Sep 07

Heidelberg Travel Highlights

If Kennedy is a Berliner, Ich bin ein Heidelberger. If you have never been to Heidelberg, you are missing a great travel destination. For this American tourist, it offers quintessential historic and beautiful scenery in the Old Town with a fairytale European flavor also containing surprises.

Rose Petals on Door Steps in Heidelberg - Photo by Sharani
Rose Petals on Door Steps in Heidelberg - Photo by Sharani

For instance since when do you associate Germany with flower petals scattered in the entry ways of a building? Yet that is precisely what I encountered in two different doorways to stores/restaurants in the Old Town.

The Yahoo! Travel Guide to Heidelberg states that a popular saying for Heidelberg is “Ich hab’ mein Herz in Heidelberg verloren” (I lost my heart in Heidelberg). They also refer to it as “heavenly”! Now is it any coincidence that before knowing either of these two things I named my photo album of Heidelberg “Heavenly Heidelberg” and chose a photo of a sticker on a motorbike that says “I heart HD” as the title photo of the album?

I love Heidelberg - Photo by Sharani
I love Heidelberg - Photo by Sharani

Many aspects of the city come across as icons from the vantage point of an American tourist.  We found ourselves referring to locations in iconic fashion with simple all-encompassing words – Castle (Schloss in German), Old Town (Alt Stadt), Old Bridge (Alte Brucke), the River (Fluss), Market Square (Marktplatz ), University (Universitätsplatz), Main Street (Haupstrasse one of the longest pedestrian- only areas in Europe).

The cobblestone streets (which we kept walking on forgetting that they were for cars not pedestrians), the castle on the hill, a city clustered along a river, church bells ringing for a solid fifteen minutes to strike the hour, excellent food from open air markets and small bakeries – all together created an easily cherished and enjoyable visit. Heidelberg is certainly one of my new favorite travel destinations in Europe. It finds me enthusiastically exclaiming, “If Kennedy is a Berliner, Ich bin ein Heidelberger.”

This photo slideshow of my trip memories offers some highlights of my visit:

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Some of my other favorite places I’ve blogged/written about:

Turkey: The Call of Turkey

Paris: Paris: Je t’aime!

Japan : Bamboo, Butterflies and Buddha: Japanese Journey

Jul 20

Why not WordPress as a CMS for the Library Website?

When the public library I work for in Dartmouth, MA wanted a web site redesign, we decided to try using WordPress for the entire site – not just for blogging. The intention is to have something created in open source software that can be fairly easily taught to multiple staff members.

With a push off the diving board from Aaron Schmidt and David Lee King, I dove in and got expert help every step of the way from Kathy Lussier, the Technology expert at the SEMLS regional library organization serving libraries in Southeastern Massachusetts.

The site Dartmouth Public Libraries went live on July 2nd and uses the Triple K2 theme with plugins such as NAVT.

Dartmouth Public Libraries Website
Dartmouth Public Libraries Website

Kerim Friedman provides a good summary of the benefits in using the Triple K2 theme for CMS in his blog post WordPress CMS.

If you are considering switching your library’s website from software such as Dreamweaver to open source software such as WordPress, our site is testimony to the versatility of WordPress for use as an entire website that is more than just a blog. Knowledge of basic CSS is helpful for creation of the site when you wish to customize the theme’s look (something I did a fair amount of for the library site), but once it is established much of the ongoing editing is easily accomplished by staff with little knowledge of website design.

Jul 13

Meme: Passion Quilt – Learn How to Meditate

Photo by Sharani Robins
Photo by Sharani Robins

The Passion Quilt meme started with Miguel Guhlin, an educator in Texas who suggested that people take a photo (their own or one from creative commons license) and caption it with what they are most passionate for children to learn.

I first came across the meme when Karen Schneider, the Free Range Librarian Blogger, shared a photo of a child reading and penned an accompanying essay Reading Sets You Free. Hands down, this is one of the most powerful and beautiful treatises on the importance of reading that I have ever come across.

Although not tagged, I was inspired to caption a photo of what I passionately want children to learn in life. As a daily meditator since 1985, I find it to be a powerful tool for growth and learning. I feel it would be very empowering for children to learn how to meditate.

Meditation Teacher Sri Chinmoy answers a question asked of him,
“What is the greatest thing we can do for our children?”

If I know that the best thing for me to do early in the morning is to pray, I will encourage my child to do this. But if I say, “No, I have come to this realisation at the age of forty, so let my son also wait until he is ready,” then I am making a deplorable mistake…
from Sri Chinmoy Speaks, Part 1

The original meme:

1. Post a picture from a source like FlickrCC or Flickr Creative Commons or make/take your own that captures what YOU are most passionate about for kids to learn about…and give your picture a short title.
2. Title your blog post “Meme: Passion Quilt” and link back to this blog entry.
3. Include links to 5 folks in your professional learning network or whom you follow on Twitter/Pownce.”

Photos tagged Passion Quilt in Flickr

Photos tagged Passion Quilt 08 in Flickr

With confessed trepidation, I tag:
Pavitrata Taylor, Art Teacher and Photographer
John Gillespie, Web Designer
Kedar, Photographer and Videographer
Thomas Laupstad, Norwegian Photographer
Jessica Langlois, the Cool Librarian

Jul 12

Dae Jang Geum – All-time Great TV Mini-Series

Dae Jang Geum DVD vol. 1
Dae Jang Geum DVD vol. 1
When do you ever like a DVD set of a TV mini-series so much that you can unequivocally say that it is the best drama you have ever seen – despite me being only a third of the way through watching it and despite it being an English subtitle experience of a Korean program, a culture I must admit I know next to nothing about?

Such is the case with Dae Jang Geum/Jewel in the Palace, a historical drama depicting Korean court life in the early 1500’s. It originally aired as 54 one hour episodes on television in South Korea in 2003-2004. Telling the story of a young orphan girl who becomes an apprentice cook in the King’s palace, she eventually becomes the first recorded female royal physician to a King.

The drama is in part based on actual history. The Annals of Joseon Dynasty, a history of the kings who ruled in Korea for 400 years, tells of a female royal doctor. The drama extrapolated from this historical truth is a remarkable combination of palace intrigue and corruption, extraordinary scenes of remarkable cooking/cuisine, heroism, morality and love.

This YouTube video (one of the few YouTube selections using shots of the English subtitled version) features the protagonist, Jae Geum with her mentor Lady Han, one of the Court Ladies for the Royal Kitchen.

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Although the above YouTube video sets the vignettes to a Celine Dion song, the actual soundtrack to the show is also haunting. I find myself hearing the music inside my head long after watching an episode. Here is the original soundtrack being performed by an orchestra.

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I borrowed the first volume of the three volume set (18 one hour episodes) through inter-library loan because not many libraries in the U.S. own it. Since the lending period was short and my pals and I are totally hooked on it, vol. 2 is already on its way as a purchase from Amazon.

I highly recommend Dae Jang Geum. Already exported to 60 countries and taking country after country by storm after its airing, you truly must find out for yourself just how captivating this epic story is.

Dae Jang Geum Themepark in South Korea.

Korea Times article about the international popularity of this drama.

Internet Movie Database comments about worldwide cultural impact of the drama.

Plot Summary of the 54 episodes in English.

May 25

New England May Forecast – Cygnets, Ducklings, Goslings with 50 Percent Chance of Rainbows

Baby Ducks in Buttonwood Park - Photo by Sharani
Baby Ducks in Buttonwood Park - Photo by Sharani
Wouldn’t it be great if instead of the latest tragedies, the local news headlines focused on the local sightings of baby swans, ducks and geese during the month of May? And when passing showers proliferate, the weather could offer the chance of rainbows during Spring in New England? The cuteness quotient could not be higher at this time of year. Every May around Memorial Day I can usually find cygnets, ducklings and goslings in area ponds and rivers in Rhode Island and Southeastern Massachusetts.
Canada Geese Family at Buttonwood Park - Photo by Sharani
Canada Geese Family at Buttonwood Park - Photo by Sharani
This year I explored the Buttonwood Park pond in New Bedford, MA. where there is also a zoo. In two visits to the park, I have seen two families of Canada Geese – one has older goslings than the other. There is a family of swans with two cygnets. One Mallard duck family has six babies and another has one baby. It’s all happening at the pond.

Yesterday at the park, dark rain clouds dotted the canvas of blue skies with white clouds. A passing shower found me taking shelter under the canopy of a tree’s branches and I was on high alert for a rainbow but I did not see one. Nature’s beauty was hardly tarnished by its absence. The abundance of water fowl parading their children across the pond served up a heady dose of cuteness and charm all by themselves. Families with children reaching out to give bits of bread to the ducks was equally adorable. I flashed back to my own childhood trips to a park in Michigan to feed the ducks.

Cygnet at Buttonwood Park - Photo by Sharani
Cygnet at Buttonwood Park - Photo by Sharani

As May fades into summer, I bid it a fond adieu. It is definitely one of the best months in New England.

“Daughter of heaven and earth, coy Spring,
With sudden passion languishing,
Teaching barren moors to smile,
Painting pictures mile on mile,
Holds a cup of cowslip wreaths
Whence a smokeless incense breathes…

Where shall we keep the holiday,
And duly greet the entering May?
Too strait and low our cottage doors,
And all unmeet our carpet floors;
Nor spacious court, nor monarch’s hall,
Suffice to hold the festival.
Up and away! where haughty woods
Front the liberated floods:
We will climb the broad-backed hills,
Hear the uproar of their joy…”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson, May Day