Thankful for Podcasts

Talk of turkey, family, gratitude, all signs the Thanksgiving holiday is just about here. The long hours spent on the road or in the airport – facing down boredom, perhaps – don’t get as much attention. How to enliven those hours after you’ve tired of your musical playlist and making conversation, but are not ready for silence? Try downloading or streaming a new (free!) podcast.

When I asked  Moraine Valley librarians what they were planning to listen to over the break or have enjoyed listening to, this is what they shared.

Sharon Byerly: “I started listening to episode one, “Time,” of the Ways of Hearing podcast series written by Damon Durkowski, musician and writer, first because sounds often bother me. Too many sounds at once or certain sounds stress me out. Second, because I am philosophically interested in the concept of time, especially in regard to my life spent online vs. offline. Third, because one of the guests is Shaheed Muhammed of A Tribe Called Quest, a group I admire.”

Dan Matthews: “I’ve been listening to Adam Ruins Everything, Invisibilia, Nancy, and Call Your Girlfriend. They all center around social issues in some way, and have engaging interviews, and fun personalities to listen to.”

Marie Martino:  “Bad at Sports is … irreverent and smart and funny at times and includes interviews with some great contemporary artists. The Nerdette podcast is a celebration of nerdom!  Hosts and guests geek out over cool and oftentimes fascinating pop culture goodies, artifacts, events, and issues. This American Life is definitely a staple and I have had a number of “driveway moments” when I happen to catch it live on public radio.  A few of my all-time favorite pieces/episodes are: Animal Sacrifice; Plan B, Act 4, A Fate Most of Us Fear by Jonathon Goldstein; and God Said Huh by Julia Sweeney.”

Troy Swanson has lots of recommendations, including: A Storm of Spoilers, which focuses on the hit HBO show Game of Thrones, and other stuff in the off season;  I Was There Too  tells stories of the crew and background actors of major films and TV shows; You Are Not So Smart: A Celebration of Self Delusion looks at the psychology of belief; and Ivy Envy: Chicago Cubs Fan Podcast includes discussion about the Cubs from well-informed and heartfelt fans.

This librarian had planned on taking a break from her usual political, newsy, bookish podcasts in the coming days and spending at least an hour of her interstate drive listening to the Le Petty Prince Edition of Slate’s Hit Parade, in which the hosts “track the surprising parallels between two artists gone too soon.” Now she may listen to one – or more – of these, too.

You can check out a more extensive list of Moraine Valley librarians’ favorite podcasts, originally shared on the Library blog last spring, here.


As Thick As Pea Soup

We are experiencing some wonderfully foggy conditions today. Fog is this librarian’s very favorite weather. I love the way it changes the look and feel of everything around you and the mystery that it holds. It’s somewhat like reading a good mystery novel, when you can’t quite make out what’s ahead.

Fog is a weather condition that results in very low-lying clouds, made up of suspended water droplets. It forms when the difference between air temperature and dew point is less than 4 °F. An area the size of an Olympic sized swimming pool contains about 2 pints of water. Besides just looking really cool, all of this moisture in the air can be environmentally useful. The Redwood forests of California get around a third of their moisture from fog. In desert areas, fog can serve as a source of moisture when nets are used to collect the droplets from the fog.

Here a few other interesting facts about fog:

  • The foggiest place on Earth is Grand Banks off of the coast of Newfoundland, where the cold Labrador Current mixes with the warmer Gulf Stream. The area sees over 200 foggy days per year.


  • Shadows that are cast through fog are three dimensional.


  • Foghorns use a low-pitched tone because low-pitched notes lose less energy to water droplets than high-pitched ones and thus travel further.


  • Fog can be both good and bad for your skin. The moisture in fog acts as a natural emollient for your skin. But, even though fog blocks visible light, you may not realize that it does let through the ultraviolet light that causes wrinkles and sunburn.


  • Fog affects our perception of speed. Because of reduced visibility we should drive more slowly and in fog we have to be extra careful to do so. Since the fog obscures our surroundings, our brains don’t perceive the contrasts in the objects around us as well and thus we think we are going slower than we actually are.


  • Be sure to use your low beam headlights when driving in foggy conditions. High beams will be reflected back at you in the fog, making it even harder to see.


  • Fog helped us win the Revolutionary War. At the Battle of Long Island, on August 27, 1776, George Washington and troops were beginning to be surrounded by British forces and needed to retreat. A heavy fog rolled in and provided cover for just long enough for the retreat of 9,000 Americans. When the fog lifted, the British moved into the area to find it empty.

The Vietnam War

Every year on November 11, Americans honor the men and women who have served in the U.S. military.  It’s a crucial day to reflect on their commitment to serve and the ideals of duty and freedom.

To fully understand the sacrifices and hardship faced by veterans, consider checking out the recent documentary The Vietnam War by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick.   If you already watched the ten part, 18-hour documentary on PBS, you may want to check out the companion book: The Vietnam War: An Intimate History.

Did you know that here in Chicago we have two museums that help showcase what it means to be a veteran?

The National Veterans Art Museum hopes to foster dialogue between veterans and civilians about the impact of war.  Learn more about the museum’s history and mission here. The exhibit Vietnam – The Defining Moment is opening Friday, Nov 10.  It features artwork by over 30 Vietnam veterans and was curated by 2 Vietnam veterans.

The Pritzker Military Museum & Library, is located right across from Millennium Park.   Faces of War is a current exhibit of images by photographers that served on the front lines during the Vietnam War.   The collection also includes artifacts and items including the notebook of a soldier who fought during the Revolutionary War, Medals of Honor, and a 45-star flag from 1898.

Fall Back This Weekend

Looking for a little more daylight in the morning? You’re about to get your wish. This weekend we set our clocks back one hour as Daylight Saving Time comes to an end at 2am, Sunday Nov. 5th.

Why do we do all this falling back and springing ahead to observe Daylight Saving Time? Benjamin Franklin is the known to have written about the idea to cut down on the use of candles and to help people get out of bed earlier. But, the first official use of DST took place in what is now Thunder Bay, Canada in 1908. The practice began to catch on globally in 1916 when Germany adopted the practice. Today about 40% of the countries in the world follow Daylight Saving Time, though dates of the changes do vary by country.

When the practice was introduced a century ago, it was established to save energy by making more use of natural light on summer evenings. In today’s modern society that uses computers, TVs, and air conditioning, energy savings from DST have for the most part disappeared. It does still have some advantages however. More daylight in the evenings means more people are out shopping, eating, and attending events that boost the economy. There is also a safety feature to having more daylight at night as fewer road accidents and robberies take place when we make the switch to DST.

So, here’s your friendly reminder. Before you turn your light out Saturday night, set your clock back one hour.

Time to Embrace the Scary

Even if you don’t normally read horror, this is the one week of the year that you might be interested in creeping yourself out.   Lucky for you, we have a copy of Stephen King’s newest, a book he wrote with his son Owen-  Sleeping Beauties.  It’s the story of a near future where all women – except one- fall asleep and become “feral and spectacularly violent” if they are disturbed.

If you are a fan of King family creepiness, you need to check out Stephen King’s other writer son,  Joe Hill. 

If you want to devote less time to being frightened, how about a good old movie marathon?  We also have Pet Sematary, The Shining, It (from 1990, not the new movie), and Salem’s Lot.







JFK Assassination Information

On October 26, the National Archives will release classified documents about the John F. Kennedy assassination. Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States, was assassinated on November 22, 1963, in Dallas, Texas.

The library has these books and eBooks about the assassination.

The Assassination of John F. Kennedy: A Complete Book of Facts by James P. Duffy and Vincent L. Ricci (1992)

Bloody Treason: On Solving History’s Greatest Murder Mystery, the Assassination of John F. Kennedy by Noel Twyman (1997)

Where Were You? America Remembers the JFK Assassination compiled and edited by Gus Russo and Harry Moses; foreword by Tom Brokaw (2016)

“The President Has Been Shot!” The Assassination of John F. Kennedy by James L. Swanson (eBook and eAudiobook, 2016)

Issues Accessing PrepStep Test Prep Database Resources in the Catalog

PrepStep offers practice tests in math, English, high school equivalency, computer skills, placement tests, and more.  Normally, patrons can access PrepStep directly from our Research Databases list, as well as from specific item records in our our catalog.

Currently, the links present in the library catalog are broken and we are working with our vendor to fix them.  In  the mean time, please use the direct link that is provided via the Research Databases list to access PrepStep or click here.

If you need any assistance accessing these resources or any other ones, please Ask a Librarian.

Board Game Fan?

Are you a fan of board games? If so, we have a new book in the library that’s perfect for you. It’s All a Game: The History of Board Games from Monopoly to Settlers of Catan by Tristan Donovan. It’s said to be a fun, absorbing read.  If you rather play a board game than read about them, we have a small collection of them available for check out.

Here is the publisher’s description of the book:

“Board games have been with us longer than even the written word. But what is it about this pastime that continues to captivate us well into the age of smartphones and instant gratification? In It’s All a Game, British journalist and renowned games expert Tristan Donovan opens the box on the incredible and often surprising history and psychology of board games. He traces the evolution of the game across cultures, time periods, and continents, from the paranoid Chicago toy genius behind classics like Operation and Mouse Trap, to the role of Monopoly in helping prisoners of war escape the Nazis, and even the scientific use of board games today to teach artificial intelligence how to reason and how to win. With these compelling stories and characters, Donovan ultimately reveals why board games have captured hearts and minds all over the world for generations.”

As always, if you ever have questions, please ask a librarian for help.

Graveyard Story? Lincoln in the Bardo?

Looking for a graveyard story as we head toward Halloween? Maybe an  exceptionally beautifully written graveyard story that also meditates on life and death with humor and extreme… thoughtfulness? Check out George Saunders’ latest, Lincoln in the Bardo, an unconventional and surreal story of the days following the death of President Lincoln’s 11-year-old son, Willie. The 16th president visits his son’s tomb, mourning his personal loss and coming to terms with the role he plays in the unfolding Civil War, while at the same time unknowingly influencing the reality of the Washington cemetery “residents” caught somewhere between life and death. Saunders’ first novel, Lincoln in the Bardo, mixes fact with fiction, and was awarded the Man Booker Prize yesterday. Check it out at the Moraine Valley Library, available as book, e-book, and on audio.