tv programs, Mar 31 – Apr 5

Get your VCRs ready. Here is another small sampling of upcoming programs that may be of interest. All descriptions are lifted (mostly) from the original programs’ websites. Enjoy!

Discovery Channel

Assignment Discovery airs M-F at 5 AM and covers a variety of subjects. Intended for students in grades 6-8, all programs cover intermediate concepts in each of the topics:

  • M, 3/31/ Computation Part 1
  • T, 4/1/ Computation Part 2
  • W, 4/2/ Intermediate Probability
  • Th, 4/3/ Exploring Algebra Part 1
  • F, 4/4/ Exploring Algebra Part 2

Sunday 4/6, 2008, at 8 PM/ People Power: Dr Zahi Hawass and a team of leading archaeologists have selected the ten most important discoveries in Egypt. From major battles, to mega-construction, the discoveries uncover the amazing stories of the lives of kings, queens and ordinary people. (Repeats 4/7 @ 12 am)

Sunday 4/6, 2008, at 10 PM/ Why Ancient Egypt Fell: The fall of Ancient Egypt, some 4,000 years ago, has long baffled the world. How could such a powerful Empire collapse so entirely? (Repeats 4/7 @ 2 am)

National Geographic Channel

Tuesday, 4/1, at 1AM/ Inside the Green Berets: Join the Green Berets in Afghanistan for a rare and intimate look at the sacrifices, challenges and deadly risks that American soldiers at war face every day. The Pentagon allowed NGC special access to these war-hardened Americans for 10 days.

Tuesday, 4/1, at 8PM/ Naked Science/ Our Atmosphere: Explore the scientific marvel that is the Earth’s unique and complex atmosphere. We investigate how this thin but vital blanket of air, the equivalent thickness of a lick of varnish on a model globe, came about.

Wednesday, 4/2, at 1PM/ Explorer/ Last Days of the Maya: What caused the sudden demise of the Maya in Central America 2,000 years ago? Human skeletons discovered in a cistern may hold the key to one of the greatest mysteries of the ancient world.

Wednesday, 4/2, at 3PM/ Explorer/ Alaska’s Last Oil: The world is addicted to oil. But now the easy pockets of oil are gone and the race is on to find new sources. Nowhere is the battle more intense than in Alaska – source of nearly 15% of America’s domestic production, and home to the nation’s largest wildlife preserve, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, where companies are pushing to drill. EXPLORER asks how far we’ll go to find every last barrel, and at what cost.

Wednesday, 4/2, at 4PM/ Explorer/ Most Dangerous Drug: Methamphetamine is one of the hardest drugs to quit. Its abuse is ravaging rural communities and cities alike. NGC correspondent Lisa Ling goes inside this global epidemic to find out what makes meth so addictive and destructive.

Thursday, 4/3, at 1PM/ Money Factory: Money. Everyone wants it, dreams of it and schemes for it. Find out how U.S. currency is made, faked and protected, and meet the mastermind behind one of the biggest counterfeit jobs in U.S. history.

Saturday, 4/5, at 9PM/ Fishzilla: Snakehead Invasion: It’s got teeth like a shark, a taste for blood, and even walks on land. It is an insatiable alien predator that can obliterate the food chain and overpower native life. Scientists are sounding the alarm. But can anything stop it?

The History Channel

Monday, 3/31, at 11AM / Organized Crime: A World History: Russia: With the fall of communism, a rapacious new gangster class arose from out of the former Soviet Republics and became criminal millionaires. We cover the Redfellas evolution–from roots in Imperial Russia to shocking global reach today.

Monday, 3/31, at 1PM/ Modern Marvels/ Fertilizer: Fertilizer–without it two thirds of the world would starve. It makes our lawns grow greener and our crops grow taller. Take a tour of the places where the essential nutrients that feed the soil are harnessed. Dig deep in a phosphate mine, sniff around a sewage treatment plant and get dirty in a trough teeming with seven million worms. Finally, learn about a war that was fought over the control of bat poop!

Tuesday, 4/1, at 7AM/ Glorious Rome/ Capital of an Empire: Art, aesthetics, literature, theater, law, city planning: These are just a few of the debts owed by Western civilization to Rome, the glorious capital of the greatest and most powerful empire that the world has ever known. Take a tour of this vast metropolis as it was during its peak, and see it through the eyes of the Roman citizens of the time. State-of-the-art technology, coupled with enhanced 3-D graphics, allows viewers to explore the architectural treasures as only the Romans could.

 Tuesday, 4/1, at 5PM/ Breaking Vegas: They were “Whales”–the highest of high rollers. Treated like royalty by casinos worldwide, they won millions throughout the early to mid-1990s. And nobody had a clue that they were MIT students, part of an underground blackjack team–card counters who used mathematical wizardry to win. In this 2-hour special, we chronicle the true story of the rise and fall of the MIT Blackjack Team, featuring interviews with Ben Mezrich, author of Bringing Down the House, casino executives, security experts, and actual members of the team.

Wednesday, 4/2, at 7AM/ Modern Marvels/ Panama Canal: Chronicles one of the most incredible engineering feats of all time: construction of the 51-mile canal that took 10 years to build and employed over 40,000 workers, 6,000 of whom died of yellow fever, malaria, and other horrors. An earlier, 9-year attempt by the French ended in failure and cost 20,000 lives.

Thank you for stopping by.

© 2008 henry toromoreno

Ten new titles

So, you might have noticed that we are kind of closed for MCAS testing for most of the week. Sorry about that. In the meantime, you might want to take a look at some more titles that we’ve added. As I’ve mentioned before, these books are donations, and therefore not new, but there are still some interesting reads in the bunch. This is list of ten titles that we’ve added since January 2008.

Enjoy the reading and thanks for stopping by.

© 2008 henry toromoreno

tv programs, Mar 24 – 29

Get your VCRs ready. Here is another small sampling of upcoming programs that may be of interest. All descriptions are lifted (mostly) from the original programs’ websites. Enjoy!

Discovery Channel Assignment Discovery airs M-F at 5 AM and covers a variety of subjects. Intended for students in grades 6-8, all programs cover intermediate concepts in each of the topics:

  • M, 3/24/ Understanding Data
  • T, 3/25/ Exploring Geometry
  • W, 3/26/ A Measured Approach
  • Th, 3/27/ Number Theory
  • F, 3/28/ Intermediate Problem Solving

Saturday 3/29, 2008, at 7 PM/ People Power: This is the fourth and final installment of Download: The True Story of the Internet. In this hour, the filmmaker takes a look at how the internet has changed society and how a new breed of entrepreneurs are shaping our digital futures. (Repeats 3/29 @ 11 pm)

National Geographic Channel

Monday, 3/24, at 2AM/ Pluto Rediscovered: Pluto resides 3 billion miles from earth. It’s so remote that even using the Hubble telescope, it appears as nothing but a blurred blob. Naked Science meets the scientists who, despite having little to go by, have dedicated their studies to finding out about this mysterious world.

Tuesday, 3/25, at 4PM/ How it was/ Death at Kent State: On May 4th 1970, American soldiers shot American students on American soil. Who was to blame? The protesting students, who stood their ground? The organizers of the sit-ins? The National Guardsmen, perhaps? The local administrators? By stripping away the rhetoric and dissecting the available evidence, National Geographic Channel’s, How it Was: Death at Kent State, casts a dispassionate eye on this national tragedy.

Wednesday, 3/26, at 7PM/ Explorer/ Testosterone Factor: Testosterone is a force driving men – it effects their strength, desire for status, and sex. It plays a role in whether or not they are good parents, and even how long they will live. This hormone, associated with masculinity, is also tied to acne, baldness, and prostate cancer. Find out more.

Wednesday, 3/26, at 11PM/ Explorer/ Border Wars: The US-Mexico border stretches for 2,000 miles, over mountains, through deserts and dividing cities. Each year over one million undocumented people cross this border. In Border Wars, National Geographic goes inside the world of the US Border Patrol with unprecedented access to the surprising world of the southern border.

Thursday, 3/27, at 11AM/ Microkillers/ Ebola: Join NGC as it explores what could happen if Ebola was carried into the United States by an infected soldier who had just been stationed in the African jungle. Also, take a rare look inside the top-secret U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) where scientists daily risk their lives to find cures for the deadliest viruses in the world.

Thursday, 3/27, at Noon/ Microkillers/ SuperFlu: “MicroKillers: SuperFlu” examines a fictional scenario of a traveler unintentionally spreading a deadly flu strain with every cough, sneeze and breath. The reality is chilling. If there is an antiviral, there won’t be enough to save everyone so… who gets it first?

The History Channel

Monday, 3/24, at 6PM/ Inside Pol Pot’s Secret Prisons: Known by the code name S-21, Pol Pot’s secret prison was an interrogation, torture, and execution center to exterminate suspected traitors of Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge. From 1976 to 1979, thousands entered its gates, but only seven escaped. See how Pol Pot’s campaign of forced labor, starvation, and murder left 1.7 million Cambodians dead.

Monday, 3/24, at 8PM/ Modern Marvels/ Bread: Bread. It’s the basic source of nourishment for half the world. Bake it, roast it, slice it, toast it–it’s a wonder that three simple ingredients, flour, water and salt, can be transformed into so many different shapes and tastes. From baguettes to pita, from corn bread to flour tortillas, every culture finds a way to make it and bake it.

Tuesday, 3/25, at 8AM/ Eighty Acres of Hell: Hidden until now, we uncover an important and shocking chapter of the American Civil War. Few have heard of the wholesale annihilation of Confederate prisoners at Camp Douglas in Chicago, Illinois. Unlike Andersonville, Camp Douglas had the resources necessary to house and care for its prisoners, but calculated cruelty, torture, and neglect by the US military conspired to exterminate Southern soldiers who entered this “80 Acres of Hell”.

Tuesday, 3/25, at 8PM/ Unexplained Mysteries of the Universe: Is time travel possible and does Einstein’s theory of relativity support it? Is there a companion dark star to our sun and could it pose a threat to earth? Take a journey from science fiction that predicted all these things, to the scientific reality of what they mean to us in the ever-changing universe,

Wednesday, 3/26, at 8AM/ First Invasion/ The War of 1812: Just 30 years after the closing days of the American Revolution, an immature United States faced annihilation by its parent! Join us for an epic 2-hour look at the War of 1812, when the mighty British Empire once again waged war against the fledgling US.

Wednesday, 3/26, at 10AM/ Ben Franklin: Meet Dr. Benjamin Franklin–a far more complex figure than the squeaky-clean, larger than life Founding Father whose grandfatherly visage graces the hundred dollar bill. Inventor, politician, writer, businessman, scientist, diplomat–that, of course, is the mythic, legendary Ben Franklin. In this vivid portrait, we meet an earthy, brilliant, and flawed Franklin that one biographer believes would feel right at home in today’s world.

Wednesday, 3/26, at 1PM/ Modern Marvels/ Corn: Why is corn the largest agricultural crop in the world? Corn has fed the masses from ancient times to this day. Corn is not only a vegetable and a cereal grain; it is a commodity as well. Take a look to our past and you will understand that without corn we probably wouldn’t be here.

Thank you for stopping by

.© 2008 henry toromoreno

Goodbye, Arthur C. Clarke

We all lost another one of the great minds of the world today as Arthur C. Clarke died in Sri Lanka at the age of 90. Clarke held a very special place in my reading life, as he was one of those writers that got me interested not just in science fiction, but in science as well. While many recognize Clarke as the author of such SF classics as 2001: A Space Odyssey and its sequels, 2010, 2061, and 3001: The Final Odyssey (apparently he wasn’t that good at writing titles for sequels), Clarke was also recognized as a visionary thinker. In fact, Clarke is often credited with coming up with the idea for communications satellites and the geo-synchronous orbit – no cell phones without them.

I remember reading Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey the same summer that all my friends kept going back for another showing of Star Wars (1977 where did you go?). In my still burgeoning passive aggressive fashion, I never did go see Luke and Obi Won battle the dark side and Vader for universal supremacy.

Instead, after I finished 2001, I found and read Rendezvous with Rama, and Childhood’s End, and The City and the Stars, and then 2001 again. Unlike all the lasers and spaceships and other special effects (and fighting, of course) that my friends came home from the movies raving about, Clarke’s stories were not about shiny instruments and fancy computers, but about people. The central characters were people who just happened to live in a far off future; but they were still searching for answers to such universal questions as, “who are we”, “how did we get here”, and “where are we going”?

One of the other underlying themes in much of Clarke’s popular writing is the idea that some day, given enough time and/or technological assistance, humans will evolve to a higher form, like the Star-Child at the end of 2001. If Clarke’s disembodied consciousness (his soul, spirit, what have you) is now travelling through some other plane of reality, I am sure he is echoing David Bowman’s closing lines; “it goes on forever — and — oh my God! — it’s full of stars!” Rest in Peace, Arthur C.

© 2008 henry toromoreno

New to our shelves

Oh my goodness! What kind of a library blog am I writing here, anyway? I have posted nearly thirty times over four months now and have not written a single blog entry about books. (Actually, the AP materials were mostly books, but that takes away from the irony I am trying to build). Thanks to a vigorous stream of contributions from teachers and staff (retired and current) and our good friend, Mike Hutchinson, at the HPL, we are always expanding our HHS collection. Sure, the titles aren’t current best sellers or fresh from the press, but there are many fantastic (or mildly interesting) books that make it into our shelves. Here’s a brief list of recent additions we’ll have on display for a few weeks. Now’s your chance to grab them before they get shelved and lost forever among the more than 30,000 volumes that we have. The links below will take you to a review at another site. Stop by the LMC and take a new addition home for the long weekend.

* I cheated on Persepolis. We actually added that title last fall. I thought I’d remind you because it’s a graphic novel written by a woman who lived through the Islamic revolution in Iran (1970s). It’s been compared to Spiegelman’s Maus and is being made into a movie (if any of that means something to you). I just read it and recommend you check it out.

© 2008 henry toromoreno

The Mind, from PBS Video (1988)

It’s hard for me to believe that 1988 was twenty years ago, but it was. Few videos made that long ago, especially those dealing with science, are worth watching. PBS’ nine part series, The Mind, however is one of those rare exceptions. Each episode is an hour-long probe into an unique aspect of the human mind, such as development, aging, pain and healing, addictions, language, and thinking. There is also a companion book (which we have in the LMC) by Dr. Richard M. Restak that covers the same material outlined in the videos. After watching three, hour-long episodes, I have decided to add the titles to our library catalog because I found the information to still be accurate. (These videos were donated by a teacher, not purchased). Granted, technology has made HUGE advancements in the last two decades, but much of the information covered in the videos is about things that have not changed too radically; such as the names and functions of certain brain regions and brain structures; the biochemical nature of neuro-transmitters and synapses; and theories of language acquisition. Sure the grainy CAT scans, blurry MRIs and green computer screens obviously date the documentary, but I thought that there were still “nuggets” of information to be had. I invite those of you who teach health, biology, psychology, or any other remotely connected subject to preview the tapes and let me know if I should keep them in our catalog. Thank you for reading, and I look forward to your professional feedback.

© 2008 henry toromoreno

Taped programs

Hopefully you know that I keep my eyes open for television programs that I think might be useful in the classroom. Most times, the programs I recommend are the same documentary-style shows that we order from catalogs such as an AE Biography or a National Geographic presentation. Sometimes the programs are a little off the beaten path like a UFO investigation or a Mythbuster episode (I’m trying to highlight the awesome might of the scientific method in action against the craziness of superstition and lazy thinking). In any case, I tape some of these programs for myself and have compiled a chronological list for you, should you like to view any of them. You won’t find these titles in our library catalog, but if any program is deemed useful and class worthy, I will purchase a copy to include in our collection. The program descriptions are lifted (mostly) from the show’s websites and reviews.

  • Humanzee (DC): Aired 08/20/06. The story of Oliver, a chimpanzee with aberrant morphological traits and the habit of walking around on two legs. For years Oliver was at the center of controversy as people wondered if he was a chimera of some kind. Scientific exploration into this question ended all speculation.
  • Seconds from Disaster: Montserrat (NG): Aired 03/07/07. The tiny island of Montserrat suffers a fright in 1995 when its Soufriere Hills Volcano erupts for the first time in over 300 years. On June 25, 1997 it erupts again, expelling tons of lava, killing 19 people and devastating several villages.
  • True Life: I Have Autism (MTV) Aired 03/16/07: This program introduces viewers to Jeremy, Jonathan and Elijah, three high school students whose autism is now old hat to themselves and their families. No one cries when talking about it. Instead they plan new approaches, sigh as old problems resurface and laugh often.*
  • Ted Koppel reports Breaking Point: America’s Prisons (DC): Aired 10/07/07. In this two-hour broadcast, Ted Koppel examines how California got to where it is and presents an inside view of the crisis through in-depth interviews with inmates, guards and prison officials at California State Prison Solano in Vacaville.
  • Six Degrees Could Change the World (NG): Aired 02/10/08. This program visualizes the devastating ecological impact that each single degree increase in temperature could have on our planet over the next century.
  • Birth of Civilization (NG): Aired 03/04/08. Trace the rise of man back more than 12,000 years as NGC takes an in-depth look at the turning points that shaped our journey.

NG = National Geographic, DC = Discovery Channel

Thanks for reading and enjoy!

© henry toromoreno

Free Rice … Resolution Reminder

     New Year’s Resolutions are meant to be ambitious. They are supposed to make you work diligently at being a better, more magnanimous person. So it’s hardly ever a surprise when you fail to keep them.  Such was my own suggestion that you assuage world hunger by visiting FreeRice.com and donating 7,200 grains of rice per week; about one cup. The site is associated with the United Nations World Hunger Program and it is free to use.

     I have been frequenting the site about twice a week and playing the vocabulary game. At twenty grains per correct answer, I figured I’d be ending world hunger by about June because I know words … this is no confabulation, I assure you. But it’s not going to happen. I have only donated 21,000 grains so far (less than three cups) and wrote this entry mostly to remind you to visit the site. If 10 people took me up on the challenge that’s almost thirty cups. If 100 people did, well, you do the math. Now stop being so parsimonious with your internet time, and feed some mouths with your mind.

Free Rice Banner

© 2008 henry toromoreno

Better College Planning

I just learned from the counselors here at HHS that they have taken their tasks onto the connected electronic world. Our Director of Guidance, Ms. Mottola, has sent letters home to the parents introducing them to Family Connection from Naviance. According to the letter, this is, “a Web-based service designed especially for students and parents. Family Connection is a comprehensive website that you can use to help in making decisions about course selection, colleges and careers”.           

You’ll need a registration code in order to log in and use the program, but the information available to you is very impressive. The site allows users to build an online resume, view their GPA and school rank, as well as maintain and manage their college application deadlines. Other bundled features allow students to research and compare colleges according to SAT scores, available majors, and a variety of statistical and historical data. This looks like it is a great tool, but only if you actually use it.           

Anyone who wants more information about the site or needs a registration code should contact Guidance Services at HHS. The phone number is 978.374.5700, extension 1133.

© 2008 henry toromoreno

AP materials are in!

Thanks again to the Friends of the Haverhill Public Library for their $1500 donation. We used this money to purchase materials to support our AP courses. Unfortunately, we were only able to get enough books for seven AP courses (Statistics, US & European History, Chemistry, Biology, Physics and Calculus). I have already distributed the test prep books to the AP teachers who will keep them in their classrooms and use them as they like. We are still waiting for the two Java books to arrive (they were out of stock), but we did get the three DVD movies that we ordered. I will be adding them to the catalog very shortly. In case you missed the Jan. 24 blog entry, the movies are Gandhi (starring Ben Kinglsey), In Search of Shakespeare (PBS), and 10 Days that Unexpectedly Changed America (History Channel). Good luck to all you intrepid testers!

 © 2008 henry toromoreno