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Greek and Roman history are subjects that continue to captivate our interests. A large part of this has to do with how much they influence our daily lives in literature, architecture, recreation, government, philosophy, and much, much more.

Even though there are remnants in today’s life, in comparison, life is very different than it used to be. Hour-long baths, arranged marriages, and having your father manage all your business until you are 25-years-old, are just some of the things that were customary then.  Would you be ready for public speaking or to lead an army when you turn 17 like this young adult living in Rome in 73 A.D.?

Life was exciting living in the Roman Empire with gladiators, chariot races, and exotic bath houses. It was a time that gave us great leaders such as Augustus, Nero, Julius Caesar, and Claudius. If you were a Roman leader, who would you most resemble?

There are some similarities to what life was like in Greece and Rome, but still, things were varied. Life could be very different even in places as close as Athens and Sparta. Depending on where you were born, and whether you were a boy or a girl, you could have a very different experience from those youth close by. Play this game from The British Museum that allows you compare the lives of both men and women from these two Greek cities, and learn more about daily life in ancient Greece. Be sure to take the Greek “house challenge” to see where you would find men and women hanging out, and doing what, under the same roof.

When I was on a tour in Germany about ten years ago, we stopped at a viewpoint overlooking Nuremberg. While I was admiring the red roofs and the medieval architecture, I was surprised to learn that many of the buildings we were looking at had been bombed during World War II, but had been rebuilt to match the pre-war structures. In The Aftermath, a new historical novel by Rhidian Brook, Colonel Lewis Morgan is in charge of rebuilding Hamburg, a city that was heavily bombed during WWII. The British government has requisitioned a beautiful home for him in an unscathed area of the city and has informed the current owner, Stefan Lubert, that he and his daughter must move out. Lubert, an architect before the war, is now working at a menial job while he waits to be cleared as a "good German", one who was not heavily involved with the Nazis.  While Colonel Lewis is awaiting his wife and son's arrival in Germany, he decides that Lubert should stay and share the house with his family. His wife is NOT happy with that decision. Their older son was killed by a German bomb while playing in a house in Wales, and she is not ready to forgive the Germans or her husband, whom she partially blames, for that tragedy.  I was fascinated by Rhidian's stories of people in immediate post-war Germany, both the Germans and the British, and was touched by the humanity and forgiveness that shines through the characters. This novel, based on the post-war experiences of the author's grandfather, will stay with me for a long time.

For another historical novel featuring strange bedfellows, check out Burial Rites by Hannah Kent.  Based on the life of the last woman executed for a crime in Iceland, Kent tells the story of Agnes who, along with two others, is accused of murdering a man.  Because there are no suitable prisons in Iceland in the early 1800s, she is sent to live with a family on a remote farm until the time of her execution.  The waiting period of several months gives the characters a chance to adjust to each other and move from anger and resentment to acceptance.  Burial Rites is a quieter, more slow-moving book than The Aftermath, but is similarly compelling.  Both novels made me want to delve into other historical events that I know little about (and there are many)!

At this time of year many people are tempted to pull out the tarnished sax hiding under their beds or dust off the old ivories to see if their after-school piano lessons can be resurrected. But what to play? "Go Tell Aunt Rhody" can get a little tired after the second or third time through.

Never fear - Multnomah County Library has one of the best collections of sheet music anywhere around.

For instance, maybe you'd like to know what the kids were singing in the 90's - the 1890's, that is. Take a look at Songs of the Gilded Age, which includes such great tunes as "Elsie from Chelsea" and that old favorite "She is More to be Pitied, than Censured", not to mention "Where Did you Get that Hat?".

Perhaps your instrument is your voice. Then maybe you'll want to check out the American Idol Presents series - complete with sheet music and CD accompaniment. You're sure to be a star in your own living room.

Or maybe you'd like to rock out and take it up to elevenThe Zen of Screaming might come in handy. It's a training program for rock singers "to preserve their vocal cords without compromising their passion."

You say you and your friends would like to present a musical tribute to Lady Gaga? Here's the place to start

According to Malcolm Gladwell in Outliers: The Story of Success, it will only take you 10,000 hours of practice to become just as good a guitarist as Etta Baker was. This instructional DVD might even cut it down to 9,500 hours. 

After all, as the writer, Alexander McCall Smith asked, in a recent New York Times article, "why should real musicians — the ones who can actually play their instruments — have all the fun?"

The new year is upon us! 

In addition to remembering to write 2014, making and following our new year’s resolutions, and welcoming the gradual return of the light, we also have a slew of new laws in the state of Oregon that will take effect January 1, 2014.

Large stack of papers.

The news outlets, such as The Oregonian and KVAL 13, have published stories about the new laws, providing a digest of some of the most interesting or unique laws soon to be in effect.

Highlights include Senate Bill 444 A that makes smoking in a motor vehicle with a minor under the age of 18 present a secondary traffic violation ($250 fine for first offense). The Oregon American Lung Association has additional information online as part of the Smokefree Cars for Kids campaign. Another motor vehicle law of interest for many may be Senate Bill 9 B that increases the fine to a maximum of $500 for using a cell phone or other mobile communication device while operating a motor vehicle, some limited exceptions do apply.

A more specific law due to take effect January 1, 2014 is  House Bill 2104 A that will prohibit medical imaging procedures done for any other reason than a medical purpose ordered by a licensed physician or nurse practitioner.  While this bill stops the creation of ultrasound images by nonmedical professional made purely as keepsakes, another bill House Bill 2612 will now permit postpartum mothers to take home their placentas from the hospital if they so wish. Even more unique is House Bill 2025 B that establishes economic liability for bison owners who allow their bison to run at large and cause damage.

Oregon State Legislature Bill and Reports IconsAs you can see there is a new law for almost every occasion. If you are interested in browsing all of the bills from the Oregon State Legislature, even the ones that did not pass, you can view them online.  The bills are broken up into the 2013 Regular Session and the 2013 1st Special Session.  From the  Oregon State Legislature website you can search the bills by Bill Number, Bill Text, or Bill Sponsor by clicking on the Bills icon in the upper right hand part of the screen.  You can also access a list of just the Senate and House Bills that were actually enacted in the Regular Session and the Special Session.  These reports and a number of other legislative reports can be found by clicking on the Reports icon. You can also learn how an idea becomes law and review a flow chart illustration of the process.  For a more animated version try Schoolhouse Rock's I’m Just a Bill.    

As always librarians are not lawyers and cannot give legal advice, including selecting or interpreting legal materials, but we can happily make suggestions about research tools to use to find the information you are seeking.

Wishing you the best in a lawful new year!

 

Weight information network tips to get healthyThe beginning of a new year can be a great time to try a new fitness routine, but it can be hard to know how to get started. Luckily, many resources exist to help, no matter your fitness level.

The Be Active Your Way guide to getting started from the Department of Health and Human Services explains how much exercise you need each week, how to get started if you haven’t exercised before, and how to increase your activity level if you’re already active.

Still not sure how much physical activity you need? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Physical Activity for Everyone site has information for children, adults, seniors and pregnant or postpartum women.

Once you know how much activity you need in your day, how do you turn that into action? The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute’s Tips for Getting Active provides ways to include more movement in your day. Some of them may surprise you!

Still having trouble getting moving? The Weight Control Information Network’s Tips to Help You Get Active can help you beat some common barriers to exercise.

The MedlinePlus Exercise and Physical Fitness page will help you find trusted information about all sorts of health topics related to fitness, including nutrition, tutorials, the latest fitness news, and low-cost ways to get fit.

Ready to get started? Take inspiration from the Providence Heart to Start program or check out The Walking Site.

 

 

We get energy from many different sources, both renewable and nonrenewable.  A renewable energy source is one that is naturally replenished like wind, hydro, biomass, and solar energy.  Nonrenewable energy sources cannot be replenished in a short period of time; they include oil, coal, natural gas, and nuclear power.

Energy consumption by source, 2012.

Compare and Contrast 

The Energy Kids site, produced by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, includes timelines of energy resource development, pros and cons of energy sources, and statistics about prices, production, and consumption.  The National Academies site, "What You Need to Know About Energy," compares energy sources, their uses, costs, and efficiency.

Another good overview, which comes from the BBC, includes handy tables of advantages and disadvantages of different energy resources.  It includes an interesting case study on changing energy use in Britain.  Energy Resources is a site created by a British teacher which covers a variety of energy resources, and includes summary worksheets and quizzes.

 

Mapping Energy Resources

Maps can be a useful tool for packaging lots of information in a visually appealing way.  The U.S. Department of Energy creates lots of energy-related maps, whether of per capita energy consumption by state, or windfarm placement.  Find maps of renewable energy availability - as well as many others - at the National Atlas.

 

America's Energy Future

 

How will life in America change as our energy outlook changes?  Here’s what the scientists at the National Academies think:



 

Want to learn more?  Librarians can always help you find more resources.

If you’ve studied the periodic table of the elements, you know that there are, well, lots of elements.  Having trouble keeping them straight and remembering their properties?  Check out Periodic Videos from the University of Nottingham’s Chemistry Department.  Each element has it’s own video.  You can watch an (often explosive!) experiment with each element and listen to a mad scientist (complete with crazy hair) explain the element’s properties.  Here’s a video about the very reactive element, potassium, to give you an idea of what to expect from this site.

As you learn more about the periodic table, you’ll begin to understand that it’s organization is meaningful: each element's place within the table can tell you a lot about its properties.  But what if you arranged the elements in a different way?  What other properties of the elements could you use and how would that change the periodic table?  What other periodic tables could you make?  To answer these questions, check out the Internet Database of Periodic Tables where you can find everything from ancient periodic tables to three-dimensional ones.

If you need more information about the periodic table and the elements, you can look at the books on the list below.  Most of them are at a middle-school or high-school level and a few of them include cartoon pictures.

When people speak about the mystery of Christmas, they generally aren't talking about crime novels, but I like to read something holiday-ish in December, and for some reason I gravitate towards mysteries.  The following titles range from crimes as simple and relatively innocuous as a stolen Christmas tree to a death at a Victorian holiday party.  Make a cup of cocoa, throw another log on the fire, and check 'em out if you'd like to celebrate the holidays with a mystery!

picture of A Highland ChristmasA Highland Christmas by M.C. Beaton
Hamish MacBeth is on the trail of a stolen Christmas tree and lights, as well as trying to solve the mystery of a missing cat.

 

 

picture of Jerusalem InnJerusalem Inn by Martha Grimes
Two dead bodies make for a not-so-merry holiday for Scotland Yard's Richard Jury and his friend Melrose Plant.

 

 

picture of A Christmas HopeA Christmas Hope by Anne Perry
When a woman dies at a holiday party, the wrong person may have been accused.  Claudine Burroughs wants to make sure that the truly guilty party is caught.  This is just the latest in Anne Perry's series of Christmas novels.

 

picture of Past Reason HatedPast Reason Hated by Peter Robinson
Just three days before Christmas, Inspector Alan Banks must sort out a tangle of relationships to find a killer.

 

 

Merry Sleuthing and a Happy Clue Year!

Fostering Computer Literacy in Gresham

by Donna Childs

Photo of Dick Pyne

Dedication, respect, collegiality, enthusiasm, fulfillment - these are the words that came to mind after meeting Richard Pyne, the volunteer computer instructor at Gresham Library.  Dick is a tech-savvy retired electrical engineer who values being useful.  He teaches computer classes specially designed for older adults and brought to the library through a partnership with OASIS, a national organization devoted to lifelong learning for adults over 50. Dick teaches twice a week in a lovely media-filled room dedicated to that purpose.  On the first day, his “Meet the Computer” students spend their two-hour sessions focusing on basics, from turning on the computer to email.  Many have been given computers by children or grandchildren and want to use email with their family.  On the second day, his more advanced students focus on becoming proficient in Microsoft Office programs—Word, Excel, PowerPoint--often working on resumes or other career-related tasks. Dick is a popular teacher, and many of his basic students move on to the more advanced class.  He spends many hours outside the classes preparing material and setting up the computers for the students.

In addition to a varied career in both the engineering and business sides of his field, Dick has volunteered as a GED teacher, a cooking instructor, and at OMSI.  His heart is with OMSI and the library.  In addition to respecting the missions of both organizations, he feels valued as a colleague by staff at both places, feeling that he and the staff are working together to help the public.  

Thanks to his dedication and competence, at OMSI he has worked his way up from greeter, to Speaker’s Bureau, to being a one-man outreach department, traveling to more than 30 neighborhood events to talk about OMSI.  Likewise, at the library he has worked his way up from shelving, to some computer training at Rockwood to his present position as instructor at Gresham.  "I’d be happy to stay here forever," he said.  It sounds like everyone would benefit from that.

A Few Facts About Dick

Home library: Gresham Library

Currently reading: I often read multiple books at once; for instance, recently I was reading a tech manual and Phantom of the Opera.  I often read non-fiction, but also occasionally a fiction writer such as Dan Brown.

Most influential book: Definitely the management book Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey.

Favorite book from childhood: Beautiful Joe by Marshall Saunders about a badly abused dog, though it had a happy ending!  I read and reread it for several years.

A book that made you laugh or cry: I don’t know.  I think I read too many serious books.

Favorite section of the library: The tech section, though I like to roam all the library aisles and see what I find.

E-reader or paper book? Despite being a techie, I prefer paper books.

Favorite reading guilty pleasure: Books I enjoy, even though I know they have no real literary merit.  I am still working to convince myself that it really is OK to just read to relax in a sort of mindless way.

Favorite place to read: In the family room with music. In addition to reading, our entertainment often includes Great Courses DVD’s. I haven’t watched TV in 20 years.  I get news on the internet.

 

 

If you're part of a nonprofit organization, you've probably heard about or explored the world of foundation grants. But with so many nonprofits competing for funding, how can you increase your chances of getting chosen? Perhaps you've been asking the following questions:

  • What are the main characteristics of successful funding proposals?
  • Increasingly I see foundations say they don't accept unsolicited proposals. How am I supposed to get a grant?
  • If I'm turned down, can I try again?
  • Do funder guidelines describe accurately what they fund?

Author Martin Teitel answers these questions and more in his Guidestar article Questions I'm Most Often Asked about Winning Foundation Grants.

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