A Brash Salute to a Boy Hero!

Evening, fans!

Quite the storms we’ve been having in Florida. Most days seem to be “Oh, what a lovely sunny day we’re hav-” RAAAAWR NO MORE SUNNY DAY FOR YOU, RAIN RAIN NONSTOP FOR ??? MINUTES. Seriously, could be 5 minutes…could be all day.

…What the heck just happened? Mother nature likes to sucker punch us Florida folk.

Eco-terrorism at it’s finest.

For realsies, I’m scared to check my mailbox for fear that a hurricane will take me out before I get back inside.

This week on Brash Librarian, I’m saluting 9-year-old Spencer Collins from Leawood, Kansas – a boy who just wants to share his love for books with the world! Young Mr. Collins runs a free little communal library called “Take a book, Leave a book” inside a small homey box on his front lawn where people can try new books or donate old ones…or rather, he ran it before it was closed down his story aired backed in June.

Capture“When we got home from vacation, there was a letter from the city of Leawood saying that it was in code violation and it needed to be down by the 19th or we would receive a citation,” said Spencer’s mother, Sarah Collins.

This trouble started when two people filed complaints against Spencer’s library, as Leawood bans buildings that aren’t attached to someone’s home. The family moved the little library up into the garage, but Spencer said he plans to take the issue up with the city and “tell them why it’s good for the community and why they should drop the law…I just want to talk to them about how good it is.”

Richard Coleman of Leawood’s City Hall responded saying, “We empathize with them, but we still have to follow the rules…We need to treat everybody the same.” Basically, they can’t grant them special favors just because it’s a cute little library. I totally get that, I’m all for policies and procedures. The real question I have is what horrible, maniacal, heartless person would file a complaint against such a thing? Kids do lemonade stands, girl scout cookies, church things and such all the time. I get the homeowners association “we don’t want activity that lowers our property/neighborhood value” mentality, but this ain’t that kind of party. This isn’t the unauthorized purple/pink/lime green shanty of a shed that’s an eyesore; this is a kid who loves books and is encouraging others to read. THIS IS WHAT LEARNING LOOKS LIKE.

Collins, the ever resourceful boy and maybe future librarian, is using his smarts to fight the system. He states at one point, “I thought, why not get a rope and attach it to our house and the library?” with perfect loophole genius. What’s even better is that his genius is spreading and his cause is gaining ground and support. Since his story aired in June, Collins has been granted temporary permission by the city, he has partnered with Little Free Libraries, a nonprofit organization, and his own Facebook library page has over 32,000 likes, and even celebrities are taking notice!

YOU DON’T MESS WITH LEMONY SNICKET.

Thanks to hard work, perseverance, and a love of books, Spencer Collins got his library opened back up on July 7th. Sorry it had to wait until after the 4th. ‘Merica. Don’t have a little library in your area? Build one!

Spencer Collins, I salute you! You are definitely a Brash, Brash man. We all look forward to your future endeavors and can’t wait to see what else you do!

That’s all for now this week, be sure to like his page on Facebook or mine if you haven’t already!

Justin Brasher, Brash Librarian

 

 

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Amazon’s Brash New Phone?

Hey Gang!

So for the last week or three, I’ve been hearing much buzz about the new Amazon Fire, Amazon’s entry into the smartphone market. Between Android and iOS, I’m not sure if this little guy will make it. On the other hand, the Kindle Fire HD and HDX are selling better than the Nexus 7 or the iPad. Personally, I really like the Kindle Fire HD (though if you looked at mine, you’d think it’s only an Amazon Video/Netflix device).

No, clicking the play button won’t work.

Amazon’s page has a few demo videos, but CNET has a pretty nice first-look video seen below:

 

As far as phones go, I’m happy with my Droid Maxx, which I’ve had for about 6 months now.

Droid Maxx, carbon fiber on left and glossy on right. I went with carbon fiber!

Phone part aside, it seems to have pretty nifty features, though I’m not totally sold. Let’s look at some of the features “not available on any other smartphone”:

Dynamic Perspective is touted as “A custom-designed sensor system that responds to how you hold, view, and move your phone.” I’ll let Amazon do the talking on this part:

Immersive apps and games

Peek in maps to show Yelp ratings. In StubHub stadium view, see 90 degrees to the left and right of your seat, as if you were actually there, looking around. In games, like Lili, take on the character’s viewpoint and move your head to look around corners, obstacles, and other objects.

One-handed short cuts

Access menus, shortcuts, and useful information with tilt, swivel, and peek.

Tilt for panels—use the left panel to navigate menus, and the right panel to access useful information and shortcuts, like attaching photos to a text message, viewing song lyrics, and more.

Swivel for access to important notifications and quick actions like Mayday, Flashlight, Settings, and more.

Peek keeps your display uncluttered by revealing additional details and quick actions only when you need it.

One-handed reading

With auto-scroll, scan long web pages without ever having to touch the screen.

Okay, I’ll say it…The 3D screen is awesome. Looking at 3D maps is super cool.

Is it just me, or does it look like Time Lord art?

Another weapon it boasts in its arsenal is Firefly, a super-duper scanner than can scan anything. With one push of a button – yes, they have a button JUST for this feature – you can scan phone numbers, music, TV, pretty much the universe.

Firefly can identify printed text on posters, magazines, and business cards—make calls, save new contacts, send emails, and visit websites without typing long addresses. According to Amazon, “Firefly recognizes over 240,000 movies and TV episodes, and 160 live TV channels. Firefly uses X-Ray, powered by IMDb, to show information on actors, plot details, and related content—add titles to your Watchlist or download to watch later.”

As for music, it can also listen to songs so you can access artist information, play related songs, download albums direct your Fire phone, or add them to your Wish List to later buy if you want. Firefly-enabled apps like iHeartRadio and StubHub, “you can create radio stations based on an identified artist, or even find tickets for their next show.” I don’t how many people make the jump from “Cool song, I’ve never heard this band before” to “OHMYGOD I HAVE TO SEE THEM IN CONCERT”, but I guess that feature will serve them well!

In case those didn’t catch your attention, Firefly can also scan pretty much anything sold on Amazon and add it to your Wish List – over 70 million items and climbing. I don’t really see that as the ultimate selling point, but I can roll with it.

Next, let’s talk about Mayday, the only smart phone to have 24/7 no-waiting assistance. Amazon assures you that “Our tech experts can co-pilot you through any feature by drawing on your screen, walking you through how to do something yourself, or doing it for you—whatever works best. Throughout the process, you’ll be able to see the Amazon expert live on your screen, but they won’t see you.” Awesome, my two fears about doing something myself or being seen in my pajamas have been allayed. I almost worry that this feels like a phone version of AOL. Help is guaranteed in 15 seconds or less – I hope that will stay that way when a few million people have one.

That’s alot of shiny, but do you need the Fire to do all this? Probably not.

  • Dynamic Perspective: Cool 3D element and interactive games, but I otherwise read “Tilt”, “Swivel”, “Peek” and these other hands-free actions as “you must be too lazy to use your finger, we’ll do the work for you”. I’d probably expend more energy twisting and flicking my wrist using these features.
  • Firefly: Plenty of other programs can identify music, products, and things of the sort. With IMDB, Google Goggles and SoundHound, I’m almost at the same level.
  • Mayday: I’ll admit, 24/7 assistance is handy but I imagine I would use it very rarely. This feels more like a feature for Grandpa who just got his smartphone for Christmas.

Why do I care about this new toy, do you ask?

Because someday, somebody is going to bring that into the library and ask for help on it. And by “ask for help”, I mean “beg me to teach them how to use it”. That’s when I’ll remind them that they Mayday, but “Mayday can’t help me/I don’t know how/I don’t trust them Mayday people/I want YOU to do it” will emerge and I’ll have to work with it. And I’ll be ready because I’ve done my homework. And I’m just very clever!

Bring it in, I’ll still fix it. There isn’t a smartphone that’s out-smarted me yet.

Thanks, David Tennant! He really summed up how I’m feeling about it.

Leave comments below! I want to hear your thoughts on this week’s post!

 

Any other questions in the meantime, post here or ask me on my Facebook page!

Might have another tech one next week, we’ll see…That’s all for now, have fun kids!

Brash Librarian, Justin Brasher

 

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Happy 4th from the Brash Librarian

Happy fourth of July, everyone!

It’s time for some fireworks, BBQ, beer, and something red, white and blue.

Enjoy some fun American tidbits, like a map of brands:

Not enough? Try a map…for BEER!

Waffles!

I’m keeping it simple this week. Now get back to having fun!

Justin Brasher, American Librarian

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Unusual Librarians Who Rock

Hey Gang!

I know it’s been awhile since I did my ULWR post, so I thought I’d share a favorite! This time, I thought I’d venture off the beaten path and try one most people wouldn’t know. I was recently in the mood for some beat-em-up martial arts movies and put on a few favorites while I write and clean – Ip Man, Fearless, Hero, Operation Condor, Drunken Master (all fantastic, if you’re bored on Netflix tonight) and I remembered one I haven’t seen in ages….BLACK MASK!

Yes, I know he’s not wearing a Black Mask. That comes later.

This was a pretty cool movie when I was a kid, just when Jet Li was becoming popular in America. What super cheesy 90’s Hong Kong action, I love it! It’s been years since I had seen it, so I thought I’d fire it up. Sadly, it is not on Netflix. As I watched this again, I realized that the hero of the story is in fact A LIBRARIAN. How did I miss that? Oh right, not seeing it for 10 years will do that.

So let me give you the overview! Black Mask follows a librarian named Simon, who is secretly a former test subject for a highly secretive super-soldier project dubbed “701.” The 701 squad was used for top-secret missions, but was aborted after one of the soldiers goes crazy and kills several innocent people. Too dangerous to go free, the government tries to kill the 701 squad (bad idea, I know). Simon helps his fellow soldiers escape to safety before parting ways and starting a new life.

Simon explains, “I live in Hong Kong with a new name and a job in a library, something as far removed from my violent past as I could find.” He says he enjoys library work because his boss leaves him alone. “I like it here. It’s quiet. Nobody ever bothers a librarian.” (Clearly, this library has no children’s section.) It’s not just a cover – Simon benefits from all those books, learning how to disarm bombs with a pager and all sorts of awesome things; to quote Simon, “You’d be surprised what you learn on this job.”

I’m just a super soldier chillin’ with my book, don’t mind me

It’s a quiet life for Simon…until a violent crime spree rips through Hong Kong! The police are outmatched, and it isn’t long before Simon pieces together that the 701 squad has teamed back up and are living in Hong Kong. He sets out to get rid of them, donning a mask and hat using the superhero alias “The Black Mask”. Having lost the ability to feel pain due to the surgery performed on the super-soldiers by the military, Black Mask is almost invulnerable.

 

I don’t get the ridges in the mask, but still pretty cool!

Still not sold on this movie? Watch the ridiculous 90s trailer below.

Watch it and let me know what you think!

Justin Brasher, Brash (super soldier) Librarian

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Haaaappy Birthdaaaay to MEEEEE!!!!

 SO MY BIRTHDAY HAPPENED! YAY!

What a great time it was! I treated myself to a little trip to Texas for the Spartan Super race and a day or three off from work. (Sorry, no library stuff this time. It’s all about the birthday boy in this week’s post.)

“So Justin, how did your race go?”

It went great, voice in my head! Let’s roll some highlight photos of race time!

I ran the race outside Austin with my sweetie Heather and her friends Dana/Keith/some other guys who slip my mind right now. It was Heather’s first mud race, and it went well!

Made me some new friends!

Now those of you who have followed me for awhile know that these dangerous races are kind of my jam. Swamp Dash, Superhero Scramble, Tough Mudder, Zombie Dash, I’ve ran me plenty. This was by far the toughest one I’ve ran – I wasn’t expecting 2 miles UP A MOUNTAIN.

After-race dirty!

It wasn’t difficult in the “test your might” kind of way, it was difficult in the “let’s have you run 9 miles (almost 2 up a mountain in the summer Texas heat) and then do a bunch of obstacles at the end.” That wasn’t fun, and that’s not what I sign up for. I have a list of complaints about the Spartan race I ran in Tampa, but I digress.

This medal tested my mettle. (Heehee!)

I really just wish that those who were new to it had gotten a better first impression. Sorry Spartans, but Tough Mudder and Superhero Scramble have you beat.

That mud patch almost looks like an injury.

So, it was indeed my birthday. Like any other day, I went to work, did the usual daily stuff, and came home to a full decorated place. Happy birthday banners! Streamers! Balloons! Presents! Birthday cake! It was amazing.

Some goodies I got include Batman towel holders for when I’m at the pool (I think that was a “you’re too darn pale” hint), Batman swimshorts, pre-workout powder and Deadpool the game! A simple birthday, but one that felt good. All because of a special sweetie!

Now then, enough about me, more about you guys. As time goes on, I’ve been getting more heavily involved in work stuff and I’m learning alot on the technology side. I want to rave more about library technology and products, but I don’t want to alienate my non-library friends as well. I’ve been thinking about consumer electronics, products and services along with social media as future posts ideas. Talk to me people.

Don’t be shy to talk to me about these things, I’ve been feeling a little stagnant lately and want to write about SO much…but the freedom is stifling, give me a wind or two to steer by. You can comment here or on my Facebook page, so give me more ideas on what YOU as a reader want to read about. Next week…I’ll hopefully have some interesting news for you!

Take care, have fun this summer and don’t get too hot 2 MILES UP A MOUNTAIN.

(Stupid mountain.)

Justin Brasher, Brash Librarian

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Brash gets Brash at FLA

Hey gang!

So this has been quite an interesting week or three. I had the pleasure of attending the Florida Library Association for the fourth year in a row. Wow, I’ve been doing this stuff for that long? SWEET.

Getting in on Tuesday was a nice way to start the convention. The hotel was pretty rad, and the bed? SO SOFT. I felt like I was sleeping in a bottle of Dove moisturizer.

Aww yeah, look at that.

26th story, BOOM.

So the opening meeting was super fun! I had a chance to see Amy Herman once again, one of the greatest speakers I’ve ever seen. If her name sounds familiar to you, then you’ve probably read my post on her back in 2012 which can read here.  Amy Herman teaches Art of Perception, wherein she uses art for honing and heightening one’s observational powers, not letting any minute detail escape, and learning to clearly communicate observations to other people. She has trained detectives, doctors, CIA and FBI agents, emergency response personnel and more to be more aware and observant. YES, IT’S A CLASS ON HOW TO BE SHERLOCK HOLMES “I don’t like the words ‘obviously’ and ‘clearly’…what’s obvious to you may not be to other people. It’s your job to observe and  communicate – observation is a 24-hour job”, Herman remarks. Her website might describe it better than I can:

“The Art of Perception® is a proprietary training seminar that teaches professionals how to enhance their observation and communication skills. Since its inception in 2000, the Art of Perception has successfully trained thousands of professionals from a broad range of fields, including law enforcement, medicine, industry, and education. The program’s dual objectives are achieved by removing participants from their daily work environment and developing and improving observational skills that are relevant to their specific professions. Participants analyze works of art in a museum setting and present their observations to their colleagues, thereby improving their individual and collective abilities to discern the distinctions between perception and inference. As a result of this process, they learn to analyze, expand upon, and reconsider the skills necessary to perform their professional responsibilities.”

Ah, opening ceremony.

During this whole session, I had the pleasure of sitting next to Mary Jane, one of my super cool library peeps who has been helping me with all this fundraising hootenanny.

 

This is how we roll.

After Amy’s fantastic talk, we begin working our way through the posters and campaigns throughout the hall. While some were great, it’s really hard to beat Star Wars and Doctor Who.

I’m not afraid of you, Dalek

Chewie will rip that tin can to shreds.

After a little food, an extended workshop with Amy Herman where she concurred that the pillows and bed are made of cloud candy (and she’s read my blog, *squee*), and it’s off to the exhibition hall! You know what that means…FREE STUFF. And not just free stuff – contests to win even MORE free stuff! I’ve only just walked in when I get a paper for a scavenger hunt and an Instagram contest. That’s right, complete a series of pictures and post them to your Instagram account – first one to get theirs finished can win an Android tablet. ZOOM! I ran so fast, those letters almost blew over.

I didn’t even have an Instagram account…I had one 60 seconds later.

Photo with a WT Cox rep? Done.

Selfie with three other people from three different organizations? Check.

Get a picture with someone in a bow tie. Loop hole!

There were others, but let’s fast forward about 15 minutes to the part where I win – yahoo! Gimme that tablet!

“Sorry man, somebody beat you to the tablet over an hour ago.”

“…Oh, okay. Can I win anything else?”

“Sure, here’s the list of things to choose from!”

So let’s see…some jewelry…gift cards…free books…(come on, guys. I work in the library field, give me something other than books)…$25 cash…a Peterbrooke chocolate basket…

STOP. A basket full of chocolate? Say no more, good sir!

Way yummier than any tablet.

By now, the FSU student/alumni mixer is about to start. I shall take my prize back up the room before going. However…I’ve been trying to raise funds for FSU, and I’ve been trying to avoid sweets as I train for my next mud run (Spartan Super this Saturday, thankyouverymuch)…I have an idea.

I decide to bring the basket with me and see if I can auction it off at the mixer! What’s the worst that could happen? They tell me no and I have to eat my chocolate? Don’t throw me in the briar patch or anything.

The idea goes over very well, and the auction begins…$5, $10, $20, $25! That’s when Charlie Parker, in his own silly way, suggests that we crowd source the basket instead. Everyone pitch in and get some chocolate? It just might be crazy enough to work! We’ve got people throwing in 5s, 10s, 20s, and it’s time to break that basket open while the money keeps coming in. Come on, chocolate, do your thing.

You give money, you get chocolate. Sound investment. Mafe agrees.

Time to break this bad boy open with Dean Dennis while Mafe collects money!

While we started to break out the chocolate, Mafe brought me a stack of bills to count. I’m so gangsta with all this money! (Not really.)

The final amount…$232.00

Who would have thought that a basket of candy I won an hour ago playing Instagram would net their fund that much money. One basket! I have my clever and resourceful moments, what can I say?

Celebratory pic with Mafe and my new blue ascot! (Scooby snacks not included.)

And that was just Day One!

Day Two!

No longer in a rush to Instagram and win prizes, I decided it’s time to get the stuff I missed while in my rush for a tablet. I got to visit with my amazing friend and rep Jamie with Brodart. Libraries – if you don’t work with her, do so. She’ll amaze! I was impressed with some of the selection this year. One booth was making cookies! Not giving away cookies, MAKING them. The rep had a small oven in the back of the booth he was baking his cookies in. “Oh no, some of these cookies are broken! What do we do with the broken bits?”

Never fear, Cookie Man has arrived!

Macadamia nut never stood a chance.

“Oh my, how can we ever repay you?”

“…More cookies?”

(Okay, that last part didn’t happen.)

After having a few cookies, it was time to look at some of the cool toys, gadgets and free stuff being given away. Like slap bracelet flash drives!

On the right side is a flash drive…

…that slaps onto your wrist! I almost look tan there.

Upon finding sweet stuff, I tried to get them in 3s since I have a staff of 3. A captain share with his crew, what can I say? Add in another workshop here and there, and it’s up to the room before the President’s reception. Even there, you have to be on your toes.

Oh hi there, GIANT BIRD OF DOOM.

After that came drinks, food, ring tosses for wine bottles, silent auctions, and all the other good stuff. I also had the pleasure of seeing my good friend Rebekah! I haven’t seen her in almost three years, and it was time for some food, drink and catching up. I’m always happy for both the library and non-library fun I can have with good friends.

As I write this, FLA continues to follow me home! Pretty much every booth/event has a drawing/raffle/contest of some kind, and Carol over at DVA tracked me down to tell me that I’m now the proud owner of neon green Dr. Dre BEATS Mixr headphones! As for the free stuff I picked up…

…I think I had some happy staff when I came back.

Don’t worry, I’ll take pics when I get the headphones.  I’m leaving for Texas tomorrow morning for the Spartan Super race, stay sharp and stay brash while I’m gone!

 

Justin Brasher, Brash Librarian

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When it rains…

…IT POURS!

For those of you who have been keeping up with my fundraising adventures, it’s time I finally got to update you on what’s been going on. I got a letter from my friend Mary Jane who has been helping me spearhead all this stuff. Here’s a few tidbits:

Dear Justin,

I am sending you an update of our April 11, 2014 CCI Leadership Board discussions regarding your generosity in coordinating an online fundraising presence!  During our meeting, Mafe provided a power point presentation on your efforts showing your blog/online work. While she spoke, I sent out a CCI Board Leadership message to members that you had sent to me regarding your blog efforts…Dean Dennis was very pleased and lamented he wished CCI could help provide you an even stronger presence via their website….During the Board discussion, our Chair Helena Sims, along with other board members remarked about your creativity and generosity.

Justin, feel good about your work!  Let’s keep going!  I plan to add a contribution via your link this summer.  I am so very grateful for all of your work!

It is also at this point that I’m pleased to announce that one donor – whose identity will remain secret at this time – has generously donated $1,000.

LET THAT SINK IN.

ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS.

I was floored. I literally had no words. I’ve got some words now, but it took some time to formulate them. I’m overwhelmed by the support, and I’m glad to know that I can help make the library world a slightly better place, one dollar and joke at a time. I’d like to think that donating to my favorite hangout spot in Gainesville would help bring some good karma, but I wasn’t expecting it on this level. So…celebrate?

So how happy am I right now? About as happy as this guy.

WHEE

How totally awesome do I feel? About as rad as this guy.

All in a day’s work. MRRRR

Things seem to be turning up aces at the moment, and I hope they are for you as well!

Coming up this week, I’m going to the Florida Library Association (FLA) conference once again and can’t wait! This won’t be my first time at the goat rodeo, and I hope to see old friends there and make some new ones! (I’m looking at you, MJ…and Mafe…and Katy…and Laura…and Dave…and 100 other people I can’t remember right now…)

Have fun everyone, and enjoy your graduation/wedding/childbirth/engagement/retirement/etc! It really seems to be the season for all that stuff, right? I know my Facebook is flooded with that stuff.

Justin Brasher, Brash Librarian

 

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