Monday, June 29, 2015

10% Human by Dr. Alanna Collen-- (so what's the other 90%?!)

Back in fourth grade, learning about the mites that colonize our eyelashes and eyebrows was an eye-opening experience, in the sense that I only opened my eyes again after shampooing my lashes and brows, repeatedly, for a very long time. As a kid, the thought of tiny organisms making themselves at home around my eyes freaked me out, and it tied into to my distaste for germy surfaces, used tissues, and moist kitchen sponges. Eew!

But, older and wiser, I’ve learned that microorganisms are not all bad, and in fact, 90% of our bodies are made up of non-human cells. In her new book, 10% human: how your body’s microbes hold the key to health and happiness, biologist and zoologist Dr. Alanna Collen says:

For every one of the cells that make up the vessel that you call your body, there are nine imposter cells hitching a ride. You are not just flesh and blood, muscle and bone, brain and skin, but also bacteria and fungi. Over your lifetime, you will carry the equivalent weight of five African elephants in microbes. You are not an individual but a colony.
For most of our history, the role of our non-human cells was not well understood, and only recently has mainstream science begun to develop serious research in this area. The Human Genome Project has been succeeded by the less well known but equally important Human Microbiome Project.  Collen's book collates many cutting edge studies to form a fascinating picture of this frontier in human health. Collen, who’s written for the Sunday Times Magazine and appeared on BBC nature shows, has a knack for making the science relatable for those of us who didn’t major in biology.

On the personal level, understanding that you are a super-organism made up of colonies of different types of bacteria which support or undermine your health, your behaviors, and your desires, may tempt you to bathe in rubbing alcohol and imbibe emetics.  But studies are finding that supporting our microbial partners, even replacing them when need be, is the way to go for better health and quality of life. Check out 10% human: how your body’s microbes hold the key to health and happiness to learn more.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Madame Chaos Makes Mad Science in Literacy Park

Newport Public Library's summer reading program, Every Hero Has a Story,  brings Mad Science’s Madame Chaos back to Literacy Park this Wednesday at 1:00 p.m. All children and families are invited to attend this free show.

“The purpose of what we do is to show kids that learning about science is fun,” says Madame Chaos. “In fact, it is the most fun subject that anyone can even imagine. This year’s show will feature the heroes of invention and will be, as always, a bang-up good time.”

Madame Chaos has been with the Portland franchise of 'Mad Science' for about six years. “My background, you ask? I have a degree in psychology, which helps in this line of work - but my first love is science. Loving science, loving the kids, and having fun, is what it's all about.”

The Literacy Park shows are paid for with Ready to Read grant money from the Oregon Legislature and additional support from Sylvia Beach Hotel and D’Sands Motel. Look here for more information about all of the summer programs at your library.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Juggler Henrik Bothe Returns to Newport

Henrik Bothe's last visit to Newport Public Library was in 2008 so it is with delight that we welcome him back for another dose of his fantastic juggling and ready humor.  He'll be here at 1:00 p.m. this Wednesday, June 24, in Literacy Park.

A native of Denmark, Henrik began entertaining at the early age of three when he drove the family VW bug into the sea. With fortune on his side, he made a quick escape and was soon mesmerized by plate-spinning acts on The Ed Sullivan Show. This lead to breaking Mom’s plates and throwing Dad’s knives in the wood-shop, until he ultimately attended Aarhus Theater Academy to focus on the performing arts.

Performance highlights include appearing on Garrison Keillor‘s “A Prairie Home Companion” where Garrison exclaimed “Henrik is one of the few jugglers that have ever succeeded in performing on the radio.” Henrik has also made appearances with Jay Leno on The Tonight Show, in Las Vegas at Ceasar’s Palace and on Europe’s most widely viewed variety show “Le Plus Grande Cabaret du Monde” in Paris.

Today Henrik performs physical comedy as a professional entertainer for corporate, local and national events. When Henrik isn’t performing solo he either tours theaters in the US with Woody Keppel in “Foolz,” a duo show for all ages, or performs with Steve G as “The Bellini Twins,” an act with a “late night” feel.

These programs are paid for by funds from the Newport Public Library Foundation and its supporters.   Look here for more information about our summer reading presentations.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The Genealogy Bug

Once you’re bitten by the genealogy bug, it’s hard to stop. Finding records about your ancestors is like solving an intricate puzzle, and sometimes more questions arise from the information you discover. Why did that branch of the family suddenly change its heritage from German to English? How did my great-grandmother manage to raise nine children and run a boarding house? Why did my great-great-grandfather change his last name to Jones when he left Ireland? Some questions can never be answered, but the fun is in looking, and sometimes finding a clue!

The library subscribes to a genealogy database, HeritageQuest, and I’ll be teaching a class on it June 26, at 10 a.m.  Anyone with our library card can use HeritageQuest from home. It has census records dating back to 1790; city directories, mostly from the 20th century; and several other specialized collections.  If you'd like to sign up for the class, give us a call at 541-265-2153. 

In addition to HeritageQuest, other free databases have a wealth of information. FamilySearch draws from hundreds of sources, and includes copies of birth, marriage, and death ledgers, some census records, ships’ passenger lists, military draft records, enlistment records, and more.

(Click on Images to Enlarge)
World War I Registration Card
I have to give a disclaimer, though; many of the collections are for a limited range of dates, so not everything is available. But what you can find might be just the piece of the puzzle you needed, so it is worth investigating! Within just a few minutes, I found a record of my grandmother's birth, listing her parents' names, address, where they were born, and her father's occupation, along with a copy of a relative's World War I Draft registration, listing his age, hair and eye color, occupation, and current address.  All grist for the genealogist's mill!

Another free site is the Ellis Island website, which lists passengers who entered the United States through Ellis Island. The site is best used by creating a free account. Once you find a record, you can view a small image of it, and zoom in to see parts of it up close. If you want a readable copy, though, there is a fee.
List or Manifest of Alien Passengers
These are just a few places to try on your quest to uncover your family roots.  Again, if you'd like to register for the class on June 26, call us at 541-265-2153.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Find Your Inner-Hero! Teen Mask Making Workshop

We know that school is out for the summer, and that means no more homework, BUT… now you can read for pleasure! The Newport Public Library is once again sponsoring the Teen Summer Reading Contest. We are gearing up for readers ages 12-18. The theme this year is “Unmask”. Whether you prefer fiction or nonfiction there are books for all that cover many interests and take you on journeys through the written word. We have an incentive to offer when you sign up.

Each week prizes will be awarded to two randomly chosen readers from our raffle jar. Some of our prizes will include movie passes, pie slices, gift cards, and ---we are the library--- books.

Our “Teen Third Thursday” programs will focus on the “Unmask” theme. June 18 we will kick off the summer with a “Mask Making Workshop”. In July we look forward to a comic/manga/graphic novel style drawing event, and for our finale in August we will host a “Superhero Party”. All events feature food and drinks. Remember to call or come by to sign up before the programs fill up.

Over in the YA (young adult) section of Newport Public Library, look for all your summer reading needs. All in all, another summer to find yourself immersed in a good book. For more information, please call 541.265.2153 or check online at

Posted for Linda

Monday, June 15, 2015

The Strangler Vine, by M.J. Carter

The year is 1837. Ensign William Avery has decided it was a mistake to have joined the East India Company. Rotting away in Calcutta, socially unconnected, heavily in debt and with little chance of advancement, he dreams of returning home to England.

A sudden and unexpected promotion to lieutenant and an assignment to rescue, or is it capture, an influential but troublesome English writer “gone native,” pushes the gullible young Avery into a trek through darkest India. Leading the expedition is Jeremiah Blake, a hired “fixer” for the East India Company. Though fluent in native culture and languages, Blake is mysteriously antagonistic to the expedition, leaving Avery to doubt the whole shebang.

Set in the early days of the Raj, M.J. Carter’s “The Strangler Vine” is a sort-of “Heart of Darkness” Lite. With every step deeper into the jungle, Blake and Avery stumble upon more questions than answers in search of Xavier Mountstuart. Why is this poet so important to the Company? And what is his relationship to Thugee, the brutal cult of banditry and ritual assassination?

Without quite the same menace of Conrad’s classic novel, "The Strangler Vine" does convey a lush world of tropical intrigue, rapacious colonial bureaucracy, and simple, timeless greed. Things are never what they seem and more danger lurks behind the desks of The East India Company than down any jungle path.

If you enjoy historical fiction and adventure, you might find "The Strangler Vine" a ripping yarn. M.J. Carter is also the author of "George, Nicholas, And Wilhelm: Three Cousins And The Road To World War I", a book that I reviewed here.

You can reserve M.J. Carter’s "The Strangler Vine" here.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Knights in Newport, Heroes With a Story

Wednesdays at Newport Public Library are all about heroes and their stories. What better way to start than with knights in shining armor? That's what we thought as well so this Wednesday at 1:00 p.m. the Knights of Veritas will be coming to Literacy Park to kick off "Every Hero has a Story", the 2015 Summer Reading program.

The Knights of Veritas present the lives of medieval knights based on current scholarship, archaeology and interpretation of period sources, the clothing, armour and weapons are accurate to the originals in form and design, using period materials and accurate in detail right down to the buttons and buckles. Knights even bring a display case featuring a selection of real, genuine medieval antiquities. And of course, no presentation is complete without a discussion of the Code of Chivalry. What makes a knight a knight? Hint: it isn't the sword or the armor... though both of those items will make an appearance during the library programs.

This program is brought to you by the Lincoln County Library District’s Ready to Read grant money from the Oregon Legislature. Look here for more information about all the summer programs at Newport Public Library.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Istanbul or Bust! A Double Dose of "Travels With My Aunt."

What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object?  Graham Greene's only comedic novel, Travels with My Aunt, addresses this paradox delightfully.

Both the book and the movie based on the book will be featured on Tuesday, June 9, as the Reading Circle selection (at noon) and the Literary Flick film (at 6:30 p.m.)

The book, written in 1969, tells the story of Henry Pulling, a rather dull, retired bank clerk whose mother just died. His one passion in life is his garden of dahlias.  He meets his flamboyant Aunt Augusta at his mother’s funeral, and is drawn into a whirl-wind adventure of a lifetime.

In the 1972 film, Maggie Smith takes center stage as Aunt Augusta, the indomitable 70-year-old (although the actress was 33 at the time), simultaneously shocking and intriguing her oh-so-proper nephew, Henry (played superbly by Alec McCowen).  She embroils him in a plan to raise ransom money to rescue her former lover, taking Henry on a mad dash across Europe to Turkey aboard the Orient Express. Directed by George Cuckor, the movie won an Academy Award for Best Costume Design. It also received three nominations: for Best Cinematography; Best Art Direction-Set Decoration; and Maggie Smith for Best Actress.

Both programs are free and open to the public. For more information, call the library at 541-265-2153 or go to its website,