VRP 2008 – Computer Bugs!

 The 2008 Vacation Reading Program “Catch the Reading Bug” is in full swing, and there are plenty of activities at the Clayton County Libraries to add to the fun of reading!  Here is a couple of bug themed websites to visit and add to your VRP experience!


Alien Empire is an interactive site inspired by the PBS Nature mini-series of the same name.  The suite is divided into six topics, each covering a number of different insects and their fascinating characteristics.  Each topic features articles, games, educational presentations and videos relating to a specific insect.  Spend some time here and learn about the insect world!


If you seen any of our past displays at Forest Park, you know that they usually feature a paper model or two from Canon’s Creative Park.  In the Science Museum section is a number of insect patterns for you to build your own bug models!  Click the button labeled Insects to see nine different bugs to make.  These models are very challenging, but there are easy models to build on the Science page.  Stop by the Forest Park branch to see some of the models in our VRP display!

Published in: on June 25, 2008 at 9:45 pm  Leave a Comment  

Silence is Golden

I saw something interesting while reading a Time magazine article on the new Pixar animated movie WALL-E:  The sci-fi tale of a lonely robot on future, garbage filled Earth has no spoken dialogue during the first thirty minutes!  A gutsy move for the filmmakers, as those first minutes set the scene for the entire movie, and dialogue often holds the keys to establishing the story.


I was reminded by WALL-E of my student film, which I completed officially ten years ago this summer.  Spat, the story of a softball enthusiast who tries to cope with his girlfriend’s leaving him following a heated argument, was both my attempt at a kinder, gentler film (my previous ones were hard and dark in nature) and a radical challenge to my reliance on lots of dialogue:  There is no spoken dialogue in its entire 13 minutes.  I was also reminded of two films that I studied in preparing to direct Spat that are absent of dialogue, and successful in their approach.


The Thief is a Cold War spy thriller from 1952.  Ray Milland stars as a physicist who secretly photographs government documents for the enemy and sneaks the film out of the country through an elaborate network of smugglers.  When the FBI discovers the operation, the physicist flees to New York City and awaits instructions for his escape out of the country.  As he waits, guilt and paranoia bears down on him, as does an FBI agent who’s hot on his trail.  The absence of dialogue, black and white photography, sound design and music score (though dated) give the film dramatic tension and nail biting suspense.  The film drags in the middle as the physicist struggles with his conscience over selling out the country’s top secrets (though the alluring Rita Gam helps to keep things interesting!)  But it’s worth it in end as the physicist engages in a life and death chase at the top of the Empire State Building!


The Last Laugh (Der Letzte Mann) tells of an aging doorman of a grand hotel who derives his dignity and self-esteem from his gold-braided uniform.  When he’s demoted to a washroom attendant, he attempts to hide the fact from his neighbors by stealing the uniform and pretending he still has his job.  But he is dogged by the humiliation of his demotion, and the inevitability that his charade will be exposed.  The Last Laugh was made in 1924 during the silent film era, and what makes it interesting is that it foregoes the convention of title cards to convey dialogue and story information.  (There is one title card near the end:  The film’s financers demanded a happy ending to the otherwise bleak tale; a title card sets a bridge between the original ending and the mandated and improbable ending.)  Legendary director F.W. Murnau relies only on visual images and action to convey the degradation and despair experienced by the old doorman, who represents the plight of the elderly in youth driven society.


I studied a number of silent films and non-dialogue sequences within films to prepare myself to direct Spat.  But these two films stand out in my memory because of the artful ways by which their directors generate tension, show characters’ emotions and build story.  Neither films are available through PINES, but are available at most video stores and online rental websites.  They are worthy of the effort to locate and view.

Published in: on June 25, 2008 at 5:21 pm  Leave a Comment  

Hawks / Thrashers Tickets

Check It Out Reading Challenge

Students in Grades K-12 may earn one free youth ticket to an Atlanta Thrashers game and one free ticket to an Atlanta Hawks game by reading 5 books between June 2 and August 15, 2008. Pick up a bookmark with information at any Clayton County public library. More information is available at www.checkitoutreading.com.

Published in: on June 16, 2008 at 5:02 pm  Leave a Comment  

Guys Read-the Follow Up

As a follow up to this post here, I wanted to share a new blog I discovered this morning.

Welcome Guys Lit Wire!

The blog was created with teenage guys in mind. Even though I’m not a guy, I’m already a fan of the blog. The colors are not hard on they eye (black, white, red), the title banners are attractive and guy-ish. All said and done-I will be coming back to this site!




Published in: on June 13, 2008 at 3:50 pm  Leave a Comment  

Georgia Health – Go Local

Georgia Health Go Local, is a new website designed to help Georgians find local health information and resources in their area.

Georgia Health – Go Local provides information and links to hospitals, doctors, clinics, support groups, immunization programs, home health care, and other programs and services people can use to find help for themselves and their loved ones.

Some of the topics include:
Where can I find a weight loss program?
Is there an adult daycare center in my area?
Are there support groups for parents of children with disabilities?
Where can I take a first aid course?

Search for resources by county or zip code, type of service or topic. Georgia Health – Go Local offers additional information and convenience because it is connected to MedlinePlus.gov, the health Web site of the world’s largest medical library, the National Library of Medicine.

Georgia Health – Go Local is produced by the libraries of Mercer University School of Medicine, Georgia State University, Emory University, the Medical College of Georgia, and Morehouse School of Medicine, in partnership with the Georgia Public Library Service, GALILEO, HODAC, Inc., GRID (Georgia Rural Health Interactive Directory) and many other organizations around the state.

Georgia Health – Go Local is supported by The National Library of Medicine, part of the National Institutes of Health. For more information see the full press release available at http://gain.mercer.edu/golocal.

Georgia Health - Go Local

Published in: on June 13, 2008 at 2:39 pm  Leave a Comment  

Restoring Beauty: Animals and Prostethics

Biologist Jane Fink Cantwell, holds Beauty, a bald eagle, after ...

Beauty, an American Bald Eagle, lost part of her beak to a poacher’s bullet three years ago.  This week, a team of biologists and engineers constructed and fitted a temporary prosthetic to the damaged portion of her beak; a permanent one will be fitted on her later.  


Yahoo! News reported on this procedure in a June 6 article.  The amazing effort reminded me of a Time Magazine article from August 23, 2007.  It describes the amazing advancements in animal prosthetic science that not only replace missing or damaged limbs, but restore natural function and movement.  Some prosthetics can integrate with natural tissue, making them more secure than straps and other fasteners.


The artificial limbs cannot always give the animal total self-reliance, however, and most of the animals will have to remain in captivity.  But having the limbs make them less reliant on humans for basic functions like eating.  Some even argue that they bolster the animal’s self-esteem!


With advancements in animal prosthetics, Beauty will be able to drink and grip food on her own; dolphins can swim again; kangaroos can bounce about naturally; and dogs do not have to get around with those wheeled carts.


Read more about Beauty and other birds of prey at the Birds of Prey Northwest website.


Fake Fins, Beaks and Paws shows pictures of animal who have benefited from artificial limbs.


Try constructing this paper model of an American Bald Eagle!  The finished model measures about half the size of an actual eagle.

Published in: on June 7, 2008 at 7:13 pm  Leave a Comment  

Th1rteen R3asons Why

Imagine you just received a box in the mail.
You get excited.
You open the box and see…
Seven audio tapes? 
You listen to the first tape for a couple of minutes. 
You hear the voice of your classmate who just killed herself.
Then you wish you never received the box.
You are one of the thirteen reasons why she killed herself.
You are one of the thirteen people that led her to it.


Cover Image

Sometimes, the best books are the hardest ones to write about. This book is one of them. Jay Asher did a breath-taking job of capturing the hurt, the anger, the pain this girl went through. All because of a rumor-the catalyst that wove thirteen moments in Hannah’s life into a tangled web of shattered defeat. Each side of a tape has a different story, a different strand to the web. Each one harder to read than the last. The only way she knew to make it stop was to stop everything. 


I’ve been sitting trying to think of what else to say, but I can’t. I don’t have words for it. Read the book. It might change the way you think about what you do or say to someone. You never know how what you say or do (and in some cases what you don’t say or do) will impact a person.


If you or someone you know needs help, get it.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/
Or their 1-800 number: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)


For some suggested reading, I am delving into the PINES system, not just what we have at CCLS. This is all I have so far, more will be added-share your suggestions as well!
Give a Boy a Gun – Todd Strasser
You Know Where to Find Me – Rachel Cohn
What Happened to Cass McBride – Gail Giles (note: this is an excellent page-turner. fabulous book!)


Published in: on June 3, 2008 at 12:48 am  Leave a Comment  

Traffic Woes: Your Blues Ain’t Like Mine

Patrons of a library branch where I formerly worked used to lament the drive from their neighborhood to the main library, located downtown.  “All that traffic!” I heard many times from people.  I was amused by the jeremiad.  It was a busy college town, but not a big one.  If you really want to see heavy traffic, I thought, try Atlanta!

Atlanta’s reputation for heavy traffic is upheld by a recent article on Forbes.com.  Writer Matt Wolsey rates Atlanta as having the worst commuter traffic in the United States!  Sprawl and public transportation that doesn’t cover all parts of the city are to blame, making for commutes that average twenty to sixty minutes.  Road work is a contributing factor too, I believe.  Road construction is not as constant as it was when I first visited Atlanta in the mid-seventies, but recent projects, such as ones forcing the closure of Techwood Drive and the 14th Street Bridge, continue to add delays to already congested traffic.


But no one has it worse than Bangkok, Thailand.  Commuters there can spend up to 45 days per year stuck in traffic; compare that with 60 hours a year for Atlanta!  According to a Time Magazine article, Bangkok sees 2,000 cars added to its roads per day, and there aren’t enough paved roads for them to begin with.  The city has managed to cope with the gridlock, however:  Parents take their kids to school hours before school begins; vendors hawk food and trinkets to waiting motorist; police are trained to deliver babies of mothers-in-labor are caught in traffic.  The upside is that the largely Buddhist population manages to keep road rage in check, and air pollution is down, thanks to a switch from diesel to natural gas burning automobiles.


Believe it or not, there may be worse places in the world for traffic.  I’m not able to verify the worst in my brief research time, but cities like Mexico City, Mexico, Laos, Nigeria, Mumbai (formerly Bombay), India  and Beijing, China are noted for having notorious traffic problems.  A list on Howstuffworks.com states that many cities have commuters on bicycles and motor scooters that confound the problem.


So the next time you find yourself caught in a traffic gridlock – and it’ll probably be soon! – just remember that there’s someone somewhere that has it worse!




The Clean Air Campaign offers tips on how to reduce traffic congestion and air pollution in Georgia.


See a photostream of the 10 worst U.S. cities for commuters.

The short documentary A Meditation on the Speed Limit, made by Georgia State University students, takes a look at what happens when you drive the speed limit in metro-Atlanta.

Published in: on June 2, 2008 at 6:27 pm  Comments (1)