Friday, May 29, 2009

Which Greek God are you?

How long has it been since I showed you a way to make your name mean something else? We did have fun with the Soap Opera Name generator didn't we? Good times. Now for something that could have been dignified but, you guessed it, falls somewhat short. I test these things out you know before I inflict ... offer them to you. I liked my incarnation so much that I had to share. Prepare to be amazed and meet Zitousia, Goddess of Affordable Housing and Spoiled Food. Honestly, have these people met me? I can't find the cameras. You always knew you were special so get a name that announces it! Hop on over to the Greek God Generator and unleash your inner ... realtor?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Heads Up! New Hours A-Comin'

Due to cuts in the budget of the City of Des Moines, our library hours will be changing soon. As of Monday June 1st:
Central Library will close at 6:00 PM on Thursdays.
All branches (except Central) will open at 1:00 PM on Fridays.
Telephone service will be offered Monday-Friday, 9-6.
*All locations will close on Sundays during the summer.
Note: Central Library Sunday hours will resume September 2009 - May 2010.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Get Yourself Some Free Email (Rerun)

Need help getting started with email? So many employers require that you apply online and have an email account for their reply to you, it's hard to get by without one. Through our website we have step-by-step instructions to help you sign up for a free Yahoo email account. Our instructions also provide information on sending emails. Remember, once you have filled in the Yahoo ID line and the Password line be sure to make note of your ID and password. (Library staff cannot retrieve them for you). So go ahead and amaze your friends! Once you think of something to say besides, "Hey, I've got email!"
Click here to go to the instructions.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Build a Birdhouse

Guess what's the best stuff you can use to build a birdhouse? Wood! Who knew? I thought popsicle sticks were best, but I suppose they're made out of some kind of wood. Or wood-like product. Anyway, there are many many kinds of houses you can build, most of them doable in a weekend. Instant gratification! You get to pound nails and show off your creation all in the space of a couple days. So construct a few avian palaces and see who shows up. We're crossing our fingers for goldfinches.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Friday, May 22, 2009

Memorial Holiday

All 6 buildings of the Des Moines Public Library will be closed Saturday May 23th thrugh Monday May 25th in honor of Memorial Day. We will see you Tuesday.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

State of Confusion

Let us now consider Idaho. How many of us have uttered some variation of the phrase "not the potato state, Iowa". Too many to count. Did you know that the Des Moines Public Library owns over 40 works of fiction that feature the state of Idaho? Neither did I! One of them is by John Saul! A horror novel set in Idaho! Guardian is the title! There's even a Stuart Woods novel, Heat, that takes place in Idaho. It's about cults! Obviously Idaho is a hotbed of excitement and maybe we should acquaint ourselves better with our partner in disorientation. Then we can say, "No, not the state in Stuart Woods Heat, Iowa". Have bushels of fun:

Idaho Fiction

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

If you'd like to try a Children's Book ...

Read The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. Presented as a set of interlinked stories, it tells of Nobody (Bod) a lad whose life was saved as a tot when he wandered into said graveyard. Someone Very Bad had just done away with his family and wants to do the same to him. I know! It totally sounds familiar! The tone is both lighter and more mysterious than those books about the kid with the glasses. Bod is raised by ghosts and learns their ways - disappearing, walking through walls - but if he leaves the graveyard the Very Bad Someone will immediately pounce. The Graveyard Book is even better than Coraline, and that's saying something kids.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

urban legends/folklore jan brundvand

Love the urban legends. When I was a pup all we had was the guy with the hook for a hand. A classic, true, but limited. Here's a quote from Jan Brundvand, King of the UL's, about a 'fresh' tale.

" It is the story about a woman sitting in her car in the supermarket on a hot day. She hears a loud bang from behind her; something hits her in the back of the head. She puts her hand up to the back of her head, and feels something gooey. She thinks she has been shot and her brains are coming out. When someone stops to help her, the person discovers that a canister of ... biscuit dough has exploded in her grocery bag, located in the back seat of her car."

Biscuit dough. Delicious treat or vicious weapon? Be afraid.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Horses with a Gift

So I was leafing through the World Almanac the other day, (doesn't everyone?) and this tidbit caught my eye. There have been less than one dozen Triple Crown winners in the history of the Kentucky Derby, the Belmont and the Preakness. All three of these races have been up and running (running? Get it?) since 1875 so that's more than a century with so few! And the record for the Kentucky Derby is still Secretariat's time from 1973. Why aren't horses getting better like human athletes? Have they been no advances in equine science? Equinology? It's got me thinking. I hate that. Bone up on horse racing with these books:

Friday, May 15, 2009

Peace, Officer

Today is Peace Officers' Memorial Day. As you can see from the photo of the Des Moines memorial, this city has lost its share of police officers. But at one time there was a long run in which no officers were killed in the line of duty - between 1935 and 1977. Here's the tale of Captain Steven Tabor Howard. On March 2nd 1935, he visited the Unique beer tavern at 1832 East University Avenue with his friend Oscar Hughes, for a dinner of oyster stew. He was "leaving the tavern at 2:40 AM with Mr.Hughes and the proprieter, Roy Carlson, who had just turned out the lights. Captain Howard had just stepped out the door when he was shot at close range. The bandits took $54 from Mr. Hughes and the day's receipts from from Mr. Carlson". Captain Howard died on March 11th from a blood clot caused by the gunshot to his lungs.
For more stories of our local fallen officers, visit the Officer Down Memorial Page for the Des Moines Police Department

Source: Des Moines Register 3/12/35 p. 1
Photo courtesy Gerry Rowland

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Flarah's Downtown

The Central Library now houses a new restaurant - Flarah's! Some of you may know the eatery from the location in Beaverdale at Beaver and Franklin. They've got your salads and sandwiches which look mighty good. But I've heard their cheesecake is to die, and they're offering the mini's here. They make my very favorite: New York Style with Cherries which they call Mad for Manhattan. Flarah's will serve lunch, desserts, and coffee Monday through Friday from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM and on Saturdays from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM in the Meeting Room area of the Central Library. Yum.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

New Planets!

We always hoped they were out there, right? Exotic planets teeming with extraterrestrials - who knows what they could teach us! Today's excitement focuses on two newly discovered planets, euphoniously named Gliese 581 d and Gliese 581 e. Actual scientists say Gliese 581 d is in a "habitable zone -- just the right distance to sustain liquid water -- a common component of life on Earth". Therefore it might be capable of supporting life as we know it! The planets live somewhere in the area pictured to the left. So exciting! Send a probe! Include chocolate! We want to be friends.

Source: Philadelphia Inquirer, (PA); 04/22/2009, per EbscoHost
Graphic source: NASA

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


In our little TV package we have 'Music Choice' and lately we've been listening to the Movie Score channel or whatever they call it. I don't notice the scores all that much when I'm watching a movie. I'm usually caught up in plot/characters/monsters/explosions/keeping my 3-d glasses on. But now I know movie scores are gorgeous! The swelling strings, the plaintive brass. They are crafted to manipulate your emotions and they do. Boy Howdy. Just listen to Elmer Bernstein's thrilling score for To Kill a Mockingbird. Perfect rainy day music.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Al Hirschfeld

Caricaturists fascinate me. They can throw together what appear to be a few random lines and suddenly I'm looking at Janet Jackson. Al Hirschfeld was a master of the form. He died in 2003 at the ripe old age of 99 1/2, having provided New York newspapers with elegant art for over 70 years. In fact, his work was so omnipresent that a New York Times editor once complained he couldn't tell what paper he was reading, since so many featured Hirschfeld drawings. Then there was the fun of looking for the name of his daughter, Nina, which he hid in most of his drawings. Now guess who the performer at left is. Hint: she hasn't changed her hairstyle in 40 years.

Source: Biography Resource Center
Graphic Source: Library of Congress

Friday, May 8, 2009

A Very Old Poem for Mother's Day even older now

Here is a nugget from the 1952 classic Good Things for Mother's Day.

Well, you should see my mom, yes sir!
No dark old woolen shawl for her!
She wears gay hats upon her head,
And, boy! Her curly hair is red!

Now you may wonder why we keep a book from 1952, but where else are you going to find this stuff? Hallmark? I don't think so. And while we have a tendency to view Mother's Day as a plot concocted by the greeting card cartel, it actually originated in 1907 when Anna Jarvis asked that a church service for all mothers be held on the anniversary of her own mother's death. Very sweet and very humble. Besides, even if it's been commercialized the day is a great excuse to tell someone who nurtured you that you really appreciate them. Even if they're not your mother. Or red-headed.

Source: Chase's Calendar of Annual Events
This was originally posted in May of 2008

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Postage - 44 cent bargain

Postage stamps for first-class mail are going to be more expensive starting on Monday. Two cents more expensive. Nobody likes paying more, and I will add the ubiquitous 'especially now'. (Just because it's ubiquitious doesn't mean it's not true.) But I am a huge admirer of the USPS and let me tell you why. Like you could stop me.
A. You only pay postage. I have a friend who's lived in countries in which she has literally had to ransom her mail in order to pry it out of the post office's hands. Sometimes the bribe was more than the value of the package contents.
B. They deliver mail with addresses on them that even Nicholas Cage could not decipher. I've seen mail reach the recipient when the name, address and zip were all wrong even after you figured out what the scrawls said.
C. According to encarta, they deliver more than 160 billion pieces of mail per year.
We all know the USPS isn't perfect. They've certainly had financial problems over the years and now delivery may be cut from 6 days to 5. But as a person who still likes to send messages written on paper, I'm a fan. And I'll pay the 2 cents.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Hellooo, Cloris

Cloris Leachmen will drop by the Central Library on Friday, May 8, at 6:30 PM. She will be joined by her Dancing With The Stars partner, Corky Ballas! Cloris and Corky doesn't have quite the same bounce as Bobby and Cissy, but it ain't bad. I used to watch her on the incomparable Mary Tyler Moore Show and envy her beautiful blonde hair with the perfect ear curls. That and her acting skills got her eight Primetime Emmy Awards --more than any other female performer!! And did you know she had a bit part in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid? See if you can spot her. The hair looked even better then.

The Mary Tyler Moore show. The complete first season
The Last Picture Show
Young Frankenstein

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Library Facts One

OCLC, the people who bring you the world's card catalog, have been compiling some fun stuff about library holdings. This particular information is from 2005, but I remember 2005. I'll bet most of you do. These were the 5 most-owned books by libraries around the world - libraries that use OCLC, that is.

#1 Bible [various]
#2 Census [various]
#3 Mother Goose
#4 Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri
#5 Odyssey by Homer
Now I don't know if they are counting every publication the Census puts out, but I'm still a little surprised to see that listed. Here is a sampling of books that Des Moinesians have enjoyed:

What can I say? We care about grammar. In a big way. (Sentence fragment alert!) (Oops! That was another one ...)

Monday, May 4, 2009

Dream Control

The author of Lucid Dreaming, Robert Waggoner, will be speaking about his book at the Central Library on Wednesday, May 6, at 6:30 PM. As I understand lucid dreaming, two of the components are: telling yourself what you want to dream about before you go to sleep; and being aware that you are dreaming. The latter is not always a good thing, especially if you are in the middle of a nasty situation and can't wake up. But another aspect of lucid dreaming is that you can influence what happens, maybe even take control of the dream. Now that's cool. Especially when you'd rather have a flying dream instead of one with misbehaving appliances. That I'd like to learn. You never know when your clothes dryer will turn on you.
In addition to Mr Waggoner's book, you might also read:

Friday, May 1, 2009

Friday Funnies - what flower are you?

Now that we've beaten the whole soap opera name thing to a bubbly pulp, let's move on to something equally! At the What Flower Are You website, you just enter your first and last name and they tell you what you'd be if you were a flower. A random flower I'm guessing. I'm a sunflower. I love sunflowers! So at first all was great. But then it says sunflower people are Bright, Optimistic, and Opportunistic. I am not optimistic! Oh sunflower, how could you be so wrong? But don't let that stop you from trying. Maybe your flower won't betray you. By the way, when my husband said his ancestors came to the U.S. by hiding in flour barrels I thought they were covered with blossoms. So maybe I am optimistic after all.

If you're interested in the traditional meaning of flowers, here are books on Flower Language.