Blog Archives

A to Z World Culture: Finding your place

By Stephen McClain, Reference Department

The world is shrinking. Is Earth imploding? Have we taken so many natural resources out of the ground that the planet is actually becoming smaller? Not likely, but as global communication continues to advance; we are more connected than ever before in human history. Travelling across the Atlantic was once a dangerous trip that took months in a creaking wooden ship. Now, travelers can safely fly across the pond in under ten hours. Information can be sent around the world instantaneous by way of fax, email and cellular telephones. Fifty years ago, the chance that a child born in Appalachia would ever come in contact with someone from Southeast Asia or Latin America before leaving the region after adulthood was slim. In today’s world, because of various push/pull factors and globalization, that likelihood is high. We are in an age where it is increasingly important to understand the diverse cultures of the world as we are becoming progressively more linked. Information about the diversity of the cultural landscape was certainly available fifty years ago, but it was required that one go to a library to access the data in print form. Today, scores of data is accessible from anywhere at the click of a mouse button or tap of an icon. While there are countless websites and databases to choose from, A to Z World Culture provides an excellent resource for students who are doing a research project or anyone who is simply inquisitive about geography and world culture.

The home page of A to Z World Culture has a simple, user-friendly design that allows visitors to easily locate information, regardless of age or computer skills. Either click on a country on the interactive world map or choose one from the scrolling menu. After choosing a country, users are shown the “Cultural Overview” of that country, which includes images showing the global location, the country’s political flag and pictures of people or landscape. Here, readers will also find written information on the cultural diversity, religion, stereotypes and popular culture of the country. Much more detailed information is available within the menu on the left. For example, clicking on “Maps” gives users a list of seven thematic maps that are available to download as PDFs. Among the downloadable maps are Political and Provincial maps (showing place names and boundaries), Physical and Natural Earth maps (showing natural features and topography), Population, Precipitation and Temperature. In addition to the thematic maps, there are also two useful blank outline maps, which are often helpful in learning location and preparing for a test or quiz.

The Demographics tab under Country Profile is a valuable resource for population data. This page shows the total population for the selected country, the age structure, life expectancy, birth, death and migration rates and the population of major cities. Most of the data is relatively current, with estimates from at least the last year or two. This is useful information and an easy means for acquiring demographic data for comparative or survey purposes.

Exploring the other tabs reveal general geographic information about the selected country such as Climate, Culture, Education, History, Language, Music and National Symbols, just to name a few. Clicking on the Country Profile tab is a good place to start. Here, users can learn about the demographics of the country, its economy and government, and its current leaders.

For teachers, the Lesson Plan tab provides valuable resources for introducing place-specific geographic issues and topics to students in grades 7 – 12. Some could also be used in the college classroom for introductory social science courses. Most of these lessons involve role playing that allows students to learn interactively. All lesson plans are available to download as either a Microsoft Word document or as a PDF.

Finally, if you are using any of this information in a paper or project, you will need to cite your sources. A to Z World Culture has made this easy by providing a link that generates Chicago Manual of Style, MLA and APA citations for the A to Z World Culture website. Additionally, there is a “Print this Document” button that opens the document for printing.

a to z

As our world becomes smaller and more global communication barriers are permeated, we are experiencing less friction of distance and an increase in space-time compression. Resources like A to Z World Culture are powerful tools in bridging the cultural divisions that we more frequently encounter. In today’s global landscape, understanding cultures other than one’s own is essential in defeating xenophobia, increasing our knowledge and being successful in the new global economy. Visit www.atozworlculture.com and pick your destination.

 

 

 

The Whole30: The 30-Day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom

By Stephen McClain, Reference Department

No one likes the word diet. I can honestly say that I have never been on one, but I have always been conscious of what I eat and want to know where my food comes from.  One month before beginning the Whole30 Program, I had never even heard of it, nor was I considering a change in my lifestyle.  I worked out regularly and felt pretty good; at least I thought I did.  I had sent a friend an email about some new Jack Daniel’s product that I thought we should try and he replied that his wife had him on “this Whole30 thing” and he couldn’t have any booze.  I wrote back, “What the heck is that?” Little did I know, this bit of serendipity would change my life.

61ityv1ltml-_sx258_bo1204203200_After very little consideration, my wife and I decided to challenge ourselves and try the Whole30 program.  It is important to remember that this is not a diet or a “cleanse”.  It is a program that is designed to reset your metabolism and create habits of healthy choices.  The program is intended to eliminate processed foods and added sugars from your diet.  As the name implies, you eat whole foods (those with few or no ingredients) for 30 days.  And there is no “cheating” or “slip ups.”  If you deviate from the plan, you must start over from day 1.  The great thing about the Whole30 program is that you can have as much as you want of the approved foods.  There is no excuse to be hungry.  I was apprehensive to begin because I enjoy my evening cocktail (or 3) and the Whole30 program does not allow alcohol.  Nor does it permit dairy, legumes, bread, grains, peanuts or peanut butter, honey or anything with added sugar (visit www.whole30.com for a complete and exact list of restrictions and approved foods).

So we jumped in.  It is important to note that you don’t just “do” the Whole30.  You have to plan and prep your house.  We separated and labeled foods in our kitchen that were not Whole30 approved.  We moved the booze out of sight and planned the week’s meals in advance.  (I take the liberty of using the word “we.”  My wife did most of the planning and cooking.)  In just the first 2 or 3 days, I noticed that I was sleeping better.  I had more energy and my head was clearer.  Then came day 4.  I felt like I had a mild hangover all day.  A hangover that I didn’t deserve.  I think it was sugar detox.  But that was the worst for me.  I started out counting the days until we were finished and by week 3, I didn’t even care.  Day by day, we were creating new habits in place of the old ones.  Sometime during week 3, I got the tiger blood.  I can’t explain it; you just have to experience it yourself.  I think it can be compared to a runner’s high.  Unfortunately, it is difficult to socialize with friends during the program because most socialization revolves around food and drink, but a true friend will understand.  And we went to the grocery store about every other day to maintain stock of the necessary fresh foods.  Ssalmon-518032_1920ome people fear the financial aspect of buying fresh, whole foods, but the cost is off-set by not spending money at restaurants or on other unhealthy foods.  But we still ate a lot of delicious foods: salads with lean protein, fish, chicken breast, burgers (without the bun), baked potatoes, sweet potatoes, bacon and eggs and fresh fruits.  One of the best meals I remember was seared pork tenderloin with mushrooms and broiled rosemary potatoes.  We made French fries in the oven.  We made our own mayonnaise and salad dressing.  We made almond butter to eat on bananas.

Then something happened to me completely by accident.  I have had an allergy to watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew, kiwi… (stuff like that) for as long as I can remember.  It makes my throat and soft palate itch and if I have too much, it becomes difficult to swallow.  So I stay away from it.  Every once in a while, I would have a couple bites of watermelon and deal with the consequences, but no more than that.  We were at the grocery store one evening and I saw a display of fruit bowls with watermelon, cantaloupe, grapes, and strawberries.  It looked good.  I just wanted the grapes and strawberries.  When we got home with it, I decided to have a piece of watermelon.  It was really good so I had another.  I usually feel the mild allergic affects quickly but nothing happened.  I had another and another.  Nothing.  This had plagued me for most of my life and now it’s gone?  It could be a coincidence but that’s a big coincidence.  (Author’s note: As per the Seinfeld episode called “The Statue,” There are no small coincidences and big coincidences. There are only coincidences.)

Day 30 came and went.  One of the rules of the Whole30 program is that you are not allowed to weigh or measure yourself during the 30 days.  I got on the scale at the end of 30 days and I had lost close to 10 pounds.  On day 35, which was the weekend, we decided to celebrate by opening one of our saved bottles of Canadian Cab Franc.  It was…ok.  I LOVE Cab Franc, especially from southern Ontario.  That which I thought I would miss so much was just…ok.

To say that the Whole30 program changed my life is cliché, but I don’t know how else to put it.  The website gives a plan on reintroduction of foods that were eliminated during the 30 days.  It is not recommended to just go back to the way you were eating before because you will want to know how your body will react to individual food groups.  I have not really missed any food enough to reintroduce it and we have basically been eating Whole30 for about 4 months.  Of course, completely avoiding added sugar is nearly impossible, but following the Whole30 lifestyle, with an occasional indulgence has become a new way of living well.  Overall, I sleep watermelonsbetter and wake rested, have much more energy during the day, have a much clearer head and have lost a total of 12 pounds (my wife lost 26).  Check out The Whole30: The 30-Day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom or begin with It Starts with Food by Melissa Hartwig.  Both titles are available at the Williamson County Public Library.  It will change your life.

…and I’ve eaten about a dozen watermelons by now.

P.S.

This program seems to spread mostly by word-of-mouth.



As always, the personal experiences that are revealed here are the sole province of the author and may not be reflective of the opinions of any other WCPL employees, their children, or their vegetable gardens.

If you want to learn more about the Whole 30 or find cookbooks to help you eat better:

  • It Starts with Food (613.2 HAR)
  • The Whole30: The 30-Day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom (613.2 HAR)
  • The Paleo Diet: Lose Weight and Get Healthy by Eating the Food You Were Designed to Eat (613.2 COR)
  • Primal Body, Primal Mind: Beyond the Paleo Diet for Total Health and a Longer Life (615.854 GED)
  • Clean & Hungry: Easy All-Natural Recipes for Healthy Eating in the Real World (641.302 LIL)
  • Your Personal Paleo Code: The 3-Step Plan to Lose Weight, Reverse Disease, and Stay Fit and Healthy for Life (613.2833 KRE)
  • Practical Paleo: A Customized Approach to Health and a Whole-Foods Lifestyle (641.56383 SAN)
  • Clean Eats : Over 200 Delicious Recipes to Reset Your Body’s Natural Balance and Discover What It Means to Be Truly Healthy (641.563 JUN)

The Eruption of Krakatoa: August 1883

Kracatoa 1By Stephen McClain, Reference Department

In our everyday, technology filled lives; it is easy to forget that the earth is dynamic. Our planet is constantly changing, whether we realize it or not. The landforms that we take for granted are in many cases the result of earth’s violent and relentless activity that has persisted for billions of years. This third planet from the sun is our home, but Earth does not care about us. Nature is not required to make sense nor consider human existence regarding its activity. What seems static from a human perspective is in a constant state of movement. Natural disasters often remind us that Mother Nature is more powerful than humans and she must be respected.Kracatoa 2

Kracatoa 3Tectonic activity, such as volcanic eruptions are illustrations of Earth’s volatility. Though there have been more recent blasts in modern times, none have been more deadly than the eruption of Krakatoa on August 26, 1883. Krakatoa (or Krakatau) is a small island located between Java and Sumatra in the Indonesian Island Arc. The island is only about 3 miles wide and 5 miles long. These islands and the volcanic activity in the region is the result of tectonic movement below the sea floor. The Indo-Australian plate is subducted under the Eurasian and Pacific plates as it moves slowly northward toward the Asian mainland. When Krakatoa erupted in August of 1883, an estimated 36,000 people were killed. Many perished due to the eruption, but many more died after the resulting tsunami following the collapse of the volcano into the caldera below.

With our advanced modern technology, we are able to detect natural hazards like severe weather and also monitor earth’s internal movement. For example, in 1980, geologists were able to detect seismic activity and knew that Mount St. Helens would erupt soon, saving the lives of many. The brave Krakatoans (10 points if you caught the Seinfeld reference there) had no warning system or advanced notice. Before nature was understood at the level it is today, it was more respected and spawned many legends and folktales of angry gods and evil spirits. Those closest to the volcano in western Java and Sumatra were victims of the volcanic debris and hot gases from the blast. Countless thousands more were killed by the 120 foot high wall of water from the following tsunamis. After the initial eruption on August 26, a cloud of gas and debris was sent some 15 miles into the atmosphere and it is believed that debris from this eruption clogged the neck of the volcanic cone, allowing pressure to build inside the magma chamber. The next morning, four massive explosions were heard as far away as Perth, Australia (about 2800 miles) and much of the island collapsed into the caldera. According to the Volcanic Explosion Index (VEI), the eruption of Krakatoa is given a rating of 6, which is comparative to the explosive force of 200 megatons of Trinitrotoluene (TNT). The eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980 had a VEI rating of 5.Kracatoa 4

Coral block thrown onto the shore of Java after the Krakatau eruption of 1883. Picture taken in 1885.

Coral block thrown onto the shore of Java after the Krakatau eruption of 1883. Picture taken in 1885.

Just a few months prior to the eruption in May of 1883, the captain of a German warship reported a cloud of ash over Krakatoa that he estimated to be over 6 miles high. Other vessels in the area reported seeing similar sites and heard explosions. Inhabitants of the neighboring islands celebrated and held festivals in honor of the display of lights in the night sky. The celebrations would end tragically with the eruption and ensuing tsunami on August 27.

The first explosion ruptured the magma chamber, sea water rushed in causing the water to flash-boil. The force of this phenomenon created a steam-generated explosion that propelled pyroclastic materials over 25 miles at speeds of over 60 mph. The eruption sent about 11 cubic miles of volcanic debris in the lower atmosphere that darkened the skies for nearly 300 miles from the volcano. The effects of the eruption of Krakatoa were not only felt in the immediate area of the volcano. Because of the debris in the atmosphere, Europe and the United States experienced unusually brilliant sunsets and for the next five years, the average global temperatures would be about 1.2 F degrees cooler.

Large coral block transported by the Krakatoa explosion (Photo by S. Leroy)

Large coral block transported by the Krakatoa explosion (Photo by S. Leroy)

Krakatoa was not the largest eruption in the modern era, but it was certainly responsible for the largest loss of life. Could an eruption of this magnitude happen again? Absolutely. Do we know where or when? Nope. But be assured that the U.S. Geological Survey has its eye on many locations. Nevertheless, there is nothing that we can do about an eruption other than be prepared.

So stop worrying and enjoy this beautiful day. Earth always wins in the end.

 

 


Sources:

 

Career Transitions

By Stephen McClain, Reference Department

nrr-Gale-CareerTransitions-persona

Looking for a new job can be either a frustrating experience or an exciting change. Many patrons use the library computers to access job applications or search for a new career. The reference staff is available to help those who are searching for jobs, but there are also many online resources that can answer simple questions and help with the application process. The Career Transitions website is a useful and powerful resource in helping to find a new career. To visit this website, go to www.wcpltn.org, move the mouse over eLibrary (on the left side of the page) and a drop down menu will appear. Click on Databases by Title and then select C-D. From there, click on Career Transitions, which is at the top. Here you can create an account that will save all of your information, but before doing that, it might be best to click on Take a tour of Career Transitions at the top right of the page.

Taking the tour will walk you through the processes of searching for jobs, writing a resume, writing a cover letter, tips and advice on interviewing, and also includes a simulated interview. If you are looking to start a new career and not sure what to look for, the next section provides an area to assess your career interests. After determining your interests and expertise, you can browse career paths and get an idea of what type of salary to expect with your particular experience and training.

Following this section, the tour continues with an area on discovering a new career. In this section, you can assess your career interests by taking a short survey. After deciding your areas of interest, you may browse career paths, salary and growth rates based on your selections or you can match your work experience to a new career.

career transitionsFinally, there is an area to search for schools and programs within a specific geographic area. Simply type in a job or career title (such as Electrician), select the distance you wish to search with your zip code or state and click the green Search button. If there are any schools, programs or courses within the area that you selected, this should produce a list of those results.

  • Many new job seekers, or those returning to the work force, have questions regarding resumes. On the Home page, click on Write a Resume. Here, you can write a professional resume by simply filling in data about yourself and your work experience. Before beginning to create a resume, it may be helpful to gather all of the necessary data, such as name and contact information regarding previous employers, education, and references. Start with your contact info. Type in your personal data and click save. If everything is correct, click the green “Go to next Section” button. Follow the steps and if at any time that you may have a question, click on “What Can I Do Here?” at the top right of the page. This area may answer many common questions regarding building a resume. There are also many helpful articles linked on this page in reference to writing a cover letter, uploading your resume to the web, and information on professional portfolios.
  • 14110060693_e2e54aef56_bMany job seekers ask whether or not they need a cover letter when applying for a job. If the job application does not specifically ask for a cover letter, odds are it is not a requirement. However, including a cover letter can only help your chances of being considered for the position. Click on “Write A Cover Letter” (next to “Write A Resume”). The process is very similar to that of writing a resume using the Career Transitions website. There is also a link to samples of cover letters if you need some help or ideas.
  • The Interview Simulation tab is a great way to prepare for the experience of an actual job interview. Clicking on this tab will first give you an overview of the simulation. Once beginning, users will choose a profile based on the individual’s personal level of experience. Then you will learn about the fictitious “company,” the open position and your profile. Based on this information, you will be asked questions regarding the job opening and your experience. You can choose whether to listen to audio or read the questions. After the questions are presented, three possible responses are given. You, as the interviewee, are to choose the best and most appropriate response. After responding to all of the questions, the simulation interviewer decides whether or not to conduct a second interview and feedback is offered regarding your responses.

With these simple tools on the Career Transitions website, you can create professional resumes, cover letters, gain valuable interview experience and will soon be on your way to an exciting new career. Visit www.wcpltn.org to get started.

Lest We Forget: Lost Library Books

By Stephen McClain, Reference Department

Most true Seinfeld fans will remember the episode called “the Library” way back in 1991. The first scene opens with Jerry in his apartment on the telephone.

JERRY: Let me speak with the head librarian. …Because it’s absurd. An overdue book from 1971? … This is a joke right? What are you? From a radio station?

KRAMER: enters

JERRY: Ya’ got me I fell for it. Alright, OK I can be down there in like a half hour. Bye.

KRAMER: What’s the problem?

JERRY: This you’re not goin’ to believe. The New York Public Library says that I took out Tropic of Cancer in 1971 and never returned it.

KRAMER: Do you know how much that comes to? That’s a nickel a day for 20 years. It’s going to be $50,000.

JERRY: It doesn’t work like that.

KRAMER: If it’s a dime a day it could be $100,000.

maxresdefault

Mr. Bookman

Jerry knows that he returned the book. Turns out he didn’t. Without giving away the ending, he had given the book to George in the locker room during gym class. George dropped it while suffering an atomic wedgie. Just watch the show. It will change your life.

The point here is that library books are often misplaced in obvious locations (such as in the car, under the couch, or next to the bed), but sometimes they are hiding in strange and unusual locales. If you received a notice and need to search for a missing book, here are some spots to explore from a list of actual places that people from all over the U.S. have found lost library books. My apologies in advance for the additional commentary.

  • Between the mattress and box springs (I thought this was reserved for illicit material of the adolescent male. Come to think of it, maybe Tropic of Cancer could be found there. (Look it up.))
  • Inside the box springs (After you return the book, it might be time to shop for a new box spring.)
  • In the crack between the front car seat and the console (…along with old French fries, straw wrappers and hairy nickels.)
  • In the dog house (“Fido; sit, roll over, READ!” Maybe we can blame this one on those dogs playing poker in that picture.)
  • On your own bookshelf, or with your other books (So you have call numbers on all of your own books? That’s how it got mixed up? Weird.)
  • Under the refrigerator (Yeah, be sure to clean off all of the lint and dead bugs before you return it.)
  • In the piano bench (“If you practiced more often, you wouldn’t have forgotten it here. That’s it! We’re not paying for any more lessons.”)
  • On the work bench (I guess it was easier to just watch a YouTube video on how to fix that toaster.)
  • In your fishing gear box (Makes sense. Fishing is boring. You know, you can buy fish, right?)
  • In the car’s glove compartment (Am I the only one who has never actually seen a pair of gloves in the “glove compartment?”)
  • Under the seat of grandma’s car (Over the River and through the woods, to Grandmother’s house we go!)
  • In the bathroom (Yeah. Just keep it and buy us a replacement.)
  • In the deep freezer (I got nothing. Were you maybe looking for your keys when you found the book?)
  • At another library (Because that NEVER happens… firmly plants tongue in cheek.)
  • Under stuffed animals (Beware!  The stuffed animals have gained awareness and are now stealing books to learn and plan world domination.)
  • At your summer home (If this is you, why are you borrowing books from the library? Just buy it.)
  • In the trash/wastebasket (Well, we understand that some people think they belong there.)
  • With the holiday wrapping paper (Were you planning to give the library book as a present?)
  • With the camping gear (Once again, makes sense.  You need something to do while sitting in front of the campfire.)

a9a615b3e21e8f92591ca3e35fd887c5

This is just a partial list of the odd but true places that patrons have found missing library books. In all seriousness, someone may be waiting on that book that you need to return so please be sure to keep track of your borrowed library materials and returned them on time. We don’t have a library cop like Mr. Bookman from the Seinfeld episode (yes, the character’s name is actually “Bookman”) and you will not rack up a $50,000 fine for anything, but returning materials on time keeps everything running smoothly. Mr. Bookman, the library cop, gets the last word:

“Look. If you think this is about overdue fines and missing books, you’d better think again. This is about that kid’s right to read a book without getting his mind warped! Or maybe that turns you on, Seinfeld. Maybe that’s how y’get your kicks. You and your good-time buddies. Well I got a flash for ya, joy-boy: Party time is over. Y’got seven days, Seinfeld. That is one week!”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D9tP9fI2zbE

Getting Through This Thing Called Life: Prince 1958 – 2016

By Stephen McClain, Reference Department

“Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to get through this thing called life.” –Prince

Prince_at_CoachellaPrince Rogers Nelson died on April 21, 2016. He was 57 years old. That’s way too young. Prince was not only an icon and a musical legend, he was perhaps a “once in a generation” artist that was still relevant after almost 40 years in the business.

This isn’t supposed to happen. Our heroes are not supposed to die. Ever. We forget that they are mortal. We forget that they were once little children who went to school, ate dinner, got in trouble, and got scared. They are different than us. They are supposed to be stronger, smarter, more creative and invincible. In so many ways, they are unintentional representations of us; of who we are, who we want to be and most often, who we once were. We try to look like them, try to act like them, and try to write or create like them. But we can’t. Because we are not them. We deify them because they are greater than us and without them; we would not be who we are.

Prince stood up when he felt he was being taken advantage of by his record label, appearing in public with the word “slave” written on his face and changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol in protest. He stood for something, even if it was only the control of his art. I cannot think of a comparison today. So many artists are beholden to corporations and greed and will not risk alienating anyone for fear of losing money or endorsements. I miss those days when rock stars used to be dangerous and take risks. They didn’t care about money. They cared about art and what they believed in and were willing to risk everything for it.

Prince_Brussels_1986Songs like “Little Red Corvette,” “Purple Rain,” “I Would Die 4 U,” and let’s not forget “Darling Nikki” were the soundtrack to a very important time in my life. I am sure that anyone who was in high school in the 1980’s can relate Prince’s music to some time or someone in their adolescence. In those days we bought the record. We went out to hear music or waited for it on the radio. It wasn’t On Demand. It didn’t stream and it was worth far more than it is today. MTV was new. I didn’t have cable but my friends did and we watched videos after school and watching Prince crawl on the floor staring at me in the video for “When Doves Cry” creeped me out.

I can still see the flashing, sequenced lights and mirror ball at the skating rink in my hometown whenever I hear “1999” (that year seemed to be so far away). The same goes for “Little Red Corvette” (and everyone knew someone who moved a little too fast). The intro chords to “Purple Rain” take me back in time too, but that album came out later. I was older and the lyrics meant something more to me.   In the 1980s, guitars ruled the world and Prince’s guitar solo on “Let’s Go Crazy” was nothing short of inspirational. It demanded you pay attention. Even at the age I was then, I could hear Hendrix in Prince’s playing. Everyone knew this guy was special. And now he’s gone.

Prince_by_jimieyeI am so thankful that our time on this earth overlapped. His music was playing during so much of my youth and he continued to create innovative music with the recent albums “Art Official Age,” “Plectrumelectrum” and “HitnRun Phase One and Two.” He played one of the most memorable Super Bowl half time shows ever and performed an unexpected 8-minute medley on Saturday Night Live in 2014. On Saturday April 23, two days after he was found unresponsive at Paisley Park, SNL produced a special retrospective of Prince’s performances on the late night show. Hosted by a teary-eyed Jimmy Fallon, it featured not only his first appearance in 1981 but also his last, which had never been seen before, as he and his band 3rdeyegirl burned through an unrehearsed version of “Let’s Go Crazy” at the 40th anniversary after-party. Jimmy said that the “crowd parted as Prince floated to the stage in a cloud of purple” and then tore the house down. I watched the show in silence and for 90 minutes on Saturday night, Prince was still with us.

As I mourn Prince’s passing I also lament the struggling condition of today’s music. Many of the people I talk with share the same belief that today’s music is in a sad state, which is one of the reasons why Prince’s death is so numbing to me. Prince never repeated himself. He moved forward. He was about the performance and always had something to prove. We argue about politics and religion but what brings us together? Music. The pure joy of music. We’re all in this together and music is one of the few things that can unite us. Prince saw the future. Now he’s in the past. But his music helped create our present.

 

maxresdefault


*Opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and in no way reflect the philosophy or preferences of the Williamson County Public Library, its staff members, their families, friends, or pets.

More Audiobooks!: OneClick digital

By Stephen McClain, Reference Department

oneclickdigital

In this modern, technologically advanced era, there are many ways to access data and entertainment away from traditional sources like the library, theatre or the home stereo. We can walk around during our daily lives with the history of recorded music accessible in our back pockets, watch videos from around the world, and more and more, books are available as well, in either eBook form or in an audio format. Most Williamson County Public Library users who enjoy digital resources like eBooks and eAudio are familiar with Overdrive and Tennessee R.E.A.D.S but there is another resource that may be of interest that is less well known. OneClickdigital is another way for library patrons to access eBooks and eAudio.

71859999_20e265b781_oAs the name implies, OneClickdigital is a simple, user friendly interface with many titles to choose from. To get started, go to the main page of the Williamson County Public Library and click on “eLibrary” in the middle of the page. From there, scroll down until you see “OneClickdigital eAudiobooks” and click on Access the OneClickdigital collection now. This link takes users to the main page of OneClickdigital. Click on “Register” in the upper right corner. Here, you will enter your library card number and fill in other personal information (email address and zip code) to create an account. It’s that simple. You now have access to OneClickdigital’s collection of eBooks and eAudio.

Oneclickdigital may be more appealing to users who find the OverDrive application confusing or intimidating. There is a simple menu at the top left of the main that allows users to browse through selections in eAudio and eBooks. There is also an Advanced Search option where users can search for authors, titles, format, and many other search criteria. The home page regularly displays Featured eAudio and eBooks if you need some suggestions as to what to read next. There are also a number of links at the bottom of the page to help users learn more and navigate the site. Here you will find links for free Kindle Fire, Android and iPhone apps. If you need more information or would like to learn more about OneClickdigital, there is also a link here for a free webinar.

rb_ocd_500pxOneClickdigital is supported by Recorded Books who is a major supplier of digital content to libraries and schools and is the largest independent publisher of audiobooks. The company distributes eBooks and eAudio titles from major publishing houses, along with eAudio titles recorded exclusively for Recorded Books and narrated by professional, award-winning voice actors. Based in Prince Frederick, MD, Recorded Books was founded in 1979. Visit www.recoredbooks.com for more info.

Check out OneClickdigital for both classics like jack London’s White Fang or new, best-selling releases like Star Wars/The Force Awakens. Whether you are reading an eBook on your iPad or listening to an eAudio title, OneClickdigital offers a simple, user-friendly way to access digital content. And be sure to visit OneClickdigital on Facebook for more information, post a comment and connect with other users.

Take it to the limit one more time… Glenn Frey 1948 – 2016

By Stephen McClain, Reference DepartmentPhoto_AfterHour_300RGB-1

Glenn Frey, singer/songwriter/guitarist and founding member of the Eagles died at age 67 on January 18, 2016. He was born in Detroit, Michigan where he began piano lessons at age five and later switched to guitar. Like many aspiring musicians from the Great Lakes industrial belt; he headed for a warmer climate and more opportunity. Before leaving the Motor City, he worked with fellow Detroit rocker Bob Seger who wrote a single for Frey’s early band the Mushrooms. Glenn would also sing back-up vocals and play acoustic guitar on Seger’s first national hit, “Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man.” He soon moved to Los Angeles where he would meet J.D. Souther and Jackson Browne. It was also in southern California that Glenn met Texas native Don Henley. After playing a tour with Henley as Linda Ronstadt’s backing band in 1971, they would form the Eagles with guitarist Bernie Leadon and bassist/vocalist Randy Meisner later that year. While it was Glenn Frey who was the founder and visionary of the Eagles, he and Henley were songwriting and musical partners in the band. On the heels of the History of the Eagles tour and after Frey’s death, Henley would say,” I’m not sure I believe in fate, but I know that crossing paths with Glenn Lewis Frey in 1970 changed my life forever, and it eventually had an impact on the lives of millions of other people all over the planet.” No doubt. While reviled by some as being fluff and too soft, the music of the Eagles influenced so many people to either pick up guitars or pick up and move. Glenn Frey was quoted as saying that people did things TO the music of the Eagles; they partied, travelled, broke-up… Love them or hate them, that meeting of Frey and Henley would eventually result in the bestselling album of the 20th century, “Eagles: Their Greatest Hits 1971-75.”

EaglesThe band broke up in 1980 (well, took a vacation) and Frey and Henley each had successful solo careers, Henley’s being the most successful (which certainly prompted a song by Mojo Nixon called “Don Henley Must Die.” Written in jest, I’m sure, and perhaps distasteful to bring up at this time, I always thought it was funny: “He’s a tortured artist, Used to be in the Eagles, Now he whines, Like a wounded beagle.”). Of Glenn Frey’s solo hits, my two favorites were “Smuggler’s Blues” and “You Belong to the City.” “Smuggler’s Blues” from Frey’s solo album “The Allnighter,” was a cool little tune with a great, bluesy slide guitar part. The video for the song inspired an episode of Miami Vice, in which Glenn played the part of a drug smuggler. The B side of “Smuggler’s Blues” was the track “You Belong to the City,” written specifically for Miami Vice. Glenn played all of the instruments on the recording except the drum and saxophone track. The song has such a great street-like feel and the sax typifies the nighttime urban atmosphere. “You Belong to the City” peaked at number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 1 on Billboard Top Rock Tracks.

Then in 1994, fans welcomed the long awaited reunion. Glenn wasn’t even sure that anyone would come to the shows. The “Hell Freezes Over” live album and tour featured four new studio cuts and surprised fans with a stripped down “unplugged” version of Hotel California. Glenn joked at the beginning of the live album, “For the record, we never broke up; we just took a 14-year vacation.”

il_340x270.886348558_skdbMy first Eagles record when I was a kid was the double live album that came out in 1980. I already knew most of the songs from hearing them on the radio, but there was something different about the energy, the sound of the crowd and the fact that the songs were a little unlike the studio cuts. It wasn’t until recently that I learned that this album was one of the most heavily overdubbed “live” albums in history. Regardless, it’s the way the music makes you feel that matters. Those were the days when you sat down with the album in front of the stereo, read the liner notes and looked at the pictures as the music washed over you. Much like disappearing into a book, you entered another world, where you could draw up all kinds of images in your brain. This was a double, fold out album so there was even more to look at and read, including a huge, 6-panel poster. It went straight up on my bedroom wall, alongside dozens of KISS posters (don’t judge) and an iconic print of Farrah Fawcett in a red one-piece bathing suit, sitting in front of a striped beach towel, a-hem…I digress. Colorful, live shots of the band: Don Felder, Timothy B. Schmidt, Joe Vitale* and right in the top center of the poster between Don Henley and Joe Walsh was Glenn Frey, smiling with an acoustic guitar. (*Vitale played keys for the Eagles live shows and had met Joe Walsh when they were both students at Kent State University.)

I remember in high school, we used to sit around with acoustic guitars and sing “Seven Bridges Road” from the Eagles’ Live album. Like we could ever come close to that five part harmony, but it was fun. The song was written by Steve Young and was on his “Rock Salt and Nails” album in 1969. Young originally didn’t like the Eagles’ cover version but admitted that the more he heard it, the better it sounded. You can clearly hear Frey and Henley’s voices in the wall of vocal harmony on the Eagles Live album and without Randy Meisner’s tenor, it just would not have happened.

Probably my favorite Eagles song sung by Glenn Frey is “New Kid in Town.” Eagle’s biographer Marc Eliot said it best when he wrote, “New Kid in Town” captures “a precise and spectacular moment immediately familiar to any guy who’s ever felt the pain, jealousy, insecurity, rage and heartbreak of the moment he discovers his girlfriend likes someone better and has moved on.” But for me, it was more about the chord changes and the structure of the song. It is so well written with a bit of a Spanish sound …and those major 7 chords, minor 7 chords, there’s a key change after the beautifully constructed bridge then another key change back to the original key of E after the last chorus. Who writes like that today? Honestly, plenty of people do, but you won’t hear it on the radio anymore. “New Kid in Town” peaked at number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1977.

Glenn_FreyGlenn Frey was the epitome of the American dream. He was a Detroit rock fan who grabbed his guitar and headed for the coast, met some guys, did some drugs, wrote some songs and changed the world. And although he left the Motor City, he never forgot where he came from. Bob Seger said in an interview, “He was so much more than people knew he was … He would never fail to start with telling me how grateful he was that audiences were still there. He loved the band. He loved the fact he could keep doing this. And he kept doing this until six months before he died.” Glenn Frey is gone way too soon. Why do we mourn our rock stars more than other celebrities? Probably because of what they represent and how they and their music shaped our youth and our lives. True rock stars from Glenn Frey’s era were actually what the original moniker characterized. They didn’t care what you thought. They gave the middle finger to the man and conformed for no one. The writers of this timeless music seem invincible and when we lose one, it reminds us of our own mortality, both individually and as a group. So, thank you, Glenn Frey. The Eagles music was the soundtrack to so much of my life. And it’s the music, along with the somber reminder of impermanence and evanescence that makes me want to sit back with a beer and sing while I still can. Or better yet, put me on a highway, and show me a sign. And take it to the limit…one more time.


*Opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and in no way reflect the philosophy or preferences of the Williamson County Public Library, its staff members, their families, friends, or pets.

There’s a Starman Waiting in the Sky: David Bowie 1947 – 2016

By Stephen McClain, Reference DepartmentDavid-Bowie-00s-david-bowie-37030347-900-900

On Sunday evening, January 10, 2016, David Bowie died at the age of 69. After the sudden death of Lemmy Kilmister of Motörhead and the passing of Natalie Cole, the music world has suffered the loss of yet another icon. As modern rock and roll ages as a genre, we will unfortunately see more influential artists disappear in the foreseeable future. Paul McCartney is 73, Robert Plant is 67, Bruce Springsteen is 66, the guys in Iron Maiden are in their late 50s (sans Nicko McBrain who is 63) and they are all still actively creating new music, but performing takes its toll on the body. Artists like these all seem larger than life. Even immortal. Aren’t they supposed to live forever? Anyway… Bowie had just put out a new album entitled “Blackstar,” his 25th studio album. I never realized it until now, but Bowie’s music has been present in my life for a very long time. Around the time I started playing guitar, I used to repeatedly listen to a crackly 45 of “Space Oddity.” (For those under age twenty-five, a 45 is…never mind. Go ask your parents.) I was in 8th grade when “Let’s Dance” and “China Girl” were in the Billboard top ten (yes, I’m that old). I bought the “Best of Bowie” two CD collection many years ago and have done an acoustic version of Ziggy Stardust at a few of my solo gigs. David Bowie had to have known the impact that his music and career had on the entertainment world, but some question whether or not he was aware of his own global reach.

tumblr_n1u1brLndS1qlcugro1_1280David Bowie was born David Robert Jones south of London, England on January 8, 1947. After several unsuccessful bands and musical endeavors in the 1960s, he would begin his solo career with his focus not only on music, but image as well. He changed his name to Bowie to avoid confusion with Davy Jones, the lead singer of the Monkees. The success of “Space Oddity” would drive Bowie’s career in the early 1970s and he would be a pioneer of the genre of “glam” rock. He and guitarist Marc Bolan are credited with inventing the genre. With the creation and huge success of the characters Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars in 1972, Bowie’s status as an influential rock icon was cemented, even if he didn’t record anything else. Coupled with his androgynous appearance and admitted bisexuality, David Bowie was unlike anything at the time. He greatly influenced bands like Mott the Hoople, Roxy Music, Sweet, and the New York Dolls, all known for an androgynous appearance that was directly related to Bowie. But it’s the music that is so important. Much of what he did in the 1970s still sounds fresh today, “The Man Who Sold the World,” “Changes,” “Rebel Rebel,” “Young Americans,” Suffragette City,” and “Heroes,” the first and last songs being covered by Nirvana and the Wallflowers, respectively.

81GaOhfPyFL._SL1300_I could go into great detail about Bowie’s music, image and the impact of his artistic endeavors on the world, but this has been written at length by music writers much better than myself.  To me, what is so significant about the loss of David Bowie is that he was an innovator; one that continued to reinvent himself and remained creative and original until the end.  He was not only a musician; he was also an actor, artist and fashion icon.  In a modern music world where conformity is the rule of the day and artistic development is rare, David Bowie would not have had a chance today.  Bowie’s first records were not huge successes until “Space Oddity.” He began his career in 1962 but didn’t see real success until the early 1970s.  Today, if an artist’s first album is not a blockbuster, he or she is done.  No development.  No second chance.  That’s it.  Without Bowie, there would be no Madonna, Lady Gaga, Marilyn Manson, Alice Cooper, Motley Crue, even Smashing Pumpkins… the list goes on.  Bowie tested limits, broke barriers and invented original, unearthly characters.  At the risk of sounding cynical, how many of today’s top artists will still be making critically acclaimed, innovative music into their 60s?

His new album, “Blackstar,” which was released on his 69th birthday, is a dark record of 7 tracks that still test limits and is already being acknowledged as some of his finest work.  Like George Harrison’s “Brainwashed” and Warren Zevon’s “The Wind,” this is an album written by a man knowing that death would come soon and this would be his final work.  I turned on Palladia Monday evening and they were playing an older VH-1 concert of Bowie. Following the show, they played the video for the new single “Lazarus.”  It’s creepy.  Coupled with the shock of his death, I was not prepared for it. Bowie is in bed, blindfolded by bandages with buttons for eyes and sings, “Look up here, I’m in heaven / I’ve got scars that can’t be seen.”  The other 6 tracks are also introspective, jazzy saxophone coupled with a bit of distorted techno. Chaotic at times. The album closes with a lyrical and musical farewell with the track “I Can’t Give Everything Away.”

david-bowie-blackstar“I know something is very wrong

The pulse returns for prodigal sons

The blackout’s hearts with flowered news

With skull designs upon my shoes”

We all live in an important time regarding popular music.  We are sharing oxygen with artists who were the first of their kind, paved their own way and created music that will last far beyond our time on earth, but I fear that the grab for cash that has consumed the music industry is threatening the further development of music that will last.  So much of what we hear today is lowest common dominator dreck designed to appeal to as many as possible.  Don’t get me wrong, there is good music out there, but it’s not on the surface.  You have to dig. David Bowie’s music and career began at a time when you listened to the radio to know which way the wind blew. Those days are over, but the music lives on. My hope is that there is a kid in a garage or basement somewhere, with an idea or song that will change everything. He or she is out there, I know it. Just like the starman, waiting in the sky. He’d like to come and meet us, but he thinks he’d blow our minds…

Rest in peace, Ziggy.


*Opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and in no way reflect the philosophy or preferences of the Williamson County Public Library, its staff members, their families, friends, or pets.

An Extracted Scot Finds Himself in Hungary: How to Get Started with Ancestry.com

By Stephen McClain, Reference Departmentancestry_logo

Did you know that Williamson County Public Library patrons can access Ancestry.com for free while in the library? Neither did I – and I am guessing that many other people in Williamson County don’t know either. Like many people in the United States, I have a multicultural background, but have never been absolutely certain what my ethnicity truly is. I have long been interested in tracing my roots and wondered when my ancestors first arrived on this continent, but without access to the proper resources, I never really looked into it. My surname suggests that I am Scottish and I have always celebrated that part of my lineage without really knowing the percentage or who first emigrated from the land of bagpipes and single malt whisky. Also, I have been told that my maternal side is of German or Austrian descent, but no one is really sure.

Census Records, Birth and Death Certificates and Marriage Recordsancestry1

When I first started searching Ancestry.com for information on my grandparents, the most readily available data that I found was census records. The search tab at the top left side of the home page provides users with a number of search options, but the easiest way to get started is to simply click the green “Begin Searching” button in the middle of the page. Though I was too young to remember meeting him, I know my paternal great grandfather’s full name and where he lived. By searching his name and town of residence, I was able to locate his father’s name via a combination of census, birth and death records. I repeated this process several times, and through the historical mist, I was able to find that my fifth great grandfather was born in Scotland in 1681 and arrived in what would become the United States in 1766. My family name has apparently been in this country for a very long time and the reveal of this information somewhat diminished my feelings of a connection with the Scottish homeland. I am not going to stop enjoying single malt Scotch whisky or listening to the pipes, but maybe I shouldn’t have gotten married in a kilt…either way, I had another side of my family to research.

ancestry3The maternal side of my lineage has always been somewhat of a mystery. No one in the family seems to know where the names come from. The names of my maternal grandparents both suggest German, Austrian, Slovak or Hungarian lineage. I searched my grandfather’s name and with very little effort, found out that his father was Hungarian. The 1920 U.S. Census records show that he was born in Hungary and his native tongue was Slavish. While his mother was born in Pennsylvania, her parents were born in Hungary as well, with the same linguistic details. I am 3rd generation Hungarian and never knew it! Maybe that’s why I like stuffed cabbage and lekvar pierogis so much? I don’t know. Regardless, I was excited to know that I had found a relatively recent connection to my European past. And because in many cases, Ancestry.com provides users with an actual scanned copy of the documents, I was able to see that this area in Pennsylvania was a true ethnic community. The birthplaces of the majority of the people (or the birthplaces of their parents) listed on the census record were Eastern European; Austria, Hungary, and Russia. How could my mother and her siblings have grown up not knowing that their grandparents were from Hungary? The reason is probably because so many European migrants of that time wished to disassociate themselves from their past and start a new life in America. They were struggling to make a new start while making a living in a brand new country, most often doing very difficult factory work. Maintaining and passing on a cultural identity was probably not on their list of important things to do.

When I was younger, I remember being told to be careful what you look for, you might find something you didn’t want to know. I grew up knowing most of my great aunts and uncles on my mother’s side of the family. There was only one uncle that I never met, who was killed in WW II…or so I thought he was the only one. Upon examining some census data that listed the household members at my great grandparents’ residence, I read a name listed that I had never heard before. A female child that was unknown to me. This mystery aunt was 2 years older than my oldest great aunt, of whom I grew up visiting on a regular basis. Who was this person? Was she the black sheep of the family that was shunned and disowned? Was she a convicted criminal that the family was keeping hidden? Maybe she was busted for making bathtub gin during Prohibition. I hoped so. That would be so cool. I was both eager and afraid to find out. I had to know who this person was and I could only hope that there was some guarded, veiled story to go along with this ghost on the census form. With anxious trepidation, I called my aunt and asked if she knew the identity of this missing relative. Without hesitation, she said, “That was grandma’s sister who died.” Mystery solved, though, too abruptly for my apprehensive curiosity. But what happened to her and why was she never mentioned? I was told that she died from a common complication after childbirth simply because she didn’t have access to the necessary medication and treatment. Wow. It had happened so long ago that she was never mentioned in my time. No romantic tales of rebellion, crime or calamity, but a somber reminder of harder times, to say the least.

Phone and Street Directories

My searches also produced a large number of scanned city phone directories dating back to the 1920s. When searching for a name on Ancestry.com, users are given categories on the left of the page. One of those choices is “Schools, Directories and Church Histories.” Though it was never mentioned in any family stories, I now know that the likely reason my maternal grandparents met is because their families lived on the same street. These old phone directories most often show not only telephone numbers and addresses, but also the name of individuals who were living at that address, i.e. another relative or a boarder. This is a great tool in locating exactly where a relative may have lived. And if nothing else, it is intriguing to see telephone numbers such as “WAlbridge 1154 and BLackstone 2311.”

Military Recordsancestry2

My paternal grandfather and many of my maternal great uncles were in World War Two. I was able to locate the muster rolls that listed my grandfather’s name and the ship he was on. (Yeah, I never heard the term “muster roll” either. It is the register of the officers and men in a military unit or on a ship. Thanks, Wikipedia.) I also found out that my maternal great uncle was killed at Pearl Harbor and I located a detailed photograph of the monument that lists his name. Additionally in the military records, I was able to find the scanned copies of WW I and WWII draft registration cards for both of my great grandfathers. The documents are hand written and include the signatures of the men. To locate documents such as these, simply type in the name of the person that you are searching and after clicking “Search”, you will see all of the results for that name. To the left of the page, there is a listing of categories, such as “Census and Voter Lists” and “Birth, Marriage and Death.” The third category is “Military.” This option will produce information on draft registration, enlistment, casualties, and gravesites, just to name a few. There is also a great deal of information on Civil War soldiers and the American Revolution.


 

This is just a sample of the information available at Ancestry.com and a bit of my personal experience in looking for my roots. It was great fun for me searching through my relative’s collective pasts and getting just a glimpse of their lives well before I was a twinkle in someone’s eye. Whenever you are ready to do your own searching, come to the second floor of the Williamson County Public Library and log on to a computer or visit one of the staff in the Special Collections department and they will help you with your queries. Access to Ancestry.com is only available to patrons while they are physically in the library. On the library’s website, move the mouse over Special Collections on the left of the page and click on Digital Genealogy. From there, click on Access Ancestry Library while visiting the library. The Williamson County Public Library also offers free classes on Introduction to Ancestry.com once a month.

 

But be advised, you may find something you didn’t expect…

%d bloggers like this: