Monday, January 31, 2011

Mission City Opera Postpones Don Giovanni to 2012

Don Giovanni will be performed in 2012 rather than this February. Read more on the Mission City Opera website.
The preview scheduled for Central Park Library has also been postponed. Look for information in 2012.
posted by mb

Find A Grave

I spent most of the weekend immersed in genealogy research and I was reminded that I have meant to share information about an outstanding source for researchers,
If you haven't visited it, you are missing an excellent source for famous graves, research and a social network. Yes! You can request a photo of a grave from someone local, post your own photos and obituaries and make a memorial with flowers.
The photo seen here is from a cemetery in Brandon, Rutland County, Vermont, where my Revolutionary War ancestor and his family is buried. No need for a trip across the country, I can see what the setting is and the specific information for the grave.

FindaGrave is searchable by person's name, cemetery name and geographically. Try searching for cemeteries in Santa Clara County. I used Cemetery Lookup on the right side of the main page. Specify USA, California, Santa Clara County and you will see 55 cemeteries. Not all cemeteries are completely recorded on Find A Grave, however, Santa Clara Mission Cemetery has 7,626 listings, Mission City Memorial Park has 8,498 and Oak Hill has 6,193.
Jim Tipton, whose hobby is finding famous graves, created Find A Grave in 1995 because there wasn't anything like it. Since then it has grown to include cemeteries from around the world. Read about his favorite famous graves on the Who's Behind Find A Grave link.
posted by mb

Friday, January 28, 2011

Curiouser and Curiouser*

Celebrate Lewis Carroll's bday on January 27th by taking a trip to Wonderland. Best known for writing Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll was also a photographer, mathematician, and deacon. He was born with the name Charles Lutwidge Dodgson and used the name Lewis Carroll when he got his first poem ("Solitude") published. The name stuck.

Learn more about Lewis Carroll, and read or watch his works. Titles marked with ** can be found in the adult section of the library:


**Lewis Carroll: A Biography by Morton Cohen

**Lewis Carroll in Wonderland: The Life and Times of Alice and Her Creator by Stephanie Stoffel

Lewis Carroll: Through the Looking Glass by Angelica Carpenter

Works by Lewis Carroll

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass

**The Annotated Hunting of the Snark

The Complete Works of Lewis Carroll


The Pig Tale


Alice in Wonderland [2010 Disney cartoon]

Alice in Wonderland [2010 with Johnny Depp]

Ask a Youth Services Librarian for help finding Lewis Carroll books and poetry!

Posted by ws with some help from Wikipedia. *Quote from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Carroll's photo from Wikipedia.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

I Like My Titles Like I Like My Women: Awkward and Confusing

The library is a literary singles bar. Everyone walks in looking to find a meaningful connection before they leave. Preferably, you'd like something memorable and rewarding, but a bit of lighthearted fun would be okay as well should you stumble across it.

The first stage of this search is purely visual. You scan the room waiting for something to catch your eye. Seeing as there is a lot of competition for your attention, aesthetics are important. Despite the old saying, both literal and metaphorical books are judged by their covers. It's not fair, but it is true. Take that to heart lazy graphic designers (and on a more personal note- my sub-par wardrobe and fashion sense)! A weak cover will doom a book to the remainder bin.

So now that something has appealed to you, that first bit of communication is crucial to maintaining intrigue and momentum. And this is where, like so often happens at a bar, everything collapses. An exceedingly lame pick up line is a deal breaker. So is a pathetic title.

My personal pet peeve is in the form of one word titles. To my mind, it is a wasted opportunity. Perhaps your book is about the "Damage" that occurs when someone lives "Life" on the "Edge." But couldn't it be put in a more exciting or poetic manner? Or to the very least, a quieter one? I want a title that whispers enticingly to me. Instead, the one word title comes in the form of a shout. They are all but missing an exclamation point at the end. And, as we know, shouting in a library is frowned upon.

I prefer longer, more cryptic titles. Titles that cause you tilt your head to the side and make a little "hmm" sound. Or, in the case of a book I found this morning, a "Whhhhhaaaat?" sound. The more confusing and awkward, the more I want to read it. My logic is this: a curious title leads me to believe that the author is going to be a creative story-teller. More over, the person is confident enough to market the book with a ridiculous name. That's either foolhardy or courageous. I respect both in an author. Of course, this isn't always the case. Sometimes a weird title is the best part about a book.

Or, perhaps, the best part about a blog entry.
posted by jw

Monday, January 24, 2011

FREE Tax Assistance at the Library

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) once again will be offering FREE tax assistance to members of the community starting in early February 2011. This free, walk-in service is intended especially for those with low and limited income, individuals with disabilities, and non-English speaking and elderly taxpayers. If you would like to meet with a volunteer please come prepared with the following:

  • all forms (W-2, 1099s, etc.)
  • information for other income
  • information for all deductions/credits
  • copy of last year's tax return
  • proof of account for direct deposit of refund (e.g. voided check)
  • Social Security cards for you, your spouse, and/or dependents
  • valid photo I.D. for yourself and/or your spouse
This free service will be offered by VITA volunteers at the Central Park Library location of the Santa Clara City Library, 2635 Homestead Road, as follows: February 5 & 12; March 5, 12 & 26; April 2 in the Cedar Room from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; February 26 & March 19 in the Redwood Room, 12 noon to 5 p.m.; April 9 in the Cedar Room, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Walk-in assistance only (no appointments)

A list of Santa Clara County VITA sites offering services in 2011 may be viewed at the VITA website,

posted by mb

Friday, January 21, 2011

Use Linked In to Find a Job

"Be proactive" was Mike Gross from Linked In's advice to job hunting students at Central Park Library yesterday. He showed us how to find out more about the companies you want to work for, their open positions and how to network using Linked In. There are one million companies on Linked In worldwide.

Linked In is a 90 million member social networking site for professionals looking for work or a promotion or career change. Its mission statement is to connect the world's professionals to make them more productive and successful.

He introduced us to Career Explorer (read more on the Linked In blog) now in beta version which helps you see the career path others have taken to get to a particular job.

His tips for setting up a Linked In profile

  • it's not a resume, the more it's filled out the better

  • connect with at least 30 professionals

  • join relevant groups

  • "Follow" companies

  • Leverage Career Explorer

For more great, free classes, check out our calendar on the library's website.

posted by mb

Get SPORTY in 2011!

Toss out your formal New Years' Resolutions and instead make it a point to turn off the TV and get active. Have fun! Play fetch with your dog, go for a walk, join a team sport. The point is to get moving.

"Get SPORTY" is the theme of the January "On the Path to Good Health" exhibit in Youth Services. To celebrate sports and activities, we've put a selection of our sports and activities books on display in the Youth Services area.

Santa Clara is home to many youth sports leagues, such as swimming, soccer, and baseball and softball. The Santa Clara Police Activities League (PAL) offers BMX biking, boxing, judo, bowling, and golf, among other activities. You can find more information about PAL online. Santa Clara City Parks and Recreation Department partners with several local institutions to provide group activities. A complete list of classes can be found in the PDF version of the Santa Clara Parks and Recreation Winter/Spring 2010 Recreation Activities Guide. There's also an interactive version.

If being active is one of your New Year's resolutions, check out these resources, as well as our "On the Path to Good Health" display, which is supported by Kaiser Permanente and the Library Foundation and Friends.

Posted by ws (Dog with tennis ball found here. Dog with frisbee found here. Cat with baseball found here.)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Bo Caldwell Book Talk: City of Tranquil Light

On Monday, January 24, 2011, local author Bo Caldwell will discuss writing and her new novel, City of Tranquil Light, at 6:00 p.m. in the Central Park Library Cedar Room. Ms. Caldwell's first book, Distant Land of My Father, was chosen for the Silicon Valley Read program in 2008. Her new book also takes place in China, and is inspired by the story of her missionary grandparents. Will, a recruit, and Katherine, a nursing student journey to China as Mennonite missionaries. They eventually marry and spend 25 years running a growing church and establishing an orphanage on the North China Plain during the years of civil war. City of Tranquil Light is a passionate tale of faith and hardship, written with historical perspective. It is a fascinating portrayal of a country in turmoil, which Will and Katherine had come to love.

Following the talk and audience questions, copies of Bo Caldwell's books will be available for purchase and signing. To reserve a space at this free author program at the Library, stop by the Reference Desk or call (408) 615-2900. The Library thanks the Foundation & Friends of Santa Clara City Library for making this program possible.

posted by mb for jb

Finding a job at a startup company

Those attending the free Job Hunting Help computer class last Thursday, were excited about, a website dedicated to bring you jobs at venture and seed capital backed companies. Take a look.

Some students will be using Brainfuse, a free electronic resource from our website, to have a free review of their resume by a career professional. During the class, we uploaded a resume for a Brainfuse career advisor to review. The review was finished and sent to the student within 24 hours.

Brainfuse also has live tutoring and test prep for adults. Just follow the links for Adult Learning Center. Live assistance is available from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. from the library's website. Resumes can be uploaded and reviewed 24/7.

Linked In will be introduced by Mike Gross, from Linked In, on Thursday, January 20, from 10:15-11:45. Watch our website for other free computer classes.

posted by mb

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Do It Yourself Like People Who Had No Choice But To Do It Themselves

Patterns found in newly published books can serve as excellent economic indicators. A couple of years back, roughly a trillion books were published telling people to "master the market." For a while, we all had the delusion we were swaggering Wall Street millionaires. It wasn't about the cash in your pocket, we were told, it was about the names in your portfolio. Then, as you may be aware, some stuff happened in the intervening years which changed our prospective a bit. Now a number of books are telling you it's not about the cash in your pocket, it's about the cash securely buried in a coffee tin in your backyard. The role model switched from Rich Dad to Penny Pinching Grand Dad.

Welcome to the realm of the folksy home economics genre. Every week it seems that there is a new book aimed at people facing the ripe old age of 30 to pick up their sewing needles, be an urban homesteader, live sustainably on the bare minimum needed, and emulate a character from Little House on the Prairie. It's interesting. As far as I can tell, this group has been targeted for a few reasons:

1) We are broke.

The credit card peddlers gave us a free taste during those early days of the five year blackout known as college. We got hooked and used them for everything from groceries to Gundam models. The fiscal responsibility of a college student with a credit card is on par with that of a 3 year old in a candy store holding a five dollar bill. We buried ourselves in debt before we even had jobs to pay it off. Those "hip" credit report commercials on TV? They are for us.

Speaking of college though, getting a degree no longer seemed optional. We were told that college degrees were the new high school diploma. No degree, no job prospects. But unlike a high school, college isn't free. Tuition was high and went up almost every semester. This helped us accrue more debt by taking on school loans we had no hope of paying back in a timely fashion. But there is a loophole! You don't have to pay for the loan until you are out of college. So you end up taking more classes causing you to take out more loans. Due to this brand of mobius strip logic, there is an army of professional students living off of school loans and looking at a debt that will take them nearly a century to pay off.

Long story short, learning how to stretch a dollar is a skill we desperately need.

2) We are in danger of being functionally helpless without technology.

I grew up around tools and people who used them. My mom had a sewing machine AND a band saw. My grandfather had a workshop. My dad had eight different types of hammers. A car with half a body hanging out of the hood was a common sight at the house. When something broke or wore out, they fixed it. This knowledge was something they were happy to pass down. And if it wasn't for that first Nintendo system, I totally would have paid attention to them.

Instead we have to rely on mechanics, landlords, farmers, tailors, and spellcheckers to fix everything for us. But the authors of these books understand that a lot of these tasks are not lost to us. By growing up around this knowledge, we have some dormant memory of it. We just need someone help dredge up what we were told when we were half paying attention to our parents so many years ago. The generation after us, however, is doomed.

3) We are a wasteful generation who feels guilty about being wasteful.

Our parents were hippies. They loved the environment and taught us how to treat it well. They also taught us how to consume at rates previously unimaginable. So we are caught between the desire to both save the earth and plunder it for all it is worth. Currently, we feel a little bad about the past 20 years and are trying to make up for it. We are doing this, in part, by making the things we buy last longer. I should note that this excludes electronic devices and phones which we will buy every six months if something better comes along. And considering 90% of what we purchase is an electronic device or a phone, we aren't doing a very good job.

4) We have an affinity for vintage clothing.

Seeing as we've gone around to thrift stores buying clothes to look like our grandparents, the authors are assuming we want to be more like them in general. And they are somewhat right. We admire their resilience and independence. We romance the freedom they had in their careers and the struggle to get that freedom. We even like their cocktails. These books feed a nostalgia for times that we never lived in. It's not just about learning useful skills, it's about connecting with a previous generation.

5) We like to buy colorful books with lots of photos that make it appear that we can do things, even if we can't.

That's kind of self-explanatory.
posted by jw

Friday, January 7, 2011

January: Did You Know...?

January Calendar
We're sure that you know some of the more common holidays and facts about the month of January: New Year's Eve and Day, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, it's the first month of the year, etc. But do you know other January facts? Let's test your knowledge:

1. What is January's birth stone? [need help?]
a) ruby
b) diamond
c) garnet
d) sapphire

2. January is named after Janus, the god of the doorway, since January is the door to the year. [need help?]
a) true
b) false

3. In Australia, it is cold in January. [need help?]
a) true. January is cold enough for snow, sledding, and snowmen in Australia.
b) false. January is one of the hottest months of the year in Australia since their seasons are the opposite of ours.
Ben Franklin flies a kite
4. Benjamin Franklin was born on January 17, 1706. What is he famous for doing? [need help?]
a) He was a founding father of the United States of America.
b) He flew a kite in a thunderstorm, and lightning struck the kite.
c) He was one of the very first chess players in America.
d) He was the first United States Postmaster General (head of the US Postal Service) in 1775.
e) All of the above.
5. We celebrate all of the following odd holidays in January, except for _________. [need help?]
a) National Popcorn Day
b) Gummy Bear Day
c) Compliment Day
d) Winnie the Pooh Day
Want to learn more fun facts about January? Ask a Youth Services Librarian for help!

Adults, if you want to download a fun calendar desktop background each month, visit the beautiful designs by Tsilli Pines.

Posted by ws with a little help from Wikipedia.
Answers: 1. c; 2. a; 3. b; 4. e; 5. b

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Excellent Recipes at Epicurious

During the holidays my daughter wanted to use the extra heavy whipping cream we had on hand. She thought she would check on the web for a recipe. is the place to go, I told her. I have been using it for more than six years at the library to help people quickly find quality, reviewed and rated, recipes. (I remember a man who came in looking for Sunset magazine and a recipe for pork roast. It would have taken a while to find it but in minutes, had a recipe that he thought would work. He came back in the next week and thanked me for helping him find a recipe that worked so well.), aka Epi, will teach you to cook with cooking videos, define cooking terms and let you search for a recipe with an ingredient. Just put "heavy whipping cream" in the main search window on Epi and rated recipes appear. We both fell for Milk Chocolate Mousse with Port Ganache and Whipped Cream Fraiche. Yes, I thought it was way too complicated for me to make but when you are someone else, you just jump right in, especially if someone else is buying the ingredients. By the way, what is a ganache? Epi comes through with this definition. It's a rich chocolate icing made with semisweet chocolate and whipping cream that are heated and stirred together until the chocolate is melted. The mixture is cooled until lukewarm and poured over a cake or torte. Creating it took longer than the cook thought but it was amazingly delicious when it was together. The Port reduction tasted delicious and made it look professionally done.

Try out Epi, home of recipes from Gourmet and Bon Appetit magazine. There are Healthy Options, Quick & Easy Ideas, Recipes of the Day, Holidays & Parties, Seasonal Ingredients and user forums.

posted by mb