Saturday, April 4, 2015

For MY Convenience

I found myself once again totally relating to a comic strip this week:

Baby Blues Comic Strip for April 03, 2015 | Comics Kingdom

See, over Spring Break, Jerry and I were running errands, and we needed to make a deposit at the bank.  We pulled up to the drive through lanes and found a big sign:  CLOSED.  We parked and headed inside to the lobby.  When we finally got up to the teller (long line, one teller) I inquired as to whether this was a temporary closure, and was informed that not only was this a permanent change, but that it was for my convenience.

Yes, MY convenience.  See, they upgraded the (single) ATM so that it can take deposits, and now we won't have to wait in line for one of the four tellers that used to run the drive-through lanes.  Nope, now I can conveniently wait behind eight other cars that used to use the drive-through that are now in the one and only ATM line.  Certainly smacks of convenience to me, no?

Not two days later, we received a request for documentation for a charge against our new FSA debit card.  You know, the one they gave us for our convenience this year.

Last year, our insurance company sent the amounts to the FSA service provider, and they automatically cut us a check.  I didn't have to send in anything, didn't have to file anything, zip, nada, nothing.  But it turns out that procedure wasn't convenient enough.  No, this year we have a debit card that we can use to pay for those expenses so that the money never even has to come out of our pocket to be reimbursed.  Only when we use the card, we then get the above mentioned notification that requires us to gather the itemized receipt from the doctor, the EOB statement from the insurance company, and either scan or photograph them and send those to the FSA provider.  Yes.  That's definitely more convenient.  (Not.)

So spring break ends, and I head back to work.  During one of my first lessons back, I am reading books about bones and skeletons to my Kindergarten classes.  I have a stack of four books on top of a four-foot bookshelf shelf, and when I reach for the second book, the book on the top of the stack slides off and disappears behind the bookshelf.  In my head I'm thinking a lot of words that I can't say aloud in front of my students, but I slap a smile on my face and come up with a new plan.  Yea, let's sing this song!  Let's dance this dance!  I fill the 10 minutes that should have been spent reading that book with other activity and make it through the lesson.

At the end of the day, I had to unload the books from two bookshelves full of non-fiction books, pull the shelves away from the wall, and retrieve the lost book to use in the lessons for the rest of the week.  As I was putting all the books back on the shelf, I thought to myself, "You know, this isn't so bad.  I'm sure that the bookshelf was just holding on to that book for my convenience."

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Woo-Hoo! Early Reviewer!! Nick and Tesla's Special Effects Spectacular: A Mystery with Animatronics, Alien Makeup, Camera Gear, and Other Movie Magic You Can Make Yourself!

LibraryThing Early Reviewers

 Well, after putting my name in the drawing for several months, I finally got a book from the Library Thing Early Reviewers program. Without further ado. . . my first review:

Nick and Tesla's Special Effects Spectacular:  A Mystery with Animatronics, Alien Makeup, Camera Gear, and Other Movie Magic You Can Make Yourself!

This is the fourth or fifth Nick and Tesla book, but only the second that I’ve read after the debut. I received this book as part of the Library Thing Early Reviewers program in return for my honest review, so here it is:

Nick and Tesla are a twin brother and sister team who have scientist parents who have suddenly disappeared on a business trip shrouded in mystery. While they are gone, Nick and Tesla have been sent to live with an eccentric uncle that is also a scientist. Nick and Tesla have a great interest in science and minimal adult supervision, so their adventures begin.

The thing that I really like about these books is that the kids use their science knowledge to solve their problems, and the authors have given detailed instructions for each project alongside the story. As an elementary school librarian, I love that I can use this book to get my non-fiction readers into a fiction book, and get my fiction readers interested in science.

In this story, Nick and Tesla are invited onto a movie set that has been plagued with troubles, which could cause their friend’s aunt’s producing career to take a nose-dive. They begin to search for clues and motive, creating several impressive gadgets along the way. In the end, the mystery is solved, the aunt’s career is saved, and Nick and Tesla are heroes of the day.

I was glad that the kids solved the mystery in this book by themselves, rather than having adults swoop in and save the day at the end like they did in the first book. That said, I’m not sure the significance of the clues was brought out enough to allow the intended reader to connect the dots along the way, rather than remaining confused until the pieces were put together for you at the end.

I liked the projects in this book, although not all projects / illustrations were present in the advance copy I received. They seemed doable for the age group that is targeted in this book. I thought that the subject of movie-making was a nice backdrop to the story, although the mystery of what Nick and Tesla’s parents are up to did not move forward at all.

All in all, this book is a great addition to the elementary library, with likeable characters and a quick-paced story.