Friday, July 10, 2020

Red Rover Red Rover

MARS!! 
The Planet Mars
NASA plans a Perseverence Rover Mission to Mars this July/August (2020), since Mars and Earth will be in good positions to make a long-distance trip between them a bit shorter than it would be otherwise.  The mission will have the rover robot gather up evidence to see if there is or was life on Mars!

So here are a number of fun things to do to learn about Mars:

This links to a wonderful powerpoint presentation all about Mars, a guessing game where you rack up points with your guide Marvin the Martian, called IMAGINE MARS:  An Interactive Journey Through Time.  It gives an overview of Mars from astronomical history to books and movies to  NASA missions.  Very cool.  

Sign up for a (bilingual!) STEM newsletter and learn even more nifty things!


These are some clever STEM crafts to explore:
                                   Make a Cardboard Rover!
                                          Here's mine...but it could definitely use some work!

Make a Paper Mars Helicopter!          (This one is a bit easier).
Mars-scape
Mars-scape



If you like games,
 here is a whole variety pack of nifty space games:

Free Kid Science Apps!  (Space Science Games)
(sponsored by the Space Science Institute/NSF/NASA)
Rover Coder, Planet Families, Planet Families 2, Matter Sorter, Space Stage, Solar Vision, Star Maze, Rubble!

And a whole page of space games you can play straight through a browser!

A website with all kinds of space info and fun for kids...

Fascinating interactive space website!

Perseverence Rover you can mouse over for info, rotate, look all over virtually!

And some neat information about the Mission:
Perseverance Rover Illustration
Perseverance Rover Illustration
        
         Don't just stand around, go have a great time with Mars!

Bixby & Walston
Bill Bixby and Ray Walston from "My Favorite Martian"

Friday, June 19, 2020

Returning Checkouts

Bob & Howard (ducks) on big fan
 "Hey Bob," waved Howard.

"Howdy Howard," Bob returned.


"Whatcha thinking about?" Howard asked.


"I've decided I'm a BIG FAN of people who return their items in a timely fashion," Bob smiled.


"I kinda get that," Howard agreed, looking at the fan.  "But why seem so concerned?"


"I feel for the people...I don't want them to rack up fines and have troubles," pouted Bob.


"Why would they do that?" Howard seemed mystified.


"Well, there were about a thousand things out in March, but there was no way to return stuff then, so all the due dates were just extended.  Now the return box has been open for 2 weeks and normal actions like fines will restart on July 1.  Only about a tenth of the checkouts have come back," worried Bob.


"Can't they just renew things?" wondered Howard.


"Nope, they can't renew any more for what was already out.  And because of the one week quarantine, there's hardly any more time to return stuff without starting to get fines!" Bob squawked.


"How's that?" Howard was curious.


"Today, for example, is the 19th, so if you turned in your book or movie today by 5PM, say, add 7 days before it is handled again to be checked in," posited Bob.


Howard looked into the air.  "Uh...19 plus 7, carry the one, er, 26!"


"Yup," Bob acknowledged, "your items would be checked in on the 26th.  You'd be ok."


"But if I brought them back on the 25th?" Howard continued.  


"That would be 25 plus 7 so then they'd be checked in on the 2nd of July and you'd have an overdue fine." Bob stared down dejectedly.


"I thought there was a grace period?" added Howard.


"That is the quarantine period," Bob declared.


"Oh boy, I'd better see if I have anything to turn in, then!" flustered Howard fluttered off.


Bob and Howard (ducks) on bookdrop
 

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Understanding Curbside

"Why so glum, Howard?"
 Howard facing Bob (rubber ducks)
"I want to read an actual book, Bob!"
 
                  "So read a book, Howard."

Bob facing Howard (rubber ducks)

"The library's closed so I can't check one out, Bob!"

"No, remember, I told you the library is open for curbside service," Bob stated patiently.    


"I forgot," blinked Howard. 
"Uh, what does that mean?" Howard looked at Bob a little sheepishly.


Bob & Howard

"It means you can check out books and stuff, but you have to do it
a different way than by just going into the library," Bob announced.

"How do you mean, Bob?" Howard inquired. 

Bob & Howard by phone





"You can call the library at 210-684-0720 and talk to the staff--
just ask for the item you want!  


Or you can go online to the Leon Valley Public Library's catalog at  https://leonvalley.biblionix.com/catalog/ and reserve something--it's called 'putting on hold,'" Bob informed Howard.

"How do I know they have what I want, or even how I know what I want?" puzzled Howard.

"Just browse through the catalog, or talk to a staff member," Bob answered.





Bob looking left

"Oh, ok.  So how do I order a book or movie from the catalog?" Howard wanted to know.

"Simply go to the catalog page and log in to your account.  There's a box in the upper right corner that says Log in to your account.  You type your card number in the top line--you don't need the zeroes in front of the number--and your phone number--you don't need the area code if it is 210--or password--if you made your own--in the lower box line." Bob said matter-of-factly.


Log in catalog


"What if I have trouble?" worried Howard. "Like if I can't remember my card number, or I changed my phone number recently or something?"

"Call the library and talk to a live person, or send an email to ask what to do through the Contact Us link at the lower left corner of the catalog.  A box also drops down from the log in boxes if you don't fill 'em in, asking if you need help," assured Bob.

Howard looking right





"That's handy!  Alrighty.  So if I log in without problems, then what do I do?" Howard continued.

 





"You find what you want in the catalog...when you click on the item you are interested in, there is a Reserve this item button to select what you want.  Click on that and you'll put that book or movie or audiobook on hold," Bob replied.

Reserve in catalog

Howard considered that a moment.  "Ah.  Then what?"

Bob took a breath.  "Then you wait to be contacted by library staff--they have to see if the item you asked for is available, after all--and you schedule an appointment to pick up your request."

"I need to make an appointment?  Just for me?" Howard seemed surprised.

Howard in the crepe myrtle

"Yup.  The staff will leave your request out on a porch table for you to drop by and pick up at your scheduled time, so there is a minimum of contact to keep the bad virus at bay," Bob nodded wisely.

"Oh, I see.  I guess I can do that," Howard agreed thoughtfully.

"Go get a book!" Bob encouraged.

Bob in the crepe myrtle

"Definitely!" Howard quacked excitedly.

"Just one thing, Bob," Howard paused.

"What?" Bob chirped.





Bob & Howard on the curb


"Why is it called 'curb' service?  You didn't mention a curb at all," Howard pondered.




 

"It means you drive up to the curb to get your books rather than come into the library," Bob extolled.  "And it curbs your hunger for books, quackquack!"


 
"Ha ha!" giggled Howard.  "I see."  And he waddled off to find the library catalog.   

Howard with books






 

Friday, June 12, 2020

Howard Learns to Zoom

Bob the duck
"Hi Howard, how're things?"


 Howard the duck"Oh wow, the Library is going to have a virtual program!  But they say it
will be 'by Zoom,' what does that mean, Bob?"




"Well, that's easy," said Bob.  "
Zoom is a program platform that lets you see other people wherever they are using Zoom and you can even talk to them, like a video-phone!  And they can see you, too, if you have a web-camera.  All you have to do is click on the link they give you or cut-and-paste the link into a browser, and you can join in!"

"Great!" wiggled Howard.  "Uh, what does that mean?"

"A little before the program is to start, the Library host will post a link, an address that looks like https://zoom.us/ and a bunch of numbers or such.  Should be able to mouse-click on that and it will take you to another page in the browser," Bob informed.



Zoom invitation
A Zoom invitation

"Browser?" Howard was unsure.

"The window on the computer where you see other websites and places, like the Facebook LVPL Summer Reading group page you started from," Bob stated patiently.

"Ok," Howard nodded.

"If that doesn't work for some reason, you can highlight the address--click the mouse at the beginning of the address and drag it across the address line to the end--it turns another color like using a highlighter pen. 

Highlighting
Highlighting





Let go without clicking anywhere, then click the right mouse button on that color line to see a drop-down menu.  

Copying
Copying
 


Choose Copy and click on that, then click on a new browser tab 

Opening a new tab
Opening a new tab

 
and right-click into the search bar at the top, choosing and clicking on Paste this time,"  Bob breathed in deeply.







Pasting
Pasting 


"Wow," said Howard.  "I dunno if I can do all that."

"You can also press down on the Control button and letter C key at the same time on your keyboard in order to copy, and Control plus the letter V key to paste.  It's actually a snap," insisted Bob.




Zoom!
Zoom!
 


 "Sure," muttered Howard.  "Anyway, then what?"

"Your browser will go to the Zoom site and a little pop-up box will inform you that you need to install a little Zoom program for the meeting.  You just click on that and it will do that for you.  Then just follow the instructions.  Sometimes you'll need the Meeting ID code--the other line given to you with the meeting address with a bunch of numbers--in order to get into the right meeting, so you'll need to cut-and-paste that into a join-meeting box, if it asks for that, and a password."

"Mm hmm," Harold agreed rather skeptically.

"Click on this link, it shows a short video of a lady named Marcia explaining how to do all this, probably a lot better than I am,"  Bob happily provided the link below to Howard.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9isp3qPeQ0E
Joining a Zoom Call for the First Time; 

Fun and Easy Online Connection
--Marcia Chadly from the Creative Life Center

"There are a lot of other videos to help you with this, too, but I happened to like this one," Bob added.

After Howard watched the video, he was relieved.
"I guess that isn't quite so hard to do," Howard admitted.

Bob approved, "When you've done it a time or two, you'll be a master at it!"

"Howard the Zoom-Master!" Howard chuckled.

Howard the Zoom-Master


Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Return of the Construction Duckies

A few of you may remember the Construction Duckies, Bob and Howard, who narrated the construction of the LVPL Children's Wing and helped explain things during difficult moments and our last little closing.  Occasionally they pop up to tell silly jokes or make little points.  Just happened to overhear them recently:

2 duckies in crepe myrtle

"Hey Howard!" yelled Bob.
"Hi Bob!" responded Howard.
"Long time no see!" Bob chortled.
"Yeah.  Don't want to get that bird flu," Howard confessed.
"Uh, I think it's COVID-19," Bob corrected.
"Whatever vid-e-o, don't like being sick," asserted Howard.
"Well no.  Hey, have you heard about all the stuff going on at the library?" questioned Bob.


2 duckies on LVPL sign
"This library?" Howard looked around.
"Of course this library!"  Bob uttered in disbelief.
"I thought it was closed.  Enlighten me then!" replied Howard.



2 duckies on NEW sign letters in library

"It's gonna be open, but in a different way for a while," informed Bob patiently.
"Open but not open.  I'm confused," Howard frowned.
"I know.  Everything's new,"  Bob stated.
"I kinda sensed that," Howard agreed.


2 duckies on book dropbox"First, you can return anything you had checked out before," Bob started.
"Before what?" Howard wondered.
"Before the library closed," Bob sighed.
"I thought you said it was open?" Howard pointed out obstinately.
"It's opening in baby steps.  The dropbox is now open for returns," explained Bob.
"Dropbox is the book return, ahhh...I guess that's good.  Why can't I just wait until the building is open?" Howard asked reasonably.
"That might be some time from now, and the books and stuff need to come back NOW so they can go through a 7-day quarantine and be safe to return to the shelves so other folks can check them out.  And it's ok to put in the DVDs and things not usually recommended for the dropbox right now, since the staff will empty it often and patrons can't enter the building," Bob justified.
"Naturally.  So when are my books due?" Howard inquired.
"Everything is due around June 24, but there's about a week grace period, so call it July," Bob elucidated.
"July."  Howard tittered as Bob rolled his eyes.


2 duckies on Summer Reading poster--Imagine your story

"Second...the Summer Reading Program is kicking off on June 16!" squealed Bob.
"That's a....Tuesday, right?" pondered Howard.
"Right you are, Howard," Bob affirmed.
"So how does that work?" Howard wanted to know.
"There will be a "drive through" Summer Reading Party!  People who want to participate can drive up to the library between 10:30AM and 11:30AM...you know, on the front porch side of the library where the parking lot and car things are...and the staff will hand out reading logs and fun packets to those interested, nice and safe-like," educated Bob.
2 duckies on craft baggies


"You don't say!" Howard quacked excitedly.  "But what if I can't make it?  Or drive?" Howard looked down at his stubby wings.
"The reading logs will also be posted online, so you can still participate," Bob guaranteed.

"Is that all?" Howard pouted slightly.
"Oh no," Bob squawked.  "The fun part is the LVPL Summer Reading group on Facebook!"
"The whatsit where?" Howard expressed bewilderedly and knit his feathered brows together.
"If you go to the Leon Valley Public Library Facebook page ,
or just search for the LVPL Summer Reading group ,
you can join!" related Bob.
"And why should I do that?" puzzled Howard.
"If you are part of that group, you get to know about all kinds of virtual activities, secret passwords to programs, and, like, cool stuff!" Bob giggled and wriggled with pleasure.
"Ah, you mean it's like being in a secret club house?" Howard cheeped.


2 duckies with paper craft crown
"Exactly!  And there will be prizes for reading and other nifty things going on," Bob went on further.




"Well, we'd better join then!" Howard waddled off in glee.
 

2 duckies on curb in front of LVPL sign

 
"What else is going on at the library?" Howard called back.

"Beginning on the 23rd--also a Tuesday--the library will offer curb service," Bob declared.



"A WHAT kind of service?" 
Howard seemed a bit baffled.
another photo of 2 duckies on curb in front of LVPL sign

"CURB service.  That's when people can call or go online to the library's catalog to reserve items to check out.  When the staff finds the things they want to check out, they will arrange a pick up time with the people and then the patrons can come and safely retrieve their requested items," Bob attempted to educate the perpetually perplexed Howard.

2 duckies on a curb
 


"So I can check out books?" hoped Howard.

"Yes, of course!" nodded Bob.


"And movies, or other things?" Howard garnered with growing elation.



2 duckies by the phone
"Call them up at 210-684-0720 and ask,
if you have any doubts," Bob comforted.
"But what if I don't know what I want?" supposed Howard.
"That's what the catalog is for, just browse around in there...but for kids there are some new Book Bundles," Bob told Harold
enticingly.

2 duckies with book bundles--dinosaurs

"Book bundles...like, a bunch of books?" Harold supposed.
"That's it, kits made up of three to six books arranged by topic, for a quick reading selection.  They have kid kits about Stars, Bedtime, Food, Spring, Color, Night, Having Fun, Fish, Dinosaurs, Pirates, and even a Variety Pack," Bob announced.



2 duckies by book bundles cart

"How on earth do you know all
these things, Bob?" Howard brooded.




"Oh, I pay attention...and get around," Bob teased.


 






2 duckies by Libraries: Where Imagination Goes Boldly Forth galaxy sign display

"Wow, you Really do get around," Howard reflected as he noted the galaxy behind him.
"All you have to do is use your imagination, Howard," Bob suggested wisely.
"Now, let's sign up for that summer reading group, quack!" Howard tottered off enthusiastically.
"You mean 'quick,' right?" Bob corrected.
"That's what I said!  Come on!" Howard shuffled off happily.


Friday, May 15, 2020

Enlarging a Shirt

So have you put on a few more pounds from all those mug cakes, or by not going out on quite as many walks as you'd planned?  Or did you order some clothes, get the wrong size and just don't feel like dealing with returns?  Or maybe you have a t-shirt that you love and would wear if only it didn't make you look like a stuffed burrito...

Admittedly this is only handy if you sew (whether by hand or machine) or can talk someone who does sew into it...but here's a fix.

I needed a lightweight house robe for a man, but that's hard to find...the thrift shops are closed at the moment, most at the stores are at least flannel, and online most are for colder climes.  Figured I could cobble two pj shirts together into a decent one, but I'd also need to enlarge them to make a decently large robe.  I really didn't want to accidentally ruin two new shirts if I overestimated my abilities, so I researched how others might have handled the problem, then tried it out on an old favorite but inexplicably shrunken robe of mine. 

Basically, you make side panels.

corner of house robe
Open the side seams of your top


So, here is my scruffy cotton kimono-esque robe.  You can use this trick on shirts, t-shirts, simple dresses, whatever you can get away with.

Open the seam that runs up the side of the shirt/robe, from the edge of the sleeve to the bottom of the hem.
And of course do that on both sides, assuming you're into symmetry.  If there is no actual seam, you can just cut it open, but try to do it as straight as you can or you will have a much more interesting top than you planned on.

I used a seam ripper for a while, then got impatient and cut the rest along the seam.  (It's a very dull seam ripper)
Opening side seam of robe
Side seam being opened
Hard to see the opening on black, but the whole side of the garment is open so there is a front piece (still connected by the shoulder/top of the sleeve) and the back side.  I opened both side seams, but you can do this one at a time.

Opened seam of robe
Opened seam
Hopefully you can see the open seam better in this photo. 
Next you will need to find a long panel piece of fabric, preferably of the same type or weight as the rest of the shirt, and hopefully something that will go with your shirt (either matching the color or pattern, or complementing it).  Unless you don't care, then go with whatever you can scrounge up.

So to do this, you need to estimate how much larger (width-wise) you should add to your top in order to be able to wear it comfortably.  If it almost fits, maybe you just need a couple of inches of scoosh space.  If it is very uncomfortable, maybe you need 4" or 8" of added material.  If it is ridiculous, just turn the shirt into a pillow.

Say you need 4" of space.  You need a little extra room to sew a seam on either side of the panel as well.  You will have two panels (one on each side of the shirt) so you will divide this by two.
So if you wanted beefy half-inch seams, you'd need two panels of 3" wide material, for example.
Or 2-1/2" strips, if you use the standard quarter-inch seams. 

Making side panel strip
Adding a side panel strip
The length of your strips will be a little longer than the distance from the edge of your sleeve, down the whole side seam, to the hem of the shirt.
If you don't have anything that long, no problem, just cut short strips and sew them together into one long strip.

If you're going to do this properly and nice, you should pay attention to line things up with the weave of your material, or create the strip on the bias.  But if you're just slapping it together or it's a t-shirt, this'll do fine.

You can hem the edges of your strip up first to match your top (where the sleeve starts and where the garment ends at the hem) or you can leave that for later and match it up (or hem up the whole thing).  I left mine for later.

Anyway, with the garment inside-out, pin the strip from the sleeve edge (if you haven't hemmed it, let it hang out enough to hem) down to the bottom garment edge/hem (also leaving hem room if you haven't already hemmed it).

Pinning strip to robe
Pin panel strip along seam line
Make sure the inside-out side of the top and the backside of the fabric strip are the sides you are working with/see.  Good-side against good-side

Pinning both sides of strip to robe
Both edges pinned down (sleeve end). There is a pieced seam across this
part of the panel; when you sew the panel in, try to have the seam flaps
either open or aimed down toward the bottom hem...just feels nicer.
If you'd rather do one side at a time, that is ok.  I did all the pinning for one side seam at the same time (so now I have a seam on each side of the panel strip, instead of the original one-seam).

Both sides of panel pinned to seam
Whole side of panel strip pinned for sewing
So take this mess to your sewing machine (or sit down for a good bout of hand sewing).  Using a basting stitch, try to sew both seams in the same direction.  That is, start from the edge of the sleeve and sew down to the bottom hem.  Or do it the other way around.  But also do the second seam the same way, so the fabric doesn't scrunch up or do anything else naughty.

You should baste it in, just in case you need to do some serious altering, like if you sewed it in the wrong way round or it is way too big or way too small, etc.  And you'll need to see if it fits okay around the sleeve.

Basting panel seam (one side)
Basting one edge of the panel to the top.



Basting in other side of panel seam
Basting in the other seam of the panel strip.


Nothing like having to rip a tight seam out again.  And again...

Panel side basted into garment
Do the other side of the garment the same way.

When you get one side done, do the other one, or you'll be unusually avant garde.  Or at least breezy.

Top with side panels inserted
Top with side panels inserted.
Ta da, you have new girth to your garment!  See if it fits ok.  If it doesn't, you'll have to alter it a bit or live with it.  If it does, go back and sew the seams in with a proper sewing stitch so your work doesn't fall out when you wear or wash it.  Then you'll need to finish off the seams in whatever way suits you...if you're lazy, just leave them be.  Otherwise you might want to iron them open, or zigzag trim them with pinking shears, or serge them, top stitch them into place, or get fancy with a french seam...whatever.  I haven't done any of this yet, so my robe here is all puffy and wrinkly, but, you get the idea.

Whole robe shown with panels
Longer shot of robe with side panels.
Don't forget to hem the panel ends --the sleeve and the bottom hem bits.  You can either do just the panel section (carefully) or you can turn the whole hem under, add seam binding to hem on, use lace, etc. instead, whatever you like.  

Anyway I think I can handle making a robe now.  Hope you can figure any of this out!  Share/show your results if you try it!







Book Review: A Man Called Ove



Well, found a book sitting around in my room and figured it was a good time to read it. 
It was a #1 New York Times Bestseller, has had a lot of good reviews in general, and I’d have to say I’d add to them.

A MAN CALLED OVE by Fredrik Backman was a fun read.  I’m not sure if it should be called a humor book, but it is very funny.  It’s hilarious and sad and bittersweet and charming and real and crazy all at the same time.

A Man Called Ove novel
Basically it is a biography about a grumpy Swedish fellow.  The events and people in his life help shape his personality, but his personality drives his view of the world and consequently all his actions. 

He likes things SIMPLE and has no patience for anything else.  He’s not exactly OCD, but his perspective is extremely rigid, so he has trouble understanding the rest of the fickle world and their lack of understanding of the obvious rules.  One does things at a certain time, a certain way, and that’s that.  He has a very black and white way of thinking, what is right is just right and what is wrong is wrong no matter what and one cannot just change things because of...anything.  So he is very upstanding for what he believes is the correct way to act, but it gets him in trouble periodically because he cannot bend those rules or see other points of view.   There is brand loyalty (to the extreme); a man doesn’t do X no matter what the fallout might be; if the sign says no driving in the residential area, there is no driving in the residential area for anyone at any time!!  And he makes the rounds to make sure everything is just so, too.

So he comes off as curmudgeonly, even as a youth.  But he still manages to find employment, learn skills, and support himself, and surprisingly, even finds love.

It’s this love that gets him through most of his life; a lady he falls head over heels for at first sight, and who eventually loves him back as he is.  He still only understands the simple life and the basic rules everyone should know...but he will do anything for Sophia and her laugh, even bend a little.

They set up a life and make plans and friends and the like, but life happens, plans don’t quite pan out.  Sophia helps Ove adapt as they go.

Until one day, she can’t any more, and Ove’s life crashes.  He can’t stand living without her.  She was the only thing he thought worth living for in this constantly changing world.  And now she was gone.  So he starts making plans to join her.  Repeatedly.

But try as he might, life still keeps happening, interrupting all his attempts.  Crazy new neighbors move in and start taking over his life.  A cat becomes his roommate against Ove’s wishes.  Ove becomes important to the community with his acts and skills, and finds himself friends, roommates, even granddaughters, all despite himself.

Definitely worth a read.  (especially if you know people, or are people, like Ove!)

Apparently it is also a movie (though not in English, captioned only):
A Man Called Ove movie

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mls2rlu1w_g