Monday, November 30, 2009


Did you see that Michael Jackson won 4 awards at the American Music Awards?  Almost as many as Taylor Swift, who is apparently the bee's knees.  Today is the 27th anniversary of the release of Thriller arguably not only  the most popular recording "best selling-studio album of all time), but one of the most important.  It got African-Americans on MTV and opened the doors of popular music to a wide variety of styles.  Plus it was really cool.  But I never could do that dance.

Source:  Reuters
Thriller 25: the world's biggest selling album of all time / Michael Jackson

Friday, November 27, 2009

Friday, post-feast

It's the day after and now how are you going to keep all those people entertained?  The ones who don't want to watch sports or shop.  Party games, of course!  You don't even have to own board games, we have books with games that use ordinary household items like pencil and paper.  You do still have those, right? 

Games : for people of all ages
The world's best party games / Sheila Anne Barry
The games we played : the golden age of board & table games
All locations of the Des Moines Public Library will be closed for the Thanksgiving Holiday on Thursday November 26 and Friday November 27. We will reopen our usual hours on Saturday November 28.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

It's Thanksgiving Day! Parade!

Those of you who aren't cooking for hordes are allowed to watch the parade in your jammies.  It's the 83rd annual parade. In the accompanying photo, an ordinarily fearless drum corps flees before a giant and potentially flammable turkey.  At least they appear to be dressed for the weather.    All locations of the Des Moines Public Library will be closed for the Thanksgiving Holiday on Thursday November 26 and Friday November 27. We will reopen our usual hours on Saturday November 28.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Closings

All locations of the Des Moines Public Library will be closed for the Thanksgiving Holiday on Thursday November 26 and Friday November 27.  We will reopen our usual hours on Saturday November 28.  But don't worry about us, none of your stuff will be due on Thursday and Friday and you can just relax and eat things one can only manage to eat once a year.  Candied yams with marshmallows.  I didn't even like this stuff in the 50's when it was haute cuisine. But that's just me - the rest of you dive in!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Ah, the noble turkey

It's easy to forget how big turkeys are. They can run to 21 pounds in the wild and apparently they used to be bigger.  Colonists of Eastern America regularly found birds weighing 27 to 35 pounds.  There were reports of 63 pound turkeys.  By the way, turkeys can reproduce through parthenogenesis. This means no contact of any kind with the male of the species is necessary. The female does it all by her lonesome. It's probably the most complex organism that can do this.  Who knew?  Happy Thanksgiving!  And to you vegetarians, Happy Tofu Turkey!   All locations of the Des Moines Public Library will be closed for the Thanksgiving Holiday on Thursday November 26 and Friday November 27. We will reopen our usual hours on Saturday November 28.

Source:  The world of the wild turkey [by] James C. Lewis.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Forest Avenue Library Closing for a Couple Weeks

We want you to be warm and comfy when you're at the Forest Avenue Library.  We want to be warm and comfy when you're at the Forest Avenue Library.  In order to achieve this state of climatological bliss, the Forest Avenue Library (including Book Return) WILL BE CLOSED November 30 – December 14 for the replacement of the heating and cooling system. If you have items on hold during this period you can pick them up at the North Side Library which is oh-so-close at 5th and Euclid.  The plan is to reopen on December 14.  For the most current information, click here.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Online Word Game - Bogglish

I never got into playing games online, must be an age thing.  But today's Fun Friday link is a word game!  It's kind of like Boggle only 3D and apparently you can only use the letters so many times and then they disappear and you get a new letter underneath.  Whew.  Sometimes you get a hole.  That's where the 3D comes in.  It's called the Word Cube Game, and I hate it when the only vowels I get are Y's.  Have fun!
Play Word Cube

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Scottish Slang

What are they talking about! I've been reading Stuart MacBride's  excellent and gruesome Scottish murder mysteries and encountering lots of colorful Scottish slang.  Frankly, most of it is too colorful to repeat here.  But 'bacon buttie' has been driving me crazy. Apparently Scottish police live on these. So I looked them up and they sound delicious: lots of bacon; bread - can be buttered inside, can be toasted; tomato sauce.  Maybe the Scottish equivalent of a greasy burger.  Yum.  There are more fun words!  Like 'winkle', which as near as I can tell means 'to fish out'.  At one point a character managed to 'winkle' a cigarette from a crushed pack.    And 'manky' is great  - scruffy, dirty, distasteful, disgusting.  'Blootered' means drunk.  Isn't this fun?  For more, read Stuart MacBride.  Then you can play the what? game too.

Stuart MacBride Books

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Left-Overs, but we're not talking turkey

So you didn't need all of your prescription drugs, or they've expired, or you've changed prescriptions and now you are stuck with left-over drugs. What to do? We used to flush them but now they say the chemicals get into the water if you do that. Same for tossing them in the trash.  Now we can get rid of them and do no harm.  The Iowa Pharmacy Association has a program for disposing of prescription drugs and OTC medications safely.  The official title:  Take Away Environmental Return System; Iowa's Medication Disposal Program.  Visit the web site for information as to what medicines are accepted and to find a participating pharmacy near you.  
Take Away Environmental Return System; Iowa's Medication Disposal Program.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A Different Kind of Chill

Dennis Etchison's books. This is disturbing stuff. People seem ordinary and they have no supernatural powers - but they are casual monsters. Sometimes the story title clues you in to the tone. For example: Sitting in the Corner, Whimpering Quietly. Psychological terror is introduced slyly, instead of being wielded like a club. He does change it up -  you read a story that scares you right out of your britches, then the next is essentially an extended pun. Gives you a little bit of a break from the intensity. For those who appreciate Joyce Carol Oates' really dark side.
The Dark Country

Monday, November 16, 2009

How do I ...

Have you noticed the 'How Do I'  box under 'Search The Catalog' on our home page?  All sorts of handy-dandy options turn up if you click on that down arrow.  Let's  pick one at random.  'How do I ... set up an email account?'  If you're applying for jobs online you have to have an email account.  Don't have one yet?  We have a great guide that will take you step-by-step through the process of setting up your very own free email.  After you select 'set up an email account?', click on 'email instructions'.  This takes you to a document with the directions and you are on your way.  (The account is not sponsored or supported by the Des Moines Public Library). Who knew you could find that through our web site.

Friday, November 13, 2009


Ahhhhh.  Those heady days when we saw Monty Python's Flying Circus for the first time.  Thinking,  "What the?"  Little did we know how enriched our cultural lives would become.  The guy to the right is not the best-remembered element of the show, but it was the first time I saw a man wearing a knotted  handkerchief on his head.  Still don't know what that's all about.  Now you can make that guy say anything!  Even something that makes sense.
Try the Monty Python Generator  and see if you can avoid the floating ads.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Buckyballs! How fun is that word? It needs a song - Buckyballs, Buckyballs, won't you be my... maybe not. In case you're wondering what the heck they are, Buckyballs, also known as Fullerines, are carbon clusters that consists of 60 atoms arranged in a formation that resembles the dome dubbed 'geodesic' by Buckminster Fuller. (He did the math.) Apparently this sort of formation was highly unusual:  "It puzzled them (the scientists) because they had no idea how 60 atoms could have arranged themselves so stably. They pondered the conundrum during two weeks of discussion, frequently over Mexican food, before hitting on the solution: one carbon atom must lie at each vertex of 12 pentagons and 20 hexagons arranged like the panels of a soccer ball."  Well, duh.   They named the molecule "buckminsterfullerene"! Just goes to show the power of Mexican food.  For more information:

Author: Yam, Philip
Source:  Scientific American; Sep2009, Vol. 301 Issue 3, p82
accessed through EbscoHost

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


All 6 buildings of the Des Moines Public Library are closed today in honor of Veterans Day.  With respect, some information about U. S. troop losses:
Operation Enduring Freedom, (includes Afghanistan) U. S. Military Deaths :  October 7, 2001, through August 1, 2009 - 759

Operation Iraqi Freedom: U. S. Military Deaths:  Since May 1, 2003  August 1, 2009 - 4,181

For more information on U.S. Military Deaths from the Revolutionary War on, read:
Congressional Research Service
American War and Military Operations
Casualties: Lists and Statistics

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Patently female

Women inventors. We all know Michael Nesmith's Mom(Bette Nesmith Graham) invented Liquid Paper.  But wait there's more!  Lillian Moller Gilbreth of Cheaper by the Dozen fame invented the step-on trash container.  She had doctorates in psychology and engineering, 12 kids, 2 hands.  If anyone needed a trash can you could open with your foot...   Dr. Patricia Bath, the creator of laser cataract surgery, was the first African American woman to receive a patent for a medical invention.  Remember when everyone wanted Math Blaster software?  Well, they did and it was brought to you by Jan Davidson. As for how long women have been in the invention business,  Hypatia of Alexandria invented the astrolabe.  This occurred in the neighborhood of the year 390. To read more:
Patently female : from AZT to TV dinners : stories of women inventors and their breakthrough ideas

Monday, November 9, 2009

Closed Wednesday

All 6 buildings of the Des Moines Public will be closed for Veteran's Day on Wednesday November 11.  We will open at our regular time on Thursday the 12th.

Friday, November 6, 2009

It's old, but it's virtual

Ok, Rock Star here's your chance to make your own recording.  Of course, it's just an image of a cassette with song and artist name that you type in, but hey.  If you even know what a music cassette is, maybe you're not that cool.  Just maybe.  I think it's entertaining (and I know I'm not cool) and they make swell gifts.  If you usually print something off the internet and give it to your friends for their birthdays, that is.  Go!  Have fun with it! Relive the Olden Days of mix tapes. Cassette Generator

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Water Program Saturday November 7

Here's a quote to wake you up: "Some river stretches, including the Skunk River south of Ames and Mill Creek south of Milford, carry almost nothing but sewage during dry weather.*" This is BAD. If you have an interest in the quality of water in Iowa, you may want to check out "WATER UNDER SIEGE: the Politics, Pollution and Commodification of Water. Explore the competing interests in water conservation, industry, and politics."  All ages as invited.  The program presents water quality documentaries plus question-and-answer sessions. At the Central Library, 1000 Grand Ave. Saturday, November 07, 9:30-4:30.

*Des Moines Register  Nov 1, 2009. pg. A.1
Photo courtesy Gerry Rowland - the Des Moines River, near Rutland

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Consider ketchup

The fine ladies in this picture are actually working on pickles, but we all know where ketchup comes from. Fast food spigots! The H. J. Heinz Company has been churning out the stuff since 1869. Since then? In 1876 the first bottle appeared. Well how did people get it home before it was in bottles?  According to Pure ketchup: a history of America's national condiment, ketchup was ladled out of whiskey barrels into pails!  I'd like a pail of ketchup, please.  Yes, it's to go. 1960 saw the introduction of single-serve packets and in 1983 we got the squeezable plastic bottle. Yay! No wonder 10 billion ounces of ketchup are sold each year in the U. S. (as of 2005). Another tidbit: William Johnson, the sixth chief executive of H. J. Heinz, says that in Sweden people put ketchup on their pasta. Isn’t Sweden where they eat lutefisk? Just askin'.

Anticipation by Burke, Monte. Forbes Magazine  12-12-2005 Page: 124
As accessed through eLibrary

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Now where is that?

Looking for hot, fresh information on countries around the world?  Your Federal Government stands ready to serve.  They have  'Background Notes', data collected by the U.S. Department of State. The notes on Kiribati run to 6 pages, so they're more like magazine articles really.  Haven't heard of Kiribati ?  Here, you'll need a little help with the pronunciation: "keer-ah-bhass".  Sounds like a delightful country, what with being composed of "archipelagos of low-lying coral atolls surrounded by extensive reefs" and all.  And that's just one country!  You can poke around for curiosity’s sake, or keep it in mind when your child is assigned to do a paper on Vanuatu.

U.S. Department of State Background Notes
The Des Moines Public Library is a  Federal Depository Library.