Field notes from Albany (part 2)

One of my neighbors constructed one of those Little Free Libraries. You have probably seen them – perched at the fronts of lawn, they resemble birdhouses, but with a glass door and room for books inside. The idea is that you take a book while leaving a book and no money exchanges hands. But I admit I don’t completely understand it. There is a big free library just a few blocks away, which has a much larger selection, plus it’s air conditioned.

When I saw it I went to the local thrift store and bought all their copies of The DaVinci Code and put them all in there. I figured it would happen eventually so I might as well hasten the process. Actually I’m just kidding, that would have been mean. I made sure to include a cross-section of the work of Dan Brown.

Strangely enough, later that summer the Little Free Library got designated as a Pokémon Gym. That’s a place where Pokémon Go players go to battle one other. For a few weeks, there were all these kids flitting around, eyes on screens, thumbs twitching, never exchanging any books. Like moths to a flame, or more precisely like Venomoths to a Flareon.

Speaking of unwanted books, a different neighbor had a yard sale the other day and was selling her college textbooks from the 1980s for $1 each. One of them was Principles of Economics. I knew she hadn’t done the reading for that class because right on page 6 it says “don’t wait until something has lost 98% of its value before selling it”. I imagine the thought process when her family moved there back around 2000: “I’m still hoping to do the reading, but I’ll give myself a 15-year deadline”. I ended up buying Principles of Economics for 50 cents (page 268: don’t ever pay full price) and used it swat away children as I added it to the Little Free Library.

Field notes from Albany (part one)

The Catholic Church in my neighborhood closed a few years ago when two parishes were consolidated. Fortunately the buildings were preserved. The church itself is now occupied by an advertising agency called Overit. Now every time I walk by, I think “Once I was Catholic, now I’m Overit”.

They had an open house a while back, so I got to see inside. They did a good job with the conversion. The main area where the pews were is now an open work area, full of computer monitors. Around the periphery were newly constructed offices and conference rooms. The religious items had all been removed. I think they should have held onto the pulpit and put it in one of the conference rooms. If I was in a meeting where someone was speaking from the pulpit, I would keep quiet until the speaker made some extremely obvious point, then I could say “You’re preaching to the choir”.

It would be difficult to have your annual performance review given from a pulpit, though. Instead of having to improve your work performance, you would have to atone for your work performance.

The rectory—the house where the priest lived—is now the office of my insurance agent. It is remarkable how the presence of the Holy Spirit has persevered. I went there to add my teenage son to our car insurance policy. Even though I am not a religious person, when they handed me the quote, the first words out of my mouth were “Holy Mary, Mother of God”.