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Archive for July, 2013

 dog-days-of-summerHow are you doing?  Heat got you down?   Have you been hanging out at the beach or the pool?  Sitting in front of the fan/air conditioner reading or watching the tube? Maybe sleeping in a hammock?  Going to the mall/theater/ library where there is air conditioning just to get cool?  Kids running through the sprinklers or have you dusted off the old slip ‘n slide and brought it out for summertime fun? We’ve had some very warm, okay hot, days this summer.  And it’s hard to keep calm when it is hot for several days in a row. 

It got me to thinking about the expression:the dog days of summer.  That sounds odd, though I can picture my daughter’s dog, Stanley, laying around panting on a very hot day.  Curious, I did some online research.  I found a website called “Encyclopedia.com”, which searches online encyclopedias and dictionaries.  Here is their explanation from the Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th Edition, 2013 :

dog days, name for the most sultry period of summer, from about July 3 to Aug. 11. Named in early times by observers in countries bordering the Mediterranean, the period was reckoned as extending from 20 days before to 20 days after the conjunction of Sirius (the dog star) and the sun. In the latitude of the Mediterranean region this period coincided with hot days that were plagued with disease and discomfort. The time of conjunction varies with difference in latitude, and because of the precession of the equinoxes it changes gradually over long periods in all latitudes.

Now you know the answer lies in the constellations above us. Sirius is part of Canis Major, The Big Dog. In the Northern Hemisphere you can view Sirus (the brightest star) on Winter and Spring nights or sometimes see it ascending before dawn on late summer mornings. 

Happy Dog Days!

sirius

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Speaking of bias …

What a week it’s been! We’re beginning to talk about race again. President Obama gave us his deeply personal statement about what it means to grow up as an African-American.  So, wishing more detail, I took out my copy of his autobiography, “Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance,” which I had read several years previously. His origins are so complex and in part painful. It’s a book that bears rereading. And there are copies on our library shelves at call number: B Obama, B. (“B” stands for the biography section.) 

And NPR science reporter Shankar Vedantam reported on recent research about racial bias and its effects on folks: “How to Fight Racial Bias when it’s Silent and Subtle.” He described a fascinating experiment. From the transcript of the interview:

David GREENE (Host): So I think when most people think about racism, we think of it as being motivated by hate or animosity. Now, when scientists actually look at racism, is that what researchers find?

Shankar VEDANTAM: I think it’s one model of prejudice, David, and it certainly explains the kind of prejudice we might have seen in America in the 1950s or ’60s. But there’s been a lot of research in the last 10 or 20 years, which really suggests that that might not be the main way prejudice actually takes place today. For one thing, virtually no one today in America admits to being prejudiced. And so you have a paradox: You have racism but not necessarily racist.

GREENE: What is an example of what you just said?

VEDANTAM: So Alexander Green at Massachusetts General Hospital once conducted a study. He had physicians evaluate patients and some of the physicians thought they were evaluating a white patient. And some of them thought they were evaluating a black patient. And what Greene found is that the higher the levels of subtle unconscious stereotypes the physicians held, the more likely they were to not prescribe the black patient with clot-busting drugs for a heart attack.

GREENE: Based on the color of a patient’s skin, they were actually treating patients differently for heart problems.

VEDANTAM: Yeah. But here’s the important thing, David. The physicians didn’t act in ways that were driven by animosity. In fact, when they saw the results, they were horrified. They weren’t trying to treat the black patients badly. What was happening really, someone complains of chest pain and you’re having to judge: Is this person suffering from indigestion or about to have a heart attack? And in that kind of situation – where you’re not completely sure – your biases can help play a very powerful role.” (Copyright © 2013 NPR: Morning Edition: NPR News, July 19, 2013.)

 Do read the entire interview – Vedantam describes suggestions for overcoming stereotypes that might help.

And Vedantam has written much more about our unconscious biases in “The Hidden Brain: How Our Unconscious Minds Elect Presidents, Control Markets, and Save Our Lives.” It is also on the library shelves right now at call number 154.2 Vedantam.

Thanks to our library of “infinite possibilities,” I’ve discovered another title for my must read list.

 

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Cinderella's Castle, by Thomas Kincaid

Cinderella’s Castle, by Thomas Kincaid

Disneyland opened on this date in 1955.  There were 6,000 V.I.P.s invited for the July 17 opening, but there were 22,000 gate-crashers with phony tickets on hand as well! The Rivers of America had to be filled twice before opening: the porous surface of the “riverbed” allowed the water to leak out, and had to be coated with clay, so that the water would stay in!  High heels made dents in the still-soft asphalt in the park, and the temperatures soared (some of the drinking fountains didn’t work, due to a plumbers’ strike! Apparently it was between the toilets and the drinking fountains, and the toilets won.) There were only 4 lands (Adventureland, Frontierland, Fantasyland, and  Tomorrowland, and the first 3 closed on that day due to a gas leak in Fantasyland) plus Main Street, and the next day (July 18), when Disneyland opened to the public, folks paid $1 to get in (it is creeping up closer to $100 a day for an adult ticket now!)

But Disneyland endured, and today we want to wish it a Happy Birthday!

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Dream-work

Dream work differs from classical dream interpretation in that the aim is to explore the various images and emotions that a dream presents and evokes, while not attempting to come up with a single unique dream meaning. In this way the dream remains “alive” whereas if it has been assigned a specific meaning, it is “finished” (i.e., over and done with). Dreamworkers take the position that a dream may have a variety of meanings depending on the levels (e.g. subjective, objective) that are being explored….Excerpt from WIKPEDIA 

Six Basic Hints for Dream Work

One
All dreams speak a universal language and come in the service of health and wholeness. There is no such thing as a “bad dream” — only dreams that sometimes take a dramatically negative form in order to grab our attention.

Two
Only the dreamer can say with any certainty what meanings his or her dream may have. This certainty usually comes in the form of a wordless “aha!” of recognition. This “aha” is a function of memory, and is the only reliable touchstone of dream work.

Three
There is no such thing as a dream with only one meaning. All dreams and dream images are “overdetermined,” and have multiple meanings and layers of significance.

Four
No dreams come just to tell you what you already know. All dreams break new ground and invite you to new understandings and insights.

Five
When talking to others about their dreams, it is both wise and polite to preface your remarks with words to the effect of “if it were my dream…,” and to keep this commentary in the first person as much as possible. This means that even relatively challenging comments can be made in such a way that the dreamer may actually be able to hear and internalize them. It also can become a profound psycho-spiritual discipline — “walking a mile in your neighbor’s moccasins.”

Six
All dream group participants should agree at the outset to maintain anonymity in all discussions of dream work. In the absence of any specific request for confidentiality, group members should be free to discuss their experiences openly outside the group, provided no other dreamer is identifiable in their stories. However, whenever any group member requests confidentiality, all members should agree to be bound automatically by such a request.   Jermey taylor

Books on Dreams @ Library

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IMG_00541The Bayside 4-H Club presented an informative, hour-long program for the public on June 3 at the Fremont Main Library. Families were invited to “Backyard Gardens Build Communities” and given information about gardening in urban areas as well as feeding the hungry in their community. Partly presentation and partly hands-on, the program was well-received by the attendees.

For information on the Bayside 4-H Club: www.bayside4h.org

For information on the 4-H Revolution of Responsibility: http://www.4-h.org/about/revolution/

Bayside 4-H also has a Facebook page: http://facebook.com/Bayside4H

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Summer is a good time for us to volunteer in the community. We got a lot of inquires in the library since May. Unfortunately, we have had more than enough hard-working volunteers already. If you are still looking for volunteering opportunities, there are several organizations that are still looking for help:

  • Tri-city health center a community clinic in Fremont is part of Reach out and Read. This is a national program which aims to improve pre-school literacy. As part of this program, they are looking for High School students to read to children in the waiting room as they await their doctor appointments. This is an endeavor to create a literacy-rich waiting room environment.  Students will earn service hours for this and if interested should contact spurikumar@tri-cityhealth.org
  • City of Fremont
  • Adobe Services
  • Masonic Homes of California

Good luck to your volunteer job hunting!! Somebody somewhere in the community will benefit from your contribution and thank you.  Together we make a better place to live.

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As fireworks, bell ringing, barbecues and picnics mark the significance of today’s date in most places, in my mind are the opening lines of a Billy Joel song:  They say that these are not the best of times, but they’re the only times I’ve ever known. Billy Joel sings the song below.  Billy Joel music CDs are in the Alameda County Library catalog, or search for downloadable (free) music in Freegal.

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