Blogs

True Reality TV

Imagine a crew of Norwegian lumberjacks cutting down a tree and chopping it up for firewood over the course of four hours. That’s the reality of entertainment in Norway, where marathon televised coverage of mundane events is a nationwide hit called Slow TV.

It may sound like the American Yule Log program broadcast annually over the holidays of a log crackling in the fireplace, sometimes accompanied by Christmas music. However, rather than passively providing holiday ambiance, Slow TV is broadcast live, unedited, and uninterrupted by commercials on national television, and half the country is intently watching. Slow TV is like Yule Log cranked up to eleven.

Mouses and Mice

The average mouse doesn’t look much different from ones developed 50 years ago. The trackball became a popular alternative, but even that style caused repetitive motion injuries. Here are four alternative mice (or mouses) that may aid those who have physical difficulty moving the traditional mouse and help computer users avoid or relieve injuries.

A Quilt for Christmas by Sandra Dallas

In 1864 Eliza Spooner’s husband Will volunteers to join the Union army leaving her to take care of their Kansas farm and their two children. Eliza awaits his return and sends him a special Christmas quilt to help keep him warm. When one of her neighbors becomes a widow, Eliza opens her home to the young woman and her daughter. The two women help each other and form a special bond when they join other women in a quilting group. When Eliza is asked to hide an escaped slave she finds it in her heart to do the right thing even though it puts her own family in danger.

Not That Kind of Girl by Siobhan Vivian

It's almost always the case that how much I like a book depends on how much I like the MC, and high school senior Natalie Sterling is pretty hard to like. But Siobhan Vivian made me care about Natalie, even when I didn't especially like her, and make me feel protective of her, too, even when she was dead set on a foolish course of action with a preordained bad end. Natalie likes to have everything under control, but when she becomes attracted to one of the senior boys and her best friend starts keeping secrets from her, things get messy.

Life on Mars by Jennifer Brown

Arty’s goal is to find life on Mars. On the roof outside his bedroom, using a homemade signaling device, Arty directs messages toward Mars and waits for a response.  One night he sees a man come out of the house next door, carrying a black garbage bag into the woods. Arty and his friends Tripp and Priya decide his neighbor is a face-eating zombie and call him Mr. Death. Arty is upset to learn his family is moving far from the Midwest. Plans get mixed up while his parents are in Las Vegas, looking for a new house, and Arty must spend the night at Mr. Death’s house.

Mapping Old Sarum

Emerging technologies are exciting. They can offer new perspectives on the world, save us time and labor, and can enormously change and benefit society. Thus far in my time writing this blog, I’ve explored a number of the fun possibilities that tomorrow may bring: consumer jetpacks, simpler CAPTCHAs, and burrito vending machines, to name a few. However, some of my own favorite uses of technology don’t bring humankind closer to an idealized potential future, but connect us more firmly to the past.

Shipwreck Island by S.A. Bodeen

Sarah Robinson’s dad has decided to marry a woman after only three dates. Now Sarah’s new stepmom is moving in with her two sons, Marco who’s also twelve and Nacho who is ten. Life is never going to be the same! Hoping to unite their new family, Sarah’s dad and stepmom decide to take them on a dream vacation to Fiji, where they’ll charter a boat and go sailing amongst the islands.

Nightmares by Jason Segel

When Charlie Laird’s dad remarries and they move into his new stepmother’s house, Charlie’s nightmares become real.  He thinks his stepmom is a witch and is upset that his little brother likes her. Then his nightmare witch enters the real world and takes his younger brother.  Charlie discovers and enters the Netherworld through a portal in the house and enlists his friends to help get him and his brother out.  

Nuts To You by Lynne Rae Perkins

This story started with the author sitting down with a peanut butter sandwich and a squirrel, Jed, itching to tell a tale. One day while minding his own business, Jed gets picked up by a hungry hawk. He tricks the hawk and is dropped to safety, but far away from his grove.  While Jed is a gray squirrel, these squirrels are red and speak with a Scottish brogue. In the meantime, Jed’s friends discover he’s alive and travel electric lines, buzzpaths in squirrel-talk, to find him.

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

Noah and Jude form two parts of the same whole; they have always been inseparable and completely in sync. Both twins brim with artistic talent, inherited from their luminous, free-spirited mother. As they apply for admission into a prestigious art school, tragedy tears them apart, and their relationship is broken to pieces by grief, jealousy and misunderstandings. Told in alternating viewpoints that travel back and forth in time, this gorgeously written novel follows Jude and Noah as they try to find themselves and their way back to each other. 

Teen Fiction NELSON, J.

The Portlandia Cookbook: Cook Like a Local by Fred Armisen, Carrie Brownstein & Jonathan Krisel

Food plays a very special role in Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein’s gently satiric sketch comedy Portlandia. In this spin-off, various characters from the show share their recipes (and yes, they are real recipes) from cult-raised chicken and Stu’s stews to pickled veggies and foraged green salads. Imagine an issue of Cook’s Illustrated edited by Patton Oswalt, and maybe you’ll get an idea of the flannel wearing flavor of Portlandia. And yes, there is much more to it than just “Put an egg on it!”

641.59795 ARM

Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson

Kamala Khan is a smart, funny, superhero obsessed teen growing up in Jersey City. After sneaking out one night to attend a forbidden party, she is enveloped in a mysterious fog and wakes up with the power to morph into anyone or anything she wants. Feeling obligated to use her powers to help people like her idol, Captain Marvel, Kamala struggles to negotiate life with the rules set by her loving, but strict Pakastani parents, her social life, and her new powers. 

Graphic Novel Ms. MARVEL

The Brewer's Tale: A History of the World According to Beer by William Bostwick

William Bostwick’s compulsively readable book takes us through the history of western civilization through the lens of beer and its brewers. He keeps the focus on the human side of beer, with complete reverence for the process and creative mind behind the beverage. Each section looks at a historical period through a specific type - from saisons, to abbey ales, to IPAs - by examining the social, economic, and political factors that brought about the new brew.

I Am Not a Robot

If you've ever created an online account or posted to an internet forum, you've probably had to struggle through correctly transliterating a few distorted letters and numbers. That's a CAPTCHA. Luckily, (some of) your CAPTCHA-related worries may be over: Google recently announced it would transitioning to other tests for users to demonstrate their humanity.

Is It a Bargain?

I’ve been doing the bulk of my shopping on-line for a few years now, and I am convinced that there is no better way to shop. I avoid the crowds, the parking problems and inclement weather. My orders are delivered right to my door. Best of all, I can shop when I want to without walking for miles in search of the best price.

How can you tell whether an advertised price is really a bargain? Here are two websites that can help.