Bookends About Economics

April 28, 2012 Uncategorized 3

13605023Economics: A Simple Twist on Normalcy is an approachable introduction to some basic concepts in economics.  The author Kersten Kelly focuses on everyday examples of economics at work in order to make the concepts more relatable for the everyday reader.  Although the book is neither as dry nor as comprehensive as an economics textbook, I think it has the potential to be a good introduction to an economics course in order to get students more interested.
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Photography Friday

April 27, 2012 Photography Friday 0

A few days ago I was walking to work on campus and spotted this butterfly, enjoying the sun as much as I was!  The weather here in Iowa has been absolutely gorgeous lately, although today was a little chilly because of the wind.  I hope the rest of you are enjoying the summer weather too 🙂  Although I’d love to get out and enjoy the weather more, I think I’ll mostly be studying for finals this weekend.  How about you?  Any exciting plans for getting out and enjoying the sunshine this weekend?


Author Interview with Kersten Kelly

April 26, 2012 Author Interview 0

Kersten-PicHello all and welcome to our first author interview!  Today I’m excited to share with you some questions I got to ask Kersten Kelly, the author of Economics: A Simple Twist on Normalcy.  If her book sounds like something that might interest you, you can read on to hear about her inspiration, check back on Saturday for a review, and find out more about her at the links given at then end of this post.  Now, without further ado, the interview…

First, could you tell us a little about your book?
The book is a unique compilation of examples of pop culture, history, social media, business, sports, and education all explained through an economic lens. It uses current market trends and examples that can be applicable and enjoyable for anyone. It is written in a narrative non-fiction format so it flows easily and does not read similarly to a textbook. Economics is part of daily life, and this book challenges readers to question how and why people make decisions by adding a simple twist on normalcy. Read more »


On Reading Historical Non-Fiction

April 24, 2012 Uncategorized 4

I’ve been putting off really digging into Tycho and Kepler because I’m a little intimidated by it – not a feeling I usually have about books!  I don’t know much history and I’d really like to learn more.  However, as I learned at a “how to be a good TA” lecture, people learn best when they can connect new knowledge to information they already know.  This has been making my first attempt to dig into some historical non-fiction difficult, especially since I’m not happy to just read past things I don’t get.  At risk of sounding completely hopeless, I’m going to give you some of my impressions reading the first paragraph of Tycho and Kepler (my thoughts in Italics):

“On January 11, 1600 (ok, so after the Magna Carta, after Christopher Columbus, before the American Revolution…wow, my knowledge of history is really sparse) the carriage of Baron Johann Friedrich Hoffmann, baron of Grunbuchel and Sterchau (Germany? maybe Denmark, the map at the beginning was of Denmark, but nope these places aren’t on that map) , rumbled out of Graz… Having fulfilled, for the time being, his occasional duties as a member of the Styrian Diet (some sort of ruling council?) in the Austrian (ah, apparently we’re in Austria) provincial capitol, he was returning to court in Prague (hmm, I know that city, but what country is it in…).

I could go on, but you get the idea!  Currently, I think my best bet is just to read with wikipedia open, but if anyone has any other suggestions for a (historically and geographically inept) first-time reader of historical non-fiction, I’d appreciate the advice 🙂


Monday Musings

April 23, 2012 Monday Musings 0

This week the Monday Musings question is the following: Other than working at a job, what is your biggest interruption to reading? What takes you away from your book(s)?

For me the biggest interruption is definitely school, although to be fair, that’s basically a job.  I still think it counts though because it’s a job which is excessively easy to take home with you, particularly spending forever reading the ridiculous number of papers out there on your subject in the unending quest to become an expert.  And for me, nothing gets me out of the mood to read non-fiction for fun like reading a ton of non-fiction for school!  Other than that, I spend a lot of time skyping with the boy and a decent amount of time with friends or exercising while watching tv.  Despite what the tone of the question may suggest though, I (almost) never begrudge taking time away for reading for these things since they’re all things I’ve chosen to fill my time with – even the papers 🙂

Feel free to answer the Monday Musing question yourself, either here or on the blog of the memes host, Should Be Reading.  What are some of the biggest time commitments in your life?


Bookends About The Uglies Quartet

April 22, 2012 Dystopian, Fiction, Young Adult 1

I’ve wanted to read the Uglies quartet for years, ever since they showed up on my little sister’s shelves.  The series takes place in a post-apocalyptic society where all of humanity is gathered into a few independent cities.  In every city, when citizens reach their 16th birthday they undergo a surgery to change them from “uglies” into super-model gorgeous “pretties”.  There is, of course, a catch.  Both the catch and most of the other plot points were quite predictable, although the motivations of those in charge surprised me;  I just don’t feel like they got enough out of it.  But the idea was novel and I appreciated that.  The world was also very well developed and the details of the procedure by which people became pretty were fleshed out enough to make it very believable. Read more »


Photography Friday – Seattle Edition

April 20, 2012 Photography Friday 6

As promised, this week I have a picture of the Seattle skyline, taken from Kerry Park.  The other pictures are a selection of my favorite pictures taken doing touristy things after the conference was over.  Both of the nature pictures are taken while hiking in Discovery Park and the flowers are for sale at the Pike Place open-air market.  I hope everyone has a great weekend 🙂


Cultivating an Ecological Conscience in the 630’s

April 20, 2012 Nature, non-fiction 0

Farmer-philosopher Frederick Kirschenmann’s Cultivating an Ecological Conscience is a collection of thoughtful essays about the “ethical and practical principles” of developing a sustainable agricultural system.  Drawing on his experiences as a theologian and a farmer, he delivers a series of measured arguments that a shift to more sustainable agriculture is a necessary change.  As I mentioned in my Monday Musing, this was a welcome break from the rhetoric some other authors depend on.  It is clear that the author is a product of a true liberal arts education, with a gift for elocution (I would love to hear him speak!) and a deep knowledge of the classics.  I was at times astounded by the variety of sources he drew on to support his economic and agricultural theories – everything from Adam Smith to Machiavelli.  I think the fact that he has read such different works and thought about their connection to agriculture is truly indicative of his passion for the topic. Read more »


Monday Musings

April 16, 2012 Monday Musings 0

This week the Monday Musings question is the following: What are you currently reading? And, is it better, as good as, or worse than your last read?

I’m currently reading Cultivating an Ecological Conscience: Essays from a Farmer Philosopher.  My previous read was the Uglies quartet, a YA dystopian series, and was much too different to compare to my current read.  But before that I was reading Uncertain Peril: Genetic Engineering and the Future of Seeds which is much more comparable.  As you already know from my review of that book, I found it had a good message but the message got lost in a lot of rhetoric and emotion.  Fortunately, Cultivating an Ecological Conscience is the opposite.  Although the author, of course, still has an agenda, all of the essays are clear and measured arguments for the author’s point of view.  The message the author is trying to convey in each essay is always well-supported and the author’s passion doesn’t overwhelm his reason.  So far, I’m liking this one much better.

Feel free to answer the Monday Musing question yourself, either here or on the blog of the meme’s host, Should Be Reading.  What are you reading now and how does it compare to your previous read?


Photography Friday

April 15, 2012 Photography Friday 0

This week’s Photography Friday is brought to you by the awesome (and all-expenses paid – thank you Microsoft and Google!) conference for women in computing I attended this weekend.  It was a lot of fun and extremely helpful.  We had gorgeous weather the entire trip and so flying back I got this beautiful view of Mount Ranier.  Next week I’ll hopefully have some pretty pictures of the Seattle skyline prettied up to share too!

If you get a chance, I suspect my poll last week didn’t work via e-mail, so if you have an opinion about what decade in the Dewey Decimal system you would most like to hear about, please click through to my poll and vote 🙂  I will probably start reading from whatever decade is winning at the beginning of next week.