Friday, August 29, 2008

Old Farmers Almanac

They've always provided advice on when to engage in certain activities. Hey! We're talking things like the best time to plant zuchini. Like there's a bad time, no matter what you're going to be up to your neck in them. But I digress. Here are some good dates in September to do these things, according to the OFA.

Best Days to:
Cut hair to encourage growth 1,2,3,14
Set posts or pour concrete 9,10
Wean animals or children 17,26,30

So you're set, right? Until next September.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Dressed to the 1918's

Well, aren't these two just turned out perfectly for an afternoon of wilderness hiking. That'll go well. Anyway we actually have St Nicholas Magazine, some issues older than the one pictured here. Mary Mapes Dodge of 'Hans Brinker or the Silver Skates' fame founded the magazine in 1873. Looks like Jack London was a regular contributor, and here are some of the illustrators she used: Arthur Rackham, Frederic Remington, N. C. Wyeth, and Howard Pyle . Classy. And fond of snappy dressers.

Source: Biography Resource Center
Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

An Evening at Home with the Edisons

No wondered he invented audio recording technology. These people are really in need of something to do. Were you aware that the earliest recordings were not what they played on the gramophone? Then you obviously haven't read the original Dracula novel! In it Renfield's doctor records his observations on metal cylinders, using an 'Edison Speaking Phonograph'. The cylinders wore out quickly so they fell out of use. But they didn't get past Bram Stoker. These aren't really the Edisons, by the way - I just thought the picture was amusing. The invention was real though, and you could get more details in Edison's biographies. And come on, read Dracula. I promise it's an excellent book.

The Wizard of Menlo Park : how Thomas Alva Edison invented the modern world

Edison : a life of invention

Edison : inventing the century

Photo: Denise Van Patten

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Accordians Rock!

I'm too old to say 'rock', so it doesn't really matter if they do or not. What matters is that we can aid you in fulfilling your desire to play in some kind of bizarre retro/emo/Weird Al kind of band. Or maybe just solo at a few polka parties. As befits an instrument that has reached this level of popularity, we just have one book on it. Is one enough? Wait! We also have the Zordan Piano accordion junior method Chart . Now you're set.

The accordion.

Photo: DK Clip Art

Monday, August 25, 2008

Gasoline, the never-ending topic

I hate high gas prices too, especially since it's driving up the cost of stuff like chocolate and doughnuts. But our parents remember a time when you got as much gas as the government allowed and that was it. During World War II rationing books were issued and determined your allotment. Then there was the energy crisis of the '70's. Because the United States supported Israel during the Yom Kippur War in 1973, OPEC stopped exporting oil. There was a real shortage. In some states, drivers with an odd number at the end of their license plate number could buy gas only on odd-numbered days. Drivers with an even number could buy on even-numbered days. A different kind of bad news.

Source: Chattanooga Times Free Press, July 23 2008

Graphic: Home Front Coupons, Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library, Duke University.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Easy Bake? Or just warm it until it curdled.

Now doesn't this make you hungry all over? How many of you got one of these? Not me. I got a pink plastic refrigerator instead. The door opened so I guess it was pretty cool. But we all wanted Easy Bake Ovens and across the nation mothers were heard to say "We all ready have a perfectly good oven". Well, did the oven have tiny pans? And light bulbs that never got hot enough to do any damage? And little cake mixes? Did it? Huh? The answer was no, but we still didn't get our Easy Bakes. Mothers can have such a practical streak. If you didn't get the toys you wanted either here's the book for you. But you don't have to sulk if you don't want to.

100 greatest baby boomer toys

Graphic Source: National Toy Hall of Fame

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Back to School Duds

Really? for the first day of school in Des Moines? Or does Cher have a granddaughter in town? So what did they really wear to school in the era in which this poor child obviously had to wear her older sister's hand-me-downs? Glad you asked! These books are really fun to look through.

The Way we wore : fashion illustrations of children's wear, 1870-1970
English children's costume since 1775
Five centuries of American costume

Photo credit: Denise Van Patten

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Writers Unblocked

Your grand opus is all written and a thing of beauty. What now? The Writer's Market is a good source to check if you are unpublished and would like to remedy that situation. First of all it provides the basics that you need to provide to your potential publisher. Do you mail the whole book, or a synopsis or a chapter? Then you want to know where can you find: a list of literary agents; a list of book publisher and the kinds of books they are looking for; and a list of magazines that includes what they buy and what they pay. The Writer's Market answers (most) all. Definitely worth a look before you entrust your baby to strange hands.

Writer's Market - be sure to click on 'show all items'.

Graphic Credit: Karen's Whimsy

Monday, August 18, 2008

Today's Interesting and Unusual Celebration

It's Bad Poetry Day! Whoohoo! Get out those crayons and write! I don't have much information on it but Thomas and Ruth Roy of Lebanon, Pennsylvania apparently didn't have anything better to do one day and here we are. How does one write deliberately bad poetry? I mean the 'Roses are Red' variations hardly seem to qualify. Ahem. Allow me.

I saw a dog.
It was really really brown.
Just like a log.
Only not so round.

Sigh. This is probably only not good, instead of actually bad. Your turn!
Source: Chase's Calendar of Annual Events 2008

Friday, August 15, 2008

Make your own Word Clouds!

Is this not the coolest? It's from a web site - Wordle -that lets you paste a word string into a box and will then make a word cloud for you. I love it! Try it out -

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Boy Rotisserie

So are the small males of your household driving you crazy? They've been to the Fair, exhausted their 'I can't wait for summer' plans long ago and do nothing but express their boredom. In unappealing ways. Here's a thought - get a really long rod... no, really, we have some stuff to help you out. Sure, we've got your videos and DVDs. But maybe there are other options involving, say, the out-of-doors. It can be hot, but they're young. When we were young, we walked to school on the surface of the sun, barefoot. Keep them out of the sun, or apply sunscreen and keep them hydrated, we're not against healthy living here. Or boys. Just boredom.

Mom's handy book of backyard games

A child's garden : 60 ideas to make any garden come alive for children

Photo credit: George Eastman House Collection

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Speaking of Fairs

This does not look comfortable. And yet she couldn't be happier. It's good to have talent. Plus your own language. Here are some examples of Carny Speak :

A Sideshow Exhibit is known as a "ten in one", because a several acts are arranged in a row with one fee to see them all.
The "lecturer" is the guide through the "ten in one" who talks about each act and keeps the customers moving.
The "talker" brings the people in - we use the term barker.
"Tip" refers to a group of customers.
The "talker" persuades the "tip" while standing at a "bally platform" which is outside the tent that holds the actual performers. The word "bally" comes from ballyhoo, which means "to advertise or publicize by sensational methods".

I hope you were taking notes. I'm sure that, like geometry, you will find this knowledge indispensible in your daily life.

American Sideshow blog, from the author of the book American Sideshow
Skeptical Briefs, associated with the Skeptical Enquirer

Fun Books:
American sideshow : an encyclopedia of history's most wondrous and curiously strange performers
The American circus : an illustrated history
American circus posters in full color

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Fun With Livestock

Another Fair -related post. Kinda. Here is the useless but mildly entertaining list you've been clamoring for.

The top 5 Countries in which Sheep Outnumber People:

New Zealand 10 to 1 (I'm rounding.)
Australia 5 to 1
Mongolia 4 to 1
Mauritania 3 to 1
Uruguay 3 to 1

New Zealand's in deep manure if the Sheep Rebellion ever gains momentum.

Source: The top 10 of everything 2007 p. 174

Monday, August 11, 2008

Our State Fair is the Best State Fair

It's the best State Fair in our state! And what do we do at the fair? Eeeeaat! Once a year, we leave healthy foods behind and just bury our faces in treats. My favorites are the cut-up apples with the caramel on it and the barbequed ham sandwiches. And ice cream. And the hot little chocolate chip cookies. And anything that doesn't have a long line. Plus I love to go in and gaze at all the winning foods. They look so pretty and tasty. Should you care to re-create some of those beautiful food entries - I've heard it's called "cooking" - we have some State Fair cookbooks for you. If you're making anything chocolate, well, I'll just be jealous. Rather than cook.

Iowa State Fair Cookbooks

photo credit: Library of Congress

Friday, August 8, 2008

Getting a Job Week - The Interview

Now you have to face him.
Interviewing. Some people just seem to have a knack for it. You don’t? The best thing you can do is be prepared. When you’re done, Boy Scouts will gasp in awe. Interviewing is all about convincing the employer that you’re the only person for the job; it’s all about selling yourself. So bring your best pitch, and don’t chew gum.

A list of books at the library that can help:!309571~!3100001~!3100002&aspect=subtab38&menu=search&ri=3&source=~!horizon&term=Employment+interviewing&index=PSUBJ#focus

Online Interview Help:

Could you be any readier? Good luck! Not that you'll need it!

And remember, if you need to take a practice test for a job, our online database Learning Express Library has hundreds to choose from. Click here for more information: Learning Express Library

The information in this week’s posts was brought to you by Marci Behm, Information Services Department, Central Library!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Getting a Job Week - Researching a Company

You may not need to get to the microscopic level, but it’s pretty impressive when you can say, “I noticed that your net profit rose last year, and this kind of corporation is exactly where I’d like to put my fabulous skills to use". Or words to that effect. Many large companies have web sites chock-full of information. But if you’re applying at a small and/or local business, Google may not do the trick. To research your company:

The Reference USA database gives some detail for smaller companies and local businesses. You can access this from home with your Des Moines Public Library card number and PIN. Click here, then click on ‘ReferenceUSA’ .

The Des Moines Register and Des Moines Business Record often profile local companies. To find out if yours was featured, go to our newspaper index and do a search here. If your company appears in the index, contact us about how to find the full-text article. Or if you need help with any of this call us at 283-4152 and press 3 and we’ll help you. It’s what we do.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Getting a Job Week - Resumes and Cover Letters

The company you want to apply to requires a resume and a cover letter. And you’ve never had to provide these before. Oops. Well, the sites and books below can help you write them. They’ll be irresistible! Microsoft Word also has a “resume wizard” that will help you format your resume. It’s buried in the software but we, your librarians, will help you find it. This is how you get there.

Open MS Word
Go to File then New
Click “On my computer” on the far right of the screen.
Click on the “other documents” tab
Select resume wizard and click “ok”
Follow the steps, make your selections, and fill in the blanks. Bam! You’ve got your resume.

Now for a list of books available at the library that include example resumes and cover letters:

Bonus Online Resume and Cover letter help:

Resume and Cover Letter guide from Truman State University:

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Getting a Job Week - Where are They?

Probably not at the top of this cliff. But you never know...
Whether you’re looking for your first job or a different job, the process can be overwhelming. Where do you find these so-called ‘jobs’? Well, here are some places to help you snag that new career. Don’t forget, sometimes big employers only post on their own websites or hire through agencies. So check those out as well! Stay tuned for how to research a company once you’ve found one you’re interested in. We’re sticking with you. Like industrial glue.

Des Moines Public Library job links page:

Iowa Workforce Development:

Job search sites:,,,
Techie jobs:

Monday, August 4, 2008

Getting a Job Week - Career Change

Hunting for a job, looking to make a career change? This week we’ll cover different steps on the stairway to job heaven, including Career Changers, Career Hunting/Job Sites, Researching a Company, Resumes/Cover Letters, and Interviewing. Roll up your sleeves.
You may be a career changer for various reasons: retired, down-sized, relocating, or just bored. Here are some sites that can guide you to a brand spanking new career:

Career Voyage. This site will give you information on high growth industries and how much education you need to get the job.

Monster 50+ job searching: If it’s not your first time at the prom, this site focuses on experienced employees. (We prefer that to ‘older’).

10 Step Plan to Career Change from Quintessential Careers. Expert Randall S. Hansen gets you jump-started.

Ready, Set, Go!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Another Tragic Romper Accident

Was their bloomer elastic too tight? Did it cut off circulation, causing these young women to lose a leg? Nope, I just think this picture is hilarious. Anyone for a caption contest? How about "Flight still unattainable for private school girls". No? Maybe "Worst-dressed chorus line". Okay, last shot: "Notorious Romper gang members claim, 'I can fight you with one leg behind my back'". Pretty bad, right? Maybe you can do better!