Did You Know? (Penal Colony Edition)

That penal comes from the Latin word for pain?

Poenalis means pain or penalty in Latin. The use of the word to mean “appointed as a place of punishment” began in the mid-19th century according to The Oxford Dictionary of Word Histories.

Turns out, there were penal colonies all over the world. Frequently the prisoner’s family was sent with them. It wasn’t like a prison term: serving your time and going home. Being sent to a penal colony typically meant being sent away for the rest of your life. It didn’t matter how petty or serious the crime happened to be. Many prisoners were sent away due to their political views.

Australia is one of the best known former penal colonies. A Commonwealth of Thieves: the Improbable Birth of Australia by historian/novelist Thomas Keneally talks about the beginnings of the penal colonies in Australia. This book is based on the personal journals and documents of those involved. England shipped their ‘criminals’ there, and just like that, England was rid of their ‘problems!’ The thousands of convicts’ journeys were just the beginning of their ordeal though, as they started new lives in this unknown land.

The House of the Dead: Siberian Exile Under the Tsars by Daniel Beer is a story of the Tsars and how they exiled prisoners to the Ural mountains of Siberia. It is also the tale of how these exiled unruly criminals became revolutionaries who would one day rule the Soviet Union.

Gould’s Book of Fish: A Novel in Twelve Fish by Richard Flanagan is a fictional story about William Buelow Gould being sentenced to life imprisonment at the Sarah Island penal colony in what is now Tasmania. William is a talented art forger and he begins painting pictures of fish to help the prison doctor get into The Royal Society. But the tales are as much about life on the island as they are about his art and the fish.

It can be devastating for a family that is left behind when a member of that family is in prison. The Night Dad Went to Jail by Melissa Higgins is a very useful book for young children with a parent in jail. They need to be reassured that it is not their fault and their parent still loves them. 65% of men in prisons are fathers and 75% of incarcerated women are mothers.

All of these penal colonies and jails are meant to punish. We know that positive discipline and boundaries are a much more desirable way to reap good behavior. Raising Respectful Children in a Disrespectful World by Jill Rigby is full of wonderful anecdotes/scenarios demonstrating healthy ways to deal with tough situations when raising a child. Here at the library we have a wide array of parenting books to help you if you have specific discipline issues that you need to deal with. Hopefully, none of us will have to worry about our loved ones being put in jail!

Did You Know? (Hotcake Edition)

That the difference between pancakes, griddlecakes, johnnycakes and hotcakes depends mostly on if they are made with flour or corn meal?

In researching for this blog, every time I thought I had it figured out I’d find another recipe that contradicted it! Mostly from what I’ve seen, pancakes and johnnycakes (more about them below) are made with corn meal and griddlecakes and hotcakes are made from flour. That excludes buckwheat pancakes which are made with buckwheat, which is also known as Kasha.

Buckwheat, with its origins in China, was produced in Europe in the 1900s and was used in traditional crêpes (pancakes) and galettes (flat cakes) according to The Story of Food (page 239) from DK publishing.

In the UK, flapjacks are made out of sugar, butter, oats, and honey, but in the US, they are synonymous with hotcakes.

I think pretty much anywhere in the world you will find some version of hotcakes. Some are sweet and others are savory. Some are topped and others are filled. Here is a list of a few of the options:

Asian nonya spring roll pancakes

Brazil’s panqueca de carne moida are meat-filled crêpes.

Chinese bao bing (a thin pancake)

Dutch poffertjes (made with a yeast-raised recipe)

French crêpes (crêpes is French for pancake)

Korean hotteok sweet stuffed pancakes

Korean seafood pancakes are reminiscent of egg foo young.

German pfannkuchen (crêpe)

Hungarian palacsinta (crêpe)

Japanese okonomiyaki is the savory, saucy single pancake meal of your dreams.

Nigerian diet are gorgeous, spicy, chewy pancakes.

Spanish panqueques rely on fluffy whipped egg whites to make them incredibly light. (crepe)

Thai roti cooked with egg and drizzled with sweetened condensed milk. Thai roti are folded over and over to get beautiful layers when you bite into it. It looks like baklava.

Vietnamese Bánh Khot are tiny, crispy, savory seafood pancakes that are perfect two-bite morsels.

The website What’s Cooking America has a great article all about johnnycakes. They are made with cornmeal and are the New England equivalent of tortillas. They are known under a variety of names: Johnnycakes, johnny cakes, jonnycake, ashcake, battercake, corn cake, cornpone, hoecake, hoe cake, journey cake, mush bread, pone, Shawnee cake, jonakin, and jonikin. They are all regional names for this cornmeal flatbread.

The origin of the name johnnycakes is something of a mystery and probably has nothing to do with the name John. They were also called journey cakes because they could be carried on long trips in saddlebags and baked along the way. Historians also think that “janiken,” a Native American word that means “corncake,” could possibly be the origin.

Waffles, Crêpes and Pancakes by Norma Miller has all kinds of recipes for the titled items. I can’t wait to try the Tiramisu Pancakes!

Paul Bunyan Swings his Ax by Dell J. McCormic has a story about Paul Bunyan’s logging camp and the 10-acre griddle used to make hot griddlecakes so large that it took 5 men to eat one!

So the next time you are having a short stack, think about all the different things people call them, and the fact that around the world there are probably thousands of people eating a hotcake right now.

Did You Know? (Breathing Edition)

That softshell turtles can breathe through their bottom?

Turtles have a cloaca. It is an orifice on their bodies that they urinate, defecate, lay eggs, and (in some species) can absorb oxygen from. While it is not their main way of breathing, it helps while they are eating, laying eggs and especially when they are submerged for extended periods of time.I found this information on page 151 of The Totally Awesome Book of Useless Information by Noel Botham.

You will learn more details about this ability on page 208 of Turtles, Tortoises and Terrapins by Ronald Orenstein. He also tells us there are about 30 breeds of soft shell turtles. One example is the Fitzroy River Turtle which lives in fast running water where it can remain submerged for days, or even weeks at a time. Mr. Orenstein’s book has wonderful photographs of all aspects of these amazing animals. It also explains the differences between turtles, including the different ways they pull their heads into their shells: the Pleurodira, which translates to “side neck”, fold their necks sideways while the Cryptodira, known as hidden-necked turtles,pull their heads straight back into their shell.

Sea turtles can be amazingly large. A sea turtle can weigh as much as a water buffalo! Mission Sea Turtle Rescue by Karen Romano Young is full of fun facts, photos and valuable information about conserving the species. This is a must read for anyone planning on vacationing near a tropical beach. Another great book is Sea Turtles by James R. Spotila.

Turtles aren’t the only ones with shells! Shell by Alex Arthur tells about all kinds of shells: sea shells, egg shells, fossilized shells and many others are all in this book.

Lastly, turtles “cry.” This is their way of forcing the extra salt from their bodies that they ingest from drinking sea water. I don’t think that “turtle tears” will catch on nearly as well as “crocodile tears” but who knows?

Did You Know? (Curly Hair Edition)

Curly hair is caused by having flat hair follicles?

Page 10 of the Encyclopedia 2017 World Book Commemorative Edition (Volume # 9 H) tells us:

The texture of hair depends largely on the shape of the hair, which can be seen in a cross section under a microscope. Straight hairs have a round shape, and wavy and curly hairs are flat. The flattest hairs are the waviest or curliest.

Vera Peiffer wrote Regrowing Hair Naturally after she lost her hair to alopecia and nothing the doctors prescribed seemed to work. After doing much research, she has helped many people who have lost their hair for a variety of reasons re-grow it! Even if your hair has been gone for quite a while, you may want to try her techniques.

Curls, Curls, Curls! by Samantha Harris is a wonderful reference that helps you recreate many different hairstyles. Each hairstyle has step by step photographic instructions to help you easily recreate these classic styles.

A Century of Hairstyles by Pamela Church Gibson is a wonderful walk down memory lane, looking at famous hairstyles and the people who made them famous: Jean Harlow and her platinum blonde, the “Farrah Flip” in 1976 from Farrah Fawcet Majors, James Dean’s famous look and many more. I was amazed how many I could actually identify!

Every fairy tale aficionado knows that Rapunzel is famous for her super long hair. Kate Forsyth is an Australian author best known for her historical novel Bitter Greens, which interweaves a retelling of the Rapunzel fairy tale with the true life story of the woman who first told the tale: the 17th century French writer Charlotte-Rose de Caumont de La Force. I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, but can’t wait until I can.

But, the most famous “Curly” is the one from the Three Stooges. Jerome Lester Horwitz was the ‘baby’ of 5 brothers. Curly: an Illustrated Biography of the Superstooge by his niece Joan Howard Maurer tells his story. This is such a fun book, full of pictures and anecdotes. Any true Stooges fan will love this book!

Did You Know? (Traffic Edition)

It’s illegal to pull into the center turn lane from a side street or driveway?

I found this information in the 2018 Revised Code of Washington Volume 7. In RCW 46.61.290 it states: “A two-way left turn lane is near the center of the roadway set aside for use by vehicles making left turns in either direction from or into the roadway.”

Karen Gravelle has put together The Driving Book: Everything New Drivers Need to Know But Don’t Know How to Ask. While I did not see the fact about the center lane, there were plenty of other driving facts in this book with fun cartoons depicting the described scenarios. This book is a must for all new drivers!

Drive: The Definitive History of Driving is a Smithsonian book that begins with the internal combustion engine and tells you all about vehicles throughout the ages. It doesn’t say when the police actually began giving tickets for driving infractions, but there is a chapter about meter maids and parking enforcement. It goes on to talk about vehicle safety and hybrid cars. This is a very informative and interesting book with lots of vintage photos.

If you really like to drive, you may consider being a truck driver. Barron’s CDL by Mike Byrnes and Associates gives you all the information to pass the Commercial Driver’s License Truck Drivers Test.

Rules of the Road by Joan Bauer is a fun book about Jenna Boller who just got her driver’s license. She takes a job driving Mrs. Gladstone, an older lady who runs a family shoe store business, across the country in the woman’s enormous Cadillac, visiting her shops and going to a big stakeholders meeting. There are adventures along the way and I enjoyed the way Mrs. Gladstone really became a mentor to Jenna.

The Road Trip Book: 1001 Drives of a Lifetime will help you plan your own adventures. We have a good selection of other books that specify road trips on the Pacific Coast, France, or other places in the USA.

Lastly, while you are road tripping don’t forget to check out some good driving music! We have a large selection of many genres of music… but some of my favorite bands to drive to are Chicago and the Rolling Stones or any other fast paced rock music.

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!