Saturday, May 17, 2014

Teens Only | #onedayonedeed


I know you're all busy with school winding down, so this post shall be short! 

I saw something on TV about the 100 Good Deeds Bracelet. It's a cool bracelet made up of 100 beads. But cooler still is the purpose behind it. Here's the info from the website:

Because work gives dignity and freedom...each purchase employs one vulnerable woman...

Because it opens us to see the need for compassion and to hear the call for kindness...

Because you can change the world one deed, one bead, one act of kindness at a time...

Because you matter.

I don't think I need to say anything more.

I bought one. You don't have to buy one to commit to random acts of kindness, however. 

But I bought one because in this busy, busy world in which we find ourselves, there are many days that -- let's face it -- start out rather crummy and go south from there. Just the other day I slept through my alarm (twice), had no cream for my coffee, got stuck in a huge traffic jam, and spilled coffee (without cream!) all over my new white blouse. That was all before 8 am! 

That was one of those days I could have used a reminder to be kind. To be generous. To do something good for somebody else instead of focusing on my own negatives.

Seriously! This is NOT a promotion to make you buy the bracelet. 

But this IS an opportunity for you to do something really, really good for young people in your community.

Summer Book Buddies will return to the Chavez Library in June. This is a fun tutoring program to help children entering 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grades who are struggling with reading. Teens 14 years and older with a 3.0 GPA are very welcome to join us for a fun and rewarding experience.

There will be a training on Saturday, June 7 from 10 am until 12 pm. Refreshments will be provided. Book Buddies runs Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays in June and July.

Be a part of this wonderful community program. Help others. Do something really good!

Questions? Call (209) 937-7012. 

In the meantime, best of luck with the end of the school year!


Thursday, May 15, 2014

Book Bucket List | Songs of Willow Frost

A while ago, I posted about this wonderful book I read by Jamie Ford, Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet.  The story was set in WWII-era Seattle and about the Japanese-Americans sent to internment camps.  The story followed a young couple who were torn apart and their story that spanned years and years.

Recently, Jaime Ford released Songs of Willow Frost, a historical fiction novel set in Seattle during the Great Depression. William Eng is a twelve year old living at an orphanage and knows he has little chance to ever be adopted after his mother's death.  However, on a rare outing into the outside world, William sees a woman singing on the big screen during a movie and is absolutely certain it's his real mother.  William and his closest friend run away from the orphanage in an attempt to find her.  The story shifts between William's adventure and his mother Willow's story about why she had to give up William in the first place. 

I love the city of Seattle, so reading about what it was like in the 20's and 30's was very interesting.  A lot of the book is about the obstacles, prejudices, and injustices that Willow faced as a young mother during that time period.  Some of it was hard to read, but it was very enlightening and made me appreciate what opportunities are available to women today.  If you're in the mood for a family drama or historical novel, be sure to check this one out.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Learning | Speakeasies

Here's a sentence I never thought I would type: I recently visited a speakeasy in San Francisco, and it was a learning experience!

Here are a few facts I learned in connection to my visit:

from Francisco Meirino's photostream on
Some rights reserved.
The term speakeasy reflected the need for secrecy, when serving liquor that was prohibited by the Volstead Act (also known as the Eighteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.) Customers were asked to "speak easy," to avoid drawing attention to the business. You may have seen movies or cartoons showing people knocking on a door to give a password ("Al sent me") to enter. Speakeasies were also known as blind pigs, or blind tigers. As I poked around for information after my visit, I learned that blind pig probably got its name in the first half of the 19th century, long before the Prohibition Era. Illegal drinking establishments, selling poor-quality, unregulated liquor sometimes skirted the law by charging money to see an interesting pig...and giving a free shot of gin to those who paid admission.

That brings me to the subject of bathtub gin. I have heard that term ever since I was a small child, and thought it meant people used a bathtub to make homemade liquor. (Yuck!!!)  But that's not quite true. People found many ways to make liquor, during the period when they could not buy it, and they did make gin; they made gin in a container that was too large to be filled with water from the sink--it had to be set in the bathtub, in order to add water from the bathtub tap.

Cocktails, or mixed drinks containing alcohol and two or more ingredients, became popular during the Prohibition era. Think about it--in those days, it was much harder to obtain brand-name, quality liquor, so complicated recipes were invented to cover up bad flavors. Some have also observed that cocktails would be more practical in a speakeasy, because they are easier to consume quickly, before running out the back door to escape a raid. 

The term Old-Fashioned was invented to distinguish a simpler, older mixed drink from cocktails, which were considered to be complex.  Old-Fashioneds are made by muddling sugar with bitters, then adding alcohol, and finally a twist of citrus.  (That sounds fairly complicated to me, but, then, I'm not much of a drinker.)

For your vicarious, and totally legal, enjoyment, I have prepared a list of fiction books about Prohibition for adult readers. No pigs required!

If you are interested in historical facts and the social ramifications of the Eighteenth Amendment and its repeal, I have compiled a short list of

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

She's Crafty | Geometric Origami

Geometry is pretty!
My crafting of late is leaning more towards the mega-nerdy side than usual. Perhaps it has to do with all the math review I'm doing in preparation to return to college. Or, most likely, it has to do with the fact that I am a bit of a nerd at all times and I'm really embracing this fact with every facet of my being. Either way, I'm currently obsessed with crafts that let my inner nerd out to play.

That's why when I was at the craft store searching for supplies to embroider constellations and geometric patterns, and I came across a Geometric Origami craft kit, I was like, embroider Aquarius?!? What is this gibberish? I'm going to make a zonohedron!!!

This is not my first journey into the world of mathematics and origami. At my local branch a while back I came across the book, Amazing Origami by Kunihiko Kasahara, which explores not only the art of origami, but the underlying mathematical principles found between the folds. This exploration includes folding paper models of the Platonic Solids, as well as an explanation of what a Platonic solid actually is, which is perfect when you consider an icosahedron. You can tell me that a regular icosahedron consists of 20 triangular faces but actually making one and holding it in my hands helps me understand more about the solid.

The kit I purchased does not use the standard square sheets most origami enthusiasts are accustomed to. Instead, you are given colorful sheets of perforated strips. For all of the models in the book, construction consists of scaffolding shapes connected together with hinges. This is known as modular origami: making simple folded units and combining them into a larger shape.

Getting the strips ready.
The paper folding portion of this origami is extremely simple, but pretty tedious. For the 90-sided zonohedron I made, I had to first separate 154 strips, and then make paper ladders of each strip--folding two strips over each other so they are divided into twelve squares. Then, depending on which strip is used for what piece, hinge or scaffolding, the strips are cut into a certain number of squares. For example, the hinges on my zonohedron are four-square strips. The scaffolding is an eight-square strips curled around itself to create a square. Then you connect the scaffolds together with hinge strips into larger shapes and that's where it gets tricky, until you recognize the pattern.

It's starting to take shape!

Let me tell you, it really took my spatial skills to task! I had to make sure I was connecting the right combination units to the right vertices, not to mention putting the right colors in the right places. Surprisingly, the paper zonohedron I made not only looked like the one in the book, but it stays together perfectly well without tape or glue. I wouldn't throw it against the wall or play a serious game of catch with it, but I might hang it in a branch somewhere with other geometric models, you know, near the mathematics books. Wink, wink.

Up close to a few of the 90 sides.

This zonohedron is ready for whatever zonohedrons do.

Don't worry, you don't have to purchase a kit to make geometric origami or modular origami. Plenty of books exist to take your origami game to the next level.

Here are just a few that I can't wait to get my hands on:

If you just gotta try it now...

If you want more information about origami and mathematics you have to check out the pile of links kept at The Geometry Junkyard. Absolutely ahhhmazing! According to one of the listings, there was even a college course on modular origami. How cool is that?!

For today, I am done gushing about geometric models on the library blog. So I bid you farewell and happy folding!

Malia & Kaye

4 Kids | Attention All Authors

And yes, I'm talking to you! Let me explain.

Last night we hosted an Author Symposium at the Cesar Chavez Central Library. Six local authors shared their books, writing experiences, and signed books for the audience members. It was so awesome! And by the way, thanks so much to those wonderful authors: Paula Treick DeBoard, Mary Jo Gohlke, Britt Nunes, Danny Thomas Ruiz Dunne, and Alice Van Ommeren!! And I must also thank my BFF for sticking around to help clean up after all was said and done.

So of course that got me thinking. Why can't anyone with a story be an author? We've all got stories to tell. It's just a matter of sitting down and getting creative.

If you've got a story to tell (hip hip hooray, I say) and are looking for a little inspiration, check out Rocket Writes a Story by Tad Hills. You'll find this great book in the picture book section, but it's also very informative!  

Here are a couple of my favorite lines from this book:

"Rocket even liked the way books smelled. When he opened a new book, it smelled like a place he'd never been to, like a friend he'd never met."

When Rocket suffers a little writer's block, a little yellow bird shares some sage advice: "Stories need good characters. Or what about something that happened to you? Or something you really enjoy?" Gentle readers, take note: there are some great writing tips in those lines there. 

Rocket also enjoys collecting new words. He would write them down and hang them on his word tree. (Psst: another great writing tip!)

I know that you are all busy with the school year winding down. But when you have a few free moments to let your imagination run wild, think about what YOUR story might be. And start writing!

And don't forget! The Summer Reading Club starts June 1 and all libraries are hosting some super spectacular programs this year. Check out the calendar of events. Join us as we celebrate books and reading in the Fizz! Boom! Read! Summer Reading Club!

Happy reading...and writing!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Just Life | Library Databases

I don't think many people are aware of library databases. They can be a life saver when you are in a time crunch and need reliable reference materials for your research paper.

Library databases are a treasury of academic articles at your finger tips. 

Let's say, you need five sources for your research paper and you could only find two books on the topic. What do you do now? You use articles from our library databases to finish your paper.

Remember, you can't find these academic articles just by "Googling" them...believe me. 

To access these databases from home, all you need is your library card number and your library pin number.
Click on the following link to browse these databases:

Library database

Some of my favorites are:
  • Biography in Context
  • Eric (Gives you access to educational literature and resources)
  • Literary Reference Center (Gives you info about authors and their works including plot summary, literary criticism, book reviews and more)

To access these articles, go to:, then click on Research and then Databases.

I guarantee you that these databases can save you time and energy.

Signing off until next Monday- Panteha