library meme

Yesterday, I saw an Internet meme that extolled all the virtues of public libraries. Unlike political memes spouting statistics and information with questionable origin, I found this meme useful.

Ahhhh, libraries.

Sometimes, I like to joke with people that I judge a potential town to dwell in based on its library. When I lived in Michigan, even the small towns had decent libraries. Bridgeport, Michigan, on the south side of Saginaw, had a good one. Locals used it a lot to look for jobs.

Vassar, Michigan, where I lived for about four years, had a small but quaint library. The town I live in now, Fredericksburg, Texas, has a historical library. Pioneer Memorial Library used to be the county courthouse. Even now, it’s fun to go in to relax and read. I often will check out books, knowing I won’t have the time to read them all. And sometimes, it’s fun to take a book off the shelf and browse through it.

The quietness upstairs, the long wooden tables with the comfortable wooden chairs suggest it’s a place where it’s not only easy to research, but easy to retain what you’ve learned. A library is my second-favorite place on earth to be, the first being a great, Bible-teaching church.

Do yourself a favor and spend some time in a library.

Richard Zowie is a writer. Post comments here or e-mail him at

What Richard Zowie is up to as a writer

I’ll spare my readers my lame “5’8!” response…oh, wait, I just gave it. Never mind.

I still write for the the Genesee County Herald. I write news, sports, a column and also take pictures. It can be tiring since–depending on the season–sometimes I’m up until the early morning hours on Tuesdays completing sports assignments. A few athletes from one school like to tease me about not remembering their names, and I’m inclined to politely level with them and say: “Ladies, do you have any idea how many schools and sports teams I deal with? [Currently, about 20 teams] And every year, the rosters change due to graduation and to new players coming in.”

I’m also trying to get back into freelance writing in my off-time, since it can largely be done at my laptop with my cell phone. It’s a matter of being relentless and building client lists.

When it comes to freelancing, some lessons I’ve learned:

1) Take deadlines seriously. Getting work in ahead of deadline is never a bad thing.

2) When it comes to payment agreements, get it in writing and save it for your records. You just might need it if you suddenly have to serve as a debt collector. Which leads me to…

3) If someone stiffs you on an assignment, feel free to post as such when they try to hire out for new work–just make sure you report the facts. One certain gentleman owes me $100 for a freelance assignment about blind-spot mirrors on cars, and I doubt I’ll ever see that money. In retrospect, I should’ve been much more aggressive.

4) Avoid clients who either can’t pay or tell you that your “payment” is for your byline to run with the story. Well, of course your byline runs with work you’ve written. (The only time at the Herald that I don’t put my byline on a story is when all I’ve done is copy edited it). If the client lacks the budget to pay a writer, then they should not be asking for the work to be done. Tell your auto mechanic that you need them to replace your alternator but that you don’t have any money to pay them but will tell your friends to have work done at their shop.

Two hours later, when they’re done laughing, they’ll tell you, no thanks.

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Took pictures last night at a women’s expo in Bridgeport, Michigan

I am by no means the world’s greatest photographer, but I enjoy doing it and it is a passion of mine. Someday, I’d like to have my own private collection of photography and hang worthy pictures on the wall. My tastes are eclectic: I love the photo of the skyscraper workers in New York City eating lunch on a steel girder about 30 stories above the ground and how calm they look.

No. Stinking. Way. I would ever do this!

I also like the photo of the Mississippi law enforcement officers sharing a laugh during the infamous “Mississippi Burning” incident, just because that picture is a fascinating portrait of hatred, smugness, racism.

I do not endorse the racial mentalities in this picture, I just think they’re captured extremely well. Oddly enough, the photographer who took this picture reported Sheriff Rainey was very polite during the shooting of the photo.

I spent about two hours last night walking around the various displays and aiming to get great photos. Some turned out really good while others, well, not so much. When I’d find a good shot, I’d play with settings since the lighting provided can render some camera settings useless. I definitely need to improve my technical proficiency.

I can’t think of a better analogy, so I’ll use this one: being a good photographer perhaps mirrors being a good hunter or sniper.  You must be patient, observant and have attention to detail. One brief second is the perfect photo and then, before you know it, it’s gone.

What do I look for in a great photo? Realism. I like people to pretend as if I’m not there. I may make occasional exceptions, but for the most part I hate posed photos. They scream “Fake!”.

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