Tuesday, December 30, 2014

BioScapes - A Visual Feast For The New Year

Olympus BioScapes is an international digital imaging competition featuring fascinating and extraordinarily beautiful life sciences photography captured through light microscopes.

The following images are selected from the winners and honorable mentions in the 2014 competition to give you a sample of the beauty and range of the collection. View all of the 2014 winners, which also include videos, on the contest website.

Barnacle appendages that sweep plankton and other food into the barnacle's shell for consumption. Confocal microscopy, 100x. Igor Siwanowicz, HHMI Janelia Research Campus, Ashburn, VA, USA. Third Prize, 2014 Olympus BioScapes Digital Imaging Competition®.
Butter daisy (Melampodium divaricatum) flower at 2x magnification. Fluorescence. Oleksandr Holovachov, Ekuddsvagen, Sweden. Seventh Prize, 2014 Olympus BioScapes Digital Imaging Competition®.
Proboscis (mouthparts) of a vampire moth (Calyptra thalictri). The moth was captured by Jennifer Zaspel in Russia. The proboscis was imaged at 10x and shows the dorsal legulae, tearing hooks, and erectile barbs that facilitate the acquisition of fruit juices and mammalian blood when feeding. Confocal microscopy. Matthew S. Lehnert and Ashley L. Lash, Kent State University at Stark, North Canton, OH, USA. Eighth Prize, 2014 Olympus BioScapes Digital Imaging Competition®.
Green coneheaded planthopper (Acanalonia conica) nymph with its gears. The insects are accomplished jumpers, able to accelerate at staggering 500 times the force of gravity (500xg); to synchronize the movement of their hind legs, their trochanters are coupled with a pair of cogs. Image shows dorsal view of these trochanteral gears. The insect demonstrates that gears, which until recently were thought to be a human invention, exist in the natural world. Confocal microscopy, magnification ca. 200x. Igor Siwanowicz, HHMI Janelia Research Campus, Ashburn, VA, USA. Ninth Prize, 2014 Olympus BioScapes Digital Imaging Competition®.
Mosquito larva, early instar, polarized darkfield illumination, 100x. Charles Krebs, Issaquah, WA, USA. Honorable Mention, 2014 Olympus BioScapes Digital Imaging Competition®.
Shepherd's purse seed pod, treated in a lye-water solution to render the pod's outer wall nearly transparent. Capsella burse-pastoris, a common weed and part of the mustard family, produces small triangular-shaped seed pods. The plant is commonly used in Asian cooking, tea and herbal medicines. Captured at 6x using brightfield microsopy. Edwin Lee, Carrollton, TX, USA. Honorable Mention, 2014 Olympus BioScapes Digital Imaging Competition®.
There is a touring exhibition of selected competition entries. The exhibit will visit the Maryland Science Center in Baltimore September 1, 2015–December 31, 2015.

MCPL carries a number of books that can teach you more about biological imaging and electron microscopy. Many of these are E-Books you can read in your browser from Safari Books Online. You can access these from the E-Books section of the library's website, MCPL E-Books.

Search the MCPL catalog for electron microscopy. In addition to books, you will get some websites in your search results, including the National Center for Electron Microscopy. One of the most intriguing of the cataloged websites is Bugscope: "The Bugscope project provides free interactive access to a scanning electron microscope (SEM) so that students anywhere in the world can explore the microscopic world of insects... students login over the web and control the microscope."

Nell M

Note: All the above images of life science subjects captured through light microscopes are copyright and come from Olympus BioScapes Digital Imaging Competition,, and are used with permission of Olympus BioScapes.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014


Have we blogged The Holidays to death yet? How about considering something new? New things for a new start...

Nope, I'm not going to suggest a new diet, new exercise routine or even a new hairstyle for the new year. How about a new hobby? Have you always wanted to know how to make something? Or been fascinated by (insert object, time period or culture)?

We've got the resources to help you focus, learn or create. After searching for "Trending Hobbies 2014" I found this list of trendy new hobbies.

Who knew my husband was such a hipster? He's already deeply into #3 (model rocketry) and #8 (homebrewing). But, if you'd like to take pictures of the starry, starry night (Hobby #1), Night Photography by Lance Keimig, an e-Book in Safari Books Online, will get you started.

For Hobby# 3, The Model Rocketry Handbook by G. Harry Stine is considered the bible—but check this out: 50 Model Rocket Projects for the Evil Genius by Gavin D. J. Harper

Then there's #8 - Homebrewing! Making your own what?? That's right! Lager, ale, porter, stout and more. Try a subject search for homebrewing.

And lastly, back in our e-book resource Safari Books Online, I found a quirky gem: The Modern Day Pioneer with instructions for the novice on not only beer brewing AND beekeeping, but soap-making, bread baking, quilting, and healing your own aches and pains!

So, embrace something new! Fold origami, bake, brew, photograph, travel or start a collection; we're here to help you.


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Holiday Classics

Most of us are crazy busy at this time of year (including me). We're trying to juggle work, family, shopping, holiday parties, the budget and so on. To help keep some perspective, it's worth trying to carve out a little time to appreciate some of the literary and cinematic classics that bring the season to life.

A Christmas CarolRead or watch the wonderful Charles Dicken's tale A Christmas Carol, the story of miserly Scrooge and the three spirits that bring him to a new sense of the joy and wonder of the Christmas season. You can do a chapter a night as a family read aloud in the week preceding December 25th, or you can borrow one of the several film versions of the story that the library owns.

MCPL can offer anything from the 1951 Alastair Sim's version (which set the standard for screen portrayals of Scrooge) to Disney's Mickey's Christmas Carol, with Uncle Scrooge McDuck in the starring role.

Cover image of A Christmas Memory
 My personal favorite stars George C. Scott as a particularly curmudgeonly Scrooge. Or there's always The Muppet Christmas Carol—Kermit makes a wonderful Bob Crachit. If you have time after the holidays, and are looking for an interesting read for a cold January night, you can pick up The Man Who Invented Christmas by Les Standiford to find out more about Dickens and his beloved story.

It's a Wonderful Life coverAnother appealing short read is Truman Capote's autobiographical novella A Christmas Memory. This gentle story decribes the Christmas preparations of a young boy and his slightly eccentric, elderly cousin in the Depression era South.

cover of The Night Before Christmas by Jan Brett
Night Before Christmas - Jan Brett
Frank Capra's classic film It's a Wonderful Life seems to be on a TV loop during December, but if you need to schedule your own showing, the library can provide a copy. Remember, every time a bell rings.....

cover image of Tomie DePaola's Night Before Christmas
Night Before Christmas
Tomie de Paola
Another lovely family read aloud is Clement Moore's The Night Before Christmas. The library has many wonderfully illustrated versions of the poem, ranging from the  intricate and playful work of Jan Brett, to Tasha Tudor's warm and homey pictures of an elfin Santa, to one in the distinctive style of beloved children's author Tomie De Paola.

cover image of book "Hot Toddies"So pop some popcorn, make some warm drinks, for both the adults and kids, and gather everyone around to make some great holiday memories.



Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Fabulous Senior Moments

James Earl Jones and Angela Lansbury 2013
James Earl Jones and Angela
Lansbury rehearse Driving Miss
Sydney, Australia 2013.
Photo: Eva Rinaldi
Last night, I saw a great stage performance by James Earl Jones, who played a lead role as Mr. Vanderhof in You Can’t Take It With You. At age 83 (born in 1931), Mr. Jones is on Broadway stage 6 nights a week this season. Simply amazing!

I am a baby boomer librarian. If you think I came up with this week's topic from reading AARP magazine articles, you are correct. I am in awe of the mental and physical capacity of seniors born years before me.
The Trip from Bountiful movie cover
Here are some others on stage and on screen that come to my mind: Vanessa Redgrave (born in 1937) playing a bone-shivering tiger mom on screen in Coriolanus (2011); Angela Lansbury (born in 1925) in Blithe Spirit; and Cicely Tyson (born in 1933) in The Trip to Bountiful. My list is growing.

Talking about active seniors, Meryl Streep (born in 1949), another talented senior, was the voice of Eleanor Roosevelt in the recent PBS series, The Roosevelts. Am I the only one who thinks there is, or should be, a movie about Eleanor Roosevelt coming with Ms. Streep in the leading role?

Two other stories about amazing seniors in other fields come to my mind as I write this post. I was once at a lecture by Eric Kandel (born in 1929) who received Nobel Prize for his research on the physiological basis of memory storage in neurons. He shuffled to the podium in his signature red bow tie to speak to high school students. I could see in the students’ amused faces as they put at least a hundred years between them and the scientist. His lecture was so mesmerizing, he received a standing ovation when it was over. Take that, kids!

I’m a soccer nut. I used to play many years ago, and I’m known to watch games even while cooking. I once went to see a game between American and Japanese over-65 league teams. OK, the players’ feet might have been a few steps behind their minds, but we enjoyed the game because players were having so much fun. During half time, a short-skirted cheerleading team from an assisted living home performed. How great is that?

Megumi L.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Holiday Runaround

I've had an exciting year, gallivanting to London and various cities around the United States… so exciting that I've used all my annual leave and I am bound to the Washington, DC area for the foreseeable future. What shall I do? Well, as it turns out, there is plenty to do over the holidays, right here in our own backyard, so to speak.

I searched through the Washington Post’s Top 10 Washington, DC Holiday Activities and found Christmas Tree lightings and Hanukkah Menorah lighting ceremonies, along with the holiday light displays in various parks around the area.

But what caught my eye was ICE! at the Gaylord National Resort, which runs through January 4, 2015. Literally a “winter wonderland” created out of 5,000 blocks of ice, it took 40 artists to create this year’s Frosty the Snowman-themed display. The attractions are very approachable, so visitors can actually walk through them. And, of course, the kids will love it.

And more ice… ready for ice skating, latkes, and kosher hot dogs? Head on down to Chanukah On Ice for the lighting of the Menorah in Arlington, VA on Thursday, December 18.

If ice isn't your thing, maybe trains are. In Ellicott City, MD, home of the oldest train station in America, the B&O Railroad Museum presents the  Festival of Trains at the Ellicott City Station featuring, among others, “multi-level 360 degree LEGO layout by the Washington, D.C. at Metropolitan Area LEGO Train Club with interactive lights, motors, and sounds.” If trains aren't your thing either, then wander the streets of Ellicott City and enjoy the wonderful restaurants, antique stores, and cute boutiques.

For a Kwanzaa Celebration enjoy the Coyaba Dance Theater where special guests celebrate the seven principles of Kwanzaa.

Not sure which holiday to celebrate? Try them all as the Smithsonian Discovery Theater presents Seasons of Light, an interactive show about the history and customs of:
If you enjoy old town Frederick, The Holidays in Historic Frederick  may be to your liking. Tour historic homes and wander around in the festival of lights. There is also a display of an art competition showing Frederick during the holidays.

Closer to home you say? Try the Rockville Town Center Holiday Open House and Christmas Tree Lighting on Thursday, December 4 for their tree-lighting ceremony featuring singing, dancing, ice skating, and general holiday merriment. And enjoy the NIH Chamber Singers Holiday Concert on Saturday, December 6 at the Rockville Memorial Library.

And what would the holidays be without concerts, especially choral concerts! Here is a list of local Holiday Concerts at Strathmore, Gaithersburg, Takoma Park, and Rockville. You can't not go to at least one! Garrett Park has its own program,the Town Holiday SingAlong, Friday, December 12. There's nothing more fun than singing holiday songs!

I would be remiss if I didn't mention Davis Library's events:

And for all Montgomery County Public Libraries events use our interactive Calendar of Events.

But wherever you decide to go, enjoy this season of hope and good will!

Happy Holidays,
lisa n