Film Blog: Dallas Buyers Club

November 25th, 2014

Today I’m featuring a recent film just added to the collection called Dallas Buyers Club. Matthew McConaughey stars as Ron Woodroof who contracts AIDS/HIV, but for whatever reason can’t get treatment. Woodroof, unwilling to accept that he may only have 6 months to live, starts the Dallas Buyers Club as a way to help himself and others with the disease. Woodroof travels to other countries to buy other AIDS/HIV medication to bring back to the United States for members of his Dallas Buyers Club.

It’s important to know that in the 1980s, not a whole lot was known about AIDS/HIV (including how people contracted it and how to treat it), so there wasn’t a whole lot of treatment options available. Plus, any treatment would have to be approved by the FDA, which can make the wait for treatment even longer. For more information on books we have in the collection on the FDA, just click here.

This film was nominated for many awards. The most notable award for the film  is probably Matthew McConaughey’s portrayal of Ron Woodroof, which earned him an Academy Award in 2013 for Best Actor. Jared Leto (also pictured above) won for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal as Rayon. As always, I’m including a trailer below for your review.


Zero Waste Challenge, Librarian Style: Day 4

November 24th, 2014

stacksshotMy Zero Waste Challenge week has come to a close, but my mind has been opened.  In recently days I have found my actions changing, my choices having different factors and my frustration escalated.  My bag is full of items that sadly, I can not recycle or re-use and that is what elevates my frustration.  I’ll be honest I feel a bit sad about some of my findings.  I’ve come to realize that my consumer habits, though I try as I might to purchase with a low-waste mind, still needs to be refined and re evaluated.  Coincidentally while I was on the last leg of this challenge I read the Epilogue from the book No Impact Man: The Adventures of a Guilty Liberal Who Attempts to Save the Planet and the Discoveries He Makes About Himself and Our Way of Life in the Process.  Quite the mouthful to say, but quite the impact  as well.  For one whole year Colin Beavan lived with his family, in New York City, trying to have as little of an impact on the environment as possible.  A documentary was also made while he and his family were conducting this experiment.  Last night as I read the last line of his book, I felt called to act on what I have come to realize this week. Colin left his readers with this question “So, what are you going to do?”

Well, I am going to actively lead by example and keep trying to produce as little waste as possible.  I’ll explore options that do not require me purchasing items or using items that have single use and can not be recycled/re purposed.  I realized most of my items are related to snacks or others offering me something and I accept.  Is it not polite to say “No thank you, I am trying to reduce my landfill contribution.”  Do I really need to be snacking on candy and chips anyway?  I could set aside some weekend time to make my own snacks and store them in reusable containers at home?  I will also ask companies directly, is your product recyclable and if not, why is it not?  Does your packaging have to be in plastic #6?  My hope is that with consumers asking these questions and not purchasing based off of the waste the product creates then maybe even more companies will re-think their products container.

Final Day

Over the weekend I accumulated six new items to add to my bag of trash.  They are numbered above.

1. As I woke up to the sound of a hungry cat and a large to-do list on Saturday, I fed the cat some breakfast and and made myself a nice cup of tea.  For this week I have been throwing away my food waste as to not create a larger smell problem or a mold problem in my bag.  My tea bag though got me pondering.  I have composted coffee grounds before, but never thought the same result might be a good place for tea.  After looking around on some gardening websites, I found an article that explains how tea is not only compostable but beneficial for plants. Even the bags are biodegradable meaning you don’t have to open up the tea bag compost it.  My only concern is the tea bags that have a silky feeling or those with a small metal staple, probably should not compost those bags just in case.

2. This weekend I made a great baked tilapia with a side of green bean salad and some vegetables in polenta.  Not to make your mouth water, but to bring up an aspect of waste that I have decided to focus on more, food packaging.  The only waste from preparing this meal was the food scraps and the plastic from the tilapia.  I used to buy fresh tilapia until I decided to stop using Styrofoam,  these tilapia create a different problem though.  Each filet is wrapped in plastic, and all put into a re-sealable plastic bag.  For smell’s sake I did not include the individual wrappings from my meal, but I included the plastic strip you have to cut off in order to open the larger bag.  Today I called up Costco and asked them if the packaging was a recyclable plastic.  When the costumer service representative looked up the item, she said the only note they put for that item is that it is recyclable but the grade of plastic is not given in the product information.  This leaves me with the question, do I put it in recycling because Costco said its okay, or do I put it in landfill because I do not know the grade of plastic?  For today, I am putting it in the landfill because non-recycled items in recycling process can be more harm than good.

3. Toby Keith may love his Red Solo Cup, but I on the other hand most certainly do not. Toby sings about his cup being more than a cup to him, he likes that its cheap, disposable and you can even write your name on it. In his song he claims it is decompostable in fourteen years.  Given that #6 is not even recyclable in most cases, I doubt it will be compostable within my lifetime let alone fourteen years.  While out doing my grocery shopping I wanted to try a sample that was served in a little mini Solo cup.  Based on my findings, the only place for a Solo cup the morning after a big party is either a landfill or Terracycle.  The hitch with Terra Cycle though is you have to sign up to be part of their recycling program then you collect your cups and send them in.  For now I will just stick with handing out .25 mugs from the thrift store to hand out at parties. That way as a party goer you just need to remember, was I the IHOP mug or the “Happy Father’s Day” with the goofy dog on it?

ernest4. My cat loves his treats, and it wasn’t until this project that I realized that my cat’s waste is technically my waste since I purchase for him.  Yesterday he finished off a bag of treats and it is my job to find out if the packaging is recyclable or not. My hunch is not, and I was right. After contacting the company they told me at this time they are not recyclable but they are looking into changing their packaging. Off to the landfill it goes then. An interesting alternative, a friend mentioned to me while I was talking about this predicament that homemade cat treats are pretty simple to make and I could store them in a mason jar!

5. Same story as my pita chips, I was the last one to have some tortilla chips, making the bag my waste. I had assumed that it was not recyclable but decided to call their customer service anyway.  I was told that if their bag has a recycling symbol on the back at the bottom then it is a recyclable plastic.  If there is no symbol then it is not.  They explained that they make a lot of different snack foods for different brands but they are all under the same parent company.  Mine had no symbol, but I’ll keep an eye out for the other brands this company produces to see if they do have some recyclable options.

6. With all that grocery shipping and running around, I seem to have some receipts. Through my research I have come up with a conclusion, that if its shinny and has lots of ink, not recyclable. The shinny coating and ink isn’t good for the recycling process, its called a thermal printed receipt.  This article from 1800Recycle (a search engine designed to assist consumers with questions about what can they recycle and where) explains the difference between thermal receipts and regular printed receipts.

Over the course of one week I accumulated 16 non-recyclable items.  With Chopin’s Funeral March playing in the background I will dump my trash into a real trash can and keep with me the lessons learned over this very enlightening week.


New English as a Second Language (ESL) Titles in Catalog

November 24th, 2014

ESL FlashCardsMoraine Valley Community College Library has added new English as a Second Language (ESL) titles to its catalog. Materials range from flashcards, to crossword puzzles, to books on Internet resources, and books with accompanying CD-ROMs. We have a little bit of everything for ESL students and teachers, so keyword search at our library website with the subject heading “AVL Program” and brush up on the English language.

On This Day, November 24, 2012…How Soon We Forget

November 24th, 2014


Gangnam Style becomes the most viewed YouTube video surpassing 808 million views, according to No doubt 808 million views will be surpassed in the future but that is still outstanding. Click on the words Gangnam Style for your viewing pleasure. Gangnam Style

Zero Waste Challenge, Librarian Style: Day 3

November 21st, 2014

bagshotHave you ever been jogging and a dump truck passes by you?  Ever get a good ol’ whiff of that trash? I don’t know about you but I tend to make a face when I smell that truck pass by.   A very similar smell can now be found by opening up my Ziploc bag of trash.  Its odd, it never occurred to me when I would smell that trash on my jogs that it wasn’t someone else’s trash making that stink, it was my trash, mixed with my neighbors trash, mixed with the trash from the restaurant in my building.  Its all of us creating not only these large pits full of waste, but the smell we hate to smell.  We pay someone to drive up, remove our stink, drive gas guzzling trucks to a remote location so we don’t have to smell it or find uses for our items.  We have our waste taken away to magical landfill land.   The missing link in our thought process though is, we all create the disgusting smell.


What is causing this stink is the addition of five items from Tuesday night to this morning.  I have numbered each piece and below is their story.

1. Oh the Keurig, how we love the quick cup of java to get us alert and ready for the day.  Yesterday I was offered a cup of coffee, desperate for that cup of caffeine I accepted.  Turns out, my coffee was from a Keurig, which means I created waste. To find out if the k-cup is recyclable I went to the Kurig’s support page, where I found a long list of questions, but none relating to recycling. To dive deeper I went to their Sustainability page, where I finally found my answer.  Keurig admits their k-cups are not recyclable but they are developing their packaging technology with a recyclable k-cup target date of 2020. In the mean time, they have a program called Grounds to Grow On, that collects their used cups, coffee grounds and all.  The ground are used for compost and the rest of the cups are turned into energy.   Given that their recyclable solution is still just over five years away, I did find a solution in the mean time. Keurig also makes a reusable coffee filter that fits into the same compartment the k-cups would, only you have to fill it with your own coffee and wash it out afterwards.  Not too difficult and you still get a quick cup of coffee!

2. Tuesday night I went out to dinner, and once again had to make a trip to the bathroom.  When it came time to wash my hands, I realized they only had paper towels.  What baffled me was that these towels were different.  The restaurant had paid not only for a much thicker, larger, durable paper towel, but they had the restaurant’s name printed on each one.  You’ll see that I have two other paper towels next to my fancy printed one.  That fancy towel ended up in the same place as all my other plain towels, in my trash.  I don’t see logic in printing your company name on an item that is used and put into a trash can with in seconds, all that ink and effort put into something with such as short use life.  If it is for advertising purposes, would you not already be a patron of their establishment if you are using their restroom?  All I can do is shake my head, and plan on bringing a re-usable towel like this one with me just in case wherever I need to wash my hands happens to have no hand dryers.

3. Stickers, I can honestly say I have never thought about stickers in terms of recycling.  With the weather getting colder and our skin getting dyer, I opened up a new chap stick yesterday.  The label on my chap stick had a colored corner that said in tiny letters, “Lift.”   I did and found the ingredients list, but as I kept pulling the whole label came off.  Now what?  What do you do with stickers?  When I did a general Google search I found a green blog that said stickers are not recyclable, but Post-It notes are.  Given this information was from a blog, and as a librarian I know better than to take that as face value, I did another search to confirm their findings.  Finally I found a source that supported the fact that stickers can’t be recycled because the adhesives clog up the recycling process.  My second search also added in another piece of information that is good to know, postage is okay to put in your recycling!  Who knew!

4. Yesterday it was coffee, today it was tea.  Woke up this morning craving some Earl Grey. After putting my tea bag in my mug I took a look at its packaging.  Its paper, technically, but has a very smooth almost glossy texture to it, which made me wonder, is it recyclable? The company website has a social responsibility page but no information on the packaging. A call to the company resulted in my leaving a detailed message.  Stay tuned for my next post to see if the makers of great tea listen to their voice mails!

5. A snack a day keeps rumblings tummies at bay. Even though I was not the only person to enjoy pita chips from this bag, I was the last one to finish up the crumbs meaning it was my responsibility to put it in the trash.  Years ago I had heard about a company called Terra Cycle, which takes chip bags, candy wrappers and other non-recyclable items and they turn those items into other products.  Sadly though this great company only accepts certain bags and the brand I have is not on the list.  So I decided to start an online chat session (similar to our Ask a Librarian) with the customer service department of Stacy’s Pita Chips.  After my friendly chat, the end result was, no they are not recyclable.  The plastic used to make the bags does not break down properly in the recycling process.  This got me thinking, if I want pita chips why not make them at home to avoid creating more waste? In our book collection we have many different cook books, and after browsing the TX section of the stacks I found a book called The Bread Maker’s Apprentice which had a simple, inexpensive pita chip recipe!

Stay tuned next Monday to see what sort of trash and questions the weekend brings in my final leg of the Zero Waste Challenge!



Community Colleges Are Getting It Right

November 20th, 2014

Here’s a great article on how community colleges are fixing higher education.  It accompanies a show on CNN (airing tonight, November 20th at 8 pm) about the costs of college.  Here’s a trailer.

The Science of GHOSTS! (Because Science w/ Kyle Hill)

November 20th, 2014

Ghosts tell us more about how our brain works than they tell us about the afterlife or the soul. The beliefs we hold present an interesting information literacy problem. Beliefs help us filter out world. We ignore some information and emphasizes other information based on beliefs about how things work.

This video touches on how ghosts work.

The Science of GHOSTS! (Because Science w/ Kyle Hill)

The Science Behind “Interstellar”

November 19th, 2014

Have you seen the film Interstellar? This video about the science behind it is cool.

Could INTERSTELLAR’s Wormhole be a Time Machine? (Because Science w/ Kyle Hill) (SPOILERS)

Porgy and Bess

November 19th, 2014

When most people think of opera they usually imagine something that is boring, too expensive, too long, elitist, stuffy, and unintelligible! It’s true, not all operas are for the faint of heart (I’m looking at you, Wagner!), but many are not as intimidating (or boring) as you might believe. A great example of this is George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess.

It’s sung in English and mixes traditional opera techniques with American jazz and folk music.  Set in Charleston, South Carolina in the 1920′s, it tells the story of a disabled man, Porgy, who tries to save a woman, Bess, from her abusive lover and drug addiction. You can check out a DVD of a 1992 stage production from the Glyndebourne Festival Opera here. You can also check out the 2012 New Broadway Cast recording or another recording of selections featuring Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong.

The Lyric Opera in Chicago is also presenting Porgy and Bess from November 17 through December 20th. They offer $20 student tickets for select performances through their NEXT Discount Student Ticket Program, which you can sign up for here. The Lyric Opera house is easily accessible via the Metra or CTA and they also offer discounted parking.

The 2012 Broadway Revival, starring Audra McDonald and Norm Lewis, won two Tony Awards including Best Revival of a Musical and Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical. Here’s a video from the 2012 Tony Awards with excerpts from the opera’s best known songs.

Check Out MVCC’s Alumni Hall of Fame Videos

November 19th, 2014

I was excited to come across the videos featuring the MVCC Alumni Hall of Fame Inductees. All of us at the college are proud of the accomplishments of our students. I thought these were definitely worth sharing.

Hall of Fame Inductee Michelle Gerrity

Hall of Fame Inductee Mark Weber

Hall of Fame Inductee Mark Patoska

Hall of Fame Inductee Dr. Laura Aversano

Hall of Fame Inductee Jeffrey Swoboda

Hall of Fame Inductee James Hofer

Hall of Fame Inductee Elaine Echols