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? (Cassowary Edition)

That the most dangerous bird on earth is the Southern Cassowary?

National Geographic Angry Birds by Mel White shows 50 birds that you don’t want to mess with. It talks about the cassowaries on page 144. While Cassowaries are the most dangerous bird, the Australian Magpie is rated the angriest bird, dive bombing anyone near their nests.

Birds are living dinosaurs. This is something that serious paleontologists now agree on. Birdology by Sy Montgomery explains this on page 49. He has a very informative chapter on cassowaries, with photos of their deadly feet and dagger sharp claws.

Other birds can appear to be very angry as well… here in the northwest there are crows that dive bomb people when they walk too close to their trees! The PBS documentary DVD A Murder of Crows: Birds with an Attitude and the book In the Company of Crows and Ravens by John M. Marzluff both describe this phenomenon and explain the behaviors.

Cassowaries live in New Guinea, northeast Australia and nearby Islands. While they are one of the 10 most dangerous birds on earth, there are other critters in these areas I wouldn’t want to mess with either. As cute as koala bears are, they can be quite vicious, and kangaroos can kick as badly as the cassowaries but without the deadly damage of the claws. The largest predators in Australia are the crocodiles that grow up to 20 feet long, and can pull a grown water buffalo from the banks and drown it!

While cassowary babies are chicks, I wouldn’t mess with them or with Hensel and Gretel: Ninja Chicks by Corey Rosen Schwartz and Rebecca J Gomez. And you probably shouldn’t confuse them with the very talented musical group the Dixie Chicks either. You wouldn’t want to make those “chicks” angry!

Did You Know? (Tomato Edition)

That canning tomatoes can cause Clostridium botulinum?

I found this information on pages 13 & 18 in the book Preserving Italy by Domenica Marchetti. This book shows how to safely preserve most Italian foods. While I’ve always thought of tomatoes as being highly acidic, in fact they aren’t and can be very dangerous if acid (lemon juice or citric acid) aren’t added to kill the botulinum in the canning process. The Idiots Guide to Canning and Preserving by Trish Sebben-Krupka and America’s Test Kitchen Foolproof Preserving both have step by step instructions with photos that make canning easy.

What do you need to do before you can can a tomato? You have to grow them! Richard Bird wrote How to Grow Tomatoes with directions on starting them, preparing the soil, and tips for keeping them frost free or growing them in a green house. We actually have many gardening books that will help you grow your own vegetable garden.

Big brother Charlie helps his little sister Lola eat veggies she couldn’t ever imagine eating in I Will Not Ever Eat a Tomato by Lauren Child. Reading this book, you will discover that tomatoes are actually “moonsquirters!”

I love eating fried green tomatoes, and I loved the book Fried Green Tomatoes and the Whistle Stop Café by Fannie Flagg. This is a very empowering book and shows the kind of gumption it takes to pick yourself up and keep going.

Lastly, have you ever seen a singing tomato? Veggie Tales DVDs have Bob the Tomato and his friends going on adventures and singing. One episode featuring Bob is Tomato Sawyer and Huckleberry Larry’s Big River Rescue. Fun for the whole family!

Did You Know? (Bat Edition)

That the bumblebee bat is the world’s smallest mammal?

I found this information on page 175 in the book The Secret Lives of Bats by Merlin Tuttle. The name bumblebee bat is actually a nickname for the Kitti’s hog nosed bat from Myanmar (Burma). It was discovered in 1973-74 and weighs a third less than a United States penny! These bats are only about an inch long.

Bats by Phil Richardson tells about bats’ lifestyles and life cycles. He explains about the different classes of bats and that the Kitti’s hog nosed bat is considered one of the 930 species of ‘microbats.’ This book has excellent photos of many bats. The children’s book Bat Watching by Diane Bair and Pamela Wright has helpful information about removing bats from buildings and where to look for them for viewing. The Magic School Bus DVD has a ‘Going Batty’ episode where you really learn what it is like to be a bat: how they see with sonar, what they eat, and how they take care of their young.

On the other end of the spectrum is the world’s largest (baseball) bat. 1,000 Places to See Before you Die by Patricia Schultz shows the huge baseball bat outside of the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory in Louisville, Kentucky. I’m sure it will be much easier to see than the bumblebee bat, plus you won’t have to travel as far!

Smithsonian Baseball Treasures by Stephen Wong has a very interesting history of baseball bats and other items. For example, in 1885 a flat bat was used to aid in batting techniques like bunting. There is a great photo of Babe Ruth kissing his bats before the start of the World Series September 29, 1926. Combining both kinds of bats is Bats at the Ballgame by Brian Lies.

Lastly, baseball has a bat boy (or girl), but the world of super heroes has Batman! Here at the library we have The Batman Strikes, Going… Batty! by Bill Matheny. In this exciting graphic novel Batman fights a bad guy that turns into a bat.

Did You Know? (Cannibal Edition)

Some cannibals say that humans taste like pork!

I found this information in the prologue of the book Death by Cannibal by Peter Davidson. This book has the true stories of five convicted cannibals.

One of the most famous cases of cannibalism is the Donner Party. Author Bill Schutt investigates the evidence surrounding this
controversial case of “did they or didn’t they?” in Cannibalism: A Perfectly Natural History. The case of Alfred G. Packer is another cannibalistic tale told in the book A Voice for the Dead by James E. Starrs. In 1873 Alfred took off near Provo, Utah with five other prospectors and was the only one to return. As of 2005 when this book was published, James tells us that “Even in today’s world of criminal statutes in the 50 states, the only state declaring cannibalism to be a punishable criminal offense is Idaho.” (page 22)

There are different ways to be a cannibal. Dinner with a Cannibal: The Complete History of Mankind’s Oldest Taboo by Carole A Travis-Henikoff tells us that starvation brings on survival cannibalism, while the ingestion of dead relatives is known as endocannibalism or funerary cannibalism. Religious cannibalism is actual or simulated partaking of human flesh and blood, and autophagy (to eat one’s self) ranges from the little child picking their nose and eating it to torture-induced self-consumption and truly disturbed individuals who cook and eat their own flesh. There are a few other types as well… medicinal, gastronomic, and ritual. This book tells you all you could ever possibly want to know.

Speaking of tasting like pork, humans are more like pigs than we think! Pig (and baboon) body parts have been transplanted into humans in several cases. According to an article in the Aug/Sept 2017 issue of Atlantic Monthlypigs are also being genetically engineered to grow organs for people. This is called xenotransplanting.

There are many animals that are cannibals too. It is not uncommon for adult lions, hyenas, bears and many other animals to eat the young of their species to prevent them from being competition when they are older, or for young siblings to eliminate competition for food from their mothers. Eternal Enemies: Lions and Hyenas is a DVD that shows both lions and hyenas in this (graphic) documentary.

As author and chef Alton Brown says: “That’s good-eats!” Let’s hope none of us are ever desperate enough to find out!

Did You Know? (Unicorn Edition)

That Narwhals may be the ‘original’ unicorns?

I found this information on page 31 in the book Whales and Dolphins by Robin Kerrod. This ‘Exploring Nature’ book is all about whales, porpoises, dolphins, and more and explains the differences between them. Long ago when narwhals were little known, their ‘horns,’ which are actually a large protruding canine tooth, were thought to be (and passed off as) unicorn horns. A unicorn’s horn is sometimes called an alicorn.

Narwhals by Todd McLeish describes how narwhal horns were sold for great amounts of money to royalty and others as unicorn horns. Narwhals are still being hunted for their horns, and conservation efforts are under way.

Another animal that has been mistaken for a unicorn is the saola, a relative of antelopes, goats, and cattle. The Last Unicorn by William DeBuys tells about the author’s journey to find a living saola. It sounds like it was quite an adventure through Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. While saolas do have 2 horns, from the side it looks like they have one.

Unicorns have many names and appearances. They are known as Ki-lin in China with a short curly horn and Karkaddan in Arabia and Persia with a long pointy horn. Behold the … the Unicorns! by Gail Gibbons lets us see the way unicorns are viewed around the world and the legends behind them. It is also well-known that ‘uni’ means one, as in unicorn = one horn, unicycle = one wheel etc. One is a book of colors and numbers by Kathryn Otoshi and helps teach kids to stand up for themselves. Kathryn has won 15 awards for her books and this ‘one’ won the E.B White read aloud honor.

It doesn’t matter if you believe they are real or not, there are many stories about unicorns. The Unicorn Treasury by Bruce Coville is a book that has unicorn stories and poems. Now if you have a unicorn, it will need to be properly trained! Pip Bartlett’s Guide to Unicorn Training by Jackson Pearce and Maggie Stiefvater is a must for the unicorn owner. Pip works at a magical creature clinic and has points and tips for caring for your unicorn, shadyhog, wimpleing or other magical beast. So, keep your eyes open, because you never know when you might see a unicorn!

Did You Know? (Woodpecker Edition)

That a woodpecker’s ‘tongue’ wraps around its brain to act as a shock absorber when it pecks on trees?

I found this information on page 16 in the book Woodpeckers of the World by Gerard Gorman. Technically, it is the cartilage and bones inside the tongue called the hyoid and an inwardly curved maxilla (an overhang of spongy tissue) that functions as a shock absorber. Their skulls can experience shocks of 1200 G (force of gravity), whereas a human is typically concussed at 100 G or below! This book shows all the species of woodpeckers and their habitats. There are a great many species located here in the Northwest.

Imperial Dreams by Tim Gallagher and The Race to Save the Lord God Bird by Phillip Hoose are about the Imperial and the Ivory Billed woodpeckers which are both endangered and/or presumed already extinct. There have been rumors of sightings, but nothing has been documented. You could join the birdwatchers trying to catch a glimpse of these giant birds…. and be famous if you got a photo!

We have The Russian Woodpecker on DVD. It’s a film by Chad Gracia who follows eccentric artist Fedor Alexandrovich. Alexandrovich reveals to the world an enormous secret weapon, suspected to be for mind control, that stands in the shadow of Chernobyl and makes a woodpecker type noise on a specific radio frequency heard all over the world…. After going on for years, the noise had stopped right after the Chernobyl accident, but is now back on the air! Fedor’s conspiracy theory is that the reactor was deliberately destroyed as a grand cover up because the ‘woodpecker’ was supposed to be inspected by the Russian government the next month, and it would have failed.

Finally, growing up, we always looked forward to watching cartoons. Woody Woodpecker was always one of my personal favorites. We have Woody Woodpecker and Friends Holiday Favorites on DVD so you can remember just what a character he was and introduce him to your family.

Reviews of Hello, Sunshine & Less

Hello, Sunshine by Laura Dave

Sunshine MacKenzie is a culinary star! What started as a YouTube video series quickly went viral, attracting a food network producer and cookbook deals. Loved for her “down home farm girl-ness” she makes many guest appearances on talk and other cooking shows. Sunshine is about to get even bigger, with another cookbook in the works and her own cooking show on the food network.

The end…. happy story… NOT!

Someone outs her as a fake who cannot cook, tells the world that Sunshine grew up in Montauk, and then makes it public that she had a one night stand.  Her marriage falls apart and she is forced to go back to her hometown where her (estranged and angry) sister and niece live. As Sunshine tries to get her life put back in order she finds out that she is pregnant.

Sunshine’s journey with her demons and regrets (and her sister!) is very down to earth in that “I’m eating humble pie” kind of way and you can’t help but like her even though she deserves what she gets.

In the end things work out, but not the way you think they will!

Less by Andrew Sean Greer

Less is more, unless your name is Arthur Less – – and then less never seems to be enough. For Arthur it seems the only luck he has is bad luck, and he travels all over the world trying to change his luck and forget his past; only fate has other plans for our dear Arthur!

I enjoyed the journey as he bumbled on and grew to love him even though he’s convinced that he’s unlovable. I think you will love him too!