Handyman Help

Here in Business & Science we regularly get requests for information on home building and repair. Today I will detail a site that can help, as our resources on this topic needs building up.

The site for The Family Handyman magazine is largely free and very helpful for Do It Yourself projects.


The site is a little ad heavy for my taste, but the good thing about that is the content appears to be free, though I did not exhaustively check out every possible link on the site–there may be some pay areas, but I did not come across any.

The site is organized in a familiar format, with videos, links to full instructions for various projects and the like. I chose this topic:


All I have to do here is click the link and I can see pictures with detailed instructions on how to stop a running toilet (hint: it does not involve chasing). I can print out the directions, email them or share them to my favorite social media site.

There are many topics from which to choose and they all appear free for the user. They do push subscriptions to their magazine, but it is not particularly obnoxious.

This may be a good resource for us to refer patrons to if/when we cannot locate a book or other tangible item on a particular DIY topic.

Learning Express Library Can Help Patrons Who Cry “Computer Illiterate”

The Learning Express Library has proven helpful to many of our patrons seeking various testing materials for tests such as the HiSET or nursing areas like the HESI or NCLEX. However, did you know that Learning Express has so much more? One tutorial area that could help many of our computer challenged patrons is the Computer Skills Center :

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I selected the “Getting to Know Your Computer” link on the left (red circle) and “Computer Basics 2” on the right (blue rectangle):

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This brought me to a video tutorial:

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On the tutorial you are in total control: the video has a transcript that you can follow along with, download or even print:

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…and you can toggle between chapters as well:

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There are many other computer tutorials in Learning Express, ranging from basic topics detailed in this post, to more complex issues, such as the intricacies of learning how to navigate the internet, to even specific programs, such as Microsoft Word and Adobe products:

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For the willing patron these tutorials can lead to increased productivity and less frustration on the computer.

Chemistry Mavens: Get Your Interactive Periodic Table Here!

The Dynamic Periodic Chart at ptable.com may be very helpful to those engaged in Chemistry classes of various levels. When you log in you see a standard periodic table:

ptable 1

You may also parse the chart in various ways by checking/unchecking these boxes:

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When you click on a particular element a popup takes you to a Wikipedia entry about the element:

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You may also use these tabs to change the type of information that is available to you:

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For example, if you choose Orbitals and click on Arsenic (As) then you see this information:

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Honestly I can tell you little about what that means, but there it is! Maybe I need to go back to Chemistry class myself!

Museum Day Live

Aside from being a fascinating site with many interesting pictures and stories, Smithsonianmag.com, has sponsored the annual Museum Day Live for more than a decade.

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Long story short, this is a day during which you may obtain a pass which will allow two people to attend a museum affiliated with this special day for free. In Memphis there are three museums associated with the day. One is the Dixon Gallery and Gardens. The other two I will let you find out for yourself using the site’s Find a Museum page that lists nearly 900 participating museums spanning all 50 states.

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Happy hunting!

Vintage Patterns for Hardcore Tailors

Like to sew? Don’t have enough patterns to feed the need? Well then, do I have a site for you! The Vintage Sewing Patterns Wikia stitches together vintage patterns no younger than 25 years old, so if you want to sew your own Hollywood swimsuit from 1946 then this site has you covered:

pattern 1

or, if you want to sew your own Chewbacca costume from McCalls:

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Looks pretty authentic doesn’t it?

This site has the patterns arranged in 8 garment types:

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and there are sub types within each garment type. Additionally you may look up patterns by the maker, by decade, by season and even look at old video footage concerning patterns. There are also links to other style sites, style news, top ten lists and more. This site should interest anyone interested in sewing in general, but vintage sewing in particular.




About the PRAXIS

Here on the Business/Science floor we often have individuals ask us about Praxis test study manuals, and though it’s clear they’re asking about teacher certification testing when Praxis is mentioned, they often use teaching jargon such as “Core Content” and throw in seemingly random numbers like “It’s the 5150” or some such. Speaking for myself, this is a bit frustrating and confusing, because as I search for someone’s desired resource I want to know what I’m looking for with greater surety.

So, without further ado, here is some more detailed information about the Praxis.

There is an official site for the test that is very helpful, https://www.ets.org/praxis, on which it is stated:

“The Praxis® tests measure the academic skills and subject-specific content knowledge needed for teaching. The Praxis tests are taken by individuals entering the teaching profession as part of the certification process required by many states and professional licensing organizations.”

That description is clear and precise. More specific to a patron we may see at the reference desk, the site also offers state specific requirements, and the Tennessee requirements can be found here: https://www.ets.org/praxis/tn. It’s pretty detailed, and not something that a librarian would necessarily need to know, but that’s where you can find the information if you feel the need. In summary it tells what specific Praxis related materials are necessary, what to do if you take your test out of state to transfer it to Tennessee and similar issues.

What may be more helpful to a reference desk librarian is the About the Praxis link. You can familiarize yourself with the Praxis in detail on this page, and, among other items, this page links to the FAQ about the Praxis, the PDF document Understanding Your Praxis Scores 2016-17, another PDF the Praxis Tests Information Bulletin and a link to the Khan Academy’s Praxis study site. The important thing about the Khan Academy is their headline: “You can learn anything. For free. For everyone. Forever.” Here it is in living color on their front page:


As for the Praxis numbering system, here is a list I harvested from their site:

prax 1prax 2prax 3prax 4prax 5prax 6

Another resource we link to from our reference desk that specifically relates to the Praxis is Learning Express Library. This site has several study guides and practice tests for the Praxis, but does it offer comprehensive help for the Tennessee requirements? Let’s find out.

When you first log into Learning Express, you want to choose the Career Center:


From there choose Prepare for an Occupation Exam:


Then toward the bottom of the left hand side choose Teaching:


From there the two Praxis options are evident:


It looks as if it does have quite a bit for the Praxis, but it does not appear to comprehensively cover all of the options listed in the lengthy list above. This is, however, a good place to start for anyone asking about the Praxis.

Now you may be more informed about the Praxis, but ETS, the testing company, also covers other tests, such as the TOEFL and the HiSET. Those posts are for another day.

Not cheap shades or x-ray specs, just eclipse glasses!


Image from space.com

This blog has covered astronomy issues before, and I believe space.com has been mentioned in multiple posts, but a certain upcoming event definitely merits another mention. As most of you know, there will be a total solar eclipse coming up on August 21st (read about it here and here, or at your favorite news site).

Most of you also likely know that looking directly at the sun is very bad for your eyes and could even cause blindness. You are likely not alone if you feel that looking at the eclipse is ok, because the moon is covering the sun. This is wrong. Even though the sun will be covered by the moon, it’s still not safe to look directly at the eclipse, due to the corona of the sun still visible around the edges of the eclipse. This is the outer layer of the sun and is more than capable of damaging your eyes. So how may you view the eclipse safely and completely?

Space.com has a complete guide to the eclipse, including best viewing practices here: Total Solar Eclipse 2017: When, Where and How to See It (Safely). They bill this page as “…information about where and when to see it, how long it lasts, what you can expect to see, and how to plan ahead to ensure you get the most out of this incredible experience.”

They wisely let the readers know about the risks of sun exposure even during this eclipse: “REMEMBER: Looking directly at the sun, even when it is partially covered by the moon, can cause serious eye damage or blindness. NEVER look at a partial solar eclipse without proper eye protection . See our complete guide to find out how to view the eclipse safely. ”.

Many public libraries are giving away free glasses with which you may safely view the eclipse, and other libraries may have some later in July. With these glasses one may safely view the eclipse and the rarely seen corona of the sun, mentioned above. If you live in Memphis there are no libraries yet giving away the glasses, but the system is on a waiting list to receive some. Stay tuned, you may be able to receive some glasses soon, Memphians.

Here is a picture of the path of the solar eclipse:

Image from https://www.greatamericaneclipse.com/best-places-to-view/USAtopten_1500px