clock1.jpgGet ready folks, Daylight Saving Time begins at 2 A.M. on March 9th. Here are some things to think about as we spring forward.

1. The official spelling is Daylight Saving Time, not Daylight SavingS Time.

2. No daylight is actually saved. But who wants to say Daylight Shifting Time?

3. Daylight Saving Time is not observed in Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rica, the Virgin Islands, the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, and Arizona. Notice all these locales are nice warm spots? They probably don’t care so much about shifting their sunny hours.

4. Change your smoke detector batteries.

5. The idea of Daylight Saving Time was first conceived by Benjamin Franklin.

6. The Energy Act of 2005 changed the starting and ending dates of DST. Lobbyists for this provision included the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association and the National Association of Convenience Stores. Lobbyists against included the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the National Parent-Teacher Association.

7. Now the Easter Bunny will have more time before the sun rises to hide eggs.

Picture of NerdsWhen thousands of computer guys and gals put their competitive spirit into an effort, you benefit and companies suffer. Here is a greatly abbreviated list of some excellent programs you can install on your computer for free, thanks to their efforts testing and writing code to one-up one another. Depending who you ask, some folks find them better than their paid equivalents.

1)Open Office – A knock off that is fully compatible with Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, Powerpoint, etc). Open Office is updated far more frequently, and does not cost several hundred dollars. It costs $0. I uninstalled Microsoft Office because I liked this one better.

2) AVG – Free antivirus program. Works pretty good. You can’t NOT have an antivirus program. That’s asking for trouble.

3) Comodo – There are a lot of creeps out there that would love to get into your computer through the Internet. Run Comodo Firewall and keep them out. Doesn’t make your system run like molasses like some of the so-called total protection programs you can buy.

4) Spybot – When the creeps get in your computer, how do you get rid of the junk they drop all over the place? Spybot Search and Destroy is an excellent spyware detection and removal program. Run it and see for yourself how much they’ve already dropped all over your computer without your permission.

5) Gimp – Would you like to edit your photos but don’t want to spend a few hundred on Photoshop? The GIMP doesn’t have as friendly of an interface, but it does let you do advanced editing beyond crop and resize for the low low cost of nothing.

See what happens when you can get techies to stop playing World of Warcraft for a few minutes?

Armchair TravelerEscape with the Armchair Traveler to beautiful Italy. These are not all “travel” books per se, but they will transport you from the frigid Midwest to warmer climes.

Without Reservations: the Travels of An Independent Woman by Alice Steinbach

Steinbach immerses herself in the neighborhoods and culture of European cities she travels to, but she is at her best when describing the thrills, hardships and annoyances of traveling alone.

As the Romans Do: The Delights, Dramas, and Daily Diversions of Life in the Eternal City by Alan Epstein

Again, Europe is seen through the eyes of an American, so the smallest of details of daily life are recorded and celebrated. Epstein describes the communal lifestyle of Rome (hanging out in the piazzas and raising children as a community) He revels in the elegant and beautiful art of conversation and sense of style that is particular to Romans.

Italian Journey by Jean GionoVenice

Written right after WWII, this is an elegant and elegiac view of northern Italy, and Venice, in particular.

An Italian Affair by Laura Fraser

Suddenly single, the author decides to take a trip to Italy where she begins a romance and a journey through Italy. An unsentimental but sensuous memoir.

The Fall of the Sparrow by Robert Hellenga

This novel merges the midwest and Italy, as a classics professor travels to Italy to attend the trial of terrorists responsible for his daughter’s death. (the author teaches at Knox College in Galesburg).

The Dark Heart of Italy by Tobias Jones

Jones balances his love for Italy with the realities of political corruption, Italy’s obsession with soccer and beauty, and Silvio Berlusconi

Next week: the Armchair Traveler visits New York City.

In Defense of FoodIs your head spinning from all the conflicting studies about what you should or shouldn’t eat? Michael Pollan makes a case for eating simply in this, his follow up book to The Omnivore’s Dilemma. He isn’t concerned with calorie counting or faddish lists of do’s and don’ts, but rather promotes a balanced, reasonable and pleasurable approach to food. Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. With so many “edible foodlike substances” on the market, Pollan advocates eating whole foods our grandmothers would recognize rather than the processed foods that claim to be nutritious. Fellow foodies will find this a refreshing book by a man who clearly loves good, real food. This is a great read to inspire lots of shopping at the local Farmer’s Markets this spring.

Also check out Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life for more ideas about how to eat local and fresh.

Take a listen to Michael Pollan’s talk given in Iowa City on WSUI radio’s Live from Prairie Lights

making moviesThe really big screen!

We’re having a film festival for teens of the Quad Cities. For full details, call the Davenport Public Library at 563-326-7893. But a bit of information now might help. The Quad-City area Public Libraries have put out a call for entries for our first ever YouTube film fest. We would like teens to create a 3 to 5 minute film that they post to a special account on YouTube.com and turn in to us.

To make this even more fun, the Putnam Museum & IMAX Theatre® have invited us to have a Red Carpet Event to showcase the winners. Prizes will be awarded for movies selected by the librarians and by audience choice.

So join us for the event on Thursday, March 13 at 7:00 PM as area teens present their YouTube movie on the giant IMAX® screen.

No registration is required for the free screening on the 13th, but teens must register their entries by March 8th. Entry forms are at both the Main and Fairmount libraries, or any local public library. More information is also online at www.davenportlibrary.com.

Iditarod sled raceAlaska, with it’s stunning scenery and distance from the continental United States holds a romantic place in the minds of most American’s. There is still wildness there, and vast spaces and untamed land and its people are tough and maybe a bit eccentric. You expect things to be bigger and wilder and more spectacular in Alaska, and usually it delivers.

Today marks the beginning of one of sports more spectacular events, the running of the Iditarod sled dog race which opens with a ceremonial start in downtown Anchorage. Often called the Last Great Race, the Iditarod covers 1150 miles over snowy, rugged terrain across wild Alaska. It is held to commemorate the 1925 life-saving run made by sled dog to deliver serum to avert a diphtheria epidemic in Nome, Alaska. The official site of the race gives you a ringside seat to the spectacle offering streaming video, history of the race, up-to-the minute news, bios of mushers and dogs, an interactive map of the route, a tracker which lists each competitor and their position in the race and weather reports. From start to Red Lantern (the traditional award given to the last finisher) you can join in the excitement of the event from the warmth of your living room.

If you want to find out more about the Iditarod and it’s colorful history, the library has several books on the subject in the 798.8 call number area, including Gary Paulson’s lyrical Winterdance: the fine madness of running the Iditarod.