Beau and Theo: An Adorable Friendship


I was never a dog person until I met my fiance. He has had a dog in his life for as long as he can remember and owns his own bundle of joy named Summer. Summer and I had a rough go at it in the beginning, but now we have come to a mutual understanding, and I can’t imagine life without her. Given that Summer has created a soft spot in my heart for these furry beings, it was easy for me to melt when I first saw Jessica Shyba’s blog post and pictures about her son Beau and new puppy Theo’s naptime antics. The Shyba family had recently adopted Theo from a local shelter, and he instantly became a member of the family. He became especially close with young Theo and wanted to snuggle with him during naptime. The resulting pictures are too adorable for words. For anyone who follows the developing images, Shyba recently signed a book deal as well, with a slotted 2015 publication year. Take a look at some sample images to see the cuteness that I’m referring to:




If you’re interested in bringing a dog into your family, take a look at these books:

The Adoption Option: Choosing and Raising the Shelter Dog for You

The Dog Selector: How to Choose the Right Dog for You

Dogs: The Ultimate Dictionary of Over 1,000 Dog Breeds

We’re Having a Puppy!: From the Big Decision through the Crucial First Year


Kids Celebrate National Poetry Month


April’s full of holidays, there’s much to celebrate
Don’t forget Poetry Month–Have fun!  Don’t hesitate!

  • Check out a poetry book

janeczko_firefly-july2Some of my favorite poetry read alouds are the brand new collection Firefly July: A Year of Very Short Poems, The Bill Martin Jr. Big Book of PoetryForget-Me-Nots: Poems to Learn by Heart and Forgive Me: I Meant to Do It: False Apology Poems.  Or, play a poetry guessing game with the tricky poems in Spot the Plot: A Riddle Book of Riddles.  Visit one of the Poetry Month displays here in the library for other great choices!

  • Try a poemstart

Read a Rhyme, Write a Rhyme and Pizza, Pigs and Poetry by former Children’s Poet Laureate and all-around silly guy Jack Prelutsky are fantastic books featuring poemstarts, or the first few lines of a poem that kids can finish on their own.  For example, “Every day when I go out, I fill my shoes with sauerkraut….” Poemstarts are great inspiration for young poets, and you never know what direction a poemstart will take you!

  • Download a poetry app

Word Mover, created by ReadWriteThink, is like magnetic poetry for your tablet or smartphone.  Even better, the app is free to download and is available for both Apple and Android devices!

  • Visit Poetry4Kids, the website of our current Children’s Poet Laureate Kenn Nesbitt

Read some of Kenn’s hilarious poems, start your own poetry journal, or get started writing your own poems!  Kenn has great instructions on writing list poems and cinquains, which are simple forms of poetry that are fun for even the youngest would-be poet to try!

The best part of National Poetry Month is that it gives everyone the chance to become a poet.  Here’s a list poem written at the Find Your Rhyme program by Carly, Sofia, Braden, Aarav, Sofia F., Caleb, Nathan, Michael, Katie, Collin, Ethan, Chloe and Aleksandra:

Spring Poem Compressed


Hummingbirds drinking nectar
Bees pollinating flowers
Butterflies looking for a treat
White petunias blooming
Peregrine falcons searching for lemonade
Worms tickle your toes
Rain falls on the ground for worms and for flowers
Pigs play in the mud–
But I hope I don’t get stuck!


The Value of Local Historical Societies for Genealogy Research


Kuta BrothersWhen we think of genealogy research in the 21st century, we think of the Internet or visiting a library collection.  Have you ever considered the collection of a local historical society?

A few years ago I became involved with a joint project between the Arlington Heights Memorial Library and the Arlington Heights Historical Museum. The Museum has collections of materials about individuals and families that may have resided or worked in Arlington Heights.  The goal of the project was to get the information online in the Illinois Digital Archives database.

My task was to create a well-written factual account about these people, using the photos, clippings, captions and notes supplied with the photo that would be included in the record.  Where did all these pieces come from? Some had been proactively collected by the Museum, but a lot of it came into their possession when someone dropped off family memorabilia.  These types of donations are interesting in that, while no one else wanted them, someone felt that it simply shouldn’t go in the garbage either.  Someone might find this valuable!  Once it’s dropped off at the local museum/historical society, what happens to the materials?

The curator and/or volunteers make an acquisition record and store the materials according to their procedures.  How well it is protected and indexed depends on the capabilities and staffing levels of the volunteer fleet. There’s my plug for helping out at your local historical society.

Researching-wise, don’t forget that this type of information about your descendants may be tucked away in a folder at the local museum near your ancestor’s home. If you are unable to travel there, contact them by phone or email through their website and hopefully you’ll acquire new information for your tree.


Ten Percent Myth

I thought people stopped believing this myth and urban legend, but I watched a movie trailer recently and one of the lines was again about how “people only

Arthur Sasse/AFP/Getty Images

Arthur Sasse/AFP/Getty Images

use ten percent of their brain.” Whenever I hear this I cringe inside. Think about it for a second. Does it make any sense to you that we would have these huge brains that are ninety percent wasted? Aside from a few vestigial parts, you use your entire body. Thankfully, I do not hear this as often from actual people I interact with but rather this myth gets quoted in the media. The media is often full of mistruth, so the fact that this falsehood is perpetuated by them does not surprise me. Did you at one time believe in this myth? You are not alone and don’t feel too bad. Some people believe that KFC uses mutant six-legged chickens based on an urban legend they heard. Somewhere along the way the ten percent myth morphed and got attributed to Einstein, which makes it even worse. Einstein would probably recoil in disgust to hear his name associated with something so unscientific.

There are plenty of reputable sources that reference this and explain this myth.
Come check out more interesting books about urban legends here at the library.

Effecting the Masses


In this round of reviews I will be reviewing the video game franchise Mass Effect. The games all share a futuristic theme and take place after humans discover that there are, in fact, aliens out there. The game is a RPG or role playing game, which focuses on combat system and overall story progression.


Mass Effect Mass Effect:The trilogy begins with the premise that there is a galactic counsel consisting of aliens and humans. When the humans discover that their colonies are going missing, they decide to investigate. The player’s character is a commander on the ship that is investigating the disappearances. This game is on the shorter side. It took me about 17 hours to complete the full game along with a lot of the side quests. During the course of the game, I fell in love with the combat system. It allows you to shoot without ammo, instead using a heating system where if you shoot too many times in a row without taking a break the gun overheats. At that point, you have ten seconds before you can shoot again.


Mass Effect 2Mass Effect 2: This game has a much more in-depth story line than the first Mass Effect game. In fact, it took me about 23 hours to finish the game, compared to 17 for ME1.  Mass Effect 2 changes the combat system that I enjoyed in Mass Effect 1. Instead of weapons overheating, there is now an ammo system. Personally, I really liked the overheating, as you got to use your favorite weapon but you had to make the shots count or risk overheating. Now with the ammo system, even if you make your shots count you will still run out of ammo on certain weapons. I don’t want to spoil the story, so all I will say is that it transitions flawlessly from the first game.


Mass Effect 3 Mass Effect 3: I still have yet to beat this game, but from what I have heard, I don’t want to. After the third game was released, players started finishing the game and discovered that no matter what choices you make throughout the series, you always get the same ending. This upset many people, and while I can’t say that the ending is bad, I think that I would be upset too if I had poured roughly 100 hours into a video game series and it had a canned ending. Ending aside, the game play is nice. It uses the same combat system as ME2, with a few tweaks. ME3 also adds a new feature, online multiplayer gaming! Even though the game has been out for over two years, there are still people playing online. Playing the multiplayer option also boosts your solo campaign, with a feature called galactic readiness. As the name suggests, in the multiplayer story line, something is threatening the galaxy and how prepared your character is will influence the fate of the galaxy.


2014 Academy Award Winners and Nominees – Are they worth watching?


I have seen most of this year’s Oscar® nominated films and have to say it was not exactly a banner year for great movies.  I will give you my opinions but do watch them for yourself and feel free to disagree with me.

12 Years a Slave – I have been a fan of actor Chiwetel Ejiofor for many years, and when I heard he’d been cast in this important film I was thrilled.  Although it ultimately did win most of the major film awards for the year, I have to say I was disappointed.  The film never had that sense of urgency and intimacy that its very subject matter demanded.  I blame the director.  There were way too many scenes where the lead simply stares off into space, followed by scenes of intense brutality (definitely not for the squeamish).  The film as a whole never really flowed or gave most of the actors a chance to really shine.  Based on a true story, this biographical story was previously filmed for PBS as Solomon Northup’s Odyssey: Twelve Years as a Slave.  (FYI, this title is also immediately available to you via the downloadable/streaming video site called Hoopla – find it on our website under ‘Downloadables’.  Never used Hoopla?  Ask any of our staff members how to find this and thousands of other movies, tv shows, music and audio books — free to view using your library card!)



Captain Phillips – Possibly the best of this year’s crop, another biographical film, based on much more recent events did have a great sense of urgency in the storytelling.  Tom Hanks was perfectly cast in the title role as was the unknown Barkhad Abdi as the leader of the Somali pirates.  Highly recommended.



American Hustle – I remember the Abscam sting operation when it first hit the news.  The FBI decided to target various politicians to see if they would accept bribes; what a surprise – many did.  This movie, with its stellar cast of previous award winners and nominees, recreated the era of this operation playing con men, politicians, and agents with all the gusto they could muster.  A good film, but not a great one.american-hustle-600

Philomena – Another film based on a real life story.  A young woman, in early 1950’s Ireland, is pregnant out of wedlock, and is sent to a convent to have her baby, who is later ‘sold’ by the church to an American couple wanting to adopt a child.  Years later a reporter/writer discovers her story and helps her discover what happened to her son.  Dame Judi Dench is, as always, brilliant, but the performance that really stood out to me was that of Steve Coogan (who also co-wrote the script).  He usually plays very broad comedic roles, but he was a revelation in this film, which was obviously very close to his heart.  Highly recommended.  On a similar subject and also well worth watching is the 2002 film The Magdalene Sisters.



Dallas Buyers Club – In the early days of the HIV/AIDS crisis, when not much was known of the disease except that it was (then) 100% fatal, a homophobic drunken rodeo hustler receives his death sentence news with denial, and then with determination to fight it.  He does a great deal of research and discovers that there are drugs available elsewhere in the world that might help him and decides to bend and/or break the law in order to get them.  He goes into business with a gay man to smuggle the drugs into the U.S. where he begins selling them to others suffering from the disease.  The performances by the two leads (Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto) were excellent and both received Oscars® for their work.  Not an easy movie to watch, but it was very well done.



Nebraska – This little film would, in my opinion, never have gotten all the nominations or hype if it had come out earlier in the year.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good movie, but if it had been released in March 2013, it would have been forgotten by the Academy long before nominations were made.  Notable for the performances by Bruce Dern, June Squibb and Will Forte, this ‘road’ picture tells the story of an aging alcoholic father who believes he’s won a major prize in what everyone else sees as a marketing come-on scheme, and insists on going from Montana to Nebraska to claim his winnings.



Gravity – Great special effects and very little scientific accuracy abound in this space survival story.  Family members who saw this on a big screen and in 3D told me they were absolutely blown away by it.  I, who saw it on dvd, was most certainly not.  I found it rather trite and kept looking at my watch wondering when it would be over.  If you like basically plotless movies driven entirely by SFX, this may just be the movie for you.  It was not the movie for me.



Her – I have yet to see this film, but again I have a feeling if it had been released early in 2013 it too would have been long forgotten by the time the nominations rolled around.  A lonely man (Joaquin Phoenix) purchases a talking operating system with artificial intelligence and slowly falls in love ‘her’.  People whose opinions I trust have given it a resounding m’eh.



The Wolf of Wall Street – Based on the true story of Jordan Belfort, from his rise as a wealthy stock-broker living the high life to his fall involving crime, corruption and the government.  Director Martin Scorsese seems to have found a favorite star in Leonardo DiCaprio (I believe this is the fifth time they have worked together on a major film).  Not for those easily offended by depictions of drug use and nudity, or by the excessive use of swearing, this very long (3 hours) black comedy is one you will either hate or love.




Kids eReading Room


Looking for fantastic children’s downloadable books? Look no further! We are excited to let you know that the North Suburban Digital Consortium’s Kids eReading Room is now available.


No more sorting through grown-up books to find the books your children want to read. Once inside the eReading Room, all searches will show kids and teens eBooks and eAudiobooks only.  Titles can be sorted by subject, collection or reading level.

You can feel comfortable knowing that your children are browsing and borrowing books that are age, grade, and reading level appropriate. Checking out eBooks and eAudiobooks through the Kids & Teens eReading Room works the same way as checking out materials through the normal OverDrive site.

Used OverDrive in the past? The Adobe Digital Editions and Overdrive Media Console applications that you have on your laptop, tablet or smartphone will work with the new eReading Room, so there’s no need to download anything new. 


Windows XP Moving Toward Extinction


Well, nearly 12 years later, Microsoft has announced that it will no longer be offering xpsupport for Windows XP. While many of us might wonder “Wait, they were still offering support for that old thing?” The truth of it is that 30 percent of businesses and consumers are still using XP for everyday use. According to a Daily Herald article, “Analysts say that if a PC is more than five years old, chances are it’s running XP.”

So, what does that mean for us?

It probably means that you should consider upgrading to a newer Windows platform or face running into issues of freezing or crashing computers and a greater risk of being hacked.

Unfortunately though, many businesses that still run XP have put off upgrading to newer systems because of the cost and complications that come along with it.

With that I ask you, are you still running XP and if so, will you upgrade?

If you answered yes, have no fear, we are here to help!

The library offers classes on Windows 8.1 on a rotating basis. Our next Windows 8.1 class will be on April 30th at 2PM in the library’s small meeting room. To register, stop by or call the library or register online now.

Also, check out our new Digital Learning Center page for a full list of our course offerings, as well as descriptions and handouts.



Democracy 101 Program



Are you considering becoming a U.S. Citizen? Are you a citizen and wondering about your role in the American democracy? Are you baffled by the recent primary election and wonder what the fall election is all about? Democracy starts with you! Learn about local, state and federal government structure, its role in your life and how to shape your community through civic engagement. Learn how and why you should participate and what your rights are in our democratic process.

The Indian Trails Public Library District is hosting programs in several languages:

April 15th in English

April 23rd in Polish

April 29th in Spanish


The Martian


The Martian by Andy Weir (in print, ebook also here, and audiobook). Read it. Enough said.martian

Okay. Maybe a little more.

Andy Weir is a space geek who decided to write a book about an astronaut who got stuck on Mars. If this sounds like the plot of a bad 1960′s SF movie then you’re right because it is (the movie is available from the library on DVD or Blu-Ray). There are a few differences to be aware of. For example Mark Watney, Weir’s protagonist, is smarter than the movie’s Commander Kit Draper. Commander Draper had a monkey, flammable “rocks” that released oxygen when burned, and an alien to help him survive; Watney had Thanksgiving dinner, two rovers, and a hard drive full of 70′s music and television. Another difference is that you will be smarter after reading the book than you were before. Reading about smart people doing smart things — even when they mess up and nearly kill themselves in the process — will do that for you.

Some reviewers have expressed concern that there is some math in the book. There is a little. There is also some chemistry, physics, agronomy, and Three’s Company jokes. Only the latter is hazardous. The important thing is that Weir got it right. Not in the “take a look at the minutiae of my research” way that some writers fall into (it worked for Tom Clancy, but not many others). Instead Weir gives us just enough of the science to understand what Watney is trying to do. Enough that, if you remember your high school classes, you get to see what disaster is about to happen even as Watney does.

If you read Robert Zubrin’s The Case for Mars (1996 – available through interlibrary loan) then you know the basics of how Weir’s Mars program works. Zubrin doesn’t advocate the cycling ship that Weir uses to bring Watney and his crew to Mars, but it is a well known idea (originally proposed by Buzz Aldrin). Elements of both of those techniques play roles in Watney’s survival and escape plan.

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