Caregiver Backpack

Caring for a loved one is one of the most rewarding, yet often challenging responsibilities individuals can face. Very frequently family members are completely unprepared for the financial, legal, medical, and moral obligations associated with care giving, and feel overwhelmed by the urgent nature of the learning curve.
I know I did, when my mother fell, breaking her hip and shoulder, leaving my siblings and I to care for my father, who had been diagnosed the year before with dementia. Our lives changed immeasurably as we waded through hiring in-home caregivers, placing my father in an assisted living facility, finding an appropriate rehabilitation center for my mother, first cleaning out their home of 60+ years, then selling it, shuttling them both to doctor appointments, reading through complicated trusts, living wills, power of attorney documents, and medical authorization representative paperwork. In those early days the library proved to be an invaluable source of reliable, easy …

Urban Legends and Halloween

When John Steinbeck’s novel, The Grapes of Wrath was translated into Japanese, the title was mistranslated as The Angry Raisins.A woman who works with the American Bar Association called Mrs. Fields Cookies and asked for the chocolate chip cookie recipe. She was told there was a two-fifty charge for the recipe. She assumed it was $2.50 and charged it to her VISA.  When she got her bill, she discovered it was not $2.50 but $250.00. In order to get her money’s worth, she passed the recipe out to everyone, telling them to “take a copy and give it to a friend with her blessing.”It was found that consuming Pop Rocks and drinking a carbonated beverage at the same time can cause your stomach to explode. Remember “Little Mikey” from Quaker Oat’s LIFE cereal commercials? He died from eating Pop Rocks and drinking a Coke.  

These are examples of urban legends, or urban myths, and they are not true. The Cambridge Dictionary defines urban legend as a “story or statement that is not true but is of…

The Coming of Age

We plan for everything: for significant moments such as births and weddings, the many rites of passage such as Bar Mitzvahs, Baptisms and Confirmations. Birthdays, high school graduations and anniversaries are all significant moments in our lives that are marked by celebrations that require planning. We plan vacations, we plan for retirement by tending to our 401ks, and some of us even plan for future events such as our funerals. 

But, how many of us plan for old age?  Simone de Beauvoir, in her book The Coming of Age - written at the age of 62 - wrote “Old age is particularly difficult to assume because we have always regarded it as something alien, a foreign species.” My customary way of dealing with aging is to just ignore it, as if disregarding it would make it go away or not happen. To quote the venerable Mark Twin “Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” I glibly mouth trite platitudes such as: you are as old as you think you are, it (age) i…

Frankenstein at 200

The summer of 1816 was unusually rainy in the Swiss Alps. A young woman, on the run with her married lover, is stuck in a cabin. Their neighbor is a British nobleman - a poet - and the creator of a writing challenge for the small group.He assigned them to write the best horror story. The young woman wrote a story about a scientist who brought a being to life and then became horrified by what he had created. This story would grow to become the novel Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley. The novel was published in January of 1818, making it the first modern science fiction novel.
When you think about Frankenstein, I am sure many of you are really picturing Frankenstein’s Monster, and not Doctor Frankenstein.I am going to take another guess and say you are picturing Boris Karloff’s iconic depiction from the Universal Monster Movies of the 1920’s and 1930’s. 

Karloff’s Frankenstein’s Monster would go on to influence many other adaptations, however it is not faithful to …

Play It Again Sam

A colleague and I had a recent discussion about movie remakes.  Coming to theaters earlier this year, was a remake of Tomb Raider, originally released in 2001. A Star is Born, originally made in 1937 (and subsequently remade in 1954 and 1976), starring Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga, is coming out in theaters on October 5th.  Additionally, there are a slew of other remakes rumored to make it to theaters in the next year or two (e.g., The Crow, Mulan, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, etc.).

Often, when people hear a movie is being remade, they start ranting how Hollywood is out of original ideas.  When discussing the “remake phenomenon” however, my colleague and I talked about how sometimes the remake is better than the original.  I first thought of Cape Fear. I can appreciate J. Lee Thompson’s 1962 production, especially the boldness of the subject matter for a mainstream film of that time.  In my opinion, Martin Scorsese’s 1991 version is a better overall production. My co-worker finds…

Anime Convention

Are you interested in learning something a little different? Maybe it is something that has not crossed your mind yet? Well, let me tell you a little bit about anime conventions!

What is an anime convention? Anime conventions are events that focus on Japanese anime, manga and culture from pop to traditional and just about anything in between. The original Comiket started in the year 1975. Since then, anime conventions have grown far and wide, uniting people all across the world. Fans get to enjoy themselves for three days, taking part in music, games, art, panels and, the most iconic part of an anime convention, cosplay. It is a unique experience that I recommend to fellow anime watchers, manga readers, Japanese music and art lovers, and to all of you who have never heard of an anime convention before. Who knows, you just might find something new to try!

The biggest part of all anime conventions are its cosplays. Cosplay refers to fans showing their appreciation for the culture by uni…

D.I.Y. – Preschooler’s Seagull Craft

I love summertime for one reason – the beach! The sound of crashing waves, the smell of the salty air and the feel of warm sand are just right for the ideal summer daytrip for the family. Unfortunately, the weather this summer has had other plans in mind. Between sporadic thunderstorms, heatwaves and humid days, going to the beach was not so easy for my family. Luckily, I found a fun craft to do in the A/C to bring the feel of the beach to us.

Here is what you need:

Paper plate
Yellow construction paper
Markers or crayons

Here is what you do:

1.Trace a “bowling pin” shape from the top of the center of the plate to the middle (this will be the seagull’s head and neck).

2.Cut along the lines to form the wings and fold down wings.

3.Trace a beak and feet on yellow construction paper and cut out.

4.Glue on the feet and beak, draw eyes, and decorate any way you like!

When you are done, relax with a few good picture books about the beach:

Fun In The Sun by David Catrow

Day At The …

Summer With The Butterflies

It's the end of summer vacation and if you are lucky, you've had wonderful summer adventures that have left you with amazing memories of trips, laughter, enjoyable family moments and more.  I was fortunate to have had a really busy and fun summer spent with family and friends.  Just hanging out with everyone, talking, laughing and reminiscing about our childhoods are some of the new memories that we were able to make together.   Sometimes it can be tough to figure out what activities will be enjoyable for the whole group.  With different age ranges and different preferences, it is often difficult to find locations or events that will be fun for everyone. We had a 4 month old baby, grandparents, and just about everything in between! Going to the movies, beach trips, and amusement parks are definitely some fun things to do when family gets together.  And of course, our libraries offer tons of programs for all ages that are enjoyable, educational and FREE!

When several of my fam…

Books To Get You Thinking

In the early years of civilization, survival hinged solely on hunting and foraging for food.  Evolution saw the use of tools increasing - initially just stone tools, then gradually the use of mechanical devices.  It is only in the last few centuries that man has developed machine tools and engineering infrastructure that scales productivity levels by several orders of magnitude. From horse drawn carriages to steam engines to supersonic jets, our transition to the modern economy is a story of relentless innovation and invention in science, engineering, and abstract ideas. Each of the books featured in this post captures different facets of these innovations – the emergence and use of various energy and power sources, precision engineering of tools and machines, and the constant refinement of ideas that has led to a streamlined system of global trade, the stock exchange and intellectual property rights.

Energy: A Human History by Richard Rhodes

Richard Rhodes, a Pulitzer Prize and Nation…

Is That Still a Thing, Part 2

The following is part two of a two-part series on revisiting older technologies that are still relevant today.See last month’s post for information on blogs and blogging.
If you see me reach towards my phone to pause what I am listening to, I am usually not listening to music or an audiobook - I am most likely listening to a podcast. Podcasts are a great way to learn something new, keep up to date on the news or your favorite sports team, or even get sucked into a fictional world.Whether you just have a few minutes to listen or need something to make your hour commute bearable, there is a podcast on the right topic and at the right length for you.
Podcasts got their start as the audio extension of blogs.So-called audio blogging can find its roots back in the 1980s. As internet speeds and connectivity grew and evolved, these audio blogs changed from being MP3 files you could access through an RSS feed to high quality digital files automatically delivered to your smart device.The inve…