Saturday, June 22, 2013

Teens Only | I'll Take Extra Chocolate With That, Please

I enjoy being able to point out unusual trivia to you, my dear readers. So it is with pleasure that I announce today -- June 22 -- is National Chocolate Eclair Day. And I'm letting you know that I will be celebrating this "holiday" by enjoying one of those wonderful delicacies today. 

And it's fitting to celebrate something chocolate during the summer reading program, the theme of which is "Reading Is So Delicious." It is delicious, wouldn't you agree?

If you're reading this, then surely you know the benefits of reading. Reading informs us, entertains us, and just helps us succeed in life! 

But chocolate. Could there be benefits of chocolate?

I did a little reading and found out that yes, indeed, there are benefits to eating chocolate.

Allow me to share.

Regular chocolate eaters welcome a host of benefits for their hearts, including lower blood pressure, lower "bad" LDL cholesterol, and a  lower risk of heart disease. 

The type of antioxidants called flavonoids found in dark chocolate offer some protection from UV damage from the sun. So in addition to packing that all-important sunscreen, put a little dark chocolate in your bag before you hit the beach!

I don't how scientific the next one is, but I'm going to go with it: Chocolate eaters also report feeling less stressed. 

That boost of blood flow to the brain created by cocoa's flavanols seems to make people feel more awake and alert, and, in a small British study, perform better on counting tasks.

Hello chocolate eclair! Hello chocolate anything.

By the way, I found this information in an article on the Huffington Post. You can read the full article here

And if you're feeling inspired to do a little baking with chocolate, I've found a great book in the SSJCPL collection that will give you a ton of recipes to indulge your sweet tooth. Check out Magnus Johansson's Cooking With Chocolate: The Best Recipes and Tips from a Master Pastry Chef.This book is a must-see because it gives really great instructions on the various techniques for working with chocolate. If you can't find it at the library branch near you, ask a staff member to help you place a request on it!

So celebration National Chocolate Eclair Day....and remember to pick up a reading log so you can be part of SSJCPL's 2013 Summer Reading program! 

Happy reading....and eating!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Learning | Portmanteaus and Morphemes

I suspect only the nerdiest of us word nerds know the definition of morpheme. I happen to think it's a useful word, for anybody who ponders the meaning of words. A morpheme is the smallest part of a word that conveys meaning, without being able to be divided further. For instance, consider the word suitcase. It is made of two morphemes: suit and case. Morphemes are like the atoms of words; taking them apart further leaves you with letters, that don't particularly mean anything by themselves.

Photo courtesy of mattbuck4950's photostream on Some rights reserved.

Lately, I've thought about the multiple meanings of the word portmanteau.  I am most familiar with its meaning as a literary device.  A word that is made from the morphemes of other words is called a portmanteau (for example, the term bureaucrazy, to emphasize the madness of bureaucracy.) I wondered why the term portmanteau is used for this device.

I always turn to a dictionary when I have a question like this. The Concise Oxford English dictionary is available at several of our library branches.  It tells me the word portmanteau came from two French words: porter, meaning carry, plus manteau, meaning mantle.

The orginal definition of portmanteau is a big piece of luggage. As time went on, the term was applied more specifically, to a piece of luggage that opens into two equal parts. 

The word portmanteau  has also become a metaphor for anything that divides into two parts. (It's interesting to note that meanings can continue to expand beyond the morphemes they contain; neither porter nor manteau have anything to do with division into two parts.)

So, it appears that the "two part" concept is the reason the literary device is called a portmanteau.  Whatever you call them, portmanteaus are fun. Yesterday, I laughed when my son described the last slice of cheese in our refrigerator as "provalonely."

What examples of portmanteaus have you heard?  Do you have any favorites? 

P.S.  Since I brought up the subject of luggage in this post, I can't resist mentioning the walking luggage character in Terry Pratchett's Discworld series. This is no ordinary luggage, and I'm not even talking about its ability to walk.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

4 Kids | I Dare You

It's summer. No school. You've got nothing but time to do whatever you want! Yes, you can play outside, go swimming, practice baseball or soccer at the park, hang out with friends, etc., etc., etc. 

But right here, right now, I dare you to do something different. Learn something new! Seriously.

SSJCPL branches have the most awesome collection of non-fiction books for kids (that's informational books, by the way). They are filled with tons of cool information and great pictures.

So do it. I dare you. Learn something new.

by Etta Kaner. In this unique facts book, animals compete in sporting events such as high jump, swimming and weight lifting. Readers are encouraged to guess which animal will win before turning the page, while walrus and cockatoo "announcers" provide funny commentary and interesting statistics about the athletes' amazing abilities. So learn all about which animals can be faster, stronger and more powerful, and how humans compare!

I Wonder Why Volcanoes Blow Their Tops: And Other Questions About Natural Disasters by Rosie Greenwood. Learn everything you ever wanted to know about volcanoes in this easy question-and-answer format. Then amaze your friends and family with your indepth knowledge of all things volcano!

Get outside, explore and have fun. Using natural materials, you can learn how to make things AND cook things. One of the crafts involves making paper from corn! Who knew?

Our Rights: How Kids Are Changing the World by Janet Wilson. This around-the-world tour introduces readers to children who have taken on the role of social activist, fighting for human rights and social justice in countries as diverse as Yemen and Congo, Canada and the United States. For example, Anita Khushwaha fought against gender and class bias in her community in India. Emman Bagual founded Mind Your Rights to fight child labor in the Philippines. Zach Bonner walked 1,000 miles to raise awareness about homeless children in the United States. A diverse range of other issues is covered, including aboriginal rights, human trafficking and child soldiers, and the full United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child can be found alongside tips for how kids everywhere can make a difference.

Once again, I dare you: Learn something NEW. Expand your mind. 

And enjoy your summer!!

Happy reading!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Just Life | Sun Is Your Enemy!

Ok, be honest, do you wear sunblock religiously?

I just learned that 1 in 5 Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancer. Good news is that the simplest way to avoid skin cancer is to wear sunblock.
I hate wearing sunblock but I have been spraying myself with sunblock since I saw this article on CNN

My excuse for not wearing sunblock is always the same. I tell myself that I am not in the sun for that long so why bother. But as one Dermatologist told his patients; did you tunnel to get to my office?

Sunblock not only protects you from skin cancer, but also it keeps your skin young. 

And who doesn't want to look young?

Here are some basic facts about protecting your skin:
  • UVA rays from the sun make your skin age.
  • UVB rays are responsible for most of the skin cancers.
  • Your first line of defense to protect your skin is a sunblock of SPF30.
  •  You should try to avoid sun exposure between 10:00am- 2:00pm.
  • You should apply and reapply sunblock and you shouldn't forget putting sunblock on your ears, your neck and the top of your feet.
    • Also protect your skin by wearing long-sleeve shirts, hats, and sunglasses.

      If you are driving, know that UVB rays don't penetrate through your car window, so drive with your windows closed to protect yourself from cancer causing UVB rays. For more information go to American Academy of Dermatology.  

      Here are a couple of books about skin care from your local library:

      Skin rules : trade secrets from a top New York dermatologist 

      7 years younger : the revolutionary 7-week anti-aging plan  

      Signing off until next Monday- Panteha