College Kids, Look!

College textbooks are way overpriced. There’s no getting around that. Every person who has ever been inside a college classroom knows this.

But there’s a new app aiming to help. Book Cycle is essentially a marketplace for college textbooks much like eBay or Criagslist. You can find the books you need locally, and there’s a feature that tells you if you’re getting a good deal is not.

I have no idea how much the app actually helps, but anything that aims to lower the costs of college is good in my book.

NYC Schools to Get E-Books From Amazon

Finally. I imagine other large districts have already done the same, but Amazon just secured a $30 million deal to provide textbooks in digital format to NYC schools.

The new deal won’t include Amazon devices, but the company will create a platform specifically for the district to purchase the textbooks and use on the devices the district already has.

When I was in school I never carried around my textbooks. Because there were too many and they were much too heavy to lug around all day. This makes perfect sense to me. And it’ll save plenty of trees in the process. Win-win.

What do you think of Amazon and the NYC schools reaching this agreement?

If I Won the Powerball…

Leading up to Wednesday’s drawing #IfIWonthePowerball was trending on Twitter. People from all over the country were describing what they’d do with their pile of cash. Because you know, everyone just knew they’d be the winner.

For my international readers, the Powerball is one of several different lotteries we have in the US. There hadn’t been a winner in 20 drawings and the prize exploded to nearly $1.6 billion. Yes, billion. Three winners will split the prize after Wednesday’s drawing.

Moving on. The lump sum option of the jackpot came out to around $187 million after taxes. So here’s what I’d do with that money.

I’d hire a team of financial advisors and accountants.

I’d donate no less than $10 million to my local animal shelter because those animals and volunteers need resources a lot more than I need that money.

I’d donate $1 million to my local library system.

I’d donate $1 million in books to my local school district and pay to have all textbooks updated to current editions.

I’d start a non-profit organization to promote literacy at the elementary level.

I’d build a 4,500 square foot home in which bookshelves line every wall.

I’d visit every historic library in the world.

I’d launch a scholarship program for any students who have a great interest in books.

I’d launch a separate scholarship program for students interested in pursuing any kind of writing degree.

I’d donate no less than $5 million to the Lone Survivor Foundation.

I’d give every member of my immediate family a $10,000 gift card to Half Price Books.

Lastly, I’d buy first row season tickets to the Astros, Texans, and Rockets for the rest of my life.

After all of that I’d be left with more money than I could ever spend. But I don’t need $187 million to be happy or to do good things. I’ll do just fine without it.

What would you do if you’d won the Powerball?

Common Sense Sometimes Pulls Through

Recently in Arizona a school board voted in favor of tearing out pages of honors biology textbooks that discussed abortion in a manner they didn’t like. The alternative was to have the pages redacted via Sharpie. I can’t make this stuff up.

But then something rather hilarious happened. Voters voted for a new majority on the school board shortly after they made their decision. And now no textbook pages are being ripped out or blacked out. Nope. Instead a small sticker has been placed on the inside of the back covers that says something like, “If you have questions about sex, ask your parents.” I’m not joking. I don’t see how anyone can claim victory for something like this when the previous goal had been quite different. And I know this isn’t the only thing I could say about legislators or school board members getting involved with school textbooks, but this is fairly recent and the school year is just about here.

Who do you think should be deciding which textbooks are used in public schools? I say the state should give wide ranging guidelines for textbooks, but that school districts should ultimately decide for themselves.


On this day in 2014 I published Would you Rather…. This is a book tag that is STILL making its way around YouTube and WordPress. Surprised someone hasn’t thought of something better.