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Friday, October 31, 2008

Should I Turn My Heat Off or Lower the Thermostat?

“To conserve energy and save money, should I turn my heat off or just lower the thermostat when I leave for work?” Like everyone today, the Newton Falls Public Library staff can understand the economic need of conserving energy.

The appropriately named book, This Cold House: the simple science of energy efficiency by Colin Smith was the first place we looked. Smith suggests setting your thermostat to the lowest comfortable temperature in the winter. “Heating costs are reduced by about 2% for every 1% F reduction in settings [p. 189].” Information about different heating systems, insulation, and basic equations to assist homeowners in determining possible savings are included. The use of ceiling fans to blow and circulate warmer air can make people feel more comfortable.

The library has two new books about home energy savings, Consumer Guide to Home Energy Savings by Jennifer Thorne Amann, Alex Wilson and Katie Ackerly and Save Energy Save Money: 201 do-it-yourself projects, tips, and ideas by Family Handyman. The Consumer Guide to Home Energy Savings includes practical information about ways to reduce costs and offers additional ideas at their website The site has numerous calculators for things such as determining the most economical insulation level for your home and how much money a programmable thermostat will save. The Family Handyman book addresses the misconception that lowering the thermostat requires more energy to reheat the house; when in fact the fuel saved by the dropping temperature is about equal to the amount used restoring it, so the time spent at the lower temperature is reducing your energy use. “Studies show you can cut cost by as much as 20 percent by lowering your thermostat 5 degrees F at night and 10 degrees during the day when no one is home [p.66].”

You can also conserve your energy and save money by visiting the library. With one stop, you can borrow books, audiobooks, movies, CDs, CD-Roms for your computer, magazines, newspapers, and access the Internet from the Wi-Fi computers. There are programs such as story times, craft programs, movie events, and book discussions. Travel back in time when you visit the Local History Room. Visiting the library is a great opportunity to share and learn more about your family, where they came from, and where they have lived. While a little dated, Oral History for the Local Historical Society by Willa K. Baum has excellent ideas on how to create an oral history, learning from older family members about their lives. Discovering the History of Your House and Your Neighborhood by Betsy J. Green is another interesting resource. In conjunction with Ms. Green’s book, the Haines directories and Sanborne Fire Insurance Maps (found in Ohio Web Library’s Genealogy section) will assist you in researching where your family has lived. If your family moved to Newton Falls during the growth of the steel mills, you might find it interesting to view the tools belonging to contractor Nicholas Risko. Mr. Risko built many of the homes for families who came during this era. A relative of the Longenberger family, Grandma Caroline Gamber [1836-1928], would be blushing to know that there is a display of her clothing, including undergarments, in the library’s Local History Room.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

What Was the Last Name of the Children in the Movie E.T.?

“What is the last name of the children in the movie E.T.?” “A friend and I have a bet. He said that Rocky was Sylvester Stallone’s first movie? I don’t think so.” “Two different people played the husband in the old TV show, Bewitched. Who were they?” “I was listening to a show on XM Radio called the Green Hornet. Can you tell me anything about it?” Movie, television, and radio trivia questions are always fun for the staff of the Newton Falls Public Library.

The first question involved using Internet search engines, Google and Metacrawler. The results included links to many movie related sites. According to The Internet Movie Database, the last name of Elliot’s family in E.T. was never given. Looking at some of the other sites, including the official twentieth anniversary website, found no information to contradict IMDb.

The Film Encyclopedia by Ephraim Katz has a great deal of information about Sylvester Stallone’s early career. He worked as an usher in New York City’s Baronet movie theater and in 1970 he appeared in the nude in the off-Broadway play, Score. Katz also lists Stallone’s first movie appearance as being in 1970 in Party at Kitty and Studs/The Italian Stallion. This was followed by two unbilled bit parts in Bananas (1971) and Klute (1972). He was in about 5 other movies before starring in Rocky (1976). Wikipedia [] also lists 2 additional films in 1970. In Lovers and Other Strangers he appeared as an extra and had a starring role in No Place to Hide. More information about Stallone and his filmography can also be found at

Bewitched not only had two actors playing the role of Darrin Stephens, there were two actresses in the role of Gladys Kravitz. The library’s copy of The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network TV Show by Tim Brooks and Earle Marsh gives information about shows from 1946 to 1991. Darrin was played by Dick York from 1964-1969 and Dick Sargent from 1969-1972. The nosy neighbor, Gladys was played by Alice Pearce from 1964 until her death in March 1966. Sandra Gould took over as the character through 1972.

Tune in Yesterday: the ultimate encyclopedia of old-time radio 1925-1976 by John Dunning is filled with information about the shows, characters, plots, actors, etc. The Green Hornet first appeared in 1936. Britt Reid, a slightly flamboyant newspaper publisher, fights crime as the Green Hornet along with his faithful valet, Kato. Some interesting trivia about the show - the Green Hornet and the Lone Ranger were creations of George W. Trendle. He linked the two story lines together; Britt’s father was Dan Reid, nephew of the Lone Ranger. For listeners from 1936 – 1952, this would have been a modern version of the popular western with a car named Black Beauty instead of the Ranger’s horse, Silver.

Friday, October 17, 2008

How Can I Sell My House?

“I know the housing market is terrible now, but I need to sell my house. Are there any books that have ideas of things I can do?” In today’s market this is a real concern to Newton Falls Public Library patrons who are moving or downsizing.

Home Makeovers That Sell: quick and easy ways to get the highest possible price by Sid Davis has many ideas of small changes you can make to ensure that your residence is more appealing to buyers. My Home, My Money Pit: your guide to every home improvement adventure by Tom Kraeutler and Leslie Segrete includes a chapter called Home Selling Tips. Homeowners can follow some very simple styling suggestions to increase the value of their homes. Things like reducing art, tidying rooms, and banishing odors which take very little time or money can make big differences when prospective buyers do a walk through. 52 Weekend Makeovers: easy projects to transform your home inside and out includes many colorful photographs, a list of tools and gear, what to buy and even alerts as to what can go wrong with a project to help you avoid problems. Even if you are not moving, the ideas in these books can make where you are living feel like a new place.

Energy efficiency is attractive to buyers who may inquire about monthly utility costs. Energy, Use Less--save more: 100 energy-saving tips for the home by Jon Clift & Amanda Cuthbert has both spend nothing - save money and spend a little – save more suggestions. One way to reduce your water consumption, lower your water and sewer bill is by collecting rain water to be used to water your outdoor plants. The Carbon-free Home: 36 remodeling projects to help kick the fossil-fuel habit by Stephen and Rebekah Hren has instructions for a rain barrel that can be made in an afternoon for as little as $20. As buyers begin to look at the actual monthly costs of owning a home rather than just the exterior appearance, being ready with some changes you’ve made from The Home Energy Diet: how to save money by making your house energy-smart by Paul Scheckel may make your home more desirable.

When all else fails, one of the library staff members mentioned burying a statue of St. Joseph, earthly father of Jesus and the patron saint of carpenters, in the yard. The online article Selling your house? Bury a statue by Darci Smith details what many people are doing to increase their chances of selling their home quicker. Ms. Smith relates some of the popular tales of the origin of this belief. One of the most popular “is that an order of European religious sisters in the Middle Ages buried a St. Joseph medal and asked the saint to help them acquire land for a convent [].” She also reminds the reader that after the house is sold St. Joseph should be dug up and kept in a place of honor.

Selling a home can be fraught with problems, so it is wise to prepare yourself by reading How To Buy & Sell Your Home Without Getting Ripped Off! by Patricia Boyd and Lonny Coffey. The authors include advice about understanding real estate trends and finding a realtor with whom you will be able to work well. If you choose to sell without using a realtor, How To Buy/Sell Your Own Home Without a Broker or Lawyer: the national home sale and purchase kit by Benji O. Anosike would be useful to examine.

Don’t get discouraged. Buyers from other parts of the country are beginning to look at the Mahoning Valley as an attractive area to relocate. In Valley comes in 2nd among areas that offer bang for your buck by Denise Dick [Vindicator, September 12, 2008] it is reported that the September 4th issue of Business Week Magazine stated the Mahoning Valley as the 2nd most affordable place to live in the country.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Halloween costume

“I’m going to a Halloween party and I need a really cool costume; one that isn’t too complicated.” The staff at the Newton Falls Public Library is always willing to assist with party ideas. The Halloween Handbook: 447 costumes by Bridie Clark and Ashley Dodd is filled with easy to create costumes. You can select from 14 different chapters of costumes including: Movie and TV Characters, History in the Making, Literature and Art, and Odds and Ends. My personal favorite was Play with Your Words which has ‘Chick Magnet’ (attaching small marshmallow or fluffy novelty chicks to a shirt) and ‘Pointless’ (fastening unsharpened pencils all over your clothes while spending the evening making meaningless statements). Jim and Tim, the Duct Tape Guys Present The Original Duct Tape Halloween Book includes very unusual costumes, but also some very creative ones such as a knight in shining armor using cardboard and silver duct tape. If you need a last minute costume for your child or even yourself, Child's Play: quick and easy costumes by Leslie Hamilton is a good choice.

Creating costume effects without a mask can be done with Create Your Own Stage Make-up by Gill Davies and Decorate Yourself: cool designs for temporary tattoos, face painting, henna & more by Tom Andrich. These are especially useful when seeking to disguise yourself without obscuring your vision; just be careful if you are planning to bob for apples.

If you are hosting the party or are staying at home waiting for the trick or treaters, and are personally more of a trickster than a ‘treater’, consider Give Them a Real Scare This Halloween: a guide to scaring trick-or-treaters, and haunting your house, yard, or party written by Joseph Pfeiffer. Not all the ideas in this book are gross or scary; some are just plain fun like the ‘Jack-o-laugh-tern’ talking pumpkin head. There are also costume and makeup suggestions. CDs Andrew Gold's Halloween Howls and Spooky Favorites will make the evening sound creepy. Halloween: 101 frightfully fun ideas is also filled with suggestions to make the night memorable. And what would a holiday season of any type be without Martha Stewart and the Martha Stewart Living book, Halloween?

Looking for some ghoulish Halloween treats? Roald Dahl’s Revolting Recipes by Josie Fison and Felicity Dahl will be useful for a dinner party requiring Wormy Spaghetti, Hot Frogs, and Stink Bugs’ Eggs. Consider the delectable choices in The Fear Factor Cookbook by Bev Bennett, which are accompanied by “WARNING: Not recommended for weak stomachs Eat at your own RISK.” You could complete your party with Blood and Bile Cocktail and Madagascar Hissing Cockroach Cakes.

A properly carved Jack O’ Lantern is an important ingredient in the day’s celebration. The Pumpkin Book by Gail Gibbons has suggestions for carving. There are some great online resources which include information about pumpkins and carving templates. Try Pumpkin Carving 101 [] and Family Fun [] for ideas. After you finish your carving, enter your pumpkin into our annual Harvest Fest’s carved pumpkin contest on Monday, October 27 at 5:45 p.m. The Harvest Fest has become a library tradition and will be held from 6:00 – 7:00 p.m. There will also be costume contests for kids, teens and adults, refreshments, craft and story times. Judging will begin at 6:00 p.m.; winners will be announced at the conclusion of the event.

Beer can and bottle collecting

“My buddy has a whole bunch of different beer bottles and cans. Is there something he can do with them?” The Newton Falls Public Library staff found this to be a timely question when one considers that football season inspires many a tailgating party. The owner of such a collection has several different options.

By doing some research you may find that the containers could be sold. The library has several resources available; Kovels' bottles price list by Ralph & Terry Kovel and other collectible price guides such as Kovels' Antiques & Collectibles Price Guide 2009: America's Bestselling and Most Up-To-Date Antiques Annual. According to this newest Kovels’, would you be willing to pay $5000 for a Kool Beer, blue, Grace Bros. Brewing, Santa Rosa, California can or $2640 for a beer bottle from Tiffany and Allen, Washington Market, Paterson, New Jersey? The Official Price Guide to Beer Cans can also be borrowed through interlibrary loan and Ohio Shares MORE. A great deal of historical information can be learned online at Beer Bottle Collectors and Antique Bottles. Antique Bottles and RustyCans have links to collecting groups. There is even a Beer Can Museum located in Massachusetts.

One of our staff members was curious about how these collectible bottles and cans might be displayed. The library has many books with do-it-yourself directions for shelving. Two of the most intriguing were a trapezoidal bookcase in Bookcases by Niall Barrett whose shape is reminiscent of a bottle, and rotating garage shelves in Storage & Shelving Solutions which could be made to look like a giant beer can. Instructions can be found for shelving created with beer bottles and boards at

If, after searching the various sources, you find that your cans do not have much value as collectibles consider recycling them. The Aluminum Association’s website states that can recycle rates are at their highest and it takes 34.17 cans to equal a pound of metal. The amount that is paid by scrap metal businesses changes daily. On September 22, Falls Recycling was paying $.60 per pound of aluminum.

Before the cans or bottles can be recycled, they need to be emptied. Have a tailgating party using The Tailgater's Cookbook by David Joachim and Mario Tailgates NASCAR Style by Mario Batali to create delicious food for the occasion. Homebrew Favorites: a coast-to-coast collection of over 240 beer and ale recipes compiled by Karl F. Lutzen and Mark Stevens and Extreme Brewing: an enthusiast's guide to brewing craft beer at home by Sam Calagione are two of the library’s books which can be used to develop your own special brew.

Remember to practice caution in consuming the contents of those bottles and cans. Controlling Your Drinking: tools to make moderation work for you by William R. Miller and Ricardo F. Muñoz and Ohio Driving Under the Influence Law by Mark P. Painter and Majes M. Lookerone are some of the resources the library has to assist you in making wise choices.