Valencia County News-Bulletin|
Saturday 20 February 2010
La Vida Section [page 1C]
Libraries are for more than just reading today
by Deborah Fox, News-Bulletin Staff Writer
What can you get with a plastic credit card? Entertainment, electronics, education, services and debt.
Well, guess what. The plastic card you get at your local library will give you all those amenities for free.
Valencia County libraries provide an amazingly large pool of materials, resources and services – for free.
One of the growing trends is downloading audio books onto iPods or mp3 players from the library Web site, to listen to on the commute to work, said Cynthia Shetter, the Los Lunas library director.
All three public libraries, including Belen, Bosque Farms and Los Lunas, host a summer reading youth program. Last summer, the Belen Masons donated bicycles for reading incentive. The children who logged the most books won a bicycle.
The summer reading programs also host guests from various organizations including the Albuquerque Biopark. The children particularly like the animal visitors.
Both Belen and Los Lunas have story reading for small children. "Tales for Tots" is at 10 a.m. every Thursday at the Belen library for children ages 2 to 5, and their parents or care-givers. The program provides a positive group experience, listening skills and introduces children and parents to quality children's literature.
"Story Hour" is a formal educational program that involves crafts and parents in a variety of reading activities. Registration is required, and it is a full year program.
All the libraries have a Spanish literature collection, as well. And local authors to boot.
Belen mystery writer G.E. Nordell has a new book, "Backlot Requiem," a Rick Walker mystery, available at the Belen library. And Nordell will be the guest speaker at Belen's annual Friends of The Library meeting in March.
Friends of the Library has a book club that meets regularly at the Belen Public Library, to read and discuss popular fiction.
Belen and Los Lunas libraries have popular computer games, and are now hosting Wii games at special times.
"GameOn," is for all ages, and runs from 3 to 6 p.m. on Thursdays at the Los Lunas library. Belen will announce a Wii game schedule for spring break.
"Kids learn differently today," said Shetter. "They live with cell phones and computer games – they're more visual.
"To engage them, we have to be more visual and gear all our programming to get their attention because what worked 10 years ago, doesn't work now," she said. "They have higher expectations because of the technology."
The public library in Belen has a puppet show at 4 p.m. every Wednesday, which is performed by Cristina Aufmann, who is in charge of the children's program. She performs popular fairy tales including "The Three Little Pigs", "Jack the Bean Stalk", and "Rapunzel".
"Children love the show," said library director Deborah Graham. "We have the most awesome Big Bad Wolf. He did scare a couple of the kids, so we let the kids pet him after the show."
The libraries have teen-only rooms, where there are computers, trendy books, tables and chairs where they can do homework or visit with friends. Belen even has a snack bar, The Redstone Cafe, with burritos and other snacks.
"We notice kids are reading the books that have a movie tie-in," said Shetter. "Same with adults. Whenever the HBO series 'True Blood' came out, they wanted the Charlaine Harris books."
Visitors can also watch movies on a big screen TV at the library. The Belen library has a license to show movies. New releases are selected and shown at 6 p.m. on Thursdays, and a classics matinee at 2 p.m. on Fridays. The Los Lunas library has a matinee at 2:30 p.m. on Fridays.
The library in Los Lunas shows BBC murder mysteries while "In Stitches" meets to do needlework together.
"'Casablanca' was made for the big screen," says Graham. "The close ups of Ingrid Bergman are spectacular on the large screen, so different from the small TV screen I first watched the movie on. The movie was definitely made for the big screen, and our sound system is so good, when the plane to Lisbon flies overhead, we all ducked. It was great."
Next Thursday, the Belen library will be showing "Beauty and the Beast." It will have a special double feature on April 1 of the popular teen vampire movies, "Twilight" and "New Moon."
The Belen library will hold its annual spring book sale from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, April 16, and on Saturday, April 17.
The Bosque Farms library has an ongoing daily book sale. They even do book repair. You can bring in your favorite old books and collectables that are old or worn and in need of repair for professional book restoration.
"First, we learned how to make a book," said library aide Maggi Geddes. "Then, we knew how to repair them."
The Bosque Farms library displays local art from young artists on a monthly basis. Each month a different artist is exhibited. The Belen Art League displays at the Belen library.
All three libraries have an assortment of online services that visitors can access on the library computers. These services include Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) college applications, HeritageQuest (genealogy research), oral and local histories, online magazine, Social Security, taxes and others.
There are computer classes for beginners, classes about navigating the Internet and managing e-mail accounts.
The Belen library is particularly happy to provide an auto database, "The Auto Repair Reference Center." Graham was even able to obtain a diagram of the electrical wiring on a vintage car.
"Now, if I can only get a tractor repair database," exclaimed Graham.
It is true some of your tax dollars support libraries, but the return on that investment is far greater than you might imagine.
"For every $1 of your tax money, there is a $4 return," Shetter quoted from a Return on Investment study.
The libraries offer many resources, materials and services.
The library directors are always on the lookout for ways to provide better and more materials and services to their communities. And all you need is a library card.
For more information, call the Bosque Farms Library at 869-2227, the Los Lunas Library at 839-3850 and the Belen Library at 864-7522, or visit their Web sites at www.bosquefarmspubliclibrary.com, www.belen-nm.gov/library.htm, and
Copyright ©2010 The News-Bulletin, all rights reserved
Valencia County News-Bulletin|
Saturday 5 September 2009
La Vida Section [page 1C]
Solar savvy resident saves energy
G.E. Nordell's power comes from his backyard
by John Bear, News-Bulletin Staff Writer
G.E. Nordell is a man who wears many hats.
The retired computer man is an author, web entrepreneur, self-described revolutionary (his license plate says so) and now a microcosmic power mogul.
Nordell has had solar panels installed in his backyard in Chamesa Estates, east of Rio Communities, and now collects a small check every month. He no longer pays an electric bill.
"I joke with my neighbors that they're paying for electricity I'm making," Nordell said.
The solar panels are connected to a backward running power meter, right next to the regular one on the side of his house.
"I come out and check almost every morning," Nordell said of his solar panals.
He said he is still connected to the power grid, but no longer pays an electric bill.
"My highest bills were between $40 and $60," he said.
The power grid in his backyard doesn't need much maintenance. Mostly, Nordell sits back and collects power.
Nordell decided to begin making solar energy after he received a small inheritance.
"I just wanted to do solar," he said.
After investing several thousand dollars, and filling out paperwork about an inch thick with the state mining department, Nordell got his own solar power unit. He said the ten panels can produce as much as 1,800 watts of electricity. He has seen it go as high as 1,700 watts.
The meter starts off lower in the morning – around 600 watts – but increases as the day progresses. The amount of power that he contributes to the grid is what he receives a check for.
Nordell said he had hoped a good, full moon would generate some power.
"Not quite," he said.
"I have to monitor it to make sure I don't blow a fuse during a lightening strike," he said.
He said that the installers were unable to place the panels on his roof because of sky lights, so he is the first person [that] he knows of who has an on-the-ground set up. He said his solar panels get 95 percent coverage.
He was eventually fired when Summa Corp took over the Hughes properties in Las Vegas.
Nordell is no stranger to technology. He runs several web sites featuring topics from Historic Route 66 to Howard Hughes. He sells books and DVDs on Amazon.
He admits that though he is retired, he still gets the occasional spam e-mail from China offering him a job.
"I took down my resume," he joked.
Nordell worked as a systems programmer for the Sands Hotel and Casino when it was owned by infamous billionaire Howard Hughes. He worked as a systems programmer back when Las Vegas had three computers, writing programs for payroll and gaming revenue.
He said that he never met Hughes, but did reach the man via memo. He said the Frontier Casino, also owned by Hughes, was always late turning in its numbers. Frustrated, [Nordell] ran the program anyway, without the Frontier's data. This eventually made it's way to Hughes' desk, and he issued an edict that said everyone at the Frontier would be fired if they turned their numbers in late again.
"That's the closest I got, you could say," he said.
Nordell, a Culver City, California native, said he also worked as a security guard at Hughes Aircraft, the building site of the enormous Hercules airplane, also known as the 'Spruce Goose'. The hangars have been used to film scenes in the films Independence Day and Titanic, he said.
He said he finagled his way onto the property under the guise of being an author and received a tour of the property.
Nordell was eventually hired on.
"I became the security guard in charge of the Hughes Playa Vista Property."
Nordell said he threw 56 trespassers off the property in one day. That made the security guard who got him the job angry.
"He took on the job of getting rid of me," Nordell said.
As it turned out, the security guard had good reason for not wanting Nordell throwing trespassers off the property. Nordell said he was a spy for a group of protestors who wanted to save the property from being developed into condominiums.
"He admitted he was a spy for the protestors," Nordell said.
Howard Hughes has made his way into Nordell's writing. A character in his detective novel "Backlot Requiem" is named Howard Helms. The novel details the exploits of a detective named Rick Walker. The novel has been translated into Croatian – "Requiem za Glumca," which means "Requiem for an Actor."
"All I can read is my name," he said.
After a stint with Universal Studios, Nordell decided he had enough of California.
"A left turn took three signals all day long," he said.
Nordell moved to Valencia County, where he lives alone.
"My pet rock ran away," he joked.
When he's not writing or working online, he is a member of Mensa, the high IQ organization that meets in Albuquerque bars and Indian restaurants.
Copyright ©2009 The News-Bulletin, all rights reserved
Photo & excerpted article reprinted (with permission) in the New Mexico Mensa® newsletter "The New Mensican" for Oct-Nov 2009
"The Bulletin" Magazine of American Mensa, Ltd.|
July 2006 issue
Book Reviews by Tom Elliott [page 15]
Backlot Requiem: A Rick Walker Mystery by G.E. Nordell
(2005, 250pp pb, publ. iUniverse, Lincoln Neb, ISBN 0-595-34128-4; also in hardcover)
To borrow from the title of an old radio drama series, I love a mystery, and this one is short and sweet. Move over Raymond Chandler, [G.E.] Nordell's Rick Walker, P.I. has taken center stage. A ground-breaking ceremony at National Pictures Studios unearths a body, and Rick is called in to solve the 30-year-old murder. But the case is complicated by kidnapping thugs, mesmerizing women, dying suspects, and blackmail, and before he's through, Rick has uncovered shocking revelations about a dying film director and his wild daughters, a legendary film star of the silent screen, and a very discreet love affair.