An Open Letter to PA Senator Pat Toomey, RE: Betsy DeVos

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Below is a letter that I sent to Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey today following not only his disappointing vote to confirm Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education despite how almost laughably unqualified she is, but also for his extremely disappointing treatment of his constituency in recent weeks. 

This letter has been slightly edited to protect personal information. I am going to also openly state that I am not interested in and will not approve comments attacking me for my beliefs. Education should not be political. Education is about doing the right thing. I will not host political battles here. Continue reading

How to Save Links on Facebook For Later (and Find Them Again)

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There are two types of people on Facebook: people who see a whole bunch of things in their feeds that they love and want to come back to later, so they share all of them… and people who are scrolling along, noticing that one of their friends has shared 12 Tasty videos in a row.

To be clear, I’m not share-shaming. I’m too heavy of a Facebook user to do that. But there is a seriously underutilized Facebook feature that I want to talk about that allows you to save all the links, videos, pictures, events, cat memes, etc., that your heart desires without putting 40 new posts into your followers’ feeds at once by going on a share-spree. This feature is a little bit hidden, but gives you the ability to bookmark items within Facebook (not just links, but virtually anything on FB – videos, pictures, events, etc.).

I know there are people who only share so much because they want to be able to find that stuff later (I know this because when they share, the write stuff like “saving this to come back to it” and “sharing so I can find this later”). Hopefully knowing about this feature will help you to never again spend 20 minutes scrolling through your feed trying to find that recipe or article you shared three weeks ago.

And best of all, this feature is as easy to use on the mobile app as it is on the desktop version of Facebook. You can save items from your friends as well as from public pages.  Continue reading

7 or 16 Years Later: Celebrating a Blogiversary

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7 years ago this month (January 7, to be exact), I hit publish on my first post on this blog. Since then (and 2 MacBooks ago), I’ve published nearly 160 posts. The most popular is my post about Stephen King’s novel 11/22/63. It gets hits every single day (and last I checked, was ranking right below King’s site for the term “Jimla”). The second most popular and the one that’s received the highest response is my post about the ensuing identity crisis when my college completely rebranded itself away from all my fond memories.

Admittedly, in the early days and years, I published a lot more frequently than I do now. It used to be at least once a week. Now I only get to publish a handful of posts each year, but with good reason. Just as my blog has undergone numerous changes in the last 7 years (different themes, different focuses, different looks), so have I. While I don’t write a whole lot about the details of my personal life here, the big picture still tells my story.

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That Which We Cannot See

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May is Mental Health Awareness month, and something I want to take a little bit of time to write about since this is a cause that is near and dear to me. Mental health is tricky because, in contrast to many other diseases, you can’t always tell when someone is fighting the battle against mental illness. “Mental illness” itself is a term that carries a lot of negative connotations, making it difficult for people fighting against it to talk about their struggles. There’s a definite stigma attached to it and there are a lot of people who will talk about mental illness like it’s something that’s entirely made up or done for attention. In reality, it’s a daily fight that incredibly strong people put up every single day.  Continue reading

Frank Reads: Favorite Books of 2015

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Right off the bat, let me be clear that, while I did read a number of new releases in 2015, others were older. So when I say that this post is about my favorite books of 2015, I mean that it’s my favorite books that I read in 2015, regardless of what year they actually came out. Also I realize that this post is coming a bit late, but life got in the way.

So… books. I like ’em. I don’t remember the last time I didn’t have something I was reading. I’ve heard there’s a recovery period after college, but for me that lasted only a few months while I got settled into teaching, and then I started tearing through books again (“tearing” might be a generous term for me because, as with everything I do in life, I read very slowly because I’m afraid of missing something, much like I eat very slowly because I’m afraid of choking, and I run very slowly because I suck).

Process

I use Goodreads to track everything I read, manage my TBR list (which is unmanageable at this point anyway because every time I hear about a book I want to read, I go to Goodreads and add it immediately to my “want to read” list), and set yearly goals for myself. The Goodreads reading challenges are definitely not perfect, but I’ve found that it works well for my purposes. If you wonder what books I’m in the process of reading at the moment, check out the Goodreads widget in the sidebar.

Right, then. In 2015, I made it a goal to read 19 books. I read 21, so I met 111% of my goal. Here’s my data, along with the books I read in the order that I read them in 2015:

Renee’s Year in Books

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I think it’s interesting that Sara Bareilles’ book was the least popular but also the highest rated. Not as many people reading it as something like Why Not Me, but I loved it. I love Sara Bareilles. Also Mindy Kaling.  Continue reading

Artists You Know Who Have Sampled David Bowie Songs

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I was kind of surprised last week at the number of people who told me that they couldn’t name a single David Bowie song. As I mentioned in my post about Bowie’s influence, I wouldn’t consider myself a HUGE fan in that I didn’t follow everything he did very closely, but I would consider myself a fan with more than a passing interest. My point there was that David Bowie’s influence extended so far that even if it wasn’t your thing or you didn’t know anything by him, he probably influenced artists you do know.

So with a few searches on whosampled.com, I thought I’d do a follow-up post of artists you know sampling David Bowie as an example of how far his reach extended. Continue reading