Vegan, Jane Austen student, Minimalist, Reader, Librarian

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Joy of Tea

Music: Tommy Dorsey & Frank Sinatra, All-Time Greatest Hits Volume 3

I've come to love milky tea, the British way but, being vegan, I use stevia for sweetener and soy milk instead of cubes of granulated white sugar and cow's milk. In an ongoing effort to listen to my body more, a few months ago, I switched to both decaf espresso for my morning latte and loose decaf Earl Grey or English Breakfast tea for my afternoon delight.

"There’s nothing quite like a cup of hot tea to warm you up when it’s very cold outside or, as more often happens, you’re just so cold you can hardly stand it. When I’m feeling very cold (which, unfortunately, is often) it’s the only thing that will warm me completely." Read more here.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


Music: Happy Birthday to Bach!

I don't eat out often--I much prefer my own home-cooked food--but, when I do, it's almost always Middle-Eastern. There's something about the combination of flavors with legumes, grains, chopped fresh vegetables, and onions that are out of this world.

Pittsburgh has several Middle-Eastern restaurants including Aladdin's Eatery in Squirrel Hill and Kassab's in South Side.

One restaurant I frequent with co-workers is Ali-Baba in the Oakland neighborhood of Pittsburgh, very close to the Main library. One of our favorite dishes is sleek, a savory dish made with black-eyed peas, bulgur, onions, scallions, and Swiss chard. I just had to find a recipe to recreate this delicious-ness at home.

You'll find the recipe here. I also enjoy sleek leftovers at room temperature. I'll bet it's even good in a wrap!


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

New Views on RMS Titanic

Music: Scott Joplin, The Complete Rags
RMS Titanic (Source: Wikipedia)

Next month marks the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the RMS Titanic, the largest passenger ship of its day, on April 14, 1912. In light of this, several new books are being published and, with this post, I introduce a guest blogger, my good friend, James*, a fellow Titanic aficionado, who contributed the following review:

The Band that Played On: The Extraordinary Story of the 8 Musicians Who Went Down with the Titanic by Steve Turner. Thomas Nelson, Nashville.  2011.

As with most books published in the twenty-first century, this one suffers from subtitle overkill. This is an interesting and inspiring story, but hardly extraordinary. As the author states, these eight men were average individuals earning a living. They were undistinguished in life, but famous in their deaths.

This is the first collective biography of the members of the Titanic's bands (there were two, so an added "s" in the title would have made for accuracy). The author appears to have done thorough research and claims to have uncovered all there is to know about this historic group. Even so, three of the members have documentable backgrounds so scanty their lives are lumped together into one chapter. 

Some interesting facts emerge from the overview of the lives of these musicians: only one was married, leaving only one widow from the group and two of them probably got women pregnant in the year before they sailed--those repressed Edwardians! We're so much more uninhibited now. Press frenzies were just as wild then, with one newspaper taking over an entire floor of a New York hotel prior to the Carpathia arriving with Titanic survivors.

While the book appears to be well-researched, several errors make me wary. In his preface, the author states he never read a book on the Titanic before undertaking this title; I can believe it. Concerning the trajedy, he makes the following statements:

--The iceberg sliced through the ship's hull like a "tin opener." It is pretty firmly established - and was proposed as early as 1912 - that only some rivets were popped and plate seams opened to the extent of 12 square feet.
--The ship could only float with two watertight compartments flooded. Theoretically it could float with four filled.
--The moon was bright. There was no moon, which helped contribute to the collision.

The author states he is more concerned with the musicians than the ship and, in this, he succeeds. The book is straighforward and very readable; a quick read. The photos are small and thus rather pointless, although it is interesting to see satellite dishes on the homes that the men lived in before they sailed.

At the conclusion, we are alerted to watch for the reappearance of bandmaster Wallace Hartley's violin around the time of the 100th anniversary of the sinking. Apparently it was found strapped to his body when it was recovered but disappeared after being shipped to England. If authenticated, it will be the most valuable Titanic artifact in existence.

This is an interesting overview of a specialized aspect of the Titanic.  While nothing new is uncovered, it is nice to see these eight brave men given their due. 

*James has been a librarian for over 30 years and has been a book reviewer for Library Journal for 16 years. His interests include architecture restoration and reading history and old fiction. 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

It's Women's History Month

Music: Dolores O'Riordan, Are You Listening?

Surprisingly, in 2012, women still continue to struggle for their rights; in fact, we threaten to undo what many women have fought so hard to achieve.

In my latest CLP blog post, I remember several women in herstory.

"I tend to prefer stories told from the female point of view, definitely in fiction but often in non-fiction as well. As a woman, I can relate better to other women than to men. Besides, I have always felt that women don’t always get to tell their side of the story." Read more here.