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I'll try pretty much any science fiction or fantasy book that falls into my hands... at least for the first 50 pages. That's the window an author has to hook me. Superheroes aren't quite my thing. I'll go to the summer blockbusters, sometimes, if the reviews are good. I didn't read that many comic books growing up so I probably missed the golden window to really learn to love superhero stories. So when I was lent a copy of Prepare to Die! by Paul Tobin, a Portland comic book writer, I wasn't sure it was going to pass my 50 page test. The news is that it passed with such flying colors that I immediately set aside the other books I was reading in favor of this one.

Partially set in a fictional Oregon town, the crux of the story boils down to what happens when a super villain says "Prepare to die!" and the hero asks "How long?"

Steve Clarke, aka Reaver, was a small-town boy when an accident caused him to become super-powered. The book is funny and frequently tragic: consider the post-traumatic-stress resulting from being a very young superhero who is trying to defeat super-villains who slaughter passers-by just for fun. Often crude, the tone fits the character and story perfectly.

I really hope this Portland comic book writer has another novel or three in him because I'm really eager to read him again. I'm glad I wasn't too picky to try it because, out of the last 100 or so novels I've read, I'd put this very character-driven novel in the top 5.

While my reading taste is pretty eclectic, until recently I hadn't read very much historical fiction.  Perhaps it is thanks to those engaging YA historical novels I've listened to in the past few years that I'm dipping into this genre a little more.

It also helps if I find an author I like who bounces around genres.  A couple of years ago my book group read The Sparrow.  At the time, I said it was hard to believe this was Mary Doria Russell's first novel, and that the book was like Ursula LeGuin, only deeper.  I know, hard to believe, deeper than Ursula?  In this SF masterpiece, Jesuits make First Contact, because, well, Catholics go on missions.  And you know how missionaries can get into trouble due to deep cultural misunderstandings?  The sole survivor who returns to Earth must reveal his story that includes a brothel and a dead child, as well as recover from unimaginable trauma.

Since I loved this author's style, I'll happily read her other books. In Doc, Russell daringly covers a subject that has entered our cultural consciousness through many movies: Dr. John Henry Holliday, dentist.  IMDB tells me there are 43 instances of the character Doc Holliday in movies and television since 1937. Along with Doc Holliday, in this book we get close to the Earp brothers, Wyatt, Morgan, and James, during their short time in Dodge City, before the famous OK Corral incident.

Despite all those occasions to encounter Doc as a character, I was surprised to learn there was a lot I did not know. John Holliday was born with a cleft palate, treated with surgery. He was a southern gentleman, and a search for relief from consumption drove him west. The tale is told as if from the view of a compassionate historian. The man was an alcoholic, but it was alcohol rather than laudanum that helped him relieve his consumptive cough without losing his sharp mental faculties he needed as a gambler. Faro was his game, not poker, usually.  We're given the myth that was spread in the papers, like say how Doc shot and killed a man, and the often innocuous story (in which no one was shot) that spawned the myth. The author clearly is fond of Doc, and now I too have a soft spot for the man.

For the purpose of the gorgeous and astounding book, Relics: Travels in Nature's Time Machine by Piotr Maskrecki, the author defines a relic in this way: 

Relic: a creature or habitat that, while acted upon by evolution, remains remarkably similar to its earliest manifestations in the fossil record.

Do we have relics here in the U.S. of A.? Bunches. Among them, the Atlantic horseshoe crab.  It lives on the eastern North American Coast and has been doing a mass spawning every Spring, like clockwork, for 440 million years.

Relics not found in the U.S. : Emerald and black mottled treerunnner: Its cache of eggs is normally stashed in elevated piles of leaves in the geographical area of Africa called the Guiana Shield. If the nest is disturbed by a predator near the end of the eggs' development, all the eggs will hatch at once, within seconds of each other, the infant lizards scattering in all directions.

The Atewa dinospider from West Africa is from an ancient group of arachnids that go back all the way to the Carboniferous period. When was that? Three-hundred million years ago. What's a dinospider look like? Think brown pipe cleaners--those fuzzy things you used in third grade art class.

And New Guinea....my goodness. You're amazing. A giant, newly discovered and as yet unnamed gliding frog (think flying squirrel) and an equally astonishing and also as yet unnamed tiny frog of the species Choerophryne, smaller than a human fingernail.

I'd go further into the spider arena but I know it's gonna freak out some of you. But I can't leave without mentioning the Goliath tarantula that weighs in over 150 grams--about a third of a pound--that the author of this book thought at first was a small mammal when he saw it scurrying across the forest floor. I'm not an arachnophobe but the picture of this bad boy was all it took for me to close the book.

Are you a kid who wants to learn to make your own books?  Are you a grown-up who wants to make books with your kid friend?  Making books isn’t as intimidating as it looks, especially if you’ve got a great how-to book to help you get started!  Here are my favorites:

In Print! by Joe Rhatigan has instructions for 40 different publishing projects for kids -- everything from a make-it-yourself audioboook to instructions for starting a writers’ group or workshop to getting your work published in a magazine.  This book has it all!

Pop-ups and moveable books that fold out or turn into a sculpture when you open them sometimes look complicated, but actually they can be really great projects for a beginner!  Gwen Diehn shows you the basics in Making Books That Fly, Fold, Wrap, Hide, Pop Up, Twist, and Turn.  That’s a long title, but you really know what the book is about now, right?

If you want to go totally D.I.Y. and make a zine -- that’s a book or pamphlet you make and distribute all yourself -- you definitely want to check out Whatcha Mean, What’s a Zine?, by Mark Todd and Esther Pearl Watson.  It covers everything: zine history, tools and methods for making your own zine, why you might want to write a zine, photocopier tricks, promoting your zine, and more.

Are you more of an artistic than a literary bent?  Perhaps comics are your thing?  If so, the book for you is definitely Drawing Words & Writing Pictures: Making Comics: Manga, Graphic Novels, and Beyond, by Jessica Abel and Matt Madden.  It’s an everything guide for comics creators, covering basics like layout and lettering and extra credit topics like how to reproduce your comic so you can distribute lots of copies.

Questions? Let us know if we can help you find the how-to book (or any other book) that's just right for you.

 

A former boyfriend of mine was a great cook, and I was only allowed in the kitchen when it was time to do the dishes. This worked well for me, as I like to eat tasty food without putting in a lot of effort, and I don't mind plunging my hands in warm, sudsy water. I was finally eating some meals that had more than five ingredients! So after we broke up, I went back to my standard  fare of spinach salads and heat and eat entrees. To say I had no interest in spending hours cooking something that would take only minutes to consume would be a vast understatement. I had better things to do with my life.

Giulia Melucci's dating experience, chronicled in I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti was the exact opposite of mine: she loves to cook and prepared some pretty yummy dishes for the parade of boyfriends that began when she was in her early twenties. Yummy things (recipes are included) like "Risotto with Intricately Layered Hearts", "Pear Cake for Friends with Benefits", "Salmon with Lemon-Tarragon Butter", "Morning After Pumpkin Bread" and the one that I'm going to try out on my boyfriend:  "Lachlan's Rigatoni with Eggplant".

Because, you see, I'm now with someone who actually enjoys it when I prepare meals (he helps, too, and also recently fixed the best grilled cheese sandwich I have ever eaten), and I've discovered how much fun it is to cook for someone besides myself. Guilia got that from the beginning and, with the exception of one guy who was lukewarm on the whole food thing, her boyfriends all seemed happy with her culinary skills. Never happy enough, alas, to give her the one thing she craved: a marriage proposal. We meet Ethan who, after three years, was given an ultimatum and declined to offer a lifetime together; Mitch Smith who, not very many years after they broke up ("I didn't want a girlfriend or whatever."); ended up marrying someone else, and Lachlan, a Scotsman who was passionate…about food. As we leave Giulia, she's still unwed but doesn't seem too downhearted. Optimism, like cooking, seems to come easy to her.

"In our era, more than some others, writers must buck up and take care of themselves" says Susan Bell in The Artful Edit: On the Practice of Editing Yourself. If you are writing the Great American Novel or just want to improve your style, study this book. Full of examples, graceful writing and thoughts from published authors, The Artful Edit is entertaining. 

Bell illustrates her points by studying the well-known masterpiece, The Great Gatsby by F.Scott Fitzgerald, and illustrating Fitzgerald's collaboration with the marvelous editor, Max Perkins.  More about Max in a moment.

She says, "Fitzgerald, too, was a master of the squared-off paragraph. He began and ended many with a startling mix of style, philosophy, and itch -- the itch that can only be scratched by moving to the next paragraph..." 

That "itch" has just the right touch, as does 'free-fiddle" in the following observation of the author Luc Sante,  "At the end of a work, he allows himself free-fiddle with words but not structure."  I like Bell's way with words: "If you've written a bird's nest, then, untangle your ideas. Separate them into a few sentences. One small sentence, written well, can tell more than an expansive one that's gangly."

And again: "When you edit, determine what is mystery and what is muddle; the first to be respected and left alone, the second to be respected and cleaned up." 

There are many ways to edit and the book is filled with examples of how different authors approach the process. For example, Michael Ondaatje says, "Having a concept of what the book is exactly about before you begin it is a tremendous limitation, because no idea is going to be as intricate and complicated as what you will discover in that process of writing it." Continuing he says, "I always write the beginning at the end. It's the last thing I write because then I know what the book is about."  

I was so taken with the collaboration between Max Perkins and F. Scott Fitzgerald that I was inspired to read more about the famous editor. I found a lovely book of family letters collected by Max's five daughters and published as The Family Letters of Maxwell Perkins complete with his clever illustrations; also a biography, Max Perkins: Editor of Genius by A. Scott Berg.

Berg says of Perkins, "Beginning with Fitzgerald and continuing with each new writer he took on, he slowly altered the traditional notion of the editor's role. He sought out authors who were not just "safe," conventional in style and bland in content, but who spoke in a new voice about the new values of the postwar world. In this way, as an editor he did more than reflect the standards of his age; he consciously influenced and changed them by the new talents he published."

Max not only edited Fitzgerald, but also Ernest Hemingway and Tom Wolfe among others. He even conjured up new plots or offered ideas for his authors to develop.Max's greatest gift was summed up by his longtime friend, Elizabeth Lemmon, in a letter to Max's wife after his death, "I have known people who were considered pillars of strength and loved to be leaned on, but Max poured strength into people and made them stand on their own feet."

After reading the story of Max and Tom Wolfe, I must now read Wolfe's autobiographical novels. Isn't it great when one book leads to another? So many books, so little time.

 

When I decided I wanted to dust off my childhood knitting skills and learn to knit socks,

my mother gave me one of the greatest presents a knitter can get -- a copy of the all-around practical guide, Mary Thomas’s Knitting Book.  This 1930s-era gem has instructions for all manner of knitting basics (different ways to form knit and purl stitches, pattern-drafting how-to, basic patterns for gloves and mittens and socks, different ways to wind yarn into a ball, and so on) as well as a lively history of knitting down the ages and some sections on sophisticated topics like beaded knitting and Shetland shawls.  If you must limit yourself to just one knitting book, this is the one you should have.

But who can limit themselves to just one book?  Mary Thomas teaches knitters how to design their own projects, and any knitter doing design work needs a guide to stitch patterns.  The most complete, most beautifully presented, most clearly explained series of knitting stitch patterns is definitely Barbara Walker’s four collections of stitch patterns gathered through extensive research and correspondence with knitters.  Just about every stitch you might ever want is contained in these four volumes: from ribbing to edging, from cables to mosaic patterns, from simple knit/purl patterns to elegant lace.  And every one has clear, cogent instructions and a helpful photograph of the finished result.

Should you find that designing your own projects really suits your style, you must run, not walk, to the last of my Three Queens of Knitting, Elizabeth Zimmermann.  Begin your exploration of Zimmermann’s brilliance with the pocket-sized Knitter’s Almanac, a collection of twelve projects for each of the twelve months of the year.  You’ll find detailed instructions for each, but Zimmerman also lays out her pattern design logic and explains the math of sizing patterns up and down to fit different figures or suit alternate yarn.  Even if you merely read the Knitter’s Almanac, but never make any of the projects, you will close the book a better, smarter knitter!  

What’s next after you’ve gotten to know the Three Queens of Knitting?  It’s up to you!  But rest assured, you can always find more books, dvds, and magazines for knitters at the library.

Questions?  Ask the Librarian!  We'd be glad to help you find the right knitting book, or help answer your other craft questions!

Who likes the post-apocalypse? How about when it happens right here in Multnomah County? Etiquette for an Apocalypse by Anne Mendel is the funniest book you’ll ever hear described as “a mystery-thriller set in northwest Portland after environmental disasters cause the collapse of of civilization as we know it.”

No, there aren’t any zombies for Sophie (the heroine) to battle, and who needs ‘em? Shady characters may be aiming to take over what’s left of the world, while an even shadier character may be engaged in serial killings. (Or is it the other way around?)

This is a perfect summer read if you want to 1) laugh, 2) turn pages one after the other not able to put the book down, and 3) get inspired to stockpile toilet paper, duct tape and big black garbage bags.

Dystopia has never been so much fun.

You may have heard of Polk's city directories, but there are other companies that published city AND rural directories. These are commercial products, so were developed to help businesses.

The earliest Portland City Directory was published by S.J. McCormick in 1863. It included information on new buildings and newcomers, on fires, city improvements, locations of fire stations and alarms. It also included the names of the men who lived in the city -- and the names of some women. (Primarily those who owned a business, had an occupation, or were unmarried, living outside of the parental home.)

Businesses paid to be listed in the Directory; some purchased highly detailed advertisements, while other smaller businesses like neighborhood general stores simply listed their name and location.

Another important value to business beyond advertising, was the list of residents in the city. If someone wanted to rent or buy services from a business, the Directory could be checked to find out if the person lived locally, and where; in later years a check of earlier directories under the name, would let the business know how long they lived in the City, what their occupation was, and whether they moved often. All information that helped a business decide whether to extend credit to a customer, to hire someone to do a job, to lease or sell to a person.

The best way to find these kind of directories in the library catalog is to search using the name of the city or the county and the word "Directories" as a subject keyword search; eg, Wasco Directories. Eugene Directories, Baker Directories.

It's summer - regress a little! Have a Popsicle (root beer and white licorice were the best flavors). Swing on the monkey bars. Revisit some of the books you loved as a child. The best ones will be just as good as you remembered, and offer fresh pleasures to an adult perspective.

George Bernard Shaw famously said that youth is wasted on the young; maybe some great kids' books are wasted on young readers. Two classics, The Yearling and National Velvet, were originally written for adults - but since their main characters are children, they were marketed, unimaginatively, as books for children. How many kids tossed them aside after a chapter or two? Years or even decades later, though, they're worth a second look.

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings and Enid Bagnold both loved their home landscapes, the scrub woods of central Florida and the chalk cliffs of the English coast, which they evoke with such detailed vitality that the land itself becomes a vivid character in their books. Both stories are superficially about animals: The Yearling's title refers to an orphaned fawn adopted as a pet by a poor farming family, and National Velvet follows a horse-crazy village girl as she trains up a runaway piebald to be a steeplechaser.

While the animals and gorgeous settings are appealing, what's so moving and worthwhile in both books is their true common theme, which is how the deep, wordless bonds of community and family guide, ground, and sometimes confound us. These poignant books will reward and satisfy parents of sensitive misfit children, adults who were themselves those children, and everyone who's felt the ties which bind us so fiercely to people who don't always understand us very well.

Which children's books do you still like to read? Tell us in the comments!

Three bookworms and a dog person took a shared place at the Oregon coast for a long weekend. Unsurprisingly it was a little damp, leaving plenty of time for books. And a vacation, however short and close to home, isn't the place for deep reading but for enjoying oneself!  So, without further ado, here are the titles that were the best of the weekend.

One person was reading Redshirts by John Scalzi. Based on their reaction this is absolutely hilarious if you've watched the first Star Trek series.  If, like me, you haven't but are familiar with the genre, it's still an amusing story riffing on the foibles of bad science fiction television - I'm pretty sure I missed many of the jokes but I liked it quite a bit anyway.

I read Casket of Souls by Lynn Flewelling. This is the sixth book about a pair of spies and thieves in a nicely detailed fantasy setting--think roughly halfway between medieval barbarism and the Renaissance and you should have a fairly good idea of the setting. The author has an earlier series set in a more standard medieval fantasy world called the Tamir Triad. Flewelling writes beautifully detailed settings and sympathetic, likable characters; these are the lightweight beach novels of the epic fantasy genre.

The last thing I read was Shadow Ops. Control Point by Myke Cole.  I'd noticed this debut novel had a very solidly positive set of reviews so I decided I'd give it a try. I had the oddest love/hate reaction to this book. I didn't like the plot. I didn't like many of the characters. I didn't like the setting. It was well written though, and so I'd have to say it just wasn't to my tastes, despite being quite good. A quick summary: magic has popped back into the world and America has reacted by cracking down HARD on the unfortunates who have magic. Our hero is a good soldier and a decent man who has the bad luck to turn up with a prohibited  magic power right after having a really hard time morally with the last target he was sent to take down. It's a page turner. I finished it in a single sitting and it was entertaining and deserved the good reviews. I'd recommend it to anyone who likes military science fiction/fantasy. I really liked this one in spite of myself. 

Congratulations! Your car is in a thousand parts on a blue tarp in your driveway. Now how are you going to put it all back together again? Luckily for you, we've got the resources you need to repair your vehicle and get your wheels back on the road.

Are you looking for a manual to figure out what part goes where? Auto Repair Reference Center is a comprehensive collection of repair and maintenance information on most major manufacturers of domestic and imported vehicles. 

You'll also find wiring diagrams and other useful information in Alldata, a source used by vehicle technicians around the country. This resource is available at the Central, Gresham and Midland libraries.

Can't find what you're looking for in these online resources? The library has a wide variety of automobile repair menus. Try searching with the keywords "automobile", "repair" and adding the make of your vehicle. And of course, you are always welcome to contact a librarian with your research question and we'll be happy to help you out.

If you've done a fine repair job and are now ready to sell your car, take a look at our blog post: Buying or Selling a Car? Get the information you need with these librarian-approved resources. 

Maybe you've given up on your car and are now ready to donate it to a worth cause? Take a look at Give.org. This site, built by the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance, reports on charitable organizations that are the subject of donor inquiries. The Alliance offers guidance to donors on making informed giving decisions through charity evaluations, various "tips" and giving information, and the quarterly Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Guide.

 

Looking for work, but not sure where to start? At CareerOneStop, you'll find career resources and workforce information for job seekers, students, businesses, and workforce professionals. The site is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor. Within the site you'll find:

Explore career opportunities to make informed employment and education choices
 
Helps laid-off workers and other career changers find new occupations to explore
 
Employment, training, and financial assistance for laid-off workers.
 
Provides career information and links to work-related services that help veterans and military service members successfully transition to civilian careers.

The Web is a large and awesome source of all kinds of information about health and wellness. Sometimes it's hard to separate authoritative and accurate information from resources that offer unrealistic claims and research that has not been verified or cited. Here are some resources we think are "at the top of the list" in terms of currency, timeliness, scope (the depth of the topics they cover), authority and sponsorship,  as well as ease of use.

MedlinePlus, from the National Library of Medicine,  is one of the best starting points for any kind of health topic. Not just for seniors, it does provide age categories to help limit the scope of your search.  All the information has been thoroughly vetted, and information comes from a variety of trusted sponsors and organizations. What else does it provide? Videos of an upcoming surgery, a dictionary, multiple languages, easy to understand articles, a comprehensive set of health organizations and directories as well as information about diseases and drugs, including holistic and alternative treatments. 

NIH Senior Health is another resource we highly recommend. The information is geared specifically for people over fifty and the site has a simple design with the ability to increase text size. Find information about diseases and drugs as well as information arranged in categories such as healthy aging and memory and mental health.

The Administration on Aging is a great resource because it links a wealth of information in one place and lets you search for resources and information locally. The misson of this organization is helping boomers find resources and services. The ElderCare Locator helps you find information in your area on a specific topic, like Alzheimer's, long-term care, or transportation services.   

Locally, we recommend SHIBA, the Senior Health Insurance Benefit Assistance Program. SHIBA helps with any kind of question about Medicare and Medicare benefits. You can call for individual counseling about coverage, eligibility, comparing plans and choosing a Medicare prescription drug plan.

Portland is a fabulously crafty city. We are host to Crafty Wonderland, which began as a small craft show at Doug Fir Lounge in 2006. It now happens twice yearly at the Oregon Convention Center and features hand made goods from artisans in the Pacific Northwest. Another treasure is the Portland Saturday Market which runs from March through December.  Portland is also home to a wide variety of artists and crafters, many of whom are bloggers and authors. 

Alicia Paulson, a local blogger and craft maven, loves to make things.  Her blog, Posie Gets Cozy, is full of projects, photos, and musings. Lee Meredith shares tutorials and knitting patterns on her blog, Lethal.NetDiane Gilleland, formerly Sister Diane of the Church of Craft, shares her love of crafting and writing on her blog, CraftyPod, where she also helps you with the business side of crafting.  Susan Beal blogs on West Coast Crafty.  Some of our crafters are also zinesters and the library carries a wonderful collection of zines of all kinds.

Portland also offers open studio spaces to crafty people, with no or low cost fees.  Modern Domestic on Alberta offers open sewing nights in their classrooms.  Collage on Alberta offers inexpensive classes to sample new creative techniques on Tuesdays and Fridays. SCRAP is a creative reuse center, brimming with used craft, art and office supplies. 100th Monkey Studio offers open art studios and supplies, for a small fee.  A haven for knitters and spinners, Portland yarn stores offer drop-in nights for chatting and socializing as well as knitting, especially great for those dark, rainy nights in the winter! 

The area also shines with galleries and exhibit spaces23 Sandy Gallery features book artists and book art. The Museum of Contemporary Craft is the primary exhibitor of crafts in the Pacific Northwest, with both permanent and visiting displays.  Oregon School of Arts and Crafts has recently added an MFA in craft to their masters programs and they have a fabulous gift store, as well as three galleries of exhibitions.

Our city has become a mecca for crafty people and you can find lots of meet-ups and events to keep you happily crafting throughout all of the seasons.  To find even more events, try DIY Alert, and check out the the library's crafty offerings too.

 

 

I just finished listening to Gabrielle Hamilton’s memoir Blood, Bones and Butter, and I feel like my best friend moved away. She narrated it herself. Hamilton’s the real deal, a chef and a writer, not a chef who writes or a writer who cooks.

Contemporary chef memoirs bug me. In 1999, when I graduated from cooking school, famous chefs were just that: chefs, only famous. Now many are full-blown media superstars, more concerned with scoring merchandising deals than actually cooking. So I eschewed Hamilton’s book (the Anthony Bourdain blurb on the cover wasn’t doing it any favors.) But I prefer the immediacy of recorded books read by the author, and hers fit the bill.

Lucky me. I love Hamilton’s voice, how unadorned her own words are coming from her own mouth, her wryness and lack of tolerance for B.S. It’s right there on the page, but when she speaks, it’s right there.

Hamilton’s mastery of culinary and literary arts shows in how seamlessly she weaves her narrative in and out of the kitchen. She nails the details we expect in such a book--the grating din of a ventilation hood whirring 18 hours a day, the punishing pleasure of surviving yet another brunch with one cook down--then one-ups genre conventions by making the non-industry parts of her life equally compelling, and often more so.

Yes, she spent Julys in Puglia at the seaside villa of her Italian husband’s family, but these sunny escapes have a turgid darkness lurking under the lusty Mediterranean idyll we Americans can’t seem to get enough of: the villa is crumbling, as is her marriage, as is her faith in her ability to maintain her composure, to just settle the hell down. Cooking, as it turns out, isn’t a magic bullet to bring about a blissful storybook ending. Like all worthwhile pursuits in life, it’s challenging and trying and immensely satisfying.

(Also indispensable for 'Read by the Author' fans: E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web. You have not fully taken in this book until you have heard White’s Yankee intonations of “Fehn” and “Wilbaah.”)

Naturally, the color scheme of Commando, Johnny Ramone’s posthumous autobiography, is red, white, and blue. Johnny drove American cars and drank American beer, though it’s worth pointing out he capped himself at two bottles; his post-concert routine for most of his career was to hit up 7-11 for milk and cookies, then retreat to his hotel room.

In a band of dudes who are hard to love, Johnny was the hardest. His sourpuss face is synonymous with the band’s sulky collective persona. Spying multiple photos of Johnny smiling in Commando was shocking enough, but when I saw a picture of Johnny and his wife on Disney World’s dinosaur ride, I thought my face was going to melt off.

Don’t worry, Commando still teems with frowny Johnny photos. Hostility was his internal engine, his Bizzarro World Zen. Instead of denying his anger, he used it as a medium, the way a sculptor chisels a marble slab. Punk is the music of rebels, and Johnny was a rebel among punks. He stashed his earnings into a retirement account. His favorite president was Regan.

There are a lot of books by and about The Ramones. Direct and dynamic, Commando is easily the best. Johnny didn’t exactly exude compassion during his interview segments in the well-made 2005 documentary End of the Century: Story of the Ramones, so it’s refreshing to discover he had a human side.

Another enlightening look at the inner workings of the band is the unfortunately titled I Slept with Joey Ramone, by Joey’s brother, Mickey Leigh. While not a great read, it’s a worthwhile skim, and it offers many insights to Joey’s sickly constitution and obsessive-compulsive disorder (giving songs like “I Wanna Be Well” and “Go Mental” a bittersweet new dimension).

But for the best instant Ramones immersion, just watch Rock’n’Roll High School. Yes, it’s a schlocky teen b-movie, but it captures the spirit of the Ramones in the most buoyant fashion possible, and the concert scene at the end exudes a blissfully straightforward musical purity. Look out for Johnny’s solitary line: “We’re not students, we’re the Ramones.” 

Every nonprofit has to start somewhere and the library is a great first stop. Since 1973, Multnomah County Library has been part of the  Foundation Center's Funding Information Network, a nonprofit organization established in 1956 concerned exclusively with gathering, analyzing and disseminating information on philanthropic foundations. Foundation Center libraries are located throughout the United States.

Via our Nonprofit Resource Center, Multnomah County Library makes the publications of the Foundation Center available to the public along with other materials on foundations, corporate philanthropy, government grants, proposal writing, fundraising and nonprofit management. Library staff provide help in using these materials, and brief reference questions can be answered by telephone. Some of the indexes and directories published by the Foundation Center are also available online. Multnomah County Library provides access to these online Foundation Directory resources, including Foundation Directory Online Professional, a database of nearly 100,000 U.S.-based foundations, grantmaking public charities, and corporate givers and IRS 990s, has federal grant information and offers periodicals, newsletters and the Foundation Center's Web site, which contains current information on nonprofit management, grantmakers, news and events. And here are a few more handy sites that will help you track down just the right way to kick off your cause. 

A directory of Federal programs, projects, service and activities which provide assistance to the American public. It contains financial and nonfinancial assistance programs administered by departments of the Federal government.
 
An independent organization that evaluates the financial health of America's largest charities. Rates charities on their fundraising efficiency; fundraising, program, and administration expenses; primary revenue growth; and capital ratio. Can be searched by keywords, category of charity, or geographic region.
 
A nationally prominent charity rating and evaluation service dedicated to helping donors make informed giving decisions.
 
Provides news and information for nonprofit leaders, fund raisers, grant makers, and other people involved in the philanthropic enterprise. It also offers lists of grants, fundraising ideas and techniques, statistics, and more.
 
A National Charity Reports Index provides reports on charities and other soliciting organizations that solicit nationally. Reports on local charities that solicit regionally are also available via a link to local Better Business Bureaus. Reports provide contact information, evaluation conclusions, programs, governance, fund raising, tax status, and financials.
 
A central storehouse for information on over 1,000 grant programs awarded to universities, researchers, cities, states, counties, and nonprofit organizations.
 
A comprehensive directory of public and private research funding resources from the Society for Research Administrators International.
 
The center provides links to more than 70 nonprofit groups' websites and the "Nonprofit Locator," a searchable data base of IRS data on charities in the United States.
 
On-line search tool that allows users to search for tax-exempt organizations that are eligible to receive tax-deductible contributions.
 
National clearinghouse of data on the nonprofit sector in the United States.
 
Formerly known as TACS, this is a statewide network of nonprofits, foundations, business partners, and individuals dedicated to supporting Oregon’s nonprofit sector.
 
In order to solicit for donations in Oregon, most charitable organizations must be registered with the Oregon Department of Justice. Before you give, check their database or call (971) 673-1880 to confirm that the organization is properly registered. Also has information on how to become a charity.
 
An overview of key topics for consideration by people who work for, lead, or support nonprofit organizations in the United States.

Forbes Lists: Companies
Lists of companies include the 200 best small companies, the Private 500, America's 500 Leading Companies, the Platinum 400, the International 800, and Best Places. Listings contain contact information, web addresses, basic revenue, assets, market value, and stock price and earnings information. Searchable.

ThomasNet (formerly Thomas Register)
ThomasNet is a directory containing over 72,000 product headings and 170,000 U.S. and Canadian manufacturers. It allows you to search by product, company or brand name. Provides you with basic contact information as well as links to websites and e-catalogs. Free registration required for some features.

Did we miss one? Let us know in the comments.

I fail as a genre book geek. I confess that I finally caught up on the Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin. I read books one and two years ago and really liked them but never quite got around to book three. I re-read book one just before season one aired last spring. I decided it was time to catch up with books two through five in a marathon session - given the thickness of these tomes calling it a marathon session is quite appropriate.
If you like epic fantasy, but have missed reading this series so far, it really is very good even though very grim and bloody. I will add one caveat: if you get attached to the characters you like... you should remember that old saying about life being nasty, brutish and short.

There are a lot of characters. Even just tallying up the important ones is quite the undertaking. Morality in this universe is a thousand shades of gray (mostly dark) and the only characters that are completely innocent are some very young children and a mentally handicapped giant of a man. The plot - well - please keep in mind I'm trying to summarize well over 4000 pages into a single paragraph.

So, with that in mind: The king is dead! Long live the (insert quite a bit of horrific war, machinations and assassinations to seize the throne here) king? And while we're at it... The seasons are different than ours, winter might last a decade. So, winter is coming and everyone really should be trying to put away the harvest to prevent starvation instead of burning it down in war... But at least with the country-wide war there are far fewer people left alive to feed... Oh, and instead of spending all of the kingdom's strength and resources on fighting each other, perhaps focusing on the barbarians invading from the north (the barbarians fleeing from a nightmare of undead and the killing long winter in their turn...) instead might not be such a bad idea?  Not to mention the surviving daughter of the previously deposed king kicking up her heels just across the sea... Plus, just to add to the general chaos, magic went away a long time ago and now it seems to be trickling back into the world. And it's not generally happy, helpful magic.  It's more of the creepy, icky, run in blind terror for your life sort of magic. That's going to mess with the balance of things too. And now it's started to snow...

There are characters I hope live to get happy endings. Some of the other characters... may they get the endings they deserve. I did warn you not to get too attached to the characters...  

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