Monday, August 31, 2009

Lady, That's My Skull

I'm off and on marathoning Smallville and find myself looking up information on the series and how it handles characters. (Hmmpf!! on the upcoming golden retriever version of Krypto--sacrilege!) I was following various picture trails of Lois Lane over the years and found the Lady, That's My Skull blog which features all sorts of pulp fiction and comic covers. Getting back to this blog's skullish roots, I present to you the Lady and the Skull.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

On with the Show

I love making the little themed Lego People so I'll continue them here. I'll put them over on the side, but the September theme can have the spotlight here in a short but adorable post.

The Rainbow Connection

Reading Rainbow has been bringing kids to books since 1983. The series enchanted both parents and children. It is too sad that it is done. So here is Kermit, that eternally optimistic and sweet Froggie (and Debbie Harry) as a farewell tribute to Levar and the Rainbow.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Integrating Exercises into Computer Classes

All of the librarians at my branch teach computer classes for the public. None of us had any training for this, we needed to learn as we went along. Everyone has their own approach, though we now have standardized class outlines and some pre-made Powerpoint presentations from the ether, we still really need to work and re-work our presentations. I'm always trying to find a way to make sure everyone who attends the classes gets the basic core information for each topic.

Yesterday, I incorporated into the lesson a series of exercises. I basically taught some concepts, then had them open a prepared file that contained practice in what we just did. Except for one man who had on a headset and my have been taking phone calls, (and he missed concepts,) I could see that everyone was working on each exercise, and our floater was kept busy helping them stay on track.

I adapted some exercises I found on the web, and liked how this went so much I'm going to try to incorporate exercises into each lesson from now on. I think it will help everyone be successful in attempting to learn basic computing skills.

The exercises were:

I gave three topics for them to look up in Microsoft Word Help and emphasized that anytime they were stuck using Word, this was a great place to start. It has step by step directions, and pictures.

There was a "letter from camp" that I found on the web. I edited the text of it to include many misspellings and grammatical errors. I asked them to find and correct these using the built in dictionary and talked about the strengths and weaknesses of the dictionary.

A short list of misspelled words and phrases was used for Spellcheck practice. I also had them use this list to practice Cut/Copy/Paste and changing font size, color and type. They learned the big three keyboard shortcuts (in my opinion) Ctrl + A to highlight all text, Ctrl + C to Copy, Ctrl + V to paste.

We went through a step by step exercise on adding Pictures first with built in Clipart, then finding a picture on the web and adding that to the document. People really love this particular thing, and they were impressed that you could re-size the image and rotate it.

Lastly we worked with saving and naming documents. Practice finding and opening them was provided by their searching the folder which contained the exercises and renaming a document they had altered.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Coming Soon, a cartoon and review of Sins of the Fathers by Lawrence Block

Next up is a review of the first book in Lawrence Block's Matthew Scudder mystery series. I wanted to do an accompanying cartoon because the character is so distinctive, and he just just sort of called for the toon' treatment out of pure coolness.

I like Toonlet for cartoons where the character is the important element of the toon since it has so many character creation options. Here is Matthew Scudder's character:

Stay tooned!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Not that I'm feeling anti-social 2.0 or anything, but...

I deleted my Twitter and Facebook accounts, so here's the place to see henceforth what is on my tiny little mind. Cheers 2.0-ers.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Baker Street Letters by Michael Robertson

When lawyer Reggie Heath buys the entire 200 block of Baker Street, London, he unwittingly signs a clause that requires his firm to acknowledge receipt of and send a form letter response to all letters addressed to Sherlock Holmes of 221B Baker Street.

Reggie's unreliable brother Nigel is assigned this task. Nigel becomes intrigued by a 20 year old letter in the files from a child asking Sherlock Holmes to help find her father. When new letters from her arrive asking for the return of the original letter and an enclosed map, Nigel abandons his post at the law firm, and heads to California to see if he can locate the now grown up girl.

When Reggie discovers that Nigel has gone, leaving a ransacked office and a dead body behind, he flies off in pursuit of his wayward sibling.

This is a light hearted mystery, without any deep Holmsian attempts at deduction. The "Letters to Sherlock" premise could certainly result in a delightful series of interesting "cases" for Reggie and Nigel.

I'd like to see more of his brother Nigel who is off stage during most of the story. He is appealingly sweet and quirky, a good foil to his brother. Reggie seems a bit fussy at the start of the story but he loosens up as he makes his way though numerous dangerous and potentially deadly run-ins with the bad guys and a pair of smart alecky Los Angeles detectives. I did not care for Reggie's actress love interest "Laura" at all, so she can definitely exit stage right.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Read the book? See the movie sites

I'm working on a display of books which have been made into films and found these two sites which are great for those who love to see their favorite books lighting up the big screen:

Chasing the Frog

Chasing the Frog breaks films down into true life story adaptations (True Story Movies)and films based on novels or short works of fiction (Based on Books) from current times back to the 1930s.

There is a section of movie trailers to help whet your appetite but you can also make sure you have the right film after seeing a small clip if one is available.

The DVD Releases page feature links to Amazon where you can purchase a film, and there are featured releases and releases of the week.

My DVD Collection mimics some other sites by allowing you to catalog, describe and rate your personal film collection.

Box Office gives recent box office totals, offers lists of top box office films of all time and links to local theaters and showtimes.

Forums let you discuss films with other enthusiasts. You can read the forums without signing up, but to offer your own opinions you will need to sign up for a free account.

Movie Tees has a selection of T-Shirts from mostly current films and a few TV Shows.

Based on the Book

From the Mid-Continent Public Library based in Independence, Missouri: 'Based on the Book' is a compilation of over 1,250 books, novels, short stories, and plays that have been made into motion pictures. Utilizing the Internet Movie Database as the authority, all movies in this collection have been released as feature-length films in the United States, in English, since 1980.

Search by Movie Title, Movie Release Year,Book Title, Book Author.

This is me, Jack Vance! (or more properly, This is "I")

This slim volume of science fiction writer Jack Vance's memoirs is much like reading his books--a journey through wondrous lands. These lands are not those of his imagination but tales of his travels with his wife over a lifetime. Over the years the couple made their way to many corners of the earth, traveling by bicycle, by transported VW Van, rented car, train or boat. I don't think anyone could load up their car anymore, have it set onto a ship and merrily drive it again once they hit land. They could travel cheaply, or live well when they had book or story sales.

Vance's wife Norma was his companion and editor. Once they had a child they brought him along, just going wherever the spirit took them, making friends all over the world, and teaching him as they went. Home schooling far from home!

I read a couple of reviews on Amazon of the book and they seemed disappointed that he didn't talk about his writing more. One of the questions writers always get is "where do you get your ideas?" Here, better than I've ever seen, Jack Vance answers that. If you live all over the world, come to know the people, their languages, cultures and mysteries, you can make remarkable leaps of the imagination and create worlds beyond what mere bound-in-place mortals can comprehend. For Vance's fans, and anyone looking for a very pleasant and adventure filled memoir, this is a gift.

A recent article in the New York Times honors this great writer: The Genre Artist

I own as many of his books as I have been able to find over time, but my favorites are the five books in The Demon Princes series:

The Star King
The Killing machine
The Palace of Love
The Face
The Book of Dreams

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

On the Desk: Looking Good


Intellectual Curiosity Identified as Pavlovian Rat Response, or Worse

It turns out that seeking knowledge, absorbing its implications and seeking even more knowledge is a low, base and probably icky thing our brains do.

No surprise, that ol' demon "The Internet" feeds this contemptible and rat-like stimulus/response mechanism. Shame on us. Too bad they didn't figure this out in millenia past before australopithecus boisei got all huffy and full of seeker thinking, leading us all on the silly path we've taken to ultimate Ratdom. Tsk.

Read all about it, ye pitiful, sorry rats...

Seeking:How the brain hard-wires us to love Google, Twitter, and texting. And why that's dangerous. By Emily Yoffe