Green Tips for Earth Day and Beyond

EarthHere are some small changes that will not only reduce your ecological footprint, but may even save you money and help you live a happier, healthier life!

1. Bring your own bags when shopping. An average American family acquires 60 plastic bags per week and rarely reuses them.

2. Buy local. Produce at a local farmer’s market may be more expensive, but you are almost always guaranteed a high quality product. Buying goods produced locally reduces the fossil fuels needed to transport items across the country and around the globe. Do you really need to eat that banana from Central America?

3. Green your coffee habit. Each year Americans throw away 138 billion straws and stirrers, 110 billion cups, and 58 billion plastic utensils. Many coffee shops give a discount if you bring your own receptacle, so buy a couple of mugs and keep one in your car.

4. Yes you can drive 55! Slowing down really does save gas. For every mile per hour faster than 55 mph, fuel economy drops by 1%. The drop-off increases at a greater rate after 65 mph. Also to remember to keep your tires inflated to the correct air pressure.

5. Stop buying bottled water. Consider buying a reusable container and drinking tap water. Bottled water is an incredibly wasteful product. It is usually packaged in single serving bottles made of fossil fuels. It then travels miles to its destination using more energy. The Earth Policy Institute estimates that the bottled water industry consumes the equivalent of 50 million barrels of oil annually, the same as having 3 million additional cars on the road.

For more ways to go green at home, check out Easy Green Living: the Ultimate Guide to Simple, Eco-Friendly Choices for You and Your Home by Renee Loux for lots of tips and ideas and which urges you to start with small steps that anyone can accomplish. Earth Day is for everyone, every day.

National Hanging Out Day

The Clothesline

clothes·line [ klṓz ln, klṓz ln ]
noun (plural clothes·lines)
Definition: line for hanging laundry: a cord on which clean laundry is hung to dry,usually outdoors.
 

It is a simple word that is causing much discussion these days. The act of hanging out clothes in the fresh air brings back many memories for me. Days with my grandmother and mother, the smell of fresh sheets on the bed at night. I still hang out my clothes, rarely using a dryer. I read an article in the New York Times about a year ago about clotheslines and how some areas, mostly new house subdivisions, have banned the use of clotheslines. The article led me to Project Laundry List where founder Alexander Lee gives the top reasons why you should hang out your clothes, the first and foremost being to save money – about $100 per year on electricity for most households. The organization has designated April 19th as National Hanging Out Day to encourage everyone to hang out their laundry and save energy.

There is a beautiful book on the subject, The Clothesline by Irene Rawlings and Andrea VanSteenhouse, which discusses the history of drying laundry, types of clotheslines, laundry rooms, laundry collectibles and clotheslines as art. The illustrations alone make it worth a look.

On the Wing by Alan Tennant

On the Wing by Alan TennantPart naturalist exploration, part adventure story, On the Wing follows Alan Tennant in his pursuit of the peregrine falcon. One falcon in particular, to be precise, named Amelia. Teaming up with George, a World War II vet and his beat up Cessna, Alan follows Amelia via radio signal from the Texas barrier islands, north to the Arctic and back south again through Mexico, Belize and the Caribbean. Alan and George run into their fair share of trouble and excitement, both moving and funny in a story that will quickly make you part of the experience.

Peregrine falcons can travel faster than any other animal on earth, reaching speeds of up to 200 mph when making steep dives. They are prodigious migrators (the subject of Alan’s research) sometimes traveling thousands of miles, and can be found on every continent on earth except for Antarctica or in deserts, high mountaintops, polar regions and, interestingly, New Zealand.

The most common prey for falcons is small birds such as pigeons and ducks, caught by disabling their victim in mid-flight (that speedy dive aims for a wing of the bird they’re pursuing). Mating for life, they nest on steep cliffs and, fairly commonly now, on skyscrapers. Peregrine falcons nearly disappeared from North America in the 50s and 60s because of pesticide use, but have made a strong recovery with the help of protections provided by the Endangered Species Act.

You can see these incredible birds right here in the Quad Cities; a nesting pair – Scorpio and P/D – are occupying a specially built nesting box located on the Mid American building in downtown Davenport (our own version of a skyscraper) If you’re not lucky enough to spot them in flight, check out WQAD-TV’s Falcon Cam for some live, up-close shots of the happy couple as well as links to more information about peregrine falcons and this pair in particular.

6 Reasons to Take a Walk

Walking shoesSpring officially arrived at 5:48am this morning and it didn’t get here a minute too soon. After being cooped up inside during the Winter that Would Not End, spring is the perfect time to get outside and take a walk. Here are 6 reasons to inspire you.

1. It’s good for you! Lower stress, increase cardiovascular health, soak up some vitamin D – you’re bound to feel better. The Mayo Clinic has some great tips to get you started.

2. The Quad City area is blessed with one of the best urban recreational trail systems in the country, and they’re right outside your back door (in a manner of speaking) Duck Creek Parkway, Ben Butterworth Recreational Trail and the recently opened Sunderbruch Park all feature great walks and trails with a view.

3. Walking is cheap. All you need is a supportive pair of walking shoes and you’re ready to go. No fancy club memberships, no special equipment, just you and your feet. (Please also wear appropriate clothing!)

4. Birdwatching. Located in the midst of the Mississippi Valley flyway gives us many unique opportunities to observe birds of all kinds, from bald eagles to native songbirds. Be sure to grab a birdwatching book from the library (598 call number) so you know what your seeing.

5. Get in touch with nature. Walking gets you out of your automobile/house cocoon and connects you to the outdoors. Walking also slows you down, making it easy to observe and notice the details that rush by most of us during our busy daily life.

6. Connect with your friends and family. There’s something about taking a walk with someone that makes it easier to talk. Put down that cell phone, set the video game aside, turn off the tv and talk to a real person!

Want to get involved with an organized group? Check out the Mississippi River Ramblers, the local chapter of the American Volkssport Association. Volkssport offers non-competitive, family-oriented participatory sports events.

Now, no more excuses – get out there and take a walk!

March Madness

March Madness beginsWith yesterday’s announcement of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament brackets, March Madness can officially begin. Have you got your bracket filled out yet? Most newspaper sports sections print a bracket, but there are also many online sites that allow you to join or create a group. My nephew has created a group on Yahoo’s Basketball Tournament Pick’em for the family for several years; after the lineups are announced on Sunday, he sends an invitation to each of us with a password. We pick our winners by the deadline (tip-off of the first game on Thursday); Yahoo takes care of keeping track of points and who’s leading in the group (our family has been continually amused by the fact that my sister-in-law beats out her sports-loving husband and sons almost every year)

College basketball has inspired some excellent books that bring the color and drama of the game to you. John Feinstein has written some of the best including Season on the Brink about Indiana and coach Bobby Knight’s run through the Big Ten schedule, The Last Amateurs about Division I basketball and A March to Madness about the Atlantic Coast Conference. Other books worth reading include To Hate Like This is to be Happy Forever by Will Blyth about the Duke-North Carolina rivalry, Cinderella: inside the Rise of Mid-Major College Basketball by Michael Litos and The Men of March: a Season Inside the Lives of College Basketball Coaches by Brian Curtis.

And don’t forget, the womens NCAA Tournament is also being held beginning March 22 and concluding April 8. More information, including schedules and results for all collegiate championships can be found at NCAA.com.

Lie Down and Be Counted!

Cat napDid losing that hour of sleep leave you feeling like you could use a nap today? Well, you’re in luck because the first Monday after the return of light saving time is officially National Napping Day. This observance is designed to make people aware of the health and productivity benefits of napping, especially at the workplace.

To help convince your boss that workplace napping is a great idea, check out The Art of Napping at Work by Camille and William Anthony (154.6 Ant) The authors present everything from nap management to ideas for converting the napaphobics among us.

When presenting your case for the necessity of nap time at work, don’t be afraid to drop the names of famous nappers like JFK, Winston Churchill, Thomas Edison, “Nap-olean” Bonaparte, Johannes Brahms, Jim Lehrer, and Bill Clinton. If these highly effective people napped, shouldn’t we all be able to catch a few winks at work?

As National Napping Day is observed let’s also remember that on March 10, 1876, Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone, and nap time has never been the same since.

What about you, do love naps as much as me?

Know a teen that would like to see their shorts on the big screen?

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.

First day of spring

Spring trainingThat’s the true harbinger of spring, not crocuses or swallows returning to Capistrano, but the sound of a bat on the ball. – Bill Veeck, 1976

Every baseball fan knows that spring starts this week – pitchers and catchers are reporting to Spring Training. Just knowing that somewhere there is warm sunshine and blue skies and green grass and that the boys of summer are working out the kinks makes the promise of spring seem closer. If you’re lucky enough to be able to escape the Midwestern winter and visit one of the leagues (the Cactus League is in Arizona and the Grapefruit League is in Florida) check out out Spring Training Online for in-depth information about the teams, the parks they play in during spring training, how to get tickets and directions on how to get there as well as spring training game schedules. Spring Training Tips offers lots of valuable information from people who have gone to spring training including information on how to rent a house for your visit, where to go to squeeze in a round of golf and what kind of weather to expect. Major League Baseball has a wealth of information including the most sacred to baseball fans: statistics. Check out all the news about your favorite team and what players to watch this season.

And for the rest us, hang in there – the Cubs home opener is March 31 and the newly renamed Quad Cities River Bandits open April 3!

And The Oscar Goes To …..?

oscar-statuette.jpgHollywood’s big night is coming – The Academy Awards. Oscar’s red carpet will be unrolled on Sunday, February 24th. See the lists of nominees at www.oscar.com.

To learn more about the history of movie making take a look at the 791.43 area within the Library. Here are some titles that might spark your interest:




Movies That Changed Us by Nick Clooney (Yep, that’s George Clooney’s dad.) 791.43 Clo

100 Years of Hollywood by Time-Life Books 791.42 One

The Golden Age of “B” Movies by Doug McClelland 791.43 McC

A Great Tip for Staying Warm this Winter

exterior-drive-up-lane-11-28-07-004.jpgUse the library’s drive-up window! Our Fairmount Street Library location offers a drive-up window that is available the same hours that the Fairmount Library is open. You can use this window to pick up available holds and also to pay fines. If a staff person is not immediately visible, simply press the marked button and a staff person will be with you in a few moments.