Archive for May, 2009


Thursday Thirteen #69

This week I’ve chosen to look at the Smithsonian Institution. 13 facts barely scratches the surface of a place like that. I mean, they have more than thirteen museums for goodness sakes. So, let’s see what I managed to dig up.

13 Facts About the Smithsonian Institution:
1. The Smithsonian offers a variety of podcasts, including one called the “ZooGoer Podcast.”

2. According to their website, “the Washington, D.C. museums are open everday except December 25.”

3. There are currently 19 museums in the Smithsonian complex.

4. The Smithsonian also includes 9 research centers.

5. The money to create the Smithsonian came from a bequest in the will of one James Smithson, a British Scientist. Said scientist had never been to the United States, and the reason for this bequest – “to the United States of America, to found at Washington, under the name of the Smithsonian Institution, an establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men” is something of a mystery.

6. The Smithsonian has a presence on Twitter, flickr, and YouTube.

7. If you want to work at the Smithsonian, check out their H.R. page. They need a Museum Building Manager and Accountant…

8. One of the magazines that the Smithsonian puts out is…Smithsonian Magazine.

9. The Smithsonian Astrophysics Observatory is one of the Smithsonian’s research centers.

10. Written in Bone is one of the current exhibitions at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.

11. Among the other things to see at the National Air and Space Museum is the Albert Einstein Planetarium.

12. Can’t make it to the National Zoological Park to see the pandas? Try the PandaCam. (you may need to scroll down a bit to get to it.)

13. Want to spend a little time learning something new? Why not try the Encyclopedia Smithsonian?

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Like the great majority of you, I love books by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Unlike the majority of you, however, my favorite book is not The Secret Garden, The Little Princess, or even Little Lord Fauntleroy, though I like them too.

I love The Lost Prince. It has become increasingly difficult to find a good copy over the years, and doesn’t seem to have ever been filmed. (And, before you ask, it has nothing to do with the movie of the same name about the English prince.) It is the story of Marco Loristan and his father, who have traveled all over Europe, and yet they are not from any of those places. They are Samavians, exiled from their homeland and awaiting the return of The Lost Prince, as are the rest of their people. While Marco is living in London with his father, he takes to exploring the streets near their lodgings. It is in this way that he first encounters The Rat, the crippled leader of a small gang of urchins. Marco and The Rat become friends, and when chance throws them a way to assist Samavia, they end up on the adventure of a lifetime.

If you enjoy Frances Hodgson Burnett’s other books, and you have a fondness for adventure stories, you will love The Lost Prince. You can tell that the book was first published in 1914 by the writing style, but that in no way detracts from the story. On the contrary, it merely makes it more firmly a period piece. I have read my Mother’s copy of this book so many times that the paper cover has gone missing, and the real cover has begun to look a bit worn. I would recommend this especially as a “read to your kids before bed” book. That is how I first encountered it, anyway.

(This book is available to read online through Project Gutenberg here.)

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Beauty and the beast was always  my favorite fairy tale.   A loving but foolish father makes a mistake, that has him giving his daughter to a beast.   We know Beauty  is afraid , but we also know she is a courageous,  generous,and a loving person, not easily  swayed by the material world, or the ever changing physical  appearance of people. We rarely get much of glimpse into the mind of the beast.

In Beastly, we have a modern day story told from the point of view of the Beast. When we meet Kyle Kingsbury, he is the prince of his very upscale private NYC school. Handsome, rich, and very popular. But not so nice. And yes, he is noticed by a witch, who ends up turning him into a beast. Kyle , although abandoned by his ‘perfect’ news anchor father, is not completely alone. He has a housekeeper and a blind tutor to help him. Watching Kyle change is enjoyable ,if occasionally painful. It is nice to be rooting for both the beast as well as the beauty.

The story is romantic, with some nice touches of humor. I really loved the on-line ‘Unexpected Changes chat group’ run by Mr. Anderson.

Get your copy here.

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These are some of my favorite biographies (and one autobiography) of famous women; they are books I have read and reread over the past several years. They are all well-written and insightful and certainly worth spending time with. (The dust jackets are linked with the library catalog record in case you want to check it out or place a hold.)

Virinia Woolf by Hermione Lee


Savage beauty: the life of Edna St. Vincent Millay by Nancy Milford


Garbo: A Biography by Barry Paris


Audrey Hepburn by Barry Paris


My wars are laid away in books: the life of Emily Dickinson by Alfred Habegger


An unquiet mind by Kay Redfield Jamison

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Thursday Thirteen #68

As a follow up to last week’s list of books with cats on the cover, this week I offer you the dog version. Woof!

13 Books with Dogs on the Cover:

1. The Poky Little Puppy by Janette Sebring Lowrey


2. Art Dog by Thacher Hurd


3. A Dog About Town by J. F. Englert


4. Bad Dogs Have More Fun by John Grogan


5. Old Yeller by Fred Gipson


6. The Bookshop Dog by Cynthia Rylant


7. A Pedigree to Die For by Laurien Berenson


8. Clifford, the Big Red Dog by Norman Bridwell


9. Officer Buckle and Gloria by Peggy Rathmann


10. Spot’s Baby Sister by Eric Hill


11. Yiddish for Dogs: Chutzpah, Feh!, Kibbitz, and More: Every Word Your Canine Needs to Know by Janet Perr


12. Kavik the Wolf Dog by Walt Morey


13. Dog breath! : the horrible terrible trouble with Hally Tosis by Dav Pilkey


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The Alameda County Library system offers access to four different kinds of eBooks (books that can be read online) and two kinds of eAudiobooks (audiobooks that can be listened to online.) The ebooks that I get the most questions about are from Safari Tech Books, so here are a few tips to help you all access Safari.

Basically, this is the deal with Safari.

There are very limited number of remote access licenses for Safari that are shared throughout the county. Chances are, when you are trying to log in, there aren’t any licenses available as there are too many people using the system. (Sometimes this access issue is caused by a firewall problem on your computer, so you may want to check that as well. Further, sometimes Safari won’t run on the Safari browser. Ironic, no?)

Instead of clicking on the link to a particular book provided on the catalog, you might also try to access Safari more directly:

  • From www.aclibrary.org
  • Click on “eBooks & eAudiobooks” under “Using Your Library”
  • Click on Safari Tech Books Online
  • Type in your Library Card Number when the system asks for it.
  • Continue on to the Safari Page.
  • Look at the top right hand corner. If it does not say “Welcome, Alameda County Library Remote Access” then you will have to try back later as the system is too busy.

If all else fails, you should always be able to get into the system from inside the library.

I have managed to get in from home a few times, so I do know that it is possible. There is no special access code to enter, just keep checking back. Oh! And when you get in, never click “Logout” when you’re done. Just close the window or navigate away. I once did that on accident and it took me forever to get back on.

Clicking on a title from inside the catalog should also work, but sometimes coming in the other way makes a difference.

So, there you are. A few tips on accessing our Safari ebooks. I hope that it helps.

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Nora the Piano Cat

Last Thursday as part of my list of books with cats on the cover, I mentioned one piano playing cat named Nora. Today, I thought that I’d show you who I was talking about. Here she is with her piano talent, and a healthy dose of cuteness: Nora the Piano Cat.

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