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Good day to all you lovely Sonoma State students!  I hope you all had a fantastic summer and that this post finds you healthy and happy. 

Just swooping in to give everyone a quick tip regarding buying books. 

It is well known that the bookstores (including North Light, I'm afraid) mark up the prices on textbooks to an absurd degree.  You do not have to take it!  With a little forethought, you can save huge chunks of money by buying online. 

Once you know what classes you will be taking, just stroll into the bookstore and take down the ISBNs of every book you will be using, and type those into Amazon, or Ebay, or Half... whatever is your favorite.  Usually you can find a used book that costs, including shipping, 50-75% less than the asking price at the bookstore. 

What could you do with an extra $300-500 per semester?

My personal record was paying $0.75 for a paperback for which they were asking $25 at the bookstore, but I also regularly paid less than $50 for $130+ textbooks. 

Finally, especially in math classes, you can sometimes get away with ordering an earlier edition of the book if you talk to your professor.  Earlier editions often have nearly the same information, in a slightly different order.  The only major differences are the problems, so you would have to do homework with a buddy.

Still, it is usually worth it, as earlier editions can usually be found at less than $20 per book.  Just make sure you talk to your professor before making a purchase of an earlier edition.

Good luck to everyone and happy learning!

Earth Day

As promised, cut for those readers who do not wish to read it.

I explore the idea of recycling, especially where it pertains to paper...Collapse ) 

The "V" word

Tomorrow is Valentines Day. 

Let's take a moment to reflect on what that means. 

What it DOESN'T mean is Singles Appreciation Day.  I have exactly zero sympathy for single folks who use Valentine's Day as an excuse to curl up and cry and write bad poetry and cut themselves. 

Valentine's Day is (in contemporary culture, anyway) a celebration of love.  An expression of joy for what we have.  To turn it into a lament about what we are missing is a gross and twisted bastardization.  Love comes in a million different forms and can be found in a million different places. 

Yet we, in part because of Hallmark, choose to focus entirely (or at least primarily) on the one tiny subset of the concept that is shared by "lovers." 

We as a culture are very interested in, to the point of obsession, the things we DON'T have.  It is a part of us that I never really understood, even as I catch myself doing it more often than I'd like. 

If you are single, and reading this, ask yourself.  Why am I making myself so miserable when there is so much love all around me?  Why should I spend my time mourning over what I do not have?  Valentine's Day is for everyone.  Not just couples, not just groups of friends who band together to protest the holiday.  EVERYONE. 

Give a rose to a complete stranger.  Call friends or family you haven't talked to in a while.  Pet a puppy.  Strike up a conversation with a wrong number.  Do whatever it takes to promote love and joy in your life and the lives of others. 

That is what Valentine's Day is all about. 


We already know that driving while talking on a cell phone is as bad as or worse than driving drunk, depending on which study you reference.  If you are against drunk driving, then you are against driving on a cell phone. 

However, I would like to share an article I read that goes farther:

"Incidentally, the increased risk has little to do with your and much to do with your head: It is a cognitive problem, a shifting of your concentration from the road to the call. That many states bar drivers only from using hand-held phones is an act of breathtaking cynicism or dazzling ignorance.  They might as well ban only gray cell phones but allow black ones."

--Randy Cohen

Anyone who have ever driven a manual transmission knows that driving one-handed is no big deal. 

...so why do we think that headsets make driving any safer?  Even more dangerous, it has gotten into our heads that talking on a headset is okay, thus lending us an air of false security. 

We've all seen the glazed-over look people get during a phone conversation.  When you are talking to someone, your attention is generally on that person (which is why, incidentally, it is not so bad to be having a conversation with your passenger; your attentioin is still in the here and now, instead of far away).  Even if you make an active effort to pay attention (usually at the expense of the conversation), all it takes is a few seconds of inattention to lead to disaster. 

I know a lot of folks believe themselves to be good drivers while on cell phones, and that's probably true! There are also some people who are better at driving drunk or stoned than others.

So long as you understand the risk to yourself and everyone around you, do what you like. 

In the end, as in all things, it is your choice. 

I don't understand

There are a lot of things I don't understand.  This is only one on a long list.

There is a trend going around this winter... and for the past few winters, now that I think about it.

Every time I go to SSU, I see young women walking around the campus.  They are wearing sweatshirts, have their hands bunched up in their sleeves, and are usually hugging themselves for warmth.

...while wearing skintight shorts that expose 95% of their thighs.  Seriously, some of these shorts barely qualify as belts. 

I'm not complaining, mind... but WHY?!?!??!?!

[EDIT: So far I've gotten only responses from folks who also don't understand.  What I'd really like is someone who does this to comment with their reasoning.  Hey, for all I know, there might be a really great reason.]

Prop 8 Protest March in San Francisco

Hey everyone.

Meet at the civic center @ 5:30 p.m. We'll be marching up Market street through the Castro to Dolores park.

Make signs. Bring Friends.

Go here for more info: http://protest8.blogspot.com

To Anti-Prop 8 voters

This post is primarily for those who are upset (and justifiably so!) with the results of the election.

I am upset too.  However, our outrage for the passage of Proposition 8 must be tempered with patience and courage. 

This is not an end, it is a setback.  Our state and our country are simply not ready for that kind of equality.  Yet.  

Over the past two centuries, we have as a country pushed racism out to the fringes of our society.  Yes, it still exists, in large amounts.  However, racism is now confined to individual incidents and opinions, rather than the massive government-sponsored patterns of bigoted behavior seen not so very long ago. 

Sometimes things need to get worse before they get better. 

People are afraid.  Fear makes people do irrational things.  Fear does not make you a Bad Person, even if that fear is totally irrational and based completely outside reality.  Emotions are funny that way.  They are, quite simply, the most powerful facet of the human psyche.  Think about it.  In sufficient quantity, emotions can overcome a human being's very survival instinct, the most powerful instinct any animal possesses.  If fear can motivate one to end their own existence, is it really so difficult to believe that fear could motivate one to mark the "YES" box, even when their conscience says NO?

The only salve for this fear is time.  Every generation has been more accepting than the previous.  Every year more studies come out showing that homosexuals are just as likely to make good parents and heterosexuals.  Every moment our country becomes just a little more used to the lifestyle choices and cultures of others. 

This will not be solved in one sweeping blow.  The fear that motivated the results of this election will slowly erode over time.  As gay culture becomes more mainstream, people will become accustomed to it. 

It was not so long ago that a black man and a white woman holding hands would have elicited dropped jaws and cold stares in the most liberal of areas.  Now it is generally dismissed as the natural order of things.  Someday the same will be true of two women holding hands. 

So calm yourself.  Take a deep breath.  This is not the end of the road, but merely an inconvenient detour.

Registration time

Monday is the last day to register to vote.  If you have not, please do!

Remember that voting is one of two duties you have as an american if you are male, and the ONLY duty you have as an american if you are female.

Road safety

I write something similar to this at least once every few semesters, and I think it bears repeating.
To Pedestrians: It is not okay to walk down the middle of a road or parking lot.  Please either cross the street or stay on the side.  Also, remember that the crosswalk affords you the right of way, but it does not provide you with any physical protection against a car.  Make sure that oncoming drivers see you and are stopping before stepping into the street. Winning a lawsuit is poor recompense for loss of mobility or life. 
To Bicyclists: You are in a difficult position.  You have all of the squishy frailty of a pedestrian, with none of the legal protections.  Remember also that you are held to all of the rules of the road that a car is.  If you run a stop sign and are hit by a car, not only will you not win a lawsuit against the driver, but you may be liable for damages to the car!
To Drivers: You have the greatest responsibility to be safe, being encased in a ton and a half of metal.  If you speed, run stop signs, and fail to pay proper attention to your surroundings, you will endanger everyone around you.  Cyclists and Pedestrians can come out of nowhere, and often ignore the rules.  It is your responsibility, being the biggest, to keep everyone around you safe, even when they seem bound and determined to be run over.

One last thing.  It is not okay to stop in the middle of the road for any reason short of car trouble.  You want to talk to a friend walking on the sidewalk?  Go park your car and walk out to them.  Stopping in the road is dangerous, discourteous and illegal.