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Saturday was the 12th anniversary of the day I joined  Twelve years ago, I was curious about this site that provided me with an venue for labeling and tracking my books.  I had been a member of for a while, and had discovered BookCrossing through a link on the WheresGeorge page.  As I joined the site, I had little expectation that it would come to fill such a large part of my life, introducing me to new friends from around the world, and broadening my reading horizons substantially.

As luck would have it, Saturday was also this year's Gaithersburg Book Festival in Maryland.  As usual, the local DC area BookCrossers had a booth beside the event sponsors, to give away books (registered on BookCrossing, naturally) and generally promote BookCrossing.  It was the perfect way to celebrate my 12th anniversary on the site.  Together, we brought about 2,100 books to the event, and by the end of the afternoon, we had a mere handful left.  I got to catch up with my local BookCrossing friends and talk to strangers about books and BookCrossing.  Even the severe thunderstorm that tried to drown us as we headed to dinner couldn't dampen my spirits after the success of the day.

It is hard to articulate all of the reasons I continue to find participating in BookCrossing so rewarding.  A lot of it has to do with the people I've gotten to know through the website.  But I still get a thrill when I randomly leave a book somewhere for a stranger to find.  My hope is that finding the book will motivate them to read more, or to read something different.  And when I get an e-mail telling me that a journal entry has been entered for one of my books, it is like a little miracle that can brighten my entire day.

So, after twelve years of BookCrossing, I have no intentions of quitting, or even slowing down.  How many more books can I share in the next twelve years?
Over the last few weeks, I've found myself worrying about some of my local BookCrossing friends.  The annual anniversary BookCrossing convention is being held here in the DC area next month, and my friends on the planning committee have spend a lot of time over the last couple of years organizing the event.  Last year's convention, held in Amsterdam, had over 200 people registered (the actual attendance was lower, because of the travel issues caused by the volcano in Iceland).  The last of these conventions held in the US was in 2007 in Charleston, so the planners expected that there would be a great deal of interest from the US BookCrossers who might not have been able to travel overseas for the three conventions since then.  So when they budgeted for 200 people, it seemed reasonable.

Unfortunately, we currently only have 88 people registered for the convention, with only two weeks left before they have to close registrations.  As a result, the convention is in serious debt (currently, they have collected less than 45% of the funds they need to break even).  The planning committee has tried to increase registrations by offering options to sign up for single days and are even volunteering to have their hair dyed a variety of colors if people donate enough money.  So far, these efforts have not had a very big impact.  I've been trying to promote the convention and the various fundraising efforts on Facebook, but it doesn't seem like my efforts are making any difference.  It has been frustrating, and I'm worried that my friends are going to be left owing a significant amount of money that they are going to need to pay out of their own pockets.

With the convention only 35 days away, the organizers have been working to make sure that the planned activities will run as smoothly as possible.  A couple of weeks ago, a number of the local BookCrossers (myself included) met in DC to do a trial run of the Literary Museum Hopper event.  It was fun and seemed to work pretty well, though we did make some suggestions that will hopefully make it even better for the convention.  I volunteered to lead a walking tour of Old Town Alexandria for the convention, and we have a trial run of that tour scheduled for Sunday.  I've done my research, compiled a list of sights to include and planned a route.  My notes are all typed, and I've printed maps for the participants, so I think I'm ready to go.  I really have no way to judge how long my tour will take.  I hope it isn't either too long or too short.  I also hope I have enough information to keep it interesting (and I would be really pleased if I have at least something that the locals on the trial run didn't already know).  We'll see how it goes...I'm hoping that I won't need to make any major changes.

I'm going to end with a shameless plug:  Please check out the information about the convention, and if it looks like something you might enjoy, PLEASE register and join us.  You do not need to be a member of BookCrossing, and while the BookCrossers in attendance will be doing their BookCrossing thing, leaving books for others to find, many of the activities available should be of general interest and fun for anyone.  If you have any questions, you can post it in the comments and I'll try to get an answer for you.
I don't know if it was the effect of riding in the Bally Van, or if it was sleep deprivation from the long weekend in Charleston, but somewhere during the ride back to Northern Virginia, we had an inspiration. We need a new candidate for president, one we could all agree on. There was only one choice we could make:

Campaign poster behind cut )
Talk about BookCrossing overload! I've now attended three different BookCrossing meetings, in as many different cities, in the last five days!

The first, of course, was my hometown BC in DC group, which met at my house on Saturday afternoon for several hours of lively discussion and laughter. We managed to attract a couple of our lurkers to the get together, so there were new faces and new stories, which added to the day. I had tentatively scheduled the event to be from 1pm-3pm, but it was almost 7pm before everybody decided it was time to call it an afternoon! I suspect more invitations for BC in DC to come to chez ResQgeek may be forthcoming...

Monday was spent traveling across the country to the golden hills of the San Francisco area. After returning to our hotel from our official business on Tuesday afternoon, I changed clothes, loaded our Meetup Bookbox into the car, and headed east across San Francisco bay to the suburbs for dinner with the Tri-Valley bookcrossers. There were 11 of us in all, seated around a long table in an Afghan restaurant in a strip mall in Dublin, California. The food was superb and the company delightful and the evening ended far too soon for my tastes.

And finally, last night, after a reminder of how uncomfortable I am driving inside the center of big cities, I managed to find a safe parking place and met with the BookCrossers from San Francisco itself, in the bar at the Hotel Rex. In addition to the lovely Suetu, there were three other established members of their group (sadly, I didn't manage to remember their screen names), and one new recruit who gamely joined our often animated discussion of the best books we've read recently. It was another fine evening out, but again time conspired to make it far to short.

It has been interesting to meet with such diverse groups in such a short period of time. While we all share BookCrossing in common, each of these groups has a distinct personality and charm, and part of the fun is learning about these differences. This was so much fun, in fact, that I'm already looking forward to future meetings with local BookCrossers in other places during future (as yet unplanned) travels.
Over Memorial Day weekend, a (largely inactive) BookCrossing friend gave me a copy of a book by one of her friends, with the idea that I could share it with a wider audience through my BookCrossing connections. The book, Dance Lest We All Fall Down, is a memoir, detailing the author's experiences living in the shantytowns of Salvador da Bahia in Brazil, and her subsequent efforts to create a non-profit organization, Bahia Street, to provide educational opportunities to the girls who might otherwise be trapped in the cycles of poverty that are so pervasive there. I thought the book was quite good, and it both illuminates the struggle for survival faced by these incredibly poor African-Brazilians and sheds some light on the difficulties involved in setting up and running a NGO that can actually have a meaningful impact. This book pretty clearly illustrates the huge gap between the "haves" and the "have-nots" around the world, and it was quite sobering to realize just how very well off we are here. I also had never given much thought to just how misguided we can be in our efforts to help those less fortunate. We tend to function from our own frame of reference, without consideration to the values, customs and needs of people in different societies, which severely hampers the effectiveness of our efforts. This book has given me a lot to think about.

The idea behind giving me this book was to have it travel as widely as possible. This is an incredible story, and Bahia Street is an amazing success story. Both should be more widely known. To that end, I'm hoping to organize a BookCrossing bookring for this book, to help it travel to as many people as possible. I've offered it first to anyone in my local BC in DC group that is interested in reading it, and then I'll have it travel on to the wider world of BookCrossing. If any of my friends here are interested in participating in this bookring, please let me know (either in the comments or by BookCrossing private message).

Cross-posting to [ profile] bookcrossing
After a long afternoon of promoting books at the Kensington Day of the Book Festival and a relaxing evening meal at Panera Bread, it was time for everyone to go their separate ways. I had to honor of hosting [ profile] teotakuu for the night, and so after making sure all her luggage was successfully transfered to my van, we set of for what would be her fifth different state for the day. We crossed the Potomac River into Virginia and drove down the George Washington Parkway towards the heart of the nation's capital. We crossed the river again at the Memorial Bridge, admiring the views of the Kennedy Center, the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument as we drove. I found a parking space on Constitution Avenue, right next to the Vietnam War Memorial, and we got out for a stroll.

The night was damp and chilly, with a bit of wind, but even so, there were still a number of tour groups moving among the monuments as we payed our respects to those who served in Vietnam and in Korea. As we walked, we talked at length about these conflicts, and the histories of our countries, and it was clear that she found these monuments quite moving. We also walked up to the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, but the climb was simply too daunting after such a long day, so we decided to take a pass on a closer look at old Abe. We did pause and admire the view down the National Mall at the Washington Monument and the Capitol dome, though, before heading back to the van.

The rest of the tour was conducted from the vehicle, as I drove past the White House and the Jefferson Memorial, before returning to the Virginia side of the river. We drove within an easy stone's throw of the Pentagon before heading down into Old Town Alexandria, where I think [ profile] teotakuu was a bit surprised to find street names, such as King, Duke, and Royal, that are clear holdovers from our colonial days. Finally, we arrived at my house, where my wife was waiting up for us to return. We sat and talked for a spell, but eventually we all needed to get some sleep.

Monday morning started with the usual bustle of getting the girls up and ready for school. I don't know if [ profile] teotakuu managed to sleep through all the ruckus, but she (perhaps wisely) stayed out of the way until the girls were on their way. She had some tea and toast and checked her e-mail and such, while we waited for crrcookie and her son to join us from Maryland for the trip to Manassas to meet [ profile] buffra and [ profile] futurecatnz. The steady, soaking rain made any detailed sightseeing at the battlefield an unpleasant prospect, so we limited ourselves to the views from the visitor's center and a quick glance through the small museum.

We then headed for lunch, after which we said our good-byes. It was lovely to meet both travelers from New Zealand, even if it was only for such a brief period. I hope they enjoyed their brief time here, and I look forward to reading about the remainder of their travels in the coming days.

[cross posted in [ profile] bcxchange]
I had been looking forward to our event in Kensington for months. After the fun we had at the Carroll County Community College event back in November, I knew how much fun it could be to promote BookCrossing at a public event by giving away free books.

I had already set aside a pile of books and made release notes for them. Saturday evening, I loaded my boxes into the van, along with a hand truck to transport them from whatever parking space I could find. I also packed lunches for my daughters and I, along with my camera and some raincoats, as the weather forecast looked less than optimal.

Sunday morning began with our normal routine. I got the girls up and we went to church and they attended their religious ed. classes while I ran a few necessary errands. Once the girls' classes were done, though, we immediately headed across the Potomac River to Maryland. Kensington is almost exactly on the opposite side of Washington from where I live, so it was a bit of a coin toss as to which way to go around the city on the Beltway. I gambled on the west side and lost, as we hit a traffic jam (on Sunday!!) that inched its way the last four or five miles to our exit for Kensington. As a result, I arrived a bit later than I had hoped, to our tent fully set up and people already browsing through the books.

I added my boxes of books to the collection, and introduced myself to the couple of new faces in the group, including [ profile] teotakuu who had arrived with MaryZee after spending the previous day with Zemarkable in New Jersey. The remainder of the afternoon was spent talking to other BookCrossers, and explaining BookCrossing to various passers-by, inviting them to take some books with them.

Between us, we had brought more than 2,300 books to the event. The selection of books was almost overwhelming...equal to the book buffet tables at the convention in Charleston last year! Crrcookie out did herself with her posters and signs, which made our tent look festive and inviting while providing lots of information about BookCrossing. One chart provided boxes for people to check to count the books we had given away. Not everyone marked the chart, but we did make it to 1,000 by the end of the event, allowing us to meet our goal of giving way more than 1,000 books! And all of this under gray clouds that threatened rain and probably kept many potential visitors away from the festival.

My daughters had a lot of fun as well. They helped other kids sift through the small mountain of children's books we had available, walked around the festival, leaving books with BookCrossing sticky notes on benches, and helped refresh the chalk-drawn Ballycumber on the pavement in front of our tent.

As the afternoon drew to a close, we packed up our books (there we still LOTS left) and loaded our boxes, bins, chairs and the tent into various vehicles. My wife arrived and took the girls home with her while the rest of us formed a convoy over to a nearby Panera Bread store to get a bite and to share stories. Reluctantly, we had to leave at 8pm, when the store closed.

BC in DC

Apr. 8th, 2008 09:26 am
resqgeek: (BC in DC)
After the wonderful fun I had at the BookCrossing Convention last year in Charleston, I came home with a desire to re-energize the local BookCrossing scene. There used to be a number of local groups that met regularly, but most had stopped meeting, and none had ever truly encompassed the entire Washington DC area. So when I started seeing members in this area starting to post threads about getting together, I jumped right in. Since last summer, a core group of local BookCrossers has developed, and we are now meeting more-or-less monthly. But we're not just getting together to talk and have a coffee. We are actively looking for fun ways, as a group, to promote BookCrossing around the area. Some of us traveled north to Carroll County, MD in November to help MaryZee promote BookCrossing at the Book Fair at the Carroll County Community College. A number of our members met at the National Book Festival on the National Mall in September to release books. Later this month, we will have a booth at the Kensington, MD, Day of the Book street festival, where we will be giving away books and promoting BookCrossing. Its been a lot of fun to get together with these other BookCrossers, and I look forward to each event.

However, I now think that we, as a group, may have collectively taken leave of all our good sense. We just completed and submitted a proposal to this year's convention in London, suggesting Washington, DC, as a possible venue for the 2010 Convention. I remember well the stress that I observed the organizers in Charleston deal with, and I fully appreciate how much time and effort it is going to take to organize a convention. I for one don't think I'm going to be able to devote nearly enough time to the effort, and I can only hope that my fellow BookCrossers here will step up to the plate should we be chosen as the host. From what I hear, the competition includes a couple of other cities that would make equally excellent venues, so any way the voting goes, the 2010 Convention is already looking like another terrific event in the works.


Nov. 11th, 2007 08:47 pm
resqgeek: (Default)
Yesterday, I drove up to Westminster, MD (about an hour and a half away) to help promote BookCrossing at the annual Random House book fair at the Carroll County Community College. MaryZee has had a BookCrossing table at the book fair each of the last several years, but this year, crrcookie, SqueakyChu and I made the trip up for the day to help her. Between us, we brought over 700 books to give away, and we spent most of the afternoon talking to people about BookCrossing and encouraging them to take a book (or twelve!). As seems to be typical at any BookCrossing gathering, there was plenty of great conversation, not to mention laughter. I think we all had a great time, and at the end of the day, we only had about 60 books left on the table! Now we're all waiting to see how many of those books get journal entries, and how many new BookCrossers we recruited...

Click for a picture )
My wife and I scored some more free books on Friday. The local Boys & Girls Club was getting new books to stock their shelves and was giving away all their old books. Someone posted about it on the Alexandria Freecycle mailing list, so my wife and I decided to see what we could get. We showed up at noon, which is when we were told they would open the doors. There were a dozen or so people sifting through the boxes of books, filling bags or boxes to take home. We weren't quite so picky and just piled books into boxes by the handful. Eleven minutes after we arrived, the books were gone, and we had five boxes of books in the van. We later counted about 250 books, mostly children's, with a lot of duplicates mixed in, which is a good thing. We'll keep most of the kid's books for the girls to read, but I can BookCross the adult books and the duplicate children's books.

This weekend was the first weekend of the fall soccer season, and Saturday the girls' teams played back-to-back games. Luckily, both games were at the same venue, so the logistics of attending both games were simple. The older daughter is now one of the few older girls on her team, and the lack of experience showed on Saturday. My daughter and I talked about her role on the team, and I pointed out how she could use her experience to be a team leader, to help her team mates learn. She had a second game on Sunday, and I could see her starting to assume some of that leadership role on the field, helping to direct the other players during the game. The team played much better and even managed a 1-0 win.

Its going to be a busy fall season. In addition to soccer, my younger daughter is taking a dance class and is in Brownies. My older daughter also has Girl Scouts and her piano lessons, and also wants to join chorus at school, as well as learn the violin! Not sure when she's going to have time for homework or sleep, but we'll see how things go. If it becomes too much for her, we'll just have to scale her back a bit.
On Sunday, my family and I went to a party at the home of one of my younger daughter's friends from pre-school. I knew that the father was a member of BookCrossing (albeit, much less active than I tend to be), so perhaps inevitably, the conversation eventually turned to BookCrossing. I had to laugh at a story he told me about a discussion with his mother (also a BookCrosser, though not in the immediate local area). He was telling her how he had missed the get-together we had a couple of weeks ago because of work. He hoped to attend a future event, as he knew the organizer (i.e., me). His mother said something like "No, it was organized by ResQgeek." He agreed, and said that he knew me. She said, "I know he's on your friends list, but that's just because he's famous, right?"


He continued to try and persuade her that we had really met, that our daughters were friends, but I don't know if he was successful. Before we left, he had to take a picture of me in his kitchen to send to his mother. I wonder how she would react if I sent her a private message to say "Hi"...
What kind of bookcrosser are you
Your Result: ring in bundles

They come and come. Ringbooks come in herds, that's what you say! You made a basket on your mail box, otherwise the frontdoor woldn't open when you return from work. You know your postman by christian name.

Playfull RBACKer
Love to meet
Talk of the toy
Obsessive releaser
Thematic dropper
lucky lurker
strange looking bystander
What kind of bookcrosser are you
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz
We had a terrific BookCrossing get-together at Panera Bread on Saturday. As I've come to expect when meeting other BookCrossing members, there was lots of conversation and laughter, not to mention the PILE of books. Over the course of our three hour gathering, we had a full dozen BookCrossers (including on of our youngest members, lilgrovers) gathered in one corner of the restaurant. We scattered books around the restaurant and talked up the staff about BookCrossing, and generally just enjoyed ourselves. It was great to see such enthusiasm from our local members. We might even have recruited a few new members!

The plan, as it seems to be evolving, is to allow the Washington, DC area BookCrossing gatherings to rotate informally around the area, with different hosts each month. Last month we met in Waldorf, MD. Next month, a group is planning to meet at the National Book Festival on the National Mall in Washington, DC, to give away BookCrossing books and general promote BookCrossing. Where we go from there remains to be seen, but it is nice to see the local BookCrossers getting more active and meeting each other. After all, while BookCrossing might be about the books, it really is the people who love the books that make it all worthwhile.

(no subject)

Aug. 14th, 2007 09:52 am
resqgeek: (Default)
I've been trying to release at least four books each weekday this summer, though when it is raining (or it seems likely), I pass, since I like to release my books outside. For the first part of the summer, I was getting very few catches, considering the number of books I was releasing, but in the last week I've been on a role. I have had at least one book caught (out of four released) on each of the previous six weekdays, stretching back to last Monday! Two of those catches were by the same new BookCrossing member, who, it turns out, joined after catching a book released by another member who joined after catching one of my releases earlier this summer! Hopefully, this means all my releasing is starting to build up a group of active BookCrossers in the area.

I'm also looking forward to our BookCrossing meeting at a local Panera Bread this coming Saturday. Its been a long time since we had a get together in Alexandria, and I've gotten RSVPs from a number of members that I've never met before, so I'm really looking forward to meeting some new friends. I'm also thinking about seeing if there would be interest in getting together to do a mass book release event in Old Town. I think it would be fun to get a group together to release a load of books around the city, but it might be better to wait until next summer, as the tourist season will be winding down soon, and I doubt we could organize something while the tourists are still here in large numbers.

In any event, I've been having loads of fun with BookCrossing since the Convention back in April. Getting together with all those other BookCrossers seems to have re-ignited my passion for BookCrossing!
Last week, I noticed a posting in the BookCrossing Forum about a BookCrossing meeting being organized at Panera Bread in Waldorf, MD. On a whim, I decided to see if I could attend the meeting. The bridges across the Potomac River are generally enough of a traffic bottleneck that I rarely venture into the Maryland suburbs, but the prospects of meeting some of Maryland's BookCrossers was a sufficient lure.

Saturday morning found me lying under the kitchen sink, installing a new garbage disposal unit, as the old one basically fell off Friday night as I cooked dinner. After finishing that chore, my girls wanted to go for a bicycle ride, so as it approached time to leave for the meeting, I was in serious need of a shower and clean clothes.

Luckily, traffic was light, and I made good time across the river. The worst delays I encountered were at the last two traffic signals as I approached the shopping center in Waldorf. As I pulled into the parking lot, I saw someone getting out of her car with a BookCrossing bag, so I knew I was in the right place. I had no problem finding the right was the one with all the books on it!

Over the next three hours, the four of us (two from Maryland, two from Virginia) had a great time talking and watching the other Panera customers help themselves to the piles of books we had spread out for them. I saw one couple sitting at their table with several books, each of them reading one. I talked about the convention in Charleston. Somehow, I think we decided that we should try to organize a casual mini-convention in the DC area (yikes!).

I managed to come home without too many new books, though I did catch more than I released! It was good to meet some other BookCrossers from the area, and I'm looking forward to attending more meetings. I'm even thinking of organizing one here in Alexandria...
Last night I received an e-mail from an author who had read some of my book reviews on Amazon. She wanted to know if I'd be interested in reading and reviewing her book. Of course, I rarely turn down a free book, but it occurred to me that this was an opportunity to promote BookCrossing. I suggested that she join BookCrossing and register the book before sending to me. After I read and review the book, I'll be passing it on to others, and this way she would be able to find out what all the book's readers thought of it. Apparently, she found this idea appealing, because she joined! Unfortunately, I didn't get credit for her joining for BookCrossing's current "Tell-a-friend" program, but it was cool that she joined!
Thursday evening was spent at the Czuk residence, finishing up a few last minute preparations for the convention, such as filling the goody bags. In addition to chez czuk residents [ profile] javaczuk and [ profile] bummaseli, I also got to meet [ profile] martip, [ profile] lizmopuddy, [ profile] sirroy and BookCrossing’s new CEO who uses the screenname redsoxbookguy, among others. There was pizza, wine and beer, and everyone seemed to be having a good time. The mood was decidedly silly, which was to remain the prevailing mood through the rest of the weekend.

The Czuks live in a gorgeous house, in a beautiful neighborhood. The abundance of life that surrounds the house infuses it with a warmth that is matched by the people that live there. I would have several lovely conversations with Javaczuk over the course of the weekend. He has a great sense of humor (essential in this crowd, for sure) and is a true master at stringing together puns. It was also a true pleasure to finally meet Bumma. I’m not sure if she completely understood who I was, but there were a lot of people vying for her attention, so that’s okay.

The energy and excitement that evening was palpable. Everyone was looking forward to the weekend, ready to meet people and just have a good time. It was tremendous fun to be a part of it all, and I’m so glad I decided to go down early. It gave me one more night of fond memories to cherish.

Radio Ga Ga

Apr. 26th, 2007 02:47 pm
resqgeek: (Default)
Upon arrival in Charleston, we immediately proceeded to broadcast studios for The Bridge (105.5 FM), where [ profile] bookczuk had arranged for an on air interview to promote the BookCrossing convention. We were running a bit late, but our host patiently waited for our arrival, and when we found the place, we were promptly directed upstairs to the broadcast booth.

There were six BookCrossers present: [ profile] bookczuk, [ profile] antof9, [ profile] skyring, [ profile] molyneux66, Netstation and myself. The studio was a bit snug with all of us in there, and with only two extra microphones, we had to play a bit of musical chairs to get on the air. I was still suffering from a nagging cough, so I chose to avoid the microphone so as to not cough in Charleston's collective ears.

As we entered the studio, Netstation did a double take, staring at our host. It turns out that this guy looks amazingly like Jim Hawkins (aka JimOnTheRadio) from BBC Radio Shropshire. Our Jim Hawkins look-alike seemed quite interested in the convention, and we found ourselves in his studio for a full hour, chatting both on and off the air. I think we did a good job promoting BookCrossing in general and the convention in particular, and hopefully it helped encourage the people of Charleston to pick up and journal some of the books we were to scatter around the city.

On the way out of the station, I left a book in the station's reception area. I'm not sure how I came to be the only one in that group of BookCrossers to leave a book behind, but I'm glad I did. Later that evening, when I went to make the release notes for the day, I discovered that the book had been journaled by our on-air host, who had also joined BookCrossing under the screenname rockdoc98. Not bad for an afternoon's work, I'd say.