Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Pat O’Brien’s Piano Bar at CyFair

It’s not New Orleans, but don’t tell that to Scubie Hoyt, a piano bar maven, who led us in song and a rip-roaring good time.


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Houston, All Shook Up

We may not shake like California, but Houston has its own fault lines which run through the city and we got to be mini geologists this morning as we mapped the Long Point Fault path. Geology professor Cathy Greenberg shared her expertise about the Long Point Fault, teaching us all about tectonic plates, salt domes, earthquakes and then zeroing in on Houston and its fault activity. What fun it was to see actual pictures of homes, roads, and pipelines along the Long Point fault.


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Take the Guess Work Out of Your Heart Health

Without looking inside of your body, your doctor uses various clues to your health: weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, C-reactive protein, among others. What if we could show you a way to see inside your body to assess your cardiovascular health? Professor Thomas Cunningham revealed the latest technology in echocardiography.


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Angry (Thirsty) Birds

Our bird population is thirsty and maybe a bit angry over last year’s dearth of water in our area. Tim Sebesta and Jessica Armenta revealed how our bird population has adjusted to our drought and how it has affected migration. A joint ALL/LIFE program. 


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Instant Immersion

Today at LIFE we were treated to ethnic foods and stories of countries and their cultures by our library ESL students. Lead by Ruth McDonald and Jill Vu, we had representatives from Mexico, Bulgaria, Cambria, Kazakhstan, Venezuela (means little Venice), Costa Rica, Canada (Quebec), and Cameroon. Some wore native dress. What a colorful and fun program. Our LIFE'rs chatted and sampled the delightful fare with these talented ESL students who shared their love of their respective countries.


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Practical Applications of Nanotechnology

Daniel Kainer was back to show how nanotechnology touches all of our lives.  Kainer revealed how atomic-sized, human-engineered particles are the wave of your future from medicine to computer speed and storage to even the food you will eat.

*Daniel Kainer, Director of the LSC-Montgomery Biotechnology Institute,


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Genealogy Virtual Vacation

Don’t have the funds to visit homeland of your ancestors? No problem. Library Director Mick Stafford revealed which websites and databases provide address information. Then learn how that information can unlock a virtual vacation using Google map technology and a few other websites.


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

eReader Rodeo and Roundup

The latest array of digital readers and tablets including Kindle Touch, Kindle Fire, NOOK Color, NOOK Tablet, and the iPad 2 were on display.  There was hands-on access for all the devices with tips and tricks to utilize your digital device with Dorrie Scott, Abraham Korah, and Melanie Wachsmann.


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Yin and the Yang of Yoga

Barbara Morrison of the Texas Yoga Center was back to share ways to keep centered, strong, and positive. She had us move through some stretching yoga exercises - all in our chairs. Have you ever done a back bend and a forward bend in a chair? We learned about ancient home remedies from ayurveda and the different body tyes in ayurveda. If you're a hot type, balance it out by eating some ice cream. Not bad. Click on the attachments details.

Creating Balance with Opposites (pdf) and Easy Home Remedies (pdf)

Image: Copyright Texas Yoga Center,

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Square Foot Gardening

Denise Miller, garden educator, shared her years of knowledge on how to create a small raised bed area enriched with compost and tender, loving, but manageable care. Growing your own organic produce can be a healthy, enriching project, and fun for the whole family.


Wednesday, February 29, 2012


We couldn't get enough of Sunnye Pruden's beaded jewelry-making classes, so she was back teaching us how to make bracelet and earrings from strikingly beautiful glass beads.


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Beef Stew Cook-Off

Today at LIFE we had Patrick Gunnels, Claire's son, and Huyen Doan and Jill Vu face off for a mulitcultural beef stew cookoff. Patrick, who has Irish heritage, made a rockin' Irish Stew and Huyen and Jill did a nuanced and flavorful Vietnamese stew. A cornucopia of spices and herbs made this Vietnamese concoction delightful. Patrick added a rich cabernet wine and some extra stout Guinness beer to give his stew its Irish twist. Everyone had a taste of each recipe and both were so good, we had a statistical dead heat.

Patrick also has French roots, but once he looked at Julia Child's intricate recipe, he said, heck no, I'm making Irish stew, a recipe taught to him by his best friend, Kashan, a Pakistani.

Recipes for Irish & Vietnamese Stews (pdf)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Lincoln, Lincoln, I’ve Been Thinkin’

Professor Thomas Kelly, Lone Star College professor and historian, provided thought-provoking insights into Abraham Lincoln, the president and the man. In the Gettysburg Address, Lincoln's first sentence tells it all: “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”

Lincoln reminded our nation that the founding fathers really did mean that the United States of America is different and that our entire foundation is based on liberty and freedom for all.  In this succinct and pithy speech, Lincoln did not mention victory or the power of the Union army. He dedicated it to the brave men both living and dead who fought so their nation would survive.

Professor Kelly spoke of the Presidents who came before and after Lincoln. Lincoln was the product of many historical influences and changed his mind on occasion (such as freeing of the slaves). His assassination will forever influence history in how we perceive this great man. If he hadn’t died so suddenly and brutally, our perceptions of him might be quite different.

Visit the library’s exhibition, Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War, December 28, 2011 – February 17, 2012.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Think Tie Dye Is Just for Hippies?

Professor Jason Moulenbelt, former Marine and philosophy instructor, helped everyone tap into their inner hippy with a tye-dye experience. “There are no mistakes in tie dye,” Jason remonstrated.

Ready to brave the tye dyed waters yourself, view a supply list and how-to instructions at FunRoom,

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


Juneteenth was another excellent LIFE program as part of the Lincoln Exhibition Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War, December 28, 2011 – February 17, 2012.

Professor Dorris Ellis is a true believer in Houston's Emanicpation Park as a strong symbol of freedom. All ten park acres were purchased back in 1872 by four freed slaves for $800. Just like Dorris Ellis, they believed they could raise the necessary funds to accomplish their goals. They wanted a place for Houston to celebrate freedom. As president of the Friends of Emacipation Park, Dorris Ellis has big plans for major new facilities such as new buildings, meeting rooms, and trails. Everything from weddings and proms to classrooms and libraries are possible for Emancipation Park (located here in Houston at Dowdin and Elgin). It was acquired by the city in 1916 and is the oldest collectively owned land in Texas.

Celebrate Juneteenth (June 19) and freedom. On this one day only, the gates are open for all to enter symbolizing how freedom feels when all other 364 days of the year we are prohibited entrance to a special place in the park.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Perfection of Deception: Magicians Who Have Changed World History

Harry Maurer’s amazing presentation Perfection of Deception: How Magicians Have Changed History was a terrific hit for our library and college. He is  such a polished performer with a mesmerizing voice and great comic timing. His passion for magic is palpable and your knowledge encyclopedic. Magic truly is a powerful force that can be used to change the course of history. I was especially enthralled with the story of the battle of Alamein. My eyes were opened and so were others in the audience. Some young children were hanging on Harry’s every word, students will write papers about this, and our LIFE regulars were soaking up all the knowledge. - Claire Gunnels, Assistant Library Director

Sponsored by Lone Star College-CyFair Windows on the World (WOW) and Lone Star College-CyFair Branch Friends of the Library.

Royal Wedding Madness

Welcome, citizens of CyFair and patrons of LIFE, to the blog regarding that most fascinating and copied of traditions, the events which millions clamour to watch and pundits run out of platitudes to describe: the royal wedding. Yes, yours truly finally got to host a LIFE class on one of my favorite topics, royalty, and I had a devil of a time cramming my 28 pages of notes into an hour long class. But the class seemed to understand me as I sped my way through the ages. I won't post my notes here (if anyone would like to see them, just let me know), but I will highlight some of the more interesting tidbits. See the slide show at the bottom for images of the weddings we covered. And keep watching TV! Harry has to get married sooner or later....

When we think of white weddings, we typically think it dates back to Queen Victoria, which isn't completely accurate. Victoria popularized the white wedding dress, but she was far from the first to wear it. The first recorded use of a white wedding dress was the marriage of Phillipa, daughter of Henry Bolingbroke (later Henry IV) to Eric, King of Norway, Sweden and Denmark in 1406. She wore a dress of white silk with grey squirrel and ermine borders. Why did that ever go out of fashion? But Victoria's wedding was a huge international event widely reported on by the media, hence why we believe the tradition started with her. Think that white = purity or virginity? Wrong! In the old days, it actually stood for wealth, as white was a difficult color to make and maintain (no bleach, I can't believe they bothered) so only the very wealthy could afford white. It wasn't until the rise of the middle class in the late 1800s and the invention of bleach in the early 1900s that middle class women could afford to emulate the wealthy, and thus the white wedding was born. It wasn't until the mid 20th century that people looked back at Victoria's era of familial love and modesty and falsely claimed that white symbolized virginity.

HRH Queen Victoria and Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha - 1840

- she planted a sprig of myrtle from her bouquet at the Isle of Wight, which still lives today and from which every other royal bride has taken a cutting for her bouquet.
- She and Albert (who was her cousin) had a great, ahem, love life, but she wrote in her diary that she wasn't so fond of the after affects (9 kids).
- They had 9 kids and 42 grand kids, 26 of which married into royalty or nobility around the world, giving rise to her nickname, "Victoria, grandmother of Europe".
- She married as a Queen, which is part of the reason her dress and the ceremony had to be spectacular: she was representing her empire and her people.
- Back then your engagement ring (if you could afford one) was typically the bride's birthstone: emerald in Victoria's case. Diamonds didn't become popular until De Beers started marketing them as THE engagement stone roughly 60 years ago. Sapphires are the most popular engagement ring among royals. Rubies and opals are rare as they are supposedly bad luck.
- She reigned for 63 years and 7 months, living to be 81. At the time of her death she was the longest reigning British monarch, the longest living British monarch and longest reigning female monarch in the world.

HRH Prince Albert “Bertie”, Duke of York, and Lady Elizabeth Bowes Lyon - 1923
- He proposed to her 3 times before she accepted because she was “afraid never, never again to be free to think, speak and act as I feel I really ought to”.
- Although her dress was popular at the time, it looks awful today. The flapper look, long and straight, didn't age well and didn't suit her figure. She was the last of the royal line not to wear a tiara at her wedding, which is a more recent trend.
- She started 3 royal wedding trends: 1) hers was the first filmed (we have only the procession to the Abbey), 2) her wedding band came from a lump of gold given to the royal family by the Welsh people from the now-closed Clogau mine and, 3) she laid her bouquet at the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior in Westminster Abbey on her way in (although all other royal brides lay their bouquet on the way out).
- She endeared herself to the British people by refusing to leave Buckingham Palace during WW2. When the Palace was bombed, she famously said "I'm glad we have been bombed. Now I can look the East End in the face".
- She died at age 101, having outlived her daughter Princess Margaret and Princess Diana.
- Their marriage has been made famous lately by the Oscar winning film "The King's Speech".

HRH Prince Edward, Duke of Windsor and Wallis Simpson - 1937
- No members of the royal family attended their wedding in France.
- Edward abdicated the throne to marry her (a twice-divorced American) since no member of the royal family is allowed to marry a divorcee. History believes she would rather have been the mistress of a King than the wife of an exiled Duke.
- Her wedding dress went on to become one of the most copied dresses of all time, and still looks stylish by today's standards. The color (actually called Wallace blue by the designer) has faded today to a bland cream color.
- While she and Edward were "dating", she became the first woman to make the cover of Time Magazine as "Woman of the Year" in 1936.

HRH Princess Elizabeth and Prince Phillip (Lieutenant BRN) - 1947

- She famously saved ration cards to buy the material for her dress, of which there was an almost scandal. There were rumors the silk for her dress came from...wait for it...enemy silk worms from Italy or Japan. But it was soon confirmed they were politically correct silk worms from Nationalist China (my how things change) so trouble averted. However, the Chinese silk may have been the worse choice in the long run as the silk is weighted with tin which has accelerated the aging process. The dress in now a dingy gold color, having been a brilliant white on her wedding day.
- First of the modern day royal brides to wear a tiara (the fringe tiara).
- This wedding was recorded by BBC radio and broadcast to a worldwide audience of 200 million.
- The Queen wanted her house to be the House of Mountbatten (the anglicized version of her husband's name) but due to anti-German sentiment, Prime Minister Churchill and Dowager Queen Mary felt keeping Windsor would be best.
- Prince Phillip reportedly said he was the only man in the world not allowed to pass his name on to his family. To appease him, the Queen gave the surname Mountbatten-Windsor to all male descendants without royal titles. This won't kick in until Harry has kids.
- Less than 5 years after her marriage, her father died early, while she was in Kenya.
- She was crowned Queen at age 26, and her coronation was watched on TV by over 270 million.
- In 1952 Time Magazine named her the second (and last) "Woman of the Year". Since then, other women have been included in groups of "People of the Year".
- The Queen’s estimated wealth ranges from $100M - $450M. She owns Sandringham Castle and Balmoral Castle but not Windsor Castle, Buckingham Palace, the crown jewels or most of the artwork (royal collection).
- She could easily become the longest reigning monarch in Great Britain and longest reigning Queen in the world if she surpasses Victoria, the current record holder. She will need to reign until 9/10/2015(89 years old). Her mother lived to be 101, so this is doable.
- The Queen is Patron of 620 organizations. The Duke patronized over 800 in his heyday. When he turned 90, he cut down to about 200.
- The Queen works so hard, in some ways, to repair the image of the royal family from the follies of her children and their spouses.

HSH (His Sovereign Highness) Prince Rainier and Grace Kelly - 1956
- Her dress is widely regarded as the most timelessly beautiful of all royal wedding dresses. It was designed by MGM costume designer Helen Rose. MGM gave her the dress as a gift and let her out of her movie contract provided the couple allowed MGM to film their and distribute the footage, which they did.
- An estimated 30 million watched the wedding on TV.
- After the wedding Rainier banned all of Grace’s films, to not blur fact and fiction. They are still banned today.
- Why not a King/Queen? Monaco is a principality; hence its head of state is a Prince or Princess. The UK is a Kingdom; hence its head of state is a King or Queen. In the UAE, they are Emirates; hence their head of state is an Emir.

HRH Princess Margaret and Anthony Armstrong-Jones - 1960
- Margaret first wanted to marry Peter Townsend, divorced father of two, in 1953. Queen Mary had just died and the (current)Queen had yet to be crowned and was to take a 6 month tour of the empire. She asked Margaret to wait. But the British cabinet and Churchill were unanimously against the marriage, as marrying a divorcee was against the laws of the Anglican Church.
- She supposedly accepted Armstrong-Jones’ proposal a day after learning Townsend had proposed to another.
- This was the first British royal wedding televised, watched by over 300 million.
- They divorced July 11, 1978, after several public affairs. This was the 1st divorce of a senior Royal since Princess Victoria of Edinburgh 1901, and approval for royal divorce may be Princess Margaret's unintentional legacy.

HRH Charles, Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer - 1981

- Wedding held at St. Paul's Cathedral instead of the traditional Westminster Abbey, because St. Paul's held more people (3,500 to 2,000).
- Her dress was a puff ball meringue wedding dress, with huge puffed sleeves, a frilly neckline, lots of lace, lots of pearls, lots of ... volume. Although popular at the time for looking romantic, in retrospect, the dress looks too big for her and more like a costume than a dress.
- Her £42,000 oval sapphire ring was called a "commoner's sapphire" since she chose it off a tray in a store, rather than the groom designing the ring for her, which most other royal grooms have done. Since her death, it is now one of the most coveted pieces of jewelry and is considered almost priceless.
- They met roughly 13 times before they married (according to her).
- She arrived at the cathedral in the glass coach with her father. Dress designers hadn’t anticipated the cramped space, so her dress and train were wrinkled when she stepped out.
- The couple chose not to include “obey” in their wedding vows, causing controversy.
- She switched Charles’ first and middle names, prompting Prince Andrew to say “she’s just married my father”.
- They were the first couple to kiss on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, a trend followed by other royal couples.
- The couple separated in 1992 and divorced in 1996. She lost HRH and became Diana, Princess of Wales.
- She died in a car wreck in August 31, 1997. Mother Theresa died the day before, but Diana eclipsed her in the news.

HRH Charles, Prince of Wales and Camilla Parker-Bowles - 2005
- Prince Charles finally married the love of his life rather late in his life.
- Charles is the first member of the royal family to get married in a civil ceremony in England.
- The wedding had to be a civil ceremony because the Church of England forbids the remarriage of divorcees if their ex-spouse is still living (that was the problem with Edward VIII and Wallace Simpson which led to the abdication crisis). If Camilla’s ex-husband was dead, then it would be a marriage of a widower and a widow, which is allowed.
- The civil ceremony choice was very contentious. The Marriage Act of 1836 excludes the royal family from civil marriages in England and Wales, but not Scotland. Legal experts disagreed and stated that law was overturned by the Marriage Act of 1949, in which the royals were not excluded. The British government upheld the notion and they were allowed to marry, but there are dissenters out there who believe the two are not technically married.
- The wedding was originally supposed to be in Windsor Castle, but it was moved to Windsor Guildhall after it was discovered that to license opening the castle for the wedding meant opening it to other weddings for at least the next 3 years.
- The date was originally scheduled for April 8, but was postponed for 24 hours so the Prince could attend the funeral of Pope John Paul II.

HRH Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine Middleton - 2011
- The couple started dating in 2001, and broke up at least once during that time.
- They dated so long, the press called her “Waity Katie”.
- Roughly 2 billion people watched the wedding on TV, and about 1 million lined the streets.
- The bride wore 2 dresses by Sarah Burton: the wedding dress and a second dress for their second reception later that evening in Buckingham Palace.
- the wedding dress is on display at Buckingham palace now through October 3rd.
- It is traditional in England for bridal parties to wear white, something most Americans don’t like. They also typically use children in the wedding party, not adults.
- The couple surprised onlookers as they left Buckingham Palace after the wedding breakfast and drove from the Palace to Clarance House in a decorated Aston Martin.
- They spent their wedding night at Buckingham Palace and flew via helicopter back to their home in Wales so he could go to work the following week. They honeymooned later in the Seychelles.
- The only unfortunate part of their wedding was the massive coverage of the stupid hats worn by the guests, most famously Princess Beatrice's "pretzel" hat.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Lincoln and the Road to the Emancipation Proclamation
A record crowd greeted Dr. W. Caleb McDaniel, Assistant History Professor at Rice University, for his presentation on Abraham Lincoln this past Wednesday. Contrary to what schoolchildren across the country have been taught in history class, Dr. McDaniel revealed to the audience that President Lincoln had in fact been very reluctant to address the issue of emancipation of slaves during the Civil War. In an 1862 letter to Horace Greeley, editor of the New York Tribune, Lincoln asserted that preserving the Union at all costs was his only concern: “My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery.” Lincoln believed that abolishing slavery would only aggravate the southern border states, tipping the balance in favor of the Confederate rebellion. He also believed that the U.S. constitution did not afford him the right, as President, to declare freedom for all slaves. Further, Lincoln questioned the practicality of assimilating freed slaves into American society and compensating southern slave owners for their loss.

Ultimately, it took progressive acts of Congress and leadership from Lincoln’s own military officers to realize change. In July of 1862, Congress passed the Second Confiscation Act, which declared that any slaves encountered by Union forces would be considered free. The Emancipation Proclamation, borrowing much of the same language from Congress, was signed by Lincoln on January 1, 1863. The Proclamation served to seal the fate of the Confederacy and ensure that slavery would not survive the war. In an ironic twist, Dr. McDaniel concluded his riveting presentation with a rare archival photograph depicting African American soldiers standing guard during Lincoln’s second presidential inauguration ceremony.

Wednesday’s program was part of the American Library Association’s traveling exhibit entitled “Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War” on display at LSC-CyFair until February 17. For more information on upcoming events from this series, please visit the library’s website:

View the Civil War in Four Minutes at

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Get Thee Behind Me, Satan

Greetings LIFEers and Happy New Year! Lets get 2012 off to a great start by working on our annual new year's resolution to be healthier by detoxing. Dr. Chase Hayden joined us again to talk about ways to detox your system.

Many people and cultures detox in various ways. Sometimes just fasting on water for a day will help clean out your system. Or you could change your diet for a few weeks and consume nothing but vegetables, lean meat and water (which is what Dr. Chase recommends).

Voltaire had a great saying. "We put drugs of which we know little, into bodies of which we know less, to cure diseases of which we nothing at all." Before you start approaching your health by taking more pills, ask you doctor about detoxing and changing your diet. Then stick with it for 21 days. Check your results. We can achieve great changes in our bodies and our health by making minor changes in our diets. Check out Dr. Hayden's slide show below, and start working off those holiday calories.