Friday, May 26, 2006

Textbook Manufacturers

Well, I guess I've all ready broken the Compact. Sort of. I went to get my summer textbooks. I'm only taking two classes, and I was able to get one of the books used. (I always did that anyway, back in school; textbook prices are outrageous.) They only had new books on the shelf, and there was a note saying they weren't buying them back because they would have a new book in the fall. I went to find a clerk and asked her if they had any used copies in the back. The conversation went something like this:
"Oh no. That's a brand new edition. It just came out."
"But it says over there that the textbook for fall is going to be new."
"Yes, they're switching it again in the fall."
"So there's a new textbook every semester now?"
She shrugged. "At least every year. They change it when they want, and the profs have to keep up."

So I checked into it, and sure enough, the book I bought is new and they're discontinuing the old one. And this happens with just about every subject now. I thought it was bad the first time around! But it's gotten a lot worse. I know why, of course. The manufacturers only make profit off the sales of new books, so its in their best interests to change them often. Even if they don't change them that much. And the professors are obligated to follow through with it. They're required to use the new books.
Yet another example of corporate greed. Let's just cut down more virgin forests every year to make new textbooks that are only a bit different than the old so we can charge poor college kids a hundred bucks each for them to make ourselves more money.

I had a prof once that outsmarted them. A long time ago, my very first semester of college. He got around them by the 'simple' expedient of writing his own textbook, and publishing it through a local independent printer. The price of that textbook? $15. And it was printed on recycled, as opposed to virgin fiber.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Two Very Difficult Decisions

The first was easier but the second was longer in coming.

I’m President of a local non-profit. It’s a volunteer position and a lot of work. I started out as Vice-President a few years ago. They needed someone badly and I couldn’t say no. But I didn’t want the position and didn’t enjoy it. Then I got promoted to President when the old one retired. It’s even more work and even less enjoyable. Well I’m going back to school now. I can’t work full time, go to school, and do all the volunteer activities I’ve been involved in. It’s just not possible. Especially since I’m committed to simplifying my life now. That one is the biggest time commitment and the one I enjoy the least. Frankly, if I am going to be doing volunteer work, I would much rather be working for my church or help the homeless. So I’m not going to renew my term when the elections come up in a couple of weeks. The board isn’t going to like it, but I’ve made up my mind in the matter. It just won’t be easy to resign.

The second was the hard one. I spent seven years in college to get my degree and a lot more work to get where I am now. And I’ve hated every minute of each job I’ve had. I’m good at what I do but I have no passion for and it drains all the energy and the life from me. That’s why I’m going back to school. My plan has been to keep this job until I finish and am ready to look for a new position. But that is not going to be possible. What I’m working on is morally reprehensible to my personal sense of ethics, and they won’t switch me to another project. The only other jobs in my current field are in similar endeavors. I almost lost my mind when I saw pics of a demonstration of this project on Friday. So I’m going to quit. I’ll work at Kinko’s or MacDonald’s if I have to. It’s not worth my sanity –or my soul.

Friday, May 19, 2006

May 19th

It’s not my intention to update this blog every day, as I have a lot going on in my life and not all the time in the world to sit at the pc typing. (Plus, no offense, but I’d rather be playing fetch with my dogs if I have free choice in the matter!)

I didn’t get too much done yesterday, which is all right. Small steps. I’ve finished cleaning out the kitchen except for going through the Tupperware. I use all of that on a rotating basis due to my love of cooking and my cook and freeze policy, so I won’t end up throwing too much of that out. I also started on my linens. That closet has been chock full, and I’ve been wondering what to do about it. Then I discovered that I still have the sheets, blankets, comforters, and curtains that went with my old bed. I got a new and larger bed last year, so these have just been sitting there. If you throw out sheets you no longer use, you have more room. Duh! I also found a box of stuff at the back that hadn’t been unpacked since I moved in. This wasn’t any old box of junk either –it’s things I’ve been looking for and hadn’t been able to find. Oh, nothing essential. But things that are precious to me. A candleholder I got from a friend when I finished college. A cat statuette my then seven year old cousin gave me for Christmas one year. That kind of thing.

There’s one other thing I wanted to share. Last month I went to a church conference that was focused on sustainable living. Everyone who attended got a souvenir mug, which I’m drinking out now. It’s the reason I thought about this. We were given the mugs not just as souvenirs, but because we were to drink out of them all weekend. Since the con was on sustainability, they refused to use disposable cups (and everything else, but we used the host church’s other stuff). Some people were incensed that they had to cart this mug around and wash it out instead of just throwing one away. I thought that was funny –go to a conference on living sustainably, and be angry that you couldn’t use disposable cups! Most people graciously used them though, and it gave me hope. Especially the way we all lined up and took turns washing out our mugs after meals. I was waiting in line one time and I remember thinking to myself ‘This is the way it should be.’ Which is one of the reasons I started down this path.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Unloading the Clutter

I started going through stuff today to get rid of all the clutter in my house (and my life). My chosen starting point was the kitchen cabinets. After all, I reasoned, I haven't had a kitchen that long and despite my love of cooking I don't buy much, so I shouldn't have all the doohickies and whatchmacallits everyone else does. But I made the decison that I would throw out at least one thing from every drawer and cabinet anyway. And a good thing to -to my surprise I discovered my cabinets to be chock full of gadgets and thingabobs, many of whom I couldn't even identify. I don't even remember buying have that stuff. Then again, come to think of it, I probably didn't. When I got my first place, people gave me all kinds of stuff as housewarming presents. I think a lot of that probably came from that. I saw it, had no idea what it was, and put it in a drawer in case I needed it later. Well, I obviously haven't needed it and I'm getting rid of it. The only things I'm keeping out of that mess that I don't use on a regular basis are one of the ice cream scoops, a the cat food can lids (so I won't have to waste a can, because my babies don't eat a full can at a sitting) and the cookie cutters. I use the cat can lids once a month, and while I only need the cookie cutters a couple of times a year, I do use them. It's easier, cheaper, and better for the environment to have one good set lying around than to rebuy them every Thanksgiving. I haven't even finished the kitchen yet, and I have half a box full of stuff to toss!
The nice thing about it is, that once you throw one thing out, it becomes easier to toss the next thing. And the next and the next. It feels good to have that stuff out of my hair and my life. I'll be even happier when I've finished entirely.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

May 16th

Well, the grand experiment is going better than I thought it would. The question is, can I maintain this over the long term? Weeks, months, even a year?
Yesterday I went shopping. I went to my local Kroger and picked up most of my groceries for the month. I was rather proud of myself; the only things I got that weren't food were trash bags, and toilet bowl disinfectant. Then I went to the health food store and got some fruit, nuts, etc. Most of it wasn't local, but it's hard to get local except at the Farmer's Market, and it's only open on Saturday's from 8-noon. I was out of town last weekend, so that was a no-go. I took my cloth bag, but forgot to use the dang thing. Oh well; one step at a time!