About Linda S.

I have been with the library since 1996 and look forward to blogging for many years to come! I enjoy trivia, writing, reading, knitting, crocheting and other crafts. Also TALKING.... and sharing information. My blog has been perfect for me!

Did You Know? (Wright Brother’s Edition)

A Boeing 747 wingspan is longer than the first flight by the Wright Brothers?

On December 17, 1903, the Wright Brother’s first flight was 120 feet and lasted 12 seconds. Their next flight later that afternoon was 825 ft. Who Were the Wright Brothers by James Buckley Jr. tells about the brothers growing up, and their journey to become airborne.

Super Structures of the World: Boeing 747 by the Gale Group gives us all the statistics about 747s. The wingspan is 211 feet. When full of fuel the wingspan extends to 213 feet and the plane can weigh up to 875,000 pounds. Their other book Super Structures of the World: The World’s Largest Buildings shows us the inside of the Everett Washington Boeing plant where the 747s and other planes are built. You could fit all of Disneyland (and have 14 acres left over!) or 75 football fields in this massive building!

David McCullough wrote The Wright Brothers. It includes excerpts from their personal diaries and tells us how instrumental their sister Katharine was in helping them. In 1878, their father, Bishop Milton Wright brought home a toy from France invented by Alphonse Pénaud for the boys that was little more than 2 propellers on a stick with a rubber band. They called it the bat and it forever changed history; inspiring the boys to dream of flight.

In 1889 Orville opened a printing shop, and when it closed they opened a bicycle shop in 1893. Within a few years, they had moved to a larger location and put in a machine shop and started making their own bicycles. They then moved on to gliders while still running the bicycle store with their sister Katharine and working on their plans for a plane.

In 1969 US Astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were the first men to land on the moon in the Apollo 11. To honor the pioneers of flight, they carried small pieces of the Wright brothers’ airplanes with them in the space capsule. The Wright Flyer, the original plane the Wright brothers flew is on display in the Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC. As well as hundreds of the Apollo 11 artifacts.

Anyway, this should give you something to think about the next time you fly! It all started with rubber bands and propellers!

Did You Know? (Pencil Edition)

That the average lead pencil can draw a line 35 miles long?

I found this on page 22 of Random Illustrated Facts by Mike Lowery.

Stationery Fever: from Paper Clips to Pencils and Everything in Between by John Z. Komurki is a well-researched and thorough book about all of our beloved office supplies. I adored the pictures of orderly rows of glass jars of pencils. I doubt there is anyone who doesn’t have a pen or pencil type they prefer or perhaps loves their stapler as much as Milton Waddams from the movie Office Space does!

I’m not sure how far colored or charcoal pencils write, but they are used to create beautiful artwork. The Encyclopedia of Coloured Pencil Techniques by Judy Martin and 101 Textures in Graphite and Charcoal by Steven Pearce are just a few of the many art books we have here at the library.

Who knew that sharpening those pencils could be such an endeavor? How to Sharpen Pencils by David Rees explains – in exact detail – what a precise undertaking this can be. From the width of the collar to the length of the point right down to the tip, personal preference determines whether you use a pocket knife, a blade cutter or a hand crank or electric model to sharpen your pencil. His book is a little tongue in cheek, but great fun to read. As the illustrations show, be sure to wear safety goggles while using special pencil sharpening techniques!

Pencils today are almost always made from graphite and clay, not lead. Graphite is a gray crystalline allotropic form of carbon which occurs as a mineral in some rocks and can be made from coke. It is used as a solid lubricant, in pencils, and as a moderator in nuclear reactors. The Elements by Tom Jackson breaks the periodic table down and tells how carbon (graphite) is an element and therefore cannot be broken down any further into simpler substances.

Pencils can be extraordinary. The Promise of a Pencil by Adam Braun is such an inspiring story! Adam took a 100 day trip to 50 countries. He decided to ask one child per country what they wanted more than anything in the world. In India a boy wanted a pencil. He’d never been to school and had seen other children writing with them. This began his calling and he has now helped start more than 200 schools all over the world.

So what are you waiting for? Get out your pencil and start writing or drawing. Just make sure you have it perfectly sharpened!

The World According to Fannie Davis

I have always heard the phrase ‘running numbers.’ I’ve seen it in movies and mentioned in books, but I realized after reading The World According to Fannie Davis by Bridget Davis that I had NO IDEA what it really meant!

Of course I kind of assumed it was to do with gambling, but never gave it another thought past that. Bridgett opened my eyes to a whole lifestyle that I had never even suspected existed. I was amazed at the intricacies of the numbers game, people’s superstitions choosing their numbers, and how the whole system worked.

Bridget’s mother, Fannie Davis, was a remarkable woman: she ran her ‘business,’ took care of her home, and felt that her family extended to the entire neighborhood. From the time Bridgett was very young, she knew that her family would be in trouble if people found out what Mama did. While there were raids on other numbers places, theirs never suffered the same fate.

Legal lottery in Illinois was created because the government saw how much numbers runners were making and they wanted a piece of the action. At first Fannie was afraid it would hurt her business, but it seemed there were enough people who didn’t trust the government. So many, in fact, that it didn’t slow her business down much.

I really enjoyed this book and highly recommend it. It really was an insight into another way of life.

Did you know? (Worm Edition)

That there is a giant earthworm in Australia that grows to over 10 feet long? I found this on page 11 of the book Worms by Theresa Greenaway.

Backyard earthworms eat by dragging vegetation into the ground and processing it in their burrows. Lowdown on Earthworms by Norma Dixon shows how you can make a wormery and study the way worms move sand throughout the garden.

Have you ever been heartbroken? Imagine if you were a worm. They have five pairs of hearts to pump their blood! Heartbreak Hotel by Elvis Presley would be at full capacity with broken-hearted worms if they got sad like humans do. You can check out Elvis singing it on CD or the Hal Leonard Elvis Presley Guitar Chord Songbook for all the lyrics and chords.

A worm that is 10 feet long could easily be mistaken for a snake. Stalking the Plumed Serpent and Other Adventures in Herpetology by D. Bruce Means describes the authors adventures all over the world studying reptiles but also the Ouachita earthworm. They are largely misunderstood and all the while are working hard to aerate the soil and put necessary nutrients back into the earth.

How would you like to cook with worms? No? Ok….. How about gummy worms? Wormy Apple Croissants and Other Halloween Recipes by Brekka Hervey Larrew features the title dish and it looks delicious!

Ricky Ricotta’s Mighty Robot vs. The Naughty Night Crawlers from Neptune by Dav Pilkey tells how Neptune night crawlers try to invade the earth through a wormhole from under Ricky’s back yard. Learn how Ricky defeats them in this 8th Ricky Ricotta adventure.

Probably one of the most well-known ‘worm items’ is a wormhole, which has absolutely nothing to do with worms. I don’t know why they call it that, but The Physics Book by Clifford A Pickover describes how wormholes could possibly work as time machines. For more information check out the DVD Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman. It may just make the whole ‘hole’ thing easier to understand!

I must admit, my favorite worm is a book-worm. I have been accused of being one since I was little, and have no regrets. I have no idea where that phrase originated, but there are plenty of us out there. Now, you go be a bookworm to and read more about worms!

The Lost Queen by Signe Pike

The Lost Queen by Signe Pike is a work of historical fiction with a lot of real world research behind it.

Signe Pike found a book in England titled Finding Merlin by Adam Ardrey. It presented compelling evidence that Merlin was based on Lailoken, who had a twin sister Languoreth . After doing lots of research, Ms. Pike pieced together the tale of the twins, and their hardships in the sixth century in Scotland. Lailoken became a Wisdom Keeper, and Languoreth was married off to Rhydderch to strengthen the bond between the two kingdoms.

Languoreth became a great Queen of Strathclyde, but history has forgotten her (hence the title of the book). This story shows the intricacies of the politics of the time and all the behind the scenes intrigue that they both had to live with. Parts of the story were heart wrenching, but for the most part it was an exciting and riveting tale. I really enjoyed it and fell in love with the characters.

This is the first book in a trilogy, and I can’t WAIT for the next one!

Did You Know? (Jack-o-Lantern Edition)

The original jack-o-lanterns were turnips?

I found this information on page 31 in the book Death Makes a Holiday by David Skal. Skal explains how ‘Jack’ was a trickster who offended both God and the Devil and was not allowed into Heaven or Hell upon his death. The Devil grudgingly tossed him a piece of coal. Jack then put it into a carved turnip to light his nightly walk on earth awaiting judgment day, hence, he was Jack-o-the-lantern.

The children’s book The Story of Halloween by Carol Greene tells the story of Jack-o-the-lantern as well and explains how colonial Americans used pumpkins to carve instead of turnips, because they were more plentiful and easier to carve.

Halloween began as Samhain which means ‘summer’s end.’ The Celts celebrated Samhain by putting out their fires and taking embers from a huge bonfire the Druids would make, believing the new fires would protect them during the coming year.

While this is different from the way we celebrate now, our celebration traditions are steeped in history. Bobbing for apples honors Ponoma, the goddess of fruits and was a way to thank her and encourage a good crop for the coming year. Costumes were worn to hide the faces of children playing pranks and children begging for soul-cakes door to door were the beginnings of trick-or-treating.

Trick-or-treaters still go out every year looking for their share of goodies. Sweet by Claudia Davila tells about the history of candy. You will probably find that your favorite treat is older than you are!

Sweet Home Alaska by Carole Etsby Dagg tells the story of a little girl named Terpsichore whose family moved to Alaska during the great depression. She sets out to win a contest for growing the largest pumpkin. Her pumpkin turns out to weigh 293 pounds! Wouldn’t that be something to carve!

Extreme Pumpkin Carving by Vic Hood and Jack A Williams gives this endearing art form a whole new twist. Even if you don’t care for their designs, you will definitely want to try some of their techniques.

Finally, Jan Brett wrote a wonderful little story called The Turnip. Badger Girl finds a turnip that is so big no one can pull it up. All the animals in this story have their own recipes they want to make with the turnip. In the end, they all share it. If I was going to carve a turnip, this is the one I would choose!

Did you Know? (Crocodilian Edition)

That the jaws of most crocodiles and alligators can be held closed with a rubber band?

Their jaws close with tremendous force and sink into prey with tons of pressure (alligator = 2,980 psi [pounds per square inch] –Crocodile = 5,000 psi), but the muscles that open the jaws are weak. I found this information on page 14 of the book Incredible Crocodiles by Barbara Taylor. I also discovered that we mostly only have alligators in the United States, because they are the only crocodilians that can survive cooler temperatures and live outside of the tropics. But, as with everything else, there are always exceptions. The American Crocodile lives in zoos and the wild in southern Florida, Mexico and the Caribbean.

The book Alligator and Crocodile Rescue by Trish Snyder talks about the differences between crocodilians. One of the most visible differences are their snouts: crocodiles have a pointy snout and an alligator has a rounded one. If one of them starts swimming after me, however, its snout is the least of my concerns! In this important book we find out what is being done to protect crocodilians and their habitats.

A billabong is one place you might see a crocodile. A billabong is an Australian term for an oxbow lake, an isolated pond left behind after a river changes course. Billabongs are usually formed when the path of a creek or river changes, leaving the former branch with a dead-end…. And I thought a billabong was only a brand of surfer clothes!

‘See you later alligator, (after ‘while crocodile)’ was written by Louisiana songwriter Robert Charles Guidry and first recorded by him under his professional name “Bobby Charles” in 1955. Star Rocks for Kids has a cute version to listen to, and we have the book The 1950’s that has the lyrics printed out.

The rubber band was invented on March 17, 1845 by Stephen Perry. He initially sold them to newspapers that put them on before delivery and then they really caught on. I’ll bet they never thought a rubber band could be used on a crocodile! Now, we use rubber bands all the time and never think much about them. But Lance Akiyama does. He wrote Rubber Band Engineer which has plans for a catapult, a crossbow and many other contraptions.

Anyway, it doesn’t matter what kind of contraption you build, I highly recommended that you DO NOT try it on a crocodilian.