Thursday, October 30, 2008


Aunque el título de este maravilloso libro está inglés ( La Breve y Maravillosa Vida de Oscar Wao ) , esta obra del escritor dominicano Junot Díaz ganó el Premio Pulitzer hace algunos meses. El libro tardó más de 11 años para que se cumpliera pero como dice el escritor en una entervista con BBC Mundo "... hay obras en las que uno tiene que luchar ."

El tema brevemente tratado se concentra de un emigrante latioamericano recién llegado a los Estados Unidos. Para Díaz, nadie a pesar de donde sea sabe lo que involucra vivir como emigrante menos que un emigrante. Y él pasó por aquella estrecha durísima poco después de llegar a Nueva Jersey con su familia desde la República Dominicana.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Learn about the Paranormal Online

Central Library is hosting new computer classes that not only help patrons hone their computer skills, but also further their knowledge on how to find information on a specific subject.

One subject that was taught on Saturday, October 18th is fitting for the Halloween season: Learn About the Paranormal Information Online. Attendees learned about where to find a variety of paranormal information as well as finding advice from research organizations and parapsychologist on how to investigate hauntings coupled with critical thinking skills. Many websites covered in the class included ghostly photographs and testimonials via video, audio and podcast on true ghost accounts, near death experiences, poltergeists, psychic phenomena, electronic voice phenomenon (digital or tape recording of spirits apparently communicating), and other unusual phenomena. Since there is no sure answer to what is really going on when paranormal activity occurs, the websites provided for the class help open minds to all the different types of phenomena, theories and speculation to what may be really happening behind the bangs in the night, ghostly visions, unusual sounds, and extra sensory perception.

Some highlight websites from the class: - Paranormal Phenomena
Finding paranormal phenomena on's, is a good way to start, and find a large variety of paranormal information which includes famous ghost photographs, electronic voice phenomena recordings, and video footage.

Ghost Village: ghost research, evidence, and discussion
Ghost Village is dedicated to providing ghost research, evidence, and discussion from around the world. They welcome and explore all viewpoints, from the skeptical to the religious, and from the scientific to the metaphysical.

Mike Daniels – Psychic Science
Find some free educational and educational-entertainment resources for parapsychology, psychical research and mind magic. Site includes a host of audio and video documentaries from popular paranormal specialists and investigators.

Parapsychological Association
The Parapsychological Association, Inc. (PA) is the international professional organization of scientists and scholars engaged in the study of ‘psi’ (or ‘psychic’) experiences, such as telepathy, clairvoyance, remote viewing, psychokinesis, psychic healing, and precognition. The site also has a links to Online Psi (psychic) Experiments.

International Association for Near-Death Studies, Inc.
IANDS explores the near-death and near-death-like experiences, their effects on people’s lives, and their implications for beliefs about life, death, and human purpose. IANDS does not subscribe to any particular interpretation of the near-death experience.

Check the library's event calendar for future computer classes at Central Library.

by Tuula Laine

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Ask Us Through "AskUs" and Get the Answer...

An interesting thing happened when we opened the "inbox" to the AskUs reference portal ( This popped up:

We love questions like these...

A medal - an old one - was located in a collection of keepsakes belonging to a long-time Sacramentan. The fellow had passed away and a family member wanted to get the story on this curious artifact.

It read:



The story behind the story was found in the library's copy of the Sacramento Bee for dates December 21st and 22nd, 1918. Sacramento lost over 100 of its own in the Great War. On December 21, 1918, the city of Sacramento honored over 1,300 mothers and the sacrifices endured by their sons and daughters at the city's Native Sons' Hall on Eleventh and "J." Two of the mothers received a medal with five stars (indicating the number of sons that they had sent overseas), but most were of the one star variety.

Also present were many area luminaries; D.W. Carmichael, the founder of present-day Carmichael and Governor William Stephens. It was cool on that day in Sacramento and the setting was...

"And when we present you with this little token, we do so, realizing that during the years to come it may, in some degree tarnish and grow old, but with its age may we assure you will grow the thoughts of kindness, the thoughts of appreciation, the thoughts of love and esteem which we, the people of Sacramento, the donors of this badge, bear to you, to whom we give -- the mothers of the defenders of liberty."

In the same issue of the Bee, there was also talk of a new auditorium to be built in honor of those who had served and died in Europe.

We hold a run of the Bee that goes back to 1857. That said, the paper is a great way to better understand the events of the day and the story behind that which could have been easily pulled from a time capsule.

If you have a question that you'd like to submit, Askus would be happy to answer it. Simply write us at and we'll get back to you within 24-hours.

To view a short movie, remembering the lives of seven Sacramentans who died in the Great War, click on the image below:

Friday, October 24, 2008

True Crime

Even though I am personally too scared to read true crime books, I know that they are hot property in any public library, and the Central Library is no exception. We have books about classic figures, like Jack the Ripper and The Black Dahlia, as well as information about less famous cases. So if you're in the mood to be scared, especially with Halloween coming up, head downtown to the Central Library and browse the 364.1523 sections in Central Express on the first floor and the main collection on the 2nd.

Monday, October 20, 2008


"XXYes una película argentina escrita y dirigida por Lucía Puenzo estrenada el 14 de junio de 2007 y protagonizada por Ricardo Darín, Valeria Bertuccelli e Inés Efrón. Trata la historia de una persona intersexual de 15 años que junto con sus padres huye a una pequeña villa frente al mar para evitar ser rechazada por la sociedad y aprender a aceptar su condición.
XXY ha recibido una extensa aclamación de la crítica, ganando el Gran Premio de la semana de la crítica del Festival de Cannes en 2007 y el premio Goya a la mejor película extranjera de habla hispana el mismo año, además de haber sido nominada por la Asociación de Cronistas Cinematográficos Argentinos a 8 premios Cóndor de Plata.
Su título es una referencia al Síndrome de Klinefelter, también conocido como Síndrome XXY, condición en la que los hombres tienen un cromosoma X extra. Dicho título ha sido catalogado por la Unitask, una organización italiana para personas con el síndrome de Klinefelter, como confuso debido a que los hombres con este síndrome no tienen rasgos físicos femeninos y el protagonista de la película si."

Need a break from reality?

Have you opened up your retirement account statement lately? You might want to keep a paper bag handy for when you start hyperventilating. Right now saving for retirement seems to have about the same outcome as sending a check to that Nigerian prince who has millions of dollars but needs a few thousand up front first. Our current election feels like it started back in 1984 when Marvin Gaye was still alive and Indiana Jones was a big hit...Okay, that last bit happened this year, too. Still, things are just...


Once I get home I have little desire to think. I just want to lay on the couch like a blob and zone out while eating sugary soy based products. But zoning out doesn't happen if you're watching regular TV. You have to listen to "reporters" discuss celebrities and their book based baby names. Or you accidentally flip to a Rihanna video, and, after realizing you're not that much older than her but she looks waaaay better, you end up exercising for an hour. While this may be good for you, is it truly relaxing?


So, If you're like me, and you just need some down time, here are a few videos I recommend to help get your mind off your disintegrating account balances:

Planet Earth

The Matrix Reloaded

In the Heat of the Night

The Shawshank Redemption

Dr. Strangelove or: How I learned to stop worrying and love the bomb


Star Wars

Back to the Future

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Genealogy News

Fall is a busy time of year for those interested in genealogy in the Sacramento area! Here are some recent and upcoming family history events that will interest both beginners and long-time researchers:

The Central Library staffed a table at this year’s Family History Day at the California State Archives on Saturday, October 11th. This free event included several genealogy classes and tours of the Archives throughout the day. For more information, including a schedule of classes, visit the California State Archives website. Watch for this event next year!

Central Library’s upcoming genealogy programs will be held on Saturdays, 1:30 – 3:00 pm, in the West Meeting Room. These programs are free:
January 10th: Help! The Courthouse Burned!, with Pamela Dallas
January 24th: Using Federal Census Records, with Glenda Lloyd
January 31st: Exploring Ellis Island, with Lisa Lee
For more information, call the library at 916-264-2920, or visit

Book a Genealogist at Central Library, 4th floor. Meet with a genealogy volunteer for individual help with your research. For an appointment, call the library at 916-264-2920 or visit

The Sacramento Family History Center is offering Eternal Keepsakes, a day-long genealogy seminar on Saturday, November 1st, 8:00 am – 3:30 pm at 2745 Eastern Avenue in Carmichael. There is a small fee for this seminar, which is open to the public. The Family History Center also has free genealogy presentations most Wednesday evenings, 7:00 – 8:30 pm. For more information, call 916-487-2090, or see the Family History Center’s website.

Take advantage of these great programs to learn how to explore your family’s history!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Get a Handle on the Economy at the Central Library

September 2008: Wall Street’s financial giants take a historic hit. Weeks later, the United States Congress responds with a 700 billion dollar rescue plan, coming in the form of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008. The implications of the plan are many. The credit market, business payrolls and national security are all issues that are swirling about, New York to Tokyo to Berlin to London to Sacramento.

On November 12, at 6:00 pm, in the Central Library’s Sacramento Room, find out more about the significance of a wounded Wall Street and staggered American economy, as Sacramento State University Economics Professor, Kristin Van Gaasbeck, joins us.

In addition to addressing the state of financial markets and the economy as a whole, she will take your questions on how these looming issues will affect you, the consumer, investor and business owner. 

Registration is encouraged and can be done by calling 264.2920 or by going online to

Bellying Up to the Bar in the Sacramento Room: El Dorado in a Shot Glass, Saloon Culture in Gold Rush Sacramento, 1848-1853

Wednesday night, October 15, in the Sacramento Room, SPL Librarian James Scott, presented his research on the heart and soul of Sacramento popular culture during the Gold Rush, the saloon.

Did you know that Sacramento's first saloon was called the Stinking Tent?

Did you know that Sacramento's first bartender was Peter Slater of Missouri?

Did you know that bears, eagles, oxen, anacondas and monkeys were all used to lure folks into Sacramento's saloons?

In addition to imparting such fun facts, Scott spoke to issues of race, gender and politics in saloons. Certainly, going back to one of the earliest drinking/gaming spots, the Round Tent, it's clear that the many races and ethnicities that were drawn to the Gold Rush could share a relative amount of harmony within these places, the Foreign Miner's Tax, and the large number of emigrants from the American South notwithstanding.

Hopping on from race, the contributions of saloonist Josephine Gibson were discussed. She was likely the first female saloon owner in the city, having opened and operated the Capital and Josey's Place saloons.

Finally, Scott emphasized the versatility of saloons as venues for - among other things - boxing, theater, adjudication, and bathing. Saloons were also strong aligned to politics. The Whigs, Know-Nothings and Democrats all found places to rally 'round their causes. One such example was the Indian Queen, which was a spot for Democrats to gather. It was owned by the Daly brothers, James and Bernard. Although the two started off as Democrats, they broke, with James becoming a Know-Nothing and opening his own establishment called the Merchant's Exchange at Front Street. Bernard maintained the Indian Queen, but their relationship was never the same.  The Whigs had a gathering place cunningly called The Whig Headquarters.

It's important to never lose sight of the history that flowed through California's capital city during the Gold Rush. The brother and father of Lincoln assassin John Wilkes Booth acted at Lee's Exchange, one of Sacramento's first "concert saloons"; one of the city's earliest saloons, the Mansion House, was operated by future Confederate Cavalry Officer Edwin Waller, Jr.; and, Charles Cora, one of the most skilled and disliked gamblers in the American West, got into a blazing gunfight at the El Dorado Saloon, located at the northeastern corner of Second and "J" Streets.

Look for a program on brewing and distilling in antebellum Sacramento in January and February.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Voter Info at Central Library

Our DanskaBeaver reports, regarding the November 4th election:

The Central Library will have official voter guides from the State of California on the First, Second and Third Floor Service Desks. Easy Voter Guides in English will also be located at the Service Desks on the First, Second and Third Floors. Easy Voter Guides for Spanish, Chinese, and Vietnamese will be in the World Languages Section. Guides in other languages are also available.

An audio version of the Official State Voter Guide will be behind the Information Desk on the Third Floor. It is only for in-library use. Please be prepared to leave an ID if you use it. We are also cataloging audio versions for circulating and in-library use.

Voter registration cards will be available on the First, Second, Third and Fourth floors. The last day to register for the election is October 20th. Registration applications must be postmarked no later than this date.

Monday, October 13, 2008



"Es sabido que la música popular rioplatense suele expresar quejas, lamentos, sufrimientos, penas de amor y de nostalgia. Tal vez esto pueda explicar el nombre de la milonga, uno de los ritmos típicos platenses, que fue tomado de milonga, palabra que en la lengua africana quimbundo, traída a América por los esclavos, significaba ‘queja’, ‘lamento’, ‘calumnia’ o ‘demanda’. Se cree que tanto la milonga como el tango se derivan, en última instancia, de ritmos africanos que llegaron al continente con los esclavos."

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Teen Reality Checks (a check you can cash!)

Going through the teen section I spotted the Au Pair series by Melissa de la Cruz. The premise is that instead of paying fully trained English nannies totting degrees in early childhood education to watch their kids fulltime, the wealthy would much rather pay the same amount to have their children watched by teens who party like Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, and Britney Spears. Fine, the teens aren’t that ill behaved. But when School Library Journal described how the au pairs take care of “four over privileged, under supervised kids,” I cringed. Under supervised???? Excuse me, but as au pairs isn’t it their jobs to supervise the kids?

Or maybe not.

Check out these books’ covers. One would mistake the world of childcare as one of glamour and fun, a place where young babysitters watch their charges for ten minutes a day before spending the rest of their time scantily clad in the sand. Because what married, middle-aged mother wouldn’t want a bikini-wearing teen with all of her original parts in their original places frolicking in front of her husband? Why it must be high on her wish list, sandwiched between botched Botox injections and male pattern baldness. Note to authors: stop making teens believe they’ll get paid for rolling around on a beach as if they were taking photos for the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition.

Do you know what teen girls should really be reading? I mean besides He’s Just Not That Into You (which an unnamed co-worker feels should be mandatory 8th grade reading).

The Nanny Diaries.

It’s hilarious, and a lot closer to reality to than the Au Pair series. By the third page you can’t put it down as the narrator describes The Interview: “I answer with as much filigree and insouciance as I can muster, trying to slightly cock my head like Snow White listening to the animals. She, in turn, is aiming for more of a Diane Sawyer-pose, looking for answers which will confirm that I am not there to steal her husband, jewelry, friends, or child. In that order.”

And that about sums it up.

Sure, we (meaning teens) would like to think folks will pay untrained individuals tons of money to stay in fabulous homes. The truth of the matter is, if I were married to some rich, handsome, great, rich guy who is rich (it will happen!) and I believed in in-house childcare, we’d either get a manny, or the woman would look like Nanny McPhee and dress like Laura Ingalls.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Annual In-Service Day for Library Staff

School Districts do it. Companies do it. And Sacramento Public Library does it, too.

All libraries are closed Wednesday, October 8, for annual staff in-service development and training. Why Wednesday? Ah ... well, you see, the library is a 7-day operation. No, not at all branches, but some libraries are open evenings, weekends and Sundays, and Wednesday is one of the few days of the week all staff are working. Telephone services are available seven days a week, except for holidays ... and the annual in-service training day.

Online self-service will still be available: look for books in the catalog, renew items online or by phone at 916-264-2952 or 916-264-2953, research homework topics using our licensed magazine indexes and e-research tools - and we'll see you again in person on Thursday, October 9, during regular hours.

Smeerch's photo used with permission.

Friday, October 3, 2008



"En la Atenas del período preclásico, los principales magistrados eran los arcontes: el arconte rey; el polemarco, jefe del ejército; y el arconte epónimo, jefe de gobierno y magistrado principal. Este último daba su nombre al año en que desempeñaba su gestión. En la actualidad, epónimo se aplica al ‘nombre de una persona o de un lugar que designa un pueblo, una época, una enfermedad, una unidad’.Así, el nombre de Napoleón designa la era napoleónica, el apellido del médico británico James Parkinson es epónimo de la enfermedad de Parkinson, y el del ingeniero escocés James Watt, del vatio o watt.Epónimo proviene del griego eponymos ‘el que da su nombre a algo’, formado por epi ‘sobre’ y onymos ‘nombre’. Esta última voz griega también está presente en palabras castellanas como anónimo, homónimo, sinónimo, seudónimo y otras."

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Bring Your Cameras---The Sacramento Ballet is Coming!

Aren't Sundays fabulous?
You don't have to work (unless you're like me, and you actually do have to work), parking is free on the street, and the Central Library offers one great program after another for your viewing pleasure! Last week ArtWorks told folktales, the previous week we enjoyed my storytelling, but while all of these programs were great, there was just something missing from those events...
On Sunday, October 5 th at 2 pm, come to the library to meet characters from The Sacramento Ballet's Alice in Wonderland. Cast members will share the story of their adventures, sign autographs, and pose for pictures. So bring your cameras and don't forget your memory cards!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Walt Disney Drove an Ambulance in the Great War and Timothy Leary was a West Point Cadet...

Really. It happened. Dashiell Hammett, Ernest Hemingway, and Somerset Maugham were also ambulance drivers. The godfather of American Gothic horror, Edgar Allen Poe also walked the long, grey line at West Point. Thomas Ayres' collection of military trivia entitled "Military Miscellany" is a look at war-making through a different lense, one that runs from the heady days of the American Revolution to the dusty allyways of Falluja. Rarely too serious and just plain fascinating, the anecdotes are true insight.

Near the beginning of the American Civil War, Union and Confederate units shared a hospital at Chatanooga. Because the space was behind Union lines, all of the medicine - low in supply - went to the Yankees. For bad wounds, this usually consisted of chloroform and lint, the latter used to keep maggots out of cuts.

On the other hand, the Rebels, were left with nothing. Maggots were left to feed on wounds. Eureka. Curiously enough, Confederate wounds were healing faster than those of the Union. Although far from experts on bacterial infection, the Rebel doctors knew that the maggots were making a considerable difference.

When Union physicians were informed of the find, they remained steadfast, staying with traditional medicines.

Then there's the ghost fleet of July 26, 1942. A fleet of U.S. warships were operated near the Aleutians when their radar picked up large imagery, the inference being that this was a force of Japanese warships heading for the Japanese outpost on Kiska Island. For the next thirty minutes, the U.S. ships fired at the wouldbe enemy. When scout ships were sent out, they found nothing. There was no resolution. Radar officers speculated that it may have been the U.S. radar impulses reflecting off of Alaskan mountain peaks. If this is true, the fleet was actually firing on a reflected image of itself.

Oh, in the class of 1861 at West Point, finishing last in a class of 34 was George A. Custer. Not such a surprise when we look at the history of the Western U.S.

A young Walt Disney as a Red Cross volunteer in France, 1918.