Monday, July 27, 2009

Libraries Appreciate Your Books

A friend has been helping me get my mother organized and one of those projects is finding a new home for her many books, both hard cover and paperback, all recent titles. Before starting her own business in getting people organized, this freind used to work at the area literacy council and suggested we donate the books to local libraries.

As an author, I thought this was a great idea. In tough economic times, cash-strapped libraries in our area are having to cut hours and the number of books they purchase. So we donated 112 paperbacks and 54 hardcover books, to a most grateful library staff. On our end it helps clean up my parent's house, while providing strapped libraries with an influx of new titles, all in very good to mint condition.

Interested in dontating your own books? Contact your local library and find out where to drop off books. While there, be sure and get a receipt detailing the number of books (split out hard covers and paperbacks) which you can then show as a donation at tax time. It's win-win - you'll have more space and put books to good use and the library will appreciate the donation.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Lowering Drinking Age Won't Make Binge Drinking Go Away

Last August over 100 college presidents signed a letter asking legislators across the U.S. to lower the drinking age from 21 to 18 because they believe it’s impossible to stop young people from drinking. Called “The Amethyst Initiative” the coalition includes college presidents from Johns Hopkins, the University of Maryland, Washington and Lee, Colgate, Syracuse, Sweet Briar, Duke, Tufts, Dartmouth, and other schools. The group insists with a higher legal drinking age, binge drinking on college campuses has gotten progressively worse.

Fast-forward 11 months to the July 12 editorial in The Washington Post that maintained a lower drinking age won’t stop binge drinking. As a recent study published in the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry noted, the higher drinking age has led to a decrease in binge drinking nationwide, with the exception of college campuses.

Lowering the drinking age won’t make binge drinking disappear, on college campuses or otherwise, a fact The Amethyst Initiative appears to ignore. They also disregard that binge drinking typically results in acute intoxication which can be detrimental to a person’s health in a number of ways:
• Brain function is impaired, resulting in poor judgment, reduced reaction time, loss of balance and motor skills, or slurred speech.
• Blood vessels dilute causing a feeling of warmth but resulting in rapid loss of body heat.
• Alcohol intoxication increases the risk of certain cancers, stroke, and liver disease (such as cirrhosis) when excessive amounts of alcohol are consumed over an extended period of time.
• Alcohol consumption also poses risks to pregnant women and their developing fetus.
• Alcohol consumption increases the risk of motor-vehicle traffic crashes, violence, and other injuries.
• Binge drinking can also result in death.
As illustrated by the Pierson family in my novel, Shades of Darkness, Shades of Grace, binge drinking as an adolescent can lead to deeper alcohol problems as an adult. So instead of complaining about the higher drinking age, college administrators might do well to put more thought and effort into enforcing it.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Times Are Tough All Over

We have just come back from our annual trip to the Red Wing Pottery Convention. Every year there is an auction for members only and this year tough economic dishes drastically affected prices.

I especially noticed this with the lily pitcher and basin that has a key role in my novel, Shades of Darkness, Shades of Grace. In the novel, Kay describes the set as a stunning example of Red Wing craftsmanship and mentioned an asking price of nearly $1,500.

True for the late 1990s and early 21st century, but the auction demonstrates how prices have cooled with the economy, housing market, etc. At the Thursday auction, two sets of the lily pitcher and bowl sold for $475 and $650 respectively. The prices will eventually come back, but like everything else in the current economic climate antique and pottery markets have taken a huge hit.