Altered States

Remember last week, Bits and Bramblers? Election Day? There were tons of maps, of all fifty states, all over every television and the internet. But here’s the thing…what if there were a blank map of the U.S.? Could you, say…put Delaware in the right spot? Or Kansas? Well…you’re about to get your chance.

Play the Know Your States game for your chance to drop the states in the right spot. Should you…let’s say, put Arkansas in the wrong spot, the game will not only correct you–it will tell you how many miles off you were. And once you’ve placed all fifty states, it will give you the average distance in miles you were off, along with how many states you got “perfect” and how long it took you to play.

Think you’re a genius at geography? Well, here’s your chance…start playing, and PLACE THOSE STATES! And then brag about how awesome your scores are, and challenge your friends and family to play. You could even try to bribe your Social Studies teacher to give you extra credit (sorry, Bits and Bramblers…I can’t promise that one will work.)

Ooooh…and if you need a refresher? Check out this classic video from Animaniacs. Not only will Wakko Warner point out the states on the map, he’ll also show you the capitals (and why not add that to your bragging rights, huh?)

Need a Snow Distraction?

I’ll be honest with you Bits and Bramblers. I’m one of those people that likes snow in December, but…after that? Not so much. By this point, though, even those crazies that like snow are sick of it. Even snow days are getting boring, and that’s because there’s only so much you can do with snow before it gets old. Snowmen? Built four of ‘em. Snowball fight? Please. Snow Angels? They’ll just get covered up in an hour by MORE SNOW. Blech.

But you’re smarter than that, right? You’re sitting in front of the warming glow of a computer. And you’ve come to the right place, because I have just the thing to keep you entertained. Why not play Ayiti: The Cost of Life? It’s a little like The Oregon Trail…but instead of getting across the U.S. in one piece, your job is to help one of rural Haiti’s families stay happy, healthy, and educated over a four year period (and I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that things in Haiti have been pretty horrific lately…)

The thing is…I’m really bad at this game. I keep driving my family into poverty (not on purpose though. Then again, everyone in my covered wagon usually died of typhoid on the way to Oregon. Stupid typhoid…) But I’m sure you’ll be much better at the game than me, and it will give you a good idea of how difficult life is in Haiti (especially now!) And speaking of Haiti, you can make the “Season of Giving” last all year by donating to the relief effort, if you can (and remember…you need your parents permission!)

Hopefully, this distracts you from the snow! But still… stay safe and warm, Bits and Bramblers! We’ll leave you with one of my favorite performances from the Hope for Haiti telethon…here’s Coldplay with “A Message”!

Let’s Not Pretend It Isn’t ALL ABOUT THE CANDY…

…because it totally is, right? I mean, you think Halloween, and the first thing that comes to your mind is CANDY. Okay, okay…maybe you think about finding the perfect costume, and dressing up as something really cool. But it’s probably to get CANDY, right?!?!

Or maybe you think about carving pumpkins into Jack-O’Lanterns (or if you don’t like all that pumpkin goo? Virtual Jack-O’Lanterns.) But after that? CANDY.

And maybe you think about your favorite Halloween specials, or hilarious web cartoons. Which you probably WATCH WHILE YOU’RE EATING CANDY.

Because IT’S REALLY ALL ABOUT THE CANDY. I’m talking about the good stuff, too: think full size candy bars. Skittles. Even stuff like popcorn balls. But just because it’s ALL ABOUT THE CANDY doesn’t mean it’s…bad. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with that, Bits and Bramblers. After all…I think we can all agree that treats are infinitely better than tricks, right? And what could be more fun that pouring your entire bag of candy out, and eating all your favorites? It’s milk-chocolate covered awesomeness, that’s what it is.

So HAVE A HAPPY HALLOWEEN, BITS AND BRAMBLERS! But most importantly, be safe out there…and have lots of fun! (After all…you don’t want to waste a perfectly good CANDY opportunity! We can all learn from Sally Brown’s mistake!)

WAY Better Than The Jumble…

…You know the Jumble, Bits and Bramblers? You can find it in the newspaper?

Yeah…I don’t like that game. I mean, I like to think I’m pretty good with words, but when they’re all messed up? Not so much. My head spins when I try to sort them out.

In fact, I’d rather pretend the word isn’t jumbled, and just make up a definition for it (“Nippeg? That’s…er…a new kind of thumbtacks to hang up posters with. They’re…you know…much better than that other kind of thumbtack.” And that’s why I’m awesome at this game.)

But here’s another awesome game–Eight Letters in Search of a Word.

So…it’s a tiny bit like the Jumble, because you get eight letters, totally scrambled, that make a word. And here’s how it’s a little different than the Jumble: there’s a time limit. But here’s how it’s infinitely better than the Jumble—even if you don’t know the eight-letter word? You get points for making smaller words out of the eight letters. This way, you can still hit your target score, even without figuring out the big word. How great is that?! You can’t do that with your Word Jumble!

So play some Eight Letters in Search of a Word, and start unscrambling…but before you get started check out this video (can you read it?!)

Wanna Race? TYPE Race, That Is…

I know you, Bits and Bramblers. You’re the kind of people that brag about how fast you can text, right? You probably have lightening fast thumbs. But here’s a question for you…how fast can you type?!?!?

You can practice a little (in fact, you can consider it a warm up,) by taking the Speed Typing Test. After that, you should be ready to race…well, to type race. I’m sure any other type of race would require a little more effort…

Aaaaaaaanywaytype racing. If you head to TypeRacer, you can race other typers (although, you might have already guessed that part.) The cool thing is, you race by typing quotes from classic books and movies like Monty Python and the Holy Grail. You even get your own little VW Bug Avatar, that keeps track of your progress, as well how fast everyone else is typing (But here’s a tip…don’t spend too much time focusing on the cute little VW Bugs…keep your eyes on the road—er, I mean—keep your eyes on the words.)

So rest your thumbs for awhile, Bits and Bramblers…and see how fast you can type! Maybe you’ll even get to type this quote…

We WILL Rock You…

Well Bits and Bramblers, it’s really hard to believe that another Teen Summer Library Program is almost over (seriously…where did the time go? But don’t worry…if you haven’t finished reading your 1000 pages just yet, you’ve still got a little bit of time–the last day for turning in slips is this Saturday, August 1st!)

Aaaaaaaaanyway, you know what the end of the Teen Summer Library Program means…it’s time to celebrate! This Friday at the Main Library, we’ll be playing Rock Band. We’ll be eating pizza. We’ll be hanging out in the library after closing time. What’s not to love?

We’ll be starting at 5:00 pm., and wrapping things up around 7:30 pm…but you want to know the best part? If YOU want to rock, there’s still time to register for the program! All you have to do is call the Main Library, and let them know you want in on the fun!

Now…if you really want to get in a Rock Band state of mind, check out the official trailer for the game…and I swear to cheer very, very loud if you choose to play this song by (one of my all-time favorites) the Foo Fighters!

What’s YOUR Traveler IQ?

I never really liked Geography class, Bits and Brambers. Things might have been different, though, if I would have had the Traveler IQ Challenge back then…because I’m crazy-obsessed with the game now.

Here’s how it works—they’ll give you a world map, and city (let’s say…London, England,) or a famous place (like…Fenway Park,) and all you have to do is click the mouse in the right place! Sounds easy enough, right?

It would be, if there wasn’t a time limit. And if the game didn’t get all snarky with you when you click on the wrong spot (look…I know where Reykjavík is, okay? I was just…distracted. I really don’t think that the game needed to say, “Holy Geez, you’re terrible!” I think that’s a liiiiitle bit much, don’t you?

Stupid game. So why can’t I stop playing it?!?!?!

Aaaaaaaaanyway, see how you do with the game. After all, it might make Geography class easier! And we all know that it pays to be good at Geography. Remember the whole 2007 Miss Teen USA thing?

But it looks like Miss South Carolina is doing better now…after you find out your Traveler’s IQ, see how you do on her geography quiz!


That’s right, Bits and Bramblers, it’s time to celebrate the Fourth of July! (Or for our friends outside the U.S….Saturday. :) ) Now, because we’re all about knowledge at the library, here are some fun facts about Independence Day which you can use to impress (or annoy) your family and friends.

  • Did you know Independence Day wasn’t technically declared a legal holiday until 1941?
  • Did you know George Washington held his first public office at age 17…and he continued in public service until his death in 1799?
  • Did you know there were fireworks in China as early as the 11th century…and they used them for war rockets/explosives?

Luckily, we don’t use fireworks like they did in 11th Century China. Today’s fireworks just, you know…look pretty cool, and are fun to watch.

And fun to play with. Virtually, that is. I mean, at least with virtual fireworks, you’re 99.9% sure you’re not going to hurt yourself or someone else, right? I can tell you from personal experience that I didn’t hurt myself playing Firework Columns. I just spent way too much time playing, and waiting for the red swirly bombs that look like peppermints. And even though I’m pretty accident prone, I didn’t hurt myself playing the Fireworks Simulation Game. Instead, I had fun playing with the colors (here’s another fun fact: did you know in order to get different colored fireworks, they have to include different chemical compounds? It’s totally true. My favorite fireworks have barium.)

Whether you’re playing with virtual fireworks, or annoying your friends and family with facts…have a very safe and happy Fourth of July, Bits and Bramblers!

We’ll leave you with a little Schoolhouse Rock, American History-style (which, by the way, might help you answer some of the questions on this week’s Teen Summer Library Program Game, the Star-Spangled Quiz…remember, you’ve still got time to enter to win some gift certificates to Taco Bell or McDonalds!)

Awesome Sites of the Day: DUCK HUNT and SUPER MARIO BROTHERS!!!!

Today I’m going to share some sites with you that made me seriously nostalgic, Bits and Bramblers. See, my very first gaming system was a good ol’ Nintendo Entertainment System. The first one. A classic. And when you bought an NES, along with that new system plasticky smell we all know and love, you got two games—Super Mario Brothers and Duck Hunt.

I won’t lie to you, Bits and Bramblers. I spent several long, summer days drinking lemonade and seeing this message. I hated that message. Hated. it. And Duck Hunt was just as frustrating. Every time you missed, the dog laughed at you. Laughed. at. you. Stupid 8-bit dog.

Aaaaaaaaaaanyway…good time, good times.

So you can image my absolute giddiness when I discovered that you can play flash versions of both Duck Hunt and Super Mario Brothers online!

But before you start, I’ll warn you—it’s not easy using the arrow keys to make Mario and Luigi do that magical combination on walking and jumping. So…good luck with that. And while Duck Hunt isn’t really the same without the old school Nintendo Zapper Gun, using your mouse isn’t too bad.

The dog with still laugh at you if you miss, though. Stupid…Flash…dog.

Now…before you get your game on, check out this made-of-awesome song by The Mountain Goats and Kaki King (it’s nice to know I’m not the only person who was emotionally scarred by the “Thank You Mario! But our princess is in another castle!” message.) It even features some classic Super Mario Brothers footage!


I’ll be honest with you, Bits and Bramblers. I’m one of those people who really likes snow. In December. After that? I could do without it. Especially when we have to use phrases like “Level Two Snow Emergency.” Ick. Tell me the truth…are you sick of the snow? ‘Cause I have a feeling it’s not just me…

Maybe we should look at the bright side. We didn’t get a ton of scary ice, like they did in Southern Ohio. And at least it’s not -11 degrees outside. (Man…you know it’s been a rough winter when the bright side is, “At least it’s not -11 degrees outside. It’s 23 degrees! It’s practically warm !”) And let’s not forget the brightest side of them all—snow days. Which are always awesome.

But if you’re sick of the snow, the last thing you want to do is bundle up and go outside and play in it (even if there is enough snow to have a pretty wicked snowball fight.) The question is…how do we make snow bearable? Well, never fear…it’s Bits and Brambles to the rescue!

Curl up in front of your computer with some cocoa, and check out these made-of-awesome websites, where the snow is all virtual! Like Make-a-Flake…these snowflakes I can handle. Not only are they totally dry, you don’t even need paper and scissors! You can even have a virtual Snowball Fight (without the danger of getting a faceful of snow!)

But then again, maybe you’re not completely sick of snow. And maybe you think the giant drifts would make prefect snowballs. Well, I don’t blame you. In fact, I’ll even help! Check out this video, which will give you tips on how to make the best snowballs ever