Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Sherlock Holmes. Really.

There may be people attending the new Sherlock Holmes movie under the impression that the film hews, for the most part, to Arthur Conan Doyle's work. Har. (By the way, 'hews' is today's vocabulary word. Use it in a sentence.) Lots of aspects from the stories are included in the movie but not the plot, Irene Adler running around wearing trousers, the whole nun chuck thing, you see where I'm going here. These elements have been made fresh, just for you! Wouldn't it be interesting to read the originals and find out what the heck was really going on? I think so. Here are a few suggestions:

Monday, December 28, 2009

We're Back!

All six locations of the Des Moines Public Library resume normal operation today.  Same old hours, same old services, same old staff.  But it's good that way.  Welcome back!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Closed December 21-27

All six locations of the Des Moines Public Library are closed from Monday, December 21 through Sunday December 27. This closure reflects three days of unpaid furlough for all library employees and is part of the citywide budget reduction. This means that all Library Services are suspended. No staff members are working to maintain and troubleshoot problems on the website, or to provide assistance from the many phone numbers, e-mails, and other informational points listed on the website.

The following services will not be available December 21 - December 27:
:: Online Calendar
:: 24 Hour Automated Telephone Notification System
:: Online Databases
:: Digital Downloads
:: Book returns will be CLOSED

Please do not leave books and materials outside the library locations during the closure as there are no staff to collect them. You will be responsible for theft, loss or damage to materials left outside the library. No Items Are Due While We Are Closed, and No Fines Will Accrue.
:: No access to the online catalog. You will not be able to search the catalog, place holds on materials, or check your library account. No staff members are working to maintain the systems, or to process the thousands of books and materials that our customers normally place on hold each day.

We'll be back December 28th!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Holiday Games

Would you like to play some Wreath/Menorha/Mishumaa Saba games? We found some!
Which Christmas Character Are You?
Hanukkah Quiz 

FYI, in a 'Nightmare before Christmas' character quiz, I am Sally the Ragdoll.  Sigh.  Niceness is my curse.
Remember, we're completely closed December 21-27.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Closing, Closing, Closed! December 21-27

Okay, here it is:
All six locations of the Des Moines Public Library will be closed from Monday, December 21 through Sunday December 27. This closure reflects three days of unpaid furlough for all library employees and is part of the citywide budget reduction. This means that all Library Services will be suspended. No staff members will be working to maintain and troubleshoot problems on the website, or to provide assistance from the many phone numbers, e-mails, and other informational points listed on the website.
The following services will not be available December 21 - December 27:
:: Online Calendar
:: 24 Hour Automated Telephone Notification System
:: Online Databases
:: Digital Downloads
:: Book returns will be CLOSED
Please do not leave books and materials outside the library locations during the closure as there will be no staff to collect them. You will be responsible for theft, loss or damage to materials left outside the library. No Items Will Be Due While We Are Closed, and No Fines Will Accrue.
:: No access to the online catalog.  You will not be able to search the catalog, place holds on materials, or check your library account. No staff members will be working to maintain the systems, or to process the thousands of books and materials that our customers normally place on hold each day.
We'll be back December 28th!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Do it Cheap

Have you noticed money's been a little tight lately?  In the spirit of 'doing our part', we offer books that can assist you in getting through the holidays on the cheap.  Actually, I'm in favor of cheap all the time.  But it's hard at the holidays when you want to make your loved ones happy and your pockets are not stuffed with dough.  There are books with advice, tips, instructions, books that are chockfull of helpfulness!  We have lots, but here's a start:

Party central : a month-by-month guide to entertaining on the cheap

365 ways to live cheap : by Hamm, Trent.

Money saving meals / by Lee, Sandra.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


The temperature is plummeting, we're buried in snow, how to stave off the cold?  Other than adding more layers.  We can't do much for your frozen fingers, but the cockles of your heart are all ours.  Have you read the Chicken Soup books?  And were you aware that they are a major industry all by their lonesome?  Oh my yes.  We have Chicken Soup for:  the African American Woman's Soul; for the Baseball Lover's Soul.  I had no idea how much they suffer.  Even though some of my friends are Cubs fans.  Chicken Soup for the fisherman's soul, for the gardener's soul, for the horse lover's soul!  Maybe these are more about appreciation than comfort.  There are also volumes for very serious subjects, like Chicken Soup for the Caregiver's Soul.  If anyone could use a little support, it would be a caregiver.  But where's the one for me, the Chocolate-Loving Couch Potato?  I'll just have to be patient.
Chicken Soup Books

Monday, December 14, 2009

Almost Gold - what your library card is worth

This is so fun!  In order to find out the monetary value your library card provides, you input your library usage - like times you've used online resources, programs you've attended, and so much more!   I read a lot, so my value was $565 for one month!     Pretty darn impressive!  But for books and DVD's , I did enter the number of items I check out in a month instead of how often I check out in a month.  Is that cheating?  See what you think, try out the Library Value Calculator.  If you count the whole family you could really rack it up!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Snowed Over

Are you dug out yet?  I don't know how the folks without snow blowers do it, they're like the pioneers!  Made of sturdy stuff.  If you'd like to send a message concerning the copious amount of frozen precip we are currently enjoying, pop over to the 'Frosty the Snowman Generator'.  It's a commercial site and the default message is not exactly culture-neutral, but the whole point is that you can change the message.  And it's fun!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Little Snow Humor - again

How do snowmen travel around?
By icecyle!
What do you get if you cross a snowman with a shark?

Ha! Ha! Doesn't that just make all your worries about the weather melt away? For more comedy humor, check out classics like:
The nonsense verse of Edward Lear
A penny saved is impossible / by Ogden Nash
Out on a limerick / by Bennett Cerf

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

All this time I was dehydrated!!

There are times when I am less than sunny.(I know, hard to believe). I blamed this on my personality. But the culprit may have been dehydration all along! According to the USDA Agricultural Research Service, dehydration can cause negative mood, including fatigue and confusion. It's not that I wasn't paying attention, I was dehydrated! Honest! Who knew the effects on the body of too little water were so far-reaching? For more information, go to this USDA news page. It's just one of the amazing sites you can reach through the links our librarians have hand-picked for you. Recommended Links has a plethora, nay, a myriad of subjects to rummage through. I found this baby by choosing 'Food, Recipes', and then Nutrition.gov. Where else will you find topics that offer you an opportunity to use words like plethora and myriad?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Closing at 4 Today Tuesday, 12/8 2009

Due to the weather, all six libraries of the Des Moines Public Library will close at 4 PM today.

Nothing to do with the Holidays

We just got in a fabulous movie!  It's from the 80's, called Night of the CometDuh duhn duhn.  Starring 1984's Queen of B movies, Catherine Mary Stewart, it's about these Valley Girls with the classic big hair and shoulder pads.  They're not rocket scientists, but for some reason they have automatic weapons and are not afraid to use them.  So it's a goofy zombie movie predating Shaun of the Dead.  A blonde cheerleader adept at slaying long before Buffy.  Way more fun than it has any right to be and if your already sick of the holidays (then man, you are in trouble) this would be a lovely antidote.  Rated PG-13.  Automatic weapons.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Could it be any simpler?

Anyone can produce a hand-made toy!  Don't believe me?  Believe the fine folks who wrote the Foxfire books.  These are stories of work and play before television, electricity and the wheel.  Not the last one. The intrepid authors went to Appalachia to record 'folkways' before the folks who practiced them were gone. Florence Brooks and Hattie Kenny explained the mysteries of the 'Button on a String'.  You put a string crossway through the eyes of a button.  Then tie the ends of the string together to form a loop.  Now put your hands at each end of the loop and twirl the button to twist the string.  When done twisting, pull  the string and the button will whirl.  "Makes the funniest noise!", exclaimed Hattie.  Florence did mention that she and her sisters would get them tangled in each other's hair out of sheer orneriness.  Of course if you are determined, any toy can be used to torture your siblings.  That's why they're called toys.

Source:  Foxfire 6  p.166
Graphic source:  Button On a String

Friday, December 4, 2009

you're a star!

Well, you knew that but now other people will be clued in.  Just go to the Hollywood Famous Star Sidewalk Generator and create a 'Hollywood Walk of Fame' star for yourself.  Or your best friend. Or your dog.  Doesn't Lassie have a star?  And who is Anna Lee, you might ask?  Anyone who has watched General Hospital in, oh, the last 3 decades can tell you she portrayed Lila Quartermaine, otherwise known as "the sane one" on the popular soap. Sadly she  passed away in 2004.  For more information on Anna Lee, log in to Biography Resource Center.  You'll need your Des Moines Public Library card number and PIN to access from home.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

A Brick House

So you're dying to know where the first brick house in Des Moines was built!  In 1856 Dr. Francis Grimmell built the first brick house in Des Moines at 6th Avenue and Keosaqua Way.   At the time, that part of town was called  'Capitol Hill' because in the 1850's a significant number of the populace wanted the Capitol Building  built on the west side of the river. Ha!  Capitol-less it stood until 1901 when the brick house was torn down and the Victoria Hotel constructed on the spot. The hotel was a goner in 1962.  We now know that corner as the home of American Republic Insurance.  You were wondering about the picture, weren't you? 

Source: Des Moines Register, 3/9/1996 p. 2 N-E
Photo courtesy Gerry Rowland

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Native American Heritage Month

was in November.  I completely missed it, which is too bad because Iowa has an interesting story. In 1846 the Mesquakie were moved to Kansas along with the Sauk because the federal government decided to treat the two tribes as one.   Now some of the Mesquakie never left Iowa.  Others left and, very unhappy with their new homes, returned to Iowa. With the support of the Iowa Legislature they were able to buy land in Tama County.  At this point the federal government - guess what! - broke a treaty and cut off money to the Mesquakie. The tribes had years of  terrible struggle, but eventually the Iowa government stepped in again and got the federal payments restored.  Go, Iowa!
IPTV Indian Removal in Iowa
Photo Source:  Library of Congress Digital ID: cph 3c07203

Monday, November 30, 2009


Did you see that Michael Jackson won 4 awards at the American Music Awards?  Almost as many as Taylor Swift, who is apparently the bee's knees.  Today is the 27th anniversary of the release of Thriller arguably not only  the most popular recording "best selling-studio album of all time), but one of the most important.  It got African-Americans on MTV and opened the doors of popular music to a wide variety of styles.  Plus it was really cool.  But I never could do that dance.

Source:  Reuters
Thriller 25: the world's biggest selling album of all time / Michael Jackson

Friday, November 27, 2009

Friday, post-feast

It's the day after and now how are you going to keep all those people entertained?  The ones who don't want to watch sports or shop.  Party games, of course!  You don't even have to own board games, we have books with games that use ordinary household items like pencil and paper.  You do still have those, right? 

Games : for people of all ages
The world's best party games / Sheila Anne Barry
The games we played : the golden age of board & table games
All locations of the Des Moines Public Library will be closed for the Thanksgiving Holiday on Thursday November 26 and Friday November 27. We will reopen our usual hours on Saturday November 28.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

It's Thanksgiving Day! Parade!

Those of you who aren't cooking for hordes are allowed to watch the parade in your jammies.  It's the 83rd annual parade. In the accompanying photo, an ordinarily fearless drum corps flees before a giant and potentially flammable turkey.  At least they appear to be dressed for the weather.    All locations of the Des Moines Public Library will be closed for the Thanksgiving Holiday on Thursday November 26 and Friday November 27. We will reopen our usual hours on Saturday November 28.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Closings

All locations of the Des Moines Public Library will be closed for the Thanksgiving Holiday on Thursday November 26 and Friday November 27.  We will reopen our usual hours on Saturday November 28.  But don't worry about us, none of your stuff will be due on Thursday and Friday and you can just relax and eat things one can only manage to eat once a year.  Candied yams with marshmallows.  I didn't even like this stuff in the 50's when it was haute cuisine. But that's just me - the rest of you dive in!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Ah, the noble turkey

It's easy to forget how big turkeys are. They can run to 21 pounds in the wild and apparently they used to be bigger.  Colonists of Eastern America regularly found birds weighing 27 to 35 pounds.  There were reports of 63 pound turkeys.  By the way, turkeys can reproduce through parthenogenesis. This means no contact of any kind with the male of the species is necessary. The female does it all by her lonesome. It's probably the most complex organism that can do this.  Who knew?  Happy Thanksgiving!  And to you vegetarians, Happy Tofu Turkey!   All locations of the Des Moines Public Library will be closed for the Thanksgiving Holiday on Thursday November 26 and Friday November 27. We will reopen our usual hours on Saturday November 28.

Source:  The world of the wild turkey [by] James C. Lewis.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Forest Avenue Library Closing for a Couple Weeks

We want you to be warm and comfy when you're at the Forest Avenue Library.  We want to be warm and comfy when you're at the Forest Avenue Library.  In order to achieve this state of climatological bliss, the Forest Avenue Library (including Book Return) WILL BE CLOSED November 30 – December 14 for the replacement of the heating and cooling system. If you have items on hold during this period you can pick them up at the North Side Library which is oh-so-close at 5th and Euclid.  The plan is to reopen on December 14.  For the most current information, click here.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Online Word Game - Bogglish

I never got into playing games online, must be an age thing.  But today's Fun Friday link is a word game!  It's kind of like Boggle only 3D and apparently you can only use the letters so many times and then they disappear and you get a new letter underneath.  Whew.  Sometimes you get a hole.  That's where the 3D comes in.  It's called the Word Cube Game, and I hate it when the only vowels I get are Y's.  Have fun!
Play Word Cube

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Scottish Slang

What are they talking about! I've been reading Stuart MacBride's  excellent and gruesome Scottish murder mysteries and encountering lots of colorful Scottish slang.  Frankly, most of it is too colorful to repeat here.  But 'bacon buttie' has been driving me crazy. Apparently Scottish police live on these. So I looked them up and they sound delicious: lots of bacon; bread - can be buttered inside, can be toasted; tomato sauce.  Maybe the Scottish equivalent of a greasy burger.  Yum.  There are more fun words!  Like 'winkle', which as near as I can tell means 'to fish out'.  At one point a character managed to 'winkle' a cigarette from a crushed pack.    And 'manky' is great  - scruffy, dirty, distasteful, disgusting.  'Blootered' means drunk.  Isn't this fun?  For more, read Stuart MacBride.  Then you can play the what? game too.

Stuart MacBride Books

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Left-Overs, but we're not talking turkey

So you didn't need all of your prescription drugs, or they've expired, or you've changed prescriptions and now you are stuck with left-over drugs. What to do? We used to flush them but now they say the chemicals get into the water if you do that. Same for tossing them in the trash.  Now we can get rid of them and do no harm.  The Iowa Pharmacy Association has a program for disposing of prescription drugs and OTC medications safely.  The official title:  Take Away Environmental Return System; Iowa's Medication Disposal Program.  Visit the web site for information as to what medicines are accepted and to find a participating pharmacy near you.  
Take Away Environmental Return System; Iowa's Medication Disposal Program.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A Different Kind of Chill

Dennis Etchison's books. This is disturbing stuff. People seem ordinary and they have no supernatural powers - but they are casual monsters. Sometimes the story title clues you in to the tone. For example: Sitting in the Corner, Whimpering Quietly. Psychological terror is introduced slyly, instead of being wielded like a club. He does change it up -  you read a story that scares you right out of your britches, then the next is essentially an extended pun. Gives you a little bit of a break from the intensity. For those who appreciate Joyce Carol Oates' really dark side.
The Dark Country

Monday, November 16, 2009

How do I ...

Have you noticed the 'How Do I'  box under 'Search The Catalog' on our home page?  All sorts of handy-dandy options turn up if you click on that down arrow.  Let's  pick one at random.  'How do I ... set up an email account?'  If you're applying for jobs online you have to have an email account.  Don't have one yet?  We have a great guide that will take you step-by-step through the process of setting up your very own free email.  After you select 'set up an email account?', click on 'email instructions'.  This takes you to a document with the directions and you are on your way.  (The account is not sponsored or supported by the Des Moines Public Library). Who knew you could find that through our web site.

Friday, November 13, 2009


Ahhhhh.  Those heady days when we saw Monty Python's Flying Circus for the first time.  Thinking,  "What the?"  Little did we know how enriched our cultural lives would become.  The guy to the right is not the best-remembered element of the show, but it was the first time I saw a man wearing a knotted  handkerchief on his head.  Still don't know what that's all about.  Now you can make that guy say anything!  Even something that makes sense.
Try the Monty Python Generator  and see if you can avoid the floating ads.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Buckyballs! How fun is that word? It needs a song - Buckyballs, Buckyballs, won't you be my... maybe not. In case you're wondering what the heck they are, Buckyballs, also known as Fullerines, are carbon clusters that consists of 60 atoms arranged in a formation that resembles the dome dubbed 'geodesic' by Buckminster Fuller. (He did the math.) Apparently this sort of formation was highly unusual:  "It puzzled them (the scientists) because they had no idea how 60 atoms could have arranged themselves so stably. They pondered the conundrum during two weeks of discussion, frequently over Mexican food, before hitting on the solution: one carbon atom must lie at each vertex of 12 pentagons and 20 hexagons arranged like the panels of a soccer ball."  Well, duh.   They named the molecule "buckminsterfullerene"! Just goes to show the power of Mexican food.  For more information:

Author: Yam, Philip
Source:  Scientific American; Sep2009, Vol. 301 Issue 3, p82
accessed through EbscoHost

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


All 6 buildings of the Des Moines Public Library are closed today in honor of Veterans Day.  With respect, some information about U. S. troop losses:
Operation Enduring Freedom, (includes Afghanistan) U. S. Military Deaths :  October 7, 2001, through August 1, 2009 - 759

Operation Iraqi Freedom: U. S. Military Deaths:  Since May 1, 2003  August 1, 2009 - 4,181

For more information on U.S. Military Deaths from the Revolutionary War on, read:
Congressional Research Service
American War and Military Operations
Casualties: Lists and Statistics

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Patently female

Women inventors. We all know Michael Nesmith's Mom(Bette Nesmith Graham) invented Liquid Paper.  But wait there's more!  Lillian Moller Gilbreth of Cheaper by the Dozen fame invented the step-on trash container.  She had doctorates in psychology and engineering, 12 kids, 2 hands.  If anyone needed a trash can you could open with your foot...   Dr. Patricia Bath, the creator of laser cataract surgery, was the first African American woman to receive a patent for a medical invention.  Remember when everyone wanted Math Blaster software?  Well, they did and it was brought to you by Jan Davidson. As for how long women have been in the invention business,  Hypatia of Alexandria invented the astrolabe.  This occurred in the neighborhood of the year 390. To read more:
Patently female : from AZT to TV dinners : stories of women inventors and their breakthrough ideas

Monday, November 9, 2009

Closed Wednesday

All 6 buildings of the Des Moines Public will be closed for Veteran's Day on Wednesday November 11.  We will open at our regular time on Thursday the 12th.

Friday, November 6, 2009

It's old, but it's virtual

Ok, Rock Star here's your chance to make your own recording.  Of course, it's just an image of a cassette with song and artist name that you type in, but hey.  If you even know what a music cassette is, maybe you're not that cool.  Just maybe.  I think it's entertaining (and I know I'm not cool) and they make swell gifts.  If you usually print something off the internet and give it to your friends for their birthdays, that is.  Go!  Have fun with it! Relive the Olden Days of mix tapes. Cassette Generator

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Water Program Saturday November 7

Here's a quote to wake you up: "Some river stretches, including the Skunk River south of Ames and Mill Creek south of Milford, carry almost nothing but sewage during dry weather.*" This is BAD. If you have an interest in the quality of water in Iowa, you may want to check out "WATER UNDER SIEGE: the Politics, Pollution and Commodification of Water. Explore the competing interests in water conservation, industry, and politics."  All ages as invited.  The program presents water quality documentaries plus question-and-answer sessions. At the Central Library, 1000 Grand Ave. Saturday, November 07, 9:30-4:30.

*Des Moines Register  Nov 1, 2009. pg. A.1
Photo courtesy Gerry Rowland - the Des Moines River, near Rutland

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Consider ketchup

The fine ladies in this picture are actually working on pickles, but we all know where ketchup comes from. Fast food spigots! The H. J. Heinz Company has been churning out the stuff since 1869. Since then? In 1876 the first bottle appeared. Well how did people get it home before it was in bottles?  According to Pure ketchup: a history of America's national condiment, ketchup was ladled out of whiskey barrels into pails!  I'd like a pail of ketchup, please.  Yes, it's to go. 1960 saw the introduction of single-serve packets and in 1983 we got the squeezable plastic bottle. Yay! No wonder 10 billion ounces of ketchup are sold each year in the U. S. (as of 2005). Another tidbit: William Johnson, the sixth chief executive of H. J. Heinz, says that in Sweden people put ketchup on their pasta. Isn’t Sweden where they eat lutefisk? Just askin'.

Anticipation by Burke, Monte. Forbes Magazine  12-12-2005 Page: 124
As accessed through eLibrary

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Now where is that?

Looking for hot, fresh information on countries around the world?  Your Federal Government stands ready to serve.  They have  'Background Notes', data collected by the U.S. Department of State. The notes on Kiribati run to 6 pages, so they're more like magazine articles really.  Haven't heard of Kiribati ?  Here, you'll need a little help with the pronunciation: "keer-ah-bhass".  Sounds like a delightful country, what with being composed of "archipelagos of low-lying coral atolls surrounded by extensive reefs" and all.  And that's just one country!  You can poke around for curiosity’s sake, or keep it in mind when your child is assigned to do a paper on Vanuatu.

U.S. Department of State Background Notes
The Des Moines Public Library is a  Federal Depository Library.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Actual Halloween

Here's an old Halloween tradition that's new to me. The Irish and Cornish folks held that you could not eat blackberries or sloes picked on October 31 or after that date. Why? Because the fairies fly over them and 'rendered them inedible'. Who knew fairy cooties were so powerful? Or so evil? No sloe gin fizzes for you tomorrow night. Just in case.
The great encyclopedia of faeries
An encyclopedia of fairies : hobgoblins, brownies, bogies, and other supernatural creatures

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Beggars Night Tomorrow

Back in the day - the worst Halloween treat was an apple.  Just give us candy. Candy candy candy!  That's what we want!  Not gum.  Especially not black licorice gum, and there were like 3 brands of the stuff!    After collecting the candy my second favorite part of Halloween was when we all got home spilled our candy on the basement floor and traded!  I couldn't wait to get rid of  Boston Baked Beans, Chicken Bones (Aaahhh!  They literally gave me nightmares!), and  Good and Plenty, aka black licorice in a capsule.   This year "The 2009 National Confectioners Association's Halloween Survey reported that chocolate treats will reign supreme this Halloween.... According to the survey, 52 percent of Americans plan to pass out candy this year."  Yay! If only I was just a little shorter.

Source: Your Halloween preparation guide
Authors:And Tonya Fennell, Courtney Hudson
Sedalia Democrat, The (MO); 10/20/2009  accessed through EbscoHost

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Falll Baaaaack!!!

The best day of the year is upon us.  On Sunday November 1 Daylight Savings ends.  Yahoo!  One extra hour of sleep.  Bliss.  Oh yeah, set your clocks back an hour Saturday night.  You do not want to miss this.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Horror Fun!

Some of my favorite movies are horror/comedy.  First we have a few with actually scary parts.   These would be An American Werewolf in London, of the famous naked-man-running-with-balloons scene.  Another one is the first Tremors movie.  With Kevin Bacon!  The huge sandworms aren't too smart but they're genuiunely dangerous.   Beetlejuice is more jokey.  Eight-legged freaks is totally jokey but it features a very young Scarlett Johannsen.  Then there's Shaun of the Dead.   Shaun is sublime, its comedy played perfectly straight hitting all the action-horror cliches.  At one point the ragtag survivors led by the unlikely hero meets another group exactly like themselves.  Each group stops for a moment, dumbfounded, then falls back into their roles and go their separate ways.  Perfectly seriously.  Aren't you dying to see these? Ha! 

Monday, October 26, 2009

Your very own haunted house

It's not too late!  You can still have the best Halloween ever, because we have books to help you.  You know those people who have headstones and skeletons and spiderwebs and scary things that laugh at you as you walk by in their yard?  You could be one of those people!  Or you could have a great party and the yard people will look at your house enviously from behind their skeleton-in-a-cage.  Because Halloween's not just for kids anymore.  Mwa ha ha ha ha.
The complete haunted house book
Give them a real scare this Halloween : a guide to scaring trick-or-treaters, and haunting your house, yard, or party
Haunted house Halloween handbook
How to haunt a house for Halloween
Halloween : a grown-up's guide to creative costumes, devilish decor & fabulous festivities

Friday, October 23, 2009

Halloween Postcards

We know Halloween has become big business in the last 15 years, the merchandising has exploded!  When I was a child (cue sound of rocking chair creaking) you had your costumes, your jack-o'lanterns, and maybe a candle in the shape of a pumpkin.  That was Halloween. This year I saw some sort of liquid candy that comes in a drip bag like it's blood from the hospital.  Eew.  In a less gooey vein (Get it?  Vein!)  Halloween lovers have been mailing celebratory postcards since the turn of the century.  The last century, not this one.  Guess what?  None of them featured blood.  Go figure.  The macabre and terrifying caption for the postcart at right:

A Hallowe'en merry, a Hallowee'n bright,
Though pumpkins make faces
and ghosts walk a night
Let no noises scare you, and don't start to run
For 'tis but a joke and Hallowe'en fun.

Here are some books to help you bone up on your Halloween lore.  ('Bone' up!  I'm on a roll!)
Death makes a holiday : a cultural history of Halloween
Halloween : customs, recipes, spells
Carving jack-o-lanterns

Source: Country Living; Oct 98, Vol. 21 Issue 10, p94, 2p
as accessed through EbscoHost

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Pretty on the Inside

I understand there are people who like to decorate their homes as opposed to hanging random pictures on the walls and calling it a day.   It can be hard to make your home look nice when you are, say, on a budget.  Or without a budget.  We have books to help you through these difficult decorating times.  And if you love a dollar store like I do  (the only place I can find pretty paper towels - does that count as decorating?)  you're in luck.
Decorating ideas under $50 /
Dollar store d├ęcor
Quick decorating ideas under $20
Thrifty chic : interior style on a shoestring

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Librarians! Authors! Action!

Who are those good-looking, intelligent folks you see milling about Des Moines?  The Librarians have landed!  It's the time of year when the annual Iowa Library Association Conference is convened, and this year Des Moines has the honor of hosting!  Whoohoo!  The mind-boggling 48-person Iowa Author Fair tonight is being sponsored in part by ILA.  If you want to see  Librarians and Authors bloom together in an ideal environment, wander down to the Central Library this evening for the 8 PM festivities.  It will be a thing of beauty.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Pre-Raphaelites ... but they came after

So which Raphael did the Pre-Raphaelites precede?  According to the Britannica Concise Encyclopedia, these artists were rebelling against the long-dead Raphael of Renaissance fame.  More specifically they wished to return to "the simple depiction of nature in Italian art" before Raphael and his cohorts Michelangelo and Leonardo Da Vinci messed it up for everybody.  Pre-Raphaelite paintings are gorgeous and lush but not what you'd call simple or especially natural. Rosetti's women  have heads that are flat as a pancake and their hair is enormous.  Example right.  So in addition to being beautiful the paintings are just a tad weird.  What more could you ask of art?
The art of the Pre-Raphaelites
Essential Pre-Raphaelites
Dante Gabriel Rossetti / Julian Trueherz

Britannica Concise Encyclopedia as found through eLibrary, one of the Des Moines Public Library's online resources.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Speaking of Robots... well the other day anyway...

There's a fun Robot Movie Quiz that presents you with a photo of the robot, and you choose which movie the robot appeared in.  Hey, it's multiple choice!  Everybody's got a shot.  Hint:  some of the movies are not-so-well-known.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

October 15, the first flight - depending on how you define 'flight'.

On October 15, 1783, Jean Francois Pilatre de Rozier and Francois Laurent, Marquis d'Arlandes (whew) were the first people ever to rise up off the earth in some kind of contraption.  Said contraption:  a  Montgolfier hot-air balloon.  You won't be surprised to know that this happened in Paris, France. The big trip lasted 4 minutes, soaring to 84 feet.  I kid, this was a major step forward.  And contrary to popular belief, the hot air was not provided by reciting the aeronauts' rather lengthy names. 

Source: Chase's Calendar of Annual Events
Fun Book:  Balloon flying handbook

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Science Update: Crocodiles have reason to cry

Know what kills a crocodile? Besides the obvious blunt instrument. Fat! And they're not having heart attacks or strokes either. Nile crocodiles are dying in the Olifants River, (South Africa) sometimes at a rate of 20 per week. Scientists  found "some kind of pansteatitis--an inflammation of adipose tissue" was killing the animals. Adipose tissue is fat, and somthing is causing it to build up in crocodiles' tails. To the extent that the tail becomes so stiff and swollen that the animals can't move. A cause has not been identified, and they are trying to find out if other creatures are effected. And I just found out that I can feel sorry for crocodiles.

Crocodiles are dying in the wierdest way.  Hunting a Croc Killer.
Author Lubick, Naomi

Source:Scientific American; Oct 2009, Vol. 301 Issue 4, p25-25, 1p, 1 color

Science Update: Robot discovery - the other kind

Did we learn nothing from Battlestar Galactica? And if you haven't watched it, (the new version) you should. The article I will be quoting starts with the words "A robot scientist". And how many years of college does the robot have? Higher education notwithstanding, this robot made a scientific discovery all by itself.  It found new ways that the genes in baker's yeast work! OK, not scary. But this robot can devise a theory then design and run experiments based on the theory all by its lonesome. To be fair, the robot didn't have to sit with its chin in hand wondering what on earth it was going to tackle . They handed him a "freezer containing a library of thousands of mutant strains of yeast with individual genes deleted".  Let's hope they don't hand it a vat full of world domination techniques next time.

Robots take the drudgery out of science.
Author:  Kleiner, Kurt
Source:  New Scientist; 4/11/2009, Vol. 201 Issue 2703, p17-17, 1