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I'm an educator on hiatus.

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269 Reviews by T

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Unite for Literacy

Unite for Literacy

A friend of mine passed this site along to me. It's a great resource for beginning bi/multilingual learners and readers as all of the books are translated into a number of different languages. Of course Spanish is represented across the board, but you can also access books translated into Tagalog or Somali, for example. The site could be more intuitive and include more books, but this seems like a good start.
Verizon Communications

Verizon Communications

I've yet to encounter a more disorganized company than Verizon. In anticipation of my move, I called Verizon to activate high speed internet. Everything appeared to be fine, but I received a couple calls subsequently with different agents confused about the status of my order (supposedly the guy in the apartment hadn't canceled, though he had a confirmation number and all). Once that was settled, I received my installation package early and was delighted to be able to get hooked up on the first day of the move. However, to my dismay, I could not get connected. I spent that first night waiting 2 hours for representatives who were again confused as to the status of my order. One agent told me I had a business account while the business rep told me that wasn't the case. It was pretty ridiculous. On my fifth phone call with Verizon I finally was able to get a very nice gentleman named Santosh who tried his darndest to get me up and onlinebut to no avail. Before all that, however, he informed me that the name on the account was not even close to that which I gave him (I have no other name!) and that my account shows up as being a business account (which I thought was cleared up the first night).

In short what should take place without hitches (the DSL jack had already been set up and everything was ready to go) actually is taking hours on the phone and lost time at work. I know everyone gets down on AT&T, but I'd choose AT&T over Verizon in a heartbeat.


8/30/09 used to be a great website when you could download books and resources. Enter the New York Times, which called the website out in May in an article about books' being illegally uploaded. Since then, the site has become a dumping ground for college essays and second-rate novels. However, for my educator purposes, I can sometimes find good materials like activity books for the kids or resources about autism for Spanish-speaking parents.


I was standing in line at Duane Reade listening to a mother talk to her daughters about older people needing glasses to help them read menus, as an example, when the woman behind me pulled a tiny frame case out and said, "Like these!" She opened this tiny case to reveal a pretty stylish pair of reading spectacles that folded in half. Even the pre-teenage girls commented that the glasses were nice and about the smallest they'd ever seen. They looked pretty stylish to me so I asked the woman where she got them. She said --- good to note in case the parents need something like this in the near to distant future...


Madewell clothes and shoes are just as the name suggests - made well. The clothes are a sort of cross between JCrew and Anthropologie, with more like Club Monaco or even TopShop sorts of prices. The store itself is way too overwhelming for me to go into -- it's a bit like Urban Outfitters meets Abercrombie (yeah, it can be bad, especially the Soho store). Since I more or less know my sizes here, shopping online is a whole lot more pleasant. Everything's super easy and reliable. There's a flat $5 rate for shipping, no matter how much you get, so that's a perk.


I'm going to have to write my first "hate it" review. Unfortunately I can sympathize with one of the reviewers who had his/her account held for seemingly no reason. This past week the same thing happened to me as I tried to pay my student loan bill before the due date. Paypal apparently thought that the fact that my paying my student loan, which I do every single month, was unusual and put a lock on it, with one requirement being that I send them a utility bill with my address. For what, I have no idea. My living in Guatemala makes this impossible, and the fact that it has now taken me 4 days to try to resolve this is just ridiculous. I think this may be my last transaction with Paypal, if I can help it.

preferred over pandora - after finding that pandora really wasn't suggesting any particularly fresh or new bands, i turned to last is user-friendly and chock full of good bands and songs, without being repetitive in its suggestions. you can allow it access to your music folder and play songs straight on each new track shows you a couple of other bands you might like that aren't necessarily in your library yet. i've found a handful of new bands in one sitting, everything from chamber pop to folk to shoegazing to rock and on and on. each piece of feedback that you provide, whether you love a track or ban it, seems to be taken into consideration.


Smashbox is probably my favorite line of cosmetics right now. I use their eye shadows, eyebrow tech (which is something I can't do without), lipsticks and lip liners / pencils. The shadow trios are a great combo and allows me to apply without needing to think about which colors go best together. The products for the lips go on smoothly and provide moisture at the same time. I haven't felt the need to change anything up thus far. I only wish their stuff would last a little longer during the day so that I wouldn't have to retouch. However, that might be expecting for a miracle.


7/19/09 sells one item a day until that item sells out or until the day is over. Usually the former happens first because the things they sell are pretty neat and are sold at very cheap prices. I've had friends buy from here, and things always come as advertised and on time. The woot community is helpful, and the owners seem like honest, likable characters who report that they predict profitability by 2043.

At midnight last night I decided that I really needed a shower spray that wouldn't smell like Windex / chemicals. Having read about here, I went there to see what the fuss was about. I was able to order a better shower spray, and in order to get free shipping, I ordered a couple other items (vitamins and lotion). The process was quick, and when I woke up this morning I'd gotten a message from Soap letting me know that the items had shipped. Okay, I thought. I glanced at the shipper and saw it was a company called "Laser Ship". I've never heard of that and felt a little bit uneasy for a bit. However, the other reviews I'd read here allowed me to ignore that discomfort. I got home from work just now, and who should ring my doorbell? A Laser Ship delivery man with my package. That literally took about 16 hours. Amazing.


I'm not exactly a hypochondriac but I am a bit of a worrywart. So whenever I feel under the weather, you can bet that I'll be googling the symptoms while contemplating my life with [whatever life-threatening illness you can think of]. WebMD has been okay, but I don't find that it really puts me at ease. If anything, it makes me even more paranoid. is a pretty new website, I *think*, that allows you to interact with it to enter your symptoms and have the program spit out what it thinks might be wrong and what your options are in dealing with it. There are a handful of check-ups, also, that allow you to answer questions and get the doctor's analysis of whether or not you have said condition and what you should do about it (for example, see a doctor or go to an emergency room immediately). The website is really pretty nicely designed, easy to follow and has a multi-sensory element of a corresponding video of the doctor in charge.


Edited 12/31/14: Since my original post in 2011, I've used AirBnB 5 times easily and successfully in 5 different cities both in the U.S. and abroad. I'd probably use this site before trying to find any hotel. Seems like I just knew how to look for the right places/people.

2011: AirBnB is great in theory - rent from or rent out your apartment to travelers who need a couple days to a couple weeks of housing in a city. The site also looks fantastic, especially as compared to Couchsurfing, which feels like a dirty forum. You find the place you want to book (making sure the host looks like s/he's not going to murder you, selecting the accommodations that are to your liking, etc.) and then you wait for the other person to respond to your request. Your credit card isn't charged until after the fact.

However, what you end up getting is this - the people who are more likely to respond to you are charging up the wazoo for their place. One woman wanted $3400 for the month that I was looking to stay in NYC. Then there are specifications like you have to stay a month or you can't stay longer than 5 days, so it gets tedious dealing with their little conditions. The people that you are interested in won't respond to you at all. Terribly annoying.


My friend Judy introduced me to this website tonight, and it was basically love at first sight. The idea is that you have your own virtual pinboard (or corkboard) and, with the Pinterest application, can pin any picture to your board that you please. The board goes on forever, for as much space as you need. You can have different boards for different interests. Your friends/strangers can repin the image, comment and like whatever you pin. You can peruse strangers' pinboards and find cute new outfits or exciting ideas for hobbies or your home. The site is by invitation only, and apparently it takes time to be invited -- I find that a bit heavy-handed, but it won't stop me from jumping up and down when I get my invite...


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.


Raz-kids allows teachers to easily create homework and an incentive for reading. Linked to (they share some of the same books also), Raz-kids allows you and students to see/hear the book read out loud, to record yourself reading (with vocabulary and pronunciation help), to print some worksheets linked to the book and to take an online quiz. As a teacher, you can see your students' progress charts, quiz scores, etc. When the students complete all their tasks, they get points which can be used to "buy" things for their "raz rocket".

Assigning the work can be tricky, as there's a lot of clicking around to be done (you choose the sequence, which can be time-consuming if you individualize instruction like we do). And at about $80 a year, this is also expensive but worth it if you want to encourage reading and help kids learn that homework can be fun too.


I just read about this on the New York Times and decided to give it a go. I'm still figuring it out, but it seems like a pretty promising way to go about learning languages - by interacting with native speakers and getting feedback from them through written and oral submissions (that are provided as practice through free or fairly cheap courses) or simply by chatting. On the flipside, you can also act as a teacher by reviewing submissions by those wanting to learn your language. All interactions result in Mochapoints, and I believe even a chosen few who have earned enough points can be employed by Mocha as online teachers.

The only concern I have about this is that some folks may be thinking of it as a singles / dating site. Of course you can submit your photo, age, relationship status, etc. So just look out for those without the real intention of learning / teaching.

The site is somewhat tricky to navigate at first, but with a few minutes, you get the hang of it. I submitted some feedback this morning and found it quite easy. As well, it seems that the community in general is there for the right reasons.


I heard about this website on an episode of This American Life called The Enforcers:

The purpose of the website is, I think, to empower people and for folks to share their scambaiting stories. There are letters, FAQs, a hall of shame, tips, a trophy room, a pretty active forum, etc. Some of the stories make me actually feel bad for the scammers (such as the one told on This American Life) so I'm not terribly keen on spending too much time on 419eater, but it's interesting that it exists.
Khan Academy

Khan Academy

A few years back, in one of my classrooms, I had students ranging in ability from doing math at the 2nd grade level to math at the 10th grade level. I had an hour a day to do math with all 4 groups (and these are guys with neurobehavioral disabilities so the one-on-one, immediate feedback time is important) so I needed to be creative and differentiate instruction using what websites were available back then in addition to a high school teacher's videos that I'd obtained somehow.

I WISH I had a website like Khan Academy available to me when I was teaching. Khan has tons of engaging lessons that I'm sure my boys with Aspergers would LOVE - much more so than hearing me everyday. The man behind this is pretty darn smart, and I think I'll watch some of his videos now rather than finishing an awful little history of the world book I have on my Kindle.

Forget tutoring websites, it's all here for free.

Here Salman Khan is on TED:


4/30/11 - what more can I say about it that hasn't been said already? I've been buying items from Amazon since 2003 and have never, not once, had a negative experience. I realize that now, with the various sellers, there's some more risk, but I tend to avoid those and go straight for the items sold by Amazon. And now that I own a Kindle.


Not only do I love the name of this "CutePDF" application but I love the function of it. The CutePDF writer turns any of my documents, spreadsheets, powerpoints, pictures into PDF files with just the click of my "print" button. There are a couple of CutePDF products on the website but I use only (which is the only free one; there are trial versions of the other products). After you download the Writer application and converter and install/run it, a CutePDF printer is created on your computer (excuse my technical language inability). So whenever you're done with a document on Word, Excel, Powerpoint, whereever, you go to print it using CutePDF printer. Instead of actually printing the document, it's converted into a PDF file, just like that! The whole process, from downloading to creating PDFs is amazingly simple. I find CutePDF very useful when I have to send letters to parents and professionals via email.

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