Imagine this: you are a citizen of a Democracy where individual rights and privacy are supposedly its most sacred principle, and yet 24/7 you may be tracked by the government, corporations and even the city in which you live. You constantly wear or use devices that send out signals and information transmitted to millions of different data-gathering entities. A future such as this, predicted by the likes of George Orwell and Aldous Huxley, may have seemed very frightening little more than 20 years ago. Such a future, however, is in the here and now. Continue reading “Big Data and "Choose Privacy Week"”
A Charm for Spring Flowers
Who sees the first marsh marigold
Shall count more wealth than hands can hold.
Who bends a knee where violets grow
A hundred secret things shall know.
Who finds hepatica’s dim blue
Shall have his dearest wish come true.
Who spies on lady-slippers fair
Shall keep a heart as light as air.
But whosoever toucheth not
One petal, sets no root in pot,
He shall be blessed of earth and sky,
Till under them he, too, shall lie.
Oh, the magical charm of wildflowers, especially the earliest ones, which rise up through the woodland leaf litter to sing, when winter is gone. If you’ve spent any time in the woods hunting down or chancing upon these fleeting beauties (in our local area, bloodroot, wake robin, Dutchman’s breeches, etc.), you know how bewitching they can be. I was 15 years old when I found and identified wild columbine flowers. We were on a spring road trip, my mother and I, headed to Georgia via Skyline Drive to visit my grandmother, when we stopped for a break. I wandered off for a short walk and found columbine growing on a sunny hillside. The blossoms, with their complex structure formed in bright red and yellow, were stunningly beautiful and unlike any flower I had ever seen before. They most certainly cast a spell on me, propelling me on a lifelong quest to find and identify more wildflowers. It is a sweet and happy hobby.
I have vivid memories of sitting by my boom box listening to American Top 40 on the radio, my finger poised over the record button, so I could capture Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy” on cassette tape. This legendary’s musician’s work was the soundtrack of my adolescence, and I was among the many shocked and saddened by his sudden death on April 21.
If you feel moved to revisit Prince’s music, the library has not only physical CDs for checkout, but also more than 15 albums you can stream or download from Hoopla. If you are new to this service, visit the library’s website for more information. You can be singing along to “Purple Rain” in no time if you have a library card. Continue reading “Celebrating – and Mourning – Prince”
Many here in Missouri don’t know, but I used to be an environmental microbiologist in another lifetime. It seems so long ago! Consequently, I am always very excited when Earth Day approaches. I usually try to read new environmental books as soon as they hit the shelves, but they seem to come faster and faster these days. One that slipped by me is “The Genius of Earth Day: How a 1970 Teach-In Unexpectedly Made the First Green Generation” by Adam Rome, published in 2013, so I picked it up this year to get me in the spirit. There’s so much I didn’t know! Continue reading “What You Don’t Know About Earth Day”
Who among us couldn’t use a little more calm in our lives? With the release and spectacular success of Johanna Basford’s “Secret Garden,” the adult coloring book craze has taken off. And they are EVERYWHERE! There have even been TED Talks on the benefits of coloring and doodling.
Of course, art therapy has been touted by professionals for decades, but the trend has really exploded over the last several years. And, while it may not really be “magic,” coloring is kind of magical. According to Psychology Today, doodling and coloring help with self-soothing, problem solving, memory retention and concentration. Doodlers aren’t just daydreaming! According to the book “Doodle Revolution” by Sunni Brown, doodling can even help us to think differently. Continue reading “The Magic of Adult Coloring and Doodling”
April is National Poetry Month, and I love that this celebration of language comes when spring is doing its raucous thing, sunny daffodils lifting their faces to the sky and flowering trees bursting into bloom. The earth is creating and nature expresses itself, and we, too, celebrate our expression. For what is poetry but the attempt to describe our human condition, to wrap an experience in words so precise, or a metaphor so fitting, that we slip the reader into our shoes? Continue reading “The Nature of Poetry”
The Columbia Public Library will be hosting a 2016 Quilt Exhibit featuring art quilts April 2-16. So I wondered, “How is an art quilt different from the quilts I’ve been making for the last five years?” I checked out a number of books to find out.
The quilts I’ve made are for babies to lie on or to keep someone warm. An art quilt is not made to serve these purposes. It is made primarily as a creative expression of an artist and meant to be displayed. These works are called quilts because they are layered, usually made of fabric, and they are held together by stitches, knots or other means. Artists sometimes transform the cloth through dyeing, printing or painting. The library owns a number of books with wonderful photos of art quilts. Continue reading “Art Quilts”
As you’ve heard before, laughter is one of the best medicines, having positive effects on us physically, mentally and socially. This seems like a pretty big deal, that something free and fun can be such a gold mine of therapeutic benefits. If winter has you down low and feeling cabin-fever-confined, then stock up on some books from the library’s wit and humor collection and get your laughter fix.
No list of suggested humor reads would be complete without books by David Sedaris. I picked up his most recent title, “Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls, Essays, Etc,” hoping for some comic relief. Within the first paragraph of his essay “Dentists Without Borders,” I started laughing, deep from the belly. I knew we were off to a great start! Sedaris is a gifted storyteller and uses his unique, quirky and twisted brand of humor in a quasi-autobiographical, non-fiction approach to recount tales of his odd-ball upbringing, job histories and ordinary daily life experiences. He tempers his humor with a dose of poignancy, lending insight to our human foibles. Continue reading “Laugh Your Way to Winter’s Finish”
March is National Women’s History Month and the theme for 2016 is “Working to Form a More Perfect Union: Honoring Women in Public Service and Government.”
What perfect timing for me! I have just finished reading two wonderful books about the first two women on the Supreme Court who have worked tirelessly to make this a “more perfect union.”
In “Sisters in Law: How Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg Went to the Supreme Court and Changed the World,” Linda Hirshman alternates between these two amazing women’s stories. Sandra Day O’Connor, as the first woman of the Supreme court, said that it was great to be the first, but she didn’t want to be the last. She was a product of the West, growing up on a ranch. She was a Christian and a Goldwater Republican, whereas Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a liberal, Jewish ACLU lawyer. But, with all their differences, their experiences in the world trying to make it as women were very much the same. The pair truly transformed the courts – and America in the process – to make it a more hospitable place for women. Continue reading “HerStory – In Government and Public Service”
Last year, Alzheimer’s was much discussed in popular media, as Julianne Moore won all of the awards for her portrayal of a 50-year-old linguistics professor with the early onset form of the disease, in the movie “Still Alice.” The movie was based on Lisa Genova’s novel of the same title. Genova, a neuroscientist as well as an author, knew what she was about in portraying the effects of a condition that strips away your memory.
A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease can seem overwhelming for the patient and family members. But support and information are available. Below are some helpful resources for those coping with dementia, as well as their caregivers. Continue reading “What You Need to Know About Alzheimer’s”