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Saturday, January 15, 2011

Portage Library offers new data bases for online learning

By Michele Bourdieu

HOUGHTON -- Portage Lake District Library patrons now have the opportunity to access Universal Class -- a data base that offers a selection of more than 500 online, non-credit continuing education courses -- and Mango -- a data base for learning foreign languages. Anyone holding a Portage Lake District Library card can access these for free, either from home or in the library. Visitors without a library card can access them from library computers for a simple $1 computer use fee.

Portage Lake District Library Director Shawn Leche answers a question from a library patron during his recent presentation of new data bases he acquired for the library -- Universal Class and Mango. Click on photos for larger versions. (Photos by Keweenaw Now)

Library Director Shawn Leche demonstrated the use of both data bases in a recent presentation in the library. He will offer the same presentation on these new data bases at 6:30 p.m. next Wednesday, Jan. 19. The presentation is free and open to the public. Those who attend receive a handout listing all 500 courses available through Universal Class and a set of frequently asked questions about the program, as well as a handout on Mango listing the languages taught.*

UNIVERSAL CLASS: user-friendly online courses

Projecting pages from a sample course, Time Management, Leche showed how Universal Class offers step-by-step modules with a user-friendly sequence that guides the student through each course -- from registration through exams.

"It's very, very self-explanatory," Leche said. "You have six months to do a course."

The program also allows one to take up to five courses at a time. The student may begin a course at any time.

Students first log in with their library card number, a username and password to introduce themselves to the professor. A click on the class syllabus offers them a list of requirements (if any), topics of each lesson, materials, grading scale, assignments for each lesson and exams. After finishing one module, the student can go on to the next one. The number of modules depends on the course.

"I'm taking a course in Excel," Leche noted, "and there are 12 modules in the course."

The Universal Class Web site lists more than 20 courses just on home schooling, from courses on how to teach certain subjects to computer basics to behavior management. In addition to academic courses like math or history, Universal Class includes more than 70 courses on crafts and hobbies -- from Genealogy 101 to Yoga.

In answer to a question on whether a student needs to download material to a computer, Leche replied that all the work is done through the data base. Downloading isn't necessary. The student types answers to questions and the professor keeps track of his/her work. The student is asked for the library card number only for the initial registration in a course.

"To my knowledge there are no course fees if you're a member of this library," Leche explained.

An exception would be a fee for a printed certificate -- a hard copy to show completion of a course.

MANGO: foreign language learning data base

Leche introduced the Mango data base for learning foreign languages with a YouTube video titled "Mango Languages Tutorial." This brief introduction to the program uses Japanese as an example.**

Students using the Mango foreign language data base have a wide choice of languages, including English as a Second Language.

Mango uses native speakers in a method called "Intuitive Language Construction" based on four components for speaking a language: vocabulary, pronunciation, grammar and culture. Color-coded words, phrases and sentences assist comprehension of grammar structure and meaning. The program is self-paced, allowing the student to adjust the speed of the conversation elements, repeat the audio and see answers to quizzes. A simple mouseover gives phonetic equivalents for pronunciation help. Grammar and culture notes are also integrated into each lesson.

"Mango also is very, very simple," Leche noted. "You just point your mouse, and a pop-up box tells you what to do."

In addition to the tutorial, he projected some slides from Mango's French and Spanish lessons at the request of some of the library visitors in order to show how the program works.

"I'm a French native speaker, so I took several minutes of the French course to see how it's taught," Leche explained. "It's done very, very well."

Mango also has a recording feature, allowing the student to record his or her voice and compare it with the native speaker's voice. This "language lab" capability requires a computer with a microphone.

At present the Portage Library is anticipating a broadband connection, which will greatly improve the speed of the library's computers. Once the Michigan Tech Lakeshore Center (former UPPCO building near the library) is connected to broadband, the library will also be connected to it, hopefully within the year, Leche noted.

Leche said his real goal in purchasing the data bases for the library is to make these programs available without fees to library members' home computers.

"Then I've brought the library to you," he said. "It fits my philosophy of a library without walls."

Portage Lake District Library Director Shawn Leche has acquired new data bases for the library -- accessible from patrons' home computers -- as part of his philosophy of having a "library without walls." He also hopes to expand the Library District to include more Keweenaw communities.

Several visitors who attended the presentation, including some non-members from outside the district, voiced positive reactions.

"I appreciate the library offering this service," said Patti Lund of Calumet.

Pat Bacon of Hancock said she found the presentation interesting. Her sister, Marlys Bacon, of Hancock Township, said she often brings her grandchildren to the Portage Library, which offers many programs for children.***

Director hopes to expand Portage Library District

Non-members interested in taking courses in Universal Class or Mango on their home computers may find that the non-resident fee for a library card is more economical than paying for the courses on their own.

Portage Lake District Library District is a tax-supported institution including Chassell and Portage Townships and the City of Houghton. District residents pay no additional fees for obtaining a borrower’s card. A non-resident fee is $85 per person and $130 per family and is good for twelve months. Michigan Tech University students may use the library without a fee if they live on-campus or in the City of Houghton, Chassell Township or Portage Township.

Leche would like to see the Portage Library District expanded to other communities, provided the residents agree to vote for the millage.

"I'm going to try to get Stanton and Adams townships, Hancock and Calumet to join," he said.

Leche -- originally from Strasbourg, France -- came here from Santa Fe, NM, last summer to accept the position of Library Director. He is enthusiastic about the Portage Library -- its book collection, data bases and other resources, as well as community activities.

"It's just wonderful how much is available," he said. "Physically it's a jewel, and in its entirety it's a major draw for the community of Houghton."


* Visit the Portage Lake District Library Web site and go to Online Resources. Click on Universal Class to see a list of all the courses offered. This page also allows library members to log on to the program. See also for more information.

Click here for the Mango Web site, including a list of languages taught.

** Click here to see the Mango tutorial.

*** An example is the summer reading program. See our July 28, 2010, article -- "Portage Library Summer Reading Program: More than just a good read," by Samantha Stauch -- and read about Chris Alquist, Portage Library Community Program director.

Clay Beads with Ed Gray to be offered at Calumet Art Center

CALUMET -- Clay Beads with Ed Gray will be offered in four Tuesday evening sessions at the Calumet Art Center: Jan. 18 and 25 and Feb. 1 and 8. The class will meet from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Clay beads and necklace. (Photo courtesy Ed Gray)

Create beads of various shapes and sizes in the palms of your hands, then add surface textures. Underglazes for color and a clear overglaze will be used. Students will then make two necklaces using the beads from the class, found objects and copper.

Pre-registration and payment are required; student space is limited. The class fee is $85, and the material and firing fee is $40.

The Calumet Art Center is at 57055 Fifth St. For more information call 281-3494.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Michigan Tech events to honor Martin Luther King, Jr.

HOUGHTON -- Michigan Tech will celebrate its annual Martin Luther King Week beginning Monday, Jan. 17. Events include King's iconic "I Have a Dream" speech; a peace march in the spirit of the great peacemaker; actor Barry Scott's tribute to his idol; and a closing banquet that features Charles Pugh, president of the Detroit City Council, a respected journalist turned popular civic leader.

Here is a schedule of events:

Monday, Jan. 17, noon -- "I Have a Dream" speech, Memorial Union steps, followed by a candlelight vigil and a peace march to the Rozsa Center.

Monday, 1 p.m. -- Reception, Rozsa atrium. Following the candlelight vigil and peace march, the campus community is invited for light refreshments in the atrium of the Rozsa Center. This reception will feature remarks from the Black Student Association and music by the Praise in Effect Choir.

Monday, 2 p.m. -- Actor Barry Scott's tribute to King, Rozsa Center.

Tuesday, Jan. 18, noon -- Traveling Trunk exhibit in the Van Pelt and Opie Library; includes photos, videos, speeches and background information.

Wednesday, Jan. 19, noon -- Blood drive, Van Pelt and Opie Library Reading Room.

Friday, Jan. 21, 4 p.m. -- Basketball invitational, SDC Wood Gym.

Saturday, Jan. 22, 9 a.m. -- Service Saturday at the Keweenaw Family Resource Center's Tree House, where there will be stories and snacks for the children.

Saturday, Jan. 22, 6 p.m. -- Banquet, Memorial Union Ballroom, features Charles Pugh, president of the Detroit City Council. Admission is $15 a person.

For more information, contact the Center for Diversity and Inclusion at 487-2920.

Jibba Jabba Rail Jam snowboarding event to be held Jan. 15

HOUGHTON -- The third annual Jibba Jabba Rail Jam snowboarding competition will take place tomorrow, Saturday, Jan. 15, on Huron Street in downtown Houghton. The Rhythm Skate Shop will again sponsor the event.

Registration is at 9 a.m. next to the Skate Shop. Once competitors have paid the $35 entry fee, they can enjoy free riding to test out the terrain. The competition starts at noon and continues until judges have made their decisions. The four classes of competition are beginning, intermediate, advanced and skis.

New Fifth and Elm Coffee House to open Jan. 15 in Houghton

Jibba Jabba spectators and competitors alike may wish to take advantage of the "soft opening" of the Fifth and Elm Coffee House, which recently moved to 326 Shelden Ave. in Houghton from their former Hancock location. The new Fifth and Elm (named for its Calumet location) will be open for coffee, including espresso and other hot drinks and a limited menu from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 15. Regular hours and a full menu will be announced later.

To read about last year's Jibba Jabba Rail Jam, visit the Michigan Tech Lode.

Art from the Kalevala: Group exhibit at Community Arts Center

HANCOCK -- The Kalevala is a 19th Century work of epic poetry compiled by Elias Lönnrot from Finnish and Karelian oral folklore and mythology. It is regarded as the national epic of Finland and is one of the most significant works of Finnish literature.

Death and Rebirth, by Paul Osmak. (Photo courtesy Community Arts Center)

In connection with Hancock’s mid-winter Heikinpäivä celebration, twelve local artists have interpreted various scenes in a range of mediums to present Art from the Kalevala at the Community Arts Center’s Kerredge Gallery during January. The artists are Eileen Sundquist, Jack Oyler, Paul Osmak, Paul Olson, Eric Munch, Clyde Mikkola, Jan Manniko, Joyce Koskenmaki, Melissa Hronkin, Susan Hamilton, Bob Dawson, and Cynthia Coté.

War With Tree Gods, by Jan Manniko. (Photo courtesy Community Arts Center)

The exhibit includes paintings, a photograph, a pair of fur boots by Eileen Sundquist titled Aino’s Boots, a leather and clay doll by Joyce Koskenmaki titled Lemminkainen, and an arrangement of decorative jars of honey and encaustic block printing on rice paper by Melissa Hronkin.

A closing reception will be held from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 29. Everyone is invited to come meet the artists. Refreshments will be served.

The Community Arts Center is located at 126 Quincy Street in Hancock. For more information call (906) 482-2333 or visit the Community Arts Center Web site.

Dances, dance lessons at Heikinpäivä

HANCOCK -- Here’s a summary of dance opportunities during the mid-winter festival of Heikinpäivä 2011. These are all OPEN TO THE PUBLIC! (Some fees apply; many are free.)

Saturday, Jan. 15: Old-Time Midwinter Dance at the Finnish American Heritage Center on Quincy St. in Hancock; music by the Thimbleberry Band. Bring a dish to pass and your own tableware, napkins, etc., for a potluck supper at 6 p.m. Coffee provided. Dancing -- on the wood dance floor from 7 p.m. - 10 p.m. -- will consist of traditional polkas, waltzes, schottisches, tangos, etc. Also, Ann Pace will teach and call some "figure dances" -- squares, contras, circles. It promises to be easy, fun and family friendly, but best of all, FREE! (Donations accepted.)

Friday, Jan. 21: FREE dancing lessons for Heikinpäivä, sponsored by Finlandia University Campus Enrichment. 6 p.m. - 8 p.m. Class taught by Kay Seppala at Finlandia Hall on the Finlandia campus (dormitory west of the gymnasium). Learn traditional Scandinavian ballroom type dances: Raatikkoon, schottische, and others by request: mazurka, waltz, polka.

Thursday, Jan. 27: MTU MUB Commons, 7 p.m. - 9 p.m. FREE dance lessons: Finnish Tango and Humppa, taught by Ralph Tuttila from St. Paul, Minn. Sponsored by the MTU Social Dance Club.

Friday, Jan. 28: "Karhun Tanssi" at Michigan Tech MUB ballroom. Dance lessons 6:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. ($3 for the public) by Ralph Tuttila: Schottische and more, Finnish Tango. The dance (only $5 --note change from previously listed price) will start at 8 p.m. and will go to 11 p.m. Music by the PasiCats. Sponsored by the MTU Social Dance Club.

Note: Pasi Cats will also play from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the Tori (Finnish-American Heritage Center) on Saturday, Jan. 29 (FREE).

Saturday, Jan. 29: Heikinpäivä Tanssi (Dance) at Finlandia Hall, Finlandia University. 8 pm., following the banquet. Music by Wilho Kilpela and Friends. ($5, or dance free with banquet ticket.)

Click here for the complete Heikinpäivä 2011 Schedule.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Who Says You Can't Walk -- or Run -- on Water?

By Jennifer Donovan*

HOUGHTON -- Kids of all ages will never forget the Einstein Project Science Expo in Green Bay this Saturday, Jan.15, 2011. That’s when they will have a chance to dash or dance over the surface of a non-Newtonian liquid called oobleck, a sticky white substance that will grab their feet and hold them fast if they dare to slow down.

Fun with Oobleck. (Photo courtesy Michigan Technological University. Reprinted with permission.)

Oobleck is just one of the exciting hands-on science experiences that a high-energy band of students and staff from Michigan Technological University will use to demonstrate what a blast science can be. The Michigan Tech MIND TREKKERS are bringing one of nearly 60 do-it-yourself science exhibits coming to the annual expo, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Shopko Hall in Green Bay.

Visitors to the MIND TREKKERS’ booth can also make (and taste) liquid nitrogen ice cream and make their hair stand on end by touching a Van de Graaff generator.

The Expo also features stage shows on the Omnova Main Stage, including Professor Gizmo’s Feats of Science and Discovery World’s Fire and Ice Show.

Projects entered in the Ameriprise Science Fair will be on display. They will be judged and winners announced during the Expo. Michigan Tech is providing full-ride 2011 Summer Youth Programs scholarships to the winners of the Fair.

Tickets are $4 for children age 3 to 18, $2 for adults and free for children 2 and under.

*Editor's Note: Jennifer Donovan is Michigan Tech University Director of Public Relations. This article and photo are reprinted with permission from the Michigan Tech News.

Khana Khazana to offer Chinese lunch Jan. 14 at Memorial Union Food Court

HOUGHTON -- Khana Khazana (food treasure), a weekly international lunch cooked by Michigan Tech University international students, will kick off the semester this Friday, Jan. 14, with authentic Chinese dishes. Rui Pan and Chung Zhang, both undergraduates from China, will prepare fried rice, a very popular Asian dish; vegetarian fried shuang dong (black mushrooms and bamboo shoots); and a richly flavored beef and potato soup.

Parawee Pumwongpitak, a graduate student from Thailand, is in charge of food production for Khana Khazana this semester.

The ethnic lunches are a collaborative project of international students and Michigan Tech Dining Services. Food is served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Friday, in the Memorial Union Food Court. A full meal costs $6. Dishes are available à la carte for $2.

Khana Khazana is open to the campus and the community.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Voting for Calumet Theatre roof funding continues through Jan. 31

CALUMET -- Voting for the Calumet Theatre Pepsi refresh project has been extended for the month of January 2011. If the Calumet Theatre receives the most votes in the month of January, it will receive a grant in the sum of $250,000 to be used to replace the roof on the Theatre. All votes in the previous month are not carried over to the next month.

The Pepsi Refresh Project awards grants to causes and organizations that receive the most votes in a month. Grants range from $5,000- $250,000. A new round of voting began on January 1st and continues through January 31st. You may cast your votes daily in the ARTS AND CULTURE $250,000 project category listed as "Save a Magnificent, Historic Theatre."

Three votes are allowed per person per day. You may cast your vote at the Pepsi Refresh web site (, through your Facebook account, a Twitter account and by cell phone with text message code # 104720 to Pepsi (73774).

To receive a daily reminder and a link to forward to others who would like to vote, send an email to

More information, as well as a YouTube link to our project, go to You may also contact Calumet Theatre Executive Director Laura Miller at (906) 337-2166.

Keweenaw National Historical Park Advisory Commission to meet Jan. 18

CALUMET -- The Keweenaw National Historical Park Advisory Commission will convene for its regular quarterly meeting at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2011, at park headquarters located on the corner of Red Jacket Road and Hwy. US-41 in Calumet.

Agenda items include updates from the Executive Director, an update from the Development Committee, and a report from the Preservation-Stewardship Committee. The Keweenaw NHP Advisory Commission, paneled by citizens appointed by the Secretary of the Interior, represents the general public and works collaboratively with the National Park Service to advise and assist with managing the resources of Keweenaw National Historical Park. The Commission’s quarterly meetings are open to the public.

For further information or directions, please contact the park at 337-3168.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Thimbleberry Band to play for Old-Time Midwinter Dance Jan. 15

HANCOCK -- The Thimbleberry Band will be playing for an Old-Time Midwinter Dance from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 15, at the Finnish American Heritage Center on Quincy Street in Hancock. Bring a dish to pass and your own tableware for a potluck supper at 6 p.m. preceding the dance.

Dances will include traditional polkas, waltzes, schottisches, tangos, etc. Also, Ann Pace will teach and call some "figure dances" -- squares, contras, circles.

"It will be easy, it will be fun, it will be family-friendly, and it will be free," says musician Oren Tikkanen. "The best offer you'll get this week. See you there."

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Heikinpäivä events to begin Jan. 10

HANCOCK -- Heikinpäivä -- Hancock's mid-winter festival -- is coming, and some events begin this week.

Monday, Jan. 10:

2 p.m. and 6 p.m.
-- Nisu-making class by Edith Mäki, Zion Lutheran Church, Hancock. $15 fee. To register, call (906) 487-7505.

6 p.m. - 8 p.m. -- Build your own five-string kantele class by Jim Lohmann, Zion Lutheran Church. $125 fee includes materials. You go home with a kantele. Class continues on Jan. 17. To register, call (906) 487-7505.

Thursday, Jan. 13:

2 p.m. and 6 p.m. -- Nordic Film Series, presents Shadow of the Two-Headed Eagle, Finnish American Heritage Center. For information, call 487-7302. Click here for details.

Friday, Jan. 14:

6 p.m. - 8 p.m. -- Family Fun Night, by Kay Seppälä and Sherry Saarinen. Finnish American Heritage Center, Hancock. $5/family. To register, call (906) 523-6271. Kids of all ages (3 - 93) will have a grand time doing traditional Finnish song games! If you can walk, you can join in the fun, and the more the merrier! Get a Finnish name, learn a few Finnish words, make a mehupilli (Finnish straw whistle), join in the song games like pukki (goat) or BINGO (the singing game, not the number/board game). Learn a few simple folk dances and end the evening with an enchanting Nordic chain dance. Refreshments provided. Bring the family, bring grandma. A good time will be had by all!

Click here for the 2011 Heikinpäivä Schedule.

Nordic Film Series to present Finnish film Jan. 13

HANCOCK -- Shadow of the Two-Headed Eagle is the feature film of this month’s Nordic Film Series at the Finlandia University Finnish American Heritage Center, Hancock.

The film will be shown at 2 p.m. and at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 13.

Released in 2005, Shadow of the Two-Headed Eagle (Kaksipäisen kotkan varjossa) is set in the early 1900s as the Russian emperor tightens his grip on Finland and begins an aggressive campaign to "Russify" Finnish citizens.

A musical written and with an original orchestra score by director Timo Koivusalo, the film tells the story of poet Aaro Manner who is persecuted by a Russian commander for his opposition to the Russification plans.

The 105-minute film is in Finnish with English subtitles.

There is no charge to attend the film, but donations are accepted.

The Finnish American Heritage Center is located at 435 Quincy St., downtown Hancock. For additional information, please call 906-487-7549.

Friends of Calumet Public Library to meet Jan. 11, host events

CALUMET -- Friends of the Calumet Public Library will meet at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 11, in the library. This is an open meeting; new members and new ideas are welcome. There are many ways to lend a hand at the library: programming ideas, volunteer opportunities, the Red Jacket Readers book club, and more! Come find out what's ahead this winter at the Calumet Public Library.

Julie Waara will be presenting "How to REcreate a Room" at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 12, in the library. This informative session will move you beyond knowing that something should be done to discovering the hidden potential of your home and your own creative ability. Julie will help participants go from inspiration to actualization, offering practical tips and affordable solutions. Learn how to recreate your living space with a dream, a plan, some paint, and a little effort this winter.

The first 2011 session of the Red Jacket Readers book club, open to everyone, will be at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 2, in the library. The group will be discussing Wilhelmina, by Mary B. Michelson. Multiple copies of this, and the other selections, are now available for check out at the library.

The book club discussion is open to the public, and refreshments will be served.

Wilhelmina paints the story of a young woman growing up in the Copper Country during the early 1900s. Born in Ishpeming in 1898, the author moved here as a young girl, graduated from Painesdale High School and went on to live most of her life in the area. Her autobiography is an unpretentious tale of family, friends, and a familiar setting.

These events are sponsored by the Friends of the Calumet Public Library. For more information, visit the library or call 337-0311 ext 1107.

(In case of bad weather, when school is canceled, all library programs are canceled.)