Posts

Empower Yourself!

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In a recent conversation, my friend mentioned how it is absolutely imperative to "empower ourselves." I had heard this phrase countless times but still had no idea what it meant. So, I did what all of us do in this day and age...I went to Google for answers. According to Google's definition, "Personal empowerment is about taking control of your own life, and making positive decisions based on what you want. It's closely linked to attributes like self-esteem and self-confidence, but true empowerment comes when you convert intention into action." Of course, there are many aspects of the world that are not in my control. Focusing on those can create a sense of anxiety. Instead, personal empowerment comes about when I focus my abilities and attention on the things that are in my control. If I can simply understand that something is not in my control and figure out a way to make peace with it, it will help to relieve some of the stress. A diagnosis of an illness

9/11: Twenty Years Later

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Paper snow. Last weekend when everyone seemed to be talking about their memories of 9/11, the thing that came to mind for me was paper snow, the most vivid of blue skies, and just an odd collection of snippets as opposed to any linear memory. For me, the day started off with a trip to the old Princeton hospital with my mom, who wanted company when she went for an ultrasound. On the way back, we were startled by a low-flying plane that appeared to be banking sharply and both of us commented it looked like it was about to crash. We later realized that was United 175, which turned over northwest Mercer County before hitting the second WTC building. Later on, I was in my driveway when I saw the paper snow. A piece of paper hit me and, thinking it was a bug, I swatted at it and then noticed small pieces of paper and ash slowly flying by overhead. The piece that hit me was on the ground, it was a small three-inch piece of charred claim form for Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield, which had

Stress-Free College Admissions

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Since 2018, the end of each summer reminds me that it is college application time again. I did not know a lot about it, so I took advantage of every opportunity my daughter’s high school provided. I attended all parent meetings and found them to be very informative, but it would be difficult for me to navigate this process without the resources that the Mercer County Library System provides. The library staff provides college essay reviews, and you can submit your essay and prompt to collegeapps@mcl.org . I spent many Sunday afternoons searching the Mercer County Library catalog and placing holds on books related to college admissions. Every book I read gave me more insight, so I was able to look forward to the transition. I selected a few books that might be helpful for parents and high school students who are about to apply to college this fall. Acing the College Application: How to Maximize Your Chances for Admission to the College of Your Choice by Michele A. Hernandez With so man

Popsicles – Summer on a Stick

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The popsicle/Popsicle was invented in 1905 by an 11-year-old named Frank Epperson in Oakland, California. Epperson had prepared a drink for himself by stirring powdered soda mix together with water using a wooden stick and accidentally left it on the back porch overnight. The following morning, after an unusually cold night, he discovered the drink had frozen in the glass with the stirring stick stuck in the ice. Easily removing the frozen drink from the glass, he was able to eat it off the stick. Some accounts claim that Epperson soon started selling his invention to his friends and others in the neighborhood, other writers say he didn’t do much with it in the beginning. What is clear is that by the early 1920s, the “Epsicle” (a portmanteau of his name and “icicle”) had become a crowd-pleaser on Neptune Beach, a large amusement park near Alameda, California. (Incidentally, snow cones also made their debut on Neptune Beach.) In order to protect his product from imitators, Epperson fi

Hamlet Versus the Logical Positivists

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Part I: The Problem with Logical Positivism In the early 20th century, a new and influential school of philosophy came into being in Europe; originating in Austria and Germany and known as Logical Positivism , it was, in fact, the leading modern philosophical school of thought for a number of decades. The logical positivists were vastly influenced by Ludwig Wittgenstein 's Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus —it's probably not overstating the case to say the Tractatus was their Bible—even though Ludwig W., while not unsympathetic to the positivist school, was not himself a logical positivist. Essentially, the positivists were deeply opposed to a philosophical outlook that values metaphysics of any kind. They considered metaphysical statements to be not wrong, but rather—to use their own dismissive epithet—“meaningless”, and therefore unworthy of inclusion in the methodology of any reputable school of philosophy. Were you to read any of the major log

Ancient Dreams in a Modern Land Review

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Ancient Dreams in a Modern Land is the fifth album from alt-pop singer Marina, formerly Marina & the Diamonds, and it is available as part of the Mercer County Library System’s physical (as a CD) and digital collections (through hoopla). It is a short album, only ten tracks, but it is a great one. The first half is socio-political lyrics punctuated by energetic pop rock. The second half is soft and tender ballads about heartbreak and emotional intimacy. Like I said, it is a great album and I am going to take you through it, single by single, so we can really get a feel for why this work is so amazing. I hope you’re ready to self-actualize, save the planet, start a coven, and smash the patriarchy, because on this album Marina pulls no punches! Track number one is the title song “Ancient Dreams in a Modern Land.” Remember when I said you need to be ready to self-actualize? Well strap in, because Marina has transcended this Earthly body and is headed for the stars: “You don't hav

Starting or Going Back to School? There’s A Book About That…

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Every summer since becoming a Youth Services Librarian, I have balanced my excitement of the Summer Reading Program with the search for new and captivating picture books about starting or going back to school. While children are still having fun in the sun, I’m planning a school-themed story time for some of our young patrons who will “graduate” from library story time and start pre-k or kindergarten in the fall. The topic of starting – or going back to – school is always interesting. It is filled with excitement, anticipation, and worry about the new and unexpected. And what do you do when faced with something new? Turn to a book! I’m a big believer in using books to help guide us through new experiences and emotions. Luckily all these feelings and experiences have been captured by creative authors and illustrators throughout the years. There are a variety of picture books in the Mercer County Library System that are great tools to use when discussing SCHOOL with your young child. Mis

August is National Sandwich Month

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Who would think that the sandwich should have its own month dedicated to it? When you consider how long sandwiches have been around, the wide variety of sandwiches that exist and the fact that a significant portion of the world’s population (not to mention the USA) eats them at least once a day, why shouldn’t they? The word even has a verb form as to be sandwiched (placed or stuck) between two other items. Most people may have heard that they were invented by the Earl of Sandwich in the 18th century England, but he only popularized them. People have been eating meats and cheeses and vegetables either between two slices of bread or rolled up in one large piece of bread, such as pita or a falafel or the large round flatbreads common in the Middle East for millenia. Here is a website with a very brief history of ‘the sandwich’: https://www.history.com/news/the-story-of-the-sandwich The sandwich has about as many cultural varieties and variations as there are ethnic groups in the world. Ci

The Police (Rock Group)

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One of the most successful New Wave genre rock bands to emerge out of the early 1980s music scene, with help from then-very-popular MTV, was the British band The Police. They were famous for pioneering an innovative mixture of Punk, Reggae, Jazz, and Rock & Roll. They have sold over 75 million records, won 6 Grammys and, in 2003, were inducted into The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Their music has always been highly regarded by fans, critics, and fellow musicians. They made Rolling Stone and VH1's lists of the “100 greatest artists of all time.” Jazz musician Pete Levin once told me after a concert I attended that he thought that Sting wrote “timeless” songs. They are my personal favorite rock band, and I have attended many of their concerts. The Police consisted of three members: Sting (most vocals, bass guitar), Andy Summers (guitar), and Stewart Copeland (drums). All three had musical backgrounds before joining the band. Sting (whose birth name is Gordon Sumner) spent time

How to Scan a QR Code

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Over the years, you may have heard or read that the germiest thing in restaurants are its menus. While I don’t know how much truth there is to it, it has to at least be one of the germiest things—it is one of many items that go from customer to customer without a wipedown in-between. And now, due to the pandemic, restaurants need to find alternative ways to give out the menu while decreasing or eliminating the risk (which is one of those things that make me think Why didn’t we always do this? ). Recently, I’ve seen small food joints write their selection on a board above the cashier using a chalkboard or a digital sign. Others have laminated their menus (or have always had laminated menus) and now servers or busboys wipe them down with disinfectant after collecting them. The most chaotic I’ve seen are restaurants who throw out their menus after each customer—however, it's mostly done due to a rotating or seasonal menu that would not make sense to have laminated. And lastly, there a