Tuesday, June 28, 2016

And That's Just The First Line!

"The past is a foreign country, they do things differently there."

"Ships at a distance have every man's wish on board."

In order to get interested in a book, it needs to have a good first line to capture your interest. These are first lines from some books you may or may not have read.  The first is from a book titled "The Go Between," and was written by L.P. Hartley in 1953. The second was from "Their Eyes Were Watching God," by Zora Hurston, and that was written in 1937.  Don't those sound interesting? Do the opening lines make you wonder what the book is about?

Which of these books have you read? Look them up in your library for some great escapes!

     1. Mr. and Mrs. Dursley of Number 4 Privet Drive were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.

      2. I went to sleep with gum in my mouth and now there's gum in my hair........

     3. The night Max wore his wolf suit and made mischief of one kind and another, his mother called him "Wild Thing!"

      4. Once there was a tree, and she loved a little boy.

      5.  Call me Ishmael.

      6.  It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the season of Light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.

        7. The cold passed reluctantly from the earth, and the retiring fogs revealed an army stretched out on the hills, resting.
       8. You better not never tell nobody but God. 
       9. In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I've been turning over in my mind ever since. 

      10. He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish. 
      11. It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.
      12. When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow.
      13. All children, except one, grow up.

      14. My suffering left me sad and gloomy.

      15. My high school friends have begun to suspect I haven't told them the full story of my life.

Here are the titles of the books they are from, the years written, and authors.
1-Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, 1997, J.K. Rowling
2-Alexander and the Horrible, Terrible, No Good, Very Bad, Day, 1972, Judith Viorst
3-Where the Wild Things Are, 1988, Maurice Sendak
4-The Giving Tree, 1963, Shel Silverstein
5-Moby Dick, 1851, Herman Melville
6-A Tale of Two Cities, 1859, Charles Dickens
7-The Red Badge of Courage, 1895, Stephen Crane
8-The Color Purple, 1982, Alice Walker
9-The Great Gatsby, 1925, F. Scott Fitzgerald*
10-The Old Man and the Sea, 1952, Ernest Hemingway
11-1984, written in 1949, George Orwell
12-To Kill a Mockingbird, 1960, Harper Lee
13-Peter Pan, 1911, J.M. Barrie
14-The Life of Pi, 2001, Yann Martel
15-A Long Way Gone, Memoirs of a Boy Soldier, Ishmael Beah, 2007

*Fitzgerald was from Minnesota

Here are web sites to give you some ideas for great reading:
Young Adult books:
Adult books:

Ask your friends to recommend books they have read. If you like an author, try another book by the same author. The library website can suggest books based on your interests. And don't be shy about asking your local librarian to suggest books you would enjoy. You can re-visit books you loved when you were little (and share them!). Try a genre (type) of book you don't normally read: Science Fiction, History, Biography, Self-Help (Life advice), books about animals, Religion....categories are almost limitless...
Here's how to find different non-fiction (facts) books by their numbers:

Try taking a book outside and reading there on a nice summer's day. It's way better than texting. Honest.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Olympics, Summer 2016

Who's this?
 His name is Vinicius, and he's the mascot for the 2016 Summer Olympics to be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Learn more about how he was chosen here:


Did you know these things about the Olympics?

  • The Olympics began in Greece in the 8th century BC and were based on combat and chariot racing. The ancient Greeks competed in the nude.
  • In the year 393, the Olympics were banned by a ruler named Theodosius because he thought they were encouraging paganism. (Paganism- PAY gun ism, worshiping false gods). In 1894, renewed interest brought the games back.
  • Since the Greeks were the originators of the Olympics, they are always the country leading all the rest when they enter the stadium for the opening ceremonies.
  • Boating was an Olympic sport in 1908.
  • Women were first allowed to compete in the Olympics in the year 1900.
  • The United States currently holds the most Summer Olympic medals (total) at 2400 medals.We have won 281 medals in the Winter Olympics.
  • The first International Olympics had 14 countries participating.
  • The Olympic flag has 5 circles, which represent the continents: Asia, Africa, North and South America, Europe, and 'Oceania,' (the area in the Pacific Ocean including Australia and several islands).
  • The color of the rings were chosen because every nation has at least one of those colors in its flag.
  • Russia didn't participate in the Olympics from 1912 to 1952.

  • There were no Olympics in 1916, 1940, or 1944, due to World Wars I and II.
  • The last time gold medals given at the Olympics were solid gold was in 1912.
  • In 1960, the Olympics were held in Squaw Valley, California and Walt Disney was in charge of the opening ceremonies.
  • Ice Hockey and Figure Skating used to be part of the summer Olympics.
  • Up until 1994, both the Winter and Summer Olympics were held every four years. After 1994, they were 'staggered' so that one or the other is held every two years, but still in four year intervals. That means the Summer Olympics were held in 2008, and will be in 2012, 2016, 2020. The Winter Olympics have been/will be in 2006, 2010, 2014, 2018.
  • Professional athletes weren't allowed to compete in the Olympics until 1981.
  • The youngest person, or at least one of the youngest persons, to win a gold medal was Marjorie Gestring of the United States, who won for diving in 1936. She was 13 years old.
A history of Olympic Medals: https://www.olympic.org/olympic-medals
  • The Olympics had never taken place in South America until now, and have not taken place in Asia or Africa. The games are specifically held by a city and not a country.

What about the torch that will light the Olympic flame?

What sports are going to be in the Summer Olympics?

The Summer Olympic sports are archery, badminton, basketball, beach volleyball, boxing, canoe / kayak, cycling, diving, equestrian, fencing, field hockey, gymnastics, handball, judo, modern pentathlon (shooting, fencing, swimming, show jumping, and running), mountain biking, rowing, sailing, shooting, soccer, swimming, synchronized swimming, table tennis, taekwondo, tennis, track and field, triathlon (swimming, biking, running), volleyball, water polo, weightlifting, and wrestling.

How long before you realized there were two divers?

Here is the Rio Olympics website:   https://www.olympic.org/rio-2016   You can also follow the 2016 Summer Olympics on Facebook and Twitter.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Twister: Not a Game

What's your tornado IQ?


Did you know....
  • A professor at the University of Chicago, Ted Fujita, created the F scale to rate the strength of tornadoes; they used to be called F-1 to F-5. The scale was recently enhanced to show the extent of damage typical of certain winds instead of just the speed of the winds, so now it is the "Enhanced Fujita" or "EF" rating..

EF 1  Wind=65-85 mph
EF 2  Wind=86-110 mph
EF 3  Wind=111-135 mph
EF 4  Wind=136-165 mph
EF 5  Wind=166-200 mph
EF 6  Wind=over 200 mph
  • Every tornado has a unique shape, color, and sound.
  • Tornadoes can be 'skinny' or 'massive' and still do a lot of damage.
  • Tornadoes are usually only on the ground for 10 minutes or more.
  • They usually occur between 3:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m.
  • Tornadoes have happened in all 50 states, and occur in the U.S. more than in any other country
  • The most powerful tornadoes occur in the U.S.

Here is how a tornado forms:

They start from a 'super cell' thunderstorm:

And once the conditions are right, a tornado begins:

'Tornado Alley' refers to the central area of the U.S. where conditions are most often perfect for tornadoes to form: The warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico collides with the dry polar air from Canada:

They look like a hook on radar: you will hear the meteorologists talking about a 'hook echo'...This system had multiple hook echoes, here outlined in purple:

Talk about a super cell! Or two or three or......

Here is a radar image of tornadoes that hit the Oklahoma City area of Oklahoma in 2013: you can see two distinct hook echoes-south of Mustang and just to the west of Kingfisher:

*the city of Moore is a bit to the south of Oklahoma City, between Oklahoma City and Norman. In the above picture, you can see it on the green edge under Oklahoma City.

What do you do if you have been told or have reason to think there is a tornado on its way?
This giant twister is almost ready to touch down. What exactly are the people in cars waiting for? Something more obvious? 

If you are caught in your car and see a tornado approaching, do NOT stay in the car. Park it. Get out. Run to the nearest building, and if there is no building, find a depression in the land such as a ditch or a low spot. Lay down on your stomach and cover your head against flying debris. Do not take cover under a bridge. Be aware that drainage ditches may fill with water when it is raining heavily. Keep in mind that even if it looks like it is moving away from you, a tornado can change direction unexpectedly.

Here is why you should not stay in your car:

....because your car may become an airplane.

Here is a twister that has touched down in a field; notice the debris at the bottom--

Again, don't get out of the car to stand and stare--or to take pictures. Take cover!

A neighborhood before and after.

And tornadoes do weird things:
Rock, paper, scissors, wood through cement...

We are definitely not in Kansas anymore...

Granaries folded in on themselves....

the "Dollhouse" effect...

  • If you live in an apartment and there is a tornado imminent: If you know someone on the first level of the building, go to that apartment. Otherwise, choose a room in your apartment with no windows if possible. The bathtub is a good idea; if you have time, cover yourselves with a mattress or cushions to avoid flying debris. The hallways of a building can also be more stable than being in an apartment.

  • If your house does not have a basement, you can also get into your tub and cover up with cushions. The reasoning is that you have a solid framed-in refuge away from a lot of objects you would have in most other rooms that will go flying, and if there are no windows in the bathroom, so much the better.

  • Think in terms of what might fall on top of you, and choose a spot with less of that risk if possible-near a bookcase is probably not a good idea, for example.

  • If you live in a mobile home, go to the shelter provided. If there is no shelter, you are probably better off to go outside and lay down in a low spot, rather than stay in the home.

  • If you do have a basement, head for it: any spot downstairs is going to be safer than upstairs. Again, stay away from windows. Contrary to what we may have heard, there is no particular corner that will be better than others.

  • Know where your bicycle helmets are and put them on when the storm is imminent and while you are taking cover. They can protect you from flying debris as well as a certain amount of crushing head injuries.

  • It isn't going to matter if you capture a great video or picture of a tornado....if you're not alive to show it to anyone afterwards. Let others take pictures and videos if they want. You need to get to safety.

  • It is an old myth that you should open your windows a crack to avoid the house imploding. Tornadoes do not work that way: they are basically super-strong winds, and if they hit your house, the windows will be shattered, not 'blown out' from the inside. It isn't worth the time it would take for you to run to each window and open it a little.

  • Keep fresh batteries on hand and know where your flashlights are. A battery-operated radio is an excellent way to keep track of whether the storm has passed. If you seldom use it, tune it to a weather station so it is ready when you turn it on.
  • As always, keep your phone charged, and be aware that sometimes service is spotty or interrupted due to weather.

Here are excellent websites with tornado information:
http://www.nssl.noaa.gov/research/tornadoes/  National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association
http://www.ready.gov/tornadoes    FEMA site  (Federal Emergency Management)
 'Tis the season---let's be prepared.
*Also see the Triogenius 4-29-13 post on Meteorology as a career.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Is Facebook Your Best Friend?

Most of us probably log in to Facebook several times a day. Some people never log out, and update constantly (are you one of those people? You need to get out more!)

Did you know this?
  • More than 955 million people use FB every day
  • 2.5 billion pictures are uploaded to FB every month
  • The average number of friends is 130
  • 10% of college admissions offices, when asked, said they check a person's FB when he or she has applied to that college
  • 45% of employers surveyed indicated they checked social media use by job applicants*
  • FB uses up 13.9 billion minutes of peoples' lives every year.
  • Canadians use FB the most.

  • If FB was a country, it would be the 3rd largest in the world based on the number of accounts (about 500 million). That is close to double the number of people who live in the United States.
  • In the United States, 54.7% of people ages 13 to 17 have FB accounts (How old is that statistic? It seems like that would be more like 90%)
  • The new Word of the Year in 2009 was "unfriend"
  • The average user of FB is on for 55 minutes a day. That's an average, probably not typical of people under age 30 or so.
  • In Australia, legal notices can be served via FB
  • Syria, China, Pakistan, India, and Viet Nam have banned FB temporarily or permanently
  • The site was originally named "thefacebook"
  • Its founder, Mark Zuckerberg, created it for college students while he was a student at Harvard. He did not graduate, but has his status on FB as 'college graduate' because-according to him-the status 'dropout' isn't offered.

  • Zuckerberg began with the idea to post pictures of fellow students so they could rate them as "hot" or "not" and got the pictures by hacking into the Harvard server (hence the 'Face Book'). Once discovered, he was threatened with expulsion but was not expelled.
  • How does FB make money? With the advertising you see when you log on. People click on it and do business with those sites.
*Check this out about employers checking social media, and why they did or did not hire someone using the information they gleaned:

What did people ever do before Facebook?
They enjoyed the outdoors, read books, played games, made things, climbed trees, attended events, played music, played with pets, went to visit friends and relatives and had them come to visit, wrote letters, called people and talked, went exploring, went for walks, cleaned, went out to eat, and pondered life.

And, lucky us: these things are still available. How about trying one of them?