Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Giving Tuesday: Where Will My Gift Work Best?

     Giving Tuesday follows Black Friday and Cyber Monday.  Now it's time to think of those less fortunate.  Giving Tuesday organizers hope that shoppers who splurged on themselves will embrace a day dedicated to giving back. The holiday season accounts for about a third of annual charitable donations.

     How do you know if the charity will use your money wisely?  Visit Charity Navigator and check them out.  The charities are given a score, a star rating and rated on finances, accountability and transparency.  Find out how much money is used for administration versus the actual program.  Tips and Resources for donors include 7 questions to ask before giving, the top ten best practices of savvy donors, tips for older donors and more.

posted by mb

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Holiday Gift Book Ideas for Adults

Last Tuesday night there was a presentation on suggested books for holiday giving or for your own reading pleasure. (I have provided a link to library books.)  Here are my recommendations for adults.  I have arranged them by type of reader.  List prices are included.

Veterans, football fans
Dust to Dust by Benjamin Busch  $26.99
Actor and U.S. Marine, Busch offers reflection and introspection mixed with lively stories of his childhood spent outdoors and his physical challenges on the football field and the battlefield.

Book clubs, mystery fans
and when she was good by Laura Lippman  $26.99
Ever wonder how someone becomes a prostitute or how one gets out of the business?  Read this suspenseful story for possible answers.

American History fans 
Unbroken by Lauren Hillenbrand   $27.00
The story of an inspiring survivor who was a juvenile delinquent channeled into track who then won an Olympic medal.  In WWII, he was an Army Air Corps man, crew member on fragile early airplanes, who flew across the Pacific to fight the Japanese.

American Tapestry by Rachel Swarns   $27.99
Learn Michelle Obama's amazing family history.  It is a truly American story which shines a light on mixed race families who struggle, survive and thrive.

Graphic novel fans, teens
American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang
A Chinese American coming of age story, at times humorous and at times heart breaking, told in a beautifully illustrated graphic novel.

Humor, nature fans
A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson  pbk  $7.99
A witty and sometimes laugh-out-loud book about hiking along the Appalachian Trial.  Bryson observes the natural history, ecology and local history, describing it well.  He and his out-of-shape companion, Katz, bicker and struggle to be up to the trip.

Excellent nonfiction fans
Nothing to Envy by Barbara Demick   $26.00
Recent history of North Korea that puts the reader in the shoes of people living in this closed society.  How would you survive a famine?  Six defectors tell about their former lives. These stories give an insight to immigrants from closed, police societies.

Social justice fans
The Casual Vacancy by J. K. Rowling  $35.00
A thought-provoking book about a small village where there is a war between the haves and the have nots.  Teenage characters are well-developed and their parents are realistically portrayed.  This book is the real world not a fantasy realm.

Fans of gentle reads
Blessings by Anna Quindlen  pbk  $15.00
When a teenage couple abandons their baby at the gate of the estate owned by Lydia Blessing, Skip Cuddy, the caretaker, decides to raise the child himself, a decision that has a profound effect on the lives of everyone in the community.

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Susanna Moore  pbk  $15.00
A traditional Englishman develops a friendship with a female Pakistani shopkeeper in his village.  Will he be able to stand up for his feelings against the community's disapproval?

Fans of inspirational stories
Wild: from Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed  $25.95
Following her mother's death and the break up of her marriage, Strayed decides to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. 

Sarge: the Life and Times of Sargent Shriver by Scott Stossel  $32.50
The inspiring life story of the man who created the Peace Corps, headed the War on Poverty, served as ambassador to France, and founded such organizations as Head Start, Job Corps, and the Special Olympics.  He survived the Depression, WWII and life as a member of the Kennedy family.

posted by mb

Medicare 2013: What You Need to Know

       “Ask anyone turning 65 about Medicare and, more likely than not, they will say it is confusing and complicated. There are Parts A and B of Original Medicare, and Medigap plans to supplement them. Part D, prescription drug plans with the infamous “donut hole” has special rules. Part C, known as Medicare Advantage, typically combines Parts A, B and D into one plan. From the Initial Enrollment Period to the Annual Enrollment Period, the rules are very complex.
       The Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program (HICAP) of the Council on Aging Silicon Valley can help current and prospective Medicare beneficiaries as well as family members or caregivers unravel the mysteries and wonders of Medicare.
       Join us for a free presentation given by HICAP Director Connie Corrales  on Nov. 27, 2:30 – 4:00 PM in the Library’s Redwood Room. If you are interested, please sign up at the Reference Desk or call 1-408-615-2900. Walk-ins are also welcome.

jh posted by mb

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Apocalypse Nowish

It's been a few weeks now since we've ended daylight savings time. Which is to say, we've rolled our clocks back to the natural state of things for this time of year. The morning sun sluggishly rises over the hills around 7:00 AM, heroically tries to reach an angle higher than 35 degrees, fails, then beats a hasty retreat back to the other side of the earth 10 hours later.

For those of us working indoors, we watch this seasonal game of solar peek-a-boo through triple-paned glass while taking nutritional supplements to keep our vitamin D levels from plummeting through the floorboards. We walk down lamp-lit streets to go out to dinner at 6:30. We feel exhausted only to find out the 10 o'clock news hasn't started yet. Maybe not even the 9 o'clock news. Like birds under a blanket, it's lights out and we want to go to sleep. "Not so fast," says the clock."That's not how we do things around here."

It seems oddly appropriate that I was reading Karen Thompson Walker's Age of Miracles during this recent time change and Fall's steady creep into darkness. In her book, the world is gaining time. Initially, a few extra minutes are found hiding in the rotation of the Earth. But rather quickly those minutes add up to hours and hours add up to days. Both night and day begin to hang around longer and longer like an unwanted and ever more demanding guest. (Which, perhaps, is also rather appropriate considering the time of year.) At some point in the unknown but not so distant future, the earth will become tidally locked to the sun. Half the world will burn in a permanent day and half the world will freeze in a permanent night. But until that final denouement occurs, the known world changes, and changes, and changes.

This is the ultimate sinking ship scenario. There is a progressive catastrophe. You can try to stop it, but ultimately the inertia of the situation is stronger than the ingenuity thrown at it. Disaster is unavoidable. Death is (most likely) a given. What do you do?

For the characters in Walker's book, try to carry on as best as possible is the answer. Much like the way we adjust to the seasonal changes in light (but on a far more traumatic scale), the characters attempt to find a normality they can understand. A normality they can live with. The human body cannot exist in a constant state of panic. So while they're patiently waiting for the apocalypse, they may as well try to have a life in the meantime.

Walker illustrates this well through Julia, the 11 going on 12-year-old narrator of the story. For the first few decades of your life, you are constantly running into new experiences, new emotions, new knowledge. So seeing the coming disaster through the eyes of a preteen is a perfect filter. There is no time period more stressful and calamitous than that age. Should the Earth begin slowing down at the same time, well, it couldn't get much worse or weirder than what was already happening to your brain, body, and social life anyways. It's just one more change Julia must deal with. 

Despite the ever increasing and disastrous side-effects of "the slowing," Julia continues to grow up. There is school to go to, boys to have crushes on, best friends who become distant. The normal stuff that happens to most everyone.

Perhaps Julia's life may seem uneventful given such a dramatic backdrop, but that's the point. Our tiny lives carry on. Be it through hope, stubbornness, stupidity, or spite, humans have a way of muscling through the worst that can be thrown at us in order to live out our boring lives. Because they are the only ones we have and giving up isn't really an option.

Julia says at one point, "It requires a certain kind of bravery, I suppose, to choose the status quo. There’s a certain boldness to inaction." While inaction and status quo are rarely thought of as helpful things, in times of great change and horrible disasters, sometimes they are needed things. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

iPad Art Workshop

Join the iPad Art Workshop on Sunday, November 18 at 2:00 p.m. in the Central Park Library Redwood Room, and learn how to create art on your tablet! Sumit Vishwakarma will give a one-hour workshop providing an introduction to sketching, drawing, and painting directly on your iPad using your fingers, a stylus, and art applications. You will learn how to use basic digital tools, including the pen, pencil, and brushes. The techniques demonstrated are not limited to the iPad, and may be applied to other android tablets. Sumit, an iPad artist, was featured in the Macworld 2012 Sketch Station.

Bring your iPad or other tablet is you wish—it is not required for the workshop. Children (age 8 and up with a parent/caregiver), teens and adults are welcome! To reserve a space at this fun-filled interactive event, stop by the Reference Desk or call 1-408-615-2900.

 posted by jb

Friday, November 9, 2012

Veterans Day 2012

The Library will be closed Monday, November 12, 2012, in honor of  Veteran's Day.  Stop in around the holiday and find a book about veterans from the display on the first floor.  Did you know that there are 21.5 million veterans in the U.S?    There are 1.6 million women veterans and 2.3 million black veterans.  Read more interesting statistics about Veterans here

Try these:

A Rumor of War by  Philip Caputo
written by a marine corps veteran of the Vietnam War

Goodbye, darkness: a memoir of the Pacific War by William Manchester

posted by mb

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Last Minute Voting Help!

Use nonpartisan resources to help you make an informed vote. Here are some tips:

Get your entire ballot and find your polling place on your computer or your mobile device using www.SmartVoter.org
Read about the ballot measures
Watch these NEW ballot measure videos from the League of Women Voters of California Education Fund and the California Channel

Ready to go to the polls? Review answers to FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions):

- Polls are open from 7 am to 8 pm
- You can make a mistake on your ballot twice and ask for a fresh ballot
- You can take notes and your child into the polling place
- If your name is not on the voter rolls, ask to vote by Provisional Ballot
- You may drop off your vote by mail ballot at any polling place in your county
For problems voting, contact the Election Protection hotline at 1-866-OUR-VOTE
- You can not wear campaign gear to the polls
Please vote on November 6, 2012!
posted by mb

Monday, November 5, 2012

Small Business Administration Workshop

The Library is offering a U.S. Small Business Administration Workshop on Wednesday, November 14, 3:00-5:00 p.m. in the Central Park Library Redwood Room. Small business owners and prospective small business entrepreneurs will learn how the programs of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) can help them start, manage, and grow their companies.  Experts from SBA and its resource partners will provide practical information on SBA’s three main program areas:
·        management training and counseling
·        access to financing
·        access to federal government contracting opportunities.

Program benefits, eligibility requirements, and application procedures also will be covered.

If you are thinking of starting a small business, or simply want to expand your existing business, the two-hour SBA Workshop is for you! To reserve a space at this free program, stop by the Reference Desk or call 1-408-615-2900.

posted by jb