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About Me

I'm an educator on hiatus.

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I've been on SiteJabber for years!

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a little bit of everything: music, film, books, art, technology, fashion, kittens, etc.

269 Reviews by T

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RedEnvelope

RedEnvelope

4/26/11
There was a time when I was interested in Red Envelope gifts for people, and I actually went through with a couple of purchases. However, the products can look / feel cheaper than what you expect so it's somewhat disappointing. On top of that, they're kind of frivolous items...
GuitarCenter

GuitarCenter

4/26/11
When I need anything new related to my (dad's) guitar or back when I needed things for the piano, I pretty much checked out guitarcenter.com first. It may be a bit pricier than some discount dealers, but you always know what you're getting is what's advertised there. Once in a while there are items that you're told are on backorder but you have the option to cancel then.
CafePress

CafePress

4/26/11
Some short time ago I printed a long-sleeve shirt for my then boyfriend. As a gift for him, it was his favorite word to use in volleyball, so he could wear it while playing during the winter. Using Cafepress was pretty simple (especially because I just printed the word in the center of a plain long-sleeve shirt). I did wish there were more fonts available...but the process was easy and the shirt came in quickly.
Kiehl's

Kiehl's

4/26/11
I use Kiehl's lipbalm religiously - it's mild and moisturizes better than Chapstick or any other commercial brands. I keep tubs of it in various hotspots at home and in my car. When I get close to running out, I hop on kiehls.com and order myself a couple more.
Longhornsltd.com

Longhornsltd

4/25/11
I'm a Longhorn at heart, having graduated from the University of Texas years ago. We Longhorns are crazy devoted to our school and teams - it doesn't hurt that we perform pretty well across many sports. As a way to indoctrinate my family, I make sure there's a decent amount of burnt orange in the house - apparel, pillows, cups, etc. Longhorns Ltd. offers up a pretty good selection of items - the clearance things aren't usually the best, of course, but sometimes you can find a gem.
SonyStyleimage coming soon

SonyStyle

4/25/11
I recently had to retire my Dell and exchange it for something lighter weight. After some research and much accidental ignoring of some people's advice, I settled on a Sony Vaio. The Sony website could be better organized - one day I could find the laptop I wanted, but the next day I needed to do some serious sleuthing to get to the same location. Finally when I did go through with the purchase, though, things went smoothly. Sony updated me on the whereabouts of my laptop, and delivery was relatively fast (as compared to Dell, which took, in the past, a month). I'm very happy with my Vaio (though the sound system is nothing compared to Dell's), and after I deleted all the bloatware, the transition time to becoming accustomed to this new machine was next to nothing.
Kate Spade

Kate Spade

4/25/11
I wrote a review for JackSpade.com recently so I thought I should write one for KateSpade.com as well. After all, I actually did buy a buy from that site. I'm a sucker for simplicity, and after a long, drawn-out hunt for the perfect plain black Kate Spade handbag at local retailers, I settled on getting it directly from katespade.com. A step up from the Jack Spade website, Katespade.com offers views inside the bags, zooming ability, and details that are needed to make your decision. In the end, I was happy with my bag, it came promptly and with a cute cover bag to keep it clean and safe when I'm not using it.
Store.hbo

Store.hbo

4/22/11
I'm a huge fan of Russell Simmons's Def Poetry. Huge. So huge that I had to get all the volumes, and the only place I could think to do it was at hbo.com. In comparing prices, though, I figured out that I could get the DVDs at Amazon for a little cheaper. Not sure who would buy straight from Hbo.com if you can just buy the same thing more cheaply at Amazon.
Wimp.com

Wimp.com

4/7/11
Rather than weeding through Youtube videos or relying on the latest virals, go to Wimp. On the recommendation of another SiteJabber user Ron, I went there and was pleasantly surprised. Short homemade videos showing glimpses of life.
Jackspade

Jackspade

4/2/11
I need a good transporter for my new laptop. For that I lust after a good, sturdy, minimalist Jack Spade bag. So naturally I would go to jackspade.com... Unfortunately my dreams are thwarted by a website that doesn't allow me to see more than just the exterior parts of the transporters. I need to see the compartments inside and I also need to see if there are secret patterns, which are a sure-fire 'buy-me' feature. I was about to give up my pursuit until I decided to head over to Zappos. There I found that they have the very same bags, with more views and with better rates. Looks like Jack's gonna be in mama's hands very soon.
VideoLAN

VideoLAN

4/1/11
Quicktime, RealPlayer, Windows Media Player - Nein!

I will only use VLC to play DVDs / video on my laptop. First of all, VLC is free. Second of all, it's not slow like Quicktime. Thirdly, it's not selective in what it wants to play the way Windows Media Player is - WMP says oh no, I want to play this psychedelic movement instead of the movie you're watching. Oh okay. I'd love to listen to scenes from Alfred Hitchcock films accompanied by psychedelic movement. That's quite fitting. Lastly, it's not buggy and doesn't totally ruin things the way that Real Player does.

www.videolan.org/vlc
Target

Target

3/30/11
Going into Target isn't always the best decision to make when a girl's in the mood to buy. To avoid buyer's remorse, I buy what I need, which are usually Boots lipsticks, from target.com. I've read bad experiences that other consumers have had, which makes me avoid other types of purchases online.
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

3/28/11
The Dana Foundation is dedicated to the research of and dissemination of information about the brain. It's my go-to site for updated and reliable information on the latest advances in the science of the brain. The site is easy to navigate, the articles are pretty accessible and the resources are abundant. There are dedicated sections for kids, educators and seniors.

The Dana Foundation also sponsors the annual "Brain Awareness Week", in which our school is a partner. When you register with them (for Brain Awareness or even just as a user), you receive a small monthly newspaper that aggregates critical research from the month as well as a year-end book focused on a particular theme in brain science. Mind you, it's all for free. That's the way it should be!
Faculty.washington.edu

Faculty.washington.edu

3/28/11
I love the brain. If you stop to think about it, isn't it just the most amazing piece of engineering there is?

Every year our school participates in the Dana Foundation's Brain Awareness Week (generally around March). During this time we help our students understand a little more about the brain - with the idea that knowledge really is power - and when you gain some awareness of how your brain basically functions, you can take the first steps toward changing or modifying undesirable behaviors and increasing desirable behaviors.

Our students have brains that function a little differently - the social parts may not activate as readily or the neurons may not communicate as efficiently with each other to send the right messages in social situations. The prefrontal cortex, the newest part of our brain and that which is typically the slowest to develop in neurotypical people anyway, may be having more difficulty than what's typical, resulting in challenges related to inhibition, initiation, working memory, planning and organizing, self-monitoring, emotional regulation and shifting (skills we refer to as the executive functions). Without the development of this part of the brain, or the scaffolding of adults, our reptilian brains may be gaining more power over us than we'd like.

Now because I'm not particularly good at science, I've needed to devote much time and effort, the dummy's way, into understanding the way the neurons communicate or miscommunicate in the brains of my students that may be causing them to react in a way that is not typically how a child may react. Years ago I was introduced by my mentor to this website - Eric Chudler's Neuroscience for Kids. This website provides information in a way that's easy for me to understand and for me to translate to my students. Included are lesson plans, activity sheets, etc. The website has been up for many years now, and Dr. Chudler also sends out a frequent newsletter updating his readers of news related to the brain and events related to brain science.

http://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/neurok.html

I used this website for the first few years of teaching - it was spectacular. Since then, interest in the brain sciences has boomed, leading to a host of websites and resources related to the brain. However, I still haven't found one as comprehensive as this for teaching about the brain to students.
Zappos

Zappos

3/27/11
Before I left for Guatemala, I remember looking at Zappos.com a couple times for shoes, but never took the plunge to making a purchase. Now 5 years later, to my surprise, I return to the U.S. and Zappos is about as big as Amazon. Well I guess it's about time someone emphasized the value of customer service as much as Amazon does. I ordered recently a Jack Spade bag from Zappos - got my confirmation and my bag as promised. Couldn't be happier.
Vwho.net

Vwho.net

3/27/11
The idea is simple enough, type in a subject, movie or show and wait for the website to find content for you - in real time. The fuzzy screen makes the site feel kind of fun, like you're back to having a television with dials again (I quite enjoyed those days!), but the Skip button worried me as I felt like I was on a site like Chatroulette or Omegle.

I searched for "cat" and got a show about cats. I searched for "Top Chef" and got the most recent episode, that I actually can't find anywhere else (I'll admit I don't look hard enough). I searched for a couple of my favorite films (Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels - it started from the top; The Thin Red Line - it started in the middle; The Royal Tenenbaums - it started from the top). So overall, I was impressed by what looks like a 1-man project. The image is fuzzy and the streaming slooooow, but I appreciate the concept.
ExploreTunes.com

ExploreTunes.com

3/27/11
I am a lover of music. It completes me. So any site which boasts of streaming music for free would be of interest to me. Per the inquiry of user Chris O. (http://www.sitejabber.com/users/chriso1), I checked out this website. Exploretunes is one of those "music on demand" sites (hate the term "on demand"). There you can input an artist's name and voila, you get the artist's songs, accompanying music videos, interviews, live versions and information.

I did a simple run of more well-known favorites of mine (Radiohead, Belle & Sebastian, Wilco), middle of the roaders (Mogwai, Au Revoir Simone, The Dears) and lesser knowns (I Love You but I've Chosen Darkness, Scotland Yard Gospel Choir, Stephin Merritt). It didn't pull anything up for Scotland Yard Gospel Choir or for Stephin Merritt - though Grooveshark does - perhaps because there aren't videos? No explanation for it is provided.

I would have loved this 14 years ago when I was really into music videos (weren't we all?). The interface is a bit All-music-like (boring), but I may spend some time finding streaming some Camera Obscura today.
Early Learning Programs

Early Learning Programs

3/27/11
Reading sure isn't easy, and because phonological awareness is a critical stage of literacy development, children who struggle to read may need more practice with those skills. Earobics is a program I've used in my school for years now - it's a research-based reading intervention targeting phonological awareness (though it purports to improve comprehension - presumably as a result of improved reading ability). The program itself is about $300 per disc (at least 5 years ago when we bought ours), and there are versions for pre-K to 3rd grade. It's perfect for the classroom that allows for differentiated, individualized instruction with time for students who need remediation. The activities are well-designed and appealing to the students; ours love Earobics time.

For those who can't afford the $300 disc or who want to supplement it with other computer-based activities, Earobics has a free game site called Game Goo which reinforces phonological awareness through various games:

www.earobics.com/gamegoo/gooey.html
eBay

eBay

3/26/11
I'll admit it - I use Ebay to buy strawberry shortcake figurines, my collector's item of choice. It's my little secret that's not so much a secret anymore. Anyway, I can't find a better place, other than a little store I used to frequent in Austin called Kids & Cats, than Ebay to get these items. And I think because not a lot of people are into Strawberry Shortcake, I get the good deals.
GoComics

GoComics

3/26/11
I'm a late bloomer when it comes to some things: eating sushi, getting an iPhone, finding out that you don't have to suffer through motion sickness - that there's actually a pill for that kind of thing (which would have saved me a lot of suffering through my one week trip to Vietnam years ago). I stopped watching cartoons at the age of 6 or 7 and hardly read comics as a child (other than Beetle Bailey, for some very odd reason - why would a small Vietnamese girl feel drawn to Beetle Bailey?).

At the age of 25, through my desperate attempts at finding something that would engage one of my students, I found Calvin and Hobbes (or as another student referred to it, Calvin and Hobos). After reading a couple comics, I was hooked, and with this obsessive personality, I went out and bought every Calvin & Hobbes book I could find. It's probably the only thing that I consistently laugh out loud at - though I sometimes find myself concerned about Calvin's attitude and reckless behaviors' influencing my students' behaviors. After a second's thought though, I'm back at it.

When I left the first school at which I taught, I left my C&H collection behind for the boys to enjoy (which they did, immensely). I was reminded of those books as I recently found my extra copy of Yukon Ho! (not the best but still good) in a pile of books. Eventually I'll restore my collection, but the website will do for now - a C&H strip a day to accompany my cup of coffee - doesn't get much better than that.

http://www.gocomics.com/calvinandhobbes/

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