Dare to Experiment

As the pandemic has kept me mostly confined to my workplaces and home, I’ve found I’ve had a lot more time to delve deep into the Internet. Specifically, I have become obsessed with three YouTube series, The Burger Show, Burger Scholar Sessions, and Strictly Dumpling. I spend my evenings with a video game on one computer screen and a video on the other. What I wasn’t planning was how much these channels would inspire me to try some new foods or cook some of the things I’ve seen.

The Burger Show and Burger Scholar Sessions showed me plenty of neat tricks to up my burger game, but my favorite has to be putting a pile of extremely thin sliced Vidalia onion strips on your burger patties before smashing them. It caramelizes the onions and enhances the taste of the patty itself all at the time! I used a vegetable peeler to get them to the right thinness. My next venture with burgers will probably be to try out the Memphis deep-fried burger!

As for Strictly Dumpling, I’d recommend not watching before bed unless you want to go to bed hungry or filled with regret from snacking. Mike Chen goes around the world trying all kinds of cool local eats. In my attempt to live a similar lifestyle, I recently ordered from a local Asian restaurant and only ordered things I had never had before. I was rewarded with everything being delicious!

However, there was one thing I saw in a couple of his videos that I couldn’t seem to find on menus around the area, and that was crispy pork belly. Queue early last week, I was at my local butcher shop and saw that they had pork belly with the skin on and I knew it was destiny. I went home and looked up a great recipe for Siu Yuk and I went and picked up all the other ingredients I needed. I was rewarded with a tantalizing dish that I can’t wait to make again!

Photograph of Martin Luther King, Jr. with the words "I Have a Dream."

Peaceful Protests

In light of the recent local protests that turned worldwide, and sometimes violent, I thought that a quick history lesson on peaceful protests was a needed topic to discuss.

Since the United States is a democracy, the power lies with the people. We the people are given a voice in government, with the right to exercise that voice to help create change. And certainly, this grows exponentially when multiple voices are together in protests or marches. Anyone remember a protest with 12 people?

Our country has had several peaceful protests that have led to significant change, without any violence whatsoever.

1. Boston Tea Party, 1773. As many of you may remember from elementary school. To protest the high tax of tea on America by England, several colonists dropped 340 crates of tea into the sea. This small, but significant, protest helped to launch the American Revolution.

2. March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, 1963. 200,000 people listened to Martin Luther King’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech. Later that same year Dr. King met with President Kennedy to discuss options and remedies. This primed the enactment of the Civil Rights Act the following year, and the Voting Rights Act in 1965.

Photograph of Women's Suffrage March.

3. Woman’s Suffrage Parade, 1913. More than 8,000 marchers gathered in Washington, D.C. to protest a woman’s right to vote. It did take 7 more years before the Nineteenth Amendment was passed in 1920, but this protest in 1913 was the first suffrage parade of its kind.

4. March on Washington for Lesbian, Gay and Bi Equal Rights and Liberation, 1993. Over 800,000 people gathered here for LGBTQ rights. This march helped gain national momentum for same-sex couples, plus made great strides in the struggle to find a cure for HIV/AIDS.

5. Triangle Shirtwaist Fire Protest, 1911. In 1911, 146 workers were killed in a fire working in an unsafe factory. This tragedy led to a march of nearly 800,000 people on Fifth Avenue in New York, which helped pass new laws to ensure working place safety. This movement gave us laws that we still use today, such as a minimum wage and collective bargaining as a union.

These 5 events were turning points in our history, all non-violent, and all made significant changes to our laws. Yes! Please, exercise your rights to march, protest, and help to create change. But please find it in your heart to do so peacefully.

As always, the library has tons of stuff on American history, laws, protests, and forms of government. Need help? Ask us upstairs at Information & Reference, email librarian@eauclaire.lib.wi.us, or call 715-839-5004.

Nonprofit Resources

Nonprofits benefit their communities by responding to the needs of the at-risk and marginalized, by supporting community goals, and more. If you’ve ever thought about starting a non-profit, or if you’re running a non-profit and looking for additional assistance, the library can help.

The library website has three pages to support nonprofits: Resources for Nonprofits, Search Grants, and Grant Writing. If you’re thinking about starting a nonprofit, take a look at a step-by-step guide to starting a nonprofit and view Candid’s frequently asked questions. Looking for funding? You can search local and national grants. You’ll need to be in the library during your search; however, the Foundation Directory Online is available offsite as of this writing.

The online catalog can also help you refine your mission and successfully apply for grants. Searching for CVFRP will display physical and digital items related to starting and running nonprofits. Additionally, Candid has an e-card available to search their library specializing in nonprofits. Anyone can sign up for a Candid e-card; the video below shows how to do so using Libby:

Have more questions about nonprofits? Contact Information & Reference for more information. Call us at 715-839-5004, send an email to librarian@eauclaire.lib.wi.us, or chat with us online.

Adaptation, Inspiration, and Butterflies!

Let me start by saying if you have been scared, anxious, or worried the last three months you are not alone. All of our situations are unique and important to us as individuals. Some of us may have underlying health issues, some of us own a business we put our heart and soul into, some of us are missing our normal routines, some of us are furloughed and don’t know when we will be earning a paycheck again, some of us suffer from anxiety or depression, some of us do not have family nearby and some of us have relatives with underlying health issues, some of us may lose our place to live or are currently homeless. The list goes on but whatever you are worried about at this time it is completely justified and I hope that you are able to find something to enjoy and that makes your heart happy during this unusual time in our history.

I know the Friends, as well as the library, have been busy behind the scenes finding the best way to adjust to new requirements and circumstances to ensure the safety of everyone. Stacy, our Program and Development Coordinator, has been busy working on new and innovative ways to support the library. First, she created a Safer at Home Reading Challenge and all donations from this will go directly to the library to fund their 2020 programs. She has also been working closely with our online appraisal volunteers to list items for sale on the sites we sell on in lieu of physical book sales. She has taken on the task of delivering materials to be appraised to them at their homes, picking them up and also shipping out any sales.

I have been busy behind the scenes with normal day-to-day activities, well as normal as they can be anyway! I have been working with Andria Rice from Youth Services to finalize prizes for the upcoming summer youth program. We have had to make quite a few changes but are confident in our choices and excited about this year’s program. Work, such as ordering books for our Give a Kid a Book and Books for Babies programs, continues. People have definitely shown an interest in volunteering again as soon as possible so I am very excited about that and look forward to seeing familiar faces and welcome new ones as soon as it is safe to do so.

Now on to something that makes my heart happy. Proceed with caution, this writer has tendency to ramble on and on!

It’s been five years ago since my husband and I moved to the area. I was excited to start a new chapter in my life and at the same time nervous to start over in an unfamiliar place, away from all that was comfortable to me. It was not easy being away from my friends and extended family. To be honest I even missed such mundane things as my grocery store!

The house we moved into was very nice but it just didn’t feel like home to me. I was inspired to make it my own, put my own personal touch to it. Sure there were little changes I could make but there wasn’t room in the budget for any major remodel inside or out.

I kept wondering what I could do to add some beauty to our yard and make it unique. The answer finally came to me. One day I was outside and noticed my first Monarch butterfly. In fact, once I started paying attention, I noticed many Monarchs in the area as well as a few Yellow Swallowtails. Also in frequent attendance were dragonflies and many, many birds. I decided to learn all I could about these beauties of nature. That was simple because the library had many resources to offer on the subject of butterflies and butterfly gardening. I decided to put most of my focus towards butterflies as I never really saw any at our home in Illinois despite having planted a butterfly bush. I even visited the awesome Butterfly House at Beaver Creek Reserve. If you have never been, I highly recommend it. It may even inspire you to plant a garden for our lovely winged friends.

Here are a few resources that contained valuable knowledge on the subject and are available at the library once they reopen:

I also recommend Birds and Blooms magazine, be sure to check it out when the library reopens as well.

Being the over-exuberant person that I am I checked out way more materials than I could find time to read but I was determined to have a butterfly-friendly yard. It was slow going at first, just a few plants during the first few years. I didn’t worry about milkweed at the time, which is a must for any butterfly garden, because we had three empty lots next to us that were filled with milkweed plants and all kinds of wildflowers. Not only do the adult butterflies love the flowers milkweed plants produce, but they also lay their eggs on the plant and the caterpillars depend on the leaves for food. Maybe that was my error in Illinois, no milkweed. Thank goodness for the library and the Internet to help guide me to success in this endeavor.

Two years ago the developer suddenly started building new homes in the subdivision so I had to ramp up the garden plans. I immediately started growing milkweed from seeds and we also tried transplanting some from the lots as well. I wanted to make sure that I could provide a place for all the “displaced” butterflies when everything else was torn down for the new homes. It was just my luck that I have rabbits that like milkweed too, which is normally mildly toxic to animals. Who knew, people still don’t believe me when I tell them I have milkweed eating rabbits! Never fear, all of the local nurseries seem to be selling at least common milkweed and in some cases a few other varieties such as whorled milkweed. Some even have a section for native plants and sections dedicated to butterfly and hummingbird favorites. One employee also recommended parsley for swallowtail caterpillars which turned to be a great success. So, with a few quick purchases, some good old chicken wire to keep those rascally rabbits out and a husband that supports my plant buying addiction craziness and also helps to plant said flowers/vegetation, I was back in the butterfly garden business.

While I have seen many caterpillars enjoying the bounty I have provided, I have yet to see a chrysalis or a butterfly emerge from one in my garden but I remain ever hopeful. If not, there is always the Butterfly House at Beaver Creek.

While we still have two empty lots next to us we have heard through the neighborhood gossip line that construction on those two will probably start this year. I am happy to report that I have several areas now that have thriving milkweed and a host of butterfly-friendly plants. I am so thankful for the wonderful garden centers in this area. The variety is endless and visiting them has become somewhat of an addiction, even if I can only browse. Work continues every year to ensure the milkweed comes back and also replacing/adding any perennials that didn’t make it through the winter. It’s a constant work in progress and I love it, it is a great stress reliever for me. It is so much fun to watch the caterpillars and then the butterflies. The neighbors probably aren’t happy because I also decided it was best not to put down lawn treatments to kill the dandelions as they are beneficial to bees. I was and still am determined to make my yard a safe habitat for all creatures that visit, great and small. I’ve also moved on to feeding the birds that come to the yard, especially those adorable hummingbirds, but that’s a story for another time.

My hope is that you will be inspired by my post to get involved with something that interests you and will also benefit our environment or put a smile on someone’s face because that’s what it’s all about really. I also hope that if you are experiencing a lot of stress that my story made you feel less alone and put a smile on YOUR face. I’d also like to add while it is not always easy to accept, change is something that is a constant in life and we continually need to adapt to move forward and grow as an individual and community. We could learn a lot from the butterfly, they go through an incredible metamorphosis in their life and come out stronger and more beautiful than ever. There is always something new we can learn or experience. If there is a silver lining to this pandemic it hopefully will be this – we learn to find the joy in little things, appreciate others more, be less judgmental and more tolerant of each other and our differences, be open to new ideas and experiences and always show empathy, compassion, and kindness for others and our environment, as well as ourselves. Wishing you all health and happiness during this time!

Seek to Understand

People have been grasping at ways to understand what is happening in the world right now. I have heard comparisons to everything from slavery to the Nazi Regime as well as many names for COVID-19. Some of you may be thinking “wow that’s extreme”, while others may be thinking that those are completely reasonable comparisons. Neither is technically wrong, and both of you are functioning within your own frame of reference of the world. As humans, we are constantly seeking to understand what is happening around us. When new things happen, we compare to what we know.

I am going to start by normalizing something. As humans, we all have biases. Bias tends to be formed out of not understanding what is different than us, and stereotyping with the little bit of information that we have about someone. We cannot escape that we have these biases. What we can do is seek to understand our biases better, and understand that everyone is at a different point in their journey of understanding their biases.

When people call COVID-19 the “China virus” the “Chinese flu” or something similar they may have started by trying to understand the virus and why all of this is happening. The problem is that even if they did not intend harm, by calling it the “China virus” we are adding to the bias towards individuals with Asian backgrounds. When we feed the bias, with repeating what we hear, jokes, and fearing others, we are acting on our bias. This becomes a slippery slope that can feed into discrimination and violent acts against others. So while someone may not have had bad intentions by calling COVID-19 the “China Virus”, it can feed into another’s bias, which is why people escalate to violence against people from Asian backgrounds. Fear definitely plays part in amplifying people’s biases at a time like this. Fear can cause people to do irrational things. Many people have tried to take control of their fear by attacking those of Asian descent. This all started with bias that remained unchecked.

As I stated before, it is normal to have bias, what we cannot normalize is hate speech and violent actions towards others. There are a few things that we can do to have control over this situation.

  • If you are interested in learning more about your biases you can take implicit bias tests by Harvard’s Project Implicit.
  • Do your part and control the spread of misinformation, call the virus COVID-19, and staying at home what it is, isolation/quarantine.
  • Remember, your feelings are valid, these times are very hard for some. However, recognize that the virus is no one’s “fault”. This may be difficult, but we are practicing an excellent skill for our mental health by simply radically accepting that this virus is what it is.

  • Travel, in books. Mark Twain stated “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” Emily Dickenson reminds us that when we cannot leave our homes, “To travel far, there is no better ship than a book.” If you are in a mindset that is ready to challenge your biases, read books about experiences from authors who are Asian. Read about the difficult injustices in history to see how radically different our current experiences are to slavery and the Nazi Regime.
  • Share what you have learned. Do not tolerate harmful messages being spread around you, and gently share what you have learned.
  • No one can learn well when they feel attacked, remember that people are functioning in the reality of what they currently know. It takes time to change that reality.

Remember, libraries provide access to information. Contact Information and Reference if you are interested in accessing more information about COVID-19, biases, or diverse materials.

If you have been negatively impacted by COVID-19, contact Libby, Community Resource Specialist, for resources to work through your experiences.

2020 United States Census

The first census was taken in 1790, mandated by Article 1, Section 2 of the United States Constitution. This requires that the country count its population once every 10 years. All people living in the United States are required by law to complete the census.

The results of this once a decade count provide a snapshot of our nation; it is used to adjust or redraw electoral districts, based on where populations have increased or decreased. For some, more importantly, the figures are used to allocate hundreds of billions of dollars that the federal government spreads around to states and communities for projects and services. Many of these are critical programs such as hospitals, fire departments, infrastructure projects, and even items such as school lunch programs.

Businesses also rely on this information to determine where to open new stores or factories, offices, or even where to expand their operations. They want to know the best places to recruit employees, and even what products are services to provide in that area.

When you do respond, all data is anonymous. The numbers are used only to provide statistics. The US Census Bureau is required by law to keep all information confidential. By law this insures your answers cannot be used against you by any court, or government agency.

FAQ:

When may you participate?
By April 1, every home will receive an invite to respond. This will give you a 12-digit Census ID code. Use this code to complete the questionnaire online. However, you may also complete this without the 12-digit code.

Ways to respond?
For the first time ever, online is an option (2020census.gov). Phone and mail are also an option.

Who to count?
Everyone under your roof as of April 1, 2020. This includes children, friends, roommates, newborns, and anyone who is renting a space in your home.

Who is often missed?
People in shelters, health care facilities, homeless, and those in transit, such as in hotels, RV parks, and marinas.

The library does have a laptop upstairs next to the reference desk that customers may use to complete their questionnaire. As always, library staff are always willing to lend a hand to anyone if needed.

Last, if you do not complete your census data, someone eventually will absolutely, positively, for sure, come a’knocking on your door. PLEASE! Just do it! Having someone coming to your door costs money; the very same money that is used for schools, hospitals, etc, is now being used to follow up with everyone that does not fulfill their obligation.

Sheltering in Studio

Recording studios, like many things in the modern age (payphones for example), don’t hold the same significance as they did let’s say, 20 years ago. With the advent of digital recording equipment, home recording has become a lot more prevalent. One of the biggest selling independent recordings of the past 15 years, Bon Iver’s For Emma, Forever, Ago was recorded right here in the Chippewa Valley by Justin Vernon in his family’s hunting cabin using a laptop and other portable equipment.

My TASCAM DP-008 eight track recorder. Photo credit: Colette Couillard

In this blog post I am going to go over a brief history of some famous studios and the musicians and owners and that helped make them so well known. My wife and I were going to embark on a roadtrip where we visited some of these rooms but like a lot of people, we had to change our plans due to the current Coronavirus pandemic. We were going to drive down to Tennessee and stay in Memphis, Nashville and just outside of Pigeon Forge, the home of Dollywood. Since the Muscle Shoals area of Alabama was just a little South of our drive between Memphis and Nashville, we were going to make a quick stop at Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in Sheffield and take a quick tour. That studio is run by a small group of musicians known as The Swampers. The Swampers got their start at another area studio, Fame Studios, before branching out on their own. The amount of famous musicians that stopped through their neck of the woods to record in these rooms is astounding. Check out the DVD documentary and book listed below for more on this fascinating area of the south.

Another group of studio musicians informally known as The Wrecking Crew were associated with producer Phil Spector and often worked at Gold Star Studios in LA. Their little known but important contributions to hundreds of hit records from The Byrds to The Beach Boys are the subject of another DVD available at our library.

Two other famous studios that we planned to visit were Ardent Studios and Sun Records, both in Memphis. Sun was originally owned by Sam Phillips, the subject of the great biography, The Man Who Invented Rock and Roll. A fun scene featuring Sun Studios is in the film Mystery Train which also features Rufus Thomas, a Sun Records recording alum, in a small role. Sun is an example of a studio that is directly associated with a record label. Another such studio is RCA Studio B in Nashville, which was the home base for many artists on that famous label. A visit here was also on our list of planned activities.

Finishing up, I wanted to touch on three studios in this area, one owned by the aforementioned Justin Vernon, and two that I was lucky enough to be able to record in. April Base is a recording studio in Fall Creek, just a few miles outside of Eau Claire that is owned by Justin Vernon. I believe he built it for himself to record in, using money that he made off the enormous success of his first record. (Before moving to Eau Claire, I worked at B-Side, an independent record store in Madison and I can attest, we sold a lot of copies of that record). He now records other bands both international, Blind Boys of Alabama, and local, The Drunk Drivers. The final studios I am going to talk about are ones that I’ve worked in, Smart Studios in Madison, and Pachyderm, in Cannon Falls, MN. Smart, (no longer in busisiness) owned by Butch Vig had a rich history starting with working with local bands like my high school punk band Mecht Mensch and culminating in recording demos for Nevermind, Nirvana’s multi-platinum selling record. My college band Poopshovel recorded both our records there. More information on Smart can be found in the documentary, The Smart Studios Story, directed by Wendy Schneider, the owner of her own Madison studio, Coney Island. Now on to Pachyderm. They are famous for being the studio where Nirvana recorded their second record, In Utero. My band NoahJohn was lucky enough to record there using the same engineer and equipment.

The final studio, I am going to mention is Sound City, located in LA. Dave Grohl, the drummer for Nirvana, fell in love with this studio after recording the final version of Nevermind there using Butch Vig as engineer (lots of connections here). Grohl made a documentary that we also have on our shelves. He also eventually bought the sound board used by many famous bands because he didn’t want to fade into obscurity. Another piece of equipment saved by an obsessive musician is the 1947 Voice-o-Graph  record booth in Jack White’s (White Stripes, Raconteurs) Third Man Record’s store in Nashville. My wife, Colette, being a major Jack White geek, wanted to stop there on our aborted journey as well. I was going to try to make a short recording in the booth because my hero, Neil Young, recorded his A Letter Home CD there.

Recording drums. Photo credit: Colette Couillard

I’m glad I was able to talk about and highlight the materials related to some of these hallowed places and hope you will check out some of our library’s selections to learn more about them. Obviously, it would have been a treat as well as an educational experience to see some of these studios in person, but due to our current unique situation, it was not to be.

Library materials (please do not place a hold on these until the library re-opens)

Studios That We Planned to Visit On Our Trip

Studios Related To This Blog Post

Man holding a sign that reads register early to vote.

Registering to Vote

Have you registered to vote? Doing so is relatively easy using My Vote Wisconsin, where you can now register completely online. To do so, you’ll also need an up-to-date Wisconsin driver license or state ID card and a way to make a digital copy of it, such as a smartphone camera or the scanner at the library. Prefer to register in person? You can find your municipal clerk online and stop by to register too, or visit Information & Reference on the second floor for assistance. You can also see if Chippewa Valley Votes is holding a registration event at a convenient time and location.

Once you’ve registered, you can use My Vote Wisconsin to find upcoming elections and your polling location. Would you rather mail in your ballot? You can sign up for absentee voting, too—even for the entire year! You’ll need a US citizen to witness each absentee vote if you do sign up; the county clerk and Information & Reference are both happy to assist if needed. Prefer to vote in-person absentee? Check with your municipal clerk for voting hours and days.

My Vote Wisconsin has another helpful feature: It can show you what will be on your ballot. State and local ballots are generally available 21 days in advance; federal ballots are ready 47 days in advance.

Still have questions about registering or using My Vote Wisconsin? Come see Information & Reference on the second floor of the library.

Keep Calm & Access Information

What Do We Know About COVID-19?

We do not know when the novel coronavirus disease 2019/ COVID-19 will reach Eau Claire. What we do know is that the library will still be here for you in some way no matter what. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been keeping track of the increasing incidents of COVID-19 and we encourage the public to get their information from the CDC. Library administration is keeping a close eye on CDC’s reports and will continue to advise the public when there are changes with our services. Wherever our risk level is at, there are still things we can do to keep ourselves informed and learn about healthy habits that are best practice right now.

What Can I Do To Stay Healthy?

The CDC recommends the following:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then immediately throw the tissue away.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Stay home when you are sick, except to get medical care.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Make plans in case of school/ work closures, or needing to stay at home due to illness. Talk to your boss about leave time to prevent the virus from spreading.
  • Have food and medication on hand that may be helpful for the symptoms of the virus.

How Do I Know If I Have COVID-19?

What Are We Doing About It?

We care about our community and our community’s health. We have made the difficult decision to close the library at this time due to the recommendations from the governemnt and the CDC. We take our responsibility of providing services to the community very seriously. Keep an eye on our website and Facebook page for the most up to date information on this topic. We will be working hard in the coming days on providing services in new and innovative ways during this difficult time.

What Library Services Can I Use At Home?

Sawdust City Sounds is an original service brought to you by your library that carries local music to the Chippewa Valley.
Wisconsin’s Digital Library is a great way to access materials for all ages for OverDrive and Libby on your devices at home. This allows you to access audiobooks, books, graphic novels, and videos!
FREADING is another great resource, especially for travel guides and nonfiction.
Freegal brings downloadable music and music videos straight to your devices!
hoopla
hoopla is another service to access popular audiobooks, e-books, graphic novels, music, and video.
Flipster
We have not forgotten about the magazine lovers! Use Flipster to access magazines, anytime, anywhere.
Learn a new language. Mango offers over 70 languages and dialects and works with you on how you learn best.

Battling Racism with Books

February is well known as Black History Month, but by no means should we only expose ourselves to diversity during this month. One way that we can continuously expose ourselves to diversity without spending money or traveling is by visiting your local library. Your library houses books and media that contains stories written by and about people from different walks of life than your own. The library can support you in learning about history, and how it shapes our present and future. This can be an incredibly uncomfortable experience, but I challenge you to reflect on why you are experiencing discomfort. If you want to put a book down that is making you uncomfortable, I ask you to consider that you are only experiencing these stories for a moment, while others are experiencing these stories as the reality of their everyday lives. Everyone has a unique story to tell, and if you are willing to lean into the discomfort, give a new movie or book a try that will help you learn new things about other walks of life.

Other ways that we can expose ourselves to diversity:

  • Visit new places
  • Try new foods
  • Visit historical sites
  • Attend public cultural celebrations (i.e. Hmong New Year, Pow wows)
  • Talk to people and share what you’ve learned
  • Listen to other’s experiences
  • Reflect on how your background has shaped your experiences
  • Practice love and understanding

There are billions of people on this Earth. There is so much to learn from each other, and so many ways to embrace and celebrate our diversity.