Saturday, June 21, 2014

Books On Film | Orange Is the New Black{CKEY}&searchfield1=GENERAL^SUBJECT^GENERAL^^&user_id=WEBSERVER

Orange Is the New Black is a popular Netflix original series which started it's second season earlier this month. It's based on the memoir Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison by Piper Kerman. The book details the author's time in a minimum security women's prison after she was convicted of drug trafficking and money laundering more for a scheme she was involved in more than ten years earlier during college. Kerman, an engaged career woman, learns to navigate prison life and becomes friends with many of her fellow inmates.

Cover courtesy of LibraryThing.

Friday, June 20, 2014

The Reader Digests | Lettuce

"It is said that the effect of eating too much lettuce is 'soporific.' I have never felt sleepy after eating lettuces; but then I am not a rabbit." ---Beatrix Potter, The Tale of The Flopsy Bunnies

Well, Ms. Potter, I can tell you that I have my own theory about why lettuce makes you sleepy!  It is boring! Tasteless! I know some people enjoy a good crunchy salad, and I do too, but it better have more of everything else, and minimal lettuce. (I guess I should interrupt this blog and mention that none of these views are adopted by SSJCPL in general - the library promotes healthy eating of all veggies, including lettuce. It's just me who doesn't like it! Which makes my clean eating endeavor that much harder.)

However, it is true that lettuce does have sleep inducing qualities, other than being boring. Lettuce contains lactur carium - a substance that sedates the nervous system.  In fact, back in Ancient Greece, lettuce was enjoyed after the meal. That is until a very mean and sadistic emperor named Domitian decided to switch up the order and serve the salad before the meal.  You see, it was illegal to fall asleep during the long meal with the emperor, which often lasted many hours. The penalty for sleeping could even include death.  Most people would be surprised by the idea of using lettuce as torture, but not me!  A big lettucey salad sounds like a lot like torture to this blogger!

Lettuce creeps up in many of our books. Rapunzel finds herself taken captive because her expectant mother craved rapunzel or lamb's lettuce in the witches' garden.  Way to go, thieving parents.  It is a huge part of The Flopsy Bunnies, as mentioned above, and Peter Rabbit (which also includes theft).  And of course, you can find it as an ingredient in many recipes

And to be fair, I suppose lettuce can be enjoyable.  It is certainly refreshing and crunchy.  It definitely adds a good crunch in a sub sandwich.  Plus, it's healthy.  It has very low calories, and is a good source of vitamin K, C, A, folates, and beta-carotine.  It also contains good amounts of minerals like iron, calcium, magnesium, and potassium.  Okay, so maybe lettuce isn't boring after all, but I certainly won't be stealing it any time soon!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Book Bucket List | China Dolls

A lot of the times when I find an author I really like, I end up binging on their books until I've read all, or with some, a good percentage of their work.  When I discovered the author, Lisa See, a couple of years ago,  I first read Shanghai Girls and then it's sequel Dreams of Joy.  That duo follows a family's immigration from China to America from the perspectives of two very different sisters.  I read two more of See's books, Peony in Love and Snow Flower and the Secret Fan.  See's books are full of dynamic and unique female characters.

Lisa See's latest book, China Dolls, just arrived at our library system.  The book takes place in San Francisco and follows the stories of three very different women.  These women form a strong friendship despite their stark differences in personality, upbringing, and status.  However, their bonds of friendship are strained once Pearl Harbor is bombed, marking the start of World War II for the United States.   Along with the well developed characters, I'm really enjoying the descriptions of San Francisco in the 1940's.  See always does a lot of research for her books so she can make them come alive with accurate and colorful descriptions.

I'm about half way through this book right now.  The further along I get the more secrets about the characters, Grace, Helen, and Ruby, come out.  I can't wait to finish to see what happens to each of them.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Learning | How Is that Word Pronounced?

Recently, I participated in a conversation about words we read. Sometimes we understand from the context, but imagine the pronunciation differently from the accepted norm.

For example, a friend said he always understood what awry meant, whenever he came across it in a book.  (The word means something is not working correctly or happening in the expected way; another meaning is to be in a position that is not straight or neat.) It is not a commonly spoken word, so he always guessed that it rhymed with story. 

I looked up the etymology of awry. It has origins in Middle English; the first syllable, comes from the root a-, which means on. The second syllable, wry, is an adjective that means twisted or bent. It is pronounced \ə-ˈrī\ (uh-RYE.)

A relative of mine guessed incorrectly about poignant  and Des Moines--perhaps because she had studied French for years, yet never heard these words with French origins pronounced out loud. 

Since she doubted Americans would say these words like Parisians would, she overcorrected for the use of these words in English, and therefore pronounced the g in poignant and the s in Des Moines (actually, both of them.)

Several of my co-workers were puzzled by the word acme as children. Many of us had the childhood experience of watching a certain cartoon coyote, who was always ordering kits from a company called Acme, which seemed to make an Acme version of everything, even things we had never imagined. I never had a problem with the word. I must have heard my older siblings pronouncing it correctly, which makes the word rhyme with acne. A few people seem to read that letter c with a soft s sound, but it needs the hard k sound.

Tiny Martini: Martini Mello Smello Scratch and Smell Sticker, from Enokson's photostream on Some rights reserved.

The daughter of a co-worker thought the dry cleaning process, martinizing, was pronounced "martini zing."  I like her way of saying it. It sounds like the feeling a person might get after drinking a martini.

It was chemist Henry Martin who pioneered a speedier process that was deemed safe to use in a dry cleaning facility. 

Before the martinizing process came along, dry cleaners had to send clothing out to facilities in sparsely populated areas, and customers had to wait a long time for them to come back.  

Anyway, since the word for the process was derived from Mr. Martin's last name, it is simply pronounced "Martin" plus "-izing," in the same way we say sanitizing or humanizing.

One Hour Martinizing, from Thomas Hawk's photostream on Some rights reserved.

If the word martinizing sparks your imagination, you might consider reading some cozy, clean stories. SSJCPL has a surprisingly long list of fiction books related to the dry cleaning industry. 

Send me your confusing words. Send me your friends' confusing words! I'll do my best to explain them.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

She's Crafty | Fixing Stuff

When you craft and DIY, you inevitably do a bit of fixing too. Then, others will catch on that you are willing to mend broken things and you'll find yourself the recipient of various things that need a little tender loving care. Eventually, you  find yourself the owner of a few fix-it boxes as well.

In my craft room sits a broken jewelry box that I like to take out every once and a while and sift through the contents. Usually I grab the box to find a quick project to knock out and feel productive. Other times, a guilt that I've let these broken items sit so long compels me to open the lid. Either way, when I grab that box something is gonna get fixed.

These items in my broken jewelry box need varying levels of care but none of it gets technically complicated--a new clasp, a spot of glue to attach a pin back to a brooch, or beads that need restringing is about the most complicated of procedures.

Poor broken glasses. They look so sad :(
Right now I'm contemplating the appropriate course of care for a pair of eyeglasses that broke in the most cliched place ever, right in the middle of the nose piece. Easy part? I know it needs glue. Hard part? How do I stabilize it while the glue cures? Time to tinker, the best part of fixing! Get in there, take it apart (if needed), observe the bits and coerce with care all the relevant pieces to get along.

Fixing gets complicated when the item calls for care that exceeds my technical expertise. My tenacious DIY spirit encourages me to try to fix anything that will not threaten bodily harm if I mess about with its innards. I've learned how to do simple fixes on clocks, watches, small fans, clothing, pens, furniture, and vacuum cleaners. However, there are many things I do not have the faintest clue how to fix. When that happens I search for help.

A few weeks back I stumbled across an article and video about a group of volunteer fixers known as the Fixer's Collective who meet in Brooklyn, NY and help people fix their items. The key word is help, the fixers don't fix it for you, they help you help yourself, help your, uh, item not be broken anymore. The master fixers of this collective want people to gain a better understanding of their items and a better relationship with their stuff.

What a brilliant idea! Instead of just paying someone else to fix it for you, or tossing out the item, or holding onto it indefinitely because you just can't handle the thought of tossing out a hand-knitted sweater with an unraveling hem, you could learn a bit more about your item and, hopefully, fix it!

I've done a few searches online for a local group of fixers in Northern California and found mention of the Fixit Clinic in the Bay Area, but it looks like I have more searching to do. So far I can't find a group any closer than one that meets occasionally in San Francisco and other points in the Bay Area.

Maybe I need to look into getting a fixing group started out here. Find a group of master fixers, crafters, and tinkerers to fix our lack of a fixer's group. A meta-fix, if you will. Anyone up to the challenge?

Until next time we meet, stay crafty!
Malia & Kaye

Ms. Suzy Reads | In Tesla's Attic

Good morning, reading friends!

In an effort to share the greatest books and make this blog really worth your reading time, I have decided to combine the children's and teen blogs into one: Ms. Suzy Reads. Every blog post will celebrate a great book -- and sometimes maybe more than one! I will always mention the appropriate grade level for each book discussed. So I hope you'll stay with me on this reading journey!

Now if you're wondering about the title for today's blog, wonder no more. I just finished reading Tesla's Attic by one of my favorite authors, Neil Shusterman, and co-written by Eric Elfman. This is the first book in the Accelerati Trilogy. 

Wow! And wow! 

So let's start with the title. Who the heck is Tesla? Let me tell you. According to Wikipedia, Nikola Tesla was a Serbian American inventor, electrical engineer, mechanical engineer, and futurist best known for his work with the modern alternating current (AC) electricity supply system. But more interesting (at least to me) was that he was known as a "mad-scientist" type. It's getting interesting, right?

Now that you have that background information, let's talk about the book! The main character is a kid named Nick Slate. (There's a rather large clue already, gentle reader.) Nick, his father, and younger brother Danny have relocated to Colorado Springs from Florida after a family tragedy. They move into an old house they've inherited, and Nick immediately discovers an attic full of old junk. Because they have no money -- Nick's father has had little luck finding a job after his not-all-that-successful stint as a major league baseball pitcher many years before -- Nick decides to have a garage sale with all the inherited junk.

Strange things happen almost immediately in this page-turner of a book. People are drawn to the garage sale in unexplained ways. And they can't wait to buy the junk! Nick doesn't know what to make of it. 

It soon becomes apparent that the garage sale junk wasn't really junk after all. And if you paid attention to our main character's full name, you'll see there are perhaps some connections to a famous inventor, or "mad scientist."

Nick and his friends are on an adventure of their lives, complete with a wet cell battery that does really weird things to a baseball mitt that catches things other than baseballs to a secret society! Yes, a secret society!

You won't be able to put this down. Trust me! It's that good, but I'm not at all surprised because it's written by Neil Shusterman whose books are always fantastic.  

This action-packed adventure is a great read for kids in 4th-8th grades. But hey, older readers, you'll enjoy it too!

Thanks for reading, and I'll see you next week!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Just Life| Bliss of No Electricity

A few days ago, our neighborhood lost electricity for almost three hours. The blackout started around 6:00 pm and lasted until 9:00pm.

Then something amazing happened. My neighborhood came alive and it started buzzing with activities.

My daughter dragged me outside because it was getting really dark inside and I reluctantly agreed to go outside with her. When I opened the door, I was amazed to see so many of my neighbors.

"Wow, we have this many neighbors" was the first thought that came to mind. 

I had never seen that many neighborhood kids playing outside. There was a festive mood in the air. There was a collective happiness, humming in that semi-dark street that night.

I want more of these blackouts so I can enjoy the company of my neighbors.

When I was a kid back in Iran, we had many blackouts in Tehran and on those nights, we had nothing to do but to sit around a couple of oil lamps doing nothing but talking with one another.

So at the end, I was happy that we lost electricity for three hours and I was forced to enjoy the company of my elusive neighbors for a few hours.

Nikola Tesla and the taming of electricity

Empires of light : Edison, Tesla, Westinghouse, and the race to electrify the world

Signing off until next Monday- Panteha