Tag Archives: BookMooch

Little Free Library (Taos Youth & Family Center)

Standard

My first Little Free Library was in Los Gatos, CA. Later, I discovered one at a dog park in Santa Fe. I wondered why there wasn’t a little Little Free Library in Taos, but it turns out I simply wasn’t looking in the right place.

The first Little Free Library I found in Taos was at the Youth & Family Center. The Man and I went there to shower. Tea had told me all about it. The center had a swimming pool and in the locker rooms, there were showers. For only $2, anyone could shower at the center.

I was really excited to take a shower the first time we went to the Youth & Family Center. It had probably been a week since we cleaned up, and I was looking forward to hot water and soap.

I got an added bonus surprise as I walked up to the front entrance of the center: a Little Free Library! This Little Free Library was a re-purposed newspaper vending machine. So clever! The machine had been painted white and labeled “Little Free Library” so no one could doubt its purpose.

I looked at the books on the shelf of the Little Free Library, as I always do. I can’t remember if I found anything I wanted to read that morning or if I dropped off any books I had finished. I did file away the library’s location in my memory so I could drop off books in the future.

It wasn’t long before I had a pile of books to donate to this library.

The best thrift store in Taos is the one run by the CAV (Community Against Violence). They price the fancy clothes a little high for my budget, but they always have plenty of clothes for just a dollar. Also, I believe in the work the CAV folks are doing, so I feel good about giving them my money.

CAV’s mission is to foster and support a community free from all forms of domestic and sexual violence.

CAV offers a 24-Hour Crisis Hotline (575.758.9888) for survivors of domestic and sexual violence. We provide legal and medical advocacy services, counseling and support groups, children’s programs, community prevention and outreach programs, and are able to provide information and resources for those in need.

CAV also has an on-site emergency shelter for adults and children, and offers short and long-term transitional housing programs.

All Services are FREE & Confidential

However, as much as I like shopping inside the store, I always take a look at the dumpster before I leave the parking lot.

Not long after I discovered the Little Free Library at the Youth & Family Center, I found a half dozen boxes of books by the dumpster behind the CAV thrift store. What? I don’t know if people had wanted to donate the books on a day when the store wasn’t accepting donations so instead hauled everything to the dumpster or if the thrift store volunteers didn’t think the books would sell and dumped them all for trash pickup. In any case, there were a lot of free books out there.

I went through all the boxes and found books I wanted to read, as well as a stack of books for Tea and some to give away through BookMooch. I am ashamed to admit I didn’t think of the Little Free Library when I found the book windfall.

All the free books stayed on my mind. What if it rained? They would get wet and be wasted. If only there were a place they could go where they would stay dry, where people who wanted to read could be sure to find them…Sometime in the night, I had my a-ha! moment. I could transport books to the Little Free Library.

The next day, I went back to the CAV dumpster. Many of the free books were gone, but there were still plenty for me to transport to the Little Free Library. I snagged all of the books for kids and young adults because I thought young people would be the main patrons of that particular Little Free Library. I also grabbed a few books I thought adults might like. I drove the books the mile to the Youth & Family Center and placed each one in the Little Free Library. I felt good knowing I’d done my part to get the books out of the trash and and into the hands of the people.

I took all the photos in this post.

The Water Knife (A Book Review)

Standard

The Water Knife
I first heard of the novel The Water Knife (set in the American Southwest, primarily in Phoenix, AZ from a blurb in Sunset magazine (http://www.sunset.com/). The description intrigued me, and I wanted to read the book. Thanks to a kind BookMooch (http://bookmooch.com/) member, I had my chance.

In author Paolo Bacigalupi’s Phoenix, water is precious and scarce, and society is divided according to who has it and who doesn’t. The rich have water, of course, The rich live in lavish “arcologies” where all waste water is sceientifically filtered clean and reused. The rich have plenty of water to drink, can bathe whenever they want, have their clothes cleaned regularly, and even use flush toilets. The poor have limited water resources. The poor live in squats built from salvaged materials or abandoned houses; neither type of housing has running water. The poor buy their water one gallon at a time from pumps with fluctuating prices. The poor are dusty dirty because they can rarely shower or wash their clothes. Needless to say, there are no flush toilets for the Phoenix poor.

Not every place in this distopia Southwest has the water problems Phoenix does. Things are much worse in Texas, and refugees have poured into Arizona via New Mexico. The good people of New Mexico wanted nothing to do with Texas regugees and sent them on their way, sometimes violently. Life isn’t so hard in California and Nevada, and those states want to keep it that way by limiting who crosses their borders to use their limited resources. In this world, coyotes still guide people across borders, but the borders crossed are into states with water.

The most important thing in this world are water rights, and the water knife of the title makes sure his boss gets the water rights she needs to stay wealthy and priviliged.

There’s a lot of dark action in this book: shooting, torture, murder, death. Young women (called “bangbang girls,” usually Texans) sell their bodies for money and, hopefully, the chance to wash their panties in the sink while the rich man sleeps. A man who controls a neighborhood and demands a percentage of the money the area residents earn uses hyenas as part of his enforcement plan. Dams are blown up and precious water is diverted. People are tortured for answers. This book is so dark, in fact, that I put it aside for four months after reading the first nine chapters. The book was good, but it had me on edge, knowing all the characters were facing terrible fates. When I picked it up the second time, I must have been in a better state of mind, because I was able to enjoy the story without letting the violence get to me.

The action of the novel just keeps coming. I enjoyed the suspense of not knowing what would happen next or who would doublecross whom. I did, however, figure out the story’s key mystery long before the characters did. (Of course, I had a big picture view the characters were lacking.)

I also enjoyed the characters. I was pleased to see two of the three main characters through whose eyes the story is told are women. The women aren’t damsels-in-distress women either, but strong, ass-kicking, gonna do what has to be done women. Even though the book is primarily an action/adventure/mystery story, there is also character development, which I appreciated.

The social problems the book examines are not easy to look at. What happenes when modern life as we know it breaks down? What happens when one of humankind’s most basic, most necessary resources becomes so scare people are willing to kill for it? What happens when the environment changes to the point people may no longer be able to survive on the surface of the earth? The Water Knife raises these questions and offers only bleak answers.

Still, I’m glad I read this novel. It was difficult to get through some parts of it, but those hard parts really made the story ring true. It’s a good book, but maybe not for readers who can’t handle the dark side of humanity.

People Are So Nasty

Standard

At the beginning of last year’s camping season, when I walked through my campground picking up microtrash, I found a used condom. (Read that story here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/05/24/people-are-nasty/.) Picking up a used condom was bad, but it had been lying on the ground for a while, so was quite dry. It wasn’t as bad as it would have been if the condom had been recently used.

What I found at the beginning of this camping season was worse than a freshly used condom.

Around site #2, quite a bit of toilet paper had been left by people or scattered there by the wind. It was kind of gross to think about picking up toilet paper, so I didn’t think about it too much and just went about my work. Then I picked up a piece of toilet paper and under it discovered a pile of human feces. Gross! Yuck! Disgusting!

Who does that?

I’m pretty sure at least two restrooms in the campground were not locked during the off season. Those two are older restrooms, with no locks on the outside of the doors. I don’t think anyone installed locks on those doors in the fall, then removed them in the spring. So whoever shit on the ground most likely had pit toilets at his/her disposal. The Camping Expert website (http://www.camping-expert.com/how-to-shit-in-the-woods.html) reminds readers

If facilities exist, use facilities in the area. Pooping on a toilet is ALWAYS better than pooping in the woods.

If the ground shitter was such an avid outdoor enthusiast that s/he didn’t want to use the pit toilet, s/he should have taken care of business properly.

According to the Men’s Journal website (http://www.mensjournal.com/health-fitness/health/how-to-poop-in-the-woods-20150817), there is a proper way to shit in the woods (which I guess could apply to campgrounds, although the article says

Make sure you get at least 200 feet (about 70 paces) away from the trail, water, or campsite.)

The aforementioned article says burial works in areas that don’t have a sensitive environment or are located near water or a canyon, or where campers are required by law to carry their feces out with them.

In soil, dig a hole at least 6 inches deep. The National Outdoor Leadership School suggests scraping the sides of the hole to loosen some dirt to stir into your poop to speed up the natural breakdown process when you’re done. Always conclude the burial process by covering the hole and tamping it down.

The Camping Expert website also advises

Put a cross or stake into your pile to warn other poopers of your pile.

As for toilet paper, the Camping Expert says

DO NOT BURY the toilet paper. I cannot stress this enough.
I know that a lot of people recommend to bury it, and that it will decompose, it is paper after all… however, I have seen lots of toilet paper that hasn’t decomposed and looks gross, sticking out of a dirt pile and once, I even saw a little red squirrel running with a toilet paper strand in it’s [sic] mouth to use in it’s [sic] nest. EWW.

Once at an infoshop, I glanced through a book called How to Shit in the Woods by Kathleen Meyer. I always wanted to read the book but have never come across it at a thrift store or on BookMooch.

I bet the person who defecated on the ground and then covered it with a piece of toilet paper on site #2 never read Meyer’s book! I wonder if that person had any idea how long it takes human waste to biodegrade (about a year, according to an article on the Mother Jones website–http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2011/04/is-it-okay-to-poop-outside.) I wonder if s/he gave any thought to the person (me!) who’d have to clean up the mess.

After discovering what was hidden under the toilet paper, I walked over to my storage room and got my shovel. I scooped everything up and deposited it in the trashcan. It was a gross job; it made me grumpy.

 

Review of a Book I Didn’t Like: Millions of Women Are Waiting to Meet You

Standard

Millions of Women Are Waiting to Meet You: A Memoir
I like to read. I love to read. Books have saved my life on more than one occasion. But sometimes books fuck me up too. Case in point, Millions of Women Are Waiting to Meet You by Sean Thomas.

I’d never heard of this book until I was poking around on BookMooch, looking for books to request. I saw a listing for this book, and the premise of the true story of internet dating from a man’s point of view seemed interesting. So I mooched the book. Then I read the book. Then I wrote the following review.

This book depressed the fuck out of me. It depressed me as in I don’t want to ever wake up because them I’m going to have to get out of this bed and deal with this awful world we live in.

It all starts harmlessly enough. The author is single. The author writes for Men’s Health magazine. The author’s boss tells him to write an article about internet dating. The author researches internet dating for the article by actually dating women he meets through dating websites.

The book is written in a sort of chatty, tell-all style. Each chapter relates not only to the author’s current dating dilemma, but to the author’s history of dating, love, and sex.

I thought the book was funny. I laughed out loud many times while reading it.

It’s also easy to read. I tore through it in about twenty-four hours (including a slow work day).

But when I finished reading it, I wished I’d never picked it up.

The author wants the reader to think he’s a nice guy. He wants the reader to wonder how a guy as nice as the author can be nearly 40 years old and still single. When he starts sharing his most private thoughts, the reader comes to understand why the author is almost 40 and still single. The author is almost 40 and still single because he is a cad. (Need a quick example of his dishonorable behavior? As he is contemplating dating a Chinese woman, he writes, “At least Asian girls will do the dishes.” I suppose that was meant to be funny.)

The first hint of the author’s boorish ways is his obsession with female beauty and body parts. He mentions the beauty of every woman he wants to meet. He mentions the breasts of nearly every woman he dates. He doesn’t enjoy a particular date because the woman involved misses her homeland and is maudlin and teary throughout the evening. However, she has a great “arse,” so the author thinks he really should see her again. The obsession with physicality gets a bit ridiculous when the author rejects a woman he seems to get along well with because she’s only a few inches shorter than he is. Maybe you’re alone, you idiot, I wanted to tell him, because you’re too concerned with how women look.

He says he likes short, thin women. He enjoys feeling as if he can protect them. (I wouldn’t trust this guy to protect me from a mosquito.) Apparently, he likes to be with small women so he can feel big and strong. (He refers to his “caveman” brain way too much.) It turns out that not only does he like small women, he likes young women. When he was in his early 20s, he was sexually and romantically involved with a young woman who was only 17. Then, when he was thirty, he was sexually and romantically involved with another seventeen year-old woman child. (His math concerning this relationship was a little confusing. He claims he got together with this woman when she was 17, was with her on and off for five years, then broke up when she was twenty.) Maybe he likes to be with young women because he’s immature. Maybe he likes them so he can dominate them and push them around. I don’t know. But maybe he ends up single because his girlfriends grow up and move on when they decide they want to try new things.

As we get deeper into the author’s story, we learn he has been involved in not one, not two, but three unplanned pregnancies. Ummm, condoms? Keep it in your pants? But apparently not, because then he’s involved in a paternity kerfuffle.

He frequents prostitutes, which I don’t think is necessarily morally wrong, except he frequents prostitutes in developing countries where women have limited economic choices. Sex slavery…how enticing. What really pissed me off was the sentence where he refers to “the whore my American friend had in Kenya.” The words “whore” and “had” make it all seem so ugly. If men are going to pay for sex, they should be respectful of the sex workers (even when the sex workers aren’t around to hear what the men have to say). But I guess one of the reasons (some) men pay for sex is so they don’t have to be respectful of the women they’re fucking.

I thought the most interesting chapter in the book is the one dedicated to the author’s foray into internet porn. I knew little about internet porn. I didn’t know people stream their live sex acts so other people can watch. I didn’t realize people watch “normal” folks have sex. The author didn’t know those things either. Of course, he spends so much time viewing internet porn that he ends up in the hospital. (No joke.)

So yeah. The author is a cad. But he’s an honest cad, and he shares with the reader everything that goes on in that cad brain of his. And you know, I appreciate honesty. And I support the author’s right to live his fucked up life the way that makes him happy. (Although he doesn’t seem happy through most of this book.) I even support him writing a book about it all. I’m just sorry his book fell into my hands. And I’m sorry that it was funny and well-written enough to keep me reading it. Because if the book jacket is right and this is “a book that reveals what men really think about love, sex, and dating,” a bunch of us ugly, fat, middle age (and older) woman are doomed to be alone. But after reading this book, I’m certain that being alone is preferable to being with this guy or someone of his ilk.

Review of a Book You’ve Maybe Never Heard Of: I’m Not the New Me

Standard

I'm Not the New Me
I thought that today I would share a review of a book I got through BookMooch several years ago. I think the book was already kind of old when I wrote this review in February of 2012. However, I like the review, so there you go.

The book in question is I’m Not the New Me, by Wendy McClure.

 

This is a book about writing a blog. It doesn’t contain the writing that makes up the blog. It’s just about the process of writing the blog. Well, that’s not quite right. It’s about more than just the process of writing a blog.

It’s about body image and self esteem and what it means if a woman’s fat and she decides she wants to lose some weight. It’s about deciding how much weight to lose. How much weight is enough?

It’s about dating. It’s about meeting a guy and getting dumped before you can dump him and being sad because he dumped you first, even though, really, it’s for the best. It’s about going on dates with loser loser loser, then meeting the best guy ever only to end up heartbroken again.

It’s about friendship and being an inspiration to people never met in person.

It’s about being funny and charming and smart, but having people just see fat. And it’s about saying “Fuck You!” to people who only see fat.

Wendy McClure is funny. Think Sarah Vowell, but with more cursing and less patriotism. There were times I had to quit reading because I was eating and was about to laugh and snarf my breakfast all over the table.

The book ends without any big revelation, so don’t come here looking for the Answers. Wendy doesn’t have your Answers. Maybe she has a couple of her own, but she leaves you fully in charge of figuring your life out for yourself.

BookMooch

Standard

BookMooch is a gift economy website that helps people give and receive books. I’ve been a member since 2007.

Here’s how BookMooch works:

I set up an inventory of books I want to give away. Most books are already in the BookMooch database and are easy to add to the inventory. I earn 1/10 of a point for each book I add. I can take a book out of my inventory at any time, for any reason, but when I do, 1/10 of a point is deducted from my point total.

BookMooch members can see my inventory. If any member wants a book in my inventory, s/he can mooch it from me. I’m sent an email notice that someone wants one of my books. I respond to that notice by accepting or rejecting the request. It’s in my best interest to accept the request because I get a point each time I accept a request. (I only send books within the United States, so I get one point per book. Books sent internationally earn 3 points.) I then send the book to the person who asked for it. I pay postage for books I send.

Once I acquire points, I can choose books that I want to mooch from the inventories of other members. When I ask for a book, BookMooch sends a message to the book owner asking if s/he is willing to send it. The sender pays the postage on books sent to me. I use one point for each book I mooch within the United States. I never mooch books from folks in other countries, but I could if I wanted to. Books mooched internationally cost 3 points.

Folks have to send out one book for every two received. If a member doesn’t keep up the 2:1 ration of received to sent, s/he is not allowed to mooch any more books (even if s/he still has points) until s/he improves that ratio.

In seven years, I’ve given away 282 books and received 192 books.

The condition of listed books varies widely. Members can add condition notes when they list their books. I try to describe my books accurately, although a couple of times I’ve been in a hurry and left out information and the receiver of the book has complained. Some people are looking for a specific edition of a book or specifically want hardcover. Also, people with allergies might not want books that have been in the same room as cigarette smoke or pet fur. I just want to read whatever book I am mooching, so I’m not usually picky about the condition of the books I receive.

Some books listed are old and seemingly unpopular, but I have found many relevant books to read on BookMooch. This is not a website where people are just trying to get rid of their junk.

Go here: http://bookmooch.com/ to learn more about and/or sign up for BookMooch.