Friday, May 31, 2013

A Great Pink Sea Snail Minus its Home?!

The pink slug
The pink slug
The Great Pink Sea Snail
The Great Pink Sea Snail

The recent discovery of these giant pink slugs in Australia made me think of the Great Pink Sea Snail in Dr. Dolittle, but the slugs are much slimier and less friendly-looking since they don't have the shell. The shell definitely makes a gastropod look more inviting! But we continue to hope a Great Pink Sea Snail may someday emerge from its watery abode.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Colorful Danxia landform in Gansu Zhangye, China

Danxia landform
Colorful Danxia landform in Gansu Zhangye (© MelindaChan/Flickr/Getty Images)(Bing China)
Saw this amazing image on Bing's homepage for China. Learned that it's the Danxia landform in Gansu Zhangye, China, which was added to UNESCO's World Heritage List in 2010. A Google image search on Danxia landform results in some wildly colorful images of the region. Some look artificially color enhanced, excessively saturated, but even the more natural-looking images are still stunning. It looks as if someone has mashed up a very colorful layer cake!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Baby Jack


 
Had to post this commercial just for the baby that stars in it - whatta cutie!! Yaaayy!!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Brief, Wondrous Emergence of the Cicadas

 
This is an absolutely stunning video created by Samuel Orr (motionkicker on Vimeo) funded by the Kickstarter Project, which is also responsible for the Librii library project. This HD video beautifully captures the dramatic emergence, brief surface life, and final submergence of the Cicadas.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Presenting Priya the Petite Pachyderm



What a sweet, engaging little baby elephant! She stays close to Mom though, as she's only a month old. From the St. Louis Zoo's Youtube channel:

"Baby Asian elephant "Priya" debuts at Saint Louis Zoo

The Saint Louis Zoo's Asian elephant calf, Priya (pronounced "Pree-yah"), is meeting her St. Louis family for the first time! Born April 26, 2013, the calf made her public debut with mother Ellie and sister Maliha on May 22, 2013. For more info, visit http://www.stlzoo.org."

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Full Moon Names and Their Meanings

harvest moon
Harvest Moon - Wikimedia Commons

Full Flower Moon over Plano, Tx
photo by theLibraryLander family
Ever wonder about all the odd names that American Indians and farmers use to refer to the various full moons during the year? Well, it's all explained by the Farmers' Almanac on their website. Now we can all know the Full Wolf Moon occurs in January when wolves would howl hungrily near Indian villages. And that the Full Flower Moon occurs in May when flowers are blooming everywhere. Check out the Farmers' Almanac website for each of the meanings. I guess the moon rates extra attention because of its changing phases. The sun is always bright - no phases for the one we all orbit!
 
Full Wolf Moon – January
Full Snow Moon – February
Full Worm Moon – March
Full Pink Moon – April
Full Flower Moon – May
Full Strawberry Moon – June
The Full Buck Moon – July
Full Sturgeon Moon – August
Full Corn Moon or Full Harvest Moon – September
Full Hunter’s Moon or Full Harvest Moon – October
Full Beaver Moon – November
The Full Cold Moon, or Full Long Nights Moon – December

Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Harp Sponge and a Tiny Little Frog (Way Tiny!)


 
A strange new species of carnivorous sponges was discovered last year and has been added to the top ten newly identified species of 2012. The Harp Sponge simply looks unearthly and was discovered living at a depth of about two miles under water off the California coast. There are some other interesting species on the top ten list as well, among them a glow-in-the-dark cockroach, but nothing looks quite as unreal as the Harp Sponge. The cutest new discovery, though, is a frog which is considered the smallest known vertebrate in the world - Paedophryne amauensis. The LA Times has a nice gallery of the top ten list of newly identified species of 2012.
Photograph of a paratype of Paedophryne amanuensis (LSUMZ 95004) on U.S. dime (diameter 17.91 mm)
Rittmeyer EN, Allison A, Gr√ľndler MC, Thompson DK, Austin CC - Wikimedia Commons, 2012
 

Friday, May 24, 2013

APOD - Red Sprite Lightning

Red Sprite Lightning with Aurora
Image Credit & Copyright:
Walter Lyons (FMA Research), WeatherVideoHD.TV
From APOD: "What's that in the sky? It is a rarely seen form of lightning confirmed only about 25 years ago: a red sprite. Recent research has shown that following a powerful positive cloud-to-ground lightning strike, red sprites may start as 100-meter balls of ionized air that shoot down from about 80-km high at 10 percent the speed of light and are quickly followed by a group of upward streaking ionized balls. The above image, taken a few days ago above central South Dakota, USA, captured a bright red sprite, and is a candidate for the first color image ever recorded of a sprite and aurora together. Distant storm clouds cross the bottom of the image, while streaks of colorful aurora are visible in the background. Red sprites take only a fraction of a second to occur and are best seen when powerful thunderstorms are visible from the side."

Thursday, May 23, 2013

International World Turtle Day

Western pond turtle
Western pond turtle - Wikimedia Commons public domain
This day is sponsored by the American Tortoise Rescue to help people celebrate and protect turtles everywhere. Turtles are disappearing, especially the larger ones and we need to help keep them safe. The American Tortoise Rescue (ATR) website has helpful advice on what we can all do to achieve this end. They're among the oldest animals in the world and probably the best thing we can do is to leave them alone and allow them to live peacefully - slow and steady!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Haunted Libraries

Haunted Library
Haunted Library
This one is probably more appropriate for Halloween, but since I'm on a bit of a roll with posting on libraries of distinction, thought I'd share this now. National Geographic has pulled together lists of libraries around the country and the world which are said to be haunted by spectres. English Libraries seem to have the most interesting spectral occupants since their libraries enjoy a rich history going back centuries. I guess even ghosts need something good to read now and then.

Ghostly Librarian
 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Tech Ruined Our John Hancocks

John Hancock signature on the United States Declaration of Independence
John Hancock's signature on the United States Declaration of Independence

Technology is killing the integrity of our signatures. When we purchase anything or sign for a delivery, we use technology that renders our signatures as nothing better chicken scratches. Matthew J. X. Malady, in an informative article in the New Republic, writes, "In addition to signing things less frequently, we're also signing in vastly different ways than before. Annoying and frustrating ways. We've all used those dreaded signature pads when paying for something in a shop with a credit card or accepting a FedEx delivery. Those things are infuriating, seemingly designed by the devil himself." He also discusses the history of signatures and their connection to literacy; we're now going backwards in a sense when our signatures lose their value. Yet another bit of "progress" at which we can only shake our heads.

Monday, May 20, 2013

APOD - Odd Feature Looks Out of This World

Earth Richat Structure
Earth's Richat Structure
Image Credit: NASA/GSFC/METI/Japan Space Systems, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team
But it's actually located on Earth! It looks almost like a giant blue eye fixated outward at the sky, but this geological structure may have been caused by massive erosion. NASA's APOD has a partial explanation for it:

"What on Earth is that? The Richat Structure in the Sahara Desert of Mauritania is easily visible from space because it is nearly 50 kilometers across. Once thought to be an impact crater, the Richat Structure's flat middle and lack of shock-altered rock indicates otherwise. The possibility that the Richat Structure was formed by a volcanic eruption also seems improbable because of the lack of a dome of igneous or volcanic rock. Rather, the layered sedimentary rock of the Richat structure is now thought by many to have been caused by uplifted rock sculpted by erosion. The above image was captured by the ASTER instruments onboard the orbiting orbiting Terra satellite. Why the Richat Structure is nearly circular remains a mystery."

Sunday, May 19, 2013

LIBRII: A New Model Library in Africa


"Do your duty and a little more and the future will take care of itself." ~ Andrew Carnegie
 
Came across an article today in The Guardian about a new kind of library which is being launched in Ghana, and with the hopes of expanding this service throughout Africa. Librii is a type of modular library which includes traditional library services combined with an e-Hub for high-speed internet plus an Agora (meeting space) for the community. It's a low cost effort which can provide a full-service library for about $50K. It's a very attractive idea which promises big returns for people who have a great need for library and internet services, but live in areas where the infrastructure for providing it is lacking. This project is sponsored by Kickstarter, an organization which helps fund creative endeavors of all kinds.
 
The Librii website describes their mission and organization thus
"Librii is an environment focused on knowledge creation. More than just the Internet, Librii uniquely packages cutting-edge, locally-tailored, open-access content that drives users to learn, create, and disseminate their knowledge.  Set up as a community-based, franchised network, Librii is run by local entrepreneurs and staffed by  librarians. This model ensures that resources are constantly up-to-date, replenished, and relevant.  As a franchise, each library will be part of an integrated network, speaking to and learning from one another. Librii was founded in 2010 as Libraries Across Africa, its parent organization, which is a registered non-profit in the State of Texas."


Saturday, May 18, 2013

Notable Quotes

A periodic posting of some notable quotes:

1.  If you keep on saying things are going to be bad, you have a good chance of being a prophet.
~Isaac Bashevis Singer (1904-1991, Polish-born American journalist,  writer)

2.  Never allow your own sorrow to absorb you, but seek out another to console, and you will find consolation.
~J. C. Macaulay

3.  The last, best fruit which comes to late perfection, even in the kindliest soul, is tenderness toward the hard, forbearance toward the unforbearing, warmth toward the cold, philanthropy toward the misanthropic.
~Jean Paul Richter (1763-1825, German novelist)

4.  A good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow.
~George S. Patton (1885-1945, American army general during World War II)

5.  Nowhere can man find a quieter or more untroubled retreat than in his own soul.
~Marcus Aurelius (121-12180, Roman emperor, philosopher)

6.  Comparisons of one's lot with others' teaches us nothing and enfeebles the will.
~Thornton Wilder (1897-1975, American novelist, playwright)

7.  Every tomorrow has two handles. We can take hold of it with the handle of anxiety or the handle of faith.
~Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887, American preacher, orator, writer)

Friday, May 17, 2013

And Now, a Different Kind of Library

 
The Little Free Library is a grassroots movement to establish small depositories of books throughout the world - little free libraries! Started in Wisconsin by Todd Bol in honor of his schoolteacher mother, these little libraries have sprung up in many places around the world. They tend to look like small houses and posted like mailboxes. They're very different from the extravagantly huge libraries I posted about previously - refreshingly different - and charming! But they also serve to connect people in a community in a personal way that is often lacking in larger institutions. Their existence is proof that small is beautiful and humans long for this simplicity. 
 

Map of little free libraries around the world.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Buzzfeed's List of Ultra-modern Libraries

Stuttgart City Library Stuttgart Germany
Stuttgart City Library - Stuttgart, Germany (Buzzfeed)
Today I share with you Buzzfeed's "Marvelously Modern Libraries," their nice compilation of some of the most modern-looking libraries around. These libraries don't really engender the cozy, home-y feel of many public libraries, but you can visit and gape at their ultra-cool features. Some of them make you feel as though you've stepped through a time portal into the future!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Flavorwire's 25 Most Beautiful College Libraries in the World

George Peabody Library Johns Hopkins University Baltimore
George Peabody Library, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD - Flavorwire
See all 25 academic libraries at Flavorwire. Somehow I missed this when it first appeared at the beginning of the year, but I'm glad I came across it now. While it is a personal and subjective list, the libraries pictured in the Flavorwire post are quite stunning - even Hollywood couldn't imagine such grandeur! These libraries range from the deeply traditional to ultra-modern in design, proving that libraries are often architectural marvels, not just repositories of  knowledge.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Fantastic Cover of David Bowie's Space Oddity from Space


Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield sang and recorded Space Oddity from the International Space Station (ISS) and the result is pretty darn good! Bowie himself has given this version his stamp of approval on his FB page. It is quite moving to hear the song come to life literally and we're here to see it - a wonderful gift.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Children's Book Week


In honor of Children's Book Week, theLibraryLander's niece drew a picture of a librarian (me) at the info desk with my niece as library assistant. She also included a nice bookshelf filled with colorful volumes. A touching tribute to our profession as well as a demonstration of family love :) Gotta love it!

"Children's Book Week is the annual celebration of books for young people and the joy of reading.
Established in 1919, Children's Book Week is the longest-running national literacy initiative in the country. Every year, commemorative events are held nationwide at schools, libraries, bookstores, homes -- wherever young readers and books connect!"

2013 Children's Book Week Poster by Brian Selznick

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Irving Berlin's 125th Birth Anniversary


The incomparable Irving Berlin, America's favorite composer, was a Russian Jewish immigrant who gave us a wonderful repertoire of popular standards. He is the author of the world's favorite Christmas carol, "White Christmas." He also wrote patriotic songs such as, "God Bless America" and "This is the Army." He has been described as a, "great American Minstrel" and lauded by other great composers themselves, such as George Gershwin, who called him "the greatest songwriter that has ever lived."
 
Irving Berlin
Irving Berlin singing aboard the USS Arkansas July 25, 1944 - PD-USGOV
 

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Unusual Red Rectangle Nebula

Red Rectangle Nebula
The Red Rectangle Nebula from Hubble
Credit: ESA, Hubble, NASA
The amazing Red Rectangle Nebula is difficult to observe from ground-based telescopes, which is why it wasn't discovered until 1973. It looks like a glittering emerald or princess cut jewel and the Hubble Telescope has given us more detailed views which has helped astronomers learn more about it.  Here's the APOD story about why it looks like this:

"How was the unusual Red Rectangle nebula created? At the nebula's center is an aging binary star system that surely powers the nebula but does not, as yet, explain its colors. The unusual shape of the Red Rectangle is likely due to a thick dust torus which pinches the otherwise spherical outflow into tip-touching cone shapes. Because we view the torus edge-on, the boundary edges of the cone shapes seem to form an X. The distinct rungs suggest the outflow occurs in fits and starts. The unusual colors of the nebula are less well understood, however, and current speculation holds that they are partly provided by hydrocarbon molecules that may actually be building blocks for organic life. The Red Rectangle nebula lies about 2,300 light years away towards the constellation of the Unicorn (Monoceros). The nebula is shown above in unprecedented detail as captured recently by the Hubble Space Telescope. In a few million years, as one of the central stars becomes further depleted of nuclear fuel, the Red Rectangle nebula will likely bloom into a planetary nebula."

Thursday, May 9, 2013

153th Birth Anniversary of James M. Barrie

statue of Peter Pan
Bronze statue of Peter Pan
Kensington Gardens, London
Wikimedia Commons, public domain
James M Barrie
James M. Barrie (1860-1937)
Wikimedia Commons, public domain
J.M. Barrie is best known as the author of the play, "Peter Pan, or the Boy Who Would Not Grow Up." There has been a bit of speculation about Barrie, whose personal life was marked by a great deal of tumult. Peter Pan has been described as more than the story of a simple boy who wouldn't grow up, but has also been a metaphor for unresolved childhood issues. Despite the deeper meaning behind this character, the story has delighted countless children ever since its publication. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Newsworthy

1.  Dr. Weil - How to know if you're a hypochondriac.
2.  CNET - Can Facebook lead to psychosis?
3.  BBC - Beautiful images of the Horsehead Nebula by the Herschel.
4.  New Yorker - Grand Unified Theory of Everything.
5.  NYT - Who owns the future?
6.  WSJ - Don't slouch! Sit up straight!
7.  WP - Recognizing the dedication of government workers.
8.  WP - Vegan fare at a... diner?
9.  WQ - Downside to crowdsourcing.
10. Yahoo - Contrary health advice - really?

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

180th Birth Anniversary of Johannes Brahms

Johannes Brahms
Johannes Brahms - C. Brasch, Berlin
"It is not hard to compose, but what is fabulously hard is to leave the superfluous notes under the table."  ~Johannes Brahms

One of the Three Bs - Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms - Johannes Brahms gave the world a magnificent repertoire of traditionally classical as well as innovative music.  His work, "Wiegenlied: Guten Abend, gute Nacht" ("Good evening, good night"), Op. 49, No. 4. became widely known as "Brahms's Lullaby." Another of his familiar works is Hungarian Dance No. 5. But his works ranged beyond these highly popular works and included compositions in various genres, such as orchestral, vocal, and chamber among others. He also had a very interesting personality, living simply and according to his own standards, but was known to be difficult and curmudgeonly at times. However he was also known for his great loyalty and generosity to those nearest him, which was reciprocated by them. He was born a Lutheran, but he tended toward humanistic beliefs. He never married, but held a close, lifelong friendship with Clara Schumann, wife of Robert Schumann.
 
       
 

Monday, May 6, 2013

125th Birth Anniversary of Russell Stover

Russell Stover Candies
Russell Stover Candies
Not the candy company, but the man who started it. Russell Stover was born 125 years ago in a sod house in Kansas and became one of the top candy makers in America. His is a true Horatio Alger tale, embodying the tenants of hard work and perseverance. His fortune was initially made by the sales of the Eskimo Pie which was invented by his partner, a school teacher named Christian Nelson. Stover's wife came up with the name, "Eskimo Pie" and the rest is history. The Eskimo Pie, however, was sold by a separate company later on. The Russell Stover company then branched out into candy-making. The company has remained private, although it changed hands in the 60's when Stover's wife sold the company to Louis Ward, whose family still owns and operates it. Russell Stover also acquired Whitman's Chocolates later in the century and today is the third largest chocolate maker in the US. The familiar and ubiquitous chocolates are found in grocery stores, drug stores, and other retailers everywhere. Just an interesting bit of American history.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

It's Be Kind to Animals Week!

be kind to animals week
Image assembled by theLibraryLander
The American Humane Association sponsors Be Kind to Animals Week from May 5 - 11. Of course, this is just a week long campaign, but it's intended to encourage kindness toward all innocent and defenseless creatures all the time. So, let's all keep this thought in our hearts every day!
 
Hurt no living thing:
Ladybird, nor butterfly,
Nor moth with dusty wing,
Nor cricket chirping cheerily,
Nor grasshopper so light of leap,
Nor dancing gnat, nor beetle fat,
Nor harmless worms that creep.
 
~ Christina Rossetti

Saturday, May 4, 2013

May the 4th Be With You!

May 4th is Star Wars Day - May the 4th be with you!
It must be Star Wars Day, a day to celebrate all things Star Wars, naturally. And to go around greeting everyone with, "May the 4th be with you!" Star Wars Day is also observed on May 25th, in honor of the release of Star Wars on May 25, 1977. Neat Jedi mind trick, convincing us to honor them twice! Happy to oblige :)

Friday, May 3, 2013

James Brown's 80th Birth Anniversary

James Brown on the Ed Sullivan Show 1966

The Godfather of Soul, James Brown, was born May 3, 1933 and died on Christmas Day 2006. He left a lasting legacy which influenced a long line of R&B performers such has Jerry Lee Lewis, Michael Jackson, Prince, and many others. An energetic dancer, his moves were widely imitated, providing for the greatest display of flattery and admiration. He lived a remarkable life, on his own terms and believed in self-reliance and encouraged it in others, despite his own battles with addiction and legal problems. He was definitely a unique person with unique talents.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

May is National Meditation Month



Take 10! Ten minutes a day is all it takes to achieve mindfulness. Watch this TED Talk by Andy Puddicombe on how to meditate to achieve mindfulness. The world could use more of this.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Happy May Day and Lei Day!

'The Lei Maker', painting by Theodore Wores, 1901,
Honolulu Museum of Art - Wikimedia Commons, public domain

The world celebrates May Day in many ways and in Hawaii it's celebrated with leis!