Sunday, June 30, 2013

Log Cabin Day

log cabin

This interesting little holiday is celebrated on June 30 in Michigan where log cabins are commemorated with tours and open houses. Log cabins have always evoked a sense of coziness, as well as simplicity, humble and homespun goodness. It's amazing to reflect that this simple structure built of inter-linking logs could be built by a pioneer family providing them with protection and comfort. It's a beautiful symbol of independence and resourcefulness.

Log Cabin at Black Moshannon State Park, Pennsylvania by User: Ruhrfisch - Wikimedia Commons
Log Cabin at Black Moshannon State Park, Pennsylvania by User: Ruhrfisch - Wikimedia Commons

Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Dewey Blog

025.431: The Dewey Blog
This is a great little blog on various and sundry topics, all tagged with Dewey decimal numbers so you know just where to look in the library for books on those subjects. The full name of this blog is 025.431: The Dewey Blog, the classification number referring, of course, to Library Operations. The blog is worth exploring just to get an idea of the how the classification scheme works, plus the topics lead to other topics of interest and sometimes even down a rat hole. But when you have nothing better to do one evening, it can be an enlightening and diverting occupation!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Tumblr's Library Tags

You can become really immersed in Tumblr's endless stream of library lore - images tagged #library, #books, and #reading. This flow of books, reading, and library spaces is pretty amazing - take a gander!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Happy Birthday to Happy Birthday to You!

Birthday Cake
Birthday Cake
The world's most popular song, sung somewhere in the world every minute of the day, according to Chase's Calendar of Events, has an interesting history. While it was composed innocently enough by a pair of sisters, it was later copyrighted and then the rights purchased by Warner/Chappell, who have collected royalties every year by those using the song commercially. This company believes it owns the copyright until 2030, but the entire convoluted history is worth reading on Wikipedia. As long as you aren't charging anyone to hear you sing it, you should be safe!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Happy National Canoe Day, Canada!

By Elise Smith, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service - Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Who knew, it's National Canoe Day up in the Great White North? Of course, it's great for all of us in the Lower 48 to join them and paddle along! In 2007, the canoe was named one of Seven Wonders of Canada by over 1 million listeners of CBC Radio. Afterwards, the holiday was started in 2007 by the Canadian Canoe Museum, in an effort to increase participation in paddle sports. Happy paddling, eh?

Celebrating Canoe Day at the Canadian Canoe Museum
Celebrating Canoe Day
Interior view of The Weston National Heritage Centre, Canadian Canoe Museum
Interior view of The Weston National Heritage Centre, Canadian Canoe Museum

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

George Orwell's 110th Birth Anniversary

“The best books... are those that tell you what you know already.”
~ George Orwell, 1984

George Orwell's farsighted and frightening novel Nineteen Eighty-Four has widely influenced modern language by his neologistic creations such as Big Brother, Cold War, Thought Police, among others. The Guardian has an interesting article on what it took for Orwell to write his opus magnum, including an analysis of the process of creating the futuristic language and society. It's a novel that first time readers always find timely and contemporary. As to why he chose 1984 as his title, the author of the article states, "Orwell's title remains a mystery. Some say he was alluding to the centenary of the Fabian Society, founded in 1884. Others suggest a nod to Jack London's novel The Iron Heel (in which a political movement comes to power in 1984), or perhaps to one of his favourite writer GK Chesterton's story, "The Napoleon of Notting Hill", which is set in 1984." He also states that upon publication, it was considered an instant classic, "even by Winston Churchill, who told his doctor that he had read it twice." GoodReads has a comprehensive page of Orwell's quotes, many of which are heavy and ponderous, but always seemingly relevant to almost any historic era. Cautionary tales are not always easy to read, but they are often the most compelling and enlightening ones.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Bookstore Porthole

Bookstore Porthole at J W Doull Bookstore
Bookstore Porthole at J. W. Doull Bookstore - Photo:  Celia Moase Photography
Boing Boing recently posted a very curious and whimsical photo of a porthole constructed of books located at the John W. Doull Bookseller store in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. After doing a double-take, the viewer is invited in to peruse a wonderful collection of antiquarian and rare books. Read more about this special second-hand bookstore on their website and on their Tumblr page.

J W Doull Bookstore
J. W. Doull Bookstore

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Supermoon Sunday

Moon at Night by Jon Sullivan - public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
It's the closest the Moon gets to us this year (Perigee or Periapsis) and we won't see it this close until August of 2014. So, without succumbing to all the hype, it's a great occasion to gaze at our silvery orb and marvel at its apparent nearness.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

America's National Park Libraries

View of the Yosemite Valle 1865 by Thomas Hill
View of the Yosemite Valley, 1865, by Thomas Hill - Collection of The New York Historical Society
American Libraries magazine has a great article on America's NPS libraries throughout the country. I wonder how many people even know about this wonderful resource? These libraries hold a great many resources on the history, geology, geography, and preservation of, as Ken Burns put it, "America's best idea." The Parks' collection is searchable online, so one can limit results to a particular park, such as the Grand Canyon or Yosemite, as examples. The Parks libraries also participate in the world-wide Ask-a-Librarian program where you can chat with NPS librarians to find out more about our national parks. What a truly great, underutilized and largely unknown library resource!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

NWS Radar Mosaic

Enhanced Radar Image Loop
 Above is the embedded National Weather Service Enhanced Radar Image Loop. For the clearer, highly detailed, full resolution National Mosaic image, see the NWS page. It's an amazing composite of the entire country's weather in very high resolution. It's well worth checking out!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Happy Juneteenth!

Harriet Tubman by Aaron Douglas 1931
 Harriet Tubman, 1931, by Aaron Douglas, American (1898-1979) - Oil on canvas, Bennett College Art Gallery, Greensboro, NC
Even though Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1862, which became effective in 1863, word of this did not reach Texas until June 18 and 19th of 1865. Slaves in Texas were only informed of the Emancipation two years after the fact. The term, Juneteenth, was created in 1903 and it has been celebrated as a holiday throughout the south and other parts of the country. It is a state holiday in Texas and other states commemorate it in some unofficial manner. The history of this day is an interesting one and the holiday has enjoyed a resurgence of interest and acknowledgement in recent years.
"Juneteenth" A Painting by G. Rose

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Summer Reading 2013

Summer Reading 2013 - Dig into Reading!
This year's theme for public libraries' Summer Reading program is, "Dig into Reading." Interesting idea which can relate to animals that burrow, digging for archaeology, or just getting into reading. The poster above is an inviting one, with the Mole and Mice families reading together!

Monday, June 17, 2013


1.  New Yorker - Songs of the Cicada.
2.  BBC - "Dirty Stars" hint at our Sun's fate.
3.  The Atlantic - why did they stop building pyramids in ancient Egypt?
4.  NatGeo - Lost Lands Found by Scientists.
5.  WP - Bill Gates, "Death is something we really understand..."
6.  NBC - People with higher IQs filter out useless info faster.
7.  Bus. Insider - these charts will restore your faith in humanity.
8. WP - these charts will destroy your faith in humanity.
9.  NYT - the gift of siblings.
10. Slate - No, Our Solar System is NOT a “Vortex.”

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Totally Mercury

All of Mercury

From APOD:

Explanation: For the first time, the entire surface of planet Mercury has been mapped. Detailed observations of the innermost planet's surprising crust have been ongoing since the robotic MESSENGER spacecraft first passed Mercury in 2008 and began orbiting in 2011. Previously, much of the Mercury's surface was unknown as it is too far for Earth-bound telescopes to see clearly, while the Mariner 10 flybys in the 1970s observed only about half. The above video is a compilation of thousands of images of Mercury rendered in exaggerated colors to better contrast different surface features. Visible on the rotating world are rays emanating from a northern impact that stretch across much of the planet, while about half-way through the video the light colored Caloris Basin rotates into view, a northern ancient impact feature that filled with lava. MESSENGER has now successfully completed its primary and first extended missions. 

Friday, June 14, 2013

Seattle Public Library Using Pedal Power to Peddle Books on Bikes

Leave it to Seattle Public Library to come up with a novel way to deliver books through their Books by Bikes outreach program. This pilot program is designed to reach patrons at community events throughout Seattle and provide them library services. It's good for the community and good for the librarians involved - a great way to work out during work!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Gentle Reads

English country scene
English Country Scene - John S. Goodall, illustrator of books of a gentle persuasion
As I get older, my bedtime reading has become far mellower than in my youth. These days, I can no longer read Stephen King or Dean Koontz, or other more intense authors just before bed. I now wade in the more soothing waters of Miss Read, Alexander McCall Smith, or Bill Bryson. The genre of Gentle Reads is known for comfortable environments, predictable routines, and calm endeavors. Also, regular meals, eccentric but kindly neighbors, pleasant little villages where problems are resolved amicably - perfect for a peaceful retirement! These locales almost seem hermetically sealed off from the real world, but they are more aspirational than fantastic. Everyone has a precious place in their heart where they dream of living someday, where people are civilized and caring. That's what Gentle Reads are about.  For those wishing to learn more, GoodReads has a nice compilation of authors and titles in this genre. A Google search on gentle reads produces hits on library readers advisory sites with lists of their recommendations. Gentle Reads are almost exclusively within the purview of public libraries, as many readers visit them for their extensive collections. Gentle Reads for Gentle Readers!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Essay on Bibliocide by Julian Baggini

Bibliocide - Photo by Julian Baggini
What do you do with books which are beyond use, such as moldy volumes of encyclopedias? Julian Baggini, founding editor of The Philosopher's Magazine, writes about burning his set of Britannica's which no longer served any purpose. The set had become "mouldy, unread and long out of date," but the very act of committing bibliocide resulted in feelings of guilt and mourning. In his essay on the Aeon website he writes about the passing of encyclopedias and the decline in respect for experts, all casualties of the digital age. Information just exists everywhere on the web and we no longer defer to specialists in their fields. Alas.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Seattle Public Library's Book Domino Chain World Record

The Seattle Public Library launched its 2013 Summer Reading Program by setting a new world record for the longest book domino chain! Other libraries have attempted it before but Seattle did it the best - very cool!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Maurice Sendak's 85th Birthday


 Award-winning Children's author, Maurice Sendak, more than many others understood the psyche of children - the fear, joy, and bravery that embody childhood. Sendak passed away just a year ago, but the literary world is fortunate that he sat for an interview with Stephen Colbert just prior to that so that all could get to know him better.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Happy Birthday, Donald Duck!

Donald Duck made his debut in Walt Disney's, "The Wise Little Hen," one of the "Silly Symphony" series in 1934. The curmudgeonly little duck has been competing with Mickey Mouse for decades, but seems to enjoy the greatest fame in Germany. Wikipedia says his outsize popularity in Germany is akin to Jerry Lewis' fame in France. He is also popular in other Nordic countries as is apparent in the number of videos on YouTube uploaded from those areas. Regardless of his renown, the Disney family wouldn't be the same without Donald Duck and his family!   

Saturday, June 8, 2013

World Oceans Day

Underwater landscape of coral reef
Underwater landscape of coral reef - Jim E Maragos, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Wikimedia Commons public domain
A day to celebrate our oceans, a vital resource and sustainer of life on earth. Once an unofficial celebration initiated by Canada, it was formally recognized by the UN in 2008 and now enjoys greater recognition and participation by nations. Keep our oceans forever blue and healthy!


Friday, June 7, 2013

APOD - Fabulous Video on the Scale of Stars

Star Size Comparisons
Video Credit & Copyright: morn1415 (YouTube)
From APOD:
"Explanation: How big is our Sun compared to other stars? In a dramatic and popular video featured on YouTube, the relative sizes of planets and stars are shown from smallest to largest. The above video starts with Earth's Moon and progresses through increasingly larger planets in our Solar System. Next, the Sun is shown along as compared to many of the brighter stars in our neighborhood of the Milky Way Galaxy. Finally, some of the largest stars known spin into view. Note that the true sizes of most stars outside of the Sun and Betelgeuse are not known by direct observation, but rather inferred by measurements of their perceived brightness, temperature, and distance. Although an inspiring learning tool that is mostly accurate, APOD readers are encouraged to complete the learning experience -- and possibly help make future versions more accurate -- by pointing out slight inaccuracies in the video."

Thursday, June 6, 2013

One-Armed Spiral Galaxy NGC 4725

One Armed Spiral Galaxy NGC 4725
One-Armed Spiral Galaxy NGC 4725
Image Data: Subaru Telescope (NAOJ), Hubble Space Telescope,
Additional Color data: Adam Block, Bob Franke, Maurice Toet - Assembly and Processing: Robert Gendler
Not all galaxies are formed in the typical pinwheel or whirlpool shapes. There are some peculiar galaxies with unusual structures, documented in Wikipedia. And one-armed galaxies are also unusual, as APOD explains below.

"While most spiral galaxies, including our own Milky Way, have two or more spiral arms, NGC 4725 has only one. In this sharp color composite image, the solo spira mirabilis seems to wind from a prominent ring of bluish, newborn star clusters and red tinted star forming regions. The odd galaxy also sports obscuring dust lanes a yellowish central bar structure composed of an older population of stars. NGC 4725 is over 100 thousand light-years across and lies 41 million light-years away in the well-groomed constellation Coma Berenices. Computer simulations of the formation of single spiral arms suggest that they can be either leading or trailing arms with respect to a galaxy's overall rotation. Also included in the frame, a more traditional looking spiral appears as a smaller background galaxy."

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

World Environment Day

World Environment Day
World Environment Day
 June 5th commemorates the date on which the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment met in 1972. Sweden originally suggested this conference in 1968 and the UN decided to convene in 1972 to raise awareness of human interaction with the environment. At this meeting, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) issued the Stockholm Declaration which provided a list of twenty-six principles relating to protecting the environment. Reading the proclamation and principles now, it's striking how innocent and ambitious people once were during the early years of the environmental movement. Since then, there have successes and setbacks when trying to encourage people and nations to protect the environment, but maybe today people are less wide-eyed about it. The principles are wide ranging, concerning topics such protecting wildlife and resources to eliminating weapons of mass destruction.
This year’s theme for World Environment Day celebrations is Think.Eat.Save. The UN states that every year 1.7 billion tons of food goes to waste, which is heartbreaking when considering all those who suffer from hunger.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Dolly Parton: "Book Lady"

Country music legend Dolly Parton is a Book Lady! Her Imagination Library has delivered millions of books throughout the US, Canada, UK, and Australia. There are over 600,000 children registered with her program and with the recent PBS broadcast about her efforts, this number should increase markedly. The website for Imagination Library states, "Currently over 1600 local communities provide the Imagination Library to almost 700,000 children each and every month. Already statistics and independent reports have shown Dolly Parton's Imagination Library drastically improves early childhood literacy for children enrolled in the program. Further studies have shown improved scores during early literacy testing." This is a very magnanimous undertaking and it is to be hoped this program will continue to grow and help children become lifelong readers.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Vollis Simpson, Maker of Wonderful, Whimsical Whirligigs, Dies at 94

The pink slug
Vollis Simpson (Gerry Broome, AP)
Whirligigs by Vollis Simpson in NC
Whirligigs by Vollis Simpson in NC (Gerry Broome, AP)
Wikipedia describes whirligigs as, "pinwheels, buzzers, comic weathervanes, gee-haws, spinners, whirlygigs, whirlijig, whirlyjig, whirlybird, or plain whirly. Whirligigs are most commonly powered by the wind but can be hand or friction powered or even powered by a motor."  The most famous whirligig maker of all was Vollis Simpson, who created some massive and creative wind-driven whirligigs with which he  populated his farm. This whirligig farm, located in Lucama, North Carolina, contained over 30 large whirligigs, most of which are currently undergoing restoration. More than just whimsical or artistic, however, whirligigs can often be useful as energy producers or weather vanes among other practical functions. Vollis Simpson, a creative inventor/artist/tinkerer/ who lived his life among the beautiful things he built and loved. 

From Windmills to Whirligigs / ©Science Museum of Minnesota 1996
Pinwheel by Nevit Dilmen (Own work) - Wikimedia Commons

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Birding for Everyone!

Caught this interesting segment about birding on CBS Sunday Morning this past weekend. Birding has become a very popular pastime and is no longer confined to esoteric circles. Ordinary people are finding that it doesn't require any rigorous training, equipment, or even physical effort to watch and learn about our avian neighbors. Just look out the window!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Superman - Looking Good at 75!

Promotional art for Superman (vol. 2) #204 (April 2004)
by Jim Lee and Scott Williams copyright DC Comics
Wikimedia Commons
New Superman Logo
Man of Steel
The LA Times has a nice article on the 75th anniversary of Superman which includes a quiz, the new logo, plus information on the upcoming movie, "Man of Steel." Wikipedia, of course, has a comprehensive history of Superman and his creators, as well as the impact this superhero has had as the quintessential American icon. He's getting a lot of coverage in the news and there will be more as the summer progresses. And coincidentally, June also happens to be Skyscraper Month, which is very fitting considering one of Superman's powers is the ability to leap tall buildings in a single bound!