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 ‘gignĊskein’: 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.