Sunday, 25 November 2012

Sunday Novmeber 25, 2012 The Long Count

It’s a month until a proposed end cycle for this world has supposedly been calculated to end. You may have heard it referred to as the End of the Mayan Long Count. This is a contested date for many reasons, ranging from ancient alien encounters to brain wave synchrony with god-like beings. But as Giorgio Tsoulakos claims, these weren’t actually gods, but “flesh and blood extraterrestrials.”

The claim that ancient aliens influenced ancient Sumerians, Indians, Central and South Americans and may have influenced European megalithic is apparently evidenced through rock art, monuments, language influences and legends. An excellent introduction to this field of research is the History Channel’s series, Ancient Aliens. Season Three has just finished production but the Thunder Bay Public Library has Season’s One and Two.

If you want to go deeper into the mystery, there are many options available. Some authors such as David Childress and Erich von Daniken are featured on the series, but they also have their own books available. Childress wrote Extra-terrestrial Archeology (1995) and Lost Cities and Ancient Mysteries of South America (2003).

Erich von Daniken is a well-known name in the Ancient Alien field. His early book, Chariots of the Gods, originally published in 1968 and since then has been reprinted and sold millions of copies.

Of course, these authors need fuel for their fire, and because the nature of their theory is ancient civilization, it is easy to find a lot of the text sources that the authors use. The Mahabarata, for instance, contains information that some theorists claim refers to flying saucers called by ancient Indians, Vimana. Out of curiosity, an interested person could read translations of the Mahabarata. In fact, the whole Dewey section known as “the 200s” contains information from all sorts of ancient religious cultures.

But if legends are not enough to confirm credulity, a dedicated researcher could look into how an intergalactic civilization could get to earth. One possibility is via wormholes. This would be, say, two gravitational points in space-time that, via gravitational contact, create a conduit beyond space-time that could potentially act as a tunnel for travel across the universe. But how does a UFO do such a thing? According to the Ancient Alien theorists, the Mahabarata states that the Vimanas functioned by spinning a heavy metal, such as mercury, so that it would create its own gravito-electric field/time warp.

A positive thing about such theorizations, and this one in particular, is the date stamp on the event. This upcoming winter solstice, according to Ancient Alien theorists, is going to be a galactic alignment that only occurs every 25,000 or so years. Why the god-like aliens have to wait for this alignment is not clear, although it is related to the so-called House of Aquarius, the dawning new age. Even here is another point of contention – who are the gods and why are they returning?

According to mainstream and also Ancient Alien theorists, nine gods are returning, and we don’t know how friendly, if at all, they will be.

Chris Waite

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Sunday November 18, 2012 Help for Procrastination

Exam season is coming up and everyone knows what that means: procrastination. Sure, you should be studying. But suddenly the dishes need doing. Your room needs cleaning. And why don’t you get ahead by studying for next week’s test, rather than the one that’s tomorrow?  If this sounds familiar, don’t panic!  The library is here to help.

An excellent place to start is Piers Steel’s The Procrastination Equation: How to Stop Putting Things Off and Start Getting Things Done. The title is a bit misleading; this is a book about why we procrastinate, rather than on how to stop procrastinating. Steel’s book explores many of the myths associated with procrastination; his prose can be a bit dense with citations, but the book is well researched and very interesting to read.

Of course, if you don’t have time for theory and want to get right into some practical tips on how to be more productive, the library has several excellent titles. Rita Emmett’s The Procrastinator’s Handbook: Mastering the Art of Doing it Now approaches procrastination as a habit, giving you many tips and tricks to help you break the pattern of putting things off. Emmett is a professional speaker who gives seminars on procrastination; reading this book is like sitting in on one of her talks, providing you with much-needed motivation to break free of procrastinating.

Another option is Eat that Frog!  21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time by Brian Tracy. Tracy has studied procrastination for many years, trying out many strategies to see what works best. This book is the result, his “twenty-one most powerful principles on personal effectiveness.”  Eat that Frog! is focussed on getting more done at work, but you can easily use these strategies in other areas of your life, too.

If you need an easy and fast read, give Put Your Rear into Gear: Understanding and Breaking Free from Procrastination by Jeanine Reiss a try. At first glance this book seems to be written for a younger audience, with goofy stick-figure pictures and a relatively simplistic design. But don’t be fooled; Put Your Rear into Gear is full of many great tips that will help you stop procrastinating.

If you’ve got a little more time and want some exercises to help you get to the bottom of your procrastination habit, Time Efficiency Makeover is the workbook for you. It will help you figure out in which areas you struggle; it has some helpful tips to assist you in overcoming those problem areas as well. Just be sure to answer the questions on separate paper so other people can enjoy the book, too!

But what if you are a parent who is concerned that your child is procrastinating too much on homework and studying?  We have a couple of books for you as well. An excellent place to start is Rita Emmett’s The Procrastinating Child: A Handbook for Adults to Help Children Stop Putting Things Off. This time Emmett shares her expertise on procrastination with parents who want to teach their children healthy time management habits. Another great book is See You Later, Procrastinator! (Get it Done) by Pamela Espeland and Elizabeth Verdick. Like Put Your Rear into Gear, See You Later, Procrastinator! is full of great tips but written in a fun way that makes it really easy to read. This is the perfect book for tweens and older children, but it will even teach adults a thing or two about beating procrastination.

So if you’re having trouble sitting down to study, perhaps a trip to the library is in order.  Just be sure you save enough time to put the tips you learn into action!

Shauna Kosoris

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Sunday November 11, 2012 Reading to Babies

“They don’t know what I’m saying,” “babies have short attention spans,” “he/she just wants to eat the book,” and “I feel silly reading to a baby,” are all arguments I have heard against reading books to babies.  Well, here are some arguments from the other side . . .

Babies do not need to understand what  you are saying at first, but they will greatly benefit from hearing your voice and intonation. Also, reading requires you to be close, relaxed and speaking directly to the little one and this can be a good and restful time for both parent and child. If babies never hear the words spoken aloud, how will they ever recognize them and eventually say them and read them? Babies who have been read to have huge advantages in developing skills to understand their world, build the necessary skills for learning words eventually,  for learning how to read .They are in a far better position to be able to learn everything else as well.

So work with the babies’ short attention span. You do not have to read a big book to them.  Choose something short and start out reading for just 10 to 15 minutes a day. As the child gets older, introduce stories of longer length and complexity.

Choose board books so that you won’t have anxiety about the baby ripping the pages or gumming the book. Board books are designed to be sturdy and enduring.

Don’t worry  about feeling silly reading aloud to your baby – your baby already loves you and will love the attention you are giving them as you speak melodically to them. And once they do start to understand you, they will relish the chance to have your attention as you take a “book break” together.  Bring them to the Library where we have storytimes for babies, toddlers and preschoolers. Meet other babies and enjoy songs, rhymes and stories as you discover what your baby likes best.

Begin reading books that you like. By age four or five months babies are usually getting interested in objects that they can recognize and will like books with pictures of pets,  babies, balls, cars, bottles, and the other things in their life.

Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.  Babies will start to learn the names of things and to understand the cues for what is going to happen next based on the tone of your voice and how you tell the story. Repetition is the way that babies and children learn best and you’ll soon discover that they have an endless appetite for their favourite images, stories, colours and books.

By about age one, children will start to imitate the storyteller and want to turn pages, hold the book or point to the pictures they like.  Why not borrow books from the Library to “test out” with them.  The Library offers such a wide variety that you should have no trouble finding something which interests you both. 
Do this and you will be rewarded with a child whose vocabulary is rich; a toddler who can express him/herself and who is better equipped to understand this world and to interact with it and learn. By the time they start school, children who have been read to since they were babies have recognizable advantages over children who have not.

So read, read, read. Let them explore books with all of their senses. I promise you that reading to them is one of the best things you can for your child’s overall health, happiness and development.

The Children’s & Youth Services department at your Public Library wants to be your support as you introduce books into your baby’s life. We welcome parents and grandparents and offer books and programs to assist your child take those first steps into literacy.

Some Good Books for Baby Are:

Kisses Kisses Baby-O
Grumpy Bird
Goodnight Moon
Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You See?

Angela Meady

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Sunday November 4, 2012 Young Adult Books Fit for Adults

In my last column I spoke about adult authors who were branching out into writing for a teen audience. At the same time, there is a growing audience of adults who are reading titles classified as young adult. Often it is the “big” titles like The Hunger Games that successfully cross over, but there are many other YA books that are worthy of a wider audience. Quite a few older books that have attained classic status would be classified as “young adult” if published today, so you might be missing some amazing reads just because they are in a different section! These selected authors and titles could appeal to readers of all ages, despite the Young Adult sticker on their spines.

If you liked The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon, you might enjoy Beverley Brenna’s books about 18-year-old Taylor Jane Simon, a young woman with Asperger’s syndrome. Taylor struggles and triumphs like any young adult, but also copes with feelings of isolation and having a different perspective than the rest of the world. The first book in the trilogy, Wild Orchid, is also a ‘book club in a bag’ title.

Libba Bray writes both historical fantasies and realistic fiction and incorporates satire, absurdist touches, and feminist characters into her works. She moves easily between very different styles, as her Going Bovine has been compared to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy while and The Diviners, her most recent work, is set in 1920’s New York and features flappers, a mystery, and the occult.

If thrillers and suspense are more your thing, try April Henry’s YA work. The Night She Disappeared is a tense mystery about a young woman kidnapped while making a pizza delivery. The narration moves between the kidnapped girl, her coworkers, and the kidnapper, ratcheting up the tension as the kidnapper reflects on his past crimes and what he plans to do to his current victim. Stolen is another tense thriller that is almost entirely composed of interactions between just two characters: the kidnapper and the kidnapped who slowly comes to wonder whether she is being held hostage by a psychopath or her soul mate.

John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars is a realistic and painful account of two terminal teenagers finding love together, and his other books are similarly emotionally compelling. First loves and the disillusionment that comes with it is a constant theme. Despite the heavy topics, his books are also witty and compelling.

If you enjoy noir mysteries, you might like You Killed Wesley Payne by Sean Beaudoin or Nickel Plated by Aric Davis. Both books feature hard-boiled teen detectives solving cases with red herrings, femme fatales, and the constraint of being mostly ignored by the adults in authority. Despite their external similarities, the content of the books is very different: while Payne has plenty of dark humour, Nickel Plated has an overall dark tone with painful, tough content despite its often funny dialogue and shout-outs to classic noir authors like Raymond Chandler.

Finally, A.S. King is an unusual writer in the YA arena in that she uses magic realism in her otherwise realistic stories (a sentient pagoda reflects on the book’s action in Please Ignore Vera Dietz). Her strong yet flawed female heroines are full of unrealized potential and yearning, and the intricate plots and dark humour make her books especially enjoyable reads.

Laura Prinselaar