Tag Archives: essay

Bookcrossing

This essay was posted on another blog of mine on June 21, 2008:

A bench by a train station, a movie theater restroom, under a church pew, outside a grocery store … these are all places I’ve wild released books. Thus since January of 2004 I’ve joined approximately 681,631 other people in the movement to “make the world a library.”

Bookcrossing.com was begun by Ron Hornbaker in 2001, and comes complete with its own vocabulary. A book is wild released when it is released into the wild — left somewhere for a stranger to find. My wild releases have a label on the outside that include the message “I’m not lost, I’m FREE”, although I have occasionally just written “FREE BOOK” on a sticky note. The inside has a nice bookplate with the message of bookcrossing. See where I’ve been! Go to the web site, type in the book’s unique ID number, and leave a message (which you can do anonymously). Of the many books I’ve wild released, only a few have been journaled — for only a few did anyone go on the web site to indicate that they found the book. One doesn’t give up hope, though; books have been known to turn up years later!

Books can be received and released through book rings and book rays. One book ring I mailed out in July of 2004. By choice I created an international book ring, as only a limited amount of English is necessary to understand Gary Larson’s Far Side. I recently got a note from the last person on the list — it should be arriving in the mail soon, four years later! But that book has been to Canada, the UK, Portugal, France, and the Netherlands. Because it’s a book ring, at the end it comes home to me. I have also sent out book rays, which means that the last person on the list decides what to do with it. Sometimes they start a new book ring or book ray.

A controlled release is to a specific person.  I gave my sister two or three books the last time she was here.  I’ll mark those as controlled releases because they went to her.  She can make a journal entry without creating an account, just by calling herself anonymous.  She can talk about the books or what a wonderful sister I am, or both!  🙂  When she’s done with them and passes them along to someone else, she can go back in and make a release note — another journal entry saying what she did with it.

There are also trades and RABCKs. I pronounce the latter as RAY-back, and the pronunciation comes up once in a while in the forums. Sometimes I finish a book and look at wish lists to see if anyone wants that book. If they do and they have something I’d be interested in, I might offer a trade. A RABCK is a Random Act of BookCrossing Kindness. That is simply when you send someone a book, no strings attached. I have done that as well. When people want to send me a RABCK, I offer the option of a trade, which no one has turned down yet.

How do they know what books I have a available for trade? I have an electronic book shelf, and each book is designated as available, tbr (to be read), traveling (in the wild or on its way somewhere but not in anyone’s possession), reserved, or pc (permanent collection).  One reason I record books in my permanent collection is that it gives people an idea of what books I like.  I have gotten books from yard sales, friends, relatives … books I’d never read myself but that I took custody of so that I could label and release them.

My Harry Potter hardcovers and my writing books are among my permanent collection.  Life isn’t permanent, though, and so those books are labeled anyway.  At some point I may decide to release them, or else when I die whoever gets stuck clearing out my junk can release them!  Any way of letting go of them is releasing them.  Some people take books to yard sales and resale shops, while other bookcrossing members don’t like that a bit because if you want the book you then have to pay for it.

How do I know what other bookcrossers think?  Bookcrossing has quite a forum system.  There are forums in Italian, German, Dutch, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Greek, Finnish, and Scandinavian, as well as the 20 forums in English.  Some are specific to books and bookcrossing, while others are for fun.

Want to learn more?  Click here:

See the books I’ve set free at:
http://bookcrossing.com/referral/reader1107

Kevin’s Law: H.R. 3956, S. 2013

This essay was published on a different blog of mine on May 2, 2008:

I enjoy fast food. Cooking tends to interfere with my internet time and mess up my kitchen. I’m also cheap, though, so I don’t go out for burgers very often. When I do, however, each time I think of a boy I never met: Kevin Michael Kowalcyk. Kevin died from eating a hamburger.

I still have the pamphlet about the end of Kevin’s brief life and unnecessary death at the age of 2 1/2 due to E coli. The pamphlet outlines the history of governmental decisions that compromise the safety of food routinely given to children, such as the Supreme Beef decision in which it was decided by the courts that even though a meat plant failed Salmonella tests, the USDA had no authority to close it, thus allowing it to continue to provide tainted beef to school lunch programs.

The following information from the pamphlet explain what was sought in Kevin’s Law:

1. Require that USDA create and annually update a list of the most dangerous foodborne pathogens, like Salmonella, E. coli O157:H7, and Listeria monocytogenes.

2. Authorize the USDA to set tough limits for these hazards in meat and poultry.

3. Require that USDA test meat and poultry regularly to ensure that meat and poultry plants don’t exceed government limits on harmful bacteria.

4. Mandate that the USDA shut down plants that consistently fail to meet government food standards.

Unfortunately, if you do a web search of H.R. 3956 and Kevin’s Law, you’ll reach this web site http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h109-3160 which shows that the bill was only proposed. It was never debated in either the House or Senate. It was never even scheduled for debate.

S.T.O.P. — Safe Tables Our Priority, continues to fight against foodborne illness. Their website http://www.safetables.org/ includes Kevin’s story and his mother’s address to the Committee on Review of the Use of Scientific Criteria and Performance Standards for Safe Food, National Academy of Sciences http://www.safetables.org/Victim_Support/stories/kowalcyk_kevin.html.

Please stop and take time to check out these web sites. Please read Kevin’s story. Children and the elderly remain at high risk for serious complications or death from the food on the grill in their backyards or at the local burger place, and these risks are preventable.

Wishing you all the best, as always.