Saturday, August 10, 2013

Teens Only | Baseball 101

I have this younger sister who is totally cool. Aside from the coolness factor, we are a lot alike. We love music, though our musical tastes are admittedly different: think heavy metal vs. classical. We love reading and often talk about books. We value family big time. We think it's important to treat others with kindness.

But there is one area we are so totally opposite that I can't believe we are related. Sports. And right now, that means baseball.

Me? I watch almost every single Giants game unless it's a day game and I'm working. I root for my team no matter the standings.

Her? Not so much. She will often call and ask me what I'm doing. I'll say, "watching the Giants." There will be a little silence, and then she'll ask, honestly, "is that basketball?" I'm serious.

But lately a change has come over my sister. It started with a text from her a few weeks back: "Great game."

Then a phone call a few days later: "Buster's home run was great."

And then one Sunday afternoon she was visiting while I was watching a game. She asked, "so what do those numbers mean in that little box up there?" I started explaining baseball to her. Baseball 101, if you will.

I've taught her a lot, but I know there's still quite a bit she (and I, probably) could learn about America's pasttime. So I think I'll check out a good (but easy) book all about baseball: Play by Play Baseball by Don Geng. Even though this book is a tad bit old, it has great information that is still helpful for the beginning baseball fan. A glossary section at the end entitled "Baseball Talk" explains a lot of baseball terminology. For example, a balk: An illegal motion by the pitcher when there is at least one runner on base. If the pitcher is called for a balk, the runner or runners advance one base.   

It's really amazing how much information is contained in the library. Now I'm all ready to teach my sister everything she could ever want to know about baseball!

And if you're already a fan like me, there are some great teen fiction books celebrating baseball:

John Feinstein's Change-Up: Mystery at the World Series tells the story of sports journalists who interview the hot new pitcher in the series, and discover some major discrepancies in his life story. There's lots of baseball trivia, and cameo appearances by many baseball legends. A fun and exciting read!

I just read the blurbs about this next one and can't wait to check it out and read it tonight: Matt de la Pena's Mexican Whiteboy. I've always liked this author, and this book has every plot element I like: coming of age, family, searching for identity, and baseball! 

Happy Reading!


Books On Film | Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters

The film adaptation of The Sea of Monsters was released into theaters nationwide this past Wednesday. The Sea of Monsters is the second book in the Percy Jackson & The Olympians series

The first book, The Lightning Thief, was adapted into a film in 2010. The book follows Percy as he comes into his powers after discovering he is a demi-god, son of the Greek god Poseidon. The film was directed by Chis Columbus, who directed the first two Harry Potter films. The film departs from the book in several ways, but it was still a fun romp for kids.
The second book and film, follow Percy on his quest to rescue his friend Grover and save the young demi-god camp from an attack by a Titan!

The books are great fun for kids who like adventure, mystery, and fantasy.  There are five books in the series, as well as a companion book and graphic novels. Plus, a sequel series of books, The Heroes of Olympus.

Movie Percy, played by actor Logan Lerman (3:10 to Yuma, The Perks of Being  A Wallflower), is older than book Percy, who starts the series as a twelve year old and the same is true for the other main characters, Annabell and Grover. However, the movies are definitely fun for tweens. You can check out the books and the first movie from the library before heading out to the movies!

Covers courtesy of LibraryThing

   Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters (2013):

Books On Film (Special Edition) | SDCC for Book Readers

Everyone knows that San Diego Comic Con draws in comic book publishers, artists, and fans. Did you know that San Diego Comic Con also draws in general book publishers, authors, and fans, too?

There is a whole section on the exhibit floor that is full of nothing but book publishers. Big and small publishers are there with books for sale at a discount, advanced copies of upcoming titles, and book signings with authors.

One might think that publishers might only bring science fiction or fantasy titles to Comic Con, but that couldn't be farther from the truth. There are displays for children's books, teen fantasy, adult urban fiction, and much more. The titles span every fiction genre and there books for readers of all ages.

Publishers also host panels to showcase upcoming titles. Panelist, including authors, do book talks and answer questions about their titles. Aspiring writers also have the opportunity to attend panels about writing and publishing lead by authors and industry experts.

Of course, since book to movie/tv adaptations are all the rage there are plenty of book derived things to see, too. To start, all the halls at the convention were decorated with giant banner's from the television adaptation of George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series!

While at the convention, I attended a panel for the television adaptation of Stephen King's Under the Dome, walked through a set & costume display for the movie adaptation of Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game, the cast of the movie adaptation of James Dashner's The Maze Runner were present for a panel, and I passed by a huge decorated booth giving out t-shirts and posters for the movie adaptation of Veronica Roth's Divergent---just to name a few things.

And, of course, no one can't forget the costumes! There were plenty of Harry Potter and Game of Throne characters, of course, but I also ran into at least one Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter and these Warm Bodies cosplayers.

All in all, San Diego Comic Con is a fun time for comic book fans, anime lovers, gamers, tv and movie watchers, and readers!

All photos taken by me at San Diego Comic Con International 2013.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Miss Moneypennypincher | Libraries Like Freeloaders

I'm back!!! Okay, so it's been longer than ever now since I have done a "short attention span challenge".  I've already thrown in the towel as far as completing the challenge on a weekly basis, but that doesn't mean I can't put a random blog post up every week about this and that (and maybe do a challenge occasionally as well).  For now, I have decided to focus my weekly blog posts about all things free!  Free? Yes! Free. See folks, you may have already deduced this from some of my previous posts, but I am sort of a cheapskate.  I drive my cars until they are good and dead. I was probably the only Millennial (I think I am one of those, right?)  that did not carry a smart phone (for a very long time).  In fact, my parents both had the iPhone before I did.  That was sort of humiliating, actually.  Signing up for a cable contract makes me feel sick. I love getting free samples. Hello, Costco! It's just how I am.  It doesn't mean I don't like nice things.  I do!  But, isn't it always better to get stuff on the cheap?  I think so!
What's wrong?  I still run! (photo courtesy of

And that is one of the things that is so flippin' awesome about the library.  As long as you don't bring your materials back late, everything is FREE!  We even have stuff that is free without a possibility of late fees.  I will get into that in the next post!  It's amazing how many resources the library offers that many people don't even know about.  So I'm going to SPREAD THE WORD! I'm not always going to talk about the library in this blog, but let's talk about economics and more importantly, how to get stuff cheaper (or free).  I don't care how much money you's always fun to save some--or  spend it on something else.  

And to conclude the post today..a Knock-Knock Joke!

Person 1: Knock-Knock!
Person 2: Who's There?
Person 1: Austere!
Person 2: Austere who?
Person 1: Austere you in the right direction!  To the library! To save some cash!

Okay give me a break, most of the knock-knock jokes I make up are for my 5-year-old and she thinks they are ALL hilarious. 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Wanderlust Librarian | How I survive ComicCon

ComicCon is an animal like no other. It's like no other convention I've ever attended. Nor is it like any place I've ever visited in my life.

For those who have read my blog, you know how much I LOVE lists! Here's a new one just for you!

Here are my tried and true tips for surviving ComicCon... or ANY convention you're going to:

1. Plan ahead
So. Many. People! There are tons more to
the side and behind me! Bring snacks.
At ComicCon, there are many panels and discussions happening at the same time. There are times where things you want attend are conflicting. Make sure to put BOTH of these items down on your agenda. A contingency plan is always key when trying to get through a big itinerary. There are times when venues are not emptied between each panel or you may have to listen to other panels while waiting for the one you really want to see.

2. Bring sustenance
Snacks and hydration are the thing when hiking around. I'm proud to say that I've made a breakfast burrito last for 5 hours! Convention food is usually unhealthy and expensive. Bring a refillable water bottle and many portable snacks. I've learned that trail mix is great because it has a little of everything. Chocolate, chips and crackers will inevitably get pulverized in your don't attempt it. You're better off with sturdier foods like energy bars, granola bars, rice krispie treats and cookies! 
**note** Bring a little extra to share. A little kindness goes a long way. Some of the best people I've met and are still friends with, I've met in line or waiting for a panel.

External batteries
3. Bring the juice... 
Energy, I mean! With the explosion of smart phones, everybody is in touch with everybody all of time. This colossal use of cellular power really drains batteries. I do have a lot of alternate power sources to give me the extra phone power. Far be it from anyone to miss a prime picture opportunity because the camera ran out of power. I've learned to just save the pictures and post them all at once, later on...when I'm near a computer. 

4. Take your time
Rushing only makes you worry. If something doesn't work out your way, just make the best of a bad situation! (see rule 1). I've seen so many cool things and happened to run into so many cool people when things didn't work out on my list. 
Don't ever make apologies for the things you like. There's a convention, so obviously, there are others who like what you like. Enjoy the experience and share it with everyone when you get home! 

5.Picture proof....or it didn't exist! 
You go to a convention for something you're interested in. It doesn't always mean that people will know or understand that interest. I take pictures with people I know and am interested in. Most of the time, that's met with "Who's that?" Here are some of my favorites from this year! Bonus points if you know both! 

One of the best descriptions of a ComicCon experience is told by the awesome, Simon Pegg in his book "Nerd Do Well"  . Enjoy!! 

Until then, Convention Adventures are out there! 

He also smells delicious! 

Waking up early means you get the awesome pics! 

Book Bucket List | The Color of Water

This September, the library will be featuring a program called My Ideal Bookshelf as part of the One Book, One San Joaquin program.  Local community members were asked for a list of the books most meaningful to them.  Local artists then brought these lists to life and the results will be featured in September in many of our branches.  For more information about One Book, One San Joaquin and the Ideal Bookshelf project follow this link!

This project enabled us to see what books were important to people and why.  As the lists came in, I started to add so many more books to my "read these soon" list.  One of them is James McBride's The Color of Water.  McBride, in search of the truth of his own background, tells the story of his mother, Ruth McBride Jordan who was widowed twice and raised twelve children. The narrative switches between Ruth's early life and McBride's experiences as a child and describes her experience as a Jewish woman married to black man in the 1940's.   Though she faced poverty and racism, Ruth developed a sense of self and successfully raised all of her children in a time when the odds were against them.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

4 Kids | Back to School

I'm sorry to be the one to mention this, but yes, it's back to school time. Some of my reader friends are already in school! I always loved going back to school each year. I couldn't wait to see my new classroom, meet my new teacher, see my old friends and make new ones. It was very exciting.

But I know. Not everyone is as in love with school as I was. I understand.

In fact, I really understand.

You see, I had this really great dog named Fitz. His real name was Fitzgerald but I called him Fitz. He was really cute and really smart. He was very talented. I loved him very much (and still do).

But sometimes, I have to admit, he misbehaved a little. Sometimes when we were outside, he thought it was fun to run down the street. I wasn't laughing. 

So I decided the responsible thing to do was sign him up for obedience school.

That reminds me: I just came across a great library book about a dog that goes to obedience school. It's Always In Trouble by Corinne Demas, and is the story of a dog named Toby who just can't seem to do anything right. Poor Toby. Check out this book and find out how Toby handles obedience school. I'm sure you'll laugh a lot!

But back to my dear Fitz. I did sign him up for obedience school. We went to the first class. He wasn't very happy with me. On the way home, he sat in his car seat and faced away from me. He would usually face me. I knew he was mad.

When we went to the second class, everyone was walking in a line, teaching the dogs to heel. Fitz went along with it for about 30 seconds. And then he stopped. Did I mention he was an 8 1/2 pound Yorkshire Terrier? Well, he was. And so you'd think when he stopped I could simply nudge him to keep going. But no. He stopped and he wasn't moving. So I whispered to him that the others were watching him, and pleaded with him to heel. That's when he did it. He started dancing.

Yes, you read that right. He danced. His dancing was this weird combination of shaking his tail and lifting different legs all at the same time. I wish I would have videotaped it. You'll just have to trust me.

In a matter of seconds, the whole obedience school class had stopped and everyone was staring at Fitz and me. I just picked him up and we went home. 

Realizing how important school is, I somehow convinced Fitz to return to obedience school (after a short vacation), and from then on, he was the model student. 

I guess the lesson here is that even if something in school is a little tough at first, don't give up. You can do it! 

Thanks for letting me reminisce about Fitz. 

And a very Happy Back To School to all!!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Just Life | Spices 101

A world without spices would be a tasteless world. Have you ever realized how boring our foods would taste without spices?

To be honest, I don't think I can cook without them. 

Let's see, I add turmeric and pepper to almost any dish that I cook. I put cardamom in my tea, I put mustard on my hot dog, I use saffron to flavor and color my rice, I put chili powder to add a little bit of heat to my foods and the list goes on and on.

Spices have been used by Mediterraneans since the early times. Egyptians used them in medicines, embalming, ointments, and in fumigating their homes. The use of spices in Europe weren't widespread until the end of 14th century. Back then, spices were so valuable that they were kept in locked cabinets and they were even used as trade commodities.

I confess, I use spices but I know very little about them. But one of the advantages of working in a library is that answers are always a few shelves away.  So, I went book hunting and here is what I found:

The complete Books of Spices
Practical guide to natural medicines

Here is what I have learned so far:

Dried Barks from Cinnamon Tree.
  • Cinnamon comes from the dried bark of an ever green tree called Cinnamomum tree
  • Besides being a flavor enhancer, Cinnamon is also used to treat:   upset stomach, nausea, diarrhea, and bloating. It is also believed to boost blood circulation. 
  • Cinnamon is traditionally from Sri Lanka. The Portuguese invaded Sri Lanka to get access to this spice.
  • The best cinnamon comes from the thin shoots from the center of the cinnamon tree.
  • In Iran, we use cinnamon in baking, rice puddings, or in tea. 


  •  Do you see these three tiny red threads (stigma) on this picture. These are Saffrons.
  • Saffron is collected from the flowers of the Crocus Sativus plant.
  • These reddish threads have to be hand picked from these tiny flowers.
  •  It takes 75,000 flowers to yield 1 pound of saffron. 
  • The deeper the color of these threads, the better the quality of saffron.
  • In old medicine, it was used to treat urinary and digestive problems.
  • Saffron is rich in vitamin B and riboflavin.
  • Saffron may reduce the risk of heart disease and increase blood oxygen supply. 
  • Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world. 
  • In Persian, we call it Zafferan.
  • Since saffron is so expensive, I usually grind about 1/2 teaspoon of saffron and add a few tablespoons of hot water to it and let it sit for 15 minutes or so. Then I add it to my rice or my stew to add a nice flavor and color to my dish.

  • Turmeric comes from deep yellow Rhizomes (underground stems) of Curcuma Longa shrub.
  • This plant is a member of the ginger family. 
  • It is usually sold as powder.
  • It is widely used in Indian and Chinese medicine to treat blood clots, hepatitis, and gallstones.
  • The substance Curcumin, from turmeric, is believed to have the ability to fight bacterias and protect the liver.
  • Turmeric is used in Iran in all sort of dishes. We usually add a few teaspoons of turmeric to almost anything that we cook. When I make salmon, I make a mixture of turmeric, salt, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and rub my salmon with it before putting it in the oven for 15 minutes. It takes the fishiness out of the fish.


  • Cardamom is the third most expensive spice after saffron and vanilla. 
  • Cardamom comes from a large Perenial bush that grows between 6-15 feet high.
  • The cardamom are tiny oval fruits (capsules) that are produced after the flowering.
  • After the harvest, the pods get dried under the sun.
  • Beside being used in cooking, chewing a few seeds can get rid of bad breath. 
  • Cardamom was used in perfume in ancient Greece and Rome.
  • It is also used for stomach disorder.
  • I use cardamom whenever I make tea. I crush a cardamom pod and put it in my tea and let it sit for a bit before drinking it. 

Black pepper 
  • Black pepper is originally from India. 
  • It comes from the unripe fruit of Piper Nigrum vine. 
  • Green berries are picked from the vine then these berries are piled to ferment. After fermentation process, these berries are placed under the sun. This forces these berries to shrivel and become hard and black.
  • The aroma of black pepper disappear quickly so it is better to grind the peppercorns as needed.


  • Sumac bush grows wild in the Middle East. 
  • Red berries collected from this plant are deep red.
  • Sumac gives a fruity sour taste to foods.
  • Sumac is usually sold as a deep purple-red coarse powder.
  • In Iran, it is used on top of rice or Kabobs.

More books on this topic:

Savoring spices and herbs

Healing spices

Herbs & spices : how to make the best use of herbs and spices in your cooking 

Signing off until next Monday- Panteha