Saturday, February 23, 2013

Teens Only | In Honor of....

Black History Month....a couple of things to share on this Saturday afternoon.

Cesar Chavez Central Library Display
First of all, stop by the Cesar Chavez Central Library soon to view one of the most eye-catching displays you'll ever see. My colleague Kelly has put together three displays for Black History Month. They feature a collage of well-known -- and lesser known -- African Americans. Customers have stopped and spent some serious time appreciating the pictures, captions....and more importantly, the contributions of these many people. So don't miss it. Seriously.

And next, mark your calendar! Producer/director Tyrone Young will be at the Cesar Chavez Central Library on Monday, February 25th, to talk about his movie: "Filling the Gap: A Forgotten Chapter of American History." This program is part of the Live from Cesar Chavez! series, a collaboration of the Library & Literacy Foundation for San Joaquin County and the library. The movie was nominated for the NAACP Image Award and explores the lives of people who black history has forgotten. The movie will be shown at 5 pm, and then Mr. Young will speak and answer questions beginning at 6:30 pm. That's Monday, the 25th. You'll be inspired and captivated by Mr. Young's story. (And we'll have copies added to the library collection soon, so make sure to check one out!)

And FYI, University of the Pacific will also show this movie on Sunday, February 24th at 7 pm in the Janet Leigh Theatre. Mr. Young will also host a Q&A session after the movie showing. This program is free and open to the public.

By the way, just how good is your knowledge of black history? Let's just give it a little try....shall we?

1. Who was the first African American to play baseball in the major leagues?
2. Who was the first African American in space?
3. This famous musician learned to play the trumpet while living at the Colored Waif's Home for Boys. Who was he?
4. Before growing up to be a famous neurosurgeon, this person was required -- by his mother -- to read two library books a week and prepare reports on them. And his mother couldn't read! Who was he?

Check back here for the answers. In the meantime, visit any SSJCPL branch library and check out books on Black History. 

Books On Film | Oscars 2013

The Oscars air tomorrow night! There are nine movies up for the best picture award, three of which are based on books.

 Guess which nominees were adapted from books?

Best Picture Nominees
Beasts of The Southern Wild
Django Unchained 
Les Miserables
Life of Pi
Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty  

And the winners are...

Les Misérables by Victor Hugo was published in 1862. It follows the lives of several characters starting in 1815 and ending in the Parisian anti-monarchist rebellion of 1832 (June Rebellion). It's probably most famously known for it's 1980 musical adaptation which is still performed today. The 2012 movie adaptation, starring Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway, is based on the musical. The first movie adaptation of Les Miserables, made in 1935, was based on the book itself and was also nominated for best picture.

Life of Pi by Yann Martel is a fantasy adventure novel that follows the life of a character named Pi Patel as he reminisces about his childhood, contemplates his spirituality, and spends 227 shipwrecked in the Pacific Ocean with a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. The 2012 film is directed by Ang Lee and stars newcomer Suraj Sharma.

Lincoln, the biopic film, directed by Steven Spielberg is partially based on the 2005 biography Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin. The book focuses on President Lincoln and several of his cabinet members, who had run against him in the 1860 election. She follows them from 1861-1865 as they deal with abolition and the civil war. 

Silver Linings Playbook is based on the novel The Silver Lining Playbook (LINK+) by Matthew Quick (published in 2008). The novel follows Pat, a former history teacher and widower, after he is released from the neurology hospital where he has stayed the last several years. The 2012 film stars Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, who has been nominated for best actress.

Argo and Zero Dark Thirty are not based on particular books, but they are based on real events/real people.

Argo is a dramatization of an event frequently called "The Canadian Caper." The Canadian government and the American CIA worked together to rescue hostages from Islamist militants in 1979. CIA Agent Tony Mendez, who  is played by actor/director Ben Affleck in the film, wrote The Master of Disguise: My Life in the CIA by Antonio Mendez detailing his time in the CIA.

Zero Dark Thirty is dramatization of the American military's search for Osama Bin Laden. Like Lincoln, the movie is not based upon a particular book, but there are several recent titles which detail the topic. This includes a biography from Navy Seal Marc Owen, titled No Easy Day: The Autobiography of a Navy Seal which was reviewed for the library blog The Book Bucket List

Lastly, while not a book Beasts of the Southern Wild was originally a one-act play that the playwright developed into a screenplay. The play is available in ebook format through booksellers.

Oscar Nominee List:

Friday, February 22, 2013

Food, Food, Food | Too Hungry to Post Much

I am trying to be a pescatarian (no meat except fish) and I am hungry.  I keep forgetting that a) I love to eat meat and b) I don't like many veggies.  There's only so much Greek yogurt, apples, oranges and cashews that one girl can eat and not get grouchy.  Tonight I may have to go get fish and chips somewhere. 

We have books on different diets and food lifestyles.  I am reading one called "Becoming Vegetarian
 It has been helpful in describing the different ways you can modify your diet in ways that may be healthier for you and will be healthier for the planet.  I wasn't thinking to save the planet with my new diet but from what I read, I will be helping.  If I can really do this...

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Book Bucket List | Star Wars: The Heir to the Empire Triology

So last month it was announced by the folks at Disney/Lucasfilm that director J.J. Abrams will be directing the newest Star Wars trilogy.  Abrams has also recently rebooted the original Star Trek franchise, which has caused a new war between the Trekkies and Star Wars fans, but that's another story.  You can read more about the decision to have Abrams direct here.

The new movies are supposed to take place after The Return of the Jedi, the final installment of the first three Star Wars films. Though no official plot details have been released, the Thawn Trilogy or Heir to the Empire Trilogy by Timothy Zahn begins only five years after Return of the Jedi ends.  These were the first science fiction books I ever got my hands on, and as Star Wars was constantly playing in our house and as kids we were constantly reenacting them (I was always Princess Leia), I was hooked.  The books include the original characters from the first series, including Han, Leia, Luke, and even Chewie, as well as the next generation of Skywalkers/Solos.
We have all three books at our libraries, and you can check them out here:
These books are considered classics in Star Wars land, they may have some content that the new movies incorporate.  So if you are curious about what the new series may be about, check out these titles!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Short Attention Span Challenge | The Photographer

As time goes by, I feel like capturing every family moment in pictures is incredibly important.  Right now, we are using a fairly inexpensive "point and shoot" camera. It worked fine in the past, when it was just my husband and me taking posed pictures or scenery with little to no movement.  Now that I have kids, it has become more difficult. The kids are constantly moving, and even when I use the automatic features on our camera, the pictures never seem to turn out quite right.  
Last week, I was attempting to take some pictures of my kids playing in our yard. After struggling for a little while with the camera, I started fooling around with the manual settings.  A few of the pictures turned out okay, but I realized I didn't have a clue what I was doing.

The Challenge
Learn how to use the manual settings on my camera (and hopefully improve the pictures I feature on my blog!).

The Process
 I started simple, by just checking out the manual settings on the camera, with absolutely no guidance whatsoever.  As I looked at the screen I saw letters and numbers and had absolutely no idea what they were.  I would mess with some numbers, making them larger, and the pictures would get too bright.   I would change another number, and the picture would get blurry.  Surely, there is a magic formula that will make these numbers work together.  You betcha. 

So I checked out a couple great books, but mostly I used this one.

I could go into a whole bunch of explanation about the camera obscura, or a comparison of the camera to the human eye, but I am just going to keep this short and simple.

ISO 100--ss .3--f/4.5

ISO 100--ss 1/13---f/4.5

Shutter Speed: 
The shutter is like a little window, opening and closing.  Imagine someone opening and closing window curtains and a flash of light is allowed into a room.  If you keep the curtains opened longer, the light will shine longer.  Shutter speeds are measured in fractions of seconds, and each increase in speed is twice as fast as the shutter speed before it, according to my book. My camera's shutter speeds are as short as 1/2500 of a second to as long as 15 seconds.  The quicker shutter speed catch a clear shot of a moving object, but lets in less light.  The longer shutter speed will let in more light, but the picture might be blurry.  By the way, I did get a clear picture of this kid using the correct shutter speed, but trying to keep her semi-anonymous.

ISO 80--1/250---f/8.0


F-Stops:  The F-Stop determines how much light goes into the lens.  The bigger the f/number, the smaller the diaphragm opening of the iris, and the less light it lets in.  Good cameras are capable of smaller F numbers.  Mine starts at f/2.8 and goes up to f/8.

ISO: This is the sensitivity of your camera to light.  The higher the number, the lighter your pictures will be.  In addition, the higher the number, the more noise or blurry spots you will see in your picture.  My book suggested to use the lowest possible ISO for whatever environment you are in while taking the pictures.
ISO 100--1/100--f/2.8

ISO 400--1/100--f/

ISO 200--1/100--f/2.8

Once you have determined what your ISO will be, the relationship between the f/stops and the shutter speed should be in a lock step.  When you move up the number of the f/stop, you will need to slow down the shutter speed.

Using these components, and by placing your camera at the right place, you should be able to manipulate your depth of field.  The closer you get to something, the blurrier it will get.  You can also change the depth of field by changing the f/stop.
ISO 80--1/60--f/3.5

ISO 80--1/60--f/3.5


The Result
I still have much to learn, but at least I know what those numbers on my camera are all about.  I only had a week to pursue this and I found it fascinating and fun.  I can't wait to keep playing with my camera, and luckily, with this blog, I have a great excuse to do it.

Learning | Bonus Letter Z?

Sometimes people who normally write material for adults produce some of the best children's books.  Take New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast, for instance. She collaborated with author/comedian/entertainer Steve Martin on The Alphabet from A to Y with bonus letter Z! 

This book is a fine example of the Bullwinkle Effect mentioned in my Hey, Moose! Where is Crocodile? post. This is classified as a children's picture book. Kids will enjoy it, but their parents will enjoy it just as much, if not more. 

There are things mentioned here that very small children won't necessarily understand until they are older, but they'll chuckle when they learn what they mean, because they'll remember some silly phrase from this book.

As one expects from a typical alphabet book, there's plenty of alliteration in the rhyming couplets for each letter. 

As one would expect from Steve Martin and Roz Chast, there's an abundance of silliness, too.

(Honestly, I wonder how they got this thing done. They must have had to take a lot of breaks to laugh, and then collect their composure.  I know Chast did all of the illustrations, but which jokes were Martin's? And who thought of dropping the usual "A to Z" progression, in favor of "A to Y" with "bonus letter Z?" I would love to have been a fly on the wall during their meetings.)

I like Chast's New Yorker cartoons because they are subtle.  They don't rely on just one gag; there's enough to keep the viewer going back to look at a piece again and again.  

Can you think of other examples of the Bullwinkle Effect?  What are your favorite silly alphabet books?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

4 Kids | Secrets, Lies, Plotting, and Surprise

May I introduce Sage, a young orphan living in a miserable orphanage in the country of Carthya. As he is running with a raw roast in his hands, trying to escape the butcher from whom he has just stolen, he is picked up and thrown into a most unbelievable scheme.

And so begins Jennifer Nielsen's The False Prince. Sage, along with two other orphans, Tobias and Roden, are taken into the care of Bevin Conner, one of the twenty regents to the throne of Carthya. We soon learn that the entire royal family -- King Eckbert, Queen Erin, and the heir-to-be, Darius -- has died. But the regents are keeping this fact secret so as to avoid certain war from neighboring countries, and even a possible civil war within its own borders.
Conner has a plot to make one of the orphans into Jaron, the younger son of the recently deceased royalty who had left home several years earlier and was believed killed at the hands of pirates. So Conner begins with a grueling routine of lessons in swordfighting, horsemanship, and all things royalty to make one of the scrapping orphans into a believable heir to the throne. And death seems certain for the two boys who are not chosen to impersonate the long lost Prince Jaron.
We quickly see there is more to Sage than we might at first think. He's smart. He's sneaky. And he's got a plan of his own.
Throughout this gripping, page-turner of a book, we'll see loyalties questioned, promises made, unexpected twists, and some surprising acts of forgiveness along the way. This is a must read. It's a medieval fantasy without any magical animals or powers. And it's the first book in the Ascendancy Trilogy. (I can't wait for book 2!!)
And now that I realize I like these medieval fantasies filled with subterfuge, I thought I'd look around for a read-alike...library-speak for books with similar themes.
I found one! I think I'll pick up book 1 of John Flanagan's Ranger's Apprentice series, The Ruins of Gorlan. The description of this book sounds very intriguing: 15-year-old Will, always small for his age, has been chosen as a Ranger’s apprentice, a group believed to practice a magic that makes them invisible to ordinary people. What he doesn’t yet realize is that the Rangers are the protectors of the kingdom. Highly trained in the skills of battle and surveillance, they fight the battles before the battles reach the people. And as Will is about to learn, there is a large battle brewing.
I know many of you are fans of Ranger's Apprentice, so give The False Prince a try. And let me know what you think!!!
BTW, posting a comment below is now easier than ever. So tell me what you're reading, and if you make a recommendation for me to read, I'll read it. And I'll write about it! I promise.
Until next week, happy reading!


Monday, February 18, 2013

Life & Style | White Elephant

Our Work White Elephant
There is a framed picture of an elephant in our staff break room and underneath it, you can find an array of freebies that you can take home.

Welcome to Cesar Chavez White Elephant corner.

I have found some wonderful items from our White Elephant. This beautiful carosel horse is one them.

Legend has it that one day a white circus elephant appeared in front of the Stockton Public Library and went straight to our staff break room and turned in to a wall picture.

Gosh, my nose is growing.

Anyway, to have a successful White Elephant, everyone should contribute to it once in a while and I am happy to report that I have donated my fair share to this cause, I assure you.

I was thinking, wouldn't it be nice to have a White Elephant in Stockton neighborhoods a few times a year so Stocktonians can clear their closets and lend a helping hand to others in the process. 

For example, I am dying to find a filing cabinet that I can store all my important papers in and I don't really want to go and buy one.

Come to think of it, we need a White Elephant National Holiday.

I love this mug

I have some items in my house that I am dying to get rid of but the guilt isn't letting me to do it, because they were gifts from my friends and family. 

For example I really want to get rid of this blue coffee set that my mom brought me all the way from Iran. Apparently she had bought this set from a distant relative about 35 years ago.

This entire set has been cluttering an entire shelf of my kitchen cabinet for the past nine years and I have yet to use them. Come to think of it, I should save them for 20 more years and give it as antique to my daughter on her wedding day since all brides need something blue on their special day.
Or maybe, I should have a White Elephant giveaway this summer and get rid of it.

I am also thinking about giving away my husbands' two GIGANTIC speakers which resembles two giant African elephants (a.k.a Panteha's eye sore) and while I am at it, I might give away his collection of CDs & Blu Rays just to be little playful.

How about one of these books to start a clutter free life:

Signing off until next Monday- Panteha