Saturday, December 31, 2011

Welcome, 2012!

I am excited about this year. This year, I'll really be hitting my Saturn return (a concept I don't really believe in astrologically but have fun blaming big life changes on). Basically, it's a period in a person's life where large, life-altering changes can happen -- sometimes many at once! A Saturn return is a transition into a new stage of life. It's a opportunity to redirect yourself if you're paying attention -- kind of like a new year can be.

So, in 2012, I get to:

Turn 28

Get married

Continue graduate school

Start an internship

Make some big steps toward future financial stability

And... ???

The rest is yet to be seen! I hope I'll be blogging about a lot of my 2012 experiences here. Please comment if you're reading -- even if you don't have a blog of your own, I'd like to know more about you and what you think. :)

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Preventing Gender Bullying with Lessons of Diversity

I loved reading this article by a grade school teacher who found herself conducting lessons about gender equality for first graders.

I taped up two large pieces of paper and wrote “Boys” on one and “Girls” on the other. “Students,” I said, “what are some toys that are for boys?” Eagerly, the students began to shout out their answers: “Legos!” “Hot Wheels!” “Skateboards!” “Bikes!” The list grew quite long. “OK,” I said, “now tell me some toys that are for girls.” “Baby dolls!” “Nail polish!” “Barbies!” “Makeup!”
Her lesson goes on to discuss whether girls can play with Legos, or boys with dolls -- leading to examples of people the students know personally who blur the gender divide. The teacher mentions, among other tools and tips, two classic books that I'd selected to be part of the collection for younger grades in the Read Aloud program.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

And now the New Year's Haul!

I wrote already about what I brought home for Christmas... but I need to make room for those presents! So it's an excellent time of year to remove stuff from the house -- by tossing, donating, or repurposing it. Remember that I have a 2012 goal to get rid of 80 things? I'm inclined to count this closet purge as part of that goal to give me a head start... but maybe that wouldn't be strictly fair. What do you think?

Here are some of my tips for thinning out possessions in preparation for the new year:

Monday, December 26, 2011

Post-Xmas: The Haul

So, did you get something nice in your stocking?

My sweetie and I spent the weekend with my family about an hour away. (Well, I stayed there and she drove back up to work overnighters at her second job. After her recent bike-car accident and missed shifts, we can't really afford to turn down holiday pay.) We all had two massive dinners (Christmas Eve and Christmas Day) and opened a TON of presents -- I thought this was going to be a small Christmas, but with my sister out of the country and away for the first year ever, it seems like some of her gifts found their way into my pile.

Excellent presents I received:

-FitBit fitness tracker that doubles as a pedometer and a sleep monitor
Along with the usual goal of 10,000 steps/day, I can keep an eye on how long it takes me to fall asleep and how many times I waken. This info is wirelessly transmitted to my computer and updates my FitBit account, so I have records of my sleep and activity.

-Laptop Lunchbox Bento 2.0 system
This purple beauty will promote bringing lunches to work during the week instead of buying food. It includes a drink bottle and silverware as well as a space for a chillpack if necessary (I usually park my lunchbox in the office fridge).

-Scrabble Slam
Santa produced this card game, which combines my love of words and -- I THOUGHT -- my competitive spirit, as it was packaged using words like "slam" and "slap". I figured it would be like slapjack, and I'd get to hit people if I were quick. No such thing, I found out. But it's still a fun game.

I got super-excited about a set of Eggies that my sweetie got for me (so she doesn't have to peel soft-boiled eggs when my Vitamin D-deficient demands for them come in rapid succession), and she was equally enthusiastic about a set of magnetic spice containers that I got her. I also received a gift certificate for a scrub and massage at a local Korean spa I frequent -- or try to, when I have the time and the funds -- and a gift card from Pasta Pomodoro for a dinner out with my sweetie. From my godmother, a woman more frugal than I can ever aspire to be, I got a calendar from 1984 (the year I was born) that can also be used in 2012 and 2040!

Monday, December 19, 2011


After a week of much finger-tapping and refreshing of webpages, I have my grades!

Information and Society: A (97%)
Information and Retrieval: A- (95.2%)
Online Social Networking: Pass (100%)
Information Organizations and Management: A (97.55%)

*cheers and prepares to enjoy winter break*

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Keeping wedding costs down... for EVERYONE.

I stumbled across this old post by Shawanda at You Have More Than You Think:

Friends Don’t Make Friends Overspend: Wedding Edition
Instead of responding with, “Ain’t nobody got no money!” when you’re asked to be a member of the wedding party, stay calm.

With our tiny wedding on a budget, my sweetie and I are trying to make everything affordable for our guests and our wedding party -- not just affordable for us. So we've done what we can to minimize costs for our close friends and family who have been invited to attend.

Every happy couple should consider their guests' side of things. You may have only the One Special Day(TM), but think of the number of wedding invitations circulated through your group. With 3 or 4 weddings in a year (or a "season")... travel, special attire, and gifts add up! Sit down before you choose your attendants and estimate their responsibilities and possible costs, then make that information available to them when you ask them to stand up with you. If it's just not practical, you'll either have to change your list of "necessary" items or graciously accept that your dear one may not be able to do the honors. No one should be bullied into spending more than they can afford -- and no one should be blindsided by expenses, either!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Round 1, complete!

Woo-hoo! I'm officially done with work for my first semester in the MLIS program.

There were definitely some late stressful nights in there -- working full-time while taking 10 course units lends itself to midnight madness -- but I've turned in my last assignments for the term and I look forward to receiving my grades.

Here's the grading scale for SLIS courses at SJSU:
97-100 A
94-96 A-
91-93 B+
88-90 B
85-87 B-
82-84 C+
79-81 C
76-78 C-
73-75 D+
70-72 D
67-69 D-
Below 67 F

The core classes I took this semester -- LIBR 200, 202, and 204 -- have to be completed with a grade of B or higher. As we've been reminded eighty-bajillion times, that's a B, NOT a B-. So 88% and up to scrape through. The grading scale (stricter than my undergraduate experience, where 90-93 was an A-, 94-97 was an A, and 98 and up was an A+ in many classes) has been making me nervous all term. There's much less margin for error if I want to pass (to say nothing of being eligible for scholarships) -- for example, I missed one question on the midterm in 202, and it knocked my exam grade down from a 96.6% to an 80%!

I'm fairly certain I've got two As and two A-s for the semester, based on assignments graded up to this point, but there's a little bit of leeway. And so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

And! I am unplugging -- at least, while I'm at home. The browser tabs that have remained on my screen for three months are closed. (I'll check in for grades in a week or so, and keep an eye on my email.) I'm REALLY going to enjoy not pulling out the laptop first thing when I get home from work. Yes, I'm still working 40 hours a week -- but I can leave that at the office. Bliss!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Why save? 'cause I'm stubborn.

Over at Squirrelers, the main reason for saving is so you don't end up "old and broke". Reasonable! Not knowing where your next mortgage or rent payment is coming from, worrying that an illness or injury will overwhelm your savings, becoming the stereotypical fixed-income senior facing a meal of cat food -- these things are scary! Fear is a big motivator for lots of things, like making healthier lifestyle choices after a medical scare, or over-preparing for a presentation so you don't embarrass yourself in front of your boss. Fear is what keeps many of us heading to the office each morning for many years.

Fear, though, is the mind-killer. (Thank you, Frank Herbert, and many who have repeated his words.) Having fear as a primary motivator causes you to think small, to avoid risks in order to be safe. Some fear is healthy, but fear alone is not enough.

Why ELSE should you save? Or do anything, for that matter? You should have a goal. You need something positive to reach for, as well as something negative to run from. Many comments on the Squirrelers post mentioned a desire for freedom at the top of their list. Freedom to travel, freedom to not work for others, freedom to buy what they want and not just what they need -- all of these are motivators as well.

Personally, I save for a number of reasons:

-It's next on the list.
I've got my basic needs taken care of. (It took a couple of years after college to sort that all out... I don't recommend doing it that way.) I don't have any debt. What's next? Emergency and retirement savings! This hierarchy of personal finance needs says it should be a priority. My expenses are small right now, and I'm still pretty young, so I know I'd better start saving ASAP before life circumstances cost more.

-I hate owing anyone money.
Being beholden is an icky feeling. Even when it's to a company and not an individual, debt is something I don't want held over my head. If I have money saved up, I am my own person.

-I don't want to pay any more than I have to.
This is why I buy stuff on sale -- and also why I save up first. Paying cash for things -- or paying off my card in full at the end of the month -- is my rude gesture to banks and other big-business types. They're not getting more money out of me!

-Freedom to stay home.
I don't want to travel. I'm a homebody. I'm kinda boring, actually. My idea of an excellent vacation is sleeping in, getting laundry done, maybe finishing up a storage project. Getting a little sunshine on my face, walking around the park to the farmers' market, stopping by the library on the way home and picking up a DVD to watch with my sweetie while we cuddle up with the cats. (With mugs of herbal tea. So there.) But I want to be able to do that when I feel like it! I want to be able to take some time off work without worrying about the bills. I don't want to have to rush off to a second job instead of having dinner with a friend or taking a Saturday afternoon nap. (I do that now, what with combining work, school, and choir practice. I know I can manage it for a few more years. I don't want to HAVE to do it in order to live.)

-Options for the future.
I'm saving for a nice wedding and a career that I enjoy. I'm saving for vet bills and legal fees and medical bills. I'm saving for FLEXIBILITY, for choice, for power over my life. If we raise kids, I want to spend time with them. Maybe work a four-day week while they're little. Make sure they have everything they need and a few things they want. I want to be able to retire from the full-time workforce at some point and spend daytime hours volunteering at things I love that don't pay -- snuggling babies, petting cats, reading to kids, feeding people, encouraging young readers and writers, and supporting libraries. I want to do that before I'm old.

Savings enable me to dream about not being shackled to a 40-hour-a-week job and still being able to afford a quality life. So I'm starting now. What about you? Why do you save?


Wednesday, December 7, 2011


Hack Library Blog addresses the groupwork issue that many of us in the MLIS program were concerned about at the beginning of the semester: Playing Nicely With Others: Doing Group Work

As I posted earlier as part of an assignment, I have many of the same qualms. When reading that the changes "can be really off-putting for someone who is... a) shy b) used to studying alone c) new to the program, thus not knowing anyone and d) a control freak", I really did LOL as I checked them off. I am all of those!

One of my group projects this semester was a great experience: I learned a lot about a new subject from my fellow students' personal history and research; we planned and executed two quality papers; I think we communicated expectations well and were flexible when possible. The other was less rewarding, although I did gain some experience. I found that I was less willing to work with people who didn't consider my schedule when planning meetings (although the same group met in the evenings and weekends during Part 1 of the project, group meetings for Part 2 were repeatedly held on weekday mornings despite my objections and requests for alternate time slots). I discussed that briefly with the professor, so that it would be taken into consideration during grading. I didn't want to skate on my classmates' work, but I also wanted to receive appropriate credit for the work I had done. It was harder to feel connected to the group's goals when editing a paper that I didn't contribute to in the early stages -- I was unsure as to the intended purpose of some sections and didn't have the same sense of ownership and authority over the collaborative work. However, my negative experience underscores the conviction that expectations for process should be set out at the beginning of the project, openly discussed, and revisited as necessary during the course of the assignment (even when that's uncomfortable).

Saturday, December 3, 2011

101 Things in 1001 Days

Apparently I'm in a goal-setting mood! I just finished my list of 101 Things to Do in 1001 Days.

In 1001 days, I will be 30 (and a few months). I plan to be married, employed, and purple-haired. I should have earned my MLIS degree and have a little discretionary income on top of some savings.

And I will hopefully have done these things, among others:

-Get a passport.
-Sing the national anthem for an event.
-Spend a week with no computer or cell phone.
-Go vegetarian for a month.
-Participate in a flash mob.
-Register as a potential bone marrow donor.
-Take a self-defense class.
-Watch TV/movies in Spanish with Spanish subtitles.
-Attend a women's roller derby bout.
-Go on a cruise.
-Register with an adoption agency.

What are some of the things you have on your list?