Review: Information Now: A Graphic Guide to Student Research

Information Now: A Graphic Guide to Student Research
Information Now: A Graphic Guide to Student Research by Matt Upson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is utterly, completely adorable! What’s not to love about a comic book that introduces readers to databases, catalogs, advanced search terms, and proper citation? It’s aimed at beginning undergraduates, and I hope it becomes assigned reading. The activities at the end of each chapter bring to life the concepts introduced and look tailor-made for a class exercise. (Also, though it’s not a difficult read, it’s a stretch to imagine kids reading this outside of a requirement.) Upson writes clearly and engagingly – Recommended for anyone in the library world looking for a concise and easy way to explain the uses of google and database searches to patrons. I would love to see all new library hires read something like this. The only drawback is, despite being a comic book, the pages are heavy with text and there is little white space.

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Review: Silent Spring

Silent Spring
Silent Spring by Rachel Carson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Not a review. Just some notes.

Chemicals irrevocably changing the very nature of the world. The pace is too fast for nature to adjust. Poisons killing indiscriminately – not just what they’re put out to kill.
Monocrops lead to huge infestations of pests that survive on that crop.
Communities were sprayed without their knowledge or consent.
Insecticides can be classified as “organic” because they are built by carbon atoms.

Interesting that this became a best-seller; were readers more patient in the 1960s? Lots of chemistry in the early chapters. Fascinating stuff that I lack the ready knowledge to verify, but I am engaged while reading it. How many in our general reading public today would stick with this if not reading for a class?

Substances in fat can lay dormant until periods of physiological stress when the body draws on its fat reserves. Would exercise and weight loss also activate the poisons?

DDT – WHO – Malaria control – The mosquitoes became resistant to DDT. It stopped being effective as pest/disease control.

p. 50 “The reservoir was created as a public water supply, yet the community, probably unconsulted about the sportsmen’s project, is forced either to drink water containing poisonous residues or to pay tax money for treatment of the water to remove the poisons – treatments that are by no means foolproof.”
(when lakes/reservoirs are treated to control nuisance bugs like gnats to make fishing more pleasant0

Carrots absorb more insecticide that other crops studied (what other crops have been studied?) Eat organic carrots!

What does this mean for soils? How many years have to pass before “organic” or “best practices” have any meaning (if soils still test for pesticides 10 years later)?

Are peanuts still grown in rotation with cotton?

Bees – In order for them to pollinate our food plants, the “weeds” need to be there – the wild plants that flower before and after sustain them so that they will be there when we “need” them.

silo death
diffuse chemical pneumonia

“By acquiescing in an act that can cause such suffering to a living creature, who among us is not diminished as a human being?” p. 100

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Review: How to Get Dressed: A Costume Designer’s Secrets for Making Your Clothes Look, Fit, and Feel Amazing

How to Get Dressed: A Costume Designer's Secrets for Making Your Clothes Look, Fit, and Feel Amazing
How to Get Dressed: A Costume Designer’s Secrets for Making Your Clothes Look, Fit, and Feel Amazing by Alison Freer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a very useful book! As with everything I read, this book was borrowed from the library. It would be a good one to buy and keep handy – There’s so much in here to refer back to again and again. Worth it for just the tip on banishing static cling with a well-placed safety pin. Can’t wait to try that and see if it really works!

Freer’s approach to fashion is kind: Clothes should fit you, your body as it is now. If it doesn’t look good on you or feel good on you, buy something else. She gives lots of helpful clues for figuring out how a garment should hang, and emphasizes that celebrities look so good because each piece of clothing you see them in has been altered to fit their bodies. This isn’t to say that everyday people should give up on finding a flattering fit. Rather, we should get to know a skilled and kind-mannered tailor.

Freer also offers advice on finding your personal style: Approach it like any other investment. Put some time in. What do you like? What are you drawn to? What will make you happy when you wear it? Develop some principles and a signature style, and buy things because they look and feel great on you. Cut out pictures of clothes you’d love to wear, even if they’re too expensive. You’ll get good at spotting deals.

Of even more value (to me) are Freer’s chapters on caring for the clothes you love. How to store and hang them, how to wash them (yes, I’m doing my laundry wrong), how to get out stains. And, of course, how to measure yourself for a good bra fitting and how to tell if an item of clothing is likely to fit you without even trying it on! Very useful stuff.

Four stars instead of five only because there were several places where I felt the lack of a clarifying illustration.

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Review: The Secrets of Picking a College

The Secrets of Picking a College
The Secrets of Picking a College by Lynn F Jacobs
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The 10 Qs as a starting point (paraphrased):

1) What reasons do you have for wanting to go to college?
2) Do you have 1 passion or many broad interests?
3) If you’ve done a summer program, what did you learn about what you like or don’t about a college?
4) What courses do you like or not like in high school and why?
5) Do you like a challenge? Do you want it to be easy? Do you want to be with kids smarter than you?
6) Do you want to choose all your courses or do you want a school that has requirements?
7) What kinds of extracurriculars do you want?
8) Diversity in student population?
9) What kind of a city or town do you want to live in?
10) How far away from home do you want to be?

College: Undergrad only
University: Graduate studies, too – research

larger school —> broader course offerings, more social activities, greater diversity in student body.
smaller —> small classes, greater access to professors, fewer majors

Make sure the school you pick has actual course offerings you’re excited about.
Ask: Who teaches the classes? Faculty or grad students?Adjuncts or full faculty?
Do the professors do research? Are the assignments their students do creative and original or busy-work?

Typical class size: 20? 300?
US News and World Report has these stats.

How seriously do the students take their studies?
What are your deal breakers?
for colleges that are comparable with one another.

Useful websites
National Association of College Admissions Counselors
edvisors. com
ten elite schools where middle class kids don’t pay tuition

schools offering the most merit based aid

spend the day
sit in on a class
look at the bookstore
Who’s the best prof and why?
Are the courses challenging?
How many lecture classes have you had to take?
Can you always get into the classes you want?
How many of your classes are taught by TAs?
How serious are students about academics?
What are the most popular majors?
Internship opportunities?
Do many students study abroad?
What’s the food like?
What’s it like here on weekends?
What’s it like in town?
What’s been your best experience here? Your worst?

Good section on ACT/SAT
including basics on how to register
good test prep tips – do the math and reading Question of the Day from the College Board website
Look at sample scored SAT essays on the College Board website

good section on crafting the application essay – we’re not there yet, but we’ll borrow this book again and the kid’ll read it when we are there. Ditto the section on deciding where to go once the acceptances are in.

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