DCPLive is a blog by library staff at the DeKalb County Public Library!

August 2017

Aug 25 2017

Hashtag This…

by Camille B

TH_hashtag politics_hands

Remember when the hashtag was just that plain old number sign on your keyboard? Or as some would call it, the pound sign? You would press pound for further options on your phone, or even use the enlarged symbol to play a fierce game of tic-tac-toe with a friend?

Well who would have thought that this seemingly insignificant symbol would play such an important role in social media today?

I have to admit that I’ve never used a hashtag before, but I’ve always been curious about who does, when and where they use it, and for what purpose?

As it turns out I wasn’t alone. Searching showed that there were many who were asking the same questions, wanting to know what a hashtag was, how it was used, why it was called a hashtag, and who or what started it?

At a glance it seems like the phenomenon popped up overnight doesn’t it? One minute it didn’t exist at all, and the next it was hashtag this and hashtag that. Well the inventor, Chris Messina, would be the first to tell you that it wasn’t quite that simple and the idea was initially dismissed by most of the tech community when he first pitched it.

This is his first, now famous tweet, using a hashtag:  how do you feel about using # (pound) for groups. As in [msg]?

He felt that the pound sign at the beginning of a relevant word or phrase would be an easy way to bring people together who were discussing the same topic online. He said he chose the # symbol because that character was easy to reach on his 2007 Nokia feature phone.  Two days later another friend, Stowe Boyd, suggested the name hashtag for the symbol because it was catchier.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Messina said that Twitter totally rejected the idea. “They told me flat out, ‘These things are for nerds. They’re never going to catch on.'” Can you imagine?

Well, what did they know? Today the hashtag is being used not only by Twitter, but other social networking sites including Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and Tumblr. It picked up slowly as Messina used the hashtag in his own tweets and encouraged friends to do the same.

The really seismic shift came during the 2007 San Diego fire when people were tracking the fire using a system set up by Twitter. The spaces between the words San Diego and fire made the tracking difficult, so Messina suggested that they use the hashtag with no spaces. “That caused other people to see that behavior and it kind of continued in that form. At that point it became easier to use.”

In 2008 conservative groups began to use the symbol to encourage Congress to vote on an energy bill and the jump from the tech crowd to the political one, he said, was a huge one. By 2009, Twitter adopted the idea and that’s when it’s usage skyrocketed.

You can place hashtags anywhere in your posts on social media, linking similar conversations by different users together. You can then find these related topics by clicking on the hashtag symbol. How helpful is any of this? It depends. To some it seems to be a bit of an annoyance, one  journalist even referring to it as an eyesore and incredibly lazy.

Yet others find it quite handy for keeping up with news stories and events as well as a promotional tool for business and services. In recent years the hashtag has been used in some of the most publicized events around the world including the death of Michael Jackson, Hurricane Sandy and the wedding of Kate Middleton and Prince William.

So how much money did Messina make with his invention? None. He never patented it. He felt that a government-granted monopoly would have inhibited their adoption, which was the opposite of what he wanted. “They are born of the internet and should be owned by no one. The value and satisfaction I derive from seeing my funny little hack used as widely as it is today is valuable enough for me to be relieved that I had the foresight not to try to lock down this stupidly simple but effective idea.”

 

Brush up on your social media at DCPL:

The Twitter Book– Tim O’Reilly

AARP Facebook: tech to connect– Marsha Collier

Facebook & Twitter for seniors for dummies- Marsha Collier

 

 

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Aug 9 2017

Becoming An American Citizen

by Camille B

Photo AOn July 3rd, 2017 I became a citizen of the United States. Standing alongside 72 other candidates, all from different countries around the world, I solemnly took the Oath of Allegiance to Support and defend the Constitution and laws of this great nation.

I remember the lady sitting next to me was from Cuba, the gentleman to my right was from Jamaica, and I listened intently as one by one the names of the various countries present were called: China, Nigeria, Canada, India, Vietnam, Pakistan, Ecuador…

One by one we stood, looking solemn and a little nervous, as we prepared to embrace this country as our own. We were now about to become Americans not by birth but by choice. In reality, most of us had already done so, having borne permanent resident status for many years, which granted us the freedom to do such things as work, pay taxes, get a driver’s license, go to school etc. But it was something different to be called an American citizen, to now have a voice and be counted when and where it really mattered.

Later that day a family member asked me how I felt, and I thought they were being a little dramatic. It wasn’t like I’d had surgery. But on further reflection, I realized that it was a valid question. How did I feel besides being excited and a little overwhelmed?

Well, strangely enough, amidst all the other emotions I was feeling, I realized that I was having some anxiety wondering how my family and friends back home would react to the news; the people I had grown up with from childhood; and gone to school with, worked with. Would they celebrate my newfound citizenship? Or would they think I had turned my back on my country of birth? And if, perchance they did feel this way, how did I explain that it was not the case?

I guess the only example I could draw on was the same bitter-sweet feeling a bride must have felt in the olden days when she had to leave her parents home and give up her name for her husband’s. Yes she was in love and ready to start a new life with him, but she was also leaving her family behind. But this didn’t mean she loved them any less. They still remained a very important part of her life. It was the same feeling I had about my native land.

The Naturalization Process

The road to citizenship can sometimes be a long one, and for some confusing, but I found everything that I needed to help me through the process both on the USCIS and DCPL websites.

The Application

Form N-400 is the one needed to file for Application for Naturalization and can be downloaded at uscis.gov/n-400, submit it along with the appropriate fees (as of December 23, 2016 the application fee has increased to $640, the biometrics fee remains $85). You will receive a receipt notice from the USCIS office letting you know that they’ve received your application and will be contacting you with a date, time and location for your biometric screening.

Biometrics Appointment

The biometrics screening process requires you to be fingerprinted and photographed for the purpose of conducting an FBI criminal background check. All applicants must have background checks completed before USCIS will schedule an interview, so if there are skeletons in your closet, beware. Biometrics

The Citizenship Test/ Naturalization Interview

Some time after having your biometrics screening done, you will receive an appointment notice scheduling a date and time for an interview with USCIS. The wait time for this can take several months, and you should use this time to study for the test which is broken into four categories: civics, reading, writing and speaking.Exam Book

The civics test consists of questions based on American history and government as well as integrated civics questions. You will be given 100 questions to study out of which you will be asked 10 randomly at the interview. You must correctly answer 6 of these questions  in order to pass this portion of the test.

Next, you must read one out of three sentences correctly to show your ability to read in English, write one out of three sentences to show your ability to write in English, and answer questions from your submitted application to determine your ability to speak English.

The Oath of Allegiance Swearing-In Ceremony

If you are successful in passing your interview, there is a possibility that you can take your Oath of Allegiance that same day. If not, USCIS will mail you a notification with the date, time, and location of your scheduled oath ceremony. You are not a U.S. citizen until you take the Oath of Allegiance at a naturalization ceremony.

The Oath of Allegiance is administered, either by USCIS at an administrative ceremony or by a judge in a judicial ceremony, and you receive your Certificate of Naturalization on the same day after taking it. On this day you will also be turning in your permanent resident card (Green card) to USCIS.

What it Means To Be a Citizen

So now that it’s all said and done, what does this mean to you the new American citizen? Well you now have certain rights that you didn’t have before:

-The right to vote

-The right to run for certain public offices

-The right to have a U.S. passport

-The right to obtain a federal government job

-The right to have U.S. government protection and help when traveling to other countries

You also have responsibilities as a citizen such as:

-Supporting and defending the Constitution and U.S. laws

-Serving on a jury

-Registering to vote

-Voting

-Serving in the armed forces of the United States when required

As I mentioned earlier, there were many great books at DCPL that helped me through the naturalization process from beginning to end, and I’ve listed a few of them here. As well as the Learning Express Library database on the website where you can find helpful resources including practice questions for the English and Civics test.

 

Nolo Book

Becoming a U.S. citizen- a Guide to the Law, Exam & Interview (IIona Bray)

 

Exam BookPass the U.S. citizenship exam 

 

 

Kaplan's Book

 

Becoming a U.S. citizen: understanding the naturalization process

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Reese Witherspoon  (RW) loves to read!  She has her own production company that recently put together the Emmy nominated Big Little Lies series on HBO.  Big Little Lies was based on Liane Moriarty’s very successful book by the same title.  Many of her picks have ended up oThe Alice Networkn the big screen.  She recently starred in A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle which will be out next year some time.  Reese Witherspoon has many connections to the literary world.

Her RW book club selection for July was The Alice Network by Kate Quinn.  I don’t know if it will end up on the big screen like some of her other projects.  One can hope!  There was a poll for her readers and The Alice Network was picked.

I recently read this book. The Alice Network tells the story of Eve Gardiner and Charlie St. Clair.  Each has a very important mission.  Charlie goes to Eve for help finding her cousin Rose Fournier.  Rose’s last known location was Limoges, France.  She worked at a restaurant for a character named Rene Bordelon.  Eve and Charlie journey to France with Eve’s driver Finn.  They start looking for answers to what might have happened to Rose.  Questions arise as you read such as, What will happen when Charlie finds her? Will it be a happy reunion or a chance to mourn an important loss?  Charlie’s clues help Eve find what she has been looking for since the First World War. Eve worked as a spy in Rene’s restaurant Le Lethe in Lille, France.   What does the future hold for both of them?

I enjoyed this book.  What interested me initially is the story of Eve becoming a spy during World War I.  I was not as interested in Charlie’s history until her path and Eve’s intertwined.  Kate Quinn also did a great job of showing the historical facts of that time period.

There is a lot to discuss in The Alice Network.  What will your next book club read be?  Reese’s next selection for the RW book club in August is The Lying Game by Ruth Ware.  You can follow the RW bookclub here.

Visit the catalog for :

The Alice Network  by Kate Quinn

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

A Wrinkle In Time by Madeline L’Engle

The Lying Game  by Ruth Ware

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clockMy ideal work day begins something like this: wake-up, meditate for 20 minutes, exercise, shower and dress, have coffee and breakfast, pack lunch, hit the road and arrive at my branch with a few minutes to spare. In actuality, even though I truly am a morning person, there are plenty of mornings when some of this, or maybe most of this, doesn’t happen. Obviously, I’m going to show up for work but many have been the mornings when something else simply has to give.

I’m trying to practice compassion these days, and that includes compassion for self, so I try not to give myself grief, but I do sometimes wonder about the nature of time and why there never seems to be quite enough of it. I mean couldn’t it maybe just, I don’t know, stretch a little bit? Of course, to some degree, time is a relative concept. I used to work in an office with a man who was constantly pointing out that, because he set his watch by Greenwich Mean Time, he was the only person in the office who could possibly know what time it “really” was. Obviously, this became tiresome and most of us stopped listening to him altogether. I’ve wondered since if he ever learned that Coordinated Universal Time replaced Greenwich Mean as the global standard long ago. I imagine him on his way somewhere secure in the certainty of being “on time” when actually he is running a minute “late,” and I find myself wanting to snicker in a gloating manner. But I am trying to practice compassion now, so I don’t.

Still, although you and I could have a protracted discussion about whether or not the current time is 2:11 or 2:14, I think we would probably agree that the sun rises but once in 24 hours and sets the same. I mean as an observable phenomenon. Except then you might start pondering the question of what an hour actually is. Is it something materially real or simply a human concept? Except plants and animals seem to follow patterns based on light and dark, don’t they? Before you know it, you might find yourself tangled up in some sort of philosophical knot that would probably be fun to unravel on paper or in a classroom setting but probably doesn’t give you a lot of practical guidance in daily life.potter

So what’s a time-stretched person to do? Well, you can’t conjure up a forty-eight hour day and, unless you move in very different social circles from me, you won’t be deploying a Time Turner like Hermione Granger did in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Ultimately, time-management is self-management and DCPL has resources to help you with that.

A classic of its kind is David Allen’s Getting Things Done: the art of stress-free productivity. Slanted more towards increasing productivity at work, Allen’s methods (surprisingly basic) can certainly carry over into other aspects of life. Allen recommends writing everything down and dating the note and this simple step, mindthough not actually easy to make a habit, might just make all the difference for you.

If you suspect that part of the problem for you might be the onslaught of information that we are all exposed to day after day, and seemingly minute by minute, you might check out The Organized Mind: thinking straight in the age of information overload by Daniel Levitin. Levitin mixes neuroscience scholarship with practical guidelines for organizing information. Levitin, who is also the author of This Is Your Your Brain On Music: the science of a human obsession, is always an tidyingengaging writer and, who knows, you might be able to figure out why you keep misplacing your keys.

…and speaking of keys, my own method consists of always, and I mean always, putting them back in the same place. I have praised before Marie Kondo’s quirky, and for me very useful, book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up . Allow me do so again. One of the best tips that I learned from Kondo is to empty my purse every time I get home. Now, this might sounds ridiculous – a big waste of time – but I’m telling you that this one little habit has made a huge difference in keeping me organized and collected on a daily basis.

organizedSometimes being a good steward of our time means knowing what to let go and Organized Enough: the anti-perfectionists guide to getting and staying organized by Amanda Sullivan can help you with that. Sullivan is a witty writer and the conversational tone of her book will draw you in while really practical advice will help you manage your things, your time and your life without driving yourself straight up the nearest wall.  After all, sometimes good enough is just fine.

 

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