Monthly Archives: July 2018

Start with astronomy

I can think of no better way to start a blog post about the night sky than to quote The Friendly Giant: “look up, look wayyyyy up”. Stars, planets, moons, constellations and galaxies are all things to search for and observe in the night sky.

The warmth of summer is a great time to start learning and you don’t need a massive telescope. A good pair of binoculars will reveal a number of objects that your unaided eye can’t see and they are a great way to learn how to navigate the night sky.

The Winnipeg Public Library has a great selection of resources to help you. I’ve selected a variety of books and television shows from our print and online streaming collections to get you started.  Just for fun, I’ve thrown in some stuff by Neil de Grasse Tyson and the potential for life in the Universe.  Excelsior!

SETI: Astronomy as a Contact Sport with Jill Tarter
This is a documentary about the organisation SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence). Among many goals, SETI wants to try to answer the question “are we alone?” SETI does this by listening for signals that could originate from extraterrestrial civilizations in other parts of the universe.

These four videos are part of a 12 episode series called Our Night Sky which examines different objects in the sky such as planets, stars, constellations and where they can be found in different seasons:

Inexplicable Universe: Unsolved Mysteries with Neil deGrasse Tyson
Join Neil deGrasse Tyson as he discusses what we know and don’t know about the universe. Explore new areas of research and knowledge.

Season One of Life in Our Universe with Laird Close
This 24 episode series discusses a variety of topics such as astrobiology (the study of biology beyond earth), extraterrestrial intelligence, does life exist beyond earth, different environments life could evolve in and how to terraform a planet.

The Astronomy Book by David Hughes offers a concise history of the some of the most important events in astronomy, cosmology and physics. Each topic covered is easy to read and each section uses flowcharts and graphics to help present a clear picture of new discoveries and important developments.

Wonders of the Night Sky you Must See before you Die: the Guide to the Most extraordinary Curiosities of our Solar System by Bob King
You’ve read the 1000 places you must see before you die or 1000 songs you must listen to before you die. Now there’s a list for astronomy.  Bob King introduces you to 57 sights in the night sky and provides information on how to see these objects using your eyes, binoculars and telescopes.

The Night Sky Atlas: the Moon, Planets, Stars and Deep Sky Objects by Robin Scagell
The Night Sky Atlas offers excellent maps of the sky to help you locate constellations, stars, planets and more. Clearly laid out, it is quick and easy to use. This book is a great addition for anyone starting out in astronomy.

Astronomy: a Self-Teaching Guide by Dinah Moche
Essentially an introductory course in astronomy, this is a terrific and thorough book to grab if you want to learn more than just the locations of different sights in the sky. The eighth edition has links to online resources such as fantastic color images. The book also features tests at the end of each section to help reinforce what you’ve learned.

Learning about and navigating the night sky can be an enjoyable and fulfilling pastime; I hope you find these suggestions helpful and take a look. If you’re looking for an upcoming astronomical event that is easy to see, try the Perseid meteor shower in August. The shower peaks on the nights and early mornings of August 11-12 and 12-13. You don’t need anything but your eyes!

Andrew

Libraries Matter: An Overview of Sports and Libraries

Sports, long considered the arch nemesis of libraries. The anti-matter to the library’s matter, if you will. But does the universe end when you bring a library book to a sports game? No! I say, it provides hours of entertainment for the uninterested partner who is dragged to what sporters call ‘the big game.’ But beware, you might get a funny look from a right winger who has just scored a triple-double at the buzzer and is looking to the crowd for approval. In these situations I suggest the reader lightly tap their book against their knee to approximate clapping—no need to look up from the page.

But what then does the library offer sporters? One might think the labyrinthian nature of library shelves might offer the perfect field for a game of ‘tag.’ However, study after study has revealed that ‘tag’ is not a recognized sub-genre of sport. Recognized sub-genres of sport include:  baseball, football, hockeyball, and tennis. Curiously, these sports sub-genres have spawned a genre of film called the ‘sports movie’ of which the sport sub-genre of ‘football’ is my favourite. Some examples include:  Friday Night Lights in which a down on their luck football team overcomes challenges to make it to the championship game; Remember the Titans in which a down on their luck football team overcomes challenges to make it to the championship game; or Rudy, in which a down on their luck footballer overcomes challenges in order to take their team to the championship game. These films, available at your local library, are thoroughly enjoyable for sporters and non-sporters alike. But be warned,  even after watching dozens of entertaining football movies the non-sporter may still walk away without a great understanding of the complexities and nuances of the rules of football—even when movies such as The Blind Side explain them using condiments as stand-ins for players.

Of course, for non-sporters there are books available to provide a more in-depth look at sports rules. My personal favourite is Moneyball. Moneyball, for those not in the know, is a sub-genre of the sport sub-genre baseball. It is sort of a meta-game in which the players analyze the statistics of baseball players and try to make the best baseball team possible based on those statistics. The book Moneyball is all about the first Moneyballers who popularized the sub-sub-genre.

If I may take a personal aside for a moment, the library is also a place that provides resources that may encourage non-sporters to take up sports. There was a time in my life when I didn’t think I would ever be a sporter. Then I played Mario Tennis, a video game which emulates the sport sub-genre of tennis. I was so enamoured by the game that I chose to take up tennis in real life. While I was disappointed that in real life I did not encounter mustachioed plumbers or dinosaurs on the tennis playing area (sometimes known as a court), I did find immense enjoyment in chasing down tennis balls and hitting them with a paddle-like stick known as a racket.

There is one last thing the library offers that non-sporters should consider as a tool to introduce literature to sporters in their lives. A literature review of literature has revealed that novels have a long history of inventing their own sport sub-genres. While the layperson may believe that Quidditch is the best and most popular of these ‘literature sports’ the experts agree, Calvinball is definitively and without question the best literature sport ever invented.

In conclusion, libraries have a lot to offer sporters and non-sporters alike.

Alan

Small Books, Big Ideas

Notice the small things. The rewards are inversely proportional.
Liz Vassey

War and Peace. Moby Dick. The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Encyclopedia Britannica. These are all big books, figuratively and literally. They contain thousands of pages and millions of words, not to mention taking up a big chunk of space on a shelf. Even in eBook form these are behemoths, weighty tomes in every sense of the word. People have even written books about reading these books, like A. J. Jacobs, a very ambitious fellow who tried to read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica in one year. But is this the only way? Does a book have to be big to have enormous influence? Not always. Sometimes it’s the smallest books that can convey the biggest ideas, take to a special time and place or give you enough information to guide you on your path through life.

While self-described as a bear of very little brain, Pooh has a way of summing up complex concepts in a few elegant words. On the surface his comments may be about honey and teatime, but you could do far worse than to apply his sage advice in all situations.

Nobody can be un-cheered with a balloon.

Oxford University is famous worldwide for the depth and breadth of the education and erudition of its professors and students who can spend years, if not their entire lifetime writing extremely long, and in some cases, exceedingly long winded, treatises on any subject under the sun. But reading something from the Very Short Introductions series will give you insights and arguments on a wide variety of subjects, with time left over for other things.

 Voltaire said: “I wholly disapprove of what you say-and will defend to the death your right to say it.”

There have been many re-tellings of the classic story of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter, but to my mind there will never be a more charming and captivating version than the original, which is just the right size for a cozy cuddle with a little one.

After a time he began to wander about, going lippity – lippity – not very fast, and looking all around.

Science and philosophy are topics that each have immense ideas and concepts. When you put the two together in a small book the size of the ideas that are communicated is incalculable.

How do we reconcile the advantages of science with its perils?

Meditation and motion are a huge part of my life, and this little book has expanded my horizons beyond calculation. Any book by Thich Nhat Hanh has paradigm altering ideas, but this one is easy to tuck into your pocket.

Walking in mindfulness brings us peace and joy, and makes our lives real.

Sometimes big books are necessary to communicate big ideas, but in my experience it’s not the size of the book that matters, it’s the size of the ideas inside the book.

Lori

 

 

 

 

 

Summer Reading Challenge!

summerreading

Display at Millennium Library

While the libraries are all set with their TD Summer Reading program for the kiddies, we also have a challenge for the adults. At all Winnipeg Public Library branches you will find the Summer Reading Challenge, a large Bingo-type card with 24 themes to expand your reading horizons. Once you’ve read a book or listened to an audiobook from one of the themes listed, fill out a card and have your selection posted on or by your branch’s card. Let’s see which branch can fill up their card, and let’s see how many books from the different themes you can read during the summer. If you need help finding a book to read from any of the themes listed just ask a library staff member for suggestions, we are more than happy to help you with your summer reading challenge. To start you off I’ve included some reading suggestions for a few of the themes listed below.

Chosen by Cover

hypnotist  The Hypnotist by Lars Kepler

Though the age-old saying of “don’t judge a book by its cover” can be applied to many occasions, it doesn’t always ring true. I am often attracted or intrigued by a book solely based on its cover, this is for good reason as plenty of work goes into cover design to attract a prospective reader. For many months I had seen this book returned over the counter and every time I saw the cover I would get chills. The story itself is no less chilling. A family is gruesomely murdered and with the only witness, their son, unable to remember the events inspector Joona Linna enlists the help of Dr. Erik Maria Bark, an expert in hypnotism to try and unlock the boy’s memories of that night. This novel marks the first in the series featuring Inspector Joona Linna, and true to Swedish mystery form it is dark, suspenseful and has fascinating characters. Alternate themes: Book in Translation, Book in a Series, Set in a country you’ve never visited, Mystery.

Science Fiction

The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes

This is an unconventional science fiction novel in that it is also a mystery/thriller featuring a serial killer. A serial killer during the Great Depression discovers a House that takes him to another time period where he finds his “Shining Girls”. He believes he will never be caught as after the murders he escapes back to his own time, but one of his victims survives and is keen on finding him and stopping him before he kills again. If you like your books with a bit of time travel, a serial killer and a strong female character, this book is for you. Alternate themes: Takes place more than 50 years ago, Mystery.

Collection of Short Stories

strange Strange Weather by Joe Hill

Depending on your typical reading genre, this book may fall under a couple themes (many of these suggestions could), it is a collection of short horror stories by Joe Hill, an author who, though he is the son of Stephen King, has been making a name for himself in the horror genre. In this collection Hill has written four short novels each as unique as the one before, though all written in a way that ratchets up the terror and horror as each page is turned. My personal favourite of the stories was the final one, Rain about an apocalyptic event where instead of water falling when it rains, it is a downpour of nails. Where does one find cover when nails are raining from the sky? Read the book and find out. Alternate themes: Title outside your comfort zone.

Book From Your Childhood

Le Petit Prince or The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

I read this French classic in french when I was in school and loved it then, I read it recently and loved it even more. This short book takes place on earth with a pilot whose plane has crashed in the desert and there he encounters the little prince who asks him to draw a sheep. At first the pilot has difficulty until he decides to draw a box and tells the prince that the sheep is in the box. The little prince is delighted, much to the pilot’s surprise and recounts his life on asteroid B-612, his travels from different planets and his encounters with those on each planet. The message related in this book is accessible to children and imperative to adults. Though children will love this book and understand the little prince, it is us adults who will truly come away from this book with a new appreciation of seeing life through a child’s eyes and grasping what is truly important. Alternate themes: Book in translation, book that involves travel.

Audiobook

lincoln Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

Not only is the novel the winner of the Man Booker Prize, the audiobook is also an Audie Award Winner for Audiobook of the Year, and it is no wonder. Lead by a full star-studded cast including the voice talents of Nick Offerman, David Sedaris, Don Cheadle, Kat Dennings, Bill Hader, Keegan-Michael Key, Susan Sarandon and Rainn Wilson to name a few, and George Saunders himself, Lincoln in the Bardo takes place during the Civil War in a graveyard where then president Abraham Lincoln has just laid his son to rest. A fascinating setting for a unique book.

Winnipeg Author

You have plenty of books to choose from that are by a Winnipeg author, just check out the winners and nominees from the Manitoba Book Awards. This year’s list includes our very own Writer-in-Residence Jennifer Still who won the Landsdowne Poetry Award for her book Comma. The library also carries the Margaret Laurence Award for Fiction winner The Water Beetles by Michael Kaan, and though there are a few requests on this book, click on the link to Award Winners on the catalogue home page and select Manitoba/Local Awards for a list of past winners that may be more likely of being available to borrow, and they’re just as good!

Best of luck to you all in completing the challenge, and happy reading!

-Aileen

Discover the Library’s IdeaMILL !

After years of anticipation, the makerspace of the Winnipeg Public Library, named the IdeaMILL, is now finally open!  The ideaMILL makerspace, located on the 3rd floor of the Millennium Library, offers community access to new and emerging technologies in a collaborative space.

Makerspaces in libraries allow members of the library’s community to gain access to tools, software and mentorship that can help take creative ideas and turn them into real products or prototypes.

You may not know how to use some of the tools and equipment available, but there are plenty of books that will help you familiarize yourself with them and get you started on your own maker projects.

Cover image for The big book of makerspace projects : inspiring makers to experiment, create, and learn   Cover image for 63 ready-to-use maker projects

Makerspace projects books

These titles are all about inspiring readers to experiment with a wide variety of projects and are ideal for anyone wanting to familiarize themselves with the concept of the makerspace and its possibilities.

Cover image for Getting started with 3D printing : a hands-on guide to the hardware, software, and services behind the new manufacturing revolution   Cover image for Make: 3D printing projects

3-Dimensional Printing

A popular feature of the IdeaMILL is the ability to crate objects – from the most basic memento to complex models – using 3-D printing technology.  These books will introduce the technology and steps required to make your own objects, and offer 3-d printing projects for both beginners and experts, with step-by-step instructions.

Cover image for Digital photography : an introduction    Image result for The green screen makerspace project book todd

Digital Photography  and Video Recording

Using a digital camera and the green screen available in the space, customers can create their own photography or movie projects, complete with sophisticated effects.  These guides will offer project ideas with detailed instructions.

 

Cover image for Makerspace sound and music projects for all ages  Cover image for The singer-songwriter's guide to recording in the home studio

Sound Recording

The IdeaMILL is equipped with two bookable sound recording booths, allowing anyone to record and edit their own songs using high-quality equipment.  The library has books to teach you how to effectively use sound recording and learn the steps of the recording and editing process.

Cover image for Knitting with beads made easy : simple techniques, handy shortcuts, and 60 fabulous projects  Cover image for Home robotics : maker-inspired projects for building your own robots

Crafting

For those who need a space reserved for working on their crafting projects, a crafting area with sewing machines, button makers and more are available in the IdeaMILL.  If you need ideas for a knitting project, we have a large selection of books on all types of crafts from knitting, sewing and even robot-making.

Come and check it out, the ideaMILL is open to customers of all ages, and is accessible during Millennium Library’s standard opening hours.

Louis-Philippe

 

Gamify Your Life!

Up up down down left right left right B A Select Start.

The “Konami Code.”

The very code that earned you 30 extra lives in Contra, a classic Nintendo game that featured two commanders making their way through enemy territory……although I must admit, my main goal when playing the game, was to make the characters “dance” in time to the music.  Squat, jump, turn, turn, turn.

I was never obsessed with video games….in fact I only ever owned a game boy system that got the majority of its use on family road trips, once a year. But I did have my fair share of zombified afternoons at my friends’ houses…..hands glued to a controller, eyes barely blinking.

There’s no doubt about it.  Video games are addicting.  They leave you feeling like you simply haaaaave to get to the next level, or break your previous high score.  There’s the satisfying “ding!” of earning rewards, and the ultimate jump-off-the-couch moment when you actually beat the game!

Video games elicit an unprecedented type of energy, effort and focus.  Which is exactly why we can learn from our experiences with them!

It’s called “gamification.”    The concept of applying game-design thinking to everyday life.  And it can take your follow-through from “maybe someday” to “just nailed it!”

Take nutrition, for example.  I recently started eating a vegetarian diet.  And although I find it fairly easy to avoid meat, it can actually be kinda tricky to make sure I’m eating enough of the good stuff (because I could very easily swap out chips for chicken, or sangria for steak).

And so I use a fancy little app called Daily Dozen that lets me track my fruits, veggies, beans, greens, nuts….complete with gold stars, charts and records!  And trust me, on the days that I hit all 12 targets, I have my own little jump-off-the-couch moment (which oddly enough, looks a hell of a lot like Chun Li’s adorable victory leap)!

And it’s the same thing with my meditation practice!  I use the Headspace app, partly because of the kick-ass guided meditations, and partly because I get such a high from keeping my “run streak” going, building my “total time meditated” and checking in my friends’ stats, for a little healthy competition.

And really, what fun is victory, if no one knows about it?  In the world of gaming, it’s abundantly clear that social interaction plays a huge part in keeping us coming back for more.  Whether it’s high-fiving your best friend over finally beating Bowser, or getting in some seriously fierce competition with your big brother in Blades of Steel…..it’s more fun when the experience is shared.  And really, someone needs to verify your epic stories of defeat!

And of course, let’s not forget about peer pressure!  Oh, the street cred you can earn by beating the fire temple in Zelda!  There’s just a certain amount of pressure to achieve, when we know our friends are watching our every move.

Which is exactly why working out with friends, is the best possible thing you can do!  There’s accountability there, meaning you’re way less likely to bail on a bike ride with a friend, than a bike ride by yourself.  It’s the very reason that my workout routine is centered around group fitness.  Not only do people expect me in class, they expect me to bring it, every time!  It’s a beat-the-cheat life hack that forces me to wrestle “I’ll do it tomorrow” to the ground!

But what about personal projects?  When I need to get something done, with focus and uninterrupted energy, I really struggle to stay at it.  There’s always something that tears me away…..a text message….a pang of hunger…..the sudden realization that I need to buy those Jim Jefferies tickets before they sell out!

But what if I applied a little gamification here as well?  I recently heard about an app called Forest that helps you put down your phone, and focus on what’s most important in your life.  You plant a virtual tree, and it either grows (if you do not touch your phone for the allotted time frame), or it dies (if you leave the app).  Over time, you can build an entire forest, with every tree representing your focused time.  So simple.  And yet so brilliant.

So go ahead, give your mom a call, and let her know that the summer of ’92 was not a complete waste of time.  All that gaming you did, just gave you all the experience you need to be the best possible version of yourself, and to get….stuff….done!  Despite your permanent “Nintendo thumb” that prevents you from ever winning a thumb war, giving a proper thumbs up, or hitching a ride outta town.  Not a bad trade off, if you ask me.

Check out these awesome video games, available at the library, to keep you and your kids busy this summer!  Guilt free!


Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens
(XBOX 360)
The Force is strong with this one. The No. 1 LEGO videogame franchise triumphantly returns with a fun-filled, humorous journey based on the blockbuster Star Wars film. Play as Rey, Finn, Poe, BB-8, Kylo Ren, Han Solo, and the rest of your favorite characters from the movie!


Owlboy
(Nintendo Switch)
Owlboy is a story-driven platform adventure game, where you can fly and explore a brand new world in the clouds. Pick up your friends, and bring them with you as you explore the open skies. Overcome obstacles and greater enemies, in one of the most detailed adventures of this era. Being a mute, Otus struggles living up to the expectations of owl-hood. Things spiral from bad to worse with the sudden appearance of sky pirates. What follows is a journey through monster-infested ruins, with unexpected encounters, well kept secrets, and burdens no one should have to bear.

NBA2K16
(Playstation 3)
The NBA 2K franchise is back with the most true-to-life NBA experience to date with NBA2K16. Guide your MyPLAYER through the complete NBA journey, take control of an entire NBA franchise, or hone your skills online competing against gamers from around the world. With animations that provide smoother movement and more realistic articulation, it’s certain to be the most authentic NBA gaming experience yet.

Rime
(Xbox One)
A land of discovery stretches out before you. Explore the beautiful yet rugged world of rime, a single-player puzzle adventure. In rime, you play as a young boy who has awakened on a mysterious island after a torrential storm. You see wild animals, long-forgotten ruins and a massive tower that beckons you to come closer. Armed with your wits and a will to overcome-and the guidance of a helpful fox-you must explore the enigmatic island, reach the tower’s peak, and unlock its closely guarded secrets.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
(WiiU)
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Forget everything you know about The Legend of Zelda games. Step into a world of discovery, exploration, and adventure in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, a boundary-breaking new game in the acclaimed series. Travel across vast fields, through forests, and to mountain peaks as you discover what has become of the kingdom of Hyrule In this stunning Open-Air Adventure.

~ Lindsay

 

 

It’s Time to Read: Fun Home

Welcome, dear readers! It’s that time at the beginning of the month when you should check your podcast feeds because a BRAND NEW EPISODE of WPL’s podcast, Time to Read is now available wherever you find your podcasts and on our Time to Read website.

This month, the gang discussed Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic

If you’re not familiar with it, Fun Home is the author’s own story of growing up in an unconventional family (they are part-time funeral home operators, hence the book’s punny title), and how she tries to come to terms with her own sexuality and the possibility that her father may have ended his own life. It doesn’t sound like cheery stuff, but a Tony winning Broadway musical was inspired by it, and there is quite a bit of humour throughout. I should also mention that it is written as a graphic novel (a fancy term for comic book) which allows the author to cram in tons of little specific details which make it a good book for repeat reads.

In addition to the book, the gang discusses the Bechdel test (and other pop culture tests) named after the author, and how journal writing has worked (or not worked) for us, among other things.

If you want to get in on the fun,  pick up next month’s read, Son of a Trickster by Eden Robinson.

You may be interested to know that we have a SECRET GUEST PANELIST next month, so you won’t want to miss it! Maybe I’ve said too much.

You can email your thoughts on the book and on the podcast generally to us at:

wpl-podcast@winnipeg.ca

We can’t wait to hear what you think. Until next time, try to find some Time to Read!

-Trevor and the rest of the Time to Read team