Showing posts from September, 2014

Fit Is Fun!

Why am I planning my leisure activities weeks in advance? The United States celebrates Family Health and Fitness Day on September 27, and I want to be ready. Maybe I will play tennis with my family. Or maybe we will fly kites in Mercer County Park. But wait—taking a hike through Etra Lake Park sounds nice, too. We could refuel with a picnic lunch of yogurt smoothies, and peanut butter and apples. Whatever activity we choose, we will be taking positive steps to stay active and healthy.

We often hear that staying fit helps you live longer. Did you know that staying fit also boosts your quality of life? Everything is more fun when you feel good! If you are not quite on track to a healthy lifestyle, do not worry. Just decide that today is the day you will make a change. You can choose to start small, with a few changes in your daily activities or a few tweaks to your menu. On the other hand, some radicals find it easier to overhaul their activity level and eating plan all at once.

Eating …

Tech-less Tips

This month I found myself struggling with the task of finding a topic for this column.  It is not that technology has flattened or become boring, just that I found nothing to talk about that really excited me this month.  Then I remembered a topic that had excited me about a week ago, a discussion I had with someone about a book I recently read regarding life before the tech age really took hold and changed our lives.  So, I thought it would be an interesting topic to take a look at here, sort of a philosophical look at technology and life in the technology age.

The book is The End of Absence by Michael Harris.  The subtitle is “reclaiming what we’ve lost in a world of constant connection.”  The book starts out with the author describing a typical day at his job editing a regional magazine, a day filled with constant email, twitter and other social media checking, along with a healthy dose of projects that are started and stopped and restarted under the umbrella term of “multitasking…

September Marks the 75th Anniversary of the Start of World War II

After securing a nonaggression pact with the USSR (which secretly allowed for the partition of Poland by the Soviet Union and Germany) just a week before, Germany invaded Poland without a declaration of war on September 1, 1939. Two days later, the United Kingdom and France declared war, with Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South African soon following with their own declarations. The conflict lasted six years and was the deadliest and most destructive in history.

The Mercer County Library System owns several brand-new titles about World War II, including:

Double Agent: The First Hero of World War II and How the FBI Outwitted and Destroyed a Nazi Spy Ring by Peter Duffy
The never-before-told tale of the German-American who spearheaded a covert mission to infiltrate New York's Nazi underground in the days leading up to World War II-the most successful counterespionage operation in US history. From the time Adolf Hitler came into power in 1933, German spies were active in New Y…

Terrific Teacher Tales

It is September and the kids are back in school. It is always an exciting time of year as children learn new routines, meet new classmates, and get to know their teachers. Some children may be nervous about meeting a new teacher. “Will they like me?” “Do they assign a lot of homework?” “Are they any fun?” These are just some of the questions that your children may ask.

We have all had different types of teachers at school. My third grade homeroom teacher played the guitar, loved math and infused me with a life-long love of reading. In seventh grade, my language arts teacher was very stern and had a long list of rules. Although I was frustrated with her approach, I learned that her strict demeanor actually encouraged me to work harder.

As the school year starts, remind your child to keep an open mind. Below are a number of books that may ease your child’s worries about their new teacher. Hopefully, they will see there are many wonderful teachers who may appear at first to be scary but…

Books to get You Thinking

Continuing last month’s exploration into the domain of biographies and memoirs, here are some truly fascinating and inspiring writings. The lives of these authors fall far from each other and they encountered very different experiences and challenges - yet their stories speak of universal themes and of the remarkable courage, fortitude and the indelible human spirit that guided them through difficult times.  All titles can be found in the Mercer County Library System.

A House In the Skyby Amanda Lindhout and Sara Corbett

A young journalist’s deeply absorbing memoir about the months of captivity she endured after being abducted and held for ransom in Southern Somalia.  In the memoir, Amanda takes readers back to Alberta, Canada where, to escape the violence surrounding her early childhood home, she immersed herself in the pages of the National Geographic, her imagination taking her to beautiful faraway places.  Working as a waitress, she saved enough to travel to  Central and South Amer…

Suminagashi: Paper Marbling Activity

The Manga Club at the Hopewell Branch of the Mercer County Library System loves to sit back and watch
a good anime and discuss the most recent manga members are reading.  Every so often, however, our weekly meeting revolves around a slice of Japanese culture outside the manga and anime world. One of our most recent endeavors involved trying our hands at suminagashi (pronounced sue-me-nah-GAH-she), a paper marbling technique believed to have originated in Japan as early as the 12th century1.

Preparation was relatively low stress. The most difficult part was getting the right ink and doing a quick search on the Internet made it down right easy.

Technique #1

•Ink (I have used ink from the Boku-Undo Suminagashi Marbling Kit)
•Paint brushes
•Water color mixing tray, or individual small containers to hold each color ink.
•Shallow tray/pan/tub
•Paper (I have used regular computer paper, rice paper, and block printing paper)
•Paper towels
•Newspaper (optional)
•Photo-Flo (op…

Living in the Past

Do you enjoy the works of Philippa Gregory and Alice Weir? Do you find yourself dreaming of living in the times they and other writers bring so vividly to life? Do you want to know more about what the characters you love wore and ate; how they worked and played; where they lived and how they died?

My all-time favorite book to answer these questions (if you are interested in daily life in England in the Middle Ages) is The Time Traveler's Guide to Medieval England: A Handbook for Visitors to the Fourteenth Century by Ian Mortimer (a historian who also wrote The Time Traveler's Guide to Elizabethan England: a Handbook for Visitors to the Sixteenth Century).  In a lively, entertaining style, he introduces you to the landscape you would inhabit if you were transported back in time, the people you would meet, what you would wear, what you would eat, and even what sort of sanitary arrangements you could expect. He covers every facet of life, from spending time in prison to preparing …

Sophisticated and Complicated . . . I Am Talking About Pop-Up Books!

I am fascinated by movable books!  The history of paper engineering dates back to the 13th century. The Catalan mystic and poet, Ramon Llull of Marjorca, used revolving discs (volvelles) that illustrated his religious beliefs. The volvelles, consisting of two or more circular pieces on a single spindle, turned independently to reveal letters or terms of special significance to the reader.  Books with movable parts were produced in the 16th and 17th centuries: these were mostly medical texts with layered plates of anatomical Illustrations which, when lifted, reveal the body’s organs, muscles, and skeleton.  I remember as a kid lifting the inlays of the human body article in the World Book Encyclopedia.

Movable books for children were first published in the 18th century with the intent to entertain, not instruct.  Harlequinades were small books that were hinged at the top and bottom of each fold and the picture was cut through horizontally across the center to make two flaps that could…

New Jersey State Parks

Although New Jersey is the most densely populated of the 50 states, a significant portion of its land resources is dedicated to public use and enjoyment through its system of State Parks. The list of parks and what each has to offer is available through the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection's website. Park land, forests, marinas, golf courses and other facilities are all available to visitors.

For anyone interested in a summertime trip to one of our State Parks or related facilities, a summary of amenities, schedules and services for each location is available through the DEP website, making it possible to plan a visit in advance. Information on a wide variety of topics, including hours and days of operation, permit requirements, seasonal offerings, and parking availability for campers and recreational vehicles is readily available.

The database permits users to search for parks by location and activity. For instance, when searching for parks that have camping f…