Sunday, July 31, 2005


One of the most interesting and potentially life-changing books to come out this year is Lauren Catuzzi Grandcolas' You Can Do It!: The Merit Badge Handbook for Grown-Up Girls (NEW 646.7008 GRA). Begun by the late Ms. Grandcolas--a passenger on the ill-fated UAL Flight 93 on September 11, 2001--and finished by her two sisters, Vaughn and Dara, and Yvette Bozzini, the book encourages women to "Dare to Dream--Learn Something New--Do Something Just for You".

Many of us remember earning badges in Girl Scouts, Campfire Girls or Boys, Indian Princesses or Guides, Boy Scouts, and the like (yes, men can use the book, too!). We learned new things by following a list of activities to earn the specific badge--i.e., say, "World Cultures", where one might eat foods from other countries, learn folk dances and games, learn some phrases in another language, and make a craft or art project from another culture. Besides becoming informed, we got a physical reward, a little embroidered badge to sew on a sash or vest. We can still take out those sashes or vests today and be amazed at what we learned then.

Lauren Grandcolas' idea was to encourage women to quit saying, "I always wanted to do...", and to actually do "..." (whatever they dream of doing). By arranging the book into short sections with a few steps to accomplish each "dream", she hoped to make it relatively easy for readers to accomplish a dream or to, at least, get started on one--no more excuses!--just as we did as children. And, there is a reward when a section is finished--a "badge" (in sticker form) specific to the accomplishment. Do you want to be a rock star?, or write a book?, or fly a plane?, or make a film?, or start investing?, or play billiards?, or learn to knit?--there's a Badge here for you!

There are 60 different "Badges" to earn, divided into 6 main sections: Dare, Create, Learn, Play, Deal, and Connect. Some of the sections contain rather disparate badge activities (i.e., "Deal" has activities for nutrition and fitness as well as for money matters and car maintenance), while other sections are more cohesive (i.e., "Play" has all sports or exercise badges). For each badge there is a "Mentor", a woman who is an expert on the particular activity who adds comments and resources. The basic format for each badge begins with a paragraph expressing a fulfilled dream of the activity, "Imagine That...", followed by a list of 4 potential "Payoffs"--results that might come from accomplishing the activity. After learning about the Mentor, a list of from 3 to 7 getting-started steps are presented, concluding with a space to record one's name and the date the activity was finished. Sidebars and inserts include extra information (i.e., a glossary or a list of prominent women in the badge's field), "Expert Tips", and personal pro & con sides of the activity. For most of the badges there is also a "Beyond the Badge" section that takes the "Dream" a bit further, perhaps becoming a professional in that activity. Then there is a resource page of books, magazines, websites, films, etc., suggested by the mentor for the badge. For a few of the Badges, there is an "Extra Credit" section, i.e., "Stand-up Comedy" for the "Acting" Badge. The final badge in the book is one the readers can create themselves, using the format of the previous 59 badges.

Would a reader do all the activities? Probably not. But most of us would be willing to try at least one. Some are probably less attainable than others--not much surfing in the Midwest--, some are more expensive--though the mentors suggest saving up money specifically for activities like the travel and aviation badges--, some are too wierd for the average person--Firewalking(!)--, and some are attainable by everyone--Volunteering. Often the reader is encouraged to take a class in the activity, though it might not be available where the reader lives (online classes could be used instead, perhaps). Groups of women are encouraged to do badges together (just like we did in Scouts) in "You Can Do It! Clubs".

Proceeds from the book's sales go to the Lauren Catuzzi Grandcolas Foundation, which donates to various charitable causes, i.e., scholarships and neonatal units. It is also helping to build a 9/11 Memorial garden in Houston, Lauren's Garden.

There is a related website, You Can Do It Book, that has its own forum and e-newsletter.

So, don't just "Dream" about doing something--"DO IT!"


Many Illinois libraries, historical societies, museums, and colleges have online digital collections. At Digital Past, the North Suburban Library Association has provided a one-stop access point for these varied resources. Searchable by topic, proper names, cities, and institutions, the collections include "photos, newspaper articles, historical documents, silent movies, oral histories, and more!" There is also an ability to zoom in and pan for certain types of documents like maps. Images can be downloaded (for free) for PowerPoint presentations or for use in a classroom. Current exhibits on the website include "Mail Order Homes in Libertyville" and Cook Memorial Library's "Brides of Yesteryear"--pictures of 19th Century wedding dresses.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005


James Doohan died today at the age of 85. He was primarily known for his role in the Star Trek TV series and films as Chief Engineer of the starship Enterprise, "Montgomery "Scotty" Scott, always ready with the pithy remark.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005


Tomorrow starts the local County Fair season with the opening of the 2005 Kane County Fair in St. Charles; it runs Wednesday, July 20 through Sunday, July 24. Other local fairs are the Dupage County Fair (July 27-31), the McHenry County Fair (August 3-7), and the Lake County Fair (July 26-31). A schedule of all the Illinois County Fairs can be found on the Illinois Department of Agriculture's web-site. Links to some of the County Fair web-sites are included.

Nearby State Fairs, besides Illinois' in Springfield (August 12-29), include those in Wisconsin (August 4-14), Minnesota (August 25-September 5), Indiana(August 10-21), and Iowa (August 11-21).

The Elk Grove Village Library has a few books about state and county fairs:

Ordinary Life, Festival Days: Aesthetics in the Midwest County Fair (1995) by Leslie Prosterman (394.6 PRO)

Illinois State Fair: A 150 Year History (2002) by Edward J. Russo, et al (394.6 RUS)

The American State Fair (1999) by Derek Nelson (630.7473 NEL)

The All-New Blue Ribbon Cookbook: Prize Winning Recipes from America's State Fairs (1997) by Catherine Hanley (641.5 HAN)

The County Fair Cookbook: Yankee Johnnycakes, Tater Pigs, Shoofly Pie & 200 More Recipes from America's Best Country Cooks (1994) comp. by Lyn Stallworth and Rod Kennedy Jr. (641.5973 COU)

County Fair (1992) by Raymond Biall (J 630.74)

A Week at the Fair: A Country Celebration (1995) by Patricia H. Easton (J 630.74 EAS)

Tuesday, July 12, 2005


Lots of famous people seem to have been born on this day [via Were the Days and Today in History]:

[Julius Caesar (100 B.C.)--Roman Emperor]
Josiah Wedgwood (1730)--English pottery maker
Henry David Thoreau (1817)--Transcendentalist American writer of Walden
George Eastman (1854)--American inventor of the Kodak camera
George Washington Carver (1865)--African-American inventor, especially related to peanuts
Amedeo Modigliani (1884)--Italian modernist painter
Kirsten Flagstad(1895)--Norwegian Wagnerian soprano
R. Buckminster Fuller (1895)--innovative American architect famous for Geodesic Domes
Oscar Hammerstein II (1895)--American lyricist, especially for Broadway musicals
Pablo Neruda (1904)--Chilean Nobel Prize winning poet
Milton Berle (1908)--American comedian and pioneer TV showman
"Curly" Joe DeRita (1909)--American comedian, replaced Curly Howard in The Three Stooges comedy team
Andrew Wyeth (1917)--American painter
Mark O. Hatfield (1922)--Former Governor of Oregon and U.S. Senator
Conte Candoli (1927)--jazz trumpet player, especially with Doc Severinsen's Band
Van Cliburn (1934)--world-renowned American pianist
Bill Cosby (1937)--American comedian, TV star, and humorous lecturer
Connie Francis (1938)--American pop singer
Christine McVie (1943)--British rock singer, especially with Fleetwood Mac
Richard Simmons (1948)--American fitness and weight loss teacher
Cheryl Ladd (1951)--American actress, especially known for her role in TV's Charlie's Angels
Kristi Yamaguchi (1971)--American Olympic (1992) Figure Skating Gold Medalist

Saturday, July 09, 2005


Evan Hunter died on July 7 of cancer. He was a prolific writer who used many pseudomyms, the most famous being that of "Ed McBain". As Ed McBain he wrote the "87th Precinct" mysteries, a series that started in 1956 and was still going strong today--a new book, Fiddlers, will be released in the Fall. He is also noted for writing The Blackboard Jungle on which the notorious movie, starring Glenn Ford, was based. Some quotes made by Hunter can be found on Brainy Quote. A 2003 interview with Hunter can be found on The Readers Room.

The Elk Grove Village Public Library currently has a tribute display of Evan Hunter's works set up in Adult Services. Blackboard Jungle is available both in the book form and in film form (VHS).

Saturday, July 02, 2005


On Monday we celebrate American Independence Day, commemmorating the acceptance of the Declaration of Independence. The Library of Congress and US have more information, as well. Some online sources of related links, from games to food to fireworks history to songs and poetry and more:

Home & Holidays

Some notable quotations about July 4th and Freedom in general can be found at Quote Garden. John Adams, in 1776, actually described what has become the traditional celebration of Independence Day. Otto Whitaker's 1955/1976 poem about America is also a good read for the Fourth of July. [Both of these quotes via]