Showing posts from April, 2016

Camping with Kids

Every year, when I was a child, my aunt and uncle would take me camping with them and their own kids. I brought my own tent and we spent a week eating tuna sandwiches, paddling rowboats and climbing trees. So last year, I decided it was time to start my own camping traditions with my kids. We took a weekend camping trip and are planning another one for this year. It is not the easiest way to vacation, but it is fun, relatively inexpensive and a great way to get the kids reconnected with nature. (Mine cannot be the only ones way too attached to their electronics??)

If this sounds appealing to you, here are a few tips for getting started, as well as some suggested reading from the Mercer County Library System.

Start small. I was not ready to jump into a week-long trip like I did with my aunt and uncle as a child. My family started with a weekend trip. You could even do overnight in your own backyard first, to get a feel for sleeping in the tent. It is good practice, especially f…

Books to Get You Thinking

One of the most beautiful cities in the world, Paris, the City of Lights, conjures up visions of breathtaking views of the River Seine, cathedrals, museums, gorgeous architecture, tree-lined boulevards, sidewalk cafes and public gardens. It has been revered by writers, poets and artists over the centuries. The beauty of the city is surpassed only by the indomitable spirit and resilience of its people, as reflected through several challenging times in history, most recently during the November 2015 attacks. Through it all, Paris has retained its vibrancy and the city continues to be a flourishing center for the arts, music, and fashion, as well as a symbol for freedom of expression and a celebration of life. The lure of the city captivates and draws thousands of visitors every year. Perhaps the next best thing to travelling there is to visit the city through reading the many fascinating books that have been written about different facets of Paris and are available at the Mercer Count…

Get Ready for Comic Con

While the Philadelphia Wizard World Comic Con is still two months away, many who will be attending are already preparing. If you are like one of their more enthusiastic visitors (yours truly included) you will have been prepping for months now. I am not just talking about the cosplayers who make the yearly event a visual spectacle, but also the artists, vendors and craftsman you can find gracing the Pennsylvania Convention Center’s hallowed halls.

If you don’t know what “cosplay” is, do not worry; it is basically a word that describes the practice of dressing up as a character from a movie, book, or video game. At first, the term was mostly used to describe when people dressed up as characters from manga and anime, but it has quickly been adapted to cover most forms of fan-based dress up. The sky is the limit and Comic Con is where to find the best of the best!

Whether you choose to participate in cosplay when you attend is up to you, but (as a person who is attending this year as her…

Book Clubbing - In Translation

I admit to being parochial, but I have read only one Japanese novel in my life - in translation of course: Spring Snow by Yukio Mishima. And I read it because my book group selected it. Thank you Book Group!

Mishima is famous, infamous really, for the events of his life. A poet, dramatist, novelist, and essayist, he wrote over 40 novels, volumes of short stories, 18 plays, screenplays, and even acted in several films. All his major novels have been translated into English. He was under serious consideration for the Nobel Prize several times, but never won.

His infamy is not related to this artistry. In 1970, Mishima and members of his private right-wing militia, infiltrated a Tokyo military installation. After making a speech to assembled soldiers, he committed ritual suicide, seppuku, in the Commandant’s office.

The library owns a biographical DVD that paints a picture of his life, accomplishments, and death: Mishima a Life in Four Chapters.
As for film adaptations of his novel…

Helen of Troy on Your Hard Drive

Someone recently had reason to ask me, what is the difference between a virus and malware? We all have heard of the classic computer virus, but most people do not know that the word "virus" actually only refers to one type of “bug” that can attack your computer. We have come to call all types of malicious software a virus, much like some people call all photocopiers Xerox machines. In addition to viruses, there are plenty of other baddies out there, ranging from the mild (adware) to the lethal (ransomware). Here is a rundown of the different types of malicious software you may encounter, along with some tips on how to avoid them and clean them up.

Viruses. The classic computer bug that has been around almost as long as there have been computers. Ancient China probably had some form of bad abacus bead virus that caused people to count two beads at once, they have been around that longNote 1 According to Wikipedia [], the first known theory on creati…

Coloring for Adults ... for Dummies?!?

Imagine my surprise when I learned Coloring for Adults for Dummies was actually a thing. While I loved the For Dummies series for teaching me many useful things throughout my life, like how to fix everything (duct tape, Velcro, superglue and industrial magnets), I laughed when I came across the dummies book that would teach me how to color. The thoughts that ran through my mind ranged from “Does one really have to learn how to color?” and “Honestly, how many of us have been doing this wrong?” Imagine my even bigger surprise when I told my family about Coloring for Dummies and my sister, very unabashedly, stated that coloring stresses her out. I just stared at her…..and blinked. She went on to say that I would not understand, because I missed the formative years (pre-K to first grade) and never learned the importance of sharing, coloring inside the lines or following rules. Color commentary equals psychoanalysis…go figure.

Existential crisis aside, I wondered how many others were …

Beautiful & Pointless?

Yes and no. Yes, I believe poetry is beautiful and no, it is far from pointless. In his book Beautiful & Pointless, David Orr, poetry critic for the New York Times Book Review, states:
I can't tell you why you should bother to read poems... I can only say that if you do choose to give your attention to poetry, as against all other things you might turn to instead, that choice can be meaningful. There's little grandeur in this, maybe, but out of such small unnecessary devotions is the abundance of our lives sometimes made evident. Far from being inane or meaningless, reading poetry can be as delightful and as enriching as looking at beautiful paintings or listening to music. What are the lyrics of a Bruce Springsteen song like "Jungleland" or "Backstreets", if not poetry? "Yesterday" by Paul McCartney, "Nowhere Man" by John Lennon, as well as many songs by Simon and Garfunkel, Bob Dylan, and Tupac Shakur are poignant and evocative, c…

STEM For Toddlers

STEM for toddlers seems to be farfetched, but scientific experimentation has proved that it is a great idea. Introducing STEM to toddlers helps them to understand the concepts of science, technology, engineering and math. In today’s world, kids are exposed to all kinds of electronic devices, beginning in early childhood. Their observational skills are so keen that they learn how to play or operate electronic devices by experimenting with them. If STEM is properly introduced to toddlers, it can help them to better understand the basic concepts of science and arouse their interest in these programs.

Children apply basic scientific methods to everything they see or touch. Babies have their own scientific method to explore the world. If an object (e.g., small plastic food) is placed next to toddlers, they pick it up to explore it, holding it in their hands to figure it out what it is; try to perform experiments by putting it in their mouths; determine whether it is ingestible or not; an…

You Fools! These Robots Will Kill Us All!

Way back in 1993, a science fiction author/computer scientist/professor of mathematics with the Die-Hard-villain-meets-Roald-Dahl-character-esque name of Vernor Vinge wrote a paper titled “The Coming Technological Singularity: How to Survive in the Post-Human Era”, which, yeah, I know, creepy, right? In this paper, Vinge argues that before 2030, Super-Intelligent Trans-Human consciousness will have been developed or will have evolved – an event he dubs the “Technological Singularity” – and the era of human primacy will, for all intents and purposes, be over because, for the first time, the paradigm for intelligence will no longer be based upon and constrained by the limitations of the human brain as we now know it:
[W]e are on the edge of change comparable to the rise of human life on Earth. The precise cause of this change is the imminent creation by technology of entities with greater than human intelligence. There are several means by which science may achieve this breakthrough […]…