Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year 2014



My resolution for 2014 is to keep this blog going
 for all you out there who enjoy reading here
 and who draw from it.
 I wish you all a safe and happy evening
 and a blessed New Year.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

A Visit To A Little Library


Love the classic feel!
On Christmas Day during my travels up and down the I-91 corridor I took a few minutes and veered off the path of the Dwight D. Eisenhower System of Interstate and Defense Highways. I made a little visit to a little library. It has been sometime since I made an official library blog post. Well, I decided to rectify that matter and visited one of the four Little Free Libraries in my immediate vicinity and one of the seven in Western Mass. I wrote about these beauties in an earlier blog.

The day had a been sunny, beautifully cool Winter's Day. I was returning from the annual Christmas day tradition of breakfast at my Aunt Sally's house in the Warsaw of the West aka Chicopee, MA. I did, however, experience a minor crisis in my plans as I had neglected to take the address of the LFL with me. I had the full intention of going there when I had departed in the morning. I just blanked. And worse, my trusty smartphone could not access the LFL website fully, so while I could see the little house marker on the map it just wouldn't click. Luckily I was able to use my Aunt's computer. Crisis averted!

I think I have that Garfield
I knew that the drive there would be easy as I had looked it up the night prior. No surprises as it was a pleasant drive to LFL #5625 in lovely, sleepy Wilbraham, MA home of Friendly's Ice Cream (Where ice cream makes the meal!). I made am astute observation as I was enroute to my destination. I passed right by the Wilbraham Public Library on the way there. Mental note reserved.

This being my first trip to an LFL I really didn't know what to expect. Would there be cars there? Would there be people in the house looking at me looking at the LFL posted near the mailbox? I'm positive that if any encounter were to happen it would have been amicable. These people want visitors! That is why they are stewards of an LFL. Still though the introvert in me felt weird parking my car in front of a strange house. I have no issues with talking to strangers. I'm not that type of introvert. The situation was new and required appropriate caution. I wondered if there was a proper etiquette in the visit to an LFL? I was learning this in the field. As Fate would have it the house, neigh, the street was devoid of activity. I was in the clear.

So I looked at this quaint box on the post with books in it; taking it all in. I reveled in the moment of first contact. I had wanted to participate in this novel booklover's experiment and here I was. I approved heartily. The LFL was clean and well maintained. The Wintertime decorations about the exterior added to the spirit of the day. The selection inside was impressive. I really did not know what would be available. Would the books be the cans of beets and artichokes people donate to shelters when they clean out their cabinets? Not in the least. There was a nice mix of children's to adult leisure reading. I would imagine that depending on the locale and neighborhood would dictate the mix of book. Here this LFL was directed towards a younger readership though there were clearly some books for a more mature palate.

The Rose Ring
Camelot & Vine

I really liked this journey of exploration. I look forward to seeing what the others have to offer when I visit. And yes! Thank you for asking! I did drop off two books: Petrea Burchard's Camelot & Vine and Anne Faye's The Rose Ring. They are books I have read and know that others would enjoy reading themselves.

LFL #5625

Friday, December 27, 2013

Bringing The Past To Life



King Henry IV of France
Added to the list of things I want to see more of in 2014: more exhibits and materials going online for people around the world to see, more stability in regions of the world troubled by war and turmoil (we can't have people looting and blowing up antiquities) and more 3-D renderings of historical figures. I know that we have paintings, drawings, statues, Madame Tussauds and the like. What we don't have, however, is accuracy. Yes, I know, in many cases the given historical figure had actually sat for the artist, but you only get so much out of a painting.

This is where 3-D biometric renderings are so fascinating. They add a depth and reality to history. One gets to actually see through the wonders of artistically neutral medical science how these people actually looked. You get to see the height (or lack there of), the true skin tone, deformities saved from the artists' pleasing hands. As a historian I find the reality of these re-creations truly enlightening. Seeing these people how their contemporaries and charges saw them puts their story in a clearer light. The final result of these figures is incredible life-like in art and history.
Queen Nefertiti of Egypt

Unfortunately, what is needed in these cases is an intact skull. Those are few and far between. If you do have a skull is it the real skull or a fake? Yet where you do on both counts the results are quite magical. I give credit to the actors and actresses who have portrayed these figures over the years. They have been the ones who we have relied on to perform this enjoyable task. I take nothing away from their craft. They, along with artists who try to be a real as possible, will always be a part of historical re-creation. These renderings will be a small subset due to the lack of available brain boxes, but where and when they can be done I look forward to seeing them.

As I was reading through the comments on a Facebook posting of this subject one poster made an interesting point. Why not put these models in modern clothes to see what they would look like in the modern era? While that has been done in the past it still would be neat idea to see their modern selves. 

In addition to cool uses for this maturing art form would be applying this science to the non-famous people throughout history. I'm sure some have been done, I just can't dig any up at the moment. Google image search gets more useless every day. Anyhow...

Here is a link to Mental Floss which has more of these images and links to their parent sights.

http://mentalfloss.com/article/50567/10-facial-reconstructions-famous-historical-figures

Nicolaus Copernicus



Tuesday, December 17, 2013

An Act of Kindness



What would you do if you were in your 80s and had about $58,000 burning a hole in your pocket? Take a trip around the world for a wicked goodbye tour? Maybe buy that car you always wanted, but was just too prudent to purchase? Maybe give your home a practical upgrade and just live out the rest of your days in comfort? One anonymous man decided that he wanted to donate it.

People donate money all the time. Nothing really out of the ordinary there, right? There is the old adage you can't take it with you (despite what the Pharaohs thought). No, one octogenarian wanted to something not only nice, but beneficial for the newest generation. He bought books... that's right... ¥6,000,000 worth of books. This man just walked into Kato Shokan, a local bookstore in Kushiro, Hokkaido.

Now let me set up this scene for you. You need to understand how this looked to an average Japanese citizen. This man walked into the equivalent of mom and pop bookstore in Fairbanks, Alaska dropped $58,000 in cash on the counter and said "Go buy a 1000 books each for three grade schools, eh, something the kids would like." I love this guy. One of the school libraries couldn't even absorb all the books. They opened a Santa's Library in a corner in the main hall.

The schools got new dictionaries, grammar books, novels and other materials. This man either had a lot of karma to buy back or he really just wanted to something massively nice before he died. He wanted no credit, no press or adulation for his philanthropy. He just walked in and did it. He surely has a story that he is keeping to himself. Whatever his story is the result is the same - a mark of kindness in the Christmas season.

Here are some links to the story.

Japan Today Story

Rocket News 24 (hilarious video with this link)