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Help Yourself

by Tom Jordan on July 24th, 2014

The thought of reading self-help books makes me uncomfortable.  I imagine sitting down in an office with Joel Osteen and Joyce Meyer (both of whom I’m sure are wonderful people) and having this feeling that something really bad is about to happen and that it’s going to involve their teeth. However, when I speak to people I trust who’ve read self-help books, it sounds like I’m missing out.

ScottAdamsSo I read one. How to fail at almost everything and still win big by Scott Adams. He’s best known for being the Dilbert creator. Adams is funny and values simplicity a great deal. Throughout the book, he reminds the reader to be skeptical of the wisdom he’s imparting; he’s a cartoonist, not a guru.

Here are some of the topics he covers: why systems are better than goals; your programmable mind; the importance of tracking your personal energy; and doing sleep, fitness, and diet right (avoid relying on willpower).

Adams also writes quite a bit about his own life. He’s self-deprecating and owns up to his mistakes. “Some of My Many Failures in Summary Form” is the title of Chapter Four.

A revelation for me was in a section entitled Simplifiers Versus Optimizers. He makes the “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good” argument in a way that validates the worthiness of simplifiers in a world that tends to appreciate optimizers. This section alone makes the book worth reading.

You’ll find most self-help books in the 158.1 area. This one, both memoir and self-help, is in with the biographical works about cartoonists and graphic artists at 741.5092.

Browsing New Materials…Online!

by Heidi Lauritzen on July 15th, 2014

Any new books at the Library?  There’s a quick answer for that, on the front page of the catalog.  Once a week–usually on Tuesday–the list of materials just added to the Library collections is updated.  Not all sections will have something every week, but most do and sometimes the lists are quite long.  Just click on the “New Materials Lists” link to get started.

New Materials ListThe New Materials Lists page is easy to search and browse:  it first is divided into Adult, Teen and Children’s collections, with more sub-categories listed below those headings. If you like Adult Fiction, you can limit your browsing to just Mysteries or just Large Print books.  If Nonfiction is your first choice, the list is separated by the Dewey Decimal classification numbers:  100/200/300 and so on.  I routinely check the 900s and Biography, because I like reading about history and travel.  And then I check the DVD TV section, because I’m hooked on a number of British TV series.  And then it’s on to the Mysteries…

Most formats are represented, including DVDs, music compact discs, books on disc, and eBooks and eAudio. The display of the book cover (or DVD cover, or CD cover) beside the title is helpful, and there’s a direct link to the regular catalog entry where you can place a hold if you wish.

The majority of the items on the list are newly-published, but you will also see other things new to our collection even if they were published several years ago.

It’s a great way to browse our virtual New shelves.  Check back once a week!

State Fair Tidbit

by Mary Estle-Smith on July 9th, 2014

We all know that the Iowa State Fair famous for it’s butter sculptures.  In addition to the ubiquitous Butter Cow there are always other examples of this quaint artistic medium each year.  The theme for the 2014 fair is “Field of Dreams” which will feature elements of baseball and rural landscapes. The link below gives some additional history of Iowa’s butter art over the years.

http://www.iowastatefair.org/fair-attractions/butter-cow/

While Iowa takes credit for starting the tradition of butter sculpting exhibitions at fairs in the United States,  what you may not know, is that butter sculpting originated 100′s of years ago.  In Tibet it is an ancient Buddhist tradition; yak butter and dye are still used to create temporary symbols for the Tibetan New Year and other religious celebrations.  There is also reference to a banquet in 1536 with centerpieces constructed from butter.

So,  if you find this curiously fascinating, you may also enjoy the 2011 movie  Butter.  A bit of a dark comedy about “the cutthroat world of competitive butter sculpting”  it will lurk in the back of your mind as you tour the extravaganza of butter at the fair this year.   Very entertaining with an excellent cast playing unexpected characters, it may make you want to play with food too.

 

Salad Days of Summer

by Beth Fisher on June 25th, 2014

patricia wells salads

On these long steamy days of summer is there anything that sounds better than a nice fresh salad?

Some people  can create wonderful salads as if by magic.  But I’m not one of those people.  Even wandering through farmers market I get stumped on what would go well together.

ICPL has a some great salad cookbooks.  (Does one cook salad?)  Check out the new Salad pop-up display on the 2nd floor west of the Reference Desk, or at search in the ICPL catalog for subject Salads for some great ideas.

 

raising the salad bar schwartz salads williams sonoma salad

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s it called when you see rain in the distance?

by Melody Dworak on June 25th, 2014

The other day a patron asked what the meteorological term for when you see rain falling in the distance. He said had a bet with a friend, and as I am more than happy to use information-seeking skills to stack the odds, I started searching. It turns out, as I learned, the term he was looking for was “virga.”

According to the National Weather Service, virga is actually “Precipitation falling from the base of a cloud and evaporating before it reaches the ground.” It’s common enough of a phenomenon that I could picture it when he asked, but if you don’t know what that looks like, check out this image from Wikipedia. 

640px-Nimbostratus_virga

Thanks to Simon Eugster for the wiki pic!

 

Scanning help

by Jason Paulios on June 21st, 2014

scanToday a patron needed to quickly scan his paper-based homework in order to turn it into his teacher electronically as a PDF.  We have a number of flat tabletop scanners for use with the public Internet PCs but his homework included drawings that were done in pencil.  Often you can change the DPI to their highest settings and it will pick up the lines but this time it just wasn’t working.

The patron came up with the idea of taking a photo of the homework but preferred a PDF format. I used my cell phone to download a free PDF scanner app called “PDF Document Scanner” (there are many others but this one was free and didn’t watermark the image).  I took scans of each of his pages, cropped out the background tabletop and compiled them into a multi-page PDF.  I emailed the files to him and he was able to open them on his iPhone to verify that they would work as submissions.

 

 

10 FREE Travel Apps for Summer Adventurers

by Jennifer Eilers on June 19th, 2014
photo by Fiddlerjan downloaded from www.morguefile.com

by Fiddlerjan downloaded from www.morguefile.com

Whether you are staying close to home or traveling to far off places, apps for your Smartphone or tablet can make traveling a little more relaxing. Downloading one or a few of these apps before disembarking is as essential as packing sunscreen. There are many travel apps to choose from some help you find the best restaurant while another finds the exchange rate to calculate a purchase.  Below is a list of ten apps that will help you with your future travels, each of the apps listed below are free and work on Android and Apple devices.

 

City Maps 2 Go

City Maps 2 Go offers street maps of over 7,500 cities internationally to download and use offline. Travelers can find where they are located on the map while being offline and without racking up roaming charges. They can also get detailed travel content, insider tips, popular attractions and user reviews all offline.

GasBuddy

GasBuddy helps you locate gas stations near you and see the station’s current prices. Prices and station locations are plotted and updated by other app users though the app’s interface. Users that plot stations or update prices receive points for a prize giveaway. The app currently plots stations and prices in the United States and Canada.

GateGuru

GateGuru sends you updates to your flight itinerary on your day-of-travel listing security wait times, flights delays, gate changes or layover time adjustments. It also provides you with information about the airports listed in your itinerary such as amenity information, maps, weather forecasts, and many other airport tips. View user ratings for all of the services offered at a particular airport or limit ratings using terminals listed on your itinerary.

Postagram

Postagram creates postcards from photos you’ve taken or shared through Instagram, Facebook or your mobile device. You can write a 140 character message to send along with your photo. After composing your postcard, you can opt to send it for 99 cents to anywhere in the U.S. or $1.99 to send it internationally.

TravelSmart

TravelSmart provides emergency numbers for the police, fire department, and ambulance by destination throughout the world. It contains a drug dictionary with international translations in multiple languages if you forgot your medication or need to purchase some. It has translated first aid terms into multiple languages and has a comprehensive list of reputable hospitals by country in the Allianz healthcare network.

TripIt

TripIt organizes your travel plans into one itinerary that has all of your trip details in one place. TripIt captures your itinerary data from online confirmation emails or you can build it by hand. Everything from your air, car, and hotel reservations to dining and activity plans can be accessed whenever you are online. Your master itinerary can also be shared with friends, family, and coworkers to help them connect with you while you are away.

UrbanSpoon

UrbanSpoon gives you ratings and pricing for over a million restaurants. Reviews for restaurants are a mixture of consumers and food critics. You can find restaurants based on your locality and filter your results by cuisine type and price. Phone numbers, addresses, menus and reservations information are easily accessible through the app.

Waze

Waze is a community-based traffic and navigation app. Other drivers in the area you are traveling provide real-time traffic and road information alerting you to police, accidents, road hazards and traffic jams. Updates to road closures and construction are provided with new routes suggestions.

Wifi Finder

Wifi Finder finds the nearest free or pay-for Wi-Fi connection when you travel. Locations can be downloaded to use offline when you do not have an internet connection. Filter locations by hot-spot provider (Comcast/Mediacom) or by location type (restaurant, café, hotel). The phone number and directions to the WiFi connection are also provided.

XE Currency

XE Currency accesses live exchange rates to help you calculate prices on your mobile device. The app also stores the last updated rate so you can still get a relatively reliable calculation for how far your money can go. You can view historical exchange charts and track up to ten currencies at once.

And what vacation is complete without a little reading? Download the Zinio and Overdrive apps to your device to access the library’s collection of e-books, e-audiobooks, and e-magazines for free! They are another travel staple you should not leave home without.

Aviatrixes and the Iowa City Airport

by Maeve Clark on June 17th, 2014

Today and tameliaomorrow, the Iowa City Municipal Airport will be a stop on the Air Race Classic race from Concord, California, to New Cumberland, Pennsylvania.  More than 100 pilots on 52 teams of compete in the all-female air race.  The Air Race Classic began in 1977 and is the longest-running air race for women pilots. It follows in the tradition of the All Women’s Transcontinental Air Race, which began in 1947, and the Women’s Air Derby, which began in 1929 because women pilots were barred from entering air races at that time. Iowa City was to be a stop in 2011 but bad weather forced the race to be rerouted. Amelia Earhart competed in that 1929 race along with 19 other women.  I wonder how many of the pilots racing today had idolized Amelia Earhart as little girls. I know she was part of my fantasy life as a child.

The Iowa City Public Library has photographs of the Iowa City Municipal Airport dating back to 1922 in its Digital History Project .  I looked through them hoping to find of a photograph of Amelia Earhart as I had read that she had flown into Iowa City. I couldn’t find her ever landing at the airport, but I did find that she had lectured at the University of Iowa on March 31, 1936.  On April 1, 1936 The Daily Iowan reported on her speech – Her name is Amelia Earhart and not Mrs. Putnam, Amelia Earhart Putnam told newspapermen last night. Addressed as Mrs. Putnam, the woman flier smiling requested, “Call me Miss Earhart please.” “I am still Miss Earhart professionally,” she said, ” an my husband himself has never introduced me as Mr.s Putnam.”

The lecture was at the Iowa Memorial Union and more than 1, 800 attended.   waacHow many women who heard Amelia Earhart that night went on to get a pilot’s license and how many of them flew in the Women’s Army Air Corp (WAAC) in World War II.  Do you have a story of early Iowa City aviation or aviatrix history? The Iowa City Public Library would love to learn about it.

Old State of Iowa Transportation Maps

by Brian Visser on June 12th, 2014

Map

Last week, a patron asked if we had old Iowa road maps.  Specifically, one from 1957.  I wasn’t sure.  So, I did what I usually do, and did a quick search online.  Luckily, the State Library of Iowa has PDFs available online of  Iowa Transportation Maps going back to 1952.  I thought it was cool to go back and look at how much the roads have changed.  You can check them out here:  http://publications.iowa.gov/view/subjects/VJ.html

Roadside plants in Iowa

by Beth Fisher on June 9th, 2014

iowa roadways3If you’ve ever taken a roadtrip, you know there are all sorts of things to see when cruising down the roads of Iowa. Big cities and small towns; railroads, bridges and barns; modern buildings or historic architecture; fields of corn, soybeans or hay; and trees, grasses and wildflowers.

It might surprise you to know that many of the trees, grasses and wildflowers you see in and along the roadsides of Iowa were planted by the Iowa D.O.T.   Iowa’s Living Roadways, a small spiral bound book produced by the Iowa Department of Transportation is a guide to the various landscape designs and planting styles used to maintain the roadways of Iowa.

The guide includes photographs and plant profiles of  41 species of wildflowers and grasses- from Canadian Anemone, Blackeyed Susan, Spiderwort and Vervain;  33 species of trees -  including, 10 species of Crabapples,  five species of Maples and 4 species of Oak; and 16 types of shrubs – from Chokeberries, to Dogwood and Fragrant Sumac.    Each plant profile includes a color photograph, a description, bloom times, trivia, and possible habitats or locations.

The end of the book has a glossary, references and bibliography, and  a fun 8-page section called Amazing Plant Facts.  (Did you know that Oak tress do not produce acorns until they are 50 years old?)     You can find a copy of this book in either the Circulating or Iowa Reference Collections at 582.13/Iowa’s

 




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