Divorce, estate planning, landlord/tenant issues, immigration, arrests and citations... Life is full of legal questions. How do you search for answers without being taken for a ride? We can suggest some excellent resources that can help you out.

A good place to start is Oregon Legal Research, maintained by law librarians. Learn how to research the law and represent yourself in court; find the answers to frequently asked questions (When can I leave my kids home alone? Where can I get a free power of attorney form?); and more. They also maintain a comprehensive Oregon Legal Assistance Resources guide (pdf) that can help you find local organizations that specialize in legal areas including disability rights, bankruptcy, political activism, bicycle law and crime victims' rights.

Link to Legal Aid Services of OregonOregon Law Help provides free and verified legal information for Oregonians. There are articles in many languages to get you up-to-speed on your rights and resources when it comes to your home, your job, government benefits and more. The site also helps you find a Legal Aid office near you.    

The Oregon State Bar public information page has user-friendly legal information, assistance in finding and hiring a lawyer, links to low cost legal help and more.

The Oregon Judicial Department can help you file a case, find a legal form and represent yourself in court. Check out their page devoted to family law for assistance with child custody and support, divorce, domestic violence, and parenting plans. The Multnomah County Circuit Court website can help you answer your questions about Family Court.

If you have questions about your rights as a renter, you might want to contact the Community Alliance of Tenants. This statewide, grassroots, tenants-rights Link to Oregon Council of County Law Libraries.organization provides renters' rights information online; if you can't find the information you need, call the Renters’ Rights Hotline at 503-288-0130.

You can always contact us at the library and we can help you locate resources that might be helpful, or visit your local county law library for a wider range of materials.

Though we are always happy to help you locate resources and give you search tips, it is against state law for library staff members to engage in any conduct that might constitute the unauthorized practice of law; we may not interpret statutes, cases or regulations, perform legal research, recommend or assist in the preparation of forms, or advise patrons regarding their legal rights.

Elizabeth T. Kinney (from Smithsonian collection)Now that I have a niece, I have become even more aware of the amazing female role models that can inspire her to learn and succeed in whatever way she chooses. Women have been instrumental in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) since ancient times (Hello, Hypatia!). Children have survived leukemia because of the work of Nobel Prize winner Gertrude B. Elion. Mathmetician Katherine G. Johnson calculated the flight trajectory for the first American to go into space in 1959. You wouldn’t be reading this blog if not for the work of Grace Hopper, who advanced computers beyond binary. Yet we still tend to think of the accomplishments in these fields as belonging almost exclusively to men.

Ada Lovelace Day, happening this year on October 15, 2013, aims to change that. Named after early programmer Ada Lovelace, Ada Lovelace Day is an international celebration of the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. This year’s events include lectures, meet-ups, and a Wikipedia Edit-a-thon to edit and create Wikipedia entries on women who have made significant contributions to the STEM fields.

In honor of my niece and all of the other young girls (and boys) in my life who might design the vaccine or software that changes the world, I am celebrating this week by learning and spreading the word about women in STEM past and present. The Anita Borg Institute has some fascinating profiles of women in technology; Eastern Illinois University rounds up biographies of women in science and Agnes Scott College brings us bios of women mathematicians through history; and I can’t get enough of this amazing set of photographs of women in science from the Smithsonian.

And I definitely got schooled watching this epic rap battle between Rosalind Franklin and Watson and Crick. (Don’t miss the shoutout to Shirley Anne Jackson at 2:27!)

Want to learn more? Check out the incredible reads below or contact a librarian. And let us know about your favorite woman in STEM in the comments!

I’m pretty sure that each and every one of us has odd culinary preferences that we only indulge when we’re alone. I often make a never-the-same-twice dish that very loosely resembles fried rice, created from various leftovers and my lazy determination to only dirty one pan; I indulge my sweet tooth with impromptu desserts made of various combos of peanut butter, honey, chocolate chips and raw oats. When I cook for myself I am both less thoughtful and more inventive than when I cook for others.

Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant: Confessions of Cooking for One and Dining Alone (edited by Jenni Ferrari-Adler) is an irresistible window into the many different ways we approach cooking for and eating by ourselves. “A is for Dining Alone ...and so am I, if a choice must be made between most people I know and myself,” M.F.K. Fisher admits, as she writes about learning to make and serve herself delicious meals; other writers talk about the ritual of dining out alone. Steve Almond, on the other hand, hones his cooking skills only “in the abject hope that people would spend time with me if I put good things in their mouths;” Rattawut Lapcharoensap laments that recreating the meals of his native Thailand can “reinforce rather than eradicate feelings of dislocation and homesickness” when there’s no one to share them with him.  Some people talk about the joys of eating the same meal day after day without any diminished pleasure:  Ann Patchett admits happily eating Saltine crackers for dinner many nights in a row; Jeremy Jackson finds comfort in black beans and cornbread; Phoebe Nobles proudly eats asparagus every day for two months. And while Erin Ergenbright admits that dining alone feels wrong to her, Holly Hughes, a mother of three, fantasizes about the delicious meals she would eat if she only had to cook for herself. Writers proudly include their recipes for everything from Yellowfin Tuna with Heirloom Tomatoes to White-on-White Lunch For When No One is Looking.

I have read this collection three times now, and each time I am once again comforted and amused by all of the ways we find sustenance when no one is watching. As Laurie Colwin says in the first essay, “People lie when you ask them what they eat when they are alone. A salad, they tell you. But when you persist, they confess to peanut butter and bacon sandwiches deep fried and eaten with hot sauce, or spaghetti with butter and grape jam.”

So what do you eat when you are alone, really?

*From the essay “Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant” by Laurie Colwin.

While I love watching a good stage musical, I have always been more fascinated by the view behind-the-scenes. From the initial writing and composing to the auditions, rehearsals, staging, set and lighting design, and costuming, a Broadway production involves a lot of people spending a lot of time together for months on end, creating drama well before the curtain rises. Two recent documentaries did a brilliant job of bringing me backstage.

If you were a 9-year-old girl sometime between 1977 and 1983, the odds are good that you wanted to be an orphan. The musical Annie was a huge hit on Broadway, plus there were four touring companies and a film version; that’s a lot of little girls getting paid to sing and dance. The documentary Life After Tomorrow revisits those “orphans” 30 years later to get their firsthand accounts of sudden fame, stage parents, rehearsals, rivalry, and the devastation of puberty when you are a child actor. Those interviewed include some still-famous women (actress Sarah Jessica Parker, MSNBC anchor Dara Brown) and others who have distanced themselves from show business as much as possible. The film ends with some sweet and funny reunions where the now all-grown-up women find that they remember much of their choreography 25 years after their last performances.

Every Little Step is a documentary about the auditions for the 2006 Broadway revival of A Chorus Line, the celebrated musical about auditioning for a Broadway musical. (Meta, anyone?) We get to know some of the young men and women moving through the increasingly difficult process; interspersed with their stories are interviews with, and footage of some of the original participants in the workshops that led to the writing of the play. Like the play itself, this film is heart-wrenching, suspenseful, and hysterical.

For a behind-the-scenes look at plays that were not so successful, check out Kate’s entry on Broadway flops on the library’s Furthermore... blog.

 

Welcome to Joanna, a new blogger for EOR. She has this to say about herself: After a tropical childhood, I stumbled upon Portland and decided to sit for a spell; nearly twenty years later, it appears that I'm here to stay. I am an enthusiastically geeky Library Assistant, which means that I sometimes approach strangers in coffee shops to gush about library databases. When it comes to my media intake, I am omnivorous: I will read or watch anything if the characters grab me and don't let go. I don't leave the house without a book. I still think A Bargain for Frances by Russell and Lillian Hoban is one of the smartest books ever written.

When I can't sleep at night, I am sometimes haunted by cringe-worthy embarrassments I suffered in high school. Maybe I'm just a little too in touch with my inner 14-year-old, but I love books that capture teen angst and the way our adolescent mortification reverberates into adulthood. I couldn't help but fall in love with Celia West, the 20-something protagonist of After the Golden Age by Carrie Vaughn.

Celia has just been kidnapped. Again. It’s the worst thing about being the child of the world’s greatest superheroes; well, that and knowing that you will never, ever, live up to your parents’ expectations. The crushing sense that she was a disappointment led Celia to a teenage rebellion that was a shocking betrayal to her parents; she joined up with their archival, ubervillain Destructor. Seven years later and she’s still dealing with the repercussions; meanwhile, she's trying to use her skills as an accountant to solve Commerce City’s latest crime wave. Also, she might be falling in love with the mayor’s son. And she’s broke. Oh, and she’s trying to avoid being kidnapped. Again.

After the Golden Age is a snappy mystery about family, identity, forgiveness, and what it means to be a hero. Now if I could just stop thinking about that time in the cafeteria...

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