Love and Basketball . . . And Inspired Writing

Uncle Ed by SAM  PHOTO

Here is a brilliant example of the difference between writing as a function and writing as a joy — how writing from the heart and with passion has the power to move readers to emotionally inspired physical reactions, such as laughter and tears. Below, an exceptional young man joins the ranks of writers who remind us that the power to move others through the finely crafted written word is completely unrelated to age.

By Sam Rapp

Life is full of numbers by which we measure ourselves. For some, it is a number that follows a dollar sign. For people my age, it is the number preceding the three letters GPA. For basketball players, it’s the amount of points scored. We assign value to ourselves using these abstract numbers, and often lose sight of the numbers that are truly important.
When talking about my grandfather, Dr. Ed Wiener (or Poppy as many know him), there are plenty of numbers that come to mind. There’s the 1,212 points he scored during his four year career at the University of Tennessee while wearing number 19. There’s the 55 years that he’s been practicing dentistry, and the 80 years that he’s been alive. He’s 6’3″, lives at 123 Croley Rd., and wears a size 13 shoe. But these aren’t the numbers by which he measures himself. These are all just stats to him.
If you were to ask him, he’d bring up the 55 wonderful years he’s spent married to my grandmother. He’d bring up 12/02/1960, the day he became a father to his first child Craig, and 06/18/1962, when he first set eyes upon his daughter Tracy. He’d talk about 21, 19, and 15, the ages of his three grandchildren, and then spend countless hours talking about all of us. Poppy is unique in that the only numbers that matter to him are the ones that connect him to the people he loves and the people who love him.
Today he was honored as an SEC legend from the University of Tennessee for all of his athletic accomplishments and stats from his college days. But his legend goes way beyond those numbers, and way beyond the SEC.
(Reprinted With Permission – some minor edits added to protect personal information.)

A Teenager’s Case Against E-Readers

I have a really special teen in my life: “M.” — a smart, cute, witty, popular, avid reader and a deep thinker. She’s in 10th grade at an urban American public school. M. has some very strong opinions about e-readers — rather unconventional opinions for natives of the Digital Age. I’ve asked her to share her thoughts on e-readers as a guest blogger, and she graciously agreed (and even researched!). With great pride, I present M.’s guest post, unedited, written in her own words. Read, think and feel free to judiciously respond in the comment bubble above. Enjoy! Thanks, “M.”!

Em blog photo

Do eReaders Equal No Readers?

            Throughout the past three or so years, eReaders have become the new “thing.” They have become increasingly popular, and more and more people are jumping on their band wagon. With the increasing of electronic books, what does the future hold for the traditional paperback? Electronic readers like the Kindle, Nook, and Tablet affect the economy, are distractions, have functional set-backs, are negative on the environment and travel, and have many other problems as well.

The increase of electronic readers negatively impacts the American economy. The surge of online books has lead to the closing of many local bookshops and the long-running book power-house, Borders. When these books stores were forcedly closed, thousands of Americans lost their jobs. Unemployment rates shot up, which made the problem of our recession even worse. Also, our once-American employees have been replaced by outsourced workers from third and second world countries. Now most of the money gained from American books is replaced by money that has to be sent to lower world countries to pay for production. With that being said, the American economy does not even gain much of a profit from the best-selling eReaders.

One thing E-readers are fantastic at is being distracting. Most people I know do not even use them to read, instead the three hundred or so dollars spent on electric readers goes towards children playing apps. The touch screen and internet features of E-readers provide an outlet for owners to not read, but to spend more time on Facebook or Candy Crush. Most electronic readers are being compared to Ipads, whose primary function is entertainment, when they should be compared to other eReaders. The comparison of I-products and electronic readers increases the public’s view of eReaders being used for entertainment, not books. Finally, many people bring their Kindle Fires to school and pretend to read in class, when they are actually on in the internet or playing games. This new distraction is causing our next generation of leaders to not succeed as much in school, because more time is spent playing games than learning.

There are also functional set-backs with items like Continue reading

The Power Of Brick And Mortar

“Mom, can I get a book and keep it?”
— A little boy, about age 4 or 5, window shopping as I exited Barnes & Noble today.

I melted into the pavement with a big “awwwww!” His pregnant mom, holding the hand of a teetering toddler, gave a bittersweet laugh and looked at the boy, then at me. “I guess he’s not used to keeping them,” she said. “He’s used to taking them back to the library.” I walked about 10 steps down the strip mall sidewalk before realizing, “You idiot! Turn around buy that kid a book! It’s your chance to do a good deed for the day and perform a random act of kindness!” I turned around, but they were gone. Hopefully, they were inside the store playing in the books, trying to decide which one to take home and keep.

Please support your local bookstores this holiday season, even if they’re big boxes. They’re playgrounds of the imagination, the territory of curious explorers of all ages. They lure us to geographies we’d otherwise never think to venture, and on journeys to places we didn’t know existed — no matter our age or our reading level.  They’re a place to explore books in real time, where we don’t have to keep our eyes on a screen or click any buttons or worry about being disconnected. We can touch and smell what we want to buy, or might want to buy, or what we definitely don’t want to buy but do want to steal a peek at. We can take it home the same day – no postage involved. If we need help, we can get advice and ideas from a real person with a face. Bookstore workers tend to be actually helpful. I really don’t want to live in a world without bookstores. It would be a little like living in a world without spring. Let’s try to keep the toothpaste in the tube as long as we can!

Banned Books Week

Banned Books Photo

“Censorship is VERY American.”
— Kurt Cobain

It’s Banned Books Week. Check out the great post linked below by Eleventh Stack — and some of the books on the lists it links to, like those by Sherman Alexie, Lauren Myracle, John Green, Suzanne Collins, and of course, Harper Lee. Oh, and the ones in this photo too! Happy Reading!

Banned Books Week.