Thursday, October 27, 2011

Monster Mash!

Are your kids anxiously awaiting to show off their costumes and strut their spooky stuff? For the best Halloween party in town, come to the City of Santa Clara's Walter E. Schmidt Youth Activity Center (2450 Cabrillo Avenue) on Monday, October 31 from 3 to 6 pm. Children ages preschool through 5th grade are invited for carnival games, bounce houses, arts and crafts, a costume contest, and lots of yummy treats. Admission to this annual event sponsored by the Parks and Recreation Department is free. Make sure to stop by the library's booth to say "Trick or Treat!" to our youth services librarians. You won't get tricked, but you will score some awesome treats!

More information about the party can be found on the city's event calendar.

We wish all of you a safe, happy, and fun Halloween!

posted by SPB

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

It's the Great Pumpkin (Patch)

There are places which sell pumpkins and then there are pumpkin patches. The latter is the former, but the former is not necessarily the latter. I will never confuse the two again.

Over the weekend, I made the mistake of calling a parking lot pumpkin vender a "pumpkin patch" in front of a person who grew up in Half Moon Bay. This did not go over well. For those of you unfamiliar with Half Moon Bay, it is a tiny coastal town with sweeping views, an agricultural history, and a mostly squash-based economy. They take their pumpkins extremely seriously out there. Which is why I ended up having this conversation:

"That thing there is not a pumpkin patch."

"Of course it is. Look, there are some pumpkins and a scarecrow and..."

"A bounce house! Self-respecting pumpkin patches do not have bounce houses. That is a dirty parking lot scattered with a handful of hay and corn husks masquerading as a pumpkin patch. That... is a travesty."

That "travesty" resulted in me being forced out to HMB this weekend. Fun fact about Highway 92: the distance between I-280 and Half Moon Bay is 6 miles. Normally, this drive takes 15 minutes. In October, it takes two excruciatingly long hours. Why? Pumpkin pilgrims.

We are the West Coast's version of the New England Leafer. Like a plague of locusts, we descend upon rural areas to see what the seasons look like and admire the bounty they produce. We also destroy any chance of those towns functioning in a normal fashion. For the inconvenience we cause (and for the fact that they don't show their naked annoyance for our presence), we leave behind considerable amounts of money thereby assuring that they'll be available next year for us to disrupt them again.

Finally arriving to the pumpkin patch, I was in serious need of de-grumping. Normally this requires a delicate mixture of caffeine and absolute silence. Neither were to be found. What they did have were goats. You cannot be upset while looking at the horrendously cute faces and weird square pupil eyes of goats. Unless of course the cute faced/square-pupil animal is in the process of eating the hem of your shirt. Seeing as that was happening to someone who was not me, all my grumpiness evaporated like magic as I laughed heartily at this adorable vandalism.

My friend was right. A true pumpkin patch is an impressive, multi-acre affair. Not only did they have a corn field filled with all varieties of pumpkins to choose from, they also had a petting zoo, a haunted house, a skunk train, tractor rides, a hay maze, and medieval sword fighting (I don't really understand the connection on that one either). Oh, and there was a giant steel gorilla presiding over the whole place for some reason (see picture above).

I won't lie, I was boyishly excited about the hay maze. As a child, I spent a lot of time drawing squiggly lines through maze books. I'd like to say that it allowed me to expertly navigate the thing. It did not. Within the first three turns, we were hopelessly lost. We easily spent 45 minutes going back and forth trying to find our way out. It would appear that Half Moon Bay also takes its labyrinths serious.

To prove my point, inside the maze was a Minotaur. If you know your mythology, the Minotaur was the last thing you would want to see if you were in a labyrinth. In fact, if you met the Minotaur, it was the last thing you would see. Happily, this Minotaur doled out golden pumpkins to those who found him instead of walloping death blows.

Covered in hay, sun burnt, and with the smell of goat stuck in my nose, I had to concede my friend's point. In the same way that Orange County and Los Angeles should never be used interchangeably (and if you've ever done so in front of someone who lives in one or the other, you know the result of that), neither should a pumpkin patch be lumped in with the parking lot pumpkin sellers. One is an event, the other is a place of purchase. That being said, sometimes you don't want to drive for two hours to buy a gourd.
posted by jw

Monday, October 24, 2011

Develop Your Small Business: Two Presentations

Join us for Small Business Resources on Saturday, November 5, 2011, from 1:00 - 2:30 in the Cedar Room presented by Joan M. Jackson, Principal of JMJ Information Services. Learn about the best resources for writing business plans, finding company performance data and competitive intelligence.

On Monday, November 14, 2011, from 3:00 - 5:00 in the Redwood Room, experts from the Small Business Administration and their resource partners will provide information on management training, access to financing and federal government contracting opportunities. Benefits, elgibility requirements and application procedures will be discussed.

Sign up for these program when you are in the Library or call (408) 615-2900.

posted by mb

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Revolution will be Tweeterized

Since Sept 17th, hundreds of people have been camped out in a small park in Manhattan protesting against Wall Street (the bankers, investors, traders, etc... not the physical street, with which they have no known complaint). There are daily marches and frequent arrests. According to the protesters, they won't leave until their demands are met. And seeing as they haven't made any, it would appear they plan on staying put for a considerable amount of time. While it's most definitely not Tahrir Square or the Movimiento M15 in Spain or anything like what's been going on in the Middle East, it's something the likes of which the United States hasn't seen in a few decades. So you'd think the press would be all over it. Yet for the first two weeks, nary a news crew was to be seen.

In the time of the ancients (pre-2006), this would have spelled the death of a movement. If the press ignored you, you didn't exist in the wider world's consciousness. While independent media can be relied upon to spread the story, their reach isn't nearly as far as the major players. And if the mainstream media did cover an event, there was always a chance that they would paint everyone as a bunch of whack-a-doos.

Since those primitive days, the world has changed. Phones no longer flip, our spaces have become a lot less ours, and news now comes in 140 character bursts.

As the old saying goes, if a tree falls in the woods and no one makes a status update about it, does it really matter? Or something like that. In 2011, every single person with a smart phone has a video camera, a handful of social media apps, and access to the internet. Now a tree that falls has a thousand views on Youtube and its own twitter account ("If you must know, I sounded like 'KRABOOOSH' when I fell. LOLZ #Bieber #mysterysolved").

Information, however important or trivial, is able to be disseminated instantaneously and directly from the person experiencing it. The flip side is that content has a visible life span which makes a gnat look immortal. (That doesn't mean it's gone though. While time at the surface is short, the deep waters of the web are filled with your every misguided and embarrassing post just waiting to float back up.)

In the past few years, Twitter has received a lot of credit for being a major player in how social change has come about. And that's true. We wouldn't know who Justin Bieber or Rebecca Black were without it. (Oh wait. We've already forgotten about her, haven't we?) As for Twitter being a key factor during Iran's 2009 Green Movement and this year's Arab Spring, that's a little more suspect. It may have been a useful tool, but technology wasn't the catalyst. All the same, Twitter has become a viable way for people to spread information when other channels are unavailable.

For example, the Wall Street protest mentioned above is referred to as "#Occupywallstreet." The use of Twitter was so much a part of this movement, they named themselves as a hashtag. In the early days of the protest, there was an insane amount of attention directed towards whether or not that hashtag was trending. (It wasn't, but "#youlookstupidwhen" was. Ah memes, you say so much about what we find important as a society.) Why the intensity? Visibility. Millions of people use twitter. If that hashtag trends, that's millions of eyes having the option to see every post about the protest. It's better than being on the nightly news.

"Hooray! We are the media! Right?" Right, but it's also a mess. The nice thing about a newscast is that it's clean. Here's a story and here's another and another and now a commercial break. Sure, it may be biased (calm down party people... as I learned from my journalism class in college, all media is biased by the very nature of being written by humans. The question of how biased is the sticky point), but at least it's linear. Twitter is like listening to the news in an echo chamber. One person posts something new and then a thousand people retweet it periodically over the course of a week. There's a linear timeline there, but the way people use the site causes it to get cut to ribbons and rearranged at will. And when a trend is moving fast, "real time" gets even more wacky.

It should also be noted that Twitter is not vetted. The history of media is rife with fabulists and fib tellers, so the public should always be concerned about who their information is coming from. However, when your source goes by the name @riDanculous, your judgement needs to be all the more critical. It doesn't help that the online world is filled with trolls. By that, I do not actually mean folkloric creatures, but rather people who have nothing better to do than post inflammatory or purposefully incorrect information in order to be disruptive. In other words, jerks.

Ultimately, it's not surprising that Twitter is being used to help democratize the media. What is democracy if not many different voices with many different viewpoints attempting to be heard all at once? And when it comes to information, more is generally better than less, right? Right?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Teen Read Week (October 16-22)

(And what’s this about prizes!?)

Many teens are not reading or reading less for fun these days. So what you say? Studies have shown that teens who read more for pleasure do better in school and on tests. To encourage reading, Teen Read Week was started by the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) in 1998.

With friends, TV, computers, cell phones, and school and extracurricular activities competing for the attention of teens, Teen Read Week is a way to refocus teens on reading again. It is a way for the library to highlight the importance of reading and a fun way to reach out to teens.

How can I win prizes during Teen Read Week?!
This year's theme is Picture It @ your library®, which encourages teens to read graphic novels and other illustrated materials, seek out creative books, or imagine the world through literature, just for the fun of it. Two fun and creative activities that the library has planned in recognition of Teen Read Week are the Picture It @ Your Library Scavenger Hunt and Teen Art Contest for grades 7-12.

SCAVENGER HUNT (Deadline: Oct. 22): Teens are ask to identify 16 pictures of objects found within the Library. The person who names the highest number the fastest wins a $25.00 AMC movie gift card. All other finishers will be entered into a drawing for an additional gift card. 

Click here for Scavenger Hunt Information and Answer Sheet.

TEEN ART CONTEST (Deadline: Nov. 20): Teens are invited to enter the Santa Clara City Library Teen Art Contest. Entries must be an original piece of art with the theme, "Picture It @ Your Library.” Submissions should reflect how the artist views the library’s impact or role in the lives of people and/or society. Why are libraries important? What are they used for? Who uses libraries? What do libraries mean to you? The grand prize is a Barnes & Noble Nook E-Reader and gift card. Cash prizes will also be awarded for 1st, 2nd and 3rd places in middle and high school categories.

Click here for information and an official entry form for the Teen Art Contest.

This contest is made possible with the generous support of the Michael J. Kirsch Foundation and a member of the Foundation and Friends of the Library.

submitted by nc

Monday, October 10, 2011

Celebrate California Women's Suffrage

On October 10, 1911, California women won the right to vote. The Library is celebrating with many exciting events this month. This week join us on Wednesday, October 12 from 6:30 pm - 7:30 pm for a one-act play by the Santa Clara Players entitled "Should Women Vote?"

The play will be in the Mission Library Community Room.

The image on this page shows part of the astonishing display on the wall of the Redwood Room at Santa Clara City Library. Bob Byrd created the display with inspiration from actual signs women carried as they demonstrated for the right to vote in the years preceeding 1911.

posted by mb

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Kid's Book of the Week - The Boggart by Susan Cooper

In this haunting and comic tale, the Volnik family inherits an old castle in Scotland and soon experience strange occurences after returning to their home in Canada. Furniture and other objects fly in the air and unusual sounds are heard during the day and night. Emily and Jessup investigates and discovers that a devilish boggart is somehow trapped in a piece of furniture from the castle and wishes to go home. Soon, Emily and Jessup goes on a daring and risky mission to help the boggart return home.

Readers who wish to continue reading the eerie tale of The Boggart should check out the sequel, The Boggart and the Monster. In this sequel, the Boggart goes on a mission to help save Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster.

If you're ready for a spooky and entertaining read, check out The Boggart and its sequel, The Boggart and the Monster by Susan Cooper at your library today!
posted by pn.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Sign up with Alert SCC for Emergency Notifications

AlertSCC is a free, easy, and confidential way for anyone who lives or works in Santa Clara County to get emergency warnings sent directly to his or her cell phone, mobile device, email, or landline. AlertSCC can reach you wherever you are to provide information and instructions in a variety of emergency situations, which may include:

  • Flooding, wildfires and subsequent evacuations

  • Public safety incidents, including crimes, that immediately affect your neighborhood

  • Post-disaster information about shelters, transportation, or supplies

  • It only takes a minute. Sign up today and tell someone you love
posted by mb