Friday, February 26, 2010

Friday Fun - Online Brain Race

Here's hours of entertainment. As your library, we like to think we're assisting in the development of your intellect. With games! This Multiple Choice Quiz is fast. I'm doing well, pretty smart, then bam! I have to actually think about the answer and it's all over. The questions don't change - at least in the few minutes I tried and retried - so you could go farther each time you play. I wonder how many correct choices you have to make before you actually win? Or is winning diabolically impossible? Mwahahahaha.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Year of Which Tiger

We all know it's the year of the Tiger.  Tigers are cool, so this time we paid attention when informed of the change in the Chinese year. Those born in the Tiger years are in command, they're fighters and bubbling over with energy.  The particular tiger year in which you were born further defines you. If you were born in 1974 you are a "popular, adaptable, team player" like Penelope Cruz.  If you were born in 1986, as bonus traits you get to be dramatic, passionate, persuasive.  Get this.  Mary-Kate and Ashley Olson were born in '86.  Yes, the women who could be blown away by a kid popping his bubblegum bubble are dramatic, passionate, persuasive.  Am I crazy, or are these a better fit for Penelope Cruz?  Maybe it explains the Olson twins' dynamic business empire.
Year of the TIGER. Flare, 07084927, Feb2010, Vol. 32, Issue 2  as accessed through EbscoHost.
To read more, click on the EBSCOhost link above. If you are outside the library you will type in your Des Moines Public Library Card number and PIN. The PIN is usually the last 4 numbers of your telephone number. Click on Continue, type in your search words, check the box next to Full Text and you are good to go.
Graphic Source: Dover Publishing

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Celery - More Than Just a Pretty Face

Apparently in the nutrition department, celery kicks fanny!  I always figured celery was a diet food that consisted of string and water.  Turns out the green menace is crammed with nutritiony goodness. First of all, you get a burst of silicon and phenolic acids.  These two powerhouses build bones and fight cancer.  Then a study in Nashville found that if patients ate 4 celery sticks a day they enjoyed a small decrease in blood pressure.  My source didn't define 'stick'.  I think if they meant 'stalk' they would have said 'stalk', so a stick must be smaller than that.  Whew.  Chew away.

Source:  Men's Health Jul/Aug2009, Vol. 24 Issue 6, p84-85, as accessed through EBSCOhost.
To read more, click on the EBSCOhost link above.  If you are outside the library you will type in your Des Moines Public Library Card number and PIN.  The PIN is usually the last 4 numbers of your telephone number.  Click on Continue, type in your search words, check the box next to Full Text and you are good to go.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Best Chicken Ever!

Araucanas are so cool!  They're from South America and they don't have tails. Kind of like a Manx cat, they just stop short.  This is not even the coolest part.  Araucanas lay blue eggs!  Really blue, not blue like 'blue' cats that are really smoky gray, but actual I-can-really-tell it's blue.  (I don't know why cats keep coming up.  They just do.)  Plus, if you breed an araucana with a regular chicken, the offspring will lay colored eggs. Who wouldn't want a bird like that?
Extraordinary chickens

Monday, February 22, 2010

Today in Hiiiistory!

February 24 1582.  Pope Gregory XIII, nee one Ugo Buoncompagni, issued the papal bull Inter gravissimas. 
Thus dictating the Gregorian calendar's use in the Catholic world.  Now it's everywhere! Pope Gregory modified the Julian calendar used since 45 BC.  That's longevity.  He added leap years and everything.  We can't blame him for daylight savings though.

Source:  infoplease

Friday, February 19, 2010

FAFSA Help Tomorrow

Gesundheit!  FAFSA is the fabulous "Free Application for Federal Student Aid".  On Saturday, February 20, from 9:00 AM - 3:00 PM volunteers from the Iowa College Access Network and other agencies will be available to help you file. You need help because this baby can be complicated to navigate. As you can see from the length of the program! OK, it may not take that whole time for you to file.  Leaving time for questions.  Lots and lots of questions.  Here's a link to a U.S. Government site for more FAFSA facts. 

Thursday, February 18, 2010

African American Biographies - Sparkling, Crisp, Gleaming

In other words, the latest! We are up to our ears in wonderful new biographies of African Americans.  We have your famous:  Doc : the rise and rise of Julius Erving,    Obama : the historic journey,     Baldwin's Harlem : a biography of James Baldwin.

Your not-so-much in the fame department: The immortal life of Henrietta Lacks,    Scared silent : the Mildred Muhammad story    A mighty long way : my journey to justice at Little Rock Central High School  .  

And what we librarians like to call your 'collective biographies':  African American firsts : famous, little-known and unsung triumphs of Blacks in America,      The shadows of youth : the remarkable journey of the civil rights generation,      Black genius : inspirational portraits of America's black leaders.  They're 'collective' because the books cover several people.  Nothing to do with communes.  Help yourself to fresh-made history. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Free Tax Help!!! The 211

For you qualified citizens there are places scattered throughout the metro that offer free tax help!!!  Whoohoo!
Direct quotes from the Iowa Department of Human Services web site:
A.  IRS certified tax sites will help prepare tax returns for low income families and seniors FREE of charge.
B.  Just Call 2-1-1 to find free tax help in your community.
C.  View a list of Free Return Preparation Sites where you can get free help with your taxes from trained volunteers. 
I tested the 211 number.  You get the United Way and an extremely nice person tries to find the perfect site for your needs.  Just so you know, none of these free help sites are at any of our libraries. None.   Any.  But we are thrilled that they are out there for you!  Taxes are hard.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Remember the Fabulous Automobile Fix-It-All-by-Yourself Resource

Did you know this about a 2004 Cadillac DeVille DHS V8:
When removing the halfshaft you must prevent the inner CV-joint from becoming over-extended. Over-extension of the joint could result in separation of internal components and possible joint failure. I have no idea what this means! But some of you could breeze through those two sentences and know exactly what to do. Auto Repair Reference Center has repair information for hundreds of vehicles. With diagrams, including the bonus wiring diagrams. You can use this baby in any of our 6 libraries or in the comfort of your own home. To get at it from home you’ll need your Des Moines Public Library Card number and PIN – the PIN is usually the last 4 numbers of your telephone number. Click here, then click on Auto Repair Reference Center; input your info and go! One flaw is that the database does not provide repair information for every vehicle listed. But it’s pretty dang cool nonetheless.

Monday, February 15, 2010

President's Day Stuff You Didn't Already Know

Two tidbits for you on President's Day:
The first time four presidents were all in one place was on October 8, 1981.  Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and Jimmy Carter met with President Ronald Reagan at the White House.  The three were on their way to Anwar Sadat's funeral, which President Reagan did not attend.  Instead, Al "I'm in charge" Haigh was in charge.  According to American Heritage he didn't treat the former presidents very well.  Read the article if you get a chance, it's a rare glimpse into personal presidential interaction.

Five Oval-Office-occupiers showed up for the funeral of former President Richard Nixon on April 28, 1994.  President Bill Clinton and former presidents George Bush, Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, and Gerald Ford were all in attendance.  As you can imagine the Secret Service was out in force.  Here are the code names used that day:  Timberwolf - George Bush; Rawhide - Ronald Reagan; Deacon - Jimmy Carter; Passkey - Gerald Ford; Eagle - Bill Clinton.  Passkey?  That one I don't get.

American Heritage; Aug/Sep2006, Vol. 57 Issue 4, p60-68, as accessed through EBSCO Host
Des Moines Register April 28, 1994 p. 2A

Friday, February 12, 2010

Make The IRS Say What You Want!

I know it's tax time.  I'm not completely oblivious.  I just prefer not to dwell on it.   If you want to dwell on it and be entertained at the same time, here's the generator for you!  Yowsa yowsa!  
IRS Tax Season Cartoon

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Pandemonium's Great!

I just read  Pandemonium by Daryl Gregory and was bowled over!  It's so rare to find a book that is original - actually capable of surprising me.  Here's the premise: there are demons loose in the world and they possess people.  But these aren't your Buffy demons; they are possessors with a purpose.  Each one embodies a modern archetype.  The Captain is the superhero, The Truth is the avenger and Shug'arath is the creature from the Lovecraftian lagoon. They wreak havoc in their wake and on the bodies of the people they possess.  You'd think a high-concept novel like this would be peopled with cardboard cut-outs, but actually the characters rule.   Can't wait to read THE DEVIL'S ALPHABET!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

But We Can Still See It ... Everywhere

I was reading a book the other day that referred to snow blindness.  Haven't heard that term in years. Didn't it strike only Victorian Arctic Explorers?  Turns out snow blindness is of great concern to anyone in high altitudes and around lots of snow.  Know what it is?  Sunburn on your eyes.  Ow!  If you don't wear your heavy duty wrap-arounds, the bright sunshine bouncing off the white snow can cause blisters to form on your corneas.  Maybe you'll have bloodshot eyes.  Maybe your eyes will swell shut.  The good news is that the condition usually heals in a day or so.  More quickly than most of the regular sunburns I've had. Ow.

Source: Backpacker; Apr2005, Vol. 33 Issue 3, p60, as accessed through EbscoHost

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Speaking of Local History

We have a brand-spanking new blog!  Just born!  It's all about the local history, man.  The January 5th  post tells you what's going on in the blog's header photo.  It's a fabulous image of downtown Des Moines from the olden days.  Nice panoramic shot, and fun to find out what used to be in some of the contemporary buildings.  Need to visit a saddlery, anyone?  Well, you can't now, but there used to be right downtown.
Keep checking back for more Local History Lore.  
Des Moines Local History! Blog

Monday, February 8, 2010

Kaboom! In a totally harmless way.

For those of you who wonder, the downtown Montgomery Ward building was demolished on Sunday April 1 1979, around 8:11. (No, when was it really? 8:11). 250 lbs of explosives were used and it took 6 seconds to come down. They expected the building to fall to the south but instead it headed north. Ooops. Some debris fell on Locust St. but fortunately none of the spectators got beaned. Another triumph for Mr. Nobel. For more tidbits visit the Fun Facts portion of our web site. And try not to say Montgomery Wards. Just try.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Heloise and Football

The back cover of In the Kitchen with Heloise has a 1963 photo of the original Heloise.  She has six arms each holding a tool like a mop or duster.  But that's not the disturbing part.  She's wearing a ball gown and 5 strands of pearls!  By 1963 even June Cleaver might have been re-thinking the pearls. I've always thought of Heloise as a toothbrush-for-cleaning-grout kinda gal, but in this book she ranges far and wide.  For example: caviar should be kept refrigerated until 15 minutes before serving. And don't take the lid off until the last minute.  Just a little tip for your Super Bowl party.

Source:In the Kitchen with Heloise p. 84

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Brain Chin Ups

Here's a book for you:  Dental floss for the mind : a complete program for boosting your brain power.  The assumption is that in a few years the Boomers will all be dumb as a post.  Books like these provide GAMES to make us smarter. Didn't they try this on us when we were kids?  Mazes are fun! Well sure, if they're not very hard. I do like the portion of the book in which you read a page of proverbs, then go to the next page and fill in the missing parts of said proverbs in, oh, 30 seconds. But this could have something to do with the fact I'm old enough that I know the proverbs already.  If you like memory games and problem-solving games (oxymoron, anyone?) this baby is a barrel of fun.

Other Books Like This

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

According to Chase's Calendar of Events, it is "Return Shopping Carts to the Supermarket Month".  What a fine time to return carts, milk crates, forklifts, anything you took home from the grocery store and 'forgot' to take back.  You know who you are.  People-who-furnish-their-entire-apartments-with-hot milk-crates.  Apparently this kind of criminal behavior just drives food prices right up. The festive celebration is sponsored by the Illinois Food Retailers Association.  Who'd like their stuff back.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Locke Lost

With the return of Lost tonight I thought you might like a taste of philosopher John Locke's (1632-1704) work.  In "An Essay concerning Human Understanding", according to Masterpieces of world philosophy,  Locke reasoned that:  "At birth the mind is a blank tablet; no one is born with innate ideas.... All simple, uncompounded ideas come from experience; and the mind, by combining simple ideas, forms new complex ideas".  Clear anything up for you?  This book is a nice source when you just want the basics from a philosopher and don't want to read all their essays/books/grocery lists etc..  Although it means you may miss out on some simple ideas with which to form complex ideas.  I watch Lost.  I'm chockful of complex ideas.
Source:  Masterpieces of world philosophy

Monday, February 1, 2010

J. D. Salinger's Gone

It seems like Salinger's been gone so long already.  According to he gave his last interview in 1980. The man just wanted to be left alone.  Too bad he wrote the iconic coming-of-age novel for the Baby Boomers.  Hard to let him go - like a Beatles reunion, revelations from J.D. Salinger will never be forthcoming.  Sidebar:  According to Contemporary Authors Online as accessed through Biography Resource Center (whew)  J. D. Salinger "worked as an entertainer on Swedish liner M.S. Kungsholm in the Caribbean, 1941" (italics mine).  Knock me over with a feather.  J.D. Salinger was 91 years old when he died Thursday January 28th. 
Source:  Biography Resource Center
Suggested by Andrea Marasco