Archive for March, 2011

So this week I’m going to build off of last week’s post on Tips for Adopting a pet and explore some apartment complexes around Morgantown that allow pets (and some that don’t!)

BLUE Points=Pet friendly & RED points=No pets allowed

I took a look at some of the popular apartment complexes around campus and found out if they allow pets and if so what the costs are; and here is the breakdown:

West Run Apartments: Do allow “all pets”. They did not specify a weight limit or any breed restrictions. The price is a $450 refundable deposit (refundable only if nothing is destroyed upon moving out) and an additional $25 per month.

The District: Do allow pets, but they have a 30lb weight limit (i.e. no pets over 30lbs). They also have a $200 non-refundable deposit as well as $25 per month after that.

Mountain Valley Apartments: Allow pets up to a 55lb weight limit. They have a one-time non-refundable fee of $300 for dogs, $200 for cats, and $100 for everything else (i.e. fish & squirrels–yes the woman in the office actually said someone had a flying squirrel there as a pet).

Copper Beech Townhomes: Do allow pets, however weight limits and breed restrictions were not specified. The cost here is a $300 non-refundable deposit and a $25 per month fee after that.

Some of the apartments I looked at that did not allow pets were: The Ridge and Bent Tree Court.

These apartment complexes seem to be some of the more popular one’s on campus, but I’m sure there a lot more smaller complexes or privately-owned apartments (too many for one person to cover!) So if you know other complexes that are pet-friendly feel free to add them in the comments!!

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LDR 2009

This Wednesday I wanted to make a point that there are numerous ways to volunteer.  I’m not talking about the different organizations you could become a part of.  I’m talking about the actual actions you could partake in, or the ways in which you prefer to offer up your time.  You get out of your volunteer work what you put into it right?  There are easy ways to volunteer just as well as lengthy, time-consuming ways.  If you have a busy schedule, maybe you just want to contribute to your community with a donation that you can quickly drop off.  If you have more time, like a spring or summer break, maybe you want to go on a mission trip.  Another option could be something you are very passionate about, in that case, you might want to make your work an on-going process at which you spend a few hours a week.

My point is, there is something out there for everyone, you just have to look around and see what works out best for you!

For example, my first post was about donating books to prisoners through the Appalachian Prison Book Project (APBP).  This is a good example of a way to make a quick and easy donation of a box full of old books for someone else to benefit from.  Other ideas may be to donate old clothing to shelters or a local Good Will.  There is a Good Will on Green Bag Road in Morgantown, or there is a bin outside of the Student Rec Center that collects donated Clothing.

My previous post was about So.Zo, the coffee shop downtown on High Street that promotes social justice.  If you are someone who is passionate about social justice, organic food, and going Green, you could spend a few hours a week volunteering at So.Zo.  Better yet, you could periodically check into So.Zo to see what events they are showcasing that promote social justice and sign up!  For example, on April 10th, the Amizade Water Walk will take place behind the Mountain Lair.  Registration will be going on all week.

On the way to Madisonville, Kentucky

This week’s volunteer organization is going to feature The Lutheran Disaster Response Team (LDR), which is located right on campus beside St. Johns Church.  LDR is a coalition of WVU students who respond to disasters as they occur.  The goal is primarily to help those who don’t have the skill or money after a disaster, such as a flood or earthquake.  The group usually plans one big trip over spring break to any place that is in need of assistance.  They also respond to sites locally in West Virginia. 

The type of volunteer work includes, rebuilding people’s homes, replacing roofs, dry wall, staining, etc.  Though this kind of work is more hands on than other volunteer organizations, you do not need any prior experience before signing up.  You will learn all of the skills once you get to the site.

That truck was blue before the gps system got us lost in a muddy cow field.

I was a part of LDR my freshman year.  For spring break we went to Madisonville, Kentucky to help those who needed our assistance after the ice storms had hit in 2009.  Our mission while we were over there was to help people clean up their properties.  Though this wasn’t really the type of work LDR was used to (they were used to gutting out and rebuilding homes), there was no doubt we still made a difference for people. 

Half standing trees were everywhere. Their trunks and branches were strewn through yards and clogged ditches.  The half-standing trees were posing a danger to falling on homes, roads, telephones lines, or other properties.  We came to clean it up. 

The sides of the road as we drove through Madisonville, Kentucky.

While everyone else was off in Cancun or Panama taking in the sun, I was in Kentucky cutting down trees (that’s right, I learned how to cut down a tree) unclogging ditches, sweating, ripping my clothes, and removing wheel barrel after wheel barrel of debris out of people’s yards for 8 hours a day.

“LDR is an Organization that works hard and does things right,” said Mary Klinestiver, treasurer of LDR. 

What I remember the most from that trip was a little old man who was in his eighties.  He lived alone in a little log cabin out in the woods with his two dogs.  He didn’t have any family around and he was starting to lose his eye sight.  Because he was in the middle of the woods, the storms had done a great deal of damage to his property.  We typically only spent about a day at each site, but it took two or three days to help him clean everything up.  He really appreciated everything we did for him. I could tell he was emotional about our help.  On the last day, he thanked us with a large cookout.  I remember thinking that helping this man was the highlight of my trip. 

The log cabin.

“I think LDR has helped people do what they cannot do for themselves. It has been a joy to know that you made life a little easier for people,” said Klinestiver.

If anyone would like to find out more about LDR contact chaplain@lutheranmountaineer.org

Klinestiver also said that any girls who are interested in service organization can contact her about Kappa Phi, a Christian service organization for women in college, at mklinest@mix.wvu.edu.

To conclude, this post isn’t about me telling you to go on a mission trip because it’s the best way to make a difference.  The best way to make a difference is simply to do what you can, as well as what you enjoy.

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Did you know that I’ve hidden a quote in a book in the library, and if you find it you can win a Stephen King hardcover novel?

Did you know you can rent DVDs out the wazoo down in the lower level of the downtown campus library?

Did you know that the library itself is actually two buildings on the main campus, and that there are five in the system?

Did you know that there are now ebook collections?

Do you know where the bust of Dante is?

Did you know that the library has one of the largest collections of books by Isaac Asimov, as well as large collections of Mark Twain and Shakespeare?

Did you know that there are librarians that like to text answers to you?

No? Read on. With the help of some librarians and students, I got to poke around in the nether regions of one of the more interesting places I’ve been in.

I am the son of a librarian. I’m also the son of a mechanic, but for some reason I turned out to be a bibliophile, much to my dad’s chagrin. I have a healthy respect for libraries, especially libraries that are adapting to today’s technologies and oft-changing times. Anyone in the digital media market knows how volatile it can be with DRM platforms constantly changing, along with the devices people are using (Kindle, Nook, iPad, iPhone, etc.). Students are demanding folks, especially undergrads that have never been around a strong, university library system.

The atrium is a lovely place to study, and marks the separation of the "old" and "new" libraries on the downtown campus.

Here in Morgantown, at West Virginia University, is a lovely collection of libraries. Individually they are known as the Evansdale, Health Sciences, Law, Charleston Health Sciences, and downtown campus libraries. The most action – and intrigue – is found at the downtown campus library. When I first entered the library last semester, I got lost. For those who haven’t been indoctrinated, the downtown library is actually TWO libraries—the Wise Library (or “old” library) and the addition to the front of it, simply called the downtown campus library. You’ll also notice that if you take the stairs on the front half of the building, you’ll end up going to floors two and four. In the back half, you’ll have to go up a flight of stairs, and then go up a half flight of stairs on either side to access places like the Robinson Reading Room. If you want to access the rare book room in the Wise Library, you have to go to the back left elevator, go to the sixth floor, and then walk across the access hall into the other building. Let’s just say that you’ll want to stop by the main desk for a map if you have to look something up.

At that main desk I had a chance to chat up Linda Blake, the electronic journals coordinator and science librarian. It turns out that what my librarian mother always said, “If you don’t know, ask a librarian,” is true. If you think about it, most librarians have to have a master’s degree in a field like information technology. They’re pretty savvy, and they put to rest the old stereotypes of bitter women with peacock glasses and a hatred for children. If you talk to someone like Linda Blake, you can find out a lot.

Librarian Linda Blake and her assistant, Jaclyn Carenbauer, a freshman studying social work, at the main desk of the downtown campus library. When in doubt, ask a librarian!

“Did you know about the Asimov collection?” said Blake, “There was even an article in the D.A. (Daily Athenaeum) today about it.” And so there was. Turns out that over 600 Isaac Asimov books now reside in the downtown campus library, and you can take a look at them.

“Or how about the bust of Dante?” Blake was referring to a beautiful bust of 13th-century poet Dante Alighierhi. There’s a fascinating story that can be found here, regarding the history of the library, where in 1940, Italian immigrant Thoney Pietro commissioned the bust to be given to WVU “as a token of his appreciation of happiness which had come to him since his arrival from Italy.” In short, it took 19 years for the bust to find its way home, after spending some time in the Library of Congress. For those in Morgantown not indoctrinated in the history of Pietro, you can check out pictures of one of his houses on Kingwood here, or a rendition of his “castle” (an old friary) here. (You really should take a look at the friary, at least). Blake stated that on her tours of the library (oh, yes, there are tours), the history of Dante’s bust is one of the stories she tells.

Thoney Pietro's bust of 13th century Florentine poet Dante. It's located in the Robinson Reading Room, one of the "deep quiet zones."

But if you want to catch a glimpse of history, you should take a tour of the rare book collection. Librarian Christy Venham gave me a short tour.

On the sixth floor of the "new" library, you can access a hallway to the Wise Library, home to the rare book collection.

When you go, the process is pretty strict. First, you need to check in with one of the students at the entrance.

Criminology freshman Dominic Lowman is ready to check you into the rare books section of the Wise Library.

He’ll have you fill out a form if it’s your first time in the rare books section. If you have a backpack or purse he’ll give you a locker key. Then you’ll be monitored when you look through the books. White gloves keeps the oils from your hands from rubbing off on the books. You can always ask curator John Cuthbert any of your questions.

The hallowed grounds of antiquities, history, and culture

More of the rare books collection

“We’ll let you take books into the Stealey Manuscript Reading Room, and you can only have a pen or pencil, paper, or a laptop, and nothing else.” said Venham. “We have security cameras and one-way mirrors to observe the readers.” Needless to say, the experience is something all students should go through. “Some classes come here—a variety of English classes are assigned to rare books.”

Venham wants students to know that to look at the rare book collection you can only come on Monday through Friday.

But if you’re like most students, you’ll probably want to know the cool stuff, like the fact that you can check out DVDs in the lower level, a floor a lot of students don’t think of venturing to. Linda Blake wants to remind students that the collection isn’t “browsable like Blockbuster,” and that if you want to find out ahead of time what you might want, go to the media section of the website, and look up DVD or VHS.

It’s also good to know that you can always text or instant-message a librarian one of your questions. And if you’re really into the digital world, it’s good to know that WVU is building an Ebrary, and Blake is in charge of around 30,000 electronic journals.

Of course, if all else fails, you can still go make out in the stacks.

The stacks. Just to the right you'll be able to find the book I hid the clue in.

And speaking of stacks, here’s your clue to win a new, hardcover book by Stephen King—Under the Dome. There’s a book in the stacks that has to do with one of Americana’s finest writers and humorists on the subject of the Mississippi River. There is a rare, first edition book in the rare books that you can view, but librarians will ask if you’ll read one of the other editions downstairs, like the one I hid the clue in. I’d give you the call number, but that would be too easy. Here’s another hint: the rare book collection has the 1883 edition. I’ve hidden my clue in a 1957 edition. The first person to write the clue down in the comments section will win. Disclaimer: Librarians and library staff are exempt from winning.

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Call of Duty. Assassin’s Creed. World of Warcraft. Halo. These are the names usually associated with gaming. There are numerous corporate entities, cottage industries and blogs which manage these marvels day in and day out. Just look at what we can accomplish now, simply in terms of graphics and presentation.

There is another type of gaming which exists outside of consoles and PCs, however. Tabletop gaming. And nowhere in Morgantown is there a more hospitable environment for tabletop gaming than at Four Horsemen Comics and Gaming.

The first part of the store’s name is pretty self explanatory. There are many shelves of comics, as one would expect from a comic store. Graphic novels such as The Walking Dead, the requisite serialized super hero comics and graphic interpretations of existing works such as Marvel’s take on Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series sit side by side.

That said, the store’s comic selection is primarily western; those seeking a robust library of manga should look elsewhere. But the store isn’t really geared toward manga anyway. Nearly every surface of the establishment is emblazoned or adorned with some form of superhero or Star Wars character.

It always comes back to Star Wars. (photo courtesy of Four Horsemen's Facebook page)

I found the store’s selection of comics more than satisfactory, particularly when one considers that Four Horsemen has been open for about six months. And even if the store does not offer the comic you are looking for, it will be acquired with extreme prejudice. In fact, the store is counting on that very impulse to broaden its horizons.

“If there’s a comic you read, we’ll order it. And if there’s a game you play, bring it in,” says Four Horsemen co-owner Ron Davis. He adds that when the store first opened, its primary activities were tabletop stables such as Magic and Dungeons & Dragons. Over time the community began to introduce new ideas.

“We strive for a sense of community,” Ron adds. And from what I witnessed, the community has responded. I dropped in on Monday around 6 p.m. and the place was hopping. It was the kind of scene I wanted to see at Save Point, really.

“A lot of the guys, this is like their social media,” Tom says. “It’s social networking in person.”

Ron agrees. “The regulars are the reason that we’re here.”

Indeed, Four Horsemen’s motto echoes their sentiments. As the website puts it, “It’s your store, we’re just here to turn the lights on in the morning.” Ron and Tom are quick to emphasize that the store’s growth is totally driven by its patrons. Its inventory size has quadrupled since its doors opened in October 2010, and Ron is quick to credit this fact to its community’s ever-expanding interests.

The store is well-stocked for games requiring miniatures. A large shelf holds painting supplies for customizing your minis

There are also two big shelves full of Warhammer merchandise, which is a household name to any gamer worth his dice

HeroClix, a game which uses Marvel hero and villain miniatures to do battle on a grid, is now a recurring game at Four Horsemen. At a special HeroClix midnight release, the store’s featured stock was sold out in ten minutes.

The store has a dedicated community of tabletop gamers whose interests are as diverse as possible within the format. I mean, there’s diversity within the diversity! I cannot just say they play trading card games; they play everything from Pokemon to the World of Warcraft TCG to Yu-Gi-Oh! to Magic. When I visited, there was a Legend of the Five Rings TCG game going on. And these are just the ones I know they play.

There are more traditional pen and paper games such as D&D and Pathfinder.

Some folks play the miniature-based games like HeroClix and Warhammer (40k and original).

On top of the variety, the store has some official chops. It is the only location in the state which offers officially sanctioned WoW TCG play, and playing there allows you to earn honor within the WoW TCG system, which I did not even know existed. Four Horsemen also hosts an official Pokemon League every other weekend or so (check here for exact times and dates, as well as other event info).

On another note, it’s sort of odd to think that a store completely grounded in physical media would be so adept in the realm of social media, but I must remark that Four Horsemen is masterful in its use of social media. Both its Twitter and Facebook are frequently, helpfully updated with news, promotions and other information pertinent to the realms of its expertise.

I discovered that Ron was responsible for the frequent and timely updates that are such a refreshing departure from the staccato inconsistencies which all too regularly plague the social media efforts of local businesses. Gold star, Ron!

If you want to find Four Horsemen Comics and Gaming, be wary of Google Maps, for its deceitful siren’s call has sent many an enterprising young writer down long forgotten paths into treacherous warrens of death and despair (not me, of course). The store is located in the Morgantown Mall, right next to Gap, across from Bath and Bodyworks. Not in the middle of a lake, and not in the jaws of Hades.

Lastly, I would like to give a shout out to Nick Ely, the fellow from last week’s post, for directing me to this charming new establishment. Head over to his blog and say hi if you’d like. One good turn deserves another

Four Horsemen Comics and Gaming Facebook Page

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Here are this week’s featured pets:



Daytona is a 1 year old male Lab. He is playful, outgoing, and sweet.




Bristol is a quiet, 8 month old female Pit mix who loves to go for walks.




Mugwort is a 3 year old male Chihuahua/pug mix who would prefer a home without young children.




Honeysuckle is a loving 2 year old female beagle who wants to be a house dog, not a hunting dog.




Taboo is still here! Check out last week’s post to learn more about him.


If you are interested in one of these dogs, or just in rescuing an animal, please contact Dana Johnson at (304) 291-7267. She’s the facilities manager at Mon. County Canine Adoption Center, and is eagerly trying to save these animals! You can also visit them on River Road, Morgantown, WV 26505.

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White Park Baseball

What do you do when your subject decides to go to Bristol, Tennessee for a NASCAR event?

Find a new subject. I was fortunate on Thursday to stumble upon a game of pick-up baseball (slow pitch softball essentially) at White Park, just across from the Morgantown Municipal Ice Arena.

White Park is home to at least six different baseball fields that span across the grounds. Some are bigger then others, with the fields usually home to little league ball or beer league softball. But when they fields have no occupants, you can often find people of Morgantown playing around on the fields.

On Thursday two groups converged to play an eight on eight. The only stipulation? You had to catch for your own team. All other positions were covered. Sophomore television journalism major Adam Crowley said when the weather gets nice that the first thing on his mind is playing softball with his friends.

“I had to stop playing baseball when I was a junior in high school because of acute tendinitis. I love playing on the weekends.”

The group was mostly made up of friends, but not necessarily everyone knew each other. Sometimes two groups need to come together to get a full game. If Adam’s crew hadn’t found other people to play at the field, it would have been a lot of practicing and not much playing.

“We could only get eight or nine people total and not everyone has gloves,” said Adam.

To play in these games, the most important thing is having one glove for every two people. More gloves are welcome, but that number ensures everyone will have one when the two sides switch between the dug out and the field.

Adam’s friend Chris Haines goes out for a different reason to play.

“I stopped playing baseball and focused on football when I was in high school. I forgot how much fun it is to be jack a ball out of the park.”

Home runs are pretty constant in these games. Most of the fields aren’t longer then 200 feet since Little League usually uses them.

When the beer league softball communities use the fields, they only allow one home run per game to limit scoring. They also start all counts off with one ball and one strike to speed the games up.

As a former member of beer league softball with Rapid Construction, I can remember quite well that every game essentially felt like an exhibition. It was just a bunch of people getting together to play the game for fun. Nobody took it too seriously.

Games at White Park are usually pretty relaxed. But some go for a different reason.

“Regardless of the sport or level of competition I am there to win,” says Jon Rudder. “I want to go out there and be better then the other guy.”

There are no set times for games at White Park unless you sign up for beer league softball, but if you get in the mood and have a glove or bat, take a drive by and see if anybody is there.

Alex Wiederspiel is a senior journalism student at West Virginia University and sports director at U92 Radio.

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Hello pet lovers! Here are this weeks photos of a few animals that are in desperate need of a loving home:



Angie the boxer is still here!




Taboo is a 3 year old black shepherd mix who is very quiet and loves to take it easy




Tesla is a 2 year old collie mix, she is shy and a little timid but learns to trust quickly




Betsy is a 6 month old lab mix, she has tons of puppy energy and is very affectionate




Bailey is a 1 year old hound mix with a strong spirit and a sweet way about her


If you are interested in one of these dogs, or just in rescuing an animal, please contact Dana Johnson at (304) 291-7267. She’s the facilities manager at Mon. County Canine Adoption Center, and is eagerly trying to save these animals! You can also visit them on River Road, Morgantown, WV 26505.

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HELL ON EARTH: A Harry Potter book release party

I’m sure most of you have worked in the service industry. It sucks. And usually we can thank the random, oddball customer for making those jobs suck. I’ve waited tables, I’ve sold cell phone plans over the phone, I’ve bartended, I’ve been a cook. But the best/worst customer service job I’ve ever had has been as a bookseller. I’ve heard many people tell me, “Man, I should quit my job waiting tables so I can go sell books,” and I always have to offer rebuttals. For instance, you may have to wait on a picky customer at a restaurant. But that person will usually be gone within an hour. A bookstore patron will never leave. Restaurant patrons usually come in twos or fours. Bookstore patrons are loners; solitary wolves that are usually alone for a reason. Restaurant patrons can secretly insult you by leaving you a bad tip. Bookstore patrons have to resort to much, much worse things to get “even.”

Although I haven’t been a bookseller in Morgantown, I’d have to wager that the industry is the same
everywhere. My friend, Briana, worked at a library, and she regaled me with tales of strange and unusual people. Just after she told me some stories, I read in the news about a man that was caught bathing in the library bathroom, and was arrested for possessing a few pounds of stolen cheese. My mother was a librarian for many years, and she never had a dull day. People would bring their kids to the library and drop them off … for eight hours at a time. “It’s their own government-funded daycare,” she said.

It seems that where books are shelved, strangeness abides.

So what does this have to do with Morgantown? I called and visited with and solicited the opinions of several booksellers and baristas around the area, in addition to some friends and colleagues. I gave them the chance to share some of their stories and tips about customer etiquette. Going against my journalism roots, I have agreed to keep most folks anonymous, and you can understand why. I have comments from employees at two Barnes & Nobles (University Centre and WVU), the Book Exchange, the Wise Library, and Books-a-Million. If you’re on Twitter, let me suggest following @GrumpyBooksellr—you won’t be disappointed. I’ve inserted some of his/her comments in with the rest.

Without further ado, here’s a tip sheet for customers. Warning: it’s not rated.

—I don’t give a shit if you can find the book online cheaper than you can find it here. You want it now, you buy it now. No, no we aren’t going to give you a discount.

—No, we aren’t Borders, and no, we aren’t going out of business. Yet. (Customers have been coming in asking for the ridiculous sales due to some Borders stores closing after filing for bankruptcy)

—Phone: Do you sell Amazon Gift Cards? Me: What? No. Phone: My wife has a Kindle & that would be nice. Me: I’m a bookstore, not Amazon. (GrumpyBooksellr)

—If you’re going to order a half-caf-soy-ice-frappa-crappa-macchiato-with-caramel-sauce-and-whipped-cream you best be tippin’.

—Oh, I love it when people think the café is their freaking living room. A little guy came in here the other day and spent my entire shift here. He did homework, he talked on the phone, he read about 20 magazines, he played on the Internet, he even brought some of his own food in his giant backpack. He left his mess for me to clean up, and he had folded the magazines over to read them. I think he justified this because he bought a small coffee when he first arrived. No tip.

—Dear Self-Published Author: It’s not my fault you lose money on every sale. No is going to buy your whiny self-discovery schlock for $24. (GrumpyBooksellr)

—Guys, please pee in the stand-up urinal. Flush. Wash your hands. DON’T TAKE BOOKS IN THERE WITH YOU. Gross.

—Well, it’s always frustrating when someone asks for a book they just heard about on the news and they don’t know who wrote it, what it’s called, what it’s really about. My only clue is that if it’s in the news it’s probably a new release.

—Kids should not be allowed to play “Marco Polo” in the stacks.

—It’s not a library. People can talk to each other. If you don’t like it, um, go to a library. But people probably talk there to. Maybe you should just go home.

—Please don’t put the Bibles in the gay studies section. Please don’t put the Bibles in Fiction. Please don’t put Glenn Beck in gay studies. Please don’t put Sarah Palin in Fiction. Although it’s really funny where Palin turns up sometimes.

—Me: Sure, I’ll tie up ~$300 ordering art books you may not want when you see them. No Problem. We are all about customer service.

—It’s a sex book and you’re buying it. Get over it. (On the various men that get really nervous when buying erotica or ‘how-to’ manuals)

—Dude, I really want to puke when the high schoolers come in here and make out and fondle each other. See that chair? It’s for one person, not for two people to dry-hump each other.

—Me: No, Please, kick the mud off your shoes *after* [you] get to our carpeted area. (GrumpyBooksellr)

—This isn’t the movies. There’s no need to bring your food in with you while you browse.
—I have waited tables too, and there’s something that restaurants and bookstores have in common that no one will tell you: leave your damn kids at home. We hate them. Some of them. Well, most of them. No, we hate them.

—Me: I know you’re enjoying your time here but, please, don’t whistle along with your iTunes while you read. Not everyone knows the songs. (GrumpyBooksellr)

—Hey, we love it when people think we’re the world’s greatest place to take a dump. I had a customer actually tell me we had the best public bathrooms. TMI, creeper. Please don’t use my name [when you write this]. He’ll know exactly who I am.

—For some reason a lot of Asian kids ¬ students ¬ try to order their textbooks through us. It’s really hard to explain to them that it’s best if they order textbooks online or at a textbook store. Welcome to America, home of nonsensical businesses. So if I had to give advice to customers, I’d tell them to get their textbooks elsewhere.

—Me: Don’t drag me around asking all sorts of questions about every book, then telling me you can get it cheaper somewhere else & leave. (GrumpyBooksellr)

I will take some time to regale you with my own bookstore stories in a future post. They’re awesome. Meanwhile, for those of you who stay tuned, I’m working on a Wise Library book scavenger hunt to win free hardcover and paperback bestsellers. Keep an eye out for the clues to come.

Sarah Geiger and two little Potter minions at the coloring station. This is why booksellers do what they do. Sorta.

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Saving just one dog won’t change the world, but it surely will change the world for that one dog.” – Richard C. Call

This week I thought I’d do a piece on adopting animals. According to the ASPCA, approximately 5-7 million animals enter shelters across America each year; and 3-4 million of them are euthanized—60% of dogs and 70% of cats. Most people have preconceived notions about shelters and shelter animals, which is why they choose not to adopt. The biggest misconception is that all dogs in shelters are just muts and they want a specific breed or purebred animal. But according to the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy (NCPPSP) 25% of dogs who enter local shelters are purebred.

So you’re thinking about getting a pet and you want to adopt, now what? Here are some tips for those looking to adopt an animal:

  • BEFORE YOU ADOPT, MAKE SURE YOU’RE FINANCIALLY STABLE. Dana Johnson from the Mon. County Adoption Center says some animal costs can be unexpected, “You know, you can go for a year without having to put any major money into an animal, but if something unforeseen or if an accident happens or a sickness comes along, you’re looking at some extra money.” This is a biggie before adopting an animal or just getting an animal in general, to make sure you’re financially ready to be a pet owner, because it is an expense. They need food, treats, toys, a bed, food/water bowls, a collar, tags, a leash, vaccinations, micro-chipping, etc.—it adds up…fast. And that’s only the beginning of it.
  • MAKE SURE YOUR FAMILY IS READY FOR THE CHANGES A NEW PET WILL BRING. A furry friend brings love and adventure, but he also brings new household chores. Some dogs—especially puppies—may need a lot of attention and training, while cats thrive on a daily schedule of feeding, grooming and play. A great way to manage this is to create a schedule to share the responsibility for caring for your new pet. This will ensure that no one forgets to walk the dog or feed the cat. It will also help foster relationships between your new furry friend and everyone in the house.
  • MAKE SURE YOU CHOOSE A BREED THAT WILL WORK WITH YOUR LIFESTYLE. Dana says that your lifestyle and your home have a lot to do with the breed that you plan on getting. It’s not rocket science folks; if you live in a closet-sized apartment don’t get a large, active breed that’s going to need room, like a border collie or Australian shepherd. Dana says, “It would be unfair to them, and it would be unfair to you. Because they would be wild, for lack of a better word, and it would make your life really hard if you had a dog that you couldn’t take out and exercise frequently.”
  • MAKE SURE YOU RESEARCH WHICH BREED MATCHES YOUR LIFESTYLE. Find out which breeds need certain living conditions, etc. because every breed is different. Some breeds are naturally more aggressive or high-strung than others. Breeds such as Labrador and golden retrievers are known to be more even-tempered and well-behaved around children.
  • MAKE SURE YOU HAVE TIME FOR AN ANIMAL. Dana suggests, that if you don’t have a lot of time, a cat may be better suited for you because they’re very self sufficient. If you work 12 hours a day, don’t get a small puppy that’s going to need lots of love and attention.

I would say, these are the major tips to look into when you’re thinking about adopting an animal. But if you’re still weary about weary about whether a certain breed is right for you, check out the ASPCA website.

All shelters are different, some require no background checks and will let you walk away with an animal that day; while others practically make you sign away the rights to your first-born child before they let you leave with an animal. The Mon. County Canine Adoption Center is among the first category. There is an $85 fee for adopting, this includes the spay/neuter and the animals first 5 vaccines; after that you’re free to walk out with the animal. Shelters that actually do perform background checks and reference checks may cost more to adopt because of the added fees.

—My family adopted our dog from our local shelter and we had to show proof of residency from like the last 7 years, receipts for proof that we paid our bills, like all this random and crazy stuff just to take this little dog home. It seemed excessive at the time, but in retrospect, it’s only for the benefit of the animal so the shelter can make sure it’s not going home with someone who’s going to deliberately harm them.—

Adoption is a great way to go. There are millions of loving animals in shelters across America waiting for someone to love them. And if this post hasn’t persuaded you into adopting, then just watch this video, I’m sure it will.

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Did you ever think that you could make a difference in the world just by drinking a cup of coffee?  Well you can at So.Zo.  So.Zo is a coffee shop on High street closer to campus.  In fact, you can find it right after Casa.  The coffee shop is owned by Chestnut Ridge Church, which first began on campus.  The church soon blossomed and thus So.Zo was opened as way to stay in root with the Church’s basis.

The purpose of So.Zo is so that students can have a place to go where they feel comfortable, partake in unorganized Bible studies, do homework, check out some of Morgantown’s local artists, and drink cheap coffee (only $1.25).

“One really cool thing that I have noticed is that kids feel comfortable enough to come here with their friends and read the Bible on their own time,” said one of the volunteers at So.Zo who declined to give his name.

I have been hanging out at So.Zo myself since I was a freshman and somehow stumbled across it (probably literally, but we won’t go there). I have always felt comfortable going there.  I love the enormous coffee mugs they give you.  One of my favorite things to do in between classes is to stop in and wrap both of my hands around a great big cup of hot tea and curl up on the couch with a good book….or you know, homework. 

One of my favorite features about So.Zo is that the business is a non-profit organization that serves to promote social justice. The coffee shop welcomes people to engage in making the world a better place. 

First of all, you are contributing just by drinking a cup of coffee at So.Zo.  All of their coffee is organically grown and the to-go cups are eco-friendly.  So.Zo also recycles, and just last year the coffee shop had hundreds of pounds of recycling. 

Secondly, So.Zo serves as a showcase for non-profit organizations.  For example, the coffee shop promotes “Dry Tears,” which is a fundraiser to increase awareness of the world’s problem with dirty water.  Did you know that 3,900 children die every day due to dirty water, according to the United Nations Human Development Report?  Every 15 seconds someone dies from a water-related disease.  That equals out to 5,000,000 million people a year dying from a water-related disease, and HALF of the world’s hospital patients.  Compare this.  According to the U.S Geological survey, the average American family uses 100-176 gallons of water a day, while the Average African family uses 5.  Doesn’t this make you want to do something?!  Go to So.Zo and buy a “Dry Tears” bracelet for $2.  All profits go towards projects gaining access to clean water.

Additionally, coming up on April 10th is the 4th annual Amizade water walk for woments rights. All you have to do is carry a bucket of water on a 1.5 (or 2, I have seen both numbers on a few different flyers) mile route walk beginning behind the Mountain Lair.  Walk in harmony with the 1.1 billion people around the world who do not have access to safe water.  For more information click here.

            This is why I love So.Zo.  I walked in and interviewed one of the volunteers, and I walked out signed up to be a volunteer.  So.Zo is a Greek word meaning “to save.”  Anyone can make a difference. It’s just a matter of wanting to, and knowing where and how to do it.  The greatest part about So.Zo in my opinion is that you feel like you are a part of an important kind of community when you walk in.  You feel welcome, and it’s a pretty common notion that others around you at least all have the same passion to pursue making the world a better place.

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