This Week at SBPL I Discovered ... Screen-Free Week!

Beginning today, Monday, April 30 through Sunday, May 6, people of all ages are electing to turn off their screens in recognition of Screen-Free Week (formerly TV-Turnoff Week).  There is a website, an office in Washington, DC and activists all over the world dedicated to this one week in 52!

The Library has numerous books on the topic as well diversions.  For more information on activities and details on the Week, go to  For local Library diversions, see our events calendar at

I have been challenging my family with this week for years, so we are quite used to the idea.  However, everytime I mention it to someone for the first time I get a look like I just said I planned to set myself on fire!  I don't know about you but I find it a little scary that anyone would find it so impossible to conceive of not watching television for a week, let alone not using a computer (for entertainment) or other electronic device.  I enjoy television and computers too, but jeez it's just seven days.  I like the challenge!

There is plenty to do, especially this time of year. We are lucky to have a great Library, but there is also the Delaware-Raritan Canal to explore, as well as your own backyard.  Play tennis, croquet, start your tomato garden, dust off the board games and play together, clean out your closets and donate the excess to the Food Pantry and Goodwill, etc.  How about calling up some neighbors to come sit on your deck for tea and a chat?  Teach your child how to jump rope or play hop scotch.  My kids always liked to play Legos and ping pong during the week.  Why not write down a new idea to try each evening? 

After everyone gets home from work there is really just a couple of hours to fill.  Have a family sit-down dinner together and clean up together.  After the dishes are done and homework is finished your night is almost at an end (provided you are not already at any scheduled extra-curricular activities anyway). 

Too tired to want to do anything?  That's OK.  Read a book or just sit back and relax and listen to music.  It's really up to you.  The challenge is yours.  Why not try it?  You have nothing to lose except some time in front of a screen. 

Finding that time is really the challenge these days!  Whether I am shopping at the mall, on the treadmill at the gym, or sitting in the dentist chair, there is an unsolicited television screen thrust in my face.  It's really kind of offensive, as if I can't spend a moment without televised entertainment.   

It's been said that the brain activity is more engaged daydreaming than while watching television. See more about this on the website

Screen-Free Week is an annual event where children, families, schools and communities are encouraged to turn off screens and "turn on life." Instead of relying on television programming for entertainment, participants read, daydream, explore, enjoy nature, and spend time with family and friends.

In 2010, Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) became the home of Screen-Free Week at the request of the Board of the Center for SCREEN-TIME Awareness (CSTA), which ran the initiative since 1994 (first as TV-Free America). CCFC launched a new website and developed a new Organizer's Kit, fact sheets, and other materials for Screen-Free Week 2011 and beyond.

Although my teenage children complain that no one else but me actually attempts to be screen-free this week, it is estimated that more than 100 million people have taken part in the turnoff, with millions participating each year.  So there! 

If you participate, please comment here about what you did in your new-found free time!

Untitled II

Let words flow
like spring
cascading a waterfall


Given that I have little time to spare, and I seem to be swamped with work and my video game addiction lately, responding to blog memes should be the least of my priorities. But to let this pass, and allow the moon to renew itself with another dance might lead to a full-blown amnesia. So might as well extend my stay in the workplace and share some of my closely-guarded secrets to those who wish to know me beyond the blog.

But first, I would like to express my gratitude to His Royal Highness, Clarence I and Blog Citizen XianGarvida for the recognition. It's been eons since the blog joined an Internet meme.

I. I seldom respond to SMS messages and more seldom in sending one. I have a thing with jejemon text, seeing it as a bastardized written expression of the mother tongue. I get easily peeved when receiving random GM SMS and could last a day without talking to anyone.

except my partner.

II. When I bring home food, expect that I didn't eat outside. When I eat outside, most likely, I won't bring home any pasalubong.

III. I won't mind walking very long distance as long as it's not too hot outside. When I was a bit younger, the scorching heat won't even matter.

IV. I find nerd people amazing. In fact, after having fun conversations with some of them, I'm convinced that I belong.

V.  Others may find desolate landscape sad and disturbing, but I tend to see beauty in emptiness.


VI. I love dunking my cheese sandwich in a mug of ice-cold Milo. Same with peanut butter and cheese-whiz sandwich.

VII. I prefer my bath-water warm, despite the feverish climate.

Home Visit: Bringin' It to Brooklyn

I’ve been waiting for these pictures to be uploaded and just finally got some time this morning to get them up and sort through them. We finished 98% of the work on this Brooklyn home earlier this year but have been working on some exterior wiring problems the last few weeks. Regardless, the interior work is completely finished and here’s a look at what we’ve been up to in BK.

Our major areas of focus were the kitchen, the dining room and the basement. The for the basement, we ripped up the floors and laid down new tiles, fixed up the walls and gave it a whole new paint job. There was also extensive cleaning and clearing of old debris before we were able to do all this work, but the result speaks for itself. We also installed a new washer/dryer and ran new lines for them, as well as new wiring and lighting fixtures. 

The kitchen was a complete overhaul. Those are brand new wood cabinets, granite countertops, and tiled floors as well. We helped the customer pick out new appliances, including the stainless steel stove. We did some fixing up on the walls, and then put in a nice tiled backsplash. We also put in some new wiring and lighting fixtures in here. The dishwasher and fridge are new as well, and both are Energy Star certified. Very happy with this.

The dining room has yet to be fully designed, but we put in new cupboard doors, laid down new tile flooring, and fixed-up and repainted the walls. That’s it for now but we’ll be posting some finished jobs next week, one of which is a follow-up from the “before” pictures I posted a few weeks ago.  

Get Ready for Summer

All of the Departments here at the library are busy preparing for our summer reading programs.  There will be the usual Childrens, Teens and Adult programs but there will also be a separate program this year for Tweens or children between the ages of 8 and 12.   All of the programs start on June 18 with registration for the Children's and Tweens' programs at the Children's Desk and registraton for the teen program online on the library website under Summer Reading at   Adults don't need to register but can pick up the Book Review Entry Forms starting on June 18.   Submit an entry form for every book you read. Every entry entitles the reader one ticket in the prize drawings at the end of the summer to be held at the end of summer wrap-up party on August 18 at 3:00. The annual Summer Family Fun Festival will be held on July 7 at Reichler Park.

The South Brunswick Public Library participates each year with the New Jersey State Library in the  Collaborative Summer Library Program, "a grassroots consortium of states working together to provide public libraries with high-quality summer reading program materials for children, teens and adults at the lowest cost possible." (From the Collaborative Summer Library Program (CSLP) Manual).  This year, the theme chosen by CSLP is all about the night and dreaming.  The theme for children, tweens and teens is Dream Big - Read and the adult theme is Between the Covers.  Each program will select genres and create programs that will fit the theme and appeal to our patrons here in South Brunswick. 

May is "Get Caught Reading" month sponsored by the Association of American Publishers, although reading is a good thing to do year round!  Why not come to the library and get a head start on your summer reading.  We are planning some great programs around the night theme and promoting books that are best read at night like ghost stories, undercover detective stories, true crime and true survival books, romances and memoirs.  Look for details on all of the activities online on our website and in the Event Calendar, in our bi-monthly newsletter The Compass and on flyers posted in the library.  Let the South Brunswick Public Library be your "Guide to Discover" the fun of Summer Reading. 

Whatever Could Take You Away

Whatever could take you away from
Anno 2070?

1. Bath
2. Dinner
3. A post-midnight road trip to Mercato, Global City
4. Cheeseburger from Johnny Steams
5. Stopover at Baabaa's house
6. This blog-entry
7. Episode four of Game of Thrones.
8. Rumors of a night-long blackout blanketing the neighborhood

Only to turn out to be a hearsay, and you bought it wholesale
like a trader hoarding for excuses to leave the house.

Good Flicks You Might Have Missed… by Jill Eisner, Sr. Librarian

If you’re looking for something to watch tonight, here are some more of my favorites from our collection. Let me know what you think!

Win Win

Starring Paul Giamatti, Amy Ryan, Bobby Cannavale, Jeffrey Tambor.

Mike Flaherty is a lovable yet long-suffering lawyer and high school wrestling coach. When he comes across a teenage runaway who also happens to be a champion wrestler, Mike's luck turns around in spectacular fashion. But his win-win situation soon becomes more complicated than he ever imagined when the boy's family affairs come into play. 2011, rated R. Genre: Comedy/Drama.

The Soloist

Starring Jamie Foxx, Robert Downey, Jr., Catherine Keener, Tom Hollander, LisaGay Hamilton.

In 2005, the only thing hurting Los Angeles Times columnist and recent bike accident victim Steve Lopez more than his banged-up face, was his pressing need for story ideas. He soon discovers Nathaniel Ayers, a skid row schizophrenic street musician, who possesses extraordinary talent - even though he only has half-broken instruments to play. Inspired by Nathaniel's story, Lopez writes an acclaimed series of articles about him and attempts to do more to help both him, and the rest of the underclass of L.A. have a better life. Lopez's good intentions run headlong into Nathaniel's personal demons and the larger issues of social injustice facing the homeless. Regardless, Lopez and Nathaniel find a way to conquer their deepest anxieties and frustrations. 2009, rated PG-13. Genre: Drama.

Down With Love

Starring Renée Zellweger, Ewan McGregor, David Hyde Pierce, Sarah Paulson, Tony Randall.

A feminist writer in the early 1960's who is promoting her book 'Down With Love' has sworn off love. A dashingly chauvinistic New York City journalist thinks he doesn't need love. They both fall for each other in this hilarious parody of the Doris Day/Rock Hudson-type sex comedies of the early sixties.

2003, rated PG-13. Genre: Comedy


He was an accident, like his older brother. Unplanned. Maybe his parents had a fight and to make up for the hurtful words; hurled to each other like crumbling bricks picked on the floor, they resealed the bond with an intimate kiss; an earthly copulation that lead to his creation. He was already a peacemaker long before he was attached to the womb, and for that, he is already accomplished. 

Signs of his presence were there, like when I heard his mother throw up in the toilet. I paid no heed to the sounds, and instead asserted that it might be a casual regurgitation. A few weeks later, my mom posited a question. 

"What would be my reaction should my sister gets pregnant... again?"

The hypothetical inquiry was met with strong and violent reaction. After all, the couple had no stable job and the elder alone already draws so much of our resources. How could we cope with another mouth to feed? I returned the question and tried to squeeze the truth.

The matriarch downplayed my speculation.

I would like to think that it was all just a dream; that there's a choice to wake up to another reality when my mother finally said the truth. It was a month later, when the mood swings became intolerable and the cravings, more noticeable. My mom said it in a calm voice, and measured words, that my rage had no place in the revelation. I'd like to blame the couple for their carelessness; their stupidity; and tell it to their faces. But at the back of my head, the blame game is over. What was left is to recognize the child.

And be accepted by the entire family.

Months passed. The bump grew into a ball. The family was told and it was a relief their reaction was more affable than mine. Even the Favorite Aunt - the lioness of the pride - resigned to the idea. I guess it was inevitable, and the fact that it would take years before another of our generation decides to conceive her own child. So better for her niece to make babies, rather than let our blood run out.

The pregnancy went into full swing. Mounting pressure for the dad to shape up lead to his near breakdown. The sister's ferocity reared its ugly head, and clashes between her and the matriarch became a regular feature. There were days when the full attention of everyone stayed anchored with the eldest; like the second one wasn't coming. Sometimes it felt like the couple didn't take the pregnancy quite seriously, a few months before childbirth and the younger didn't even have his own set of clothes yet.

I kept my observations to myself, except when its bonding time with my mom.

"Oy baka mag-playing favorites ka ha! Dalawa na apo mo."

"Nako hindi, I'll give them equal attention."


"Prom..." but before she could finish her word, Baby Lenin throws his weight around, like he himself doesn't want a rival.

As the day of his coming drew near, we paid less and less attention to his arrival. Sadly, even memory seem to evade the events of the final days. Except for the premature drive to the emergency room on the eve of my birthday. When we thought he would come out weeks short from my sister's tummy. It was a close call, a result of strife between the couple. Lessons were learned and the flare-ups didn't happen again. After all, such costly bickering leaves everyone with less cash to prepare for the actual childbirth.

Months after he was born, and I still can't get over the thought of comparison. Of how the elder's coming was seen as a stellar event while his, received less fan fare. To be fair, the attention is there, and so is the care. He might have even benefited from his parents' experience in raising his big brother.

But the difference is just too glaring to remain unnoticed. Of how nobody seem to care to remember the months after his cries were first heard in the delivery room. Of how, I fail to dedicate a single blog entry except for this (which took months to write before it gets published)

I do not know the dynamics between siblings with small age difference. Much more, if they were born a year after another. Perhaps it's usual for parents to be complacent with their second baby, to pay less attention to details unlike when they are having their first infant. As for me, this is my way of atonement; to let him have a piece of history long before he could understand the world around him.

And if there is one thing we didn't miss. One decisive action he could brag for all time, when he gets to read his story one day; this were the timeline of his last few minutes before the boy finally said his first hello to the world:

In solitude, my fingers pressed the beads of the wooden rosary. At the same chapel where a year before, my mom and I retreated to find solace as my sister pushed her first-born out of her womb. Back then, we feared a Cesarean delivery might become an option should her childbirth becomes unpredictably, complicated.
This time, the prayers became my strength. The matriarch had decided to return home to take care of her elder grandson. I was left alone to look after everyone's welfare - until the in-laws arrive and take over my duties. 
Minutes before the nurses say the traditional "baby out," as they frantically moved from one room to the other, perhaps to attend to other mothers expecting childbirth, I was at the reception area, barely unnoticed, anticipating. waiting. 
The fear is gone, for I have already surrendered the child's fate when I left the chapel. With my heart at peace, certain that everything will turn out fine. The favorite aunt showed up with a battalion of attendants. In a plastic, transparent tray in front of her was a baby boy wrapped in white blanket.
At long last, the newborn has arrived.
"So what's his name?" A nurse asked his father.
"We're not sure yet, but my wife likes the name Diego."

Cake Improv

Sometimes you can wing it, and sometimes you really want to have a couple of dress rehearsals before the real thing. 

My daughter Kate's wedding is coming up in August and I am honored and excited that she asked me to bake her wedding cake.  I've made a few tiered wedding cakes before (how many?  let's see...more than 5 but less than 10...), but the last time I did so was several years ago, so I thought it would behoove me to try out some recipes before the actual date.

America's Test Kitchen books came to mind immediately because their recipes are exhaustively tested and reliably good -  especially important with something as potentially angst producing as planning a wedding!

In The America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book, (in our Library!) I found the recipe for Yellow Wedding Cake. As it so happens, as the unofficial baker for the Sunshine Club at work, I needed to make three cakes for birthdays celebrated in January, February and March.

Rather than mixing up three separate cake batters, I decided to use just the one large wedding cake recipe, but I would vary the additions, fillings and frostings.   The recipe called for good ingredients:   6 sticks of butter, 12 eggs, check.  Not exactly diet food, but nobody said you had to eat more than one (small) piece!

According to the recipe, all three layers could be baked at one time.   You have to have 6, 9 and 12 inch pans in order to do this - everyone has a 9 inch cake pan, but you can get the 6 and12 inch pans at Michael's craft stores for a reasonable price.

The results:  they really did look - and taste - different from one another.

I have to say, everyone loved these cakes.  Maybe more than any others I've made in the past...were they better, or was everyone just really hungry?

(For the basic recipes, check America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book in our Library for Yellow Wedding Cake, Classic Buttercream, and Chocolate Frosting.)

Calling all chocoholics...

Here are the variations:  For the 12 inch cake,  I made what I called Chocolate Chip Cake,  by adding 1 cup of chocolate sprinkles (inspired by a recipe from my mother's cousin Rose) to each large layer.  This was iced with decadent ganache-style Chocolate Frosting, straight from ATK Family Baking Book with no changes:  this was a cinch, completely made in a food processor.  This would be great on any layer cake (we had it four weeks ago on my son Trip's birthday cake - chocolate on chocolate - which disappeared quickly at my house).

So cute!

For the smallest, 6 inch cake, I made a Lemon Ginger Cake.  Starting with the Classic Buttercream recipe, I took out about 2 cups to make Lemon Buttercream by adding:

2 teaspoons of grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon of lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon of lemon extract

Then I took about 3/4 of a cup of that Lemon Buttercream and added:

1/4 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger

to make the lemon/ginger filling.  On top for decoration, I used about 1/2 cup of jarred lemon curd (I know, I ran out of time!...and I do so love homemade lemon curd...) interspersed with some pretty little sugar lemon decorations from Williams Sonoma.  

Subtle flavors, not so subtle decorating...

For the 9 inch cake, I made an Almond Strawberry/Raspberry Cake.  Using all of the remaining batch of plain Classic ButtercreamI  added:

1 1/2 teaspoons of pure almond extract
1/2 cup of almond meal (from Trader Joe's - or use almonds very finely chopped in a food processor)

 to make Almond Buttercream.  

Then, I took out about 1 and 1/4 cups of that Almond Buttercream and added to it:

about 1 cup more of the almond meal

to make a more intensely almond filling.  Using the 9 inch layers, I filled them with a mix of strawberry and raspberry jam, and then topped that with the thick almond filling.  After icing the cake with the Almond Buttercream, I lavishly decorated the cake with almonds and big, whole strawberries.  Over the top?  No worries;  after all, this cake had to share the spotlight with two others.
Validation for this cake creation came from my son Trip, who is really more of a chocolate lover, (see above).   Though not overly enamored of rich foods, he tried the Almond Buttercream  and commented that it was "really rich but light at the same time", and said that he could "eat a LOT of that!"

Kate and Alex tried all the cakes, but didn't commit to any one variation - I think that may be their strategy:  they will just enjoy the experimentation process as long as it lasts.  

As will I.

Diane Whitman, MLS
Reference Librarian

Just Plain Stupid

If I were earning - say - a hundred thousand pesos a month. And I get to keep the money all to myself, there is no doubt I will spend a portion of it for home improvement at Muji.

I have been to their store - twice - with my partner. One is in Greenbelt, and the other in Rockwell. They sell stuff ranging from hangers to bookshelves and pillows. Their line of products are all imported from Japan. So you can expect the price to be steep for below-average salary earner like me. 

But when it comes to aesthetics, their zen-like, minimalist elements, Muji's are second to none. For this reason, I regard the store as one of my favorites - even when I cannot afford and won't buy a single item from their shelves.

The non-patron but reverential attitude would have remained - the same - if not for this email I received from Nuffnang. It's a promotion, as some of you would expect and a lofty one if done sincerely and with the Planet's well-being in mind. 

"For every single-receipt of P1,000 with no paper bags or plastics needed..."  The advertisement read, "earns you one stamp." That's pretty tough for a society expecting everything to be wrapped and bagged in plastic. How many times I got strange stares when asking the convenience store clerk that I don't put my purchase in a plastic bag? How much more when you leave the store and walk around a mall with your purchased stuff in your hands? 

Convenience wise, it's just plain stupid. The brand-conscious, social status-hungry among us would never resign to such arrangement.

Unless, Muji's planning to sell a tote bag of their own design. Kaching!

But wait, the ignominy doesn't end there. 

According to the game mechanics, the promo runs from April 20 to July 31, 2012. That's barely 3 months or 6 paydays starting today. I really don't know the price range of Muji's products, but I'm most certain nobody goes there like one goes to a supermarket.

A booklet is given, where one must get 18 stamps to redeem the prize. 18 stamps. Eighteen thousand pesos. Three months. If that's not insanity, a participant is either having problems wasting his money, or he has a serious case of material craving. The mechanics also add that furniture and shelves, including items that are already on sale are not included in the promo.

Malas mo lang. The brains behind this campaign seem to be bent on preventing you from winning the prize.

But I know, some of us rise up to the challenge, and Muji's Go Paperless is one for the books. I wonder how will my PR teacher, Mr. Nicky Salandanan would comment on this: Would it create customer loyalty and retention? Would Muji gain from the brand exposure? Would the campaign really help the environment?

I'll let you be the judge.

And after all the trouble of collecting the 18 high-value stamps - like you did to earn a Starbucks planner; of spending close to 20 thousand in three months, a money you can simply put in a bank, or invest in something else; And after making yourself look stupid to all mall-shoppers believing you've helped the environment in such a shallow, silly way.

The reward for all the effort is this:

"A completed booklet of 18 stamps entitles the customer to a 10% discount on his next purchase. To avail of the discount, customer must present his booklet to the cashier."

So much for a promo.

Come to think of it, why would someone want to avail a 10% discount at Muji when he has all the money to throw away?

A Stroll Through E-Books

Are the kids at school and you have a moment of downtime?  Is it a week night and you are looking for something different to do? Can't sleep, the house is quiet and nothing is open?

Visit the E-Branch of the South Brunswick Library Website any time, night or day.
Go to the E-Branch and enter  E-Books & More to browse our virtual stacks filled with e-books, audiobooks, reference books, magazines and  newspapers.

Click on ELibraryNJ and login to flip through the new or recently returned e-books and audiobooks.

Head over to the Gale Virtual Reference Library collection with those burning research questions. Search by keyword or browse the e-books by subject after you login with your library card number.

If you are taking a test for work or school go to the Learning Express Library collection for test prep guides, classes and practice tests.  Computer software training is there too.

Scroll down the aisle of  E-Books , past the Children's Books, and find the magazine and newspaper collections.

EbscoHost Masterfile has over 1,750 magazines, journals and general reference publications with full text information dating as far back as 1975 including Consumer Reports and other popular magazines. Search by keyword or browse by publication title.

Ebsco Newspaper Source Plus has over 700 full-text newpapers including New York Times (from January 1985 to present), Christian Science Monitor, Irish Times (Ireland), San Francisco Chronicle, The Sydney Morning Herald (Australia), The Times (UK), Toronto Star, USA Today, The Washington Post, The Washington Times (DC), and others.

You can even ask a question at the Virtual Information Desk by clicking on Help.
Hope you have enjoyed this short stroll through our E-Books.

Faites une agréable promenade et à bientôt ! Did I mention you can study a foreign language from our Language Database Webpage?

Submitted by Mary Donne Head of Information Services

Home Improvement Ideas: Fireplaces

Changing the aspect of our home can be the best thing that we can do when we want to improve the interior design of our house. When you want to combine beauty with practicality then the best choice you can make is to invest in modern fireplaces. The new prefabricated fireplaces are more efficient and they give more heat.

Any fire will need oxygen to burn and with the new fireplaces this issue is solved efficiently. The fireboxes are made out of material that will hold some of the heat from flue gases. This way the heat can be radiated back in the room, increasing the temperature. Specialists say that the greatest heat loss takes places when the fire burns out and the fireplace cools almost instantly. No matter if the damper is closed because the chimney will continue to draw the hot air out of the room. 

With the new glass enclosures you can safely seal the fireplace opening and preventing the heat from disappearing. Using this method the damper will also remain open until de coal has dried and you won’t have to worry about smoke getting back in the room. Another factor that has great influence on the fireplaces and their efficiency is the outside temperatures, especially when we are speaking about masonry fireplaces. This is why experts recommend us to use these types of fireplaces only in the spring and in autumn. When the temperatures are low then the fire will draw in more cold air, replacing the warm air inside.

The prefabricated, heat circulating fireplace actually has a separate air space behind the firebox. The cool air enters in this box and then re-enters the room as warm air. This type of fireplace will heat the rooms properly and you will feel comfortable even when the temperatures are low.

When it comes to design, the open fireplaces are preferred by most consumers. Despite their wonderful design though, they are not very efficient when it comes to heating your home. Something that you might want to opt for instead are the gas and electric fireplaces. These types of fireplaces will offer you both the heat you need and the great design in order to transform your home. Such fireplaces are also great when it comes to mounting as they require little effort from your side. Asking professionals to help you with this is probably the best way to solve the problem. So, when you want to invest in a good fireplace you should think about the pros and cons of such an investment.

Poignant Film about Shameful Facts of American History

On the third Wednesday of every month, as part of the Wednesday Wisdom program, we show informative and inspiring documentaries either stand alone or in series.  We have just finished the BBC Earth series “Nature’s Most Amazing Events” when we were awed each month with breathtaking cinematography illustrating some incredible events that show the cycles of life on this planet.  The next series will start on May 16.  We will be viewing at least some of the eight episodes of BBC’s The Power of Art, presented by Simon Schama.  From the website we find this description “This is not a series about things that hang on walls, it is not about decor or prettiness. It is a series about the force, the need, the passion of art...the power of art.”

In the interim, we will view and discuss a disturbing stand alone documentary that should not be missed.  Tomorrow, Wednesday, April 18, we are going to show the very graphic and piercing 1982 documentary Who Shall Live and Who Shall Die that poses the question, “Could the United States have stopped the Holocaust.”  A description from the Internet states: “The film combines previously classified information, rare newsreel footage, and interviews with the politicians who were in office at the time, to tell a behind-the-scenes story of secret motives and inane priorities that allowed for the death of millions.” The Los Angeles Times called it, “a devastating political story,” and the New York Times said the, ‘unadorned’ film tells a story not to be proud of.”[

 “Who Shall Live and Who Shall Die was the first documentary to examine America's roles during the Holocaust. It was initially seen as controversial, but has since become a part of US Holocaust Museum’s collection. The documentary received positive reviews from major publications. And the US Memorial Holocaust Museum has said, ‘It is a detailed, informative presentation of a complex topic, with oral testimony from a wide range of Jews and non-Jews involved with the issue of Jewish rescue.’”

 “The documentary points to the fact that while the Jews were being slaughtered, America refused to fully recognize the horror, but, as soon as the war was over, the nation was ready to address the inhumanity. Who Shall Live and Who Shall Die shows clips from a disturbing American propaganda film, Death Mills, which was intended to educate the German people about the crimes of the Nazi regime. Black and white footage shows concentration camps after their liberation. Emaciated bodies, still alive but with no chance of survival, lie motionless on the open fields. When the crematorium door is opened, showing the skulls inside, the narrator demands, ‘Don't turn away! Look!’ Once the evil had been committed and nothing could be done to change the awful reality, the public was ready to be shocked and horrified.”

This Week at the SBPL I Discovered … The World in South Brunswick Art & Diversity Show!

Who knew? Our South Brunswick community can sing, dance, and even take an audience on an entertaining trip around the world! This week the Library offered its annual World in South Brunswick Art & Diversity Show. It never ceases to amaze me the variety of world cultures we are able to represent, as well as the quality of performances in the two-day festival.
Professionals as well as local students performed in acts representing China, England, India, Scotland, and more. It is the student volunteers in YAC (Youth Advisory Council) and TSF (Teen Special Forces) along with Young Adult Librarian Saleena Davidson that organize the program. All of the performances in the show are given to the public free of charge.

A bake sale featuring some ethnic and universal treats helped support the Friends of the Library. Monies raised by the Friends sponsor this event every year, as well as numerous programs offered free at the Library to all ages throughout the year.

Children were welcome to watch and were also offered crafts and fun to-dos in a separate room if they chose.

The weekend celebrates the cultural diversity we enjoy in South Brunswick. It is also a great example of how today’s Library has become a true community keystone, not just a quite place to write your term paper. But sure, if you want that we have that too. On our busier and sometimes nosier days, it might be best for such a person to set up in the Quiet Study Room. This is our dedicated quiet space for those who need to escape our more active learning experiences!

Today’s library, certainly our Library, offers educational opportunities beyond what is found on a quiet, dusty shelf. Some are singing, dancing, and even eating opportunities! Whenever you are wondering what to do with your time, just stop by (we are open 7 days a week) or go online to and see what’s going on at the Library. There is always something to discover here! Discovery is what we are all about.

To see photos from the Art & Diversity Show, please go to our website or our Facebook page. 

By Rosemary Gohd


We used to laugh, chortle and snicker every time the sub-boss jumps out of his speedboat. He faces our players like all villains do, except that his colorful and flamboyant character stand out as an icon, and a comic relief for a game deemed violent for us kids.

"Ayyyyyyy!! Baklaaaaaa!!" we would say, as he scissor jumps with his arms behind his head. His purple vest, neon green leggings and Lycra suit say it all. There was no need for adults to tell us what a kind of video game character he was.

And we would beat him to a pulp - with our digital punches, kicks and even throwing of weapons we pick along the way. We get startled when he laughs with a falsetto voice, and wonder how on earth did he become a gang leader when those of his kind were mocked and looked down in real life.

Eventually, we learned that he was playable, and his great strength helped us get through levels with bosses too difficult to defeat. I would unlock him before the first level clears and ditch my main hero in favor of him. 

Only because he was fun to play with.

In my solitary gameplay, I found joy when he trashed those whip-wielding dominatrices, and blurred my not-so-pristine mind when he is surrounded by beef daddies - err. thugs. I thought how he bossed around his foot soldiers. 

And flirted with boys, when he was still part of the syndicate.

He was obviously conceived to make fun of an awakening consciousness, a caricature of a man who prefers the company of another man instead of a woman. But at the same time, the game creators of Bare Knuckles 3 subconsciously empowered him to be tough. They made him feminine, yet at the same time lead gangsters in street brawls. 

In his time, he might be dismissed as a novelty; a feature not entirely part of the plot but was added as an afterthought, to be accessed and played by those who would identify with him later in life.

Many years later, a smile still creases on my face every time I see his video clip. Only this time, I know, I was one of those who secretly accessed him, to get to know who I ought to become.

Adventures in Fondant

I had the happy occasion to bake a cake for someone's baby shower (you know who you are!) today.   At first someone suggested that I make the "pregnant Mom" cake from Buddy Valastro's Baking with the Cake Boss, (funny but cute); but instead it was requested that I make something with a beach theme.

How about a fondant covered sand pail cake with shells, sand dollars and a starfish in graham cracker "sand"?   Having made only one other fondant covered cake before - albeit a 3 tiered wedding cake, I was excited but totally apprehensive too.  Could I sculpt a cake like they do on Ace of Cakes?

Using the shell cupcakes from the cookbook Confetti Cakes as inspiration, and the pocketbook cake on the cover for directions on building the layers, I started by making six (yes, that's not a typo!) 8 inch cake layers on Wednesday.

A practice fondant cupcake I made at the Montville Library's fondant decorating class taught by Kristen Havyar.
Thursday I started the morning by making the fondant shell decorations (really fun), and then continued by making both a faux buttercream frosting and a real buttercream filling recipe.  By the afternoon, it was on to  filling, constructing, sculpting, and then the worrying part: covering the cake with fondant.

Constructing involved cutting foam core to size under each two layers of cake and supporting the cake layers with straws.  After all six layers were stacked up,  I sharpened a dowel, poked it through all the layers including the foam core "plates", and cut the dowel flush with the top. Into the fridge with the giant cake (it was seven and a half pounds before filling and frosting, and almost a foot tall) in order to make the sculpting more stable.  Confetti Cakes suggests cakes should go in the freezer for an hour, but there was no way I had freezer space for that behemoth!

On to sculpting the cake.  Fortunately for me (who is completely drawing challenged), cutting a cake into a cone shape is pretty basic.  After cutting off (and BTW consuming!) a lot of frosting filled cake (what was that diet I was supposed to be following?), it was time to coat the whole shebang with frosting.  But first, back to the fridge to cool down.

While I waited for the cake to cool,  I mixed pink gel food color into a two and a half  pound block of fondant.  As I  mindlessly and endlessly pulled, pushed and  kneaded the fondant to get the color mixed evenly, I fretfully pondered how to get the fondant onto the cake.

Plan A:  If I rolled out a giant sheet of fondant and put it over the entire cake, would I then have so much excess fondant that it would bell out around the cake and be impossible to shape without a lot of cutting or unsightly seaming? Also, would the fondant sheet be so big that when I tried to drape it over the cake it would start tearing??? Yikes! Okay, that would be too nerve racking.

How about Plan B:  If I cut the fondant into a top piece with a separate side piece, it would be easier to work with for sure, but would the unsupported side piece then slide off the cake?

Since tearing would be really hard to fix, I decided to take my chances with Plan B, and proceeded to roll out a small circle of fondant for the top.   Thus committed, I put some some serious muscle power into rolling out the remaining fondant into a huge semicircle to drape around the cake.

One small tear near the top later, I had wrestled the fondant onto the cake.  Success!  It still didn't look like a sand pail, but it was an impressive looking pink cake.  Hopefully the additional of the pail handle, some cute fondant polka dots,  crushed graham cracker "sand" and fondant shells would contribute to the illusion.

A friend told me it takes her 10 hours to decorate each fondant covered cake, and with a few more parts to finish up that night, I'd say that was right on target.  Ten to decorate, plus four or five to make the cakes.

So here's the final result today, Friday, and I think the expectant couple was pleased.  Hooray!  The surprised and happy smiles on the parents-to-be's faces were totally worth it.  My only question is:  when can I make the next cake?

Find the recipes for Vanilla Cake and Swiss Meringue Buttercream in Elisa Strauss' Confetti Cakes, and the extra faux buttercream frosting I used to "glue" the foam core to the platter and the cakes in America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book, both available in our Library

An important food safety tip I would add to the Swiss Meringue Buttercream recipe from the Confetti Cakes book, is that when you are heating the egg whites, the directions say 'until they are very hot'.  If you use a candy thermometer, the safe temperature to cook eggs to is 160 degrees.  (I cooked mine to 165 just to be sure.)  If you get to 180, the eggs will set and will no longer be usable for frosting, so watch carefully and pull the eggs off the flame at 160 or 165 or so. Also, refrigerating the Buttercream and then rebeating it as directed in the recipe will allow you to put more filling between the layers, which I would have done had I had more time.

For inspiration, check out Buddy Valastro's book, Baking with the Cake Boss.  And if you feel like you need some instruction, try the Wilton cake decorating classes offered at  Michaels' stores.  (Also this is where you can buy fondant in 5 pound packs.) I took two Wilton classes (then offered at JC Penney and paid for as a gift from my thoughtful mother-in-law) thirty two years ago in order to make my own wedding cake, and am still enjoying using those skills all these years later.

Diane Whitman, MLS
Reference Librarian
Designated Library Baker


Dream Of Stars

"It is their fate to fail." Chan Cho said while sipping a small bowl of omija cha. He was kneeling in front of a small writing desk with his eyes closed when Park Hyeung arrived.

"How do you know?"

"A young bird will never fly long without his mother around." The old man said. "Ask where our brothers to the north learned to send firecrackers flying to the moon?"

"From the west?" Chan Cho smiled.

"A wise man won't give a war-monger a sword. Even when that war-monger is his friend."


"Come sit with me."

The two men spent hours in the Sarangbang discussing the matters of state - and why their northern brothers would eventually return their lands in the future. They spoke of the scientists and engineers, bound to be sent to the Gulag for embarrassing, not only the young supreme leader but his great ancestors as well. Most important of all, the two men contemplated the next move of the hermit kingdom to save face.

"They wish to draw attention and they got it." Chan Cho said.

"Sadly, it seems the new king didn't get the mandate of heaven. He failed his first test on the 100th birthday of the Suryong."

Meanwhile, in a bunker somewhere in Pyongyang, a charismatic but aging general draws his pistol from his desk drawer. After tearfully looking at the portrait of the Eternal President, he walked out of his office and disappeared into the unlit and damp narrow corridor.


weekend trip, wearing jacket -my design.  Top - H&M, Bag -J crew


There were two boys in a corner. One held a guitar, his back was against the wall. He was about to strum his musical instrument, as the other boy watches.

"Madali-dali ang chords nito," the boy with the guitar said.

In front of them was a song book. One that is printed in newsprint and had a glossy front cover. It doesn't matter where the song book came from. The essence was in the music.

- Em: 022000

- CMaj: 332020

- GMaj: 320000

- F#m: 244222

With his tense, unaccustomed fingers, he strummed his guitar as he sang the words. He is still learning, after all.

"A-nother head hangs lowly..."

Printed on the song book were the chords and lyrics of Zombie. A single by The Cranberries and one of the songs that identify with the 90s. In its time, it received generous radio airplay. Almost everyone heard the song and know at least part of the chorus. And for those two boys trying to learn the chords, they were merely hooked to the beat of their time.

Not knowing the music will live on, take roots, and touch their hearts.

The Cranberries were not only known for giving life to Zombie. They also penned the words and breathed music to Linger, Dreams and Ode To My Family. More than the lyrics, these songs carried slices of life, especially for the other boy who merely listened as his friend played the guitar.

The days would grow into years, and from merely listening as others played Zombie with their stringed instrument, the other boy would press keys with his fingers and find the chords of the same song on a piano aided only by his ears.

He failed to finish his composition and abandoned the Cranberries - and the song, as other singles from music artists enamored his ears. A couple of years down the road, he would find himself in a department store. Humming, as he tries to recall another Cranberries' song while assisting a customer during his on-the-job-training.

The song he learned, was Ode To My Family. It would re-acquaint him with the band who turned out to be his introduction to Alternative music.

There were early mornings when he would play Dreams and leave it on playback, as he lies in bed and reminisce his first year in the university. He would think of friends, the good times they had, the sleep-overs they did, and the bonds they made while slowly accepting their imminent partings as the summer vacation approaches

He would play it one night, during their last slumber party. With his buddies sleeping in bed and on the floor, he found himself in front of the stereo. Drowned in sorrow and emptiness, the song - still on playback - was his Prozac. It gave him the resolve to move on and accept what the coming year brings.

All my life
is changing every day
in every possible way

The years now ripe with nostalgia, has let the man see the band, and their songs as vaults of memories. With the boy, listening to his friend perform an acoustic cover of Zombie as the moment from where his  association with the Cranberries began.

While he cannot deny that he has outgrown the band, and the music they have created after the third album was conceived, feelings of attachment remain. After all, the Cranberries and their best songs were the soundtracks of his life.

For this reason, he would have chosen their greatest hits performance as his first attendance in a concert. Not to see the band or hear their songs, performed live in front of an audience, but for the chance to express his gratitude for the music they made.

April 10 was nearing, and yet a ticket has to be bought. A cash flow problem made him decide to pass on this opportunity for another time.

Until a surprise call from Pinoyexchange changed the course of events.

Free Tickets! 

And saw, from the balcony of Upper Box A, the timeless musician herself.

Dolores O' Riordan

Visit The E-BRANCH!

Visit South Brunswick Public Library's new website to find  amazing programs and services available at the library. 

Don't leave our website until you have also visited our E-Branch. The E-Branch is open 24/7 and it has all of the online services that you have come to depend on and enjoy. 

Research stocks, learn a language, take an adult education class, study for a test or find a good book to read in the E-ADULTS section of our E-Branch.

Download E-Books, audiobooks, reference book chapters and test prep guides from   E-COLLECTIONS .

The DATABASES section of our E-BRANCH has close to 100 online resources that we recommend for answering your questions and enriching your life.

Find homework help, readers advice, webguides and visit the Teen Zone when you are at E-TEENS.

There is always  fun stuff for kids at E-CHILDREN.

If you have a question at any time during your visit to the E-BRANCH just click on HELP. You can chat, text, or phone us up to a half hour before the library closes. You can leave us a message if the library is closed and we will get back to you.

Enjoy your visit to the South Brunswick Library E-BRANCH and come again soon!

Home Visit: Victory Lap in Baldwin, Long Island

Back in late February, I posted some shots of a house out in Nassau that we were finishing up. Well, the job is done and here is the finished project. Just as a reminder, this was a huge renovation of a dining room, kitchen and bathroom, including installation of new electrical and plumbing fixtures in all three rooms. And, for the record, the family we were working for were ecstatic with the results. I'm particularly proud of the creamsicle-orange paint job in the dining room and the tile work in the bathroom. More important is what you readers think.

Those, obviously, are photos from the new kitchen with brand-new-spankin' cabinets and beautiful new granite countertops. Below, you'll see the completed tile work and bowl sink that we installed in the bathroom. I'm also particularly fond of the shower head we installed and the light fixture above the mirror. We have since moved onto the project I posted about last week, which will likely be finished next week.

Summer Reading Preview

The theme of this summer's Adult Summer Reading is a nightime theme called Between the Covers.  This is a very broad theme that could encompass many ideas.  We are going to consider several of them, from focusing on the genre's of romance, "Under Cover" detective stories and books that are better read at night such as trillers and true survival.  As a sub-genre of true survival stories, we are going to explore memoirs and have a workshop on memoir writing and discovering "What is Between the Covers of Your Book."
We are also planning to explore some art themes like bedrooms in art, (see, book cover art, film noir and altered books, (see

Some other "night" themes might be bedroom makeovers, sleep science and relaxation and aromatherapy.  If you have any suggestions of something fun that fits the theme, contact Barbara Battles at

The first contest we are announcing, which will go all summer long and tie in with our creative writing and memoir theme and will be featured in this blog and in a display in the library, is called "Book Spine Poetry."  Artist Nina Katchadourian started the Sorted Book Project in 1993 and we are going to create some of our own examples of this fun creative writing exercize.  Look at Nina's website at and the Andree Institute's Creative Writing page at for more information about the Sorted Book Project and Book Spine Poetry respectively.  Arrange your book titles to produce a creative poem or statement, take a photo and send them to for posting.

And starting on June 18, 2012, there will be Entry Forms to complete for every book you read this summer.  Like last year, we are asking for a rating and a short review that we will share with other readers.  There is no registration necessary; just pick up forms at the Check-Out and Information Desk where you will also find a box/jar in which to submit your forms.  There will be drawings for prizes throughout the summer.  More details to follow.


Trees ready to be cut down in SM Baguio

Ask not, why cities simmer; lowlands get flooded and why people die when mud tumbles down from the mountain. Whine as long as we want about the hellish weather or the insane monsoon, but the thing that keeps the ground cooled and the earth from churning is the very thing we cut down with impunity. 

The next time the planet strikes back, I'd embrace the pain and suffering, like I wrought it upon myself.

New Library Website Unveiled during National Library Week April 8-14

How Will You Celebrate?

We recommend that you take a few minutes to discover our new and improved website at! We are choosing this week to unveil our spectacular (why be modest?!) new portal to the hundreds of resources we offer for education and entertainment seven days a week. While visiting the site you will notice our new interactive E-Branch. Click here to find all things "e" available at a glance, including links to e-books, online classes, tutoring, and apps for all ages. Find titles, user information, and more!

Also during NLW, take time to visit our bookmobile on National Bookmobile Day on Wednesday, April 11. Kids will enjoy patterns to cut out to make their own mini-bookmobiles! The South Brunswick Public Library has been offering this curbside service for nearly 35 years. Find books, magazines, music, and movies all in our colorful bus.

Take time this week to discover something new in your Library either at our Kingston Lane address, online, curbside, or all 3!

Project Tumblr

Twice I created a Tumblr account only to abandon the micro-blogging platform a few months later. Is it because I find the interface more difficult to navigate? The free layout lacking aesthetic merit? (on the contrary, a designed page comes with a steep price) Or because I'm not used to re-blogging other people's ideas, and instead prefer to come up with my own?

Sa totoo lang, I find Tumblr users highly creative, and their tumblelogs visually and aurally delectable. At a time when most people are too lazy to read, their thoughts get across on Tumblr. I guess this is the reason why I attempted to put my own one - so I may go beyond the narrative, and instead, share a slice of life without having to come up with a sprawling prose.

Because stories can be told in many ways.

The first time I had a Tumblr account, I published excerpts and passages that don't need to appear in blog form. I didn't have any human connections and the blurbs there are mostly for my eyes alone. Because of its isolation, the Tumblr drifted away as my blog steadily gained prominence. 

Eventually, I forgot even the password of that account.

The second one was inspired by JC's decision to revive his old Tumblr. Ako naman si gaya-gaya, I followed, established a permanent foothold (in case the partner abandons his blog) and tried my best to make it work by linking my infant account with prominent Tumblr celebrities like Ran.

However, the writer's block caught up. I became busy with other stuff and in the end, lack of inspiration forced me to retreat to the shores of Soul Jacker. Ang hirap pala mag-keep ng maraming social media accounts! I wonder how other people could do it?

The Tumblr account, I named Daybreak Embers is supposed to be an after-serving of the Midnight Afterburner. But as I later realized, there is a risk I'd pay less attention to the other - in this case - the blog should I go full throttle with my new project. 

A possibility, which I find completely unacceptable.

Therefore, I leave this dilemma to those who maintain both accounts. Please do tell, what joys does Tumblr give? 

Death By Starbucks

I'm an inch away from closing down my other portal.

Bonding (Last Part)

"Let's attend the mass ha?" 

"Gusto ko kasing mag-communion eh..." She added.

I didn't pay attention to her request. Instead, my thoughts were filled with images of the church in Ateneo. And how I would love to show her around as daybreak blankets the sky.

"Huy, nakikinig ka ba?"

"Opo mama." I answered just before the FX stops in front of the church near Araneta Avenue. But since we started our Visita Iglesia late, I knew we won't reach the Church of Jesu in time for the holy mass.

"Doon na lang tayo sa Mount Carmel o kaya sa Pink Sisters."

"Baka mas kaunti ang tao dun."

But it wasn't how the events of that day took shape. A snarling traffic forced us to park our car a few blocks away from the Carmelite Shrine. When we arrived there, it was packed beyond capacity. The priest was delivering his homily, but we cannot understand a single word. So instead of listening, we chose to do our station of the cross.

Maybe, another church might be opening its Eucharistic service by evening.

We left Mount Carmel for Pink Sisters, only to witness the procession ending the mass. There, the lay ministers were dressed as apostles, and behind them, an altar boy marched with a wood instrument in place of a bell. The instrument produced muted, clapping sound that blended well with the sombre atmosphere. The church was packed too, only this time, with parishioners who were obviously residents of the upscale neighborhood.

And they won't be having any service after that. 

I don't know if my mom was just good at hiding her disappointment, or she was more worried of her black eye after she went off balance and hit the window while disembarking from the car. But from that point on, we both knew she won't be having her mass and her communion.

It's just the Via Crucis for us.

The journey goes on. From Pink Sisters we went to Christ the King. Then Santa Clara, the Ateneo Church and finally capping our pilgrimage at the Parish of the Holy Sacrifice in Diliman. We covered seven churches, all serving, if not wealthy neighborhoods, are cut off from the main roads.

The Visita Iglesia itself didn't turn out to be a cakewalk. I had to push the wheelchair on steep, bumpy roads; break its descent on ramps - with sweaty palms; and sometimes, even lift the contraption including the occupant on sidewalks to keep my mom away from vehicle exhaust and passing cars.

"Buti na lang nag-gygym ka..." I smiled as beads of sweat rolled down my face. If only she knew I was close to fainting. I didn't eat well before setting off on a pilgrimage believing my own strength would keep me going until we reach the final church.

However the struggle, the trip was peppered with little joys that made the effort worthwhile. From the soothing, angelic voices of the nuns singing at Pink Sisters to the blissful silence filling our hearts as we took a break at the Church of Jesu, the essence seems to be more than the religious experience. Who would have thought it will be fun eating fish balls with your mother, when just two decades ago she forbade you to buy them from passing vendors. And just when we both realized that attending the mass wasn't really the heart of our Visita Iglesia, messengers were actually sent, to reinforce what we knew all along.

At the Christ the King.

"God bless you." A priest approached my mom out of nowhere.

"Thank you father..."

"Where you able to hear the mass?"

"Hindi nga po eh..." My mom said, feeling embarrassed.

"Ay nako okay lang yun no." The priest whispered, smiling. "Ang mahalaga you came and joined us."

"Besides, if you know that you don't intend to avoid it, That you were not aware of the time. God knows you did your best."

His words gave me goosebumps. For at the Altar of Repose a few minutes earlier, a stranger also said the same thing. I didn't know if I was merely connecting the events, but after meeting two close calls before arriving at Christ the King, and resigning to the fact that we did miss the mass;

What I said to my mom, was actually the very answer we wish to hear.

"Ang mali ko, namimili ako ng simbahan to hear the mass." I said while resting in the pews.

"They say the same thing naman." Mom was silent. Perhaps she wasn't done yet with her intentions.

"But you know what, in the end, it's not the Visita Iglesia we're after."

"It's the bonding between a mother and her son."

"Oo nga..." she finally agrees.

We left after saying the Sorrowful mystery, only to be cornered by volunteers selling candles. For some reasons, mom bought one despite its one hundred pesos price tag. She decided to light the candle at the Altar of Repose, just before the two strangers came and assent our epiphany.