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Good Morning Nanty Glo!
                 Monday, September 15 2003 

Jon Kennedy, webmaster

An escalator to the future

Despite having lived in San Jose for more than 25 years, and the county of which it's the countyseat for 31, I'm not a big fan of this self-proclaimed "Capital of Silican Valley." It boasts a climate, in the literal, meterological sense, that's probably unbeaten anywhere else in the nation, and its geographical features are also very attractive, with mountain vistas in every direction but mostly wide open and generally flat highways and byways for miles anywhere you want to drive. And a short drive takes you to San Francisco or the Monterey Bay, a bit longer one to Gold Country, Lake Tahoe, or Yosemite National Park.

But its political and social "climate" is less suited for my tastes; its one of those places that is metaphorically described as one where even a candidate for dogcatcher has to declare himself—or more likely, herself—pro-abortion to even hope to get on the ballot. It's not my kind of demographic skew. And though the county has long boasted the most highly educated population on a per capita basis in the nation, the general level of social discourse strikes me as shallow. I may have grown cynical, but I put much of the blame for that on the city and county and its majority population's relentless "progressiveness."

But I bring all this up as background to say something positive about San Jose today. Recently, it opened a new downtown library which I visited for the first time on Saturday. Even though the old library was more modern than most of the libraries I've ever been in, either in the public or university settings, the city recently partnered with San Jose State University (SJSU) to build a new eight-story showplace on a corner of the downtown campus. As soon as you enter its architecturally breath-taking atrium and see the names of some of the contributors of large amounts of support you get an inkling into the genius behind that unique joint "town/gown" venture. Obviously, the David and Lucille Packard Foundation of Hewlett-Packard fame is going to find it more difficult to turn down a request for a substantial grant when both a city and a university are asking. And to sweeten the request even more, the city fathers knew what they were doing when they named the library in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King. How could any liberal-leaning foundation not want to support such a high-visibility project? And the Packard foundation is just used as an example; obviously many of the Bay Area's charitable trusts shared in this project.

Though I read books constantly, I prefer to own the books I read and am not a frequenter of public libraries in general. Over the 10 years before Saturday I had spent more time in the Nanty Glo Public Library than in all the San Jose libraries combined, and I wasn't borrowing books or materials on my Nanty Glo visits (but rather there as a guest of the Nant-Y-Glo Tri-Area Museum and Historical Society and, a few years earlier, to give a public presentation about the Internet and the Nanty Glo Home Page).

But I was so impressed by the new San Jose/SJSU library that I'm planning to spend more time there in future months. For one thing, it has carrels on every floor (I've heard there are 1,500 of them in all) which each have both electrical and ethernet cables that accommodate laptop computers with direct connections to the Internet and (presumably) library resources. And so far as I know, anyone with a laptop can just come in an plug in, without even having to have a library card (in contrast with Johnstown's Glosser Library, which has lots of computers with Internet links, but their use is restricted to library card holders, and those are available only to persons who can prove local residence...not a good move on the part of a major public institution in an area that is depending on tourism to be one of its saving industries of the future).

San Jose's previous MLK Library also had some escalators, but the new one has banks of elevators, with glass back walls giving a view of the city and the distant mountains as you rise above the lower floors) and large up, and down, escalators from one floor to the next, the next and the next. In the gleaming modern building with all its high-tech equipment, they struck me as escalators to the future. Though I was just there for a quick get-acquainted tour last Saturday, I know I'm looking for my next ride on them, high to a carrel with a view all the way to Mount Hamilton.

Click here for an online tour of the San Jose/SJSU Library.

Webmaster Jon Kennedy

Flying humor - 2

In light of all the recent air security that has been put in place, crew members try to lighten the mood once folks get on board. Here's how they make the in-flight "safety lecture" and their other announcements a bit more entertaining. These are real examples that have been heard or reported.

From a Southwest Airlines employee: "Welcome aboard Southwest Flight 334 to Ft. Worth-Dallas. To operate your seat belt, insert the metal tab into the buckle, and pull tight. It works just like every other seat belt, and if you don't know how to operate one you probably shouldn't be out in public unsupervised."

—Sent by Trudy Myers 

Thought for today

There are certain kinds of trees which never bear any fruit as long as their branches stay up straight, but if stones are hung on the branches to bend them down they begin to bear fruit. So it is with the soul. When it is humbled it begins to bear fruit, and the more fruit it bears the lowlier it becomes. So also the saints; the nearer they get to God, the more they see themselves as sinners.

I remember once we were speaking about humiliation and one of the great lights of Gaza, hearing us say, "The nearer a man is to God the more he sees himself to be a sinner," was astonished, and said, "How is this possible?" He did not know, and wanted to know the answer. I said to him, "Tell me, how do you regard yourself in respect to the other citizens here?" And he said, "I regard myself as great, and among the first of the citizens." I said then, "If you went away to Caesaraea, how would you regard yourself then?" "I would value myself somewhat less than the great folk there." So I said, "If you went away to Antioch, what then?" And he replied, I would regard myself as one of the common people." I said, "And if you went into the presence of the Emperor, what would you think of yourself then?" He replied, "I should think of myself as just one of the poor." Then I said to him, "There you are! In the same way, the saints, the nearer they approach to God, the more they see themselves as sinners."

— Dorotheus of Gaza, c. 505565 
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