Friday, November 28, 2008

Wrap up a Toy That's Safe

December is National Safe Toys and Gifts Month. Learn how to shop for toys that are SAFE and APPROPRIATE for your child. There are many online resources that can help you make informed decisions about toys that will be just right for your child. All the sites emphasize that you should pay close attention to the age guidelines listed by the manufacturer on the toy package. While you may believe that your youngster would enjoy a toy that is intended for an older child, you should also be aware that the toy might not be safe for him. There might be sharp edges, brittle materials or choking hazards that would be dangerous for a child who is younger than the age recommended by the toy manufacturer. will give you ideas for finding the right toys for your child. The American Academy of Pediatrics has detailed information about developmental stages in children and suggestions for appropriate toys.

Remember that hand-me-down and homemade toys may not meet current safety standards. Check them for loose or broken parts, and remember that anything given to a baby should be sturdy enough to withstand chewing.

Toy safety is the theme of the December "On the Path to Good Health" display in Youth Services, supported by Kaiser Permanente and the Santa Clara City Library Foundation and Friends. Stop by and pick up our literature and look at our books about toys and games.
posted by jtb

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

What is Postprandial Thanksgiving Sedation

According to a recent episode of “The Food Detectives” hosted by Ted Allen, eating turkey at Thanksgiving will not make you sleepy. Counterintuitive, I know.

“But it’s filled with tryptophan which is like the Tylenol PM of amino acids, right?”

Kind of, but the reason for your postprandial Thanksgiving sedation, or what is more commonly known as a "food coma," is due to eating too much in general. So give the bird a break. You could eat a tofurkey and end up snoring loudly on a couch in front of your relatives just as easily. Add in all the carbohydrates and alcohol commonly associated with a Thanksgiving dinner, and you have a perfect storm brewing.

So tomorrow if you find yourself dozing off in the middle of one of Uncle Larry's "exciting" stories, keep in mind the cause is due to the gobbling... not the gobbler.
posted by jw

Monday, November 24, 2008

The California Remarkable Women Trail

This beautiful photograph of a mantilla and combs from Santa Clara City Library’s collection is one of two contributed to the entry on Concepcion Marcela Arguello in this new online museum available at the California Museum's website. The idea of California First Lady Maria Shriver, the California Remarkable Women Trail, features 15 Californian icons and trailblazers, such as Concepcion Arguello, Amy Tan, Ray Eames, and Dolores Huerta. Each of these passionate, pioneering women have inspired generations of Californians and influenced millions across the state and around the world.

In the early history books of California, you will learn that Concepcion Arguello had a famous father and that she was involved in a romantic and tragic love story. Read Gertrude Atherton's book: Rezanov and Dona Concha. She was also an accomplished woman in her own right. She was an ancestor of Austen Warburton, a lawyer, civic leader and art patron of Santa Clara (1917-1995), who contributed many personal artifacts to the Santa Clara Historic Museum at the Headen-Inman House, including her mantilla and combs.In the video section of Concepcion Arguello's entry in The California Remarkable Women Trail, watch for the image of the crucifix. That was also contributed to the project by Santa Clara City Library.


Saturday, November 22, 2008

Black Friday Tips & Websites

Top Five Tips for Black Friday Shopping

Five shopping tips for taking advantage of special bargains on "Black Friday," the day after Thanksgiving. Tips include creating a game plan (budgeting and visiting order of stores), foregoing sleep, using the Internet, comparing prices, and avoiding identity theft. Includes links to sites with Black Friday advertising. From AOL Money and Finance.

Other great links to Black Friday:

Friday, November 21, 2008

Native American Drumming and Dancing

Swift-Cloud, the popular Bay Area drumming and dancing group, will return to the Santa Clara City Library Redwood Room on Tuesday, November 25 with a performance for families and children who are AT LEAST 5 years of age. The above photo, from Swift-Cloud's 2007 Library appearance, depicts some of the color and excitement that this authentic, Native American group generates while performing traditional music, dances and chants.

Swift-Cloud's performance will be presented by the Youth Services Department as a tribute to American Indian Heritage Month. Throughout the month of November, we're also featuring a display of books about Native American traditions and folk tales.

Another special Native American event is planned for Saturday, November 22, at 2:00 p.m. in the Redwood Room. We'll be showing the movie, Squanto: A Warrior's Tale, for families and children who are AT LEAST six years of age.

In closing, we leave you with a message from Chief Seattle, whose eloquent speech to Congress more than 100 years ago established Native American beliefs and connections to nature that have ultimately found a place in the minds and hearts of all Americans. Brother Eagle, Sister Sky: A Message from Chief Seattle, with its beautiful paintings by Susan Jeffers, brings us these words from Chief Seattle:

"This we know: All things are connected like the blood that unites us. We did not weave the web of life, we are merely a strand in it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. . . . Preserve the land and the air and the rivers for your children's children and love it as we have loved it."

posted by jtb

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Learn to Speak a Language

The library is offering a new web-based resource, Mango Languages, for learning to speak a language.

Mango Languages offers lessons for learning:
  • Brazilian Portuguese
  • French
  • German
  • Greek
  • Italian
  • Japanese
  • Mandarin Chinese
  • Russian
  • Spanish
It also offers lessons for learning English as a second language for Brazilian Portuguese, Polish, and Spanish speakers. It is accessible from home or within the library via our Research Databases page.

Partial funding for this resource has been provided by the Foundation and Friends of the Santa Clara City Library.

Posted by mlg

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Real Pirates of the Aden Sea

A couple of weeks ago on National Talk Like a Pirate Day, I wondered why it is that no one likes a thief, but everyone loves a pirate? In recent years, the answer could have more to do with Johnny Depp and Keira Knightley than a romance of the high-seas or a fascination with scurvy.

But leaving that confounding factor alone, it is undeniable that a good number of us are captivated by pirates. Musicians sing about pirates, stores sell pirate paraphernalia, and every year at least 20 young boys and girls with grease paint beards and cheap plastic swords yell “YARRR!” when they knock on your door trick or treating. There are even books for kids featuring “pirate activities” (though I imagine that doesn’t mean pillaging your brother’s toy box or making your sister walk the plank). It would appear that the dangerous nature and harsh reality of the pirate has been antiquated, and what we are left with is a plush doll version sporting a big grin, a larger earring, and a smart-aleck parrot.

So it is a surprise to realize that piracy still exists. Not the computer type either, but the real thing. The type that strikes fear into sailors’ hearts and causes companies not to send their ships through certain seas. In the waters around Somalia and elsewhere in the world, the renaissance of the pirate has become a real threat. It's always a shock that a handful of people in a small boat can take over a superfreighter. But even more surprising is that modern pirates have cell phones with excellent coverage. They must have Ver-Aye!-Zon... sorry, I couldn't help myself.
posted by jw

Monday, November 17, 2008

Shopping Green

Sometimes 'green' doesn't mean a thing. Products come with images of mountains or claim to be green, natural or sustainable. Before you buy, get the facts. Read packaging and investigate beyond superficial claims. Often product web sites can provide more information. Visit the Green Seal web site, home of an independent non-profit organization dedicated to safeguarding the environment and transforming the marketplace.

Try these books found in the library:
The Green Book by Elizabeth Rogers and Thomas M. Kostigen
Big Green Purse: Use Your Spending Power to Create a Cleaner, Greener World
by Diane MacEachern
Wake Up and Smell the Planet edited by Brangien Davis with Katharine Wroth


Friday, November 14, 2008

What is a Netbook?

According to Wikipedia, a Netbook is a small to medium sized, light-weight, low-cost, energy-efficient laptop, generally optimized for internet based services such as web browsing and e-mailing.
The form factor of a netbook is smaller than that of a notebook and they are very light in weight (usually 2 to 3 pounds). Common features include a small screen (usually around 7-inches to 10-inches diagonal), wireless connectivity, but no optical disc drive, and a smaller sized keyboard (usually 80 percent to 95 percent of normal size). There is also a trend of using solid-state drives instead of traditional hard disk drives.

With the holidays coming and retailers lowering prices to attract shoppers, you should read the reviews before you decide to buy one. Here are some websites that compare some of the models available and pricing:

Monday, November 10, 2008

Veterans Day 2008

Tomorrow, Tuesday, November 11, the library will be closed for Veteran's Day. Come to Central Park at 3:30 p.m. for a ceremony honoring veterans at the beautiful Santa Clara Veterans Memorial, 909 Kiely Blvd. Parking for handicapped folks and wheelchair assistance will be available in the employee parking lot close to the Community Recreation Center.

For more information about the ceremony, or how to have a brick installed at this lovely memorial to honor a veteran, contact James Lee at (408) 296-2512.

Learn more about Veterans Day at this website. The library has many memoirs of veterans' experiences. Try these:

Band of Sisters: American Women at War in Iraq by Kirsten Holmstedt

Ice Crusades: a memoir of cold war and cold sport by Tom Wolf

American Warrior: a combat memoir of Vietnam by John C. "Doc" Bahnsen, Jr.

or this children's book:

World War II by Virginia Schomp (a collection of letters written by WWII veterans)


Free prep test practice

The SAT season is coming up, as well as other college entry exams – to assist in prepping, the Library offers the Learning Express database (available on our Web site). Learning Express covers much more than sample SAT, ACT, GRE, and GED tests, Learning Express also covers TOEFL, CBEST, GMAT, citizenship preparation and various civil services and career exams. Learning Express even offers skill improvement courses for elementary, middle and high school students, as well as courses in reading, writing and math.

Just go to the Research Databases link from the Library’s home page and click on Learning Express Library. It is recommended that you create a user name and password for Learning Express, as this will enable you to start a test or course and come back to it at a later time. Any questions? Call the Reference Desk at 615-2900 during open hours.


Saturday, November 8, 2008

Name That Tune

Remember the 1970's show "Name that tune" in which people try to name a song by hearing a few musical tones? Well, we've come a long way since then!

Now you can go to a site like and either sing it or hum it (using a computer and a microphone) and their database will search for the sound and give you back some possible songs. At midomi you can also create your own profile, sing your favorite songs and share them with your family and friends. Have fun and give it a try!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Protecting Your Skin

November is National Healthy Skin Month, creating the perfect opportunity for you to learn more about protecting your family's skin from sun damage. The American Academy of Dermatology urges everyone to Be Sun Smart and learn how to have fun outdoors without suffering harmful effects from exposure to the sun. Click on the website for several useful tips.

It's important to wear sunscreen if you're going to be outdoors. Ultraviolet (UV) rays can damage your skin, even on cloudy days. Dermatologists recommend sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) rating of 15 or higher to help prevent sunburn, skin cancer and wrinkles.

Visit the November "On the Path to Good Health" exhibit in Youth Services for literature and books about health skin for children and their families. Thanks to Kaiser Permanente and the Foundation and Friends for supporting our monthly health exhibits.
posted by jtb

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

And the Winner Is...

At 8 o’clock last night, a young woman was crying on a bus in the Lower Haight District of San Francisco. Anyone who has been to San Francisco knows this is not an uncommon sight. There are a lot of weepers riding the MUNI. They are fixtures. But the fact that random strangers were hugging on the bus was a bit more peculiar. You don’t see that too often. That takes something momentous.

Whether you voted for Barack Obama or not, last night’s election was indeed momentous. The history books remember each president differently. Some get rather long chapters, others get brief mentions (sorry William Henry Harrison). And while we don’t know how this next president will be remembered yet, it can be assured that the voters will remember the night intensely.

This was the first time in recent memory (mine at least) that people were truly excited to take part in their democracy. Enthusiastically registering to vote? Getting involved in campaigns? Staying up until 3 AM to watch election returns precinct by precinct? That’s a pretty impressive amount of commitment. One can only hope this level of engagement and turnout is a trend for future elections. And if it is, that's something worth crying about.
posted by jw

Monday, November 3, 2008

Record Voter Turnout Expected

Today's Wall Street Journal reports an estimated 153.1 million Americans will have registered to vote by Tuesday, or 73.5% of the eligible population, according to a study released Sunday by American University's Center for the Study of the American Electorate. That percentage is the highest since women were given the vote in 1920, beating the previous high of 71.1% set in 1964.

Santa Clara County reported 788, 821 registered voters or 70.60% of eligible voters had registered by the October 20 deadline. Read other California voter registration statistics at the Secretary of State's website.

The election will likely be the top news story tomorrow so coverage will be on television, radio and try these websites for final verified California results in the days following the election, California Secretary of State and Santa Clara County Registrar.


DTV is coming!

February 17, 2009, is the date set for the end of analog signals coming to your television. If you have a new television, a cable service, or satellite, never mind! If not, get a $40 coupon from the dtv2009 website and purchase a tuner to upgrade your television. Reviews of tuners are available from Consumer Reports.

Those who attended last Wednesday night's program with speaker Roy Avila from Channel 36 got their questions answered and learned about two other helpful websites. Antenna web helps you direct your antenna to get the best digital reception. Just type in your address and zip code and the map will tell you where the signals are strongest for a particular station. DTV Answers is set up to answer questions, too.