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.