Anything is paws-ible with a good book and a good dog

Jake and Claire take turns reading to Jazzy during Paws to Read at Mentor Library.

Jake and Claire take turns reading to Jazzy during Paws to Read at Mentor Library.

I’ve mentioned Paws to Read before, and I’m going to mention it again sometime soon; because it’s a great program, and I want as many people as possible to know about it.

Paws to Read is for readers between the ages of six and 12 years old. Mentor Library hosts it on the third Wednesday of the month at either its Main or Mentor-on-the-Lake Branch.

If your child can read independently but doesn’t like to do it in front of other people, you might try signing them up for Paws to Read. The program works well for dog lovers, but it’s also helped some kids who are scared of dogs get over their phobia.

Newfoundland Wilson and Olivia share a book.

Newfoundland Wilson and Olivia share a book.

The next session is scheduled for Wednesday, March 18, at Mentor Library’s Main Branch.

Registration fills up quickly, so contact the children’s department at Mentor Public Library soon if you think you child could benefit from Paws to Read. (There is often a waiting list for the program once registration begins.)

For more information on Paws to Read and other children’s programs at Mentor Public Library call (440)257-2512.

 

Payton gives Caesar a belly scratch in between books.

Payton gives Caesar a belly scratch in between books.

For more photos from Paws to Read, visit Mentor Library’s Facebook page.

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Tips for the Online Job Search

applying-online

Have you been to a job fair lately? Did you bring copies of your resume (as people always tell you to do)?

What did the recruiter say when you tried to give him or her your resume? Probably “Apply online.”

Nowadays, so much of the career hunt is online—not just searching for openings but applying also. Understanding how to navigate the online job hunt is just as important as knowing how to write a resume or ace an interview.

So Alaryce Shea of Ohio Means Jobs Lake County offered recommendations for everyone using the Internet to find their next job.

1. Don’t screen yourself

You’re on Careerboard or Careerbuilder or Monster or whatever and you see a job that you’d be perfect for. Then you read “five years of experience in the field” and cringe, because you only have three years of experience.

What should you do? Apply anyhow!

“It’s a wishlist, not a recipe card,” Shea said of the qualifications employers list online. “If they ask for five years of experience and nobody with five years of experience applies, what’s the new number?”

If you can do the job they’re advertising and want it, then apply. Maybe they’ll screen you out, but don’t screen yourself.

2. Know how to navigate the different job-search engines

There are a million different career boards and job-search engines. Don’t bother with any of the ones that charge you money. There are plenty of useful free ones.

Shea didn’t want to discredit any job-search engine; because, frankly, any site could be the one that leads you to your next job. That having been said, he does have some preferences.

He likes Careerboard because it’s locally based and features a lot of Ohio openings. He likes the Ohio Means Jobs boards for the same reason.

And while Monster, Careerbuilder and Juju have all offered good leads, Shea does not recommend Craigslist.

One more note regarding career boards: If you post your resume on them, then update them frequently. The longer a resume sits in a board’s archives unedited, the lower it shows up on matches for positions.

3. Remember to use keywords

If you’re applying for jobs, then you’re probably doing it on the company’s website.

When you submit your resume online, include a page of keywords. And what do I mean by keywords?

Big companies don’t read every resume submitted to them—not even close. Instead, your resume goes into a database. When a position opens, the company searches through the database for certain words. If your resume doesn’t have enough of those words, your resume doesn’t get read. Even if you would’ve been perfect for that job.

So you need to include those keywords.

Shea recommends adding an extra page to your resume specifically for keywords. Include your name, title it Keywords and simply list your pertinent skills beneath. If you drive a forklift, include keywords like “tow motor” and “forklift.” If you work in marketing, “event planning,” “advertising,” and “graphic design.” Management: “hiring,” “managing,” “budgeted” and so on. (Make sure all of your keywords are true. Don’t say “CNC” if you don’t know what that stands for.)

This way, your resume is more likely to show up in a keyword search, which will actually get it read.

4. There’s still a time and a place for a hard-copy resume

When applying online for a job with a larger company, Shea also recommends another aggressive tactic for getting noticed.

Get the name of one of the big bosses online, and then mail a resume directly to their office. (Don’t include a keywords page with this resume.) Include a cover letter that mentions the specific job for which you are applying. Also say that you have applied online but wanted to send them a physical copy, as well.

Shea’s logic: The big bosses don’t get a lot of resumes and cover letters sent to them anymore. In a best case scenario, this will make you stand out from the enormous pack, and anything that makes you stand out at this stage is good.

5. Yes, you probably need a LinkedIn page. No, you don’t need to pay for a premium account.

Yes, your profile needs a photo. You should keep it up to date, as well.

LinkedIn can be a great resource for finding job leads, talking to other people in your field, and finding out who you know who’s employed at companies where you want to work.

For more help, visit Ohio Means Jobs Lake County at 177 Main Street, Painesville. The phone number is (440) 350-4400.

Mentor Library will continue to team with Ohio Means Jobs for programs throughout the year to help career-seekers. In March, we’re offering advice on how to ace job interviews.

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The Novels, Movies & Poetry of China for Chinese New Year

Best of ChinaIn the spirit of our New Orleans list for Mardi Gras and Civil Rights list for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we present 10 of the best novels, movies and poetry collections from China for Chinese New Year.

As with all subjective lists, we must begin with disclaimers. One, China is enormous and has been creating art for more than 5,000 years; so, yes, it’s excruciating to whittle a list like this down to 10 items. We’re going to miss some favorites, some excruciating how-can-you-not-mention-them favorites, so please consider this an introduction as opposed to an exhaustive overview.

Two, Chinese New Year is by no means limited to China. Macau, Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines and more celebrate Lunar New Years and/or Spring Festivals this time of year. Each deserve their list, but it’s foolhardy enough to try to tackle 5,000 years of Chinese history in a single post—as we mentioned in the first disclaimer—so those will have to wait until a later day.

With these caveats out of the way, it’s time to celebrate the Year of the Goat! Wear red, bribe the Kitchen God, and enjoy the art of the Middle Kingdom!

1. The Real Story of Ah-Q and Other Tales of China by Lu Xun

It’s futile to point to a single writer and try to frame him or her as China’s best writer; but, whomever you think it may be, Lu Xun is in the discussion. He is to Beijing as Gabriel Garcia Marquez is to Colombia or Naguib Mahfouz is to Egypt. He’s their laureate. He was among a group of authors who created modern Chinese literature—embracing its cultural history while criticizing some of its outdated traditions.

His short stories, including “Diary of a Madman,” “The Divorce” and “The Real Story of Ah-Q,” juggle humor, sadness and keen observation. If you want, his complete short stories are also available as an ebook.

2. Dream of a Red Chamber (also known as The Story of The Stone) by Cao Xueqin

From one of China’s greatest modern writers to one of its greatest classic authors. Dream was written in the 18th century during the Qing Dynasty, and it follows the dynasty’s demise through the fortunes of one family and doomed romance of first cousins, Precious Jade and Blue-Black Jade.

This sprawling monsterpiece is more than 1,000 pages in some translations, so you may opt for an abridged version. But if you catch a good translation, it pairs fascinating myth and history with memorable characters. Cao brings readers into an open world where even a third concubine’s servant is granted her own agency.

3. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

You rolled your eyes, didn’t you? Everybody knows Crouching Tiger, you thought, even my uncle who doesn’t know his Ang Lee from his Christopher Lee.

Yeah, Crouching Tiger is one of those non-American films everyone knows, but it’s also one of the greatest examples of the wuxia (translation: martial hero) genre ever, which reaches all the way back beyond Luo Guanzhong’s Romance of the Three KingdomsIf you enjoyed Crouching Tiger, you may also like other wuxia films like HeroHouse of Flying Daggers and, yes, even Kung Fu Panda.

4. Farewell, My Concubine

But Chinese film is so much more than Kung Fu. It can be tragedy, history and love; or, in the case of Farewell, My Concubine, all three.

The film follows two Beijing opera actors, Cheng Dieyi and Duan Xiaolou, from childhood to death. If their story doesn’t break your heart, it’s because you never had one.

Concubine is similar to Dream of the Red Chamber in that it uses a personal relationship as a macrocosm to tell the story of the nation; in Concubine‘s case, the troubled (understatement) decades of the Cultural Revolution.

5. China’s Bravest Girl: The Legend of Hua Mu Lan by Wang Xing Chu

You know the story of Mulan, the woman who disguised herself as a man to defend her family’s honor. Read the story as the Chinese tell it.

6. Soul Mountain by Gao Xingjian

Xingjian won the Nobel Prize for literature in 2000. He enjoyed some popularity in China but ran afoul of the government. He eventually moved to France and criticized his homeland’s government. It responded by banning all of his work.

Before leaving for Europe, Xingjian was diagnosed with lung cancer, the disease that killed his father, and told he was going to die. He didn’t die. He didn’t even have cancer. The doctor misdiagnosed him. With a new lease on life, Xingjian spent 10 months traveling along the Yangtze River. He, then, used that experience to write Soul Mountain.

Soul Mountain is an autobiography-novel-travel writing or in Xingjian’s own words: “You’ve slapped together travel notes, moralistic ramblings, feelings, notes, jottings, untheoretical discussions, unfable-like fables, copied out some folk songs, added some legend-like nonsense of your own invention, and are calling it fiction!”

7. 300 Tang Poems

I should not have come this far without discussing Chinese poetry. For much of its history, Chinese prose was subordinate to Chinese poetry; and the poetry was particularly sublime during the Tang Dynasty.

And you don’t need a doctorate in poetry or Chinese history to understand what has made this poetry worth preserving. The poems of Li Bai, Du Fu, Wang Wei and more can be appreciated immediately but reward re-reading too.

8. The Analects by Confucius, Mencius, Tao Te Ching & Chuang Tzu

It’s difficult to find western analogues for these classics, which provided the basis for Confucianism, Neo-Confucianism and Taoism. They aren’t quite religious texts, and it’s limiting to compare them only philosophical or political texts. In short, these books try to provide the guidelines for how to lead a good life.

While not all of their writings may apply unequivocally to this time and place, there’s still plenty of worthwhile advice to be gleaned from them.

9. According to What? by Ai Weiwei

Ai Weiwei isn’t just one of the most important living Chinese artists, he’s one of the most important living artists anywhere. According to What? features more than 40 pieces from over the last 20 years—everything from photos of the Olympic stadium in Beijing to assemblies of thousands of porcelain river crabs (a metaphor for the Chinese government’s censorship) to a selfie Ai took as he was being arrested by Chinese police.

You can also check out Ai’s documentary, Never Sorry.

10. American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

This last inclusion is different than the others, because Yang was born in California. But Yang’s work is still Chinese art (as well as American art,) and that doesn’t change just because he’s from the diaspora as opposed to the mainland.

Pretty much all of Yang’s graphic novels are amazing, but American Born Chinese is special. It uses myth, wit and racial stereotypes to tell the stories of monkey king Hanuman and of a second-generation Chinese immigrant trying to fit into America. And you’ll never guess how those parallel stories end up intersecting.

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Studio MPL explores Egypt with art

Mira looks through the phonetic, hieroglyphic alphabet to see what she wants to paint on her stone.

Mira looks through the phonetic, hieroglyphic alphabet to see what she wants to paint on her stone.

Studio MPL—our art club for kids in first through fifth grade—continued to explore Egyptian art during its meeting Monday at our Main Branch.

In January, they turned their names into cartouches. This month, they colored scarabs and used hieroglyphs to decorate amulets. (We can neither confirm nor deny that the amulets are magical.)

If your child enjoys art, Egyptian history or both, it’s easy to do similar crafts at home. All it takes is some paint and a stone or two. If your child wants to spell their name in hieroglyphics, they can use the Virtual-Egypt website to get a translation. (Disclaimer: these aren’t exact translations from our alphabet to hieroglyphics. They’re the closest possible phonetic translations for each character.)

Landon shows off his finished scarab.

Landon shows off his finished scarab.

Studio MPL meets every month and your kid (or kids) are welcome to join us. And, like everything else we do at the library, it’s free.

Every month, the kids take on a new art project. They’ve made sun catcherspainted sunsetsweaved and even garnered inspiration from Jackson Pollock.

Studio MPL meets on the third Monday of each month. Our next session is March 16 at our Main Branch. You can register for it here.

For more photos from our Studio MPL session, check out our Facebook page. For more information on programs and events for children, teens and adults at Mentor Public Library, visit www.mentorpl.org.

Rose paints her amulet during the Studio MPL meeting at Mentor Library.

Rose paints her amulet during the Studio MPL meeting at Mentor Library.

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Mardi Gras! New Orleans in Music, Movies, Books & More

It’s Fat Tuesday and that means Mardi Gras!

And New Orleans may not be the only city that throws a party before Ash Wednesday, but we would be remiss if we missed this chance to highlight all the music, movies, books, plays, documentaries and even cuisine that wouldn’t exist without The Big Easy.

So we present 10 items from our collection that either are either from New Orleans artists or use the city as a setting.

1. Treme

Though it was created by David Simon, Treme is so much more than The Wire set in New Orleans. However, the two shows have this in common: Their settings are also their lead characters. For four seasons, Simon and his crew depicted the people of New Orleans—Mardi Gras Indians, musicians, chefs, human rights lawyers and more—trying to rebuild their city after Hurricane Katrina.

With its focus on music, cuisine and local culture, Treme is the best show about New Orleans—give or take Frank’s Place.

2. Louis Armstrong

You cannot, cannot talk about the city of New Orleans without talking about the music. This is where jazz was born! And, yes, Louis Armstrong gets his name in the header, because he’s the greatest. But we could just as easily spend hours talking about (and listening to) Dr. John, Trombone Shorty, Fats Domino or Jelly Roll Morton.

You can download more songs from New Orleans’ finest on Freegal or stream their albums on Hoopla, both of which are free to use with a Mentor Public Library card.

3. When the Levees Broke

Spike Lee is at his best when he has something to say, and one of the most important topics he has ever tackled is New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. This documentary examines the tragedy through the eyes of the storm’s survivors.

For another auteur’s take on Katrina, read Dave Eggers’ Zeitoun.

4. My New Orleans: 200 of my favorite recipes and stories from my hometown by John Besh

Crawfish and rice! Chanterelles! Gumbo! What to cook for Mardi Gras or Reveillon—the best of the city’s cuisine from a chef who grew up with it.

Also, for our younger chefs, may we recommend Tiana’s Cookbook: Recipes for Kids.

5. Princess & the Frog

Speaking of Princess Tiana… Disney steeps this classic fairy tale in a southern sensibility. Don’t just borrow the movie; get the soundtrack too for when your kids inevitably have the songs stuck in their heads.

6. Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

It’s difficult to describe Toole’s singular novel in a single word or phrase. Picaresque? A comedy of errors? Let’s just call it a classic. Confederacy follows Ignatius J. Reilly—an overstuffed cocktail of intellect, buffoonery and free-floating hostility—as he pinballs against the colorful characters of New Orleans.

A manipulative hot dog vendor? A costumed detective? An ambivalent pants magnate? The French Quarter’s dandiest dandy? All fodder for Reilly’s jaundiced rants.

7. Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice

New Orleans’ heat, headiness and Gothic architecture provide the perfect backdrop for Rice’s horror story.

8. A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams

Whether we’re talking about the play or any of the movie versionsStreetcar just wouldn’t be the same if you moved it to New York, San Diego or anywhere beside New Orleans.

9. Gumbo Tales: Finding my Place at the New Orleans Table by Sara Roahen

Roahen was a stranger in a strange land when she moved from Wisconsin to New Orleans, and she figured the best way to learn her new hometown was by taste. Follow Roahen through po-boys and pho, Sazerac and braciolone. Then plan your own culinary excursion to The Big Easy.

10. Gambit

After the Channing Tatum movie comes out, he’s going to be everyone’s favorite X-Man. So get ahead of the curve and read all about the kinetic mutant from Nolia.

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