Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tuesday Trivia

Richard Lederer, in Literary Trivia, notes that some authors were born with less than marketable names. Who do we know these authors as?

Charles Lutwidge Dodgson was fascinated with words, logic and little girls. Out of these interests he fashioned a wonderland of characters - Humpty Dumptys, Jabberwocks, Mad Hatters, and White Rabbits.

Jozef Korzeniowski was born in Poland and grew up speaking no English until he was seventeen, yet he became one of the greatest stylists to use the English Language. A sailor as a youth, Korzeniowski is most famous for his stories and novels of the sea.

An unpublished Atlanta writer named Peggy Marsh submitted an incomplete manuscript that filled a large suitcase. The title of the novel was to be "Tomorrow is Another Day," and its heroine was to be called Pansy. After a great number of changes, including the title and name of the heroine, the book was published in 1936 and quickly became an all-time bestseller, inspiring a blockbuster movie, and fifty years after that, a blockbuster sequel.

Here are the answers to last week's trivia questions:
(Also from Richard Lederer's Literary Trivia)

Names can become adjectives when the character become closely connected to a behavior.

Can you name the character or book, and give the adjective?

The hero of a novel by Miguel de Cervantes engaged himself in endless knightly quests, rescuing damsels he deemed to be in distress and fighting monsters by tilting against windmills. The adjective describes people who are idealist and chivalrous to an extravagant degree.

Don Quixote de la Mancha
- quixotic

In 1516, Sir Thomas More wrote a book about an ideal state. As a name for both the novel and the place, More coined the name from the Greek parts ou "no", topos, "place", and ia, "state of being". The resulting word designates any ideal society.

Utopia - utopia

Charles Dickens was well known for creating characters which epitomized a particular behavior. Even though old Ebenezer's heart turned from stone to gold at the end of A Christmas Carol, we still use his name to describe a mean and miserly person.

Ebenezer Scrooge from A Christmas Carol - scrooge

Monday, September 28, 2009

New Book for October: Gil's All Fright Diner

Gil's All Fright Diner
A. Lee Martinez

I'm not much of a "ghosts and goblins, spooks and creepy stories"-type of reader. So I've been wracking my brains to find a good "Halloween" book to read for October.

I really enjoy vampire/werewolf books. Not the current craze in vampire romances, but the gritty ones that investigate what it would be like if there really WERE vampires and werewolves.

I ran across Gil's All Fright Diner, quite by accident, a few months ago. I snickered through the whole book! This is not your "all powerful and very scary" vampire book!

Whoever said that vampires had to rich and classy? Pick up your copy soon, and we'll try to play with the whole Vampire/Werewolf genre, through the month of October!

Regular book

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Weekend Update

What's happening at your library next week?

Here's the schedule for events for grownups, for the week of Saturday 26 September 2009 through Friday 2 October 2009:
(Click on the link for times, and more information)

Saturday 9/26/2009:
Sahara West Library: Iryna Mendoza - Live in Concert
West Las Vegas Library: Play - The Bluest Eye

Sunday 9/27/2009:
Sunrise Library: Sunday Morning Movie - Pink Panther 2
Clark County Library: SNAFFU Science Fiction Club Special Screening - Time After Time
West Las Vegas Library: Play - The Bluest Eye

Monday 9/28/2009:
Clark County Library: The History of Flamenco Dance

Tuesday 9/29/2009:
Clark County Library: Tuesday Afternoon at the Bijou - Night and Day
Clark County Library: Akira Kurosawa Retrospective - Seven Samurai
West Charleston Library: A Parent's Persective on the Bipolar Roller Coaster Ride

Wednesday 9/30/2009:
Clark County Library: Self-Publishing and the First Time Author

Thursday 10/1/2009:
Clark County Library: Film - CineVegas from the Vault: Momma's Man

Friday 10/2/2009:
Clark County Library: Banff Mountain Film Festival - Radical Reels Tour
West Charleston Library: SABOR featuring the Sapiro Project

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Random Thursday - Banned Book Week

This Saturday starts the 2009 edition of Banned Book Week. That's the week we shine the spotlight on all those attempts to withhold some of the best literature we have, because some people disagree or are afraid. Libraries work very, very hard to keep all literature available.

Do you ever wonder whether books really get banned, or if we're just pulling your leg? I mean, we've all heard about Banned in Boston, but it doesn't really happen most places, right? Well think again! Here is a map of challenges from the past two years!

View Book Bans and Challenges, 2007-2009 in a larger map

Which of your favorite books have been banned or challenged? We have a list of books that have been in the Top Ten list for the last ten years. Check it out!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Tuesday Trivia

Richard Lederer, in Literary Trivia, notes that names can become adjectives when the character become closely connected to a behavior.

Can you name the character, and give the adjective?

The hero of a novel by Miguel de Cervantes engaged himself in endless knightly quests, rescuing damsels he deemed to be in distress and fighting monsters by tilting against windmills. The adjective describes people who are idealist and chivalrous to an extravagant degree.

In 1516, Sir Thomas More wrote a book about an ideal state. As a name for both the novel and the place, More coined the name from the Greek parts ou "no", topos, "place", and ia, "state of being". The resulting word designates any ideal society.

Charles Dickens was well known for creating characters which epitomized a particular behavior. Even though old Ebenezer's heart turned from stone to gold at the end of A Christmas Carol, we still use his name to describe a mean and miserly person.

Here are the answers to last week's trivia questions:
(Also from Richard Lederer's Literary Trivia)

AUThOr Biographies

Can you match these autobiographical titles up with the authors who wrote them?

Black Boy : Richard Wright
The Diary of a Young Girl : Anne Frank
I know Why the Caged Bird Sings : Maya Angelou
Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog : Dylan Thomas
Roughing It : Mark Twain

Monday, September 21, 2009

Esperanza Rising - Speaking the Language

One issue Esperanza often mentions is she doesn't speak English.

Many (perhaps most?) of us are reading the book in English, so that seems so odd:
Esperanza could hear them talking in English, the words hard and clipped, as if they were speaking with sticks in their mouths. They all looked at her and laughed. She turned away, thinking if Isabel could learn English, then maybe someday she could learn it too.
The clerks all spoke to one another in English, their hard, sharp words meaning nothing to Esperanza. It always startled her when she heard Engish and she hated not knowing what people were saying. Someday she would learn it.
We know that Esperanza and her friends and family are all bright, friendly, intelligent and imaginative people. And, they all speak Spanish to each other. Not English.

It's terribly easy to think that someone who doesn't speak the same language as you is slow, uninteresting and valueless.
"Esperanza, people here think that all Mexicans are alike. They think that we are all undereducated, dirty, poor, and unskilled. It does not occur to them that many have been trained in professions in Mexico."
Probably as a large part, the Mexicans were terribly discriminated against - in education, employment, housing, and more. It's a problem Mexican Americans have been battling since huge chunks of Mexico suddenly became part of the United States in the mid 1800s.

We often forget that English is NOT the "official language" of the United States. In fact, many citizens of the United Kindom would dispute the idea that English is ever used in the United States! So when you say "I speak perfectly good English, and (person speaking a language other than English) should too!", remember, you're speaking a dialect that often makes Englishmen snicker, and think poorly of you because your English is so "bad!"

People from different ethnic backgrounds often speak in a different dialect, with a different rhythm to their speech. Chicano English is a typical example of this. African American English (sometimes called Ebonics) is another. In Huck Finn, which we read last month, Jim spoke in a heavy version of African American English. Because his dialect was so thick, it was easy to dismiss Jim as stupid or gullible. Jim was neither of these. No unintelligent person could have jumped through all the silly hoops Huck and Tom had Jim working on at the end of the book. When the family found all the artifacts Jim left in the shed, I was amazed at Jim's sheer ability to produce the intricate and convincing articles, given the limited resources he had.

So, should English be the "official language" of the United States? Is people speaking other languages a threat to American English? Or should we just break down and ban English entirely, as some early Americans suggested?

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Weekend Update

What's happening at your library next week?

Here's the schedule for events for grownups, for the week of Saturday 19 September 2009 through Friday 25 September 2009:
(Click on the link for times, and more information)

Saturday 9/19/2009:
Clark County Library: Anime Academy for Adults - Samurai 7 and Samurai Deeper Kyo
West Charleston Library: Music Therapy

Sunday 9/20/2009:
Enterprise Library: Game Club

Monday 9/21/2009:

Tuesday 9/22/2009:
Clark County Library: Tuesday Afternoon at the Bijou - The Country Girl
Clark County Library: Akira Kurosawa Retrospective - Ikura

Wednesday 9/23/2009:
Rainbow Library: Reel2Reel Film Club Discussion: No Country for Old Men

Thursday 9/24/2009:
Summerlin Library: Re.invent

Friday 9/25/2009:
Rainbow Library: Blood Drive
Clark County Library: Mariachi Concert in Celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month

Friday, September 18, 2009

Esperanza Rising - Effects of relaxing

Having successfully crocheted the small blue and white square, without having it turn out to be the size of a postage stamp and dense enough to use as a paperweight, I decided to try the bigger multi-colored piece again.

Oddly enough, relaxing and using almost no tension on the string really works!

Can you see both pieces? (The first one is on top of this second one.) They have the same number of stitches!

Here they are next to each other:

What a difference! Let's see how much of this crochet cotton I can use up.

Esperanza Rising - Farm Workers' Union

One of the ongoing conflicts through the book is the pressure by the migrant camps for better working conditions and wages.

Esperanza and her family group are living in a company camp. They don't need to look for new work every time one crop is complete. They go from grapes to potatoes to tying grapes to asparagus to peaches, plums and nectarines, and back to grapes.

Esperanza is appalled that the house they're sharing with Alfonso and his family is "more (like) the horse stalls on (El Rancho de las Rosas) than (a) place for people to live." There are five people living in their tiny two room house. They do not have running water or bathrooms in their cabins.

Esperanza's house is palatial compared to the conditions in the strikers' camp.
There were only ten wooden toilet stalls for hundreds of people and Esperanza could smell the effects from the truck. Some people lived in tents but others had only burlap bags stretched between poles. Some were living in their cars or old trucks. Mattresses were on the ground, where people and dogs rested. A goat was tied to a tree. There was a long pipe that lay on top of the ground and a line of water spigots sticking up from it.
The Farm Workers' Union would not succeed for decades. Partly this was due to the nature of the work.
...whatever group was the poorest and most recent arrival to this country would end up in the fields. Starting in the nineteenth century, agricultural work has been done by Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, and Mexican workers, both recent immigrants, and in the case of the Mexicans, also descendants of those who live here under Mexican rule.
And with the depression, the drought and the Dust Bowl, there were so many workers desperate for any sort of income, even one that would not really support them, the workers were at a huge disadvantage.

When farm workers finally did succeed in forming a union, they went about it in a very sneaky way. In the 1930s, we saw how frightening the very idea of striking or demanding better conditions was for the workers. If they didn't work, they couldn't live, and there were plenty of others out there who would take their jobs.

In the 1950s and 1960s, the incipient Farm Workers Union didn't initially work toward better conditions. Instead they worked with the farm workers, helping them with daily problems - filling out immigration paperwork, finding health care, getting schooling for the children. They became a trusted organization, obviously working to help the farm workers. The union workers showed the farm workers that everyone pulling together could improve their lives.

Finally in the mid 1960s, the United Farm Workers' Union succeeded in joining the workers together and rallying public support for the Grape Boycott. This finally succeeded in achieving a contract with the produce companies. Here are the huge concessions the farm workers achieved:
There was an end to the abusive system of labor contracting. Instead jobs would be assigned by a hiring hall, with guaranteed seniority and hiring rights. The contracts protected workers from exposure to the dangerous pesticides that are widely used in agriculture. There was an immediate rise in wages, and fresh water and toilets provided in the fields. The contracts provided for a medical plan, and clinics were built in Delano, Salinas and Coachella.
Toilets, living wages, protection from toxins and health care. This seems so basic to us now, but the workers didn't get these till almost 1970.

If you were driven from your home due to war or disaster (tornado? earthquake?), what would you be willing to do to live? How would you like to live?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Random Thursday - Choosing a Media Player

I love audio books.

I always seem to have four things going on at the same time. Most of the time, they're things that only need my hands, or my eyes, or my mind, or my ears, but not all of them at the same time.

When I'm doing stuff with just my hands and my eyes, I love to listen to audio books. (Driving during rush hour when the traffic is blazing along at 2 mph is a great example.)

Because we in the Virtual Library are the "eBook Experts", we often get asked "What is the best media player? What should I buy?"

Sorry, I can't answer that. I don't know what player is best for you. What I can do is show you a list of the media players that are compatible with the eMedia we have available in the library.

We get eMedia from two companies: Overdrive and NetLibrary. They each do things a little differently, but the overall result is the same.

Overdrive published a great short article about some of the features that come on the different media players. Knowing what you want to do with your player goes a long way in helping decide which player to purchase.

Then, both Overdrive and NetLibrary give you lists and help selecting media players that are compatible with their products. (I look for a media player that is compatible with both!)

Overdrive's Media Player Page

NetLibrary's Media Player Page

Between these three pages, you should be able to get a pretty good idea of what you're looking for in a Media Player, and from there your best bet is to read the online reviews.

Best of luck!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Esperanza Rising - Crochet more blue and white

Flush with the success of successfully creating a yarn doll, I decided to try the Mountains and Valleys again. I really liked the original blue and white fiber I used. The white is sparkly! But I decided to do something just the size of a hot-pad, so I cut the number of stitches to 40 - just enough for two Mountains!

My crocheting friends all "encouraged me" to relax when plying the hook. (OK, they threatened me!) I took their encouragement to heart, and just let the yarn slip through my fingers, without any tension at all. Their advice (and their prying my fingers loose from the hook) seems to have had a beneficial effect. You can see this piece is much "floppier" than the other piece. And the lines are going strainght up and down now, rather than looking like demented pickup sticks!

It was a lot of fun to do, and didn't take very long at all.

Esperanza Rising - Immigration in the 1930s

With as much as immigration and "illegal aliens" are a hot political topic these days, in the very early 1900s, Mexican workers were eagerly sought to work the US farms and fields and factories. Between 1910 and 1930, the "official" number of Mexican immigrants jumped from 200,000 to 600,000 (according to the US Census Bureau). The real numbers were probably a lot higher because of the long and relatively unsecured border between the two countries. Mexican nationals were eager to escape the relative chaos of the Mexican Revolution. American employers loved the Mexican workers because they worked cheap, didn't complain about working conditions, and were excellent workers.

American employers got too complacent about the immigrants' working conditions. Mexico finally had to insist that the employers give each worker a contract "which specified the rate of pay, work schedule, place of employment and other related conditions." The same contract guaranteed the worker the right to take his family along with him, for the term of the contract. (Esperanza's mother had her contract, and she discussed the "accompanying family" issue with Esperanza shortly after they arrived in the United States.)

When the Depression hit, and the drought, and then the Dust Bowl, things changed. There were a lot of very hungry refugees from the midwest and east, eager to work for a pittance.

PBS has a great timeline showing the different attitudes toward the US/Mexican border over the years. Scroll right to move later in history!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Tuesday Trivia

Richard Lederer, in Literary Trivia, is a big fan of autobiographies. However, many autobiographies are misleading. Black Beauty, the Autobiography of a Horse, was not written by a horse. Nor was the Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas written by Ms Toklas. (It was written by her good friend Gertrude Stein.

Can you match these autobiographical titles up with the authors who wrote them?

Black Boy
The Diary of a Young Girl
I know Why the Caged Bird Sings
Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog
Roughing It

Maya Angelou
Anne Frank
Dylan Thomas
Mark Twain
Richard Wright

Here are the answers to last week's trivia questions:
(Also from Richard Lederer's Literary Trivia)

Whose Title?

Can you figure out the title and author from these clues?

_____'s Cabin - Uncle Tom, and Harriet Beecher Stowe
_____'s Complaint - Portnoy, and Philip Roth
_____'s Mines - King Solomon, and H. Rider Haggard
_____'s Schooldays - Tom Brown, and Thomas Hughes
_____'s Web - Charlotte, and E. B. White

Monday, September 14, 2009

Esperanza Rising - Yarn Doll

While I was contemplating my failure to crochet anything remotely resembling a blanket, I decided my meltdown deserved a String Doll.

You remember on the train north, Esperanza had meltdown about the third-class carriage, and not wanting to share her doll with the other little girl? Esperanza's mother defused the situation by making a Yarn Doll for the other little girl. That action gave Esperanza time to recover herself, and start thinking about others for a bit. Maybe I need a bit of time to recover myself.

I enlisted my coworker, Library Lady, to help. This is definitely a two-person project, at least at the very beginning. (You can see Library Lady on a regular basis, over at our Books, Movies and Events blog, Bookin' Las Vegas, and at our Reference Resource blog, The Librarian's Brain, where she's called Dewey Diva. She has great hands for making dolls!)

I started with pulling out some kid's acrylic yarn in fun colors. and hijacking Library Lady's hands.

I counted to fifty, just as Esperanza and her Mom did on the train. Library asked me if there was some special magic to fifty wraps. I wasn't sure, but decided to have absolute faith in Esperanza's mom. She seems like such a sensible and wise lady!

I secured the top of the doll's head (put a tie around one end of the loops!) and released poor Library Lady. She really wasn't quite prepared when I said "Hey Library Lady, can you help me with something???" Since I didn't tell her WHY I was wrapping her hands in yarn, she was somewhat skeptical.

I used one of the ends to make the doll's head (tied a very firm knot around where the neck should be located), and tied another knot a little lower, to create the body. I left that second knot a bit loose to start with, because I was going to release some of the yarn from the lower tie, to make the arms.

Now it was time to cut the bottom loops. Securing the top of the head and the neck are really important! If you cut the bottom loops before that, you end up with loops EVERWHERE. (Don't ask me how I know.) Trust me on this one. Secure the head and neck first!. Once the bottom loops are cut, I can pull out strings to braid for the arms. I used six strings for each arm, and did a normal braid for the arms.

See? Here her arms are materializing out of the chaos of loose yarn ends. She's already starting to look a lot like a doll!

You don't have to do this, but I like to. I made my doll legs. After the arms were done, and I tied the tie at the bottom of the body really firmly, I took nine strings from the center inside of the skirt for each leg, and braided legs. These won't show on a general basis, but I like to know my doll can get around if she needs to!

Trim the ragged ends of Dolly's arms and legs, give her a bit of a gentle shake to settle everything into place, and I have a doll!

Esperanza Rising - Dustbowl and the Depression

The Great Depression started out a lot like our recent Economic Crash. What made the whole situation much worse was there was a tremendous drought over the Plains states starting just after Black Tuesday. All the farmers in the midwest got in a great corn crop in 1930 (which tanked the corn prices and sent a lot of farmers bankrupt), then no one got any crops at all for several years. There was no rain.

That is what started the migration of farmers to the west coast, in the hope of finding field work. They were literally starving to death in the midwest.

Then, in 1935, they had Black Sunday - 14 April 1935. Unbelievably huge walls of dust rolled over the plains. So even though you may think that the folks from Oklahoma (in the book) were escaping from the Dust Bowl, that's not actually the case. The book starts in 1930. The actual "dust bowl" events didn't start happening till about 1935.

As tight as the job market is during the book, what Esperanza and her family don't know is it was going to get much worse, as more and more refugees from the midwest drought and the Dust Bowl descend on the relative prosperity of the California growing region, just hoping to survive.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Weekend Update

What's happening at your library next week?

Here's the schedule for events for grownups, for the week of Saturday 12 September 2009 through Friday 18 September 2009:
(Click on the link for times, and more information)

Saturday 9/12/2009:
Rainbow Library: Job Hunting 101
Clark County Library: Film - I Love You Man

Sunday 9/13/2009:
Sunrise Library: Sunday Morning Movie - The International

Monday 9/14/2009:
Summerlin Library: Summerlin Scrabble Club

Tuesday 9/15/2009:
Clark County Library: Tuesday Afternoon at the Bijou - Summer Stock
Clark County Library: Akira Kurosawa Retrospective - Rashomon

Wednesday 9/16/2009
West Charleston Library: New to Medicare?

Thursday 9/17/2009:
Summerlin Library: Recipe Exchange
Rainbow Library: Reel2Reel Film Club - No Country for Old Men
West Charleston Library: Film - 1000 Journals

Friday 9/18/2009:
Rainbow Library: Moonlight, Movies and Music: Fiesta del la Noche
West Charleston Library: Acoustic Eidolon in Concert

Friday, September 11, 2009

Esperanza Rising - Crochet, Round Three

Well, the bad news is this particular book doesn't really address the issue of Cast Iron Crochet. (Crochet so hard and dense that it stands up on its own and says things like "You lookin' at me???!!!")

My crocheting friends have suggested RELAXING, and a larger hook.

Let's see what I can do about both of those.

Esperanza Rising - Birthdays

Esperanza Rising begins with Esperanza anticipating her 13th birthday party. Esperanza and her friend Marisol are already dreaming about their Quinceañeras!

I've looked and looked, but don't find any special Mexican traditions for birthdays that are significantly different than the "standard" American birthday.

Perhaps there might be a piñata, but Esperanza doesn't mention that as part of her expected celebration.

She's mostly looking forward to being seranaded by Las Mananitas, the traditional song they sing at dawn to awaken the Birthday Person, and before they cut the birthday cake. It's very different than the "Happy Birthday" song we usually associate with birthdays. Here are the words and translation, and here's a version to watch:

The major things Esperanza seems to be looking forward to are the fiesta - the party with all the decorations, and the papaya, coconut and lime salad, and especially the gifts.

Esperanza doesn't mention a cake, but one of my very favorite Mexican cakes is the Tres Leches Cakes. There's an excellent demo of how too make one at the Pioneer Woman blog.

And Esperanza is especially looking forward to her Quinceañera - the traditional girl's fifteenth birthday celebration that combines the attributes of a Sweet Sixteen party, and a society "coming out" party." After the quinceanera, a Mexican girl is traditionally considered to be a woman, and ready to marry.
When they were all together, they talked qbout one thing: their Quinceañeras, the presentation parties they would have when they turned fifteen. They still had two more years to wait, but so much to discuss - the beautiful white gowns they would wear, the big celebrations where they would be presented, and the sons of the richest families who would dance with them. After their Quinceañeras, they would be old enough to be courted, marry, and become las patronas, the head of their households, rising to the positions of their mothers before them.
Quiñceaneras are small or very elaborate, depending on the financial resources of the girl's parents. I heard about a wonderful tradition, to help defray the very high costs of the elaborate celebrations. The mother of the birthday girl contacts the girl's godparents (there are usually many godparents!), and each helps subsidize a portion of the celebration - the gown, the crown, the shoes, the catering, etc. What a wonderful way to share a celebration!

What family or cultural birthday traditions do you and your family celebrate?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Random Thursday - Accelerated Reader

I'm a huge fan of reading with children. I'm also a huge fan of children reading.

If you haven't had a child in the school district in the past 10-15 years, you may not have heard of a program called Accelerated Reader.

Basically, a company maintains a list of books. The books are classified by length and difficulty, and assigned a point level.

Schools that participate in the AR program select their own "school book lists". Kids from that school get to select books from the list to read. After they read the book, they take a test online, to show they understood the book. They are awarded the number of points for the book.

Students usually have a "point level" they have to achieve by the end of the card marking or semester. Some schools give awards and prizes.

This all sounds great! What a fantastic way to motivate kids to read... Except some of the points evaluations are strange.

Susan Straight wrote a great essay for the New York Times, titled Reading by the Numbers. She points out some of the wonky details. For example, a "Gossip Girl" novel ("...watch the girls drown in luxury while indulging in their favorite sports - jealousy, betrayal and late-night bar-hopping.") is worth 8 points. Hamlet is worth 7 points. Say what? Hamlet is a pretty challenging read...

So, the program is not totally without flaws.

Also, I read an essay a while back, by an home-schooling mom who refused to allow her children to participate in library Summer Reading Programs, because she didn't believe in motivating children to read with prizes. She felt children should only read because they loved reading, not just to get a prize.

What do you think? Do you think AR is a great program? How about Summer Reading Programs? What is the best way to motivate a kid to read?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Esperanza Rising - Crochet - getting help

You have probably figured out that I work in a library.

Oddly enough, the library has these amazing resources, called BOOKS, nicely arranged so you can find them. (I have to keep reminding myself of this, when I mess up as badly as I'm messing up over this crochet. Sigh.)

I headed upstairs and found the amazing collection of knt and crochet books...

I think I found one that might have some help for me...

See the zigzag crochet? At the top?

And the botttom?

Maybe I can get help making something other than cast iron bit crocheting. (Although, this will probably make a very nice hot pad to put on the table!)

Esperanza Rising - Mexican Revolution 1910-1920

A Brief History of Mexico, Abridged

Despite the fact that almost 30% of Las Vegas residents are of Latino origin, a whole lot of the residents don't know anything about the Mexican Revolution. It gets all tangled up with Zorro in some of our heads. And we think that Mexico is a small place.

Mexico had two major revolutions. They can be confusing because the first one lasted from 1810 to 1820. The second one lasted from 1910 to 1920. (You have to wonder whether the Mexican government is a bit edgy about what will happen in 2010!)

Here's what Mexico looked like in 1839, after Texas declared itself independent of Mexico, but before Texas became part of the United States:
You can see that Mexico was pretty much larger that the entire rest of the United States! (PBS has a great interactive map that shows how the United States expanded over the years. Seeing how we absorbed huge amounts of Mexico is truly impressive!)

Here's (very, very) brief history of Mexico.

Prior to 1517, the inhabitants of Mexico did what pretty much every early civilization did - they worked to live and support themselves, and spent a lot of time fighting amongst themselves.

In 1517, the Spaniards arrived. Because of some religious predictions, the natives believed the Spaniards were divinely sent, and the conquest went a lot more easily that in should have.

The Spaniards ruled for the next 300 years. Those of Spanish descent ruled. Those of mixed blood (Spanish and Native) were next in the power hierarchy. The native population was lowest in rank and power. The Spaniards were not effective rulers. They devastated the native population, and the land.

The mixed blood residents rose up and brok from Spain in a revolution that lasted from 1810 to 1820.

For the next 100 years, things didn't get a whole lot better. The very rich held all the power, and everyone else was very poor. There was a lot of jockying to see who would be in charge. No one was happy.

In 1910, things came to a head, and the non-landowners rose up and demanded more equitable sharing of resources and power. That war ended in 1920, after a lot of infighting and power plays. At one point, Pancho Villa invaded the United States. The US Army retaliated, but were never able to bring Pancho Villa to heel. Power changed hands rapidly, mostly as a result of violence or assassination. At the end, General Obrégon was elected President.

This is roughly where we come in at the beginning of Esperanza Rising. The Revolution is over, but there's still a lot of banditry and bad feelings towards land owners.

Obviously, this is a very cursory history. There are excellent histories of Mexico in the library. The link I gave you (above) has many quite readable selections that give much more detail.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Tuesday Trivia

Richard Lederer, in Literary Trivia, is playing "Whose Title" this week. Can you figure out the title and author from these clues?

??_____'s Cabin
??_____'s Complaint
??_____'s Mines
??_____'s Schooldays
??_____'s Web

Here are the answers to last week's trivia questions:
(Also from Richard Lederer's Literary Trivia)

The Evil Initial Quiz

Can you figure out the title and author, just from the initials?

A of H F, by M. T. (You should get this one cold, considering what we read last month!
--Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
A C of A, by E. A. P. (No ravens blocked in behind this wall!)
--A Cask of Amontillado, by Edgar Allan Poe
The H of the B, by A. C. D. (this is just elementary!)
--The Hound of the Baskervilles, by Arthur Conan Doyle
The P of D G, by O. W. (That picture is getting a big ragged around the edges...)
--The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde
T of the A by E. R. B. ("This going to hurt very much! But it worth it..." OK, George was the vine-swinger who said that, but the pain is the same.)
--Tarzan of the Apes, by Edgar Rice Burroughs

Monday, September 7, 2009

Esperanza Rising - Crochet failure Take Two

So I grabbed my lovely multicolored crochet cotton, cast on 60 stitches, and crocheted away.

Er, have I mentioned that I don't crochet often, and it's not my favorite craft?

I ended up with something that was very pretty, and hard as a rock.

I don't know if you can tell from the photo, but this is STANDING UP, on its own.

Maybe I need to check out a crochet book.

Maybe a I need a bigger hook.

Maybe I just need to relax!