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Resources for the Transgender Community

She's Not There, by Jennifer Finney Boylan, was recommended to me by a transgender friend who described it as "the book she could relate to the most" regarding her experience. The book helped her in her decision to transition and me to understand her struggle with her sexual identity and what to expect from the transitioning process. CPL has other helpful gender identity resources including a Living Book who is the co-president of PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) who can discuss the topic of transgender with you.

Free Tax Help for Michigan Residents

Free tax preparation is available for qualified Michigan residents at sites around the state. You can call 2-1-1 (1-800-552-1183 if 2-1-1 is unavailable in your area) for help locating the free tax site nearest you.

Michigan Family Farms

Many people know that Canton, before it was developed, was largely farmland. But did you know that there are still functioning family farms in the area? Check out Michigan Family Farms.com to find information about local farms and lots more information about finding local food and events. You can also look forward to fresh, local food from some of these farms at the upcoming Winter Markets at the Canton Farmers Market.

Your Health Care Explained


Seniors have more affordable options for health coverage. At HealthCare.gov you can explore your coverage and pricing options viewing the vidcast at this site. Find out which private insurance plans, public programs, and community services are available to you. HealthCare.gov is a federal government website managed by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services — 200 Independence Avenue, S.W. — Washington, D.C. 20201. (Image Credit: HealthCare.gov)

To-may-to, To-mah-to

Don't those tomatoes look delicious? This winter weather may have us stuck inside, but we can at least prepare for the glorious gardening days to come, right? There are many types of tomato cages you can use to support your plants, several of which are highlighted in this post over at Mother Earth News. Personally, I've never used anything as architectural as these folding wooden tomato cages, but I think I might try building some.

Jumo — A Different Kind of Social Network

Jumo is a social network "connecting individuals and organizations who want to change the world." Jumo is founded and directed by Chris Hughes, co-founder of Facebook. Jumo beta requires users to sign up using their Facebook account. How is Jumo different from other online platforms? It claims it is different because it "is interested in building an informed community of people invested in the long-term successes of effective organizations."

How do you Save Money in Your Garden?

Gardening has many rewards, but as we all have to scrimp and pull our belts a bit tighter, it can seem like it's expensive to get started. There are many things we can do to be more thrifty in the garden, though! Over at The Home Gardener, Dave Townsend offers three really great tips: start from seed, propagate your own plants, and participate in plant swaps.

Are there other ways that you've found to save money in the garden? I like to reuse household objects to make garden items, and I recycle my friends' and neighbors' decorative straw bales as mulch each fall. What tips do you suggest?

Resolution: Create a Family Health Tree

The U. S. Surgeon General has created an online tool called My Family Health portrait to help families gather medical information. Because many diseases have a genetic component, families can become more aware of the health risks they may face. The Surgeon General recommends learning the medical history of at least three generations. The tool they've developed has questions you should ask. The website assures complete privacy for participants.

Memory Loss

When is memory loss cause for concern? Possible signs are forgetting common words and using odd ones in their place, asking the same questions repeatedly, becoming lost in familiar places, mood swings, misplacing items in odd places… In these instances it is important to seek medical help sooner rather than later in the event it is Alzheimer's. However, simple forgetfulness could be the result of fever, dehydration, vitamin deficiency, poor nutrition… To sharpen the brain experts recommend memory games and crossword puzzles. To boost your memory, post a large calendar to record appointments and make a to-do list.

Celebrate Dr. King

Saturday, January 15 would have been Martin Luther King Jr.'s 82nd birthday. We celebrate his life, his message, and the spirit of the Civil Rights movement on the third Monday of every January. For some, this means a day off of work or school; for many others it's a day of community service (Find volunteer opportunities on the All for Good site). Whether you choose to serve, attend special community events, or simply reflect, Canton Public Library has useful resources for you:

Martin Luther King — Books

Behind the dream: the making of the speech that transformed a nation by Clarence B. Jones and Stuart Connelly

The Word of the Lord is upon me: the righteous performance of Martin Luther King, Jr. by Jonathan Rieder

What would Martin say? by Clarence B. Jones and Joel Engel

Google Science Fair 2011

Are you a student who loves science? Do you have a good idea for an experiment that you’d like to share with the world? If so, be a part of the Google Global Science Fair 2011. To help make today’s young scientists the rock stars of tomorrow, in partnership with CERN, The LEGO Group, National Geographic and Scientific American, Google is introducing the first global online science competition: the Goole Science Fair. It’s open to students around the world who are between the ages of 13-18. All you need is access to a computer, the Internet and a web browser.

Do You Love Writing?

Do you want to find a way to connect with authors, readers, and writers? If so Figment.com was created for you and people just like you. It is a website that has blogs, contests, forums, new and more all directed at teens who like to read and write. If you want more information, check out the website, or this fabulous article all about Figment.

North American International Auto Show

Experience the next generation of cars at the 2011 North American International Auto Show where the automotive world and the public come together. See more than 500 vehicles of innovative designs and latest technology. Don't miss this exciting event taking place at the Cobo Center starting on Saturday, January 15!

Photo courtesy of NAIAS

What do gardeners do in winter?

We drool over seed catalogs and dream of what we'll grow when the snow is gone! Winter is a great time for some other garden projects, though — the kind you can do while nice and toasty inside. And as an added bonus, many times you can re-use materials that you'd otherwise have to toss in the trash. Check out Michigan gardener and author Colleen VanderLinden's list of 15 "Trashy" Ideas for Your Garden. While you're at it, take a gander at some of the many books we have about crafting for the garden.

Author of 'Babe' Passes On

Dick King-Smith, whose book Babe the Gallant Pig inspired the hit 1995 movie Babe, died on January 4, 2011 at his home near Bath, England. He was 88. Mr. King-Smith was a farmer for 20 years before becoming a primary school teacher. He published more than 100 books — mostly about animals and often about pigs, his favorite. He once said of his animal stories, "I never dress my animals in clothes. They behave as animals should behave, with the exception that they open their mouths and speak the queen's English." His books have sold more than 15 million copies worldwide. Mr. King-Smith's first wife died in 2000. He is survived by his second wife, 3 children and 14 grandchildren.

Chocolate for Alzheimer Patients

In a New York Times article about Alzheimer's Disease called The Vanishing Mind, the benefits of chocolate as a soother for aggitated nursing home patients was extolled. This is just one of alternative ways to treat individuals with Alzheimer's Physicians researchers are investigating.

Make Your Own eBooks

Here's a fairly-quick way to turn websites, Microsoft Word documents, and plain text files into eBooks for your portable device or computer:
  1. Go to ebook.online-convert.com and select "Convert text to the ePub ebook format"
  2. Select the file from your computer, or copy/paste the URL of the file into the applicable form field
  3. Set the optional settings to reflect the title and author of the work
  4. Click "Convert File" to begin processing
  5. Follow the on-screen instructions to download the converted file
  6. Transfer to your reading device per the specific device's instructions
I personally use an iPhone with the iBooks app. Loading a "book" onto my phone was as easy as emailing the file to myself and tapping the attached file from the Mail app.

Many readers also display PDF files. If you wish to read long-form content from your computer on your reader device, PDF print utilities like PDF reDirect for Windows or the built-in functionality on the Mac can provide a quick and compatible way to create eReader files.

Is It Time to Hang Up Your Keys?

AARP’s “We Need to Talk” online seminar sponsored by The Hartford provides practical tips and advice on how to recognize when it’s time to limit or stop driving and how to discuss the topic with loved ones. AARP recommends you complete the three modules in sequence. Each takes approximately 30 minutes to complete and you will learn what value driving has to older adults, how to objectively assess driving skills, and how to discuss limiting and/or stopping to drive.

MiEarth.org


MiEarth.org is a website containing videos "designed to celebrate great environmental work in Michigan, educate people about what they can do, and inspire them to take action." You can view videos about a variety of environmental topics and projects in Michigan. If you log in and create an account, you can even post one yourself. There are several different categories of videos on the site including "Green Communities", "My View" and "Green Inc" where you can learn about the sustainable practices of posted local companies and organizations. The website also has an environmentally-themed blog.

Story Blocks

Story Blocks is a great resource for parents, caregivers and librarians alike. A project of Colorado Libraries for Early Literacy, Story Blocks is filled with short video demonstrations of rhymes, songs and fingerplays for your baby, toddler, or preschooler. You'll pick up some useful early literacy tips, and a little Spanish vocabulary, too, thanks to a selection of bilingual video clips. Explore the videos and learn something new that your little one will love. I've definitely learned a few new tricks for story time!