Harry Potter Art Exhibition

There’s a Harry Potter Art exhibition coming to Houston. It’s 3 days and it’s completely free! The exhibition will also include LOTR, Marvel, and more and happens to be extremely close to where I am.

Not sure of the quality of this thing, but I have to go, right?

2017: A Lifechanging Year

Guys, let’s pretend I didn’t disappear.

2017 took me from one adventure to the next and 2018 will likely astonish me in ways I haven’t even thought of yet. I have to do this month by month. Let’s begin.

January

This was probably the lowest point of my entire life. I was unemployed and I’d worked through all of the money I’d saved up from my previous employment. I was completely lost and had no idea what to do.

Things change so rapidly, though. About halfway through the month I got the one call I’d been waiting for. Travelers. I’d interviewed 12/23 and thought it went well. I had about a month before the start date.

February

Started at Travelers on February 9. It’s been amazing since day 1. But only a few days after starting my dog Charlie attacked one of my other dogs. I got rid of him the next day. I also cried like a baby. He didn’t even look back when they took him from me.

March

A relatively quiet month. I finished my new hire training on the last day of the month, which meant the following Monday I’d finally be on my own at work.

April

The long baseball season begins! The Astros seemed poised for a great year. I embark on my first solo trip to Boston. An unbelievable experience I simply can’t put into words. But the trip told me something about myself I hadn’t yet known. I wanted someone to share everything with. I was having such a great time on vacation until I realized about halfway through that I was still alone. I had no one to share the amazing experience with. While still in Boston I downloaded Bumble, OkCupid, and Coffee Meets Bagel. Dating apps. I had no idea what to expect. I also bought my first car all on my own!

May

Another relatively quiet month UNTIL IT WASN’T. Those dating apps I’d downloaded? I’d found someone. We talked on the app for awhile and then started texting. After another little while we met in person at HALF PRICE BOOKS. Because I’M STILL ME. We had lunch. We completed a puzzle with a bear on it. It was so great. I was immediately drawn to her wonderful laugh and smile. They’re still magnetic to me.

On May 25 we became a couple. Ol’ ordinary me and oh so amazing her.

June

Many of my coworkers were going on trips and I was just chugging along at work. But I had my worst month (performance-wise) of my time with Travelers. But the beauty of working for such a great company is my manager had my back. She didn’t ask me to do anything drastic because she believed in me.

July

I easily got back on track at work. There wasn’t too much going on.

August

I began to realize my relationship with my girlfriend was really in trouble, but remember how amazing I said she was? Yeah, still thought that in August. Couldn’t just give up.

Hurricane Harvey devastated the city of Houston. My city. My hometown. I didn’t flood, but I missed 10 straight days of work. JJ Watt showed what can happen when everyone gets behind something bigger than one person or one team or one city.

September

Immediately after Hurricane Harvey I was selected to help train a large class of new hires. Something only the top reps in the office are considered for. I finished the quarter ending in September as one of the top reps in the company. I signed my first apartment lease! I’d finally be on my own for the first time. 

October

My relationship ended, but my opinion of the girl hasn’t changed. She’s an amazing person. I dont know if she sees it, but I do. The new hire class ended their training at the end of the month. I moved into my first apartment on 10/21. I took 9 days off from work and realized how lonely I really was. I’d underestimated what it would be like to live alone after nearly 26 years of living with my family.

November

THE ASTROS WON THE WORLD SERIES! THEY DID IT! During game 6 of the World Series I went back home to be with my parents if the Astros won. They didn’t. In game 7 they took an early lead and held on to win the first title in team history. I watched with my parents and we all cried. It was incredible to see these guys we’d been supporting all season with HOUSTON in their name winning the final game of the greatest series I’ve ever seen. I attended my first championship parade.

December

Not much happened until the end of the month. My apartment complex told me that the garage I rent from them cannot handle the electricity needed to charge my car. I was/am furious. But I had no other option. The car I only just purchased in April was traded in for a new, gas powered vehicle. I spent my birthday (12/27) more angry than I’ve been in years.

I’m still really lonely. I know people are dealing with way worse things, but I still want someone who wants to share all of their experiences with me. Someone to travel with. Someone to grow with. Someone to wake up next to. Heck, maybe someone to fall in *love* with. 

I’m starting to think I’m Chandler from Friends. I have a good job no one pays attention to. I have money saved up I can’t even spend. I can’t dance at all. I laugh at my terrible jokes. And I’m sometimes overly awkward. I’m me. Just looking for my Monica. I think I know where she is. 🤔

I’m still angry about my car. But in 2017 I learned so much about myself. I’m proud of who I’ve become. I’m proud of where I am. And I’m excited for 2018. I invite you on that journey with me. Come along. Stick around. Pet the dog. Sit back and watch.

This Can’t be Real Life

SPOILERS AHEAD

I’ve written twice this week about Thirteen Reasons Why. In that book Hannah Baker leaves behind 13 audio recordings chronicling things that led her to suicide.

In the Houston news this week a veterinarian accused of murder DID THE SAME THING. She left behind nearly two hours of recordings with one of the local stations here to tell her story.

Guys, this is crazy. She committed suicide a week ago and now everyone is talking about this recording she left behind. I feel like I’m in the Twilight Zone. 😂

Have you ever read something and then noticed a strange sequence of events that followed in real life? 

Also, no video today because I volunteered to work OT.

The Top Super Bowl Commercials From Yesterday

The final numbers aren’t quite in yet, but Super Bowl 51 was the most watched TV program in the United States since last year’s big game. It featured a comeback the football world has never seen in the final game of the year.

But this is about the commercials. There were plenty of typical, mediocre commercials that no one remembers less than 24 hours after the game. And then there are these.

84 Lumber

The company paid $15 million to air 90 seconds of this ad. Fox forced them to alter it because they claimed it to be too controversial. The end result is the best super bowl ad I’ve ever seen. Few words are spoken, but the message could not be more clear.


Coca-Cola

We’ve grown to expect Coca-Cola to wow us just about every year with their super bowl commercials, but they did something I don’t think I’ve seen recently. They aired the same exact commercial they aired during last year’s game. Showing Americans of different faiths, races, and ethnicities. It couldn’t be more relevant.


Airbnb

A newcomer that made a real statement. The world is diverse, and we should all have a more inclusive mindset. The message of this ad.


Audi

I’m used to Audi’s ads showcasing their vehicles with sharp turns and flashy designs. I’m NOT used to the company using it’s minute of super bowl ad time to show its support for equal pay for equal work. Heck, I can’t remember an ad proclaiming such a statement that wasn’t for a political candidate. I love it.


This list is by no means exhaustive. There were several ads that aired last night I enjoyed, but these were the ones that stood out to me. People are so quick to say things are anti-this or pro-that, right? Because if you’re for something then you must be against something else. Since when are messages of diversity and inclusiveness anything but American?

Did you have any favorite ads from last night?

It’s Super Sunday

The eyes of the sports world shine on Houston today. No annual event can attract the number of eyeballs this game will, though with ratings declining this year could be a bit down.

I know many of you don’t care for sports but I also know this game isn’t really about sports fans. People watch even when they have no idea which teams are playing or who is favored.

I’ll take the Pats. Because I’ve learned that you simply don’t pick against them in this game when Eli isn’t on the other side. Who ya got?

Also, I’ve already seen several commercials I thoroughly enjoyed.

Something fun Today

I wrote recently about who I’d like to see write a book. My choice was Katie Nolan. I think people would call her a sports personality, but I said before that she isn’t afraid to express her opinion on a wide range of topics.

Turns out the week before the Super Bowl has some perks. Sure there’s music, the NFL Experience, and other festivities going on this week in Houston. But Fox is also broadcasting several of its shows live from Houston. 

I’M GOING TO SEE GARBAGE TIME WITH KATIE NOLAN LIVE IN THE AUDIENCE TODAY.

I’ve attended three concerts in my life and dozens of sporting events. This will be the first time I watch a taping of a show in the audience. And I’m excited!

Which show would you like to see from the audience if you could pick any one?

Houston Independent School District has Empty Libraries

One of the largest school districts in the nation is making the wrong kind of headlines. A number of its libraries have empty shelves, and it doesn’t look like it’ll be changing soon.

The district is strapped for money just like most public school districts around the country. But recently the district invested in classroom libraries to give students greater access to the books they need to be reading. But classroom libraries should not be taking items from regular libraries in middle and high schools. A classroom library is typically a bookshelf. That’s not a library of anything.

My problem with this is it sounds like the district aimed to do something without much of a plan. And now thousands of students are forced to enter libraries every single day that don’t even have the one resource most of us have come to associate with them: books.

To add insult to injury, the school district has a tax proposition on the ballot this year that would send more than $1 billion to the state from the district over the next few years.

Have you EVER walked into a library with bare, empty shelves? I haven’t. These Houston kids aren’t getting a fair educational experience at the moment. And now voters could potentially make it worse by not being aware of the impact of HISD Proposition 1. The whole thing is on the verge of spiraling out of control.

If you Could Build a Library

A little late today because I decided to sleep last night rather than write a post. And then this afternoon I wanted to talk to the girlfriend instead of write this. Eh.

But I was thinking about where I might build  library if I had the chance to do so. Not a Little Free Library, a free standing private library. What I’ve decided is pretty simple and straightforward. I’d look at the city of Houston and identify as many as 10 areas that lack a library altogether or have one in need of financial support. Then I’d research for a year to determine the specific location. I’d cater the events and inventory to the people in the surrounding community.

The library would have ultra high speed internet and typewriters for use. And the entire staff (as much as possible) would live within five miles of the branch. Why? Because they’d have a vested interest in helping as many people as possible. It wouldn’t just be an “easy” job for them.

Lastly, friends of the library sales wouldn’t be operated the same as other libraries. Paperbacks would be the standard $0.25 each and hardcovers would be $0.50, but only once a customer has already gotten 10 books free of charge. Because if the money is there to finance the day-to-day operations of the library, then there is no reason to charge everyone for books that have been read dozens of times.

I’d also name the library after someone who has a history of promoting literacy and reading. I wouldn’t name it after the city or after myself. The name would be one synonymous with books.

Where would you build your library if you could?

My Year: 2015

I’d initially wanted to write a series of posts this week discussing my favorite things from different categories, but now I’m just going to write one review for everything. Even though I know everyone else already has. But eh. Let’s get started.

Blogging

At the start of 2015 I set some pretty ridiculous goals for the blog that I thought were attainable. They were, but I missed the mark. Here are some side-by-side stats comparing 2014 to 2015.

Posts

282 (2014) – 363 (2015)

Views

30,102 (2014) – 33,469 (2015)

Visitors

12,195 (2014) – 17,097 (2015)

Likes

5,302 (2014) – 8,386 (2015)

Comments

10,159 (2014) – 9,685 (2015)

I’m sure some might look at the numbers and think of how great the year was. It wasn’t. It was okay. About a thousand new followers and it didn’t translate into anything meaningful. No surge in views, comments, or much of anything. But it’s fine. Maybe my content was to blame. I don’t know.

But my original goals for the year were to reach 40,000 site views, to reach 5,000 followers, and to post 25 poems. I didn’t achieve any of those goals. So I won’t set any goals for the blog in 2016. Because it can only be as good as I can make it. And that’s it.

The top three posts published in 2015 were:

Ursula Le Guin is Clueless

Little Free Libraries Have Come Under Fire

On False Claims From Bloggers

Social Media

I’ve all but stopped using other social media. My Facebook app has been deleted but there’s something wrong with my phone and it randomly restarts and re-downloads the app. Not even kidding. I rarely use Twitter. My blog posts go there automatically, but I just don’t tweet hardly at all. I’ve only recently really started using my Instagram account a bit more. But I see people posting multiple terrible photos a day and I’m just baffled. Eh.

Reading

Y’all already know I only read 10 books in 2015. There’s nothing satisfying about that number. I did manage to read some good books, including the best book I’ve ever read. But this has got to stop. From 2010-2012 I read a total of 106 books. Which is nothing compared to some people on WordPress, but at least it’s something. From 2013-2015 I read a total of 32 books. It’s just stupid. What the hell am I even doing? *slaps myself*

BookTube

I know my channel has something like 16 subscribers, but this is probably what I’m most excited about in 2016. Because I’ll be making videos for two different things going on. I’ll still be reading from Amazon’s 100 Books Everyone Should Read list, which means videos for each one of those. And I’ll also be making videos for every book I read from my challenge. The first will be coming tomorrow for The Perks of Being a Wallflower, which I finished last night. So if you’re still working on your first book of the year and you’re doing my challenge, you’re officially in the rear view mirror! I WILL set a goal for my channel in 2016. 25 videos. Easy enough. I released seven videos on my channel in 2015. My most viewed was my first video, An Intro to Johnny Reads!. It was also my shortest in length. Welp.

Hometown Teams

What a year for Houston sports. The Rockets had one of the most improbable playoff series wins in history by overcoming a 3-1 deficit to the LA Clippers and reaching the conference finals for the first time in almost 20 years. The Astros continued their improvement by snagging a playoff spot and having the eventual World Series champions within six outs of elimination. And the Texans just won their third division title in team history. Playoff game this Saturday! Everyone jokes at work that I don’t know anything except sports and books. Not that far from the truth.

Half Price Books

In August I started working at Half Price Books. It”s been great from day one. The people are great to work with and be around (even if they poke fun sometimes) and I’m literally paid to work in a bookstore. Heaven does exist! It’s already been five months and I’m still loving every single day there.

Trip of a Lifetime

My first. I’ve been saving as much of my little bit of money as I can. And I’m rewarding myself by taking the first trip of my life. I’ve been to Disney World. I’ve been to Michigan. But Disney World happened in the 90s and Michigan wasn’t a vacation type trip. But I’ll finally get to experience what it’s like to really travel. And I’ll be able to see the capital city of my country. I think during those four days I’ll be able to learn even more about what it means to be an American. Heck, I might even cry when I see some things. I can’t tell you how excited I am, and how glad I am to have made the decision to go. I’m hoping this becomes my first trip of many trips of a lifetime. Fingers crossed!

Reading Challenge

I said I’m most excited about my BookTube channel, but I’m also very excited about my reading challenge. Mostly because I’ve gotten tons of feedback and support since I first mentioned it a week ago. I have a feeling the post is going to be one of the top two or three posts of THIS year. It’s getting that much traffic. But I’m also excited to see what other people read and say about something I came up with fully on my own. I overhear my co-workers talking about it just about everyday. It’s great because I know others are also talking about it in various places on the Internet.

In a nutshell, I became more and less active on social media. I started working at a bookstore, My loyalty to my hometown teams finally paid off. And I saved up enough money to start my traveling. Sounds like an alright year to me.

Thanks for always coming back, guys. I know I write things you won’t always agree with and I’ll probably push your buttons without even knowing it, but it’s never too serious. And no one is aiming to be disrespectful. This is my little piece of cyberspace, and you’re always welcome.


On this day in 2015 I published Mark Zuckerberg’s “A Year of Books”.

JetBlue and Random House Partnering up to Give Away 100k Books

Yep, you read that right. When I first heard the news I thought the two companies were an odd match for something like this. But I soon realized that book programs don’t have to be limited to non-profits or bookstores or libraries. Any company can come up something. And then I also realized that JetBlue has been involved with getting books into the hands of children for years with their Soar With Reading Program.

But this year they’re changing it up a bit. They’re adding a #BookBattle to the mix. The battle is between five cities and the public is asked to vote online to decide which of the five cities should be given 100k books for children in need. I think that’s pretty great. The five cities are New York City, Detroit, Los Angeles, Fort Lauderdale, and Houston. I don’t know how long the voting period will be open, but I do know it’s open right now. So if you don’t live in any of the five cities, then the choice you should make when considering which city to vote for is obvious, right? Houston! Duhh. Bring those books here! Please.

You can visit the Soar With Reading website here.

Also, JetBlue installed three book vending machines to dispense free books throughout the city of Washington D.C. this year. How cool are they? Have you heard of this program before?