Thursday, January 30, 2014

Coffee Talk

We had an impromptu Coffee Talk for LIFE this Wednesday as our Ikebana program was cancelled due to weather. Claire Gunnels and Usha Dontharaju lead a discussion about LIFE lessons we have learned over the years. This is some planning we are doing to perhaps write a book with stories from our lives which teach an irreverent lesson. Claire wants to write a chapter called, "Don't Let Anyone Move in on You." She got this advice from her late father-in-law. Many of our thoughts were of mottos to live by. Here are a few:
  • Clean your plate, there are starving children in Africa.
  • Do unto others as you would want others to do unto you.
  • To have a friend, be a friend.
  • What goes around comes around.
  • If it doesn't belong to you, don't touch it. (When Sharon's husband said this in his jury voir dire, he was instantly excluded).
  • Learn other customs when traveling.
  • Find out social information about everyone you meet. IT will make you more charismatic and productive. "Social Investment"
  • Keep letters and pictures since that is your heritage.
  • If you lie with dogs, you wake up with fleas.
  • What you keep is lost, what you give is forever yours.
  • Tell me who you walk with and I'll tell you who you are.
We enjoyed coffee and banana bread (Claire's mother-in-law's fabulous recipe).

Claire Gunnels
Usha Dontharaju

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Genealogy Birth of a Nation

Who would have thought that genealogy could be so much fun? Library Director Mick Stafford gave us a primer on how to find birth records (also called vital statistics or civil registration).

Why birth records? A birth certificate is an instant connection to the prior generation since the parents’ names are on a child’s certificate. As Mick said, you can “unlock another generation.”

One book is the best one-stop shop for vital records from around the world. It’s called the Vital Records Handbook. Its online equivalent is the free Mormon website, Mick gave us some tips on how to search these huge databases. Don’t just jump right in and type a name in the search box, especially if the name is John Smith or James Johnson.

Click on the wiki button. A wiki is a website that anyone can add information to. In this wiki, you will find record by place (country, county, or state). If you can narrow your search on the front end, you won’t get so many false positives or bad searches.

Another source is the subscription database, This is available in the library for free, so unless you want to search in the comfort of your own home, don’t pay for this. Mick invited Sharon Samson up to search for her father, Wilhelm Frederich Schmidt. At first we didn't see him in the database. Mick explained that there can be a number of errors such as the date range could be wrong or the name has been transcribed inaccurately.

In Sharon’s case, since the name didn't come up with her father, we removed the middle name to see if we could find him. Still we could not. So, we removed the first and middle names, but added a birth date. Voila, to Sharon’s delight, we found her father. She now will write the proper county office to get a copy of his birth record.

One final word of wisdom: approach searching by having a goal as we did this morning in looking for the birth records of our forebears. Also, Mick has a favorite ancestor, a bar owner whose father was a policemen. Who could figure?

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Wicked Cool Friendship Bracelets

Professor Jason Moulenbelt lead us in a group loom project creating the now pretty cool rubber band friendship bracelets. Jason’s sons, age 8 and 10, trade their creations for Pokeman cards. How nifty is that? We took plastic forks, broke the two inner tines, and made our own loom. With Jason’s colorful instructions, we all made these wonderful little bracelets. These are a bit less in demand, but at the peak of the craze, you couldn’t even find a loom for sale. That didn’t stop Jason from Googling how to make a friendship rubber band bracelet without a loom. And voila! Jason said that as a philosophy professor, he sometimes feels he doesn't create anything except confusion in his classroom. That’s why he likes to create actual things such as these bracelets. He also has an online store for his leather crafts including custom knife covers, belts, and knives. 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Get Healthy, Chinese Style

Dr. Mary Chen kicked off our new year's LIFE program this morning with knowledge and humor, while explaining the benefits of Chinese medicine in improving one's health. As Mary explained, Chinese medicine takes time and often multiple visits to see results, but those results are worth waiting for. Mary detailed the benefits of acupuncture, herbal medicine, cupping, and acupressure.

An acupuncture treatment lasts half an hour and uses small needles to stimulate the nervous system. Acupuncture can be effective in treating pain, improving circulation, reducing swelling or inflammation, treating women's issues like menopause or infertility, and even can be helpful in quitting smoking or drinking.

Mary noted that in the case of herbal medicine, it is always wise to consult with a doctor before beginning an herbal regimen. But the right combination of herbs can help to treat any number of conditions or problems.

Our audience had a ton of interesting questions, and we found out that both acupuncture and herbal medicine can be helpful in weight loss, and which pressure points help to alleviate nausea and headaches. Mary even demonstrated an acupressure technique on Claire to help relieve headache pain. Thanks to Dr. Mary Chen for getting our year off on the right start!

For more information on Chinese medicine, check out some books our library has on the subject.