Happy Year of the Snake!

  The Chinese New Year begins this Sunday, February 10. Unlike in the west, the Chinese New Year follows the lunar calendar and, according to Chase’s Annual Events , begins “on the day of the second New Moon following the winter solstice.” According to the 12 year cycle of the Chinese zodiac this makes Sunday, February 10 the first day of the Year of the Snake and a great inducement to learn more about these often despised reptiles. Do you love snakes or loathe them? Herpetologists (scientists who study snakes and other reptiles…continue reading →

(Non) Fiction Friday: Fairy Tales from the BrothersGrimm

A little over 200 years ago (December, 1812) brothers Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm first published their collection of folk and fairy tales titled Children’s and Household Tales.  The Grimms continued to update their compilation over the next fifty years and amazingly the stories are as popular in the 21st century as they were in the 19th.  Think of the television shows Grimm and Once Upon a Time and the recent movie adaptations of Snow White. According to National Geographic the fairytales have been translated into over 160 languages! Philip Pullman, author of the…continue reading →

Turkey Trouble? Go to TX

Turkey! Mashed potatoes! Cranberry sauce! Pumpkin pie! Get it all ready! Set the table! Serve it up! Whew! Are you a little overwhelmed with Thanksgiving Day preparations? Whether you are hosting a huge get-together, going potluck or even fixing a small meal at home, TX is the place you should be. No, not Texas—TX is the Library of Congress subclass that holds books on home economics including cookbooks. Whether you are looking for vegan recipes to please your vegetarian cousin (TX 837), tips for safe food handling to satisfy your finicky aunt (TX…continue reading →

Honoring our Veterans

Promoted as “the war to end all wars,” World War I began the tradition of honoring our nation’s veterans on November 11. According to the US Department of Veterans Affairs the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month saw the end of hostilities between the Allies and Germany. The annual Veterans Day Celebration at John Tyler Community College is scheduled for next Monday, November 12. To understand and appreciate the sacrifices veterans have made why not read a book about military service? The recent conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq have…continue reading →

(Non-fiction) Friday: The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

“Before I discovered the miracles of science, magic ruled the world.” Imagine living in a place where you are utterly dependent on rain to grow food or having a 7-kilometer walk to buy kerosene just to light your house after dark. That is the world of William Kamkwamba as well as most of the African country of Malawi. Yet despite these obstacles the resourceful young Kamkwamba built a windmill from salvaged material to generate electricity for his family. In The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind Kamkwamba and co-author Bryan Mealer record the history…continue reading →