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Author Archive for Maeve Clark



The Sting of the Wild : the Story of the Man who got Stung for Science

by Maeve Clark on June 30th, 2016
The Sting of the Wild : the Story of the Man who got Stung for Science Cover Image

Ouch, ouch, ouch! That hurts, that really really hurts!  Do you want to know why stings and bites hurt and why some insect stings are worse than others?  Then look no further than “The Sting of the Wild”. Schmidt, the “the King of the Sting” and”the Connoisseur of Pain”,  is an entomologist at  Southwestern Biological Institute and is affiliated with the Department of Entomology at the University of Arizona and he has written a bitingly good book about insects that inflict pain.  I am attractive to flying insects; mosquitoes, gnats, and black flies – all those annoying little creatures of the air, so I was very interested in why me and not others.  Mosquitoes are attracted to certain blood types more than others, those with Type O being bitten the most frequently.  If you want to know what other factors make a mosquito pick you or ignore you, you’ll have to read the book.

His research area of expertise is insect venom and he is the creator of the Schmidt Sting Pain Index.   The Schmidt sting pain index is a 5yellowjacket1-point pain scale, numbered from 0 to 4. An insect that can’t penetrate human skin ranks 0. The most painful stings rank 4 on the index.  I guess five must be death, which is possible with a sting.  Schmidt includes his pain scale as an appendix and it’s fascinating and funny, truly funny.  He gives the name, the range, the description and the pain level of each stinging insect.  There is only one level 4 in North America – the tarantula hawk, but there are many lower pain level insects.  But don’t think it is a tiny tingle if the level is lower, it’s not.  His descriptions read like entries in the “Wine Enthusiast” – Western yellow jacket – Pain Level 2 – Hot and smoky, almost irreverent. Imagine W.C. Fields extinguishing a cigar on your tongue.  Honey wasp – Pain Level 2 – Spice, blistering. A cotton swab dipped in habanero sauce has been pushed up your nose.

And get this, he based his pain index on experimentation with himself as the subject.    I have been stung by a paper wasp before and it is excrutiatingly painful.  I cannot imagine inflicting all of that agony on myself, but I am glad he was curious and strong enough to do it.  He was interviewed recently on Science Friday and he is in funny in person as he is in writing.

Dave Hicks and Old Time Music

by Maeve Clark on June 30th, 2016

A good friend of the Iowa City Public Library passed away earlier this week.  Dave Hicks played music and told storiesdave hicks for many events at the library, often with with Guy Drollinger and Mike Haverkamp.   Dave, Mike and Guy played Civil War era music for a program on transcribing Civil War diaries at the University of Iowa Special Collections and they performed more recently at the 175th anniversary celebration of the founding of Iowa City.  Or come in a borrow a copy of Stones in the Field’s Come Singing, Come Dancing and listen Dave play the fiddle, flute, whistle, guitar, and bodhran.

I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy and I want to see fireworks

by Maeve Clark on June 27th, 2016

FireworksMonday is July 4th and there are fireworks all over Iowa.  In fact, if you want to want to get a head start on your holiday fireworks, the City of Iowa will be hosting a fireworks display on Sunday, July 3rd.  It’s Jazz Fest weekend, a not-to-be-missed, multi-day event in the Summer of the Arts calendar.  The three-day event culminates with fireworks. Spectators are encouraged to bring lawn chairs or blankets and take in the fireworks  from the University of Iowa Pentacrest lawn. The west lawn provides the best view, although the display will also be visible from the east side of the Old Capitol building and Downtown.Fireworks will be launched from Hubbard Park, at the intersection of Madison Street and Iowa Avenue, and will get underway sometime between 9:30 and 9:45 p.m. Inclement weather may call for flexibility in the start time. Rain date for fireworks is Monday, July 4, same time, same place.

On July 4th there are several opportunities for viewing fireworks in Johnson County.  Coralville’s fireworks start at dusk and are the final event in Coral4thFest!  Their fireworks take place at S.T. Morrison Park, between 7th and 8th Streets.   Coralville also has a parade on July 4.  The 4thFest parade begins at 10:00 am on Monday, July 4. The 4thFest parade is the area’s largest Independence Day parade.  It’s a really big parade and lots of fun.

Hills has activities planned for both Sunday and Monday with a parade starting at 5:30 on Monday and  fireworks at dusk.  Oxford has a whole weekend of activities beginning with a street dance on Saturday night and a parade at 3 pm on July 4th. Oxford, like Iowa City,  will have its fireworks on Sunday at dusk.

If you know of other fireworks in the area, please share.  And if you use fireworks at home, please be careful.

Beer Caves

by Maeve Clark on June 21st, 2016

beer caveThe Iowa City Press Citizen ran a story today about the beer caves found under Brewery Square! The story by Andy Davis is about the work the Office of the State Archaeologist and the University of Iowa Geographical and Sustainability Sciences Department in making high definition 3-D images of the caves.  Seeing the maps will bring me even closer to my dream of getting to actually down in them.   At Weber Days last year, Marlin Ingalls from the Office the State Archeologist, gave a talk on the not only the beer caves below Brewery Square, but the other caves in Iowa City as well as the caves in Cedar Rapids.  You can watch the program, Prohibition, Breweries and Beer Caves, and learn about the history of the brewers, when Iowa City went dry, (it was more than once), and find out about the beer riots.

If you want to read more about beer in early Iowa City history Irving Weber has also written about bars, brewers and all sorts of carrying on.  You can read Irving Weber’s columns through the University of Iowa’s Iowa Digital Library.  And if you are interested in learning about beer and finding the best ones to try,  the library can help you with that too.

Memoirs

by Maeve Clark on June 14th, 2016
Memoirs Cover Image

I love histories and stories and I enjoy learning about the famous. Biographies, autobiographies and memoirs have been long been written by and about the noteworthy. These books make up a large portion of the library’s nonfiction collection, but recently there has been an increase in memoirs of the not so famous, and that growth is mirrored in the library holdings. It’s their stories, stories of the people who we might know in our everyday lives, which have become a part of the literary world.

“When Breath Become Air” by Paul Kalanithi is the story of a brilliant neurosurgeon diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer at age 36. Kalanithi’s life was on a trajectory for great success. His cancer caused him, with his wife, to evaluate his life and the path he had chosen and refocus on what they could accomplish with the short time he had left. “When Breath Becomes Air” is a deeply moving work. Read the rest of this entry »

What is so historic about US Route 6?

by Maeve Clark on June 13th, 2016

Historic Route 6 Iowa signHave you wondered about these signs?  The signs are easy to explain, but story behind the US 6, is a long and winding one.  U.S. Route 6 (US 6), is a main route of the U.S. Highway system. It currently runs east-northeast from Bishop, California to Provincetown, Massachusetts, although the route has been modified several times. The highway’s longest-lasting routing, from 1936 to 1964, had its western terminus at Long Beach, California. During this time, US 6 was the longest highway in the country.   The first numbered segment of Route 6, extending from Provincetown, Massachusetts, to Brewster, New York, was designated in 1925. Soon thereafter Route 6 was extended to Erie, Pa, the Pennsylvania segment routed along the “Roosevelt Highway,” a name that would soon apply to the entire transcontinental Route 6. In 1931, Route 6 was further extended to Greeley, Colorado along a path that combined quite a number of separate numbered and unnumbered segments, including U. S. 32 across part of Illinois and all of Iowa, and U. S. 38 across part of Nebraska. Finally, in 1937, the route was extended westward to Bishop, California and south to Long Beach. Then in 1965, the segment south of Bishop was decommissioned. The name “Roosevelt Highway” seems to have stuck for a while, but had faded by the 1950s. Throughout its history, before and after the magic moment in 1937 when Route 6 gained its transcontinentality, numerous route modifications were made, most of them at a local scale. (http://www.heritagedocumentaries.org/Route6/story.html)                 GAR sign

In 1953 Route 6 was designated the Grand Army of the Republic [GAR] Highway to honor those who served in the Civil War and signs were found as  in all fourteen of the states through which it ran. Through the 19602 and 1970s the GAR Highway signs gradually disappeared.In the early 1990s, this name was revived and it appears on signs in all fourteen Route 6 states (numerically ranging from four in California, to nearly 100 signs in Indiana).

Iowa has a fascinating road history, (look for more posts on this topic), parts of  the River to River Road which was built in a day across Iowa in 1910, became Route 6. It was built through the coordinated effort of people in every township along the way. In the 1920s, the road that would become Route river to river6 was designated by utility poles that were painted white, creating the White Pole Road, or White Way Highway. These designations had disappeared until the Spring of 1999 when a series of White Pole whitePoleRoadMapRoad signs appeared along Route 6 in Cass County, Iowa.  Irving Weber writes about the White Way Highway, among other highways in volume 5 of his Historical stories about Iowa City.

In 2013, with the help of the Iowa City/Coralville Convention and Visitors Bureau,  Iowa City added the Historic Route 6 signs.  If you want to learn more about the Historic Route 6 a great place to start is the US Route 6 Tourist Association.   And if you want to learn more about Iowa City streets, including Historic Route 6, be sure to watch Tom Schulien’s 2016 Weber Day’s presentation Making Sense out of Iowa City Streets

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Where do I vote?

by Maeve Clark on June 7th, 2016

Your-Vote-Is-Your-Voice-1Today is the 2016 primary election in Iowa. You  must be registered as a Democrat or a Republican to vote, but you can do that at your polling site.  To find out where to vote you can call us at the library at 319-356-5200 or the Johnson County Auditor’s Office at 319-356-6004.  Or you can use the Auditor’s handy interactive guide .  You need to enter your entire address including the city.   The Auditor’s Office also has a list of candidates in the respective parties.

Happy Earth Day! Leave it to Beavers

by Maeve Clark on April 22nd, 2016

April 22 is Earth Day and what a better way to celebrate it than in a salute to beavers and their engineering prowess.   I happened upon a Nature program on PBS on Wednesday night called Leave it to Beavers by Dam Builder Productions in association with Thirteen Productions LLC for WNET.  It was wonderful.  Sometime I start to watch a Nature program and I have to stop, the inevitable outcome is that the animals or area being studied is in such a steep decline that there is nothing that can be done to save them.  Not so with the beavers.  This realistic, Beavers_Infographic-Final1but optimistic look at the world of beaver rescue and rehabilitationm gave me hope.  Beavers are amazing aquatic animals.  The dams they create do far more good than not.  Leave it to Beavers, which is available on DVD from the library, highlights how beavers can transform and revitalize landscapes.  They can help keep water where it should be and lower the temperature in the high desert area where they build their dams.

Leave it to Beavers showcases a hairdresser in Denver who rescues beavers and a Canadian wildlife biologist who rehabilitates injured beavers.   The interactions between the beavers and the rescuers and rehabilitators are heartwarming.  But I think the best part of all of Leave it to Beavers was the peek that viewers were afforded when we were able to see how the beaver family lived during the winter.  The camera showed not only a family of beavers, including the new kits, but a pair of muskrats, a family of deer mice, frogs and aquatic insects.  The beaver lodge is a very warm and welcoming abode for a long winters stay.  Here’s a clip from Leave it to Beavers to pique your interest.   And if you want to learn more about Earth Day, the Iowa City Public Library has shelves of materials to make the earth a better place for all of us, people and animals alike.

Women on currency – what old is new again

by Maeve Clark on April 21st, 2016
Women on currency – what old is new again Cover Image

Yesterday, Jacob Lew, Treasury Secretary, announced the proposal to replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill with Harriet Tubman, the former slave and abolitionist, and to add women and civil rights leaders to the $5 and $10 notes.  This brought up a couple of questions at the Info Desk.  Has there ever been a woman on United States paper currency?  There’s the Susan B. Anthony dollar coin, right?  Yes, but it’s no longer minted.

ICPL’s reference collection is no where near as large as it was before the Internet (BI), but books on collecting coins and paper currency and stamps are still staples.  (The collecting of coins and stamps have two fancy names -numismatics and philately – but I am always afraid I am mispronouncing t20 billhem so I just stick with calling them coin  collecting and stamp collecting, no need to put on airs…) The Standard Catalogs of World Paper Money and Scott  Standard Postage Stamp Catalogues are integral parts of the collection.  While there is a lot information on the values of coins, paper currency and stamps online, many collectors still prefer to use books.  I am sure that next year’s Standard Catalog of World Paper Money will have a feature the changes to United States currency.  Maybe they will even feature the Harriet Tubman bill on the cover.

The Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History had a fascinating piece on woman on currency on its website.  One of the first historic women to appear on money was Arsinoe II, a Ptolemaic queen of Egypt, in the 3rd century BCE.  Queen Elizabeth the Second, (celebrating her 90th birthday today, Happy Birthday!) has been featured on coins and currency all over the British realm.  The federal government began issuing paper currency in 1861.  Martha Washington appeared on a one dollar silver certificate in 1886 and Pocahontas was on the back of a 20 dollar bill in 1875.  Sojourner Truth, Lucretia Mott, Susan B. Anthony, Alice Paul and Elizabeth Cady Stanton will be featured on the back of the new $10 bill.  Women on 20, a online site that pushed to have women featured on currency, is now mounting a campaign to have the new $20 bill appear at the same time as the $10 bill.  The movement is a strong one and highlights the power of the web as a tool for change. queen maeve And finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t also include the Irish pound note that featured Queen Medb, also know as Maeve.  The note was issued from 1977 to 1989 until is was replaced by the Euro.

 

 

The wind began to switch – the house to pitch and suddenly the hinges started to unhitch

by Maeve Clark on April 11th, 2016
The wind began to switch – the house to pitch and suddenly the hinges started to unhitch Cover Image

Quick, what happened almost ten years ago to the date?  BINGO! The F2 tornado that hit Iowa City on the night of April 13, 2006.  Where were you that night and what were you doing when the twister hit?  ICPL wants to know.  You can stop in the library and add your story to the tornado board and even place your tale on the exact location of where you were that monumental night.  And you can share your photos of the aftermath of the storm with all the world through ICPL interactive tornado map. tornado smallWe already have over 2000 photos but we are looking for more, especially ones from where the tornado first touched down, the south end of town.  On Wednesday, you are all invited to share your stories of the the night of the tornado and the days of recovery afterwards.  Iowa City, while suffering millions of dollars in damage saw not loss of life.

The National Weather Service has linked 15 tornadic events from April 13, 2006 on one page, starting with a tornado north of Marion, Iowa and ending in Alexis, Illinois.  The tornado activity began at 7:40 in Iowa and ended at 10:15 in Illinois.  Wikipendia calls all of the tornado activity that weekend and the following Monday, the Easter Week Tornado Outbreak, as the first tornadoes started on Maundy Thursday, April 13 and ended on Tuesday, April 18.  The tornadoes moved across the plains and prairie and spread a path of destruction.

The library has a wealth of information on tornadoes real and fictional.  Watch Twister, filmed in Madison County, Iowa, or everyone’s favorite, The Wizard of Oz, or better yet, read the L. Frank Baum stories on which Victor Flemming based the his film production.   Look under the subject heading of tornadoes to find out what it takes for the atmosphere to roil to the extent that every home in a town is destroyed and many lives are lost or why in another locality a house can be sucked into a swirling vortex and set down in a field of corn with nary any damage .

And finally, do you know the difference between a twister and a tornado?




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