Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Last Ever Random Act

Today's is the last Random Acts of Information post, as tomorrow the author embarks on the journey known as retirement. What words of wisdom will I take from the vast resources the library has made available to me over the years? 
How To Nap: 
1. The best time to nap is between 1 and 2:30 PM.  2. The optimal sleep time is 20-30 minutes.  3. Napping is an art that must be learned.  Practice with meditation tapes.  4. If you are feeling loggy upon awakening, brush your teeth.  It's refreshing.
Thank you for taking time to read Random Acts of Information these past few years.  It has been fun!
Margaret Jane Scott, future member of the Olympic Napping Team.

Source:  How to Nap Real Simple, Dec2005/Jan2006, p215-221

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

1980's - Did We Just Imagine It?

We have a terrific set of books from your friends at Sears.  Take Fashionable clothing from the Sears catalogs : early 1980s.  Yes, the 1980's require more than one volume of coverage.  I'm surprised you had to ask.  So I was browsing this beauty for clothes that would look seriously out of place today.  Prairie style - nope, too ordinary.  Shiny jewel-toned dresses with abstract patterns - maybe.  Then I hit the Sportswear section - jackpot! Sweatbands with updos, check.  Legwarmers in 3 different colors with horizontal stripes!  What appears to be a one-piece swimming suit with a belt and for bonus points - the belt matches the periwinkle tights that are part of this ensemble.  Does it still take that much work to dress for exercise?  I have to ask because I don't. Exercise that is.  For an authentic glimpse into daywear from the decades this series can't be beat!  Nosiree bob!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Still Closed plus New Toys

All six locations of the Des Moines Public Library are closed today and will open regular hours tomorrow, Tuesday, December 27.  Do you know anyone who has a new e-reader of some flavor or other?  There are some I have never heard tell of in all my born days.  For example, a Kobo.  Kobo's web site assures us they are 5 million strong.  Guess whose web site has instructions for downloading our ebooks to a Kobo?  That's right, we are up to date.  Know it.  Visit our fabulous page for WILBOR eBooks and click on your reader of choice.  Our web genius even added pictures of readers.  I like pictures. They're easy to read.  You are so going to miss the sophisticated humor of this blog.  Har!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Closed Today plus 'My School's Older Than Yours'

There are some mighty old high schools in our United States.  Or 'secondary schools' as some call them.  Here are the 5 Oldest Secondary Schools in the USA and the years in which they were founded:

1.  Boston Latin School, MA   1635; 
2.  Hartford Public High School, CT  1638; 
3.  Roxbury Latin School, MA   1645; 
4.  Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, MA   1648; 
5.  Hopkins School New Haven, CT   1660.
I checked on the suspicious word 'Rindge'.  Is it some kind of esoteric language related to Latin?  Turns out it's a town, so Cambridge Rindge is just like Newell Fonda.  Only waaaay older.
Source:  Top Ten of Everything 2011

All six locations of the Des Moines Public Library are closed December 23 through December 26.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Upcoming Holiday Closings Plus Hideous Clothing

All six locations of the Des Moines Public Library will be closed Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday, December 23-26.  I remember ... one year for the holidays my sister and I - we were just one year apart - received the following:  polyester pantsuits.  Or maybe pant sets, since there was no jacket. The top was a tunic.  Color scheme was navy and gray, houndstooth except for the collars.  Of course there were collars.  These were a solid navy color, and I believe they laced up.  I'm not talking nice polyester here, this was the slippery stuff.  Speaking of stuff, we thought we were the hot kind in our new duds.  No awkward phase for us!  Envious much?
Happy Holidays!
Fashionable clothing from the Sears catalogs : early 1970s / Desire Smith.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Scary. Just a Little.

Have you been watching American Horror Story?  Not me, man.  I couldn't get through the first episode and I like horror.  Wouldst care to try really old horror movies?  They are almost genteel.  Take Curse of the Demon.  Scared yet?  No?  How about Night of the DemonBOO!  Admit it, now you're scared.  To keep the adrenaline going check out our COTD-NOTD double feature DVD.  That's right; they are both on the same disc.  Of course they're the same movie, so 2 discs: totally not necessary.  "What the heck are you talking about", I hear you ask.  (There's a reason my ears are so big.  Elf blood.)  Night of the Demon is the original British version.  Curse of the Demon cut 13 minutes out so we Americans wouldn't get bored.  Whatever.  Either version is genuinely spoooooky. 
Night of the Demon/Curse of the Demon

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


I am the lucky recipient of several bouquets of lovely fresh flowers.  Something to do with the fact I'm retiring?  (Did I mention I'm retiring? whoohoo.)  How do I keep these delightful arrangements alive?  A-live! Hahahaha...  ooops.  Ms. Frankenstein kind of slipped out there.  Anyway, Consumer Reports Magazine has the following tips:  use preservatives, either commercial preparations or homemade - such as "1 teaspoon of bleach and 1 tablespoon of sugar stirred into 1 gallon of water".  Huh. I'd probably stick with store-bought.  Get rid of greenery (not stems) below the water line.  Keep the vase out of direct sunlight and heat.  Plus other stuff too complicated to relate here.  For more details:
Consumer Reports Magazine February 1, 2005
access online through EBSCOHost, DMPL library card and PIN required

Monday, December 19, 2011

500 What?

500 is a card game and my family is mad for it.  Mad, I tell you!  Is it popular outside my immediate DNA group?  Well, I guess so, since it's the national card game of Australia!  There are 4 players, two teams.  Go around and everyone bids - 5 clubs for example.  Based on the bid your partner has to somehow divine what cards you have. If the winning bidder hates his/her hand, they get to pick up a set of cards dealt to a nonexistent player.  This is called 'the blind' by my family.  It is also called the missy, the kitty, the widow.  Apparently the game is quite addictive.  How else to explain Australia?

How to Play Card Games as Taught in Books

Friday, December 16, 2011

Leftover Gift Wrap

I finally ran across an idea for leftover gift wrap that's actually useful.  Make envelopes out of it!  Won't they be gorgeous?  You'll probably have to add a white label to write the address on, but it's worth it.  You say you don't write letters on paper and mail them?  Now, my friend, is the time to start.  If you want to thrill someone, getting a letter in the mail is infinitely more exciting than receiving a text.  And you will want to write so you can use the fabulous receptacles.  Want a template?  Just unfold an envelope you like and use that for your design.  Oh, man!  You could LINE your envelope with a sheet of different paper!  Your next rainy-day (snow day?) project is all ready to go.  You're welcome!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Russell Hoban's Gone

I recently finished Blood Red Road (fabulous!) and was telling a friend how  reviews of the book mention that the novel can be a bit of a challenge to read due to the use of dialect.  Hah! I said.  Try reading Riddley Walker!  And she tells me the author, Russell Hoban, just died.  I am very sad.   Riddley Walker is a masterpiece.  The English is so extensively altered you are completely immersed in the world. It's not that the words are so different -myt for might, woal for whole - it's that most of the book is written that way, not just a few words or phrases. Bonus - the plot and characters are compelling!  Not just a masterpiece, it is an experience.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Countdown: 5...4...3...2...Nap!

Two weeks from today will be my last day ever as a Librarian with the Des Moines Public Library.  I'm retiring!  And shy! Ah, the old jokes are the best.  After 30 years in the field I am ready to hang up ... my glasses? No, gotta have those.  Sensible shoes?  Are you kidding me? I know, I'll hang up my name tag!  It would just poke me while I'm sleeping anyway.  I will continue the blog until fully retired, but if you're a mathlete you know that last post will be showing up December 28th. Then Random Acts of Information will be no more.  It has been great fun to write and I have delighted in your comments.  Delighted, I tell you!  This is so much fun I may write more posts about retiring.  But only for a couple weeks.
Librarian Margaret Jane Scott

Crash Test

John Stapp was an Air Force Colonel.  In the mid-1950's he talked automakers into using his airplane safety dummies to test cars.  The term 'dummies' is used loosely here, since these consisted of sand-filled bags.  Just bags, no shape.   Now that they're shaped like us, auto makers can get all kinds of info by crashing a car full of dummies into a wall.  How hard somebody's head will hit the dashboard, how many ribs you'll probably break, you know, fun stuff.  We are ever so grateful that the sand-filled bags stepped up. Thank you, Colonel Stapp.  Any chance that was pronounced Stop!?

Des Moines Register 12/113/1992 p. 2H

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Supery-Duper Element

Krypton is a noble gas.  Why are we not surprised?  The planet Krypton is good, kryptonite is bad.  Which came first, Action Comics #1 or the element?  Earthly krypton was discovered in 1898 by Sir William Ramsay and Morris Williams Travers. The word krypton comes from the Greek kryptos meaning 'hidden' due to the fact it was really, really hard to discover.  You'll never guess why this gas is called 'noble'.  Because krypton's too hoity-toity to react with other elements!  But maybe it's non-reactive because it's inert.  Not unlike Keanu Reeves. I know!  What did Keanu Reeves ever do to me?  To make up for that crack, here's a link to a list of his DVDs:   Keanu Rules!

Source:  Gale Virtual Reference Library, Chemical Elements, 2010

Monday, December 12, 2011

Reading - It's Complicated

Lately I've been reading amazing books that are very hard to describe.  I have a Library Thing account to help me keep track of what I've read, because even though the books are memorable I read alot and get them mixed up.  My goal is to put in tags specific enough that when I see them I think, oh yeah, that book.  It ain't easy. 
The Tiger's Wife:  Balkans, Young Women Doctors, Deaf-Mute Battered Woman Loves Tiger, Undying Man, Magic Realism.
The Gone-Away World:  Weapon Eats World, Changes, Livable Zone, Adult Imaginary Friend, Gorgeous Language, SF. 
Embassytown:  Host Aliens, Two Voices, Cloned Ambassador, Alien Addiction, Humans as Language, SF.
Hey, I highly recommend these three novels!  Just don't ask me what they're about.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Chapeaux Spéciaux

I love little kids' hats these days.  My favorites are the ones that look like baby animal heads. When I was a little girl - wait!  don't run! it's interesting, really! I had a hat with a face on the back.  Like you'd see me from behind and there would be my face.  If my face looked like the Scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz.  But the best part was the long blond braids!  Since I was A. brunette and B. not allowed to have long hair, I loved that hat.  Oh, I forgot the second best part!  It wasn't a hand-me-down!  I was the 4th of 7 girls and for me to get something so special that had never graced another sibling's bean, well.  Chauds creusent!  That's French for 'hot diggity'.

Resources for those who'd like to Make Children's Hats

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Weta Minute!

I'm a big fan of the Lord of the Rings movies and I've been fascinated by the special effects.  These effects were concocted by New Zealand's own Weta Workshop. I had some vague idea that the company was named for a bug, but I Had No Idea.  The weta looks like a fat praying mantis and is as big as a puppy.  Seriously, they could have used this thing to film Attack of the New Zealand Bug Monster and just skipped the special effects.  The weta is humongous because it lives on an island with no natural predators. So we don't have to worry about being overrun. Yay!  By the way the orange thing in the picture is a carrot.  Not a baby-sized one either.

Source: Scholastic News May/Jun2008, Special section p3

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Pearl Harbor 70th Anniversary

There were eight battleships attacked at Pearl Harbor.
USS Arizona, sunk, total loss.
USS Oklahoma, capsized, total loss.
USS West Virginia,  later raised, repaired and rejoined fleet July 1944.
USS California, sunk, later raised, repaired and rejoined fleet May 1944.
USS Nevada, heavily damaged, grounded, repaired and rejoined fleet December 1942.
USS Pennsylvania, was in drydock - slightly damaged, repaired and rejoined fleet August 1942.
USS Maryland, damaged, repaired and rejoined fleet February 1942.
USS Tennessee, damaged repaired and rejoined fleet March 1942.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Holiday 'Baking'

I don't do much cooking for the holidays, but I do like to make sweets.  Imagine that!  Today we are going to learn about ... sigh.  I really don't have a good name for these things.  They have a little bit of paraffin in the coating so my family calls them 'wax balls'.  Doesn't that sound yummy?  Yet they are the most-requested treat!  They are chockfull of goodness - crunchy peanut butter, coconut, butter, chopped dates, powdered sugar - all mixed up, rolled into balls and covered in melted chocolate chips.  With a tiny amount of paraffin in the chocolate to help keep that chocolate from melting.  OK, they're still a little melty.  Possible name: Chewy Chocolate-covered Peanut Butter Drops.  Which does not convey the deliciousness.  Any suggestions?

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Novelty of It

I'm a Lonely Little Petunia in an Onion Patch.  No, I am not kidding.  As a child that was one of my favorite songs. We loved the novelty songs back in the day.  Oooh! Oooh!  The Hut-Sut Song!  Hut Sut Rawlson on the rillerah and a brawla brawla sooit.  We thought it had something to do with feeding birds (ball of suet) but really, did we care?   The subtitle is "A Swedish Serenade".  Not the way we sang it - loud!  Now name the song with this refrain:  "boop boop dittem dattem whatem Chu!  If you guessed "Three Little Fishes", correct.  If you know the subtitle - "Itty Bitty Poo"!  You. Are. The. Coolest.  If you know why the 'Chu' is capitalized, would you drop me a comment?
For more silly singing check out The Novelty Songbook.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Help with Holiday Stress

So far you've survived Black Friday and... Nothing else?  Too much stuff to do to contemplate without hurting the synapses?  Here's help:  Simplify your Christmas :100 ways to reduce the stress and recapture the joy of the holidays / Elaine St. James.  The proposals within would work for any large gathering that involves lots of food, family, presents, and high expectations!  Make this the year to shock people.  Don't bake the fancy cookies that take 2 days of preparation.  Don't try to make the house look like a palace.  The Queen's not coming.  Don't try to have a perfect holiday.  Make a mistake right off the bat, and get it out of the way!  My philosophy is, if it's important to 'someone', then 'someone' can do the work.  Not really, I cave like everybody else.  But I'm not baking as much this year.  Baby steps. 
You might also like:
Unplug the Christmas machine : how to have the Christmas you've always wanted

Simple steps for every holiday

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Put Up With It

Have you done all your 'putting up'?  Canning? Preserving?  Some folks still do this, and I salute you.  You folks.  My grandmother made what she called stewed tomatoes and as far as I was concerned it was liquid gold.   I haven't heard much about home gardens this year - were the crops bumpering?  Surely if you planted zucchini you have too much.  Isn't that the nature of the beast?  We have many fine books on how to save the fruits and vegetables of your labor.  If we're too late for this year, well, it will all happen again next fall. 

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

My First Mistake - Grammar

My first mistake was opening up the grammar book.  Now I know how bad I am.  Here are the differences between using parentheses, commas and dashes to isolate words in a sentence.
You use parentheses to relay information but tone it down.  It's the grammatical equivalent of mumbling.  I won the (35th place) ribbon for my turnip pie recipe!
The comma is neutral.  You don't care one way or another what the reader thinks.  I was dancing, in my purple pumps, to the polka stylings of Jimmy Sturr.
And the dash is your attempt to make words stand up and yell Read Me!  That brown dog - you know the one - jumped over a fox again.
Isn't this fun?  Learning is hilarious.  Check out:
Painless grammar / Rebecca Elliott

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Toothbrush Re-Purposing

Ah, The Old Farmer's Almanac.  You can always count on it to scare you right out of your socks.  Has your toothbrush lost its minty-freshness?  Use it to clean between the teeth of your chainsaw.  Hang an empty hornet's nest in your house to bring good luck.  To keep venomous critters out of your room leave Solomon's seal around the floor.  Don't give your new neighbors a knife when they move in, or they will be your foes. These last three are superstitions, and yet they give me the heebie-jeebies.  It's tough being timorous.

The Old farmer's Almanac

Monday, November 28, 2011

Sharp as a Dorothy Parker Poem

"Honing a Skew Blade with a Veritas Jig"  Where to begin?  Such a delicious string of words, ending with two you would ordinarily never think of pairing.  I would tell you what it all means except that I don't understand the explanation.  "Side rabbet planes" are alluded to.  Grit stones and vices are thrown in, I know those words but how does it all fit?!  Aaaah!   Fortunately I don't have to sharpen anything.  And if you do, we have many fine books on the subject.
Dorothy Parker Sharp:  The last 4 lines of 'Epitaph for a Darling Lady'
Leave for her a red young rose,
Go your way, and save your pity;
She is happy, for she knows
That her dust is very pretty.

Tool Sharpening Source:  Taunton's complete illustrated guide to sharpening
And Other Sharpening Books

Friday, November 25, 2011

Closed Today, Open Tomorrow

All six locations of the Des Moines Public Library are closed today.  Normal library hours will resume tomorrow, Saturday November 26.

The movie Black Friday appears on the DVD The Bela Lugosi Collection.   In it, Boris Karloff transplants part of a gangster's brain into that of Professor Kingsley, Karloff's dying friend.  Does the gangster brain assert itself?  More importantly, does it know where the stolen money is?  Three guesses, and the first two don't count.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Closed Today for Thanksgiving

All six locations of the Des Moines Public Library are closed today in observance of Thanksgiving.
A turkey joke:
Question:  Why do turkeys go 'gobble, gobble, gobble'?
Answer:  Bad table manners.

Eat nicely and enjoy, gentlepeople.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Closed Thursday and Friday for Thanksgiving. Plus Turkey Notes

Only in Davenport.  Just as Des Moines has the fine tradition of demanding that Trick or Treaters produce jokes before they get a treat, Davenport has Turkey Notes.  No treat involved but the activity is unique to Davenport.  Essentially Turkey Notes are short poems one shares with a friend, not unlike a handwritten valentine.  And, as with valentines, appearance counts.  The traditional turkney note is rolled up and the edges are snipped so as to form a frill.  Like the paper frills placed on turkey legs at a fancy dinner.  So clever!  Here is a sample:
Turkey brown
Turkey done
Turkey time
To have some fun!

Oooww!  That's so lame it actually hurts.  Enjoy your holiday!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Fascinating with a High Ick Factor

Zombie Insects!
There is a virus that attacks gypsy moth caterpillars and forces them to behave in a self-destructive manner. A healthy moth moseys out onto the leaves to munch during the night and wanders back into the main area of the tree during the day so as not to get eaten.  Once the virus gets its claws into the critters they not only stay on the leaves during the day, they climb as high on the tree as they can get.  How does this fulfill the virus' nefarious plan?  By the time the caterpillar manages to get pretty high it's just a virus with legs.  Then the legs go, the 'pillar disintegrates and the virus makes its way down the tree to land upon a plethora of potential hosts. Yikes. On the other hand, gypsy moths are seriously destructive when it comes to Americas hardwood trees.  I don't know wish the virus on other animals so I'm not saying it's karma, but ...

Source: Zombie Insects, by Kuehment, Anna
Scientific American, Nov2011, Vol. 305 Issue 5, p22-22
as accessed through EBSCOhost.  DMPL card and PIN required for access.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Keep Your House Clean and Your Cat Healthy

Did you think about this before you got a cat?  If you mop your floor with a cleanser that is not good to eat, it could poison your cat!  Not that your cat would lick the floor (although who knows?).  But your cat will walk across the floor and pick up the cleanser on its paws.  Your cat will most certainly lick its paws.  So after you clean your floor, don't let the cat in until all the cleanser residue has been wiped off.  I used the phrase 'your cat' four times in the space of 6 sentences, not counting this one.  It's hard to think of a snappier way to say it.  'Thine feline'?  The cleanser info is a tip from:

Your new cat : an expert answers your every question by Kim Campbell Thornton.

Friday, November 18, 2011

G. K. Chesterton and Turkeys

What did turkeys ever do to G. K. Chesterton?  Must have been intense, because this is what he had to say about them:
“A turkey is more occult and awful than all the angels and archangels. In so far as God has partly revealed to us an angelic world, he has partly told us what an angel means. But God has never told us what a turkey means. And if you go and stare at a live turkey for an hour or two, you will find by the end of it that the enigma has rather increased than diminished."
Dude.  It's a bird.  An ugly one, but still.

All Things Considered by G. K. Chesterton.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Iowa Trolls

No, really.  There is a Troll Cave in Twin Springs Park, Winneshiek County.  George Knudson, a professor at Luther College in Decorah, was all about the trolls.  According to him the cave is only 14 inches high and the bold duo who crawled in reported that the cave reeked of trolls.   Oh, and the spelunkers heard strange noises which they interpreted to mean that the trolls were really mad and about to release a mess of water to flood out the intruders.  Mr. Knudson may be writing with tongue-in-cheek, but he talks about trolls in the same tone he uses to describe the geology of Decorah.  If geology isn't fact-based, what is?

Decorah trails and trolls : a guide to 2000 acres of adventure in and around Decorah, Iowa

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Such a Deal We Have For You

Free Internet Access!  All six locations of the Des Moines Public Library offer 1 hour per day of absolutely free internet access.  You just need you DMPL library card.  Central and Franklin libraries are able to offer more than one hour.  And you know what?  You can make print-outs for $.10!  That's right, only 10 cents per page to print from our computers.  You know what else?  At North Side, Forest, Franklin and Central locations you can print in color for 10 cents per page!  I miss the cent key on the keyboard.  We also offer wireless internet at all 6 locations. 
Here are two services we don't offer, just so you know.  Notarizing and proctoring are not available.  But if you call us at 283-4152 and press 3 we can help you find those services elsewhere.  Call us about other stuff too.  We are information detectors, bold and astute!  But nice.  Your mother would like us.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Moustache Awesome-ness

 A friend suggested that in honor of Movember we steer you toward DVD's featuring men with Awesome Moustaches!
Smokey and the bandit  Burt (The 'Stache) Reynolds
Tombstone   Val Kilmer.  He's your huckleberry. But everybody's got one!
Magnum P. I.  Tom (Whiskers) Selleck
The Untouchables  Sean Connery.  They pull a goatee he pulls a moustache.
Princess Bride  Cary Elwes may not have a big moustache, but he really works it.
Gone with the Wind  Ditto Clarke Gable
We'd love to hear about your favorite moustache movies!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Gnomes, Sweet Gnomes

In The Fox and the Lion Aesop informs us that “Familiarity breeds contempt”.  Also Aesop, from Hercules and the Wagoner: “The gods help them that help themselves”.  To whatever is in the wagon?  Aristophanes instructs, “You cannot teach a Crab to walk straight”.  So don’t even try.  Stop it.  We call these maxims, proverbs, sayings.  They are also referred to as ‘gnomes'.  Because they’re short?  Nope. This meaning of gnome derives from the Greek ‘gignōskein’: to know.  Aha!  Totally makes sense.  And the little guys?  From the Greek 'genomos', meaning earth-dweller. What were the chances that 'gnome' would have two such different meanings?  Teensy.  But now we know.  To quote Livy, “Better late than never”.

Source:  Encyclopedia of Ancient accessed through Gale Virtual Reference Library.
DMPL card number and PIN required for access

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Muppet Guests

Here at the Des Moines Public Library we have DVD's of the first 3 seasons of the Muppet Show.  I don't think of it as a Really Old Show. After all, we did have a color TV in our house.  Then I browsed through the guests and here are people who were famous at the time:
Zero Mostel
Paul Williams
Avery Schreiber
James Coco
And the ne plus ultra of TV guests, Jaye P. Morgan. By the time she hit the Muppet Show Ms. Morgan was famous primarily as a panelist on game shows.  I have got to watch that episode.  No, really.  Take me back to a time with pre-Kardashian, Hilton, reality-show celebrities.  I can ask myself the eternal question, was it really better then?

The Muppet Show

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Please, Could We Have Some More?

We are dependent on donations for certain items, most notably local high school yearbooks.  And people love to come in and look through them, they're very popular.  Really!  So if you have yearbooks from any Des Moines high schools kicking around please consider giving them to the Des Moines Public Library.  You can drop them off at any of our 6 locations. By the way, alumni of East High School have been especially generous with donations of their yearbooks. We appreciate it very much.  Any and all donations happily accepted!  Hey, this way you don't have to store them and if you want to rifle through one you know where to find it.
Thank you ever so much!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


In browsing through our online resource, Encyclopedia of Management, I came across the intriguing acronym SWOT.  Law enforcers with battering rams immediately came to mind.  Here's what SWOT stands for in the business world.
S = Strengths!
W = you guessed it - Weaknesses!
O = Opportunities!
T = Threats!!!   Katie bar the door!

This organizational strategy is from the early 1970's and continues to be used today.  Even though you don't hear much about it. Then again I don't hear much about Zero-based Budgeting, Management by Objectives or Quality Circles.  I was in a few quality circles.  Drums would have added some much-needed zazz to those babies.

Source:  Encyclopedia of Management as accessed through Gale Virtual Reference Library
A Des Moines Public Library card and PIN is required for access.

Monday, November 7, 2011

A Case of Tomatoes

You thought the tomato was a fruit.  So did I!  All those years of being corrected and I finally got it.  So did this just change recently?  Not exactly. Try over 100 years ago.

U.S. Supreme Court
Nix v. Hedden, 149 U.S. 304 (1893)

It was all about the money, honey.  The Port of New York required duties be paid on imported vegetables.  The plaintiff had paid but argued that they should not have had to because tomatoes were fruit, and fruit was free, free, duty-free!  So if the Supreme Court officially classified tomatoes as fruit, plaintiff gets money back.  Ha! Fooled them.  The Supreme Court said, "Botanically speaking, tomatoes are the fruit of a vine, .... But in the common language of the people, ... (tomatoes are) usually served at dinner in, with, or after the soup, fish, or meats which constitute the principal part of the repast, and not, like fruits generally, as dessert".  (Think this is hard to read?  Should have seen it before I shortened it.)
Tomatoes aren't served as dessert.  The people of America treat them like veggies, veggies they be.  But remember, it's only for the purposes of commerce, not science.  Since I'm not selling tomatoes guess I'll call 'em like I see 'em.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Friday Generator Fun

You know what's more permanent than masking tape?  Almost everything!  Amaze your friends by typing in your own amusing phrase and slapping the resulting graphic on top of, well, anything! 

Masking Tape Note Generator

Thursday, November 3, 2011


I had never ever heard of this delightful distaff companion to "Bras for the Cause".  Movember!  Mo is for moustache.  In November men are encouraged to raise awareness of and funds for prostate cancer research by growing moustaches.  Hey! Isn't the word for hair atop the lip of a human spelled 'mustache'? So why isn't it Muvember? Turns out moustache is a perfectly acceptable spelling. OK. How does growing a moustache translate into money, you ask?  Sponsorship!  I would totally pay to have some of my friends grow a walrus or handlebar.  Movember efforts raise money for organizations like the Prostate Cancer Foundation and LIVESTRONG, The Lance Armstrong Foundation. 

Information about Prostate Cancer, found in Books.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

And Now for Movies I Like

Here are more cinematic offerings that don't immediately come to mind when you think, 'What do I want to watch tonight?"  You just might want to watch these.  I did!

 "The Game", starring Michael Douglas.  Oooh, so twisty-turny.  And maybe Michael Douglas is not in control of the situation. Even though, yet again, he plays a powerful man. Hah!

"The Quiet American". You will believe a man can...act!  Specifically Brendan Fraser.  He's terrific as the titular American, as is Michael Caine (the man doesn't stop!) portraying a seen-it-all journalist in a drama set in Vietnam in 1952.

"Murphy's Romance".  I like to watch this when I'm sick.  It's very comforting.  James Garner romances Sally Field who is starting a new life with her young son in a very small Arizon town.  Nothing terrible happens.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

You've Seen the Best ...

Now see the Pretty Darn Good.  "365 Four-Star Videos you (Probably) Haven't Seen" provides movie-viewing suggestions for those times when you just can't find anything in the DVD stacks. 
A.  The original "Andromeda Strain".  The movie may be old, but the tension builds like a 10-year-old with a new set of Legos.
B.  "The Snake Pit".  No, really!  It's classy!  Olivia de Haviland, for Pete's sake.  Get your mind out of the Russ Meyer gutter.
C.  "A Face in the Crowd". Andy Griffith is cunning and mean!  He breaks Patricia Neal's heart, not such an easy thing to do.
D.  "The Man Who Would be King". Two great accents that sound great together! Sean Connery and Michael Caine act up in a movie that gets really weird at the end.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Two Months in One!

Not only is October National Sarcasm Month, it is also National Popcorn Month.  The best month ever!  Iowa's own Schaller is the Popcorn Capital of the World, home to Jolly Time.  We Americans eat about 52 quarts of popped popcorn per year.  I am more than holding up my end on this, so somebody out there is seriously slacking.  Sarcasm! OK, this to me is sarcasm:  someone hands you a ratty-chewed up book and you say, "Oh, thank you.  I've always wanted a book that looks truly used to add to my collection of pristine first-editions".  It's saying something that sounds nice but is not meant to be.  "Spock, if only I had that green blood of yours these pesky emotions like love and happiness wouldn't be such a bother."  McCoy didn't say that, but it totally sounds like him.  Last day to eat popcorn and say the opposite of what you mean.  October, you are just too short.

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Truth About Holds

Using your awesome computer skills, you have put a reserve on "I kissed a zombie, and I liked it", which is currently available at the South Side Library.  You jump on your scooter, speed to South Side, check the holds shelf and ...what?  Your book is not waiting for you!  What is up with that?  Here's how our hold process works: "we retrieve materials from our shelves at least twice per day and we deliver items among branches, but there may be a delay in getting your hold on the shelf waiting for you. Please wait until you have been notified the item is available. If you need something more immediately, please call (515) 283.4152, extension 3 and speak with one of our librarians about expedited service."  So if you don't need it right this second, go ahead and reserve your heart's desire online.  But if 'right this second' is your time frame, give us a call!
How to place a reserve.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


Symphonia? When I was a sprout and barely knew what a symphony was, the word symphonia puzzled me.  It sounded like a musical piece played by children using only triangles, tambourines and bells.  According to The New American Dictionary of Music, a symphonia is indeed a symphony.  But it’s also “any of various medieval instruments, incl. the hurdy-gurdy.”  Jackpot!  Who doesn’t love a hurdy-gurdy, as immortalized by Donovan in the immortal tune Hurdy Gurdy Man"?  Did Donovan mean the hurdy-gurdy that looks like a lute or the crank model played on the streets?  Didn't know there were two kinds did you?  Music is even more exciting than you ever imagined.  

Donovan CD:    Troubadour : the definitive collection 1964-1976

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Stonehenge Unhinged

Stonehenge is awesome.  I got to see it once, but you couldn't touch the stones anymore due to vandalism. Stupidhead vandals.  I could not imagine how they got the lintel stones on top of the uprights.  Along comes Buildings that Changed the World!  (The exclamation point is mine, but you can see how the title demands it.)   So anyway, this book depicts a theory as to how "our neolithic ancestors" accomplished the feat.  With a lever and plenty of manpower.   They wedged the lintel stone up and built a scaffolding/stage, under the lintel.  Then the 'neoliths' did it all over again, eventually building many layers of scaffolding/stages until the lintel was high enough to maneuver it on top of the standing stones.  Et voila!  Those neoliths were so clever.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Occasionally Poems

Bartlett's Poems for Occasions.   Bartlett is not kidding.  Here are some of the occasions covered: "Youth and its Pleasures"; "Disappointment"; "The Perspectives of Midlife"; "The Fate of Nations and Empires"; and my personal favorite: "The Unknown and the Unknowable".  Enjoy a sample from this delightful category.  Ahem.

A man said to the universe
     A man said to the universe:
     "Sir, I exist!"
     "However," replied the universe,
     "The fact has not created in me
     "A sense of obligation."
                                                      STEPHEN CRANE

Well ain't that a kick in the head.  On the other hand, you know where to find poems for occasions that had never even occurred to you!  Whee!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Ice Molecule

This is a pictorial rendering of an ice molecule.  Know it, love it.  Soon it will come and get us. What's up when water turns to ice?  The hydrogen forms bonds that push the other molecules away.  So hydrogen is like the most popular kid at school.  The kid develops attachments to the chosen ones but doesn't care to be around other groups.  Back to the science. With space in between the shoved-apart molecules, ice becomes lighter than water.  That's why the top of the lake freezes over.  And it's all that stands between you and the fish.

Source:  World Book Encyclopedia
Graphic source:  Oxford Illustrated Encyclopedia of Science