admitted bisexuality, David Bowie was unlike anything at the time. He greatly influenced bands like Mott the Hoople, Roxy Music, Sweet, and the New York Dolls, all known for an androgynous appearance that was directly related to Bowie. But it’s the music that is so important. Much of what he did in the 1970s still sounds fresh today, “The Man Who Sold the World,” “Changes,” “Rebel Rebel,” “Young Americans,” Suffragette City,” and “Heroes,” the first and last songs being covered by Nirvana and the Wallflowers, respectively.
I could go into great detail about Bowie’s music, image and the impact of his artistic endeavors on the world, but this has been written at length by music writers much better than myself. To me, what is so significant about the loss of David Bowie is that he was an innovator; one that continued to reinvent himself and remained creative and original until the end. He was not only a musician; he was also an actor, artist and fashion icon. In a modern music world where conformity is the rule of the day and artistic development is rare, David Bowie would not have had a chance today. Bowie’s first records were not huge successes until “Space Oddity.” He began his career in 1962 but didn’t see real success until the early 1970s. Today, if an artist’s first album is not a blockbuster, he or she is done. No development. No second chance. That’s it. Without Bowie, there would be no Madonna, Lady Gaga, Marilyn Manson, Alice Cooper, Motley Crue, even Smashing Pumpkins… the list goes on. Bowie tested limits, broke barriers and invented original, unearthly characters. At the risk of sounding cynical, how many of today’s top artists will still be making critically acclaimed, innovative music into their 60s?
His new album, “Blackstar,” which was released on his 69th birthday, is a dark record of 7 tracks that still test limits and is already being acknowledged as some of his finest work. Like George Harrison’s “Brainwashed” and Warren Zevon’s “The Wind,” this is an album written by a man knowing that death would come soon and this would be his final work. I turned on Palladia Monday evening and they were playing an older VH-1 concert of Bowie. Following the show, they played the video for the new single “Lazarus.” It’s creepy. Coupled with the shock of his death, I was not prepared for it. Bowie is in bed, blindfolded by bandages with buttons for eyes and sings, “Look up here, I’m in heaven / I’ve got scars that can’t be seen.” The other 6 tracks are also introspective, jazzy saxophone coupled with a bit of distorted techno. Chaotic at times. The album closes with a lyrical and musical farewell with the track “I Can’t Give Everything Away.”
“I know something is very wrong
The pulse returns for prodigal sons
The blackout’s hearts with flowered news
With skull designs upon my shoes”
We all live in an important time regarding popular music. We are sharing oxygen with artists who were the first of their kind, paved their own way and created music that will last far beyond our time on earth, but I fear that the grab for cash that has consumed the music industry is threatening the further development of music that will last. So much of what we hear today is lowest common dominator dreck designed to appeal to as many as possible. Don’t get me wrong, there is good music out there, but it’s not on the surface. You have to dig. David Bowie’s music and career began at a time when you listened to the radio to know which way the wind blew. Those days are over, but the music lives on. My hope is that there is a kid in a garage or basement somewhere, with an idea or song that will change everything. He or she is out there, I know it. Just like the starman, waiting in the sky. He’d like to come and meet us, but he thinks he’d blow our minds…
Rest in peace, Ziggy.
*Opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and in no way reflect the philosophy or preferences of the Williamson County Public Library, its staff members, their families, friends, or pets.
By Sara Skillen, SkillSet Organizing (Owner)
As a professional organizer, I get asked a quite a bit about making the New Year’s resolution to “get organized” or “de-clutter”, and I get a lot of calls for appointments during this season. Everyone is excited to start fresh and determined to get their spaces and lives under control. January is even National “Get Organized” Month, sponsored by the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO). But really, although I’m always on board with helping people achieve goals, I’m not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions. There is a quote I love:
“Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us.” – Hal Borland
In other words, using the knowledge we gain from all times should help us to improve and continue on our journeys. Although it’s a nice starting point, there really is nothing magic about January 1 for setting goals. Additionally, statistics bear out the fact that most resolutions are not achieved or maintained – one source I reviewed for this post indicated that although 45% of Americans generally make New Year’s resolutions, only 8% are successful in achieving them. And think about it…in January you can never find a free treadmill at the gym, but by Feb. 15 it’s usually a ghost town. Sustained effort on new habits can be tough for all of us.
So what gives? Why bother? Are resolutions pointless? I have three ideas to consider:
First off, I think any time is a great time to think about getting organized. If it’s late March, maybe the weather is perfect for working on the garage (not too hot, not too cold, juuuust right). If it’s November, getting all of the family paperwork in order might be appropriate. And maybe you’ll finally get Aunt Marge’s spoon collection (that you inherited but never exactly appreciated) cleaned up and listed on eBay this June. Thinking of clearing out and organizing as a year-round habit ensures better results than emptying out all the closets the first week of January, only to get discouraged and not ever finish the job.
Secondly (and along those same lines), if getting organized is a goal, be sure that the projects you choose are targeted and approachable. “Get organized” is too vague (not to mention too HUGE for most people), but “Sort, purge and rearrange my spice rack,” is specific and easier to think through. For my most overwhelmed clients, I sometimes suggest organizing one small thing each day – sort out the mail, put everything on the calendar for the month, go through one junk drawer, etc. It helps to reinforce that idea that organizing is not a one-time event, but really a way of living.
Finally, have you ever stopped to think that most any resolution you make requires some level of planning and organization in order to succeed? What if, instead of thinking of organizing as one of your resolutions, you thought of it as the framework upon which all of your other resolutions and goals needed to be built? So if your goal is to lose weight, maybe you should organize the pantry and fridge so that they are ready for the healthier food choices you need to make. If you want to get your personal finances in order, setting up a streamlined, labeled filing system would be a great first step. Weaving the organization through another worthy resolution can ensure higher achievement for both.
So whether you make those resolutions or not, working for better organization, for more simplified spaces, for less stressful schedules and systems, can always be worthy goals. If you need a the support, knowledge, and inspiration to get that process started, I’m here to help (http://www.skillsetorganizing.com), or you can find qualified professional organizers in this area on the NAPO Nashville chapter website.
Here’s to a happy, healthy, and organized 2016!
By Lindsay Roseberry, Reference Department
We all know that many thousands of people gather in Times Square in New York City each year on December 31 and millions watch and celebrate at home. But why? Why December 31? And when did the ball drop in New York City become the American celebration it is?
We have to go way back in history to find out why January 1 is the beginning of the year, at least to most of us. The Jewish calendar and the Chinese calendar don’t begin on January 1. Neither does the Islamic calendar. In ancient times, the new year started for most civilizations after the Spring Equinox. It wasn’t until the time of Julius Caesar that our modern calendar was established. The calendar had gotten badly out of sync with the sun. That’s what happens when the year is only 10 months long. Julius Caesar added two months to the calendar (July and August, for Julius and Augusts, respectively.) He also established January 1 as the beginning of the year. Most European countries used the Julian calendar until it was replaced by the Gregorian calendar in 1582, which we still use today. That caused a great deal of unrest and problems, but that is another story.
Pope Gregory XIII, who invented the Gregorian calendar, also kept January 1 as the beginning of the year. Throughout history, January 1 was celebrated riotously, sometimes to excess. So much excess that these celebrations were banned after the Protestant Revolution. It took a while for fun and joy to return. Most people probably had a quiet celebration at home. Make you wonder how Scrooge would have celebrated the New Year.
New York was a happening town in the 19th century, bustling with life and many, many people. Around the beginning of the century, people began getting together to celebrate and welcome in the New Year. It didn’t take long to organize special events. People began to gather at times Square to celebrate New Year’s in 1904. It didn’t take long for the most famous celebration in the United States to start. The first ball drop was in 1907. But it was nothing like we see now. It was made of iron and wood, covered in 25 watt light bulbs—it weighed 700 hundred pounds! Made by a young immigrant metalworker named Jacob Starr; Mr. Starr formed the company that for most of the 1900s provided the ball for each new year celebration. And lest we think the lighted glasses and blinking light hats revelers wear are new, people wore battery-powered glasses in 1908!
In 1920, the ball’s weight was reduced to only 400 pounds. That ball was in use up until 1955, when an aluminum ball was introduced, weighing much less. In 1980, red lights were added and a green lit stem, making the ball look like an apple—for the New York: The Big Apple campaign. In 1988, the white lights returned; in 1998, the last aluminum ball was lowered. But for the year 2000 celebration, everything changed. That’s when Waterford Crystal and Phillips Lighting created a new, snazzier and jazzier ball! In 2007, the 100th anniversary of the ball dropping, LED lights were added to the aluminum and crystal ball. There are now 2,688 triangles on the ball, with over 30,000 LED lights make the ball more spectacular and programmable. The lights are more like programmed Christmas lights you see now. As an added bonus, and a year-round tourist attraction, the ball stays in full public view at Times Square. It weighs over 10,000 pounds (that’s five tons!) and is twelve feet in diameter. It is lowered slowly (you wouldn’t want a 5 ton object to move fast) down a 77 foot tall poll at one minute to midnight on December 31. The whole crowd counts down the last ten seconds, then the horns and screams echo throughout the city, chaos ensues and a new year begins.
Across the United States a range of cities and towns hold their own versions of the ball drop. A variety of objects are lowered or raised during the last minute of the year. The objects are usually linked to an aspect of local history or industry. Examples of objects ‘dropped’ or raised in this way include a variety of live and modeled domestic and wild animals, fruit, vegetables and more…
- In Key West, Florida, a very large conch is dropped
- Miami drops “Big Orange”
- Atlanta drops a peach – not surprising
- In Indianapolis, they started dropping an Indy race car recently
- Westover, NC drops a three-foot tall wooden flea
- In Cincinnati, a flying pig is flown (not dropped)
- Bethlehem, PA drops a 100 pound lighted Peep (the company headquarters are there…)
- Memphis drops a guitar, Nashville used to, but now it’s a musical note
- Plymouth, WI drops a huge cheese wedge, and why not?
- Boise, ID drops a huge potato
- Raleigh, NC drops a giant acorn made of brass—it weighs 900 pounds
- And for a bit of fun, Stroudsburg, PA drops ping pong balls!