Tuesday, November 29, 2011

5 geeky websites you might enjoy as much as I do

List by Tosca

"Never argue with the data."
- Sheen, a character from Jimmy Neutron (Mr. 7's fav geek cartoon)

I always spend my morning bus ride to work reading. Mostly books/magazines. Sometimes, though, I use it to clear RSS feeds. At last count I subscribed to 321 websites, blogs, tweestreams, Facebook pages that cover info/news about Auckland Libraries, books, libraries/librarians, social media, wrestling (don't look at me like that! I'm a WWE fan from way back in the 80s), and New Orleans. A lot of that time is spent outright snorting or furtively sniggering at various geeky posts. You may not have noticed (?) but I'm not a quiet person. I tend to react to everything out loud. So much so my bus co-passengers are often asking what I'm looking at. Now, none of you will have to guess, because I'm going to share with you 5 geeky websites that I think you might enjoy as much as I do. Choosing just 5 was hard. Is this how a parent would feel when they choose a favourite child? (I know mum and dad have a favourite child each, I forgive them. Kinda). What I opted for in the end was listing the 5 sites I visit the most (in no particular order). I visit these sites because their posts are crazy hilarious and/or thought provoking and, like the t-shirt says, "The geek shall inherit the earth."

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Last seen standing still...

Top 5 photos I took using tips/tricks I learnt from a kids book
List by Tosca

"If I could tell the story in words, I wouldn't need to lug around a camera."
- Lewis Hine

I don't enjoy posing for photos. I never have. Flip through our family photo albums and you'd be hard pressed to find me there. I could care less about myself that way. Put a camera in my hands, though, and it's a different story. My fascination with photography isn't a new one. I like to think of it as more...rekindled. Something about being behind a camera, being able to provide some visual commentary about life, makes me appreciate how intrinsically beautiful everything is. No matter how seemingly random. A week or so ago I used tips from a pet photography book on my nephews instead. (Thankfully, they are still talking to me). I decided, after writing up that post, that I'd like to explore some more photography books, only this time from the kids area. The book I finally decided to bring home with me is Digital Photography: Point, Click, and Create Cool Digital Effects by Alan Buckingham (2005). Curiosity made me pick a book that was published some 6 years ago. Sure, the clothes and hair are a little dated, but the tips hold as true today as they would have then. But the proof of the pudding is in the eating, so, armed with nothing more than my iPhone 4S and four photo apps (instagram, Pixlromatic, Snapseed and Mosaiq), I took Buckingham's book for a test drive. The results, in no particular order, are below. As is a slideshow of extra photos that I didn't use in this post.

Friday, November 25, 2011

5 tributes to Anne McCaffrey and what she's meant to us

List by assorted librarians

"Because we build the worlds we wouldn't mind living in. They contain scary things, problems, but also a sense of rightness that makes them alive and makes us want to live there. "

"I have a shelf of comfort books, which I read when the world closes in on me or something untoward happens. "

~ Anne McCaffrey, 1926-2011

Bear with us, folks, this is something of a long post, but when we started to talk about the passing of Anne McCaffrey this week, turns out we had a lot of love for the lady and her myriad works, and a lot of words to try and share that. A lot of words, and one wicked tattoo, I might add. I love the way that we each - as teenagers, mostly - took something quite different from her books, and what we took means a lot to us still. Just remembering it brings a smile to our faces, and a flood of emails back and forth as we swap favourite characters, scenes and series.
Rest in peace.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Top 5 things I learned from 'Breaking Dawn'

List by Tosca

SPOILERS AHEAD! You have been warned. Confession: I saw Breaking Dawn and I think it was a comedy. Was it? I'm stretching the use of the blog today because we don't have the Breaking Dawn film yet because, hey, that'd be illegal and libraries don't roll that way. I try, as much as possible, to promote our resources here. So major #fail on that part. We do, however, have the books the movies were based on, so I'm going to pimp those like they've never been pimped before so I can get away with this list. Slightly kidding on the pimping part! Although I do want to point out, in case you didn't know already, that we have Meyer's Twilight saga in normal print (small print? I never know quite how to refer to it), large print, audiobook, ebook, graphic novel and soundtrack. We even have Twilight books translated into international languages. Is that awesomely accessible or what?

Breaking Dawn the film is based on book 4 in Stephenie Meyer's Twilight saga. Here's my heavily edited version of the books to date: Twilight, book 1 - human Bella meets vampire Edward, angst ensues. New moon, book 2 - Edward leaves Bella 'for her own good,' Bella is overly dramatic and thinks she can't live without him and, once again, angst ensues. Eclipse, book 3 - I can't remember what happened, but I know that angst ensues. Breaking dawn, book 4 - egad! The angst, people, the angst!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Top 5 pet photography tricks I used with the nephews instead

List by Tosca

"The photograph itself doesn't interest me. I want only to capture a minute part of reality."
- Henri Cartier Bresson

It's Saturday and, as I said I would, I'm sharing 5 photos I took of my nephews, using tricks/tips that were in a book about pet photography that I came across earlier this week. My nephews were obliging enough to give up a part of their Saturday afternoon (while their friends looked on equal parts amused at the antics of their friends, and horrified that I might make them participate). Thank you to: Markhiem Elijah Williams (aged 14), Jaxin Bilal Wayne Williams (aged 13), Kalani Peter Harlem Alakoka (aged 7) and Remy Lakota Brown (aged 1).

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Top 5 pet photography tricks I plan to use on my nephews instead (and post pics of on Saturday) because I have cute pet envy

List by Tosca

"The difference between friends and pets is that friends we allow into our company, pets we allow into our solitude."
- Robert Brault

This isn't a serious-ish post. You can probably tell that by the long winded post title, and yet I still feel compelled to warn you in advance. So, here goes. Yesterday afternoon I felt guilty about the fact that The Art of Fielding : A Novel by Chad Harbach is overdue on my card (I can't get into it and I keep trying because online critics talk about how good it really is, one of them said it reminded them of John Iriving, whose books I adored in my late teens/early 20s so I tried for that reason only I now want to hunt them down and frown at them because I didn't feel that) and went downstairs to return it, only to get down there and realise it was upstairs on my desk. Dumb. Not wanting to make it a wasted trip, I raided their new/recently returned display shelf and found - TA DA - Pet photography 101 : tips for taking better photos of your dog or cat by Andrew Darlow. I don't own a pet. The cat I had preferred my father. She also thought she was a dog and would only come if you whistled. The dog I had was as neurotic as I was and had this odd habit of crying loudly if it rained while we were out walking, and would then run home without me to hide behind the sofa. I figure it's me, not them, and so I don't have pets anymore. Which means I can't take photos of them, and I'm disappointed because they make such cute subjects! I'm going to do the next best thing - I'm going to take 5 of Monsieur Darlow's tips and have my nephews pose in place of cute fluffy puppies/kittens instead. I foresee tears, drama, tragedy and possible laughs all around (for them? for me? for the neighbours?) *hopeful look* This book really does have fantastic ideas for photographing pets and I highly recommend it - I'm just envious of all of the people who can actually put these into practice and brag about them. If you like this post, or if it made you laugh, then please pretty please post a pic of your own cute dog/cat/llama/chinchilla/axolotyl :-) (Don't dismiss axolotyls - they were my favourite pets of all the ones we ever had, and smarter than you'd think).

On to the tips I've chosen, which are just numbers and words at the moment. Saturday I will upload the pics! (Assuming I, or my nephews, have managed to come out of the experience unscathed and somewhat willing to talk about it all).

Monday, November 14, 2011

Top 5 Footprints Movember tributes

List by Tosca

"There was a time I could have been mistaken for Burt Reynolds. I had a moustache and so did he. But he was the number one star in the world, so there wasn't really much confusion."
- Tom Selleck

My dad has sported a moustache and/or beard on and off for most of my life. Mum has years worth of photos that can attest to this fact. In fact *points left* I have one here that was taken on his wedding day. It is my (unsolicited) opinion that 70s moustaches are something quite wonderful (and scary) to behold. And yet dad's one (to the left) was from the 90s. My parents didn't get married until I was 18. In fact, all of my brothers and sisters and I were there for the event. OH THE SHAME. Kidding. As for moustaches, the 70s (and 80s and, sigh, the 90s) have so much to answer for.

Here for your delectation (and because they are more than worth sharing) are the best of the best top 5 moustaches from our Footprints database! Our Footprints online database is a record of historical images from the South Auckland and Counties-Manukau area. There are so many fantastic images (this VJ Day pic, taken on Queen Street a day before the official VJ Day celebrations - is my favourite). The database is well worth a browse, so give it a go. And tell us what you found!

Friday, November 11, 2011


"Be a trend setter, not a trend follower." No one told the publishing industry this. Just look at all the teen vampire novels out there. The Hunger Games sparked a flood of teen novels set in messed up futures, featuring female heroines on the path of self-discovery. The themes focus on being original and rejecting the trend of society. Somewhat ironic. Here I present 5 teen dystopian novels with one word verb titles. Read them, while society will still let you ...

Birthmarked / Caragh M. O'Brien

In a future world baked dry by the sun and divided into those who live inside the wall and those who live outside it, sixteen-year-old midwife Gaia Stone is forced into a difficult choice when her parents are arrested and taken into the city.

Also see sequel Prized, which has just been published.

Matched / Ally Condie

All her life, Cassia has never had a choice. The Society dictates everything: when and how to play, where to work, where to live, what to eat and wear, when to die, and most importantly to Cassia as she turns 17, who to marry. When she is Matched with her best friend Xander, things couldn't be more perfect. But why did her neighbor Ky's face show up on her match disk as well?

Also see sequel Crossed, which has just been published.

Nat: If you enjoy Matched, I'd also recommend reading The Giver by Lois Lowry, a 1994 Newbery Award winner. It features a society similar to the one in Matched.

Bumped / Megan McCafferty

In 2036 New Jersey, when teens are expected to become fanatically religious wives and mothers or high-priced Surrogettes for couples made infertile by a widespread virus, sixteen-year-old identical twins Melody and Harmony find in one another the courage to believe they have choices.

Nat: Bumped was less dystopian, more satire. It was a darkly humourous take on a world where teen pregnancy is glorified. Watch out for the sequel Thumped next year.

Scored / Lauren McLaughlin

Set in the future when teenagers are monitored via camera and their actions and confessions are given a computerised "score" that determines their future potential. This score has the ability to get kids into colleges, grant scholarships, or destroy all hope for the above. Scored's reluctant heroine is Imani, a girl whose high score is brought down when her best friend's score plummets. Where do you draw the line between doing what feels morally right and what can mean your future? Friendship, romance, loyalty, family, human connection and human value: all are questioned in this fresh and compelling dystopian novel set in the scarily forseeable future.

Nat: I haven't read this one yet, but the premise would have appealed to me as a teen. I remember once receiving a test back with 98%, and the teacher said something like 'let's see about that 2% you missed'.

Awaken / Katie Kacvinsky

In the year 2060, when people hardly ever leave the security of their houses and instead do everything online, Madeline Freeman, the seventeen-year-old daughter of the man who created the national digital school attended by all citizens, falls in love with a boy who wants to meet face to face. She is introduced to a new world, as well as a group of radicals who are trying to get people to "unplug."

Nat: This is at number one, just because it's not called 'Awakened'. But that may be because the Teen Vampire series, House Of Night, has already used that title. (along with Marked, Betrayed, Untamed, Hunted, Tempted, Burned, and Destined).

The only thing missing now is a satire called Rehashed. Happy reading, all. But remember, you're being monitored ...

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Top 5 new cakes and desserts books

List by Tosca

"Everyone has a price - mine is chocolate."
- Author unknown

I am inordinately fond of sugar. So much so that I always have something on me, near me or around me for those moments when I feel like I'll keel over and faint if I don't have it. A tad bit melodramatic? Well, yes, absolutely, and yet I'm sure some women can relate when I say you can either have me tense, irritable, anxious and suffering from mood swings (seriously, everyday feels like PMS-day), or you can have the somewhat muted version of me that you (virtually) see in front of you today. I know, it's like being stuck between a rock and a hard place, right? I adore cookbooks. I'm not particularly good at it and nothing I ever make turns out like the photos so I figure half the satisfaction must come from the doing of it, and the other half from the eating of it, and the bonus must be the reading. Which is just as well because the cakes and desserts new book list? My most favourite cookbooks ever. On the days when I don't succumb to the demon sugar in whatever form is on sale at the local supermarket (I know, totally shameless) I ooh and aah over the new cakes and desserts books and imagine that, one day, I could make ones just like it. (Hasn't happened yet). And so I present the 5 best of the newest ones. IMHO (in my humble opinion), anyway. Or as humble as I get.

Honourable mention:
Dress your gingerbread! : Bake them! Dress them! Eat them! by Joanna Farrow - Whether you want to make the perfect birthday party platter, need a fun rainy day activity to do with your kids, or fancy whipping up a unique and tasty gift for grandma, what better way than with a batch of freshly-baked gingerbread as you've never seen it before? Step-by-step instructions show you how to dress up your gingerbread as a whole host of colourful characters, from pirates and princesses to monsters and superheroes.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Top 5 deadly summer reads

List by Danielle

'Every young person should have one summer they look back on for the rest of their lives.'
From The poison tree, by Erin Kelly

Summer can be terrifying. Anyone contemplating wearing a pair of togs in public knows and understands this. But! There are actually far more reasons to fear summer than not looking like Jessica Alba in a bikini (or Daniel Craig in speedos). If you're looking for something a bit suspenseful to read over the holidays, the books below all feature long, hot summer days that mark turning points in the lives of their unlucky characters. The stories that follow lure you in as the narrators gradually pick apart the threads of that one crucial day, and you begin to make sense of the echoes that have chased them down the years.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Top 5 most requested titles for October 2011

List by Tosca

"Books had instant replay long before televised sports."
- Bern Williams

A 6"5 inch mountain of a man (who, weirdly, will be 5"7 instead in the recently announced book-into-film version, but more on that later). Civil rights in 1960s Jackson, Mississippi. Gods and demigods. The memoir of a man who managed to offend most of NZ without even trying. Dragons and destiny. What do they have in common? On a normal, day to day basis probably no crossover whatsoever. Unless you work with books. Behold, our top 5 most requested titles for October 2011!

P.S. I don't envy anyone waiting on our #1 book. That number is phenomenal.

Honourable mention (i.e. next 5 on the list):
  • Cabin fever by Jeff Kinney - children's fiction, book 6 in the Diary of a wimpy kid series. Currently on order
  • People's republic by Robert Muchamore - teen fiction, book 13 in the Cherub series
  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins - teen fiction, book 1 in The Hunger Games series
  • Thea Stilton, big trouble in the Big Apple by Geronimo Stilton - children's fiction
  • Diary of a wimpy kid : Rodrick rules by Jeff Kinney - children's fiction, book 2 in the Diary of a wimpy kid series
  • The conductor by Sarah Quigley - historical fiction, NZ author (I really want to read this one! I just don't want to have to wait *sigh*)