Sara West's blog

Holiday Shortcuts

The holidays are here and you may still have dozens of items on your to-do list.  Cleaning, cooking, decorating!  There's so much to finish before your friends and relatives visit.  You almost need a

Science Alive!

The Elements by Theodore GrayI was tapping my pencil on the desk out of complete boredom.  Our sixth grade science class was learning about the periodic table and I wasn't impressed.  All those boring boxes with strange names sitting in front of me.  The table represents all matter known to man, but to me it was lifeless.  Just words and numbers on a page.  I memorized the information I needed to know and promptly forgot everything the moment I turned in my exam.  I thought that would be the end of my journey with the table of elements.  Thankfully, I was wrong. 

Nonfiction at the Movies

Many movies begin on the bookshelf.  Take a look at this short list of nonfiction titles that began as a book and later made the jump to the big screen. 
 

Bugs Of Texas

 Have some creepy-crawlies in your backyard?  An unknown infestation in your garden?  Find out what you're facing by picking up some Texas insect field guides from the library.  These books give you the skinny on each insect.  Find out what each bug looks like, where they live, what they eat and if they're good or bad for you or your yard. 

This post brought to you by the letter L

If you've been surfing Google recently, you've probably seen Big Bird, Cookie Monster and Oscar hanging out at the top of your screen.  And if you're like me, you've spent this week reminiscing about the fun you had watching Sesame Street as a kid.  I remember trying to eat dessert like Cookie Monster and carrying around my Big Bird doll everywhere I went.  And when the theme song started, I plopped down in front of the TV and didn't move until the show ended.  I still have fond memories of Big Bird, Oscar, Bert, Ernie and the whole bunch.  
 
As a kid, I thought the show was all about fun.  I had no clue I was learning counting, colors,

Famous TV Chefs

I don't cook much.  My oven still looks like it came off the showroom floor.  And when Hurricane Ike rolled around, nothing much changed for me food-wise.  Peanut butter and crackers?  No problem.  Soup or beans?  I have it covered with my trusty can-opener.

When I have electricity, I'm a microwaving master.  I have amazing button-pushing skills.  But cooking something?  Actually throwing things together?  Measuring, chopping, preheating, baking?  No.  That would be disastrous.

Is It Autumn Yet?

WeatherYes, it's officially autumn, although you wouldn't know it by the weather we've had lately.  It's still hot and humid, but not for long.  I've heard a cold front is going to sweep through in the next day or so.  After hearing the news, I celebrated.  I also began to wonder how weather actually works.  I realized I talk about the weather all the time, yet I don't really know how to predict it or how it forms.  What better way to learn more than to find some books at the library? 

Do you also wonder about the basics of weather and beyond?  Find out more with these titles:

Wait and Read

Running errands always means you'll be waiting in line somewhere. Standing in line easily becomes a chore itself, but if you have a book handy, it’s no longer something to be endured. Instead, waiting becomes a time to enjoy a good book, if only for a few minutes. 

I like to bring books that are easy to jump in and out of when I have to wait. My favorite “waiting books” are trivia and fact books because you can stop on any page and begin reading.

 Do you bring a book with you when you know you’ll be waiting in long lines?  What books do you enjoy reading as you wait?

 

Here are some titles I've carried with me during quick trips:

Music on the Brain

Think of your favorite song.  Can you hear those first few notes? Can you hear the melody, the pitch, the rhythm? Does it make you want to sing along or tap your foot to the beat?  Does it conjure up a certain emotion or a long-lost memory? 

When we hear a good song, it triggers something deep, something basic within us. Music cuts to the core of who we are. It reminds us of our past and lets us enjoy the present.

But music is also scientific and mathematical. It's possible to track its effects on the brain. If you have ever wondered how music affects us on a biological level, try these titles:

Forgive Us Our Trespasses

Amish GraceCharles Roberts is angry and frustrated at himself - and at God.  One crisp October morning, he decides to do something about it.  He walks into an Amish schoolhouse in Pennsylvania carrying a large bag of ammunition.

He wants revenge on God, so he takes hostages.  A standoff ensues when the police arrive.  A short while later, Roberts opens fire, killing five of the children and critically wounding five others before taking his own life.

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