Library Resources to Help You Make Good Consumer Decisions

I'll bet everyone knows that the library subscribes to most Consumer Reports publications and perhaps many of you know that we keep a reference copy of many years of the magazine and the Buyer's Guide at the Information Desk for use at any time.  There is an 8-year index of the items that have been rated at the back of the Buyer's Guide and a one year index at the back of each month's publication that make it handy to use the archives.  But have you also thought about other consumer information that the library makes available that is not so obvious?

Under Databases, on our homepage at, we have links to indexes to a lot of publications like magazines and newspapers and most of them are full-text.  One of the most complete is EBSCOHost or EBSCO Masterfile that provides full-text articles from over 1700 publications as far back as 1975.  Doing a search about the item you are interested in getting reviews for can help you find information about things that CR has not reviewed or not reviewed lately.  Other publications know how popular consumer information is and are frequently doing their version of the "ten best." 

These database searches are great for making purchasing decisions about consumer goods, getting health information and doctor ratings, and getting travel information to name a few.  All of this can be searched from home on our website.  Remember to have your South Brunswick Library card handy; you will be asked to enter your barcode number to gain access to the databases.  Happy hunting!

Protocols Of First Contact

pexer: hi bro. just wanna make friends. is it okay?

Instincts tell that I should refrain from entertaining such kind of proposals. Not because I don't intend to make friends, but because the approach is inappropriate. The intention seems dubious since the first thing I would ask is how did he know me? 

What piqued his interest?

If I were to make friends, say for example in Pinoyexchange, I'd engage the person on the thread first; try to earn his trust and goodwill by learning about his interests. I'd get to know how he thinks without appearing a stalker, so that when I extend the hand of friendship, there are reasons to sustain the bond. Even when our ties thrive online.  

This was how I engaged people in the past, and for the effort, I think I was sincere enough to be trusted. After all, I've always been a tough nut to crack. Seldom do I let people into my life, and when I do, never do I let go.

But in the case of the person above. I had to suppress my instincts and not let impression judge his worth. Consider it a random act of kindness. His intentions might be genuine.

me: sure. (insert smiley face here)

Soon after sending my reply, I did some background check on the same online forum. Just to prove my instincts wrong. So it won't tell me "I told you Mugs" after I've measured his worth. The stalking I did, if you want to call it, was meant to prepare myself should he decide to reply and uphold our "treaty" of friendship. But it appears I am mistaken. Some people are too broken, (their value of themselves - online - has become too low) that its better to leave them in peace.

"masarap naman ang uncut gaya ko. haha"

"anyone up for some lingam massage? part time ko. affordable and erotic. just pm me."

"pm niyo ako. looking for anything possible."

"cnu puwede maging tropa... yung makakasama lumabas... yung matino ha?" 

I truly wish I am wrong with my deductions, but it's impossible to contend with my darker past. I was looking for redeeming qualities - even a little speck so that I maybe able to afford him my full trust. But in a world where everything seems so fleeting, I somehow figured his dubious intentions.

But I chose to believe in my partner's words; that people have interesting lives to tell when you treat them in a nice way.

And so I waited, until the reply came a few minutes ago.

pexer: may cp # kb?? and fb if its okay?

me: no.

It would have been easier if he was direct to the point; that he needs to romp up his contacts to keep the moolah flowing. And maybe with the right approach, he could have touch-based with some of my friends who are fond of masseurs. But of all the things a person would ask, what despises me most is for someone to offer his friendship only to ask your Facebook and mobile number in return.

Putanginang kababawan yan.

I could not help but lament at how some of us had devolved. Like they see us  as a piece of furniture that could be summed up with a phone number and a Facebook profile. Blame our technology for it, and so is our growing laziness. Even during my rebellious days, I did afford strangers a semblance of humanity.

A tiny effort to know them better.

I hope I was wrong in putting up this blog entry. In fact, I'm hearing voices telling me that shouldn't have wasted my time with this guy. I've nailed my point anyway. But if there is no one to question our values; no one to speak in behalf of those who are struggling to preserve what little self-respect they have left,

How do we find acceptance when all we do is to make a mess out of ourselves?  

On Bathtub Replacement - Prep Work

There are any number of situations that lead to people wanting to replace their bathtub. Maybe the black grime and tarnish in the grout and sealant, no matter what you scrub and rinse it with, won’t go away. Maybe you have a crack in the tub. Maybe the very sight of your bathroom makes you feel stagnant and you very simply need a change. Maybe the way you prefer to treat yourself is a deeper tub with more room to soak or some water jets. And these are just some of the more common ones I’ve heard over the years. The reasons are endless but are ultimately moot to the actual work, unless it’s an entire overhaul of the bathroom itself.

As a local friend pointed out over the weekend, what is really important is the prep work and knowledge. What I might consider common sense as a contractor are actually things people forget in the rush of picking out new designs and colors and budgeting the project. In fact, the very first thing that should be done is extensive measuring of the tub and the space around it.  In this case, mark down all the dimensions of the bathtub itself, as you will want a bathtub the exact same size as your current one – length, width, height and depth.  You’ll also want to note the length between your fixtures, such as the length from your bath faucet and your showerhead, the curtain (front of your tub) to the ceiling and other such measurements. Have these at the quick and ready when you go to buy your new bathtub.

You should have as many measurements as possible really, for your plumber and for when you actually pick out the unit you want. Just as important, however, is remembering which side of the rub your faucet and showerhead are on. Any plumber or handyman or contractor will tell you that the plumbing for your bath is one of the first things to get done during home construction, as far as the interior goes. So, unless you’re looking to spend a great deal of money to switch the side of your bath’s plumbing, it is essential to get a design where the cuts for the overflow, drain and faucet are on the same side as your old design. Again, this might be seen as common sense to some but when prepping a sizable job such as this, the devil is in the details.  

Director's Cut

There are two boxes of Shakey's Pizza on the swivel chair, and a bottle of Coke Litro inside the fridge. The free food came from the boss who is celebrating his birthday today. Meanwhile, an agent requested to work at home. Same excuse - no adult to look after his siblings. He didn't have to tell it again. The boss doesn't mind and so he remains off the hook. Another one is absent. His none-presence leaves me with only three agents to look after. 

And I call myself a team leader.

Last week, an agent who stuck with the company after many others were retrenched, left. He will be working in a call center, he told me. Word flies however that he's saving up for his wedding. Many believe it's his reason for the career shift. Call Center. Agent position level one. I can't help but feel disappointed.

To think he stayed with us for more than six years.

Calls diverted to the company are dwindling and so is the revenue. If preliminary reports are to be believed. The first month of the year is a disaster. It will go down in history as the month we had our lowest volume yet. I've always warned that this situation is bound to happen. The products are obsolete and so are the business practices. I did my best to voice out my worries. I even sent leads to find new clients.

But I guess someone needs to be pushed against the wall first, before action is really taken. 

In a few days, a new cycle begins. I don't know how the business goes but the boss remains an optimist. He told us a few days ago about this new client he's speaking with. If the proposal gets the green light, we might even increase the seats - to even half of what we used to before our numbers were cut. Another account is expected to fold and the volume of calls - I predict - will remain a stalemate.

Much as I would like to see the glass half-full, I don't want to throw a party yet - not until we see results, or at least, a sign that this workplace is really back on its feet. If there's any reason for staying, (shame on me. I already attempted to leave twice, only to take back my word after a heart-to-heart talk with the boss) I'm planning to make this place a springboard for other profitable ventures 

Like Bentusi
Like my dream of returning to the academe - to teach.

Without losing my regency in the office.

Lest I forget, the agent who is absent tonight will be sending his resignation letter soon. No word yet if he had found a new job, or his life had become too much of a train wreck, an inward restoration is required.

And for those who have remained throughout this roller-coaster ride, to manage not to sink despite nearly tipping over a full year ago is a good indication that maybe, just maybe, the straight path to recovery remains somewhere around the bend.


in development for the next collection now (as in going into production) and am so excited about these ridiculously expensive & luxurious skins for SS/13. isn't this baby just beautiful?

On Tile Repair

Just two days ago, I wrote about how you might go about fixing squeaks in carpeted and hardwood floors, a common, pestering and often ignored problem in the home. A friend of mine was good enough to point out that I left out a few other types of flooring, the most prominent of which being tiled floors. Damage to tiles is often done with the most minor and ignorable of actions: Erosion from constant wear, scrapes from furniture and other harsh edges, dirt rubbed and ground in, dropped items both weighty and sharp, and certain chemical cleaners. Naturally, replacing damaged tiles is something that comes up frequently, especially in kitchen floors and bathrooms. You’ll need the following items:

·         Colored Masking Tape
·         Replacement Tiles
·         Nails & Hammer
·         Chisel
·         Trowel
·         Grout & Grout Float
·         Sponge
·         Set Mortar
·         Gloves (optional)

Begin by taping off the surrounding area of the tiles with the masking tape, being sure to cut the tape before the grout, as that will be getting replaced as well. So, the damaged tile(s) and the grout directly surrounding it should be taped off. Take a nail and hit it into the center of the damaged tile(s) to shatter the tile and make it easier to pick up in pieces. Use a chisel to clear out every last trace of the old tile, so that you can lay the new tile on an even surface. (You might want to use gloves while picking up the small shards to make sure you don’t get cut.)

Once the space is clear, take your replacement tile(s) and put a very thin layer of thin set mortar on the bottom of the tile with a trowel. Make sure it is just enough to set the tile in place, as you don’t want to have any mortar squeeze up around the sides of the tile. Let it dry (six to eight hours, to be safe) and then lay down some grout using a grout float to make sure it gets deep into the surrounding area.  When you’re done, use a sponge to clean up any unwanted grout on the tile(s). Let the grout dry and pull up the tape to take a look at your brand new tile(s). That’s enough about flooring for now. 

Remember Us

Rock Paintings, Tadart Acacus, Libya

Once upon a time, the Sahara was green and animals such as giraffes, elephants and wildebeests grazed in the savanna. Men lived in caves, others in thatched huts made of wood and reed. They fashioned tools with flint and bones and spent the day hunting animals for food. 

At night, perhaps after their meals were eaten and they get tired of sitting by the camp fire, these people would gather around a strange rock. Those seen in the mountains of Tadart Acacus. Using oil they found on the ground. They would paint pictures telling their everyday life. To preserve a memory; to leave instructions for their children and grandchildren to follow.

Along the geologic timeline, rains stopped falling. Lakes dried up and rivers disappeared. Animals died and so were the early humans. Their drawings lived on. Their descendants who survived continue the tradition of painting their everyday life, until they too had left the desert for lands more receptive to life.

Today, what is left are these hand-drawn paintings of animals, of men hunting for food, of a tribe gathering around a camp fire to dance, for all of us, who have lived throughout the ages to remember.

I was putting words into the picture for the raketship when the image suddenly spoke to me. And I felt a tinge of sadness knowing the people behind these drawings had put so much effort to let their story outlive them.

Read more about the Tadart Acacus Rock Paintings here

Sublimity Of Happiness #002

Information for Book Club Participants

Did you know that the library has a special collection of books for book clubs to use?  In the shelving unit, right across from the Information Desk, on the opposite side of the Summer Reading Books, is our Book Club collection of popular books for which we have multiple copies.  If you belong to a book discussion group, this is one place where you may find books that the members might enjoy reading where multiple copies are easy to obtain.  We have in the collection classics (ex: Madame Bovary by Flaubert), popular fiction (ex: Woman Warrior by Kingston), several non-fiction titles (ex.: A Season on the Brink) and even a book of poetry (The Essential Rumi) to name a few.  Some of the titles have just been added to the collection and have only one or two copies - we are in the process of getting at least 10 copies of each of the approximately 140 titles, which we are pulling from the many donations we get for our Friends Book Sales. 

Monroe Township Library also has Book Discussion Materials for loan.  Monroe has multiple copies of selected book discussion titles that come in a canvas bag with discussion materials and questions included.  These materials are circulated as one item.  You can reserve these bags online through the library catalog, you can request that a librarian at the Information Desk place the hold for you or you can visit the Monroe Township Library with your South Brunswick Library Card and check out the bag in person.  You can return the bag with all of the copies and discussion material to South Brunswick and we will see that they get back to Monroe.  You can see the titles that are available in Monroe by doing an Advanced Search in the catalog of Monroe or All LMxAC Libraries and select "Book Discussion Materials" under TYPE.   58 titles are currently available in the Monroe collection.

If you are looking for some suggestions of good books for your book group, then take advantage of these resources!

On Squeaks

Squeaky floorboards are one of those things that most people consider a necessary evil of homeownership. Some people think it’s a sign that the entire floor is about to give way, or that a poltergeist is secretly creeping around, or that they really need to hit the gym. In reality, this is a natural deterioration of the floorboards that have dried out after awhile and are now sliding and grinding against each other; there’s also the factor of unstable subflooring. Bare hardwood floors tend to be the main culprits but the squeaks are still perceivable in carpeted areas and tiled areas.

Fixing these common annoyances is an easy enough project for an active home improvement weekender. In any situation, the first thing to do is locate the squeak and mark it with some electrical tape. Now, the toughest situation is when you have no way of getting under a bare hardwood floor and must fix it from above. This will require a drill, breakaway screws, matching screwdriver bit and a depth-control fixture. (O’Berry makes a handy Counter-Snap Kit for this sort of job, which you can usually find for less than ten bucks.) Drill a pilot hole (approximately 3/32 in.-dia) and use the depth-control fixture provided in the kit to drill one of the provided screws into the hole until it snaps off. To conceal the work, fill the hole with wood putty.

Carpeted floors that need to be looked at from above can be similarly fixed. In this case, I highly suggest O’Berry’s Squeek-No-More Kit, which contains everything you’d need for this job, including breakaway screws and a pilot screw for locating joists. If you have a joist locator, it’s a bit easier and quicker. Using either, locate the joist that is in closest proximity to your squeak and mark it. To ensure your carpet doesn’t get damaged, wrap the special breakaway screw with scotch tape when you drive the screw through the fixture. Screw it in and then use the fixture’s side to break off the top of the breakaway screw. All of the work you’ve should be concealed by the carpeting.

The more common and easier task is fixing squeaks from underneath, through a basement. Have a member of your family or a friend walk over the squeaky area while you’re below. Take a thin wooden shim, cover it with carpenter’s glue and tap it into the area between the closest joist and the subfloor. Follow this up with a drywall screw driven through the joist, the shim and into the subfloor at an angle. This is an easy enough fix, but for a more secure fix, get your hands on a hold-down bracket – the most popular one is the Squeak-Ender. This usually consists of a steel mounting plate being held next to the trouble-spot’s closest joist, screwed into the subfloor and then tightened via attached nuts so that the joist and the floor are brought closer together. This should cover most squeaky situations but if you have more questions, feel free to ask.

Good Flicks You Might Have Missed…

These are some favorites from the SBPL collection. Check them out and let me know what you think!
The Secret Lives of Dentists

Starring Campbell Scott, Hope Davis and Denis Leary

The Hurst's are a married couple who share a busy dental practice. David sees Dana with another man and is immediately certain she's having an affair. Slater, hilariously played by Dennis Leary, is a disgruntled patient of the Hursts who has gone public with his dissatisfaction. As he observes the growing tension in David and Dana's relationship, Slater begins offering his own kind of advice to David. (2002, rated R).

Lars and the Real Girl

Starring Ryan Gosling, Emily Mortimer and Patricia Clarkson.

Lars is a sweet but reclusive guy who thinks he's found the girl of his dreams in a life-sized doll named Bianca, whom he purchased on the Internet. On the advice of the local physician/psychologist, his family (and soon the entire town) humors his delusion in the hopes that it will run its course and he will return to reality. When Lars develops feelings for his attractive (and real-life) co-worker, he soon becomes lost in a love triangle.

(2008, rated PG-13).

Holy Smoke!

Starring Kate Winslet and Harvey Keitel.

For those of you who liked The Piano…A cult deprogrammer is hired to free a young woman who has fallen under the influence of a religious guru while on a journey in India. Don’t miss the bizarre chemistry between Kate Winslet and Harvey Keitel.

(1999, rated R).
By Jill Eisner, Senior Librarian
In Charge of the International Film Festival at SBPL

Tragic Kingdom

The little prince arrives at work at past 2 in the afternoon.

His first order of business is to barge into the Circulation and Dealers' Affairs Department. He looks for the manager to get the figures. 

The little prince needs to know how the business fared the previous day: 

35% returns. 
135,355 copies. 
P365,000 revenue. 

Not bad for a Monday run. 

To think the editor-in-chief gave the green light to use the same startlet on the front page a couple of times before.

He would then swing by the newsroom. More or less, word has already spread of his arrival. In a workplace where his presence is not really needed, (he was absorbed by the company a few months ago) the little prince's authority must still be reinforced. 

He would find the newsroom empty. The small room, always packed before dusk still affords the uneasy silence. The proofreaders are just about to arrive and so are the layout artists. 

The editors, who are already there to avail the free lunch are scouring the AM radio stations for news. With the company's reporters spread too thin, a breaking news or two would fill the empty pages.

Meanwhile, the in-house writers are putting the finishing touches to their sundry stories. Most are erotic in nature. Some are geared toward showbiz readers, while other articles lifted from stateside tabloids report bizarre facts (not to be taken seriously, if you have a college degree) yet, they still appeal to the masses.

"Space aliens: brains behind i-phones."

"Study shows menthol cigarettes are good for smokers."   

It would not come as a surprise if these stories get published the next day.

The editor-in-chief arrives with the publisher. She is the undisputed queen, while her consort - the publisher - is the little prince's father. 

Though there is no animosity between the queen and the little prince. Awkwardness pervades when they stay in the same room together. 

After all, the little prince reminds her of the queen mother.

Intrigues aside, business goes on as the newsroom gears up to beat the deadline. The fax machines beep and spews news sent by reporters from their beats. The proofreaders review the copies, before they are delivered to the layout artists.

Between office gossips and small talks about the colorful life of the queen - who sits in her throne in the newsroom, the managing editor returns with the banner handpicked by the publisher: 

"Prosecutors butata sa impeachment court. Magreresign na!" 

At past 6, the paper is put to bed and the production staff leaves for the printing office. The little prince takes a breather by taking a detour to a nearby Internet cafe, or at DLSU's University Mall to scout the hottest club sounds sold there for P50 a disc. 

In the evening, he would show up at the printing office to supervise. (more like hang out as the behemoth machines print the first copies of tomorrow's paper) But instead of staying where the machines are, one would find him snugged in the private quarters, making phone calls to his friends.

At past 10, the first batch of newspapers land in Port Area to be feasted upon by the waiting dealers. The image of Tracy Torres' pink nipples command everyone's attention. The business goes full throttle at past midnight as the dealers from Baguio to Bicol haul their orders. By 4 am, the people at the satellite office tabulate the papers returned so they may be included in the report, which the little prince will see when he comes to work the next day.

Such is the life the little prince had, in those days when he used to claim his father's throne. A year will pass, the empire collapses under its heavy weight. The queen will abandon the consort after so much in-fighting, to put up a rival paper. The publisher will then assign the prince as his hand, only to abandon him too, when it became apparent that their kingdom would soon come to an end.

Another year goes by, and the prince is already 24 years old. A sudden stroke of luck and the king passed away. He will sit in a crumbling throne his father left; live to run the paper he once thought was his playground; Endure a summer wondering if the business would live to see the first drops of rain. Before June, the paper he had set his eyes on when he was still in the academe will not be able to pay for its operations.

It has to be given up.

In his time, he saw an end of a dynasty, with all his loyal subjects scattered - never to be seen again.

Five years later.

"My meeting with Mr. Ant is set today." The queen mother said.

"Sige, ingat ka." The prince-in-exile walks out of the door without looking back. He's off to work to sit as a regent for another king.

"Wish me luck."

Mr. Ant took over the paper when its former queen, the editor-in-chief who stood beside the publisher, was captured. Pursued by authorities for her past sins, she is now locked in a dungeon and is bound to stay there for life.

With the old dominion now in shatters, the new lord reaches out to the queen mother to seek her blessing, grant her bounty that was denied to her, and hopefully, put an end to a cycle that has been going on for nearly a decade.

The presence of the prince-in-exile - the last remnant of the tragic kingdom has been expected since last year. It is he who hesitates to put back a torn-out chapter of his book, hoping the past remains undisturbed.

But he cannot turn his back on history forever, lest leave a wound festering throughout time. 

And so on the fourth meeting between the queen mother and Mr. Ant, epiphany dawned on him.

"Sir, I need to rush to the hospital."

"Bakit, anong nangyari?"

"Yung sister ko po, manganganak na..."

"Ganun ba? Sino tao mo...?"

It would have been easy to speak the truth, but a last-minute decision to follow the queen mother is beyond the grasp of the company - even the present king. And so the exiled prince who is now the regent stood up from his chair, picked up his bag and hurriedly left his workplace.

To come face to face with a broken past.

To express his gratitude to Mr. Ant, who is now putting back the kingdom together. So that in his own reign, the publishing empire the little prince once saw, may finally be returned to its rightful place - even without his presence.

On Replacing Light Switches

Last week, I wrote about diagnosing flickers and it made me think about one of the simpler things homeowners can do in terms of electrical work: replacing your light switch. It’s something that shouldn’t come up too often but it is both important and a relatively easy for a novice to take on.  You’ll want to have the following items when you go about replacing the switch:

  •         New Switch
  •         A Screwdriver (Multi-head may be needed)
  •        Circuit Tester
  •        New Switch Cover (optional)

Of course, working with electricity always carries an inherent risk, but replacing your switch cover keeps you relatively far from any risky wires and currents. Still, as always, the first thing to do is go to your electric panel and turn the breaker sending a current to that area to the Off position. Go upstairs afterwards and flick the switch to make sure it doesn’t work, ensuring you turned off the right breaker. Unscrew and remove the cover plate before unscrewing and pulling out the old switch.  While doing this, be weary of the wiring and be careful not to pull it out too much or crack the wires.

Be on the look out for black wires, which should either be uniformly black or should be marked by black electrical tape. (On occasion of a lazy electrician, the wire connected will be an unmarked white wire, which you can fix by simply wrapping the end of the wire with black electric tape.)  Disconnect these black wires to fully remove the old switch while leaving any white, green or copper wires alone. (You might want to also mark which black wire goes to which terminal with markers or tape.) Grab your new switch and connect the black wires to the brass terminals on the backside of the new switch and put it in the exact same space as the old switch. Screw the box back into the space and then screw the cover plate back over it. Switch the breaker back on and test it to be sure.    

A fun thing to do, as part of this whole rigmarole, is paint or add a design to your cover plate. It’s especially a fun activity to do with kids who will respond better to bold, unique colors; it will keep them occupied while you are completing the task. The entire task, not including the buying of the new switch, should take you less than an hour. And be sure to test your circuit to make sure that the switch is the problem, if this replacement is in response to a light not working. When it comes to electrical work, the reasons for currents being interrupted are myriad.  


At past 3 in the morning:

"Kanina ka pa dumating?" She asked.

"Kakarating-rating ko lang po..."

"May kasama kang umuwi?"

"Ako lang mag-isa..."

"Umuwi ka lang mag-isa?"

"Sinabay ako sa taxi..."

"Hindi mo kasama si JC?"

I was tempted to say that JC was with me the whole time. But to do so might put me in a quandary where a categorical answer would spawn more questions. Her five-word inquiry, despite its naivety, packs a clear undertone. It's essence, no matter unspoken points to a certain recognition.

"Hindi po mama..."

The conversation ended there, as the matriarch needed to pee. She immediately got out of bed and lumbered towards the bathroom. Meanwhile, I was left sitting on the edge of the mattress, watching baby Lenin sleep, with a big smiley drawn on my face.


The Good, the Bad, and the Yummy: Halftime Favorites

What's better than watching the game with your buds and enjoying some great food too?  But how do you enjoy foods like unctuous, juicy, high calorie spareribs (the "bad") without looking like one of the linebackers?

Take a small portion and fill up on side dishes like Asian Coleslaw, (the "good") and a big, green salad (also "good"!).  Have just a taste of dessert, but take a generous helping of fresh fruit, and then, of course, be sure to drink lots of water, tea or coffee along with your meal. I know, you've heard it before, but it really works.

These spareribs are really great with a crusty exterior and a moist, meaty interior, don't require you to be outside to grill them, and, other than a really long cooking time, are easy to prepare as well.  Plan on making these about 6 hours ahead of your serving time.  (The last hour is just resting the meat, so you can watch the game.)

Oven Roasted Spareribs adapted from The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook

1/2 cup chili powder
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup salt
2 Tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
2 full racks of spareribs, 3 - 4 lbs.each (Costco's are great)
2 cups purchased BBQ sauce, plus extra to serve at the table (I like the smokiness of Jack Daniels Original, but if you prefer a predominately sweet sauce, try Sweet Baby Ray's)

Mix the first 5 ingredients together.

Cover two half sheet pans with heavy duty aluminum foil.  (You'll thank me later when it's time to do the dishes.)  Lay the ribs, meaty side up, on a wire rack on the sheet pans.  If you need to, you can cut the racks in half to make them fit.  Rub the ribs with the spice mixture on all sides.  Cover loosely with foil, and let sit at room temp for an hour.

Now wrap the pans with the ribs tightly with the foil and roast in a preheated 300 degree oven for an hour. Switch the pans top to bottom, left to right every half hour to keep everything roasting evenly.

Take off the foil (and reserve it for later) and continue roasting for another hour.

Brush the meaty side of the ribs with the sauce and continue roasting for another 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until the ribs are very tender when tested with a fork.  

Finally, wrap each rack in the reserved foil, put them in a brown paper grocery bag, seal tightly, and let them rest for an hour at room temp - this step ensures the redistribution of juices in the ribs for a really succulent result.

Serve with extra sauce on the side...with plenty of napkins.

Asian Coleslaw adapted from The Instinct Diet by Susan B. Roberts

1/2 head of Napa cabbage
2 Tablespoons grated onion, or finely chopped shallots
1 Tablespoon shredded fresh basil, OR 1 tsp. dried basil
1 Tablespoon shredded fresh mint, OR 1 tsp. dried mint
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
1 Tablespoon rice vinegar OR any vinegar
1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon sugar
 1/4 teaspoon salt
 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped (optional)

Quarter the cabbage, remove the core, and slice the cabbage very thinly.  Whisk together the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl, except the peanuts.  Add the sliced cabbage and mix thoroughly with a rubber spatula.  Garnish with the peanuts just before serving.

Check out the above books and more at our Library today...

Enjoy the game without guilt - and, Go Giants! 

Diane Whitman
Reference Librarian
Football Fan

On Flickers

The first thing most people do (rightly) when they see a bulb flickering is try to replace it, or just chalk it up to bad weather or a momentary dim from a momentary glitch. Most of the time, this is all a flicker denotes but some flickers (think a three-to-four-second flicker) can become annoyances and represent a fault that requires either immediate or forthcoming repair.  Now, to be sure, we’re not talking about the expected dims that can come from CFL bulbs (the twirly, spiral energy-saving ones) connected to dimmer switches, but rather repetitive flickers that usually coincide with other electrical usage.

Consistent flickers are usually due to a poor connection in your wiring, affecting a singular part of your circuit. If an entire circuit is affected, the source of the problem will likely be in the breaker or, less frequently, the panel; the panel is a regular source for flickers on an entire circuit. But we’re talking about consecutive flickers coming from a single source. For an example, let’s say an overhead light is flickering every time you turn it on at night. The source of the problem will almost always be spotty connections coming from the light fixture, the switch box or the outlet. To help diagnose which one it is, one should mark when the flickering occurs and for how long. For instance, if it starts immediately as you flip the switch, the likely culprit is the switch box. It’ll make for an easier project, whether you’re trying to fix it yourself or you’re hiring a professional.

Though this seems like a minor issue, these problems almost always cause arcing, which can heat up connections or wires and lead to further problems either with the single fixture or the overall circuit if it goes unchecked. Smaller, fickle outages will likely be unable to be diagnosed until they erupt in an outright open. In any case, the rule of thumb here is to trust a professional electrician with these problems though, if you do go DIY, be sure to shut off electricity to the entire circuit if you’re attempting to replace or repair the wiring or connection. 

The Treehugger

In the pit of the city, I found sentience.

Every day, I wake up and open my eyes to the sight of a window shrouded with curtains.

A pallid landscape awaits outside.

There is not much to see.

Corrugated roofs and wooden walls of houses block the view. Sunlight hurts the eyes, as I am more accustomed to the ethereal beauty of darkness.

Dust floats in the air, carried over by the toxic wind from the nearby highway. The wail of a PNR train can be heard in the distance; the rumble of the LRT coaches usher in a new day, and when a dense neighbor decides to play crappy songs on full volume, pandemonium awaits.

Gone is the peace within my small quarters.

On paved ground, potted plants try to break the monotony of concrete. Neglected of attention, (the people look after their laundry first before their neighbors) they have turned hardy through the years. At the entrance of the driveway, there is a high wall separating the piles of rubble across.

On its summit, a small tree decides to grow long roots, sturdy branches and big leaves.

Someday, it will be cut down, or the high wall would crumble under its weight.

In the heart of the city often under a blanket of brown smoke and engine noises; where shrubs are forced to grow in dry plant boxes; where branches of trees are cut down to make way for telephone wires; and where trash reeks its putrid smell in street corners - and is feasted upon by stray creatures at past midnight, it is easy to see how my world turned me into a treehugger.

I cannot stand the steady corrosion of it all.

In the hidden realms of my daydreams, I long to hear the symphony of rustling leaves; I wish for burning leaves to waft under my nose, and the cool wind to brush my skin. I'd like to be shaded from the sun, not by a tenement housing but of canopies of evergreen. I'd like to see life - beyond this broken humanity, far from monolith buildings selling material excesses of the world, and away from gentle open spaces turned into hard pavements.

If only the ones with money realize what they are bound to lose - in the long run.


Surely it would dawn on them that there is more to life than some silly "environment friendly" buildings.

LIFE: island day-trip video

Watch the Video and explore the beauty that is Cumberland island with Joe and me on a relaxing day trip.

wearing BCBG Max Azria jacket

Forests so quite that you can hear yourself breathe, sunlight filtered and diffused through over-arching tress, sounds of small animals scurrying in the underbrush, blinding light on water and sand as you emerge from the shadows of the live oak forest to the beautiful white sandy beaches. A limited number of people are allowed on the protected national island at once so the natural beauty is seemingly unaltered by human hands.

[to watch video in HD click on the vimeo icon on the bottom right on the video player]


On Bathtub Leaks and Water Damage Origins

Water is a tricky substance, which is why diagnosing a leak is often such a hassle. A few entries back, I wrote about locating leaks around your bathroom sink and diagnosing what exactly caused them. What I left out is the all too familiar sign of water damage on the ceiling of the room below your bathroom. Now, sure, most of the time, this is a clear sign that there’s something wrong with your upstairs bathroom or kitchen’s plumbing but this is not 100% true. Indeed, as I mentioned earlier, water knows how to travel, and the water damage could just as well be from piping leading from your attic or roof or other second-story plumbing.

Lets look at showers and baths as an example of pinpoint and differentiating. Leaks from baths and showers are as common as those from faucets or toilets, so its worth knowing how to zero in on the trouble spots. The most common origin spot is the grout around the tiles, which can shrink and allow water in behind the tiles. Other popular spots are the tub’s filler, which may have a worn-out washer or an improperly sealed valve threads, and the tub itself, which might similarly suffer from improper sealing or cracks that are (usually) easily identifiable. Less likely but possible culprits include a problem with the overflow pipe (worn-out or shoddily installed overflow washer) or the drain (clogged outlet pipe).

For the drain, a simple way to test is to run a length of tubing (black rubber will do) from your vanity faucet fixture to your drain and send water down the drain for anywhere from 10-20 minutes. If the leak doesn’t show up, you know the drain and the attached plumbing is secure. And unless the leak is constant throughout the day, the hot and cold water valves are not the culprits.

The next suspects are the tub and the tub filler. The latter is easy enough to check: Just fill your tub and look for a leak from the filler (the tub faucet). This usually denotes broken piping, usually on a copper elbow. As for the tub overflow, close your tub drain and fill the tub to the overflow and look for your leak; if this ends up being your trouble, it likely will require the replacing of the sealing or the washer on your overflow.

The most complex check is the plumbing behind the showerhead. You’ll need to take off the showerhead and cap the stem with a threaded cap before running the water. After 10 to 15 minutes, check the leak area. If this turns out to be the problem, you will need a plumber to look at the rest of the stem and the piping behind and below the showerhead.

The very last check is the most common: The grout. The DIY check requires you to run water over each wall of your shower individually for ten minutes, either using the showerhead or a hose from another water source. A plumber will likely be needed, regardless, but the more information you have to give him makes the job quicker and the price, in most scenarios, at least minutely less expensive.

New Jersey Library Talking Book and Braille Center

Residents with limited sight or reading disabilities may qualify for services from the New Jersey Library Talking Book and Braille Center in Trenton.

They offer Braille, talking books (digital and cassettes), books in large print, periodicals, Audiovision (radio broadcasts of newspaper items and special interest programs, also available as an Internet streaming service), and equipment for playing recorded materials.

You may qualify for the specialized public library services if your ability to read is affected by:

A Vision Impairment

A Physical Impairment

A Reading Disability

These need to be certified by a doctor.

If you qualify you may register to become a member of the Talking Book and Braille Center  by downloading and mailing an an application.

For information, contact the library at: The New Jersey Library Talking Book and Braille Center, P.O. Box 501, Trenton, NJ 08625-0501, phone 1-800-792-8322 or visit the New Jersey Library Talking Book and Braille Center web site, at

You  can find a link to the New Jersey State Library Talking Book and Braille Center on our  database webpage.

Contact : Mary Donne, Head of Information Services



Photographer: Jamie Hopper
Model: Allison Fialkowski -SUPREME models
MUA: Jay 
Clothing (SS/12 capsule collection): Me

You've seen me wear some of these separates before as outfit post, now see them as I designed them to be worn. The shoot took place a few weeks ago at Arabia Mountain. The results are stunning, do you not agree. These images reek of femininity, so much so that it's easy to tell that the team consisted of only women.

Homo Politicus

The student council election was just days away, and two Grade Six pupils were wrapping up their campaign to become the next council president. 

One was a classmate. She was the president of our section. While the other, also a class president, was from a rival section, a room next to ours. Both had track record of being class presidents since Grade Two. There's no doubt, teachers saw their leadership qualities.

And so they made them run.

I remember during our Homeroom class, our adviser made a personal plea. 

"Tomorrow will be your student council elections." She said. "And as a show of support, I urge you to vote for LJ." LJ was our class president. 

Most said "opo" while others merely nodded their heads.

The next day, a special time period was set aside for the pupils to cast their vote. The teachers were there to guide the "electorate" but since my adviser had already showed her bias, I'm certain her guidance had vested interest. As I look back at our class president, I did my best to recall how she was to me:

She was a aloof - a little difficult to approach. I once caught her smirking while a group of boys bullied me in class. She made me feel that I don't exist and I'm not worthy of her time.

And these indifference weighted heavily while casting my vote.

Meanwhile, the other candidate was a class president when I was in Grade Three. Though I can't remember her legacy, (was she the one who broke my wooden ruler when she used it to hit the blackboard to order everyone to keep quiet?) but at least she remembered that I used to be her classmate. She even smiled at me, at times, when we saw each other at the corridor. And even though she had no idea yet that she's being groomed for the council leadership, I felt her sincerity.

Two decades later, I'd still remember her name.

Cristina Buendia.

And so without anyone looking, I checked the box next to her name, folded the piece of paper and then dropped it inside the ballot box. Heaven knows I voted out of conscience.

When everyone had cast their votes, the ballots were taken out to be counted by none other than our teacher. Of the 40 pupils who belonged to our section, two kids ignored the teacher's plea and voted for Miss Buendia.

It was a big slap in our teacher's face - who was there tallying the votes. But she managed to give a nervous smile. You know, the charade you put up when you feel a tinge of embarrassment but tries to hide it.

Fingers began pointing almost immediately and the usual suspects were the pain-in-the-ass classmates of ours. They denied the accusation of course, fearing for their grades I guess. But the damage has been done and the rival candidate won by a huge margin. She too turned aloof after becoming the council president.

LJ's failure to win the presidency wouldn't be her lost in the long run. Half a year later, she would sashay on the stage to receive a medal for being the batch's valedictorian.

As for me, nobody found out I was one of the two who voted for the rival candidate. I guess the other classmate also had gripes with the president. Maybe he's one of the outcast too, like me. But the seeds of my defiance would grow roots and branches and would bear fruits when I started playing politics later in life.

I would become a student political party member, a class president during my junior and senior year, and even the secretary general of the same political party I served throughout college. To top it off, I would always keep abreast of current events, even spewing my opinions especially on matters of governance. Simply because my major required us to think - critically and with an open mind.

And it shows on my Twitter account from time to time.

The snippet of memory came across while reading the Philippine Daily Inquirer one weekend afternoon. Lying flat on my stomach, I turned a page of the newspaper, and set my eyes on Randy David's column. Finishing the sociologist's last paragraph - his arguments as to why the impeachment trial is actually good for our Democracy - I remembered that elections in Grade Six, my decision to think for myself, and realized that it was the first of the many stirrings that would shape me to become.

A political man in my time.

On Hometown Winters and Draft Detection

For the record, I am not a native New Yorker. By technical definition, my hometown is Washington DC, where I spent most of my days as an infant before my family moved to Albany, which is, for all intents and purposes, the place I consider home. As NYC seemingly finally settles into the more unbearable stretch of winter (it was in the mid-to-high 40s a week or two ago), my Albany upbringing has kicked into high gear and I find myself warm enough with a good winter coat and beanie. This comes from some 15 winters of serious blizzards, frequent below-zero days and bundles of slush-drenched boots, caps, mittens and socks. It’s still cold here in NYC but in all my years, I’ve never had to brace for winter the way one hunkers down for the initial months of a new year upstate.

Not to play the back-in-my-day card, but back in my day, the in-house rule was if the heat wasn’t good enough for you, find thicker sweaters or socks on. To be honest, this is still the rule of the house (and my home) these days, but at the very least I’ve become aware of how to locate drafts and unsealed gaps in my home, and fix them when need be. The major effort is to get your windows and exterior doors weatherproofed and properly sealed, making sure that the bigger part of your thermal envelope is sealed. Finding other gaps, however, can be a useful way to make sure your energy bill is kept on a leash.

When it comes to windows, any fault will likely end in professional work on the seal or frame, so lets keep to smaller things. If you can stand it, bundle up and turn off your furnace on an extremely windy day. You should be able to hear or feel areas where the wind can get into your thermal envelope. Look especially at areas where two materials (brick and siding, for instance) are meeting, as those seals will need some serious insulation. Shut all your doors and windows and see if you hear any serious rattling, as this will note an opening allowing unregulated airflow. There’s also the smoke test, which essentially consists of you lighting something that emits smoke (incense sticks work best for me) and hold it close to suspected leak spots. Watch the smoke: If it drifts up, you’re good, but if it seems to be sucked somewhere, it usually denotes a gap.

If the smoke test doesn’t suit you, the flashlight test, in which you point a flashlight at a suspected leak spot and have someone go outside and see if any light passes through, essentially does the same thing. These are household tips, most of which are endorsed by the Department of Energy, but the bigger solutions (vent inspections, full weatherproofing etc.) tend to require professional contractors who can check those places where you can’t necessarily and tell you exactly what needs to be done. Still, no one’s saying that a hefty hooded sweatshirt and a pair of heavy-duty wool socks won’t solve your problems for the time being, if not tide you over until April rears its head.   


I remember the first time I shook hands with Risa Hontiveros. It was at the wake of a fallen comrade. I was awed, swept off my feet, and my head was telling me to sign up as a volunteer for her next candidacy. Within my stoic frame is a fan giggling. Had my basic needs been assured, I would love to work for her, for free. Lol.

It would have been the same jittery reaction should I get to meet luminaries such as Randy David, Jim Paredes and Gang Badoy. I was wired to be a groupie - of the idealists and world changers. After all, politics, history and social sciences are some of my passions.

The lack of interest in local entertainment shows have shielded me from getting to know the celebrities as well. Unlike the rest of my family. My mom, who is a sociologist, would spend the rest of the evening watching the soap operas on the Kapamilya network. Lately, my sister, who is a psychology teacher seems to be following the trend.

My partner keeps tabs of the lives of celebrities as well. Without him to feed me the latest showbiz happenings, I'd remain ignorant as to why people are talking about a certain celebrity and why his or her name trends on Twitter.

I would have remained a hermit all my life without my source.

This mindset has spared me from going crazy whenever a hot celebrity goes to the gym. With Eclipse swinging its doors day and night, an actor who badly needs to maintain his six packs and lean body could just drop by after a long day's shoot.

In the final months of last year, several stars were spotted working out at the gym. Jake Cuenca was one of them, and so was Dennis Trillo. I was told that Papa Jack works out in Mabini, but who cares. All of us are there to lift iron plates and not talk of showbiz. Save for several tweets (and some not-so-secret glances) directed at these hunks, I'd go straight to my workout routine without making these celebrities feel stellar.

The workout, a few nights ago would have been the same as last time. I'd arrive at Eclipse close to midnight; engage in a small chat with Blakedaddy about the latest upheavals at the gym; get my progress folder; tenderize my muscles using the foam roller; do a kettlebell exercise before saying hello to the power cage and olympic bars waiting at the free-weights area.

However, I've noticed that I'm sharing the same schedule with a prominent actor from the Kapuso channel. Let's call him Daddy T, so as not to make it sound too obvious. He has a trainer, and unlike most of us, he has his own routine that is designed to maintain his lean built.

Daddy T, like most celebrities is aloof to other members. Maybe it's his nature. Perhaps, it is his way of avoiding attention. But it doesn't rub off on me, so there are times I'd tell myself, "he's not that popular" or "there are members out there who are more good-looking than him."

Talk about sourgraping.

To be honest, if he's not a celebrity, his looks would put him - merely in the "above average" scale of cute boys there.

But a star is a star and even though he loves playing heavy metal songs to put him in the groove, nobody dares to touch his iPod music player and replace it someone else's gadget. Even the coaches won't lower down the music player's volume or risk Daddy T's ire.

Thus, these past few nights, I had to make do with Rammstein and Pearl Jam instead of samples from the Ministry of Sound.

Like I said, it would have been a typical work out night - except that I decided to do cardio on the treadmill. To prolong my stamina, (and keep myself upbeat) I asked one of the coaches if the Ipod plugged to the gym speakers had some club sounds we could play.

"Ah wala. Hindi naman sa akin to eh," the gym instructor revealed.

"Kanino ba yan?" I asked, while trying not to appear surprised.

"Kay Daddy T. Naiwan niya kanina." He chuckled. "I-plug na lang natin yung player mo."

"Ay ganun ba." The gym instructor unplugged Daddy T's 120 GB Apple gadget and replaced it with my music player.

The gym instructor was about to keep the iPod for himself when I came up with a silly idea.

"Wait lang coach." I ran to the table where my bag was. Rummaging its contents, I got hold of my camera.

"Minsan lang ito. Kelangan ng souvenir!"

Ipod: Grasshopper


And with a press of a button, I realized that behind the indifference lies the truth. The luminaries I spoke about earlier can sit in their Ivory towers for all I care. When I could hold with my hand a showbiz actor's personal item and brag about it to world, the facade of snobbery collapses like a deck of cards accidentally nudged by the star.

Resulting in a moment of genuine and undeniable feeling of being starstruck.  

On Sink Leaks and the Odd Habits of the Modern Canine

My best leak detector used to be Bishop, my golden Labrador who passed away four years ago. Every canine has its quirks, its oddities and its habits and Bishop was no different in this regard. He wasn’t much for biting at flies or starting epic, saga-like fights with cats but he had an odd habit of lapping up any puddles he could find which, as you might imagine, led to some rather disgusting situations. Most of the time, however, Bishop was just fine licking up spilled water, soda or juice, and was around for long enough for me to feel assured that this was not necessarily a dangerous occurrence.

Our new dog, Guinness, a French bulldog, has more normal habits (humping pillows, chasing random beams of light etc.) and it now falls to me to be on the lookout for bathroom leaks, and all other home-improvement warning signs, for that matter. Most of the time, the surefire sign is a spot on your ceiling (for second-floor bathrooms) or just random puddles of water. Almost all leaks in bathrooms come from corroded, cracked or improperly installed P-Traps, especially if the P-Trap is metal. This is the reason that many NYC plumbers are now installing or replacing broken P-Traps with PTV P-Traps, which hold out for impressive stretches of time.

The last major leak I had to fix at a customer’s home, however, was a speedy valve problem. Speedy valves can be found on the ends of your hot and cold water lines and, in my case, the valve on the hot water needed to be replaced; a bad soldering job can also be blamed for speedy valves leaking. As much as the state of these valves and your P-Trap are important when diagnosing a leak, one of the bigger questions, actually, is if the leak is constant or intermittent. If it’s constant the problem is likely with your water line, which will require more work. In fact, Bishop fed off a water line leak for nearly a weak in his salad days, before I knew what I was doing when it came to plumbing.

Bishop was also a fan of the leaks that came out from under our old pedestal sink, and spent many a day performing the gross task of lapping up any moisture around the bottom ring of the pedestal. Many think that this has something to do with the inner mechanisms of a pedestal sink. The truth is that pedestal sinks are no different from other sinks, in terms of pipes; there is nothing inside your pedestal and all the pipes can be found directly under the faucet fixture, not below. I highly suggest you find a leak-seeking dog, if you can, but if you cant, this should be helpful enough when it comes to diagnosing your major sink leaks. After all, as much as you might wish it, your pooch can’t wield a wrench. 

Carrot and Ginger Soup

Okay, so I'm not only going to tell you that this soup has fantastic flavors and is company worthy, but that it also is easy to make and that I've used it as part of a diet plan where I've lost almost 20 pounds since Oct. 15th.  How?  It's part of The Instinct Diet by Susan B. Roberts, Ph.D., a book available in our Library.

This book and diet works for me because it has delicious recipes that satisfy the gourmet in me, it never leaves me hungry, I feel healthy, and I have chocolate, ice cream and bread on a regular basis.  I love this diet!

Try this recipe - it's not only delicious and perfect for winter, but it's full of ginger which has hunger suppressing properties similar to that of capsaicin found in chili peppers.

Carrot and Ginger Soup, adapted from The Instinct Diet

1 Tablespoon butter
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1 (or more) clove(s) garlic, coarsely chopped
2 pounds carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped, or grated in a food processor
1 piece of fresh ginger, about 1 1/2 inches long x 1 inch in diameter, peeled and finely chopped
4 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth if you want this to be vegan)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup orange juice

Saute the onions and garlic in the butter and oil over low heat about 10 minutes.

Add all the rest of the ingredients except the OJ, and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.

Use an immersion blender and blend the soup until pureed or transfer to a blender and blend in batches. 

Add the OJ, and add more S and P if necessary. (I put a little parsley, pistachios, garlic and lemon on top for color!)

This keeps really well in the fridge or freezer.  I put one cup portions in plastic containers for easy lunches with sandwiches and salads.

I served this for a ladies lunch in November together with a grilled shrimp over greens salad and everyone loved it!  Hope you do too. 

Try our Library for cookbooks with lots of ideas for healthy meals for the New Year.

Diane Whitman
Reference Librarian
Oxymoronic Foodie Dieter

Sublimity Of Happiness #001

I saw five stars
in the sky.

and smiled.

The "Millennium Falcon" building, 
lower level rooftop, San Juan

Threat To Humanity

And Pope Benedict XVI said:

'This is not a simple social convention, but rather the fundamental cell of every society.
'Consequently, policies which undermine the family threaten human dignity and the future of humanity itself. The family unit is fundamental for the educational process and for the development both of individuals and states.
'Hence there is a need for policies which promote the family and aid social cohesion and dialogue.'

I cannot help but ask, is it possible for faith in the Almighty endure, without the need to anchor it on religion. Jesus Christ, in all His greatness decrees only one commandment - love one another as I have loved you. 

In a time of greater perils, (such as wars, climate change, poverty and overpopulation) I cannot understand why Joseph Ratzinger would say that gay marriage is a bigger threat to humanity. 

To family. 

When will these priests learn that gays - because of their solitary, almost drifting existence - actually provide more for the family by means of extra sources of revenue, emotional support - especially to the unloved, and by giving up their privilege to create another human life, lessens the burden of a dying planet.

I know, because this is what my existence means to the world.  

Sadly, bigots in robes remain. 

My respect for the church leaders is rapidly dissolving.