Thursday, July 31, 2008

Mission Library now has a popular resource, Inglés sin Barreras, for Spanish speakers to learn to speak and write in English. The resource comes in 12 kits, with each kit containing a book, an audio CD and a DVD. The program teaches vocabulary and grammar in the context of real-life situations.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Riddle Me This

Aye, what a fate has befallen the poor riddle! Reduced to child’s play, this once important form of wordplay is now but a series of gross-out punch lines and the means for setting up a bad pun. But many years ago, a riddle was not just a joke.

Back in the day, you’d be on your way to Thebes, minding your own business, and some lion/human hybrid would show up and riddle you. If you failed to answer, not only would you be denied entry to the city, the creature would eat you. A bit of a bummer really. As you could guess, Theban tourists were few and far between until some smarty-pants came along and solved the riddle. The sphinx, being the sore loser that most mythical animals are, threw herself off a cliff in response to being outsmarted. Interestingly, most Greek representations of sphinxes show them with wings. So while the exit is great for melodrama, it smacks of being illogical.

And then there is Pericles. In Shakespeare’s play (well, at least it is mostly his play), the poor guy is given a trick riddle from a king. To speak the answer would get him killed and to not answer would result in the same fate. Crafty fellow that he is, he says he needs some time to think and pulls a Houdini. From that point on, just about every possible calamity befalls the young prince.

Should you be interested in viewing said calamities or finding out just why a riddle’s answer could be so dire, San Francisco’s Free Shakespeare in the Park will be performing Pericles this weekend at Memorial Park in Cupertino.

posted by -jw-

Monday, July 28, 2008

NASA Images Now Available

Thursday, July 24th, NASA and Internet Archive, a non-profit digital library based in San Francisco, made available the most comprehensive compilation ever of NASA's vast collection of photographs, historic film and video.

The web site launch is the first step in a five-year partnership that will add millions of images and thousands of hours of video and audio content, with enhanced searching and viewing capabilities, and new user features on a continuing basis.

If you want to read and see more about NASA images visit NASA's web site or you might want to try these from the library:

DVD 538.768 A93 Aurora Borealis: the magnificent lights of the northern sky

523. 43 M36 Mars: the NASA Mission Reports compiled from the NASA Archives and
edited by Robert Godwin

523.43 N27 Viking Orbiter Views of Mars

and let your sight impaired friends know that we have a Braille book on this topic:

520 G845 Touch the Universe: a NASA Braille Book of Astronomy


Saturday, July 26, 2008

MS Office Compatibility Pack for Word, Excel and Powerpoint

Microsoft has added new file formats to Microsoft Office Word, Excel, and PowerPoint 2007 to reduce file size, improve security and reliability, and enhance integration with external sources. To help ensure that you can exchange documents between Microsoft Office releases, Microsoft has developed a Compatibility Pack for the Office Word, Office Excel, and Office PowerPoint 2007 File Formats.

Download the file:


Friday, July 25, 2008

Last Week of Summer Programs

"Catch the Reading Bug" during the last week of summer programs.

The Youth Services Department has an exciting week planned to help celebrate our Summer Reading Club, which is sponsored by Applied Materials Foundation, Santa Clara City Library Foundation and Friends, the Mission City Community Fund, and India Cash and Carry.

Children and families are invited to the following programs during the week of July 28 through August 3:

Monday, July 28
3:00 and 7:00 p.m.--Family movie, Antz, ages 8 and older
Tuesday, July 29
3:00 p.m.--School Age fun with ventriloquist Randall McGee and Groark, Grades 1-6
Wednesday, July 30
3:00 and 7:00 p.m.--Family concert by Patricia Shih, Ages 3 and older
Thursday, July 31
10:30 a.m.--Baby Lapsit (Ages 0-12 months)
10:30 a.m.--Young Ones (Ages 12-24 months)
Friday, August 1
9:30 and 10:30 a.m.--Preschool Storytime (Ages 2-5 years)
Saturday, August 2
10:30 a.m.--Family Storytime (All ages)
posted by jtb

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

In a Run Down Office Behind a Door With a Frosted Glass Window...

Over the years there have been many iconic detectives. Some have been decidedly tweedy. Others have been distracted to the point of seeming oblivious or obsessive to the point of needing medication. One would even break out in song. But in the early 20th century, one of the more lasting images of the private detective was created: the fedora wearing, quick-witted and sharp tongued tough guy with a heart (though not too much mind you).

The writer Raymond Chandler (who was born on today’s date in 1888) was one of the authors to help sear this archetype into the public’s mind. Both he and Dashiell Hammett were at the forefront of the “hardboiled” detective novels. They created beleaguered private eyes with a penchant to drink scotch and shoot their mouths off when in danger of being shot themselves. The dialogue is fast paced and pointed, like a hyper-masculine Gilmore Girls episode where people are getting roughed up and double crossing one another. Later on film noir would take up these themes, but to begin with, it was all written out in the old pulp magazines like Black Mask.

Speaking of movies though, when you think of Philip Marlowe, the private detective who is frequently at the center of Chandler’s books, you are probably envisioning this gentleman. Could be worse.
posted by -jw-

Monday, July 21, 2008

Do you wish you had a rich uncle?

Are you struggling with debt and wondering where to turn? California First Lady Maria Shriver has a campaign to help out called WE Connect. WE Connect is a program designed to help California working families become more financially secure by connecting them to important programs and resources. Visit the WEConnect! web site and learn more about this new program.

Search the library catalog using the word Debt as the subject and find many great books. Try these for example:

Deal with your debt: the right way to manage your bills and pay off what you owe
by Liz Weston 2006.

This book covers credit card debt, mortgages, home equity borrowing, student loans, auto loans, and other loan options. Westons answers questions and tells how to develop a debt management plan and put it into action.

The Road to Wealth: a comprehensive guide to your money: everything you need to know in good and bad times by Suze Orman 2008

PBS presenter extraordinaire, Orman keeps you awake as she teaches you about all aspects of personal finance. Offering sound, down to earth advice, Orman can be found on public television and in a regular column in O: The Oprah Magazine also found in the library. Updated and completely revised from the 2001 edition, this book is compassionate, straight forward, and easy to understand. New rules about bankruptcy and student loans are explained.

Managing Debt for Dummies by John Ventura 2007

Offering readers humor and great advice with chapters like: Getting a Grip on Your Finances, Going on a Debt Diet, Tackling Your High-Stakes Debts, Avoiding Debt Problems Down the Road and 10 great resources for dealing with debt and 10 debt don'ts.

Debt Cures They Don't Want You to Know About
by Kevin Trudeau 2008
Trudeau covers the credit card and banking industries so consumers can learn how the systems work. He offers solutions to debt problems and ways to keep more money in your pocket.


Friday, July 18, 2008

Catch the Reading Bug: SILKWORM

The Youth Services Department has caught the "SILKWORM" reading bug this summer! We've watched the silkworms (the latin name is Bombyx mori) hatch from tiny eggs. We've gathered mulberry leaves for them to eat. Now, nine of them have spun cocoons from delicate strands of silk. Two others are still munching their leaves and waiting for their time to spin.

You can visit these live "Reading Bugs" at the Youth Services Desk and read about them in The Life Cycle of a Silkworm, a juvenile non-fiction book by Ron Fridell and Patricia Walsh.
posted by jtb

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Best of the Booker Award to Midnight's Children

Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children won the Best of the Booker award, announced July 10, topping a public poll to select the most outstanding novel published in the past 40 years.

It is the story of Saleem Sinai, who was born at midnight, August 14, 1947, simultaneously with the birth of Modern India. Midnight's Children presents a fascinating history lesson through a convoluted, fantasical story about all the children born at midnight. They have special powers of telepathic communication, foresight and enhanced senses. Saleem's nose can smell extraordinarily well. This novel of magical realism will transport you to another time and place.

Rushdie is on tour in the United States promoting his newest book The Enchantress of Florence.

Salman Rushdie will be appearing at the 2008 National Book Festival in Washington, D.C. on September 27, 2008.


Monday, July 14, 2008

Alrie Middlebrook to Discuss California Native Gardens

If you are interested in gardening, don't miss the Alrie Middlebrook program presented by the Library's Adult Services Division! This local author and gardener will talk about California native plants and about her book, Designing California Native Gardens, on Wednesday, July 23 at 7:00 p.m. in Central Park Library's Cedar Room. Founded in 1976, the author's San Jose firm, Middlebrook Gardens has received many national and international landscaping awards. Alrie Middlebrook and her firm have designed numerous native gardens for area residents and businesses.

Learn about the diversity of California plants and ecology-based landscaping. Discover how to conserve water and reduce the use of pesticides, while designing a sustainable native garden which reflects the natural beauty of the local ecology. To reserve a space for this free gardening program with Alrie Middlebrook, stop by the Reference Desk or call (408) 615-2900.


Friday, July 11, 2008

Will You "Catch The Reading Bug?"

If you haven't signed up to "Catch the Reading Bug," you have one week left. Signups for the Library's popular Summer Reading Program end on Friday, July 18.Yosef, our Library friend, "Caught the Reading Bug" this summer. Here's what he writes about a favorite book, West With Hopeless, a Young Adult Fiction book by Carolyn Lieberg.

"This book is the story of an exciting trip on the road. It’s about the adventures of two half sisters who are going from Illinois to Reno. Their car broke down and they met a strange lady. She invited them for lemonade, since they looked tired. Everything she served them had been made from lemons. The strange lady told a story about her cat. She tried to poison the cat because the cat kept scratching her at night. Then she accidentally gave the poison to Carin, one of the main characters. Read the book to find out if she survived!"

Kids and teens, if you've read an interesting book, please send us your comments and we'll publish them in a Feature Friday Youth Services blog. Just click the "Your Feedback" button at the right of this screen and type your comments in the suggestions box.

posted by jtb

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The No Talking in the Theater Rule Even Applies to Those on the Screen

Breakout your pancake makeup* and let the Mighty Wurlitzer roar! From Friday through Sunday, the San Francisco Silent Film Festival is going on at the Castro Theatre. I’d go into what’s playing, but they aren’t big-name films. That's not to say they aren't good, just less well known. No Griffith or Lang, Arbuckle or Keaton. There will be some slapstick and melodrama (if Guy Maddin is doing live narration, you know melodrama is involved. To him, the overwrought is like a religion). They will also be showing The Man Who Laughs. Fans of the Joker, or readers of James Ellroy’s The Black Dahlia should be familiar with that one.

For those not willing to drive up to the City, there is a closer silent film fixture in the Bay Area (and it has better parking). Over in the Fremont/Niles area, the Essanay Film Company set up one of the earliest West Coast film studios. It was here that Charlie Chaplin filmed some of his more famous films. Now every Saturday night at the Silent Film Museum you can watch many of these home grown silent films. The experience is old-timey to the point of an occasional sing along during the intermission and immensely uncomfortable "vintage" chairs. You've been warned.

*Okay, in case there are some sticklers out there, Max Factor didn’t create Pan-Cake Makeup until 1937 which is solidly in the age of the “talkie.” Before that point it was more like the greasepaint which was used for theater. But commonly people will use the term “pancake makeup” in relation to silent films… now where were we?
posted by -jw-

Monday, July 7, 2008

Make Better Decisions About Your Health

A Consumer's Guide to Laboratory Tests by Mary C. Ricotta, PhD explains in clear language how medical lab tests help in the evaluation of a patient's overall health. Illustrations and plain language will help you understand the purpose of the test and why your physician needs that information. She also includes an explanation of the test results. Find out what your numbers mean by reading this helpful book.

You can find this and many other helpful medical books, DVDs, electronic resources, newsletters, and magazines on the 2nd floor of Central Park Library in the Kaiser Health and Wellness collection.

Medline Plus, a service of the National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health has this to say about Laboratory Tests. Another peer reviewed, non-commercial, patient-centered web site is Lab Test Online.


Friday, July 4, 2008

Celebrate Reading!

This Fourth of July holiday promises picnics in the park, fireworks, fun and plenty of time to enjoy a good book and "celebrate reading!"

Our friend, Angelica, has the perfect book to recommend, Inkheart, by Cornelia Funke.

Here's what Angelica has to say about Inkheart:

"This is the best book for someone that loves to read about adventure and mystery. I would recommend this book to kids about 10 years and up.It's a little scary, but it can still take you somewhere else! You can also feel thepassion of the character Meggie when she finally meets a very special someone in
a long time. But I can't tell you! You'll have to read the book to find out for yourself! And if you like/love this book, then you can read her other books, Inkspell and coming soon Inkdeath. Enjoy the book!"

Kids and teens: Have you read a good book lately? Your comments could be published in a Feature Friday Youth Services blog. Just click the "Your Feedback" button at the right of this screen and type your comments in the suggestions box.

posted by jtb

On this date in 1960

City Councilmen Maurice Dullea and Matt Talia and on the horse, Police Chief Frank Sapena, played donkey baseball. The photo is believed to have been taken on the Fourth of July in either 1960 or 1961 and probably in Washington Park.

Baseball and the 4th of July go together. Read more about the history of baseball in California in these books:

From Asahi to Zebras: Japanese American Baseball in San Jose, California by local author, Ralph Pearce, tells about donkey baseball. From the book “…playing ‘donkey baseball’ at Washington Park in Santa Clara. In donkey baseball, all the fielders except the pitcher and the catcher were required to ride donkeys. A batter would bat normally, but if he got a hit, he had to ride a donkey around the base paths...[some people] had trouble staying on the donkey…[one time] a batter hit to the outfield but the outfielder beat him to first base with the ball because his own donkey would not budge!”

The Golden Game : the Story of California Baseball by Kevin Nelson

Runs, Hits and An Era: The Pacific Coast League, 1908-1958 by Paul Zingg

This photograph is from the City’s Santa Clara Historic Archives, housed at the Headen-Inman House. You can view it and others in the Silicon Valley History Online collection.


Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Oh You Scientists... What Will You Think of Next?

We’ve all destroyed things accidentally. These are not our finest moments, but they happen. Maybe you broke a lamp in a sitcom style indoor football game when you were a kid. Perhaps you’ve shut a door too hard and cracked the window next to it. I’ve known someone to drive a car into their closed garage. That one’s a twofer.

Not to be outdone, the scientists of CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) have spent 25 years creating a device that might accidentally destroy the Earth. Top that rookie!

Why would anyone build something with an “oops factor” of planetary annihilation? Because in order to find out what happened at the Big Bang, you essentially have to recreate it on a much smaller scale. Enter the Large Hadron Collider. The LHC is buried 300 feet below the border of France and Switzerland. Here, protons will be accelerated through a 17 mile long circular tube at 99.9% of the speed of light. Then, living up to its name, they will be collided.

What happens afterwards is anyone’s guess. It is thought that they will find the Higgs Boson, a theoretical particle that is believed to give matter its mass. They may also find that the universe has quite a few more dimensions than previously thought. On the flipside, it could create a black hole that eats the world. Or they may unleash a “strangelet,” another theoretical particle that would turn earth into a "hot dead lump” almost instantaneously.

Recently, CERN released a report stating that the fears of the LHC destroying the world are bunk. The possibility of the doomsday scenarios are extremely slim. In truth though, it's a shame they gave the game away like that. The suspense would have been amazing.
posted by -jw-