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Friday, August 29, 2014

What Are Some Potassium-rich Foods?

“I’m looking for food high in potassium. Do you know where I can find information on something like that?”

The only potassium-rich food we could think of off the top of our head was bananas, but there had to be more out there. Fortunately for us, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services published a chart of potassium-high foods listing the portion size, amount of calories per portion, and amount of potassium (in milligrams) per portion. The banana, surprisingly, ranks solidly toward the middle. A medium banana has about 422 milligrams of potassium, but a baked potato in its jacket has 738 and a sweet potato baked in its skin has 542. Other foods on the list include tomatoes, kidney beans, Pacific cod, and dried apricots. For the curious, the list is available here.

According the Health Reference Series Diet and Nutrition Sourcebook, potassium can lower blood pressure and may also decrease the risk of kidney stones. Also, if there’s a lot of salt in your diet, eating foods rich in potassium can lower the effects of the salt on your blood pressure.

We have an assortment of health-related cookbooks, such as the American Heart Association’s Go Fresh, available here at the library for anyone to come and browse.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Can I Have More Information about the Orphan Train Program?

Our library book club recently read Christina Baker Kline’s Orphan Train. The title refers to a program developed by the Children’s Aid Society (with a similar program developed later by the New York Foundling Hospital) that transported orphaned and homeless children from the big cities in the East to new lives in the West. Some found loving families, but others weren’t so lucky, meeting with abuse often in the form of unscrupulous adults who saw fit to use them as unpaid labor. The orphan trains ran from 1853 until 1929.

While the back of the book provides a lot of information about the orphan train riders, one of the members of the book club was curious about the aid workers’ side of the story. Were there any primary sources available from them?

The Children’s Aid Society still exists today. They understand that people are curious about their history, and they give a phone number (212-949-4847) and an email address ( for people to contact to learn more about the orphan train program. They also provide access to the Victor Remer Historical Archives of the Children’s Aid Society. A guide to the archives can be found online here. While you’ll need to be at the library of the New-York Historical Society to view most of the materials yourself (which include journals and memoirs of Children’s Aid Society agents and correspondence with children who were placed out), some of the material has been digitized and can be viewed here

We also found a book about the founder of the Children’s Aid Society, Stephen O’Connor’s Orphan Trains: The Story of Charles Loring Brace and the Children He Saved and Failed, which is available through CLEVNET.

If you’re ever in Concordia, Kansas, and want to know more about the orphan train movement, you can visit the National Orphan Train Complex. (For more information, their website is located at

Friday, August 15, 2014

Is It Bad to Crack Your Knuckles?

“It is bad to crack your knuckles?” If you’re a knuckle-cracker, someone’s probably told you that it causes arthritis. One of our patrons was curious as to whether or not that was actually true.

We have a new book in the library, Is That a Fact? by Dr. Joe Schwarcz, which investigates popular health rumors like that and sees whether or not they can be backed up by scientific evidence. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find anything about knuckle-cracking in it. However, it turns out it’s a popular enough question that we could find the answer online.,, and, among others, have all tackled the question.

Cracking knuckles won’t actually lead to arthritis. Occasionally, people have been known to injure their thumbs or tear the ligaments in their fingers by cracking their knuckles too zealously, but there’s no evidence that it’ll cause harm over time.

So what’s actually making the snapping sound when you crack your joints? Your joints are surrounded by a capsule filled with liquid called synovial fluid. When you crack your knuckles, you’re popping the bubbles in the fluid. That’s why it takes a while after cracking your joints to be able to crack them again – the bubbles need time to reform.

Age, family history, and strain on your hands, whether from injury or through work, are the most common factors causing arthritis. For anyone interested in learning more, The Arthritis Sourcebook edited by Amy L. Sutton, is available through CLEVNET.

Friday, August 8, 2014

How Do I Find Out Tolls Beforehand?

“I’m planning a trip. Is there a way to find out beforehand how much the tolls will cost?”

If you’re planning a trip in this last stretch of summer and you want to plan ahead and find out how much cash you’ll need to pay the tolls, you’re in luck. Every state we've checked has a website with a fare calculator. Ohio’s, for example, is at While the sites are all set up a little differently, they all give you the option to choose your vehicle class as well as the points that you’ll be getting on and getting off the toll road. If applicable, the sites also provide the fares for toll bridges.

We have another patron who’s planning to walk around the entirety of Lake Erie next spring. He wanted to know if he could walk across the bridges in Detroit and Niagara Falls that cross from the United States into Canada. Again, we were able to go to the websites of the bridges in question and find the tolls listed there. While the Rainbow Bridge in Niagara Falls lists a fifty-cent charge for pedestrians and bicyclists, the Ambassador Bridge in Detroit only gives charges for motorcycles and automobiles. However, when our patron looked at the street-level pictures of the bridge available on Google Maps, he noticed a sidewalk. It would probably be best to be prepared to arrange a ride across, just in case.

For avid travelers, we have an assortment of travel guides available for borrowing, including The Rough Guide to the USA, Lonely Planet USA, Lonely Planet Canada, and Off the Beaten Path: Ohio. Though it’s in our reference collection and not available for checkout, we also have the most recent Rand McNally Road Atlas here for anyone to page through.

Friday, August 1, 2014

What's the Soda Pepsi Introduced to Compete with TaB?

“What’s the soda Pepsi introduced to compete with TaB?”

Royal Crown Cola’s Diet-Rite, introduced in 1958, was one of the first diet sodas on the market. Once the nation started watching its weight and Royal Crown Cola started advertising Diet-Rite as a soda rather than a specialized diet product, the Coca-Cola company knew they had to do something to compete.

In 1963, Coca-Cola introduced TaB, their first diet soda., a website dedicated to investigating rumors and urban legends, gives the origin of the name, which some people have erroneously assumed stands for “Totally Artificial Beverage.” Coca-Cola was unwilling to dilute their brand by referring to their diet soda as Diet Coke. Instead, they came up with a list of three- and four-letter combinations and put about two dozen of them through market tests. TaB emerged victorious. According to Coca-Cola, it brings to mind keeping “tabs” on your weight.

Knowing a little more about TaB, now we needed to find its Pepsi counterpart. The Pepsico website has a timeline section that goes back to the sixties, but there’s not much information there. However, searching “Pepsi drinks 1960s” in an online search engine brought up the Wikipedia page for Patio, which jogged our memories. Introduced by Pepsi in 1963, Patio came in several different flavors including cola, orange, root beer, strawberry, and grape.

Fans of the television show Mad Men may be familiar with the drink. In one episode, the characters put together an ultimately unsuccessful commercial for Patio imitating the opening song in “Bye Bye Birdie,” but changing the words to “Bye bye, sugar.” 

In 1964, Patio Diet Cola was replaced by Diet Pepsi, though some of the flavored sodas stuck around into the seventies. TaB, however, can still be found in some stores today.

For more information about Pepsi’s history and their rivalry with Coca-Cola, Pepsi: 100 Years by Bob Stoddard and The Cola Wars by J.C. Louis are both available through CLEVNET.