What Science has Learned about the Human Condition

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Osher Lifelong Learning Institute presents the Thursday Morning Lecture Series #3 beginning January 10, through February 14, 2008 at the Best Western Conference Center on Jackson Road. Beginning with The Evolving World: Evolution in Every Day Life by David Mindell, author of a book of the same name followed in consecutive weeks by local professors Thad A. Polk, Ph.D, Elizabeth Petty, Dr. John Greden, C. Loring Brace and Jennifer Crocker. The series titled “What Science has Learned about the Human Condition” is pretty heady stuff. That’s why they named it Lifelong Learning, not Shuffleboard.

Unique Gift of Story with a Local Flavor

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I think the best part about the CD Time Warp Tales is that it will spark memories and get the family telling stories together. These growing up tales from members of the Ann Arbor Storyteller's Guild are clever, warm and funny. How can you go wrong with stories entitled The Worm with a Face Like a Cat, Grandpa's Claim to Fame or The Search for Laughing Sal? I was especially moved by the last tale written by Sunnie Tait, beloved Ann Arbor school librarian and teller, who lives on through her stories. You will find the CD for sale at Nicola's Books, Sixteen Hands or Peaceable Kingdom.


Today, December 17 marks the beginning of the seven day festival of Saturnalia in honor of Saturnus, the Roman god of seed and sowing. Saturnalia was a celebration of the winter solstice and a time for revelry and mischief. In a reversal of roles, slaves were served feasts and wore their masters' clothes. It was also a time of gift giving and prayer but celebration was the main event.

To read fictional portrayals of Saturnalia and ancient Rome, try the Marcus Falco mysteries of Lindsey Davis.

One Streetcar at least still exists

Today, December 3, is the 60th anniversary of Tennessee William's play, A Streetcar Named Desire. The play opened on Broadway at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre on this day in 1947. Jessica Tandy played Blanche Du Bois and newcomer Marlon Brando played Stanley. Streetcar was as successful as his previous play, The Glass Menagerie. It ran for two years and won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Brando was an overnight sensation and the play's first performance received a twenty minute standing ovation.

New DVD's

Following are a few of Amazon's new releases on dvd that we have at tthe Library: (Descriptions are from Amazon.com)

Ocean's Thirteen:
"It's bolder. Riskier. The most dazzling heist yet. George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon and more reteam with director Steven Soderbergh for a split-second caper that stacks the deck with wit, style and cool."

Amazing Grace:
"From the makers of Ray, AMAZING GRACE tells the inspiring story of William Wilberforce and his passion and perseverance to pass a law ending the slave trade in the late 18th century. Several friends, including Wilberforce's minister, a reformed slave ship captain who penned the beloved hymn Amazing Grace, urge him to see the cause through."

La Vie en Rose:

A St. Paul girl

Patricia Hampl is a master of the memoir. Her latest, The Florist's Daughter traces her life growing up in in what she calls "old" St. Paul, Minnesota. Her Czech father is the florist of the title, one from whom she drew artistic inspiration because he was an artist with flowers. But it was her well-read Irish mother who was also a natural storyteller who gave Hampl a model for the literary life. Hampl's tribute to them attests to the need for beauty and purpose in one's life. You can listen to an interview with Hampl about her memoir on the Diane Rehm Show.


Laith Alattar kicks off a delightful afternoon on Sunday, December 2nd at 2:00 pm at the Downtown Library with his fabulous instrument, the Oud, for our Arab Family Cultural Celebration. Music, treats donated from Masri Sweets, and a geometric paper rug craft will entertain the whole family.

It Takes a Village

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There’s a nation-wide movement to make neighborhoods more comfortable places in which to grow old. These organized neighborhoods called villages are supported by members of the neighborhood or community. If you would like to find our more about the legal aspects of forming a village, come to the next meeting on Thursday, February 14 at 11:45am in the Malletts Creek Branch Program Room AB to hear Neel Hajra from NEW Center explore the advantages and limitations of becoming a non-profit village. "It Takes A Village" brownbag discussion is sponsored by the Blueprint For Aging.

Happy Birthday, Alistair and Dick

November 20 is the birthday of two unlikely bedfellows, Alistair Cooke and Chester Gould. Cooke, broadcast journalist and author, was born in 1908 in Salford, England but moved to the U.S. in the 1930's. His program, "Letter from America" on BBC radio was broadcast in more than fifty countries. He is perhaps best known to Americans for his eloquence as a host of PBS's Masterpiece Theatre.

Someone to Watch Over You

At a session on aging and technology during the Aging in Place Conference, organized by the UM Health System Housing Bureau for Seniors, I learned how computers, sensors and video cameras are being used to monitor the well being of older adults living alone. Paul McAninch, of Presbyterian Villages of Michigan, added that 25%-33% of people of over 65 will fall each year in their homes, and that this is the leading cause of people entering nursing homes or suffering premature death. How to Avoid Falling can be found at the Ann Arbor District Library.

Professor Martha E. Pollack, Dean of the UM School of Information, discussed other monitoring technologies that are still being developed. Both speakers recommended looking for more information through the Center for Aging Services Technologies.

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