Getting Around

Thursday, July 22, 2010

It’s Not All Flowers and Sausages

It's Not All Flowers and Sausages
Those of you who know me know that I read Mrs. Mimi’s blog.  She’s on quasi-maternity leave right now so I know she doesn’t have time to go cruising the internet looking for mentions of herself.  She’ll never see this.  I have to confess to being a huge fan of her blog and her opinions of the teaching profession.

First, you should know that this book is hilarious.  I’d already read some of it from her blog, but there’s something about reading it IN PRINT that makes it funnier.  And easier to carry with you than the computer when you’re refereeing fights between your own personal short people.  Maybe that’s just me.

Second, possibly without meaning to be, this book is a reality check for people wanting to teach.  I’ve already had a small taste as a preschool teacher, but I’ve met plenty of undergrads who go into teaching to get the summers off and don’t realize that they’re preparing for a way of life rather than a career.  I know they won’t last in their chosen field.  They need to wake up and smell Mrs. Mimi’s fruity cocktail with an umbrella, if you know what I mean.  I don’t pretend to know everything, but my eyes are a little wider open than some folks’ are.

Third, this is an easy, quick, read.  Do not drink soda while reading it or you’ll get some up your nose.  I was able to read it in under 24 hours, and I do have other things going on in my life other than reading funny books.

Here’s a text link: It's Not All Flowers and Sausages: My Adventures in Second Grade

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Mysteries of Financial Aid

When I was an undergrad I never dealt with the financial aid office. Between my parents and my jobs it all got paid for. But now that I'm a grad student with a family, the money thing seems more important. As such, I dutifully filled out my FAFSA and applied for several scholarships. None of the scholarships came through, but I did qualify for a couple of loans.

Since I didn't know tons about the loans and the information on the websites wasn't very detailed, I went into the financial aid office for the first time. I had an appointment, but I still had to wait in line to tell someone that. Then I had to wait to start my appointment because the previous one was running behind. Tip: Don't schedule a financial aid appointment while the university is doing freshman orientation. The waiting was the only bad part. The financial aid person was very helpful and I'm glad I stopped in. He was much more helpful than the government customer service I had to call to ask one more little question about one of the loans.

Wherever you are in your schooling, if you need money for it go talk to your financial aid people. They are there to help and they weren't nearly as scary as I thought they might be.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Amazon Kindle (the little one)

Kindle Wireless Reading Device, Free 3G, 6" Display, White, 3G Works Globally - Latest GenerationI got a Kindle last fall as a gift from my in-laws.  For me this was a complete luxury item and not a necessity.  I confess to being a bit of a library snob and I don’t like to pay for my books.  (I should note that it helps that I live in a town with a fantastic library, thus making my library snobishness possible.)  I’ve been using it for the better part of the last year.  Well, I’ve been using it when I could rip it out of the hands of the other members of my family.
Just as you’ve probably read, the screen looks like printed ink.  It really does.  You can read it in the bright sun, but not the dark.  I do find that my reading speed is a bit slower on the Kindle than with a printed book, but I think that’s inevitable given the mechanics of using it.

What’s been really handy has been getting books WHENEVER WE WANT.  In general I tell my family that we can only purchase books that are 1) free, 2) on sale, or 3) not available at our fantastic library.  When my son ran out of Hardy Boys books at the library, Kindle to the rescue.  When we were driving along in a car trip and somebody ran out of books (gasp!), Kindle to the rescue.  The kids haven’t figured out that they can turn on the Whispersync and just order books without my approval, which is a good thing.

My big pet peeve with the Kindle is the lack of page numbers.  I don’t actually care about page numbers, but if you want to buy a book for a class you find that during class discussion the instructor will direct you to a certain page.  You can’t do that.  You could search for a phrase to find your place, which is fine, but you can’t tell anyone else where you are if they’ve got a paper book.  I’m also not sure how you would reference the location number if you needed the book as a source for a research paper, but I’m sure some research person has figured this out and I just don’t know it.  Some of my textbooks have been cheaper for the Kindle but I opted for paper because the classes were discussion-heavy, so I’m hoping they resolve this.

If you’re planning on using this for textbooks make sure you’re not getting a textbook with a lot of graphics.  The technology just isn’t there yet to reproduce those.  Black and white images do appear, but they’re always in an odd spot and often unusable.  Books that are mainly text are perfect though, and it’s nice to be able to search.  I use the personal notations feature quite a bit.  I’d also recommend, if you’re getting this for textbooks, to get the big Kindle (link for white, link for graphite).  You’ll appreciate the extra screen real estate.  I know I would.

Get yourself a case to protect your investment and enjoy all the books at your disposal.  I download something that’s temporarily free probably every week.  That’s right, FREE.  Amazon doesn’t realize this, but they haven’t made that much money off me since I got my Kindle.  I've also got the apps for my PC and my Android phone, effectively tripling the number of people who can read books Kindle style.  But they all seem to prefer the device itself, for some reason.

Anyway, I love my Kindle and so does my immediate family.  Speaking of, I have to go find out who’s got MY Kindle right now…