So, I have a cold. I caught it from my husband, who got over his in about two days. Me? Not so much. My husband bought me a bag of Vitamin C drops that, according to the packaging, come in "assorted citrus flavor." Is it just me, or should that say "flavors"?

I know I make mistakes all the time. In fact, my joke is that I'm bilingual because I speak fluent English and Typo. I do my best to catch them, but sometimes I see something on the site and think, "Oh, brother! How long has that been like that?"

Sometimes, I get disturbed by the number of mistakes, errors, and typos I see in things that are supposedly professionally produced. Not too long ago I was in a store that had printed signs that read, "Take an ADITTIONAL 50% off." (Yes, I do have photographic evidence!) I couldn't decide what was more unfortunate - that someone had spelled "additional" that way, in all caps no less, or that apparently no one working in the store had noticed. Or maybe they had noticed, but simply didn't care? 

It reminded me again of the importance of editing my own work. If you come across something that needs fixing or cleaning up here at HC USA, please don't hesitate to point it out to me. The conventions of grammar and spelling were created and set down to make sure that as little as possible was left to chance when it came to understanding what is being written or said. I want to adhere to that notion as much as possible. I can be hard enough to understand as it is. I don't need to go making things worse with incomprehensible, typo-filled "explanations." :)


 
Good news in the Geography department. The book I'd found earlier online at Flat World Knowledge is no longer missing the pictures and graphics. It can now be used to replace the missing PASS textbook.

(Yay! Once again, the internet has not failed me!)
 
If you dropped in on the blog for info about the new website, just scroll down to the previous post. (This is actually true for the PASS textbooks as well.)

Meanwhile, back at the farm...

Earlier tonight, my husband walked in and set a few books down on my desk and without really thinking, I reached out and straightened them so they were perfectly lined up with the edge of the desk. It wasn't until after I did it that I thought, "Uh, who am I trying to impress here? The dogs?"

Last year, as I was finishing my own degree at TESC, I took a class that had a series of lecture videos. I took copious notes, but when I made a mistake, I didn't simply cross it out. I didn't scribble it out. I used Liquid Paper. Seriously. These were just my notes. Nothing I had to turn in or share with anyone or... well, frankly, I'll probably never look at them again now that the class is done. But I still corrected all my mistakes with Liquid Paper. Who does that?

I even have a hang-up about writing in books. I will not do it. No marks, no highlighting, nothing. If I drop a pen and leave a little mark on a page, I cringe. I blame this on my public school upbringing. Every year when we were issued our textbooks, we were given dire warnings about punishments and fines if we turned the books back in at the end of the year with any kind of markings. I was so paranoid about it, the first day of school I would go through every one of my books and make a note if their previous (temporary) owners had disobeyed the rules, and if I found something, I would show it to the teacher and make sure she/he acknowledged this wasn't my fault. Can you imagine what those teachers must have thought? "Oh, boy. This one's gonna be a load of fun in my class this year."

I buy a lot of used books now. And when those books are textbooks, they often have highlighting and/or notes in the margins. Sometimes? I have to resist the urge to reach for the Liquid Paper. I guess my frugal tendencies beat out my OCD, though, because I'll take the marked-up, scribbled-in $14 textbook over the neat-n-clean-n-new $140 textbook any day. My favorite resource is Amazon, and so that's why I often link to them when I search for inexpensive textbooks and post what I find, but there are other choices and I absolutely encourage you to check them out. Barnes and Noble has a used seller market, for instance, and there's Alibris, as well.

Total confession time: The OCD thing? Yeah. I've even caught myself straightening books and pictures in other people's homes. *face palm*
 
Real quick note: If you haven't already done so, READ THIS POST with information about how to order the PASS textbooks for free on CD.

I spoke with some terrific ladies last night and was reminded again of my tendency to assume people know things they may not actually know. My problem is, I've been doing this for so long now, I think some things are "common knowledge," when they are, in fact, no such thing.

If you haven't seen the note on my "About Me" page, I have been working on a new website. I originally planned to write a book, but got frustrated with all the edits I had to keep making because of changes in school policies or tests or anything else and I finally realized, by the time my book would be ready for publishing, it would already need a second edition. And if you haven't guessed it so far, one of my big bugaboos is the whole idea of the constant new editions in textbooks that keep the prices so scary high.

So instead, I decided to put together a second website that I could update as often as necessary. The new site will be much more focused on actually obtaining your degree specifically through Thomas Edison State College, by guiding you through it step-by-step. It will show you how to put together a degree plan and explain such concepts as PLAs (Prior Learning Assessments) and Learner-Designed Areas of Study (Choose-your-own-major!). I am anticipating a go-live date of October 1st. I have chosen to focus on TESC because this is the school I am most familiar with. Eventually, I would like to add information for Charter Oak and Excelsior as well.

What does this all mean to you right now? If you've got questions, now would be a great time to ask! I am working on the FAQ page for the new site and would love to be able to answer your questions, rather than simply assume I know ahead of time what they will be. You can use the contact form here to let me know.
 
*Bangs head on desk*

I don't know what prompted me to do it, but I went and checked some of the PASS books links on the Wayback Machine. In particular, mathematics. Pre-Algebra was there. Mathematics 2 was there. Algebra? Nope. Click on one of the algebra links and you get an error message. Oh, joy.

But, there is some good news. First, SAS just launched a new Algebra 1 course. (Scroll down a little on the page and there's a box on the right-hand side of the screen you can click on.) Second, between CK-12 and Khan Academy alone, there's lots of algebra stuff available, even without the PASS book. Don't forget, too, that you can still order the CDs for free and get the PASS algebra 1a, 1b and a third book just called "Algebra 1," plus their TEs.

Meanwhile, as soon as I can, I will check all the Wayback Machine links and make sure they are working, or pull them their corresponding HC USA page.
 
So... I switched here to Weebly some time ago, because I liked all they have to offer. Their free hosting is phenomenal by itself, but the paid hosting is even better and extremely affordable.

Last night I decided that, by golly, I was going to figure out what I could do so that the problem with the blog comments not showing up would be fixed. I tried several things before finally throwing in the towel and submitting a support request.

Robin from Weebly didn't just give me some kind of form answer like those typically generated by support tickets at so many different sites. (You know the kind. They're based on key words in your request and most of the time don't even answer your question.) No, she actually fixed the problem for me. How totally awesome is that?  Hmmm... Robin, if you for some reason see this and you're a guy, my apologies for the gender assumption!

If you have a website hosted somewhere else, I urge you to look into moving it to Weebly. If you are thinking of starting one, even just as a personal blog, again, look at Weebly. This isn't about referrals or anything. I don't even know if they have a referral program, and if you do sign up, you absolutely don't have to mention me or HC USA if asked. I tried to count up the number of web hosts I have had over the years, and there have been at least 9. Probably more that I simply don't remember. None of them have ever impressed me as much as Weebly has. Yeah. They're THAT good.
 
It's been awhile since I've done this. In fact, I think the last one was when HC USA was still at its old host/blog. So, I thought it was about time for another round of, "Textbooks that won't break the bank!" fun. This time, let's try chemistry.

From Amazon:
Whoa. Before I really get started, I just found a chemistry textbook that is selling new for $214.64, and that's discounted from the list price of $299.95. It's got some fairly good (thought not universally so) reviews, but still. Three hundred dollars for one book? Yowsa!

Well, for those who do like the addition of a not-only-online textbook to round out their studies but don't want to spend quite that much on a single book, here are some more reasonably priced suggestions.

Chemistry: An Introduction to General, Organic, & Biological Chemistry (10th Edition) - starting used at $12.98.

Chemistry, 10th Edition - starting used at $9.00.

Chemistry: The Molecular Nature of Matter and Change - starting used at $8.69.

Foundations of College Chemistry - starting used at $6.99.

World of Chemistry: Essentials - starting used at $0.01

And this isn't a textbook, but I personally recommend it to anyone struggling with chemistry concepts:  Homework Helpers: Chemistry - starting used at $11.00. Or, you could purchase the previous edition here, starting used at just 1 cent. I actually have the first edition and found it to be an excellent resource for basic chemistry concepts.

I'm going to take a guess and say, as far as sciences go, chemistry isn't one of the more popular choices at the college level. I can usually find plenty of textbooks for a specific subject that are priced used for a few dollars or less. That obviously wasn't the case here. Please note that the above books are not listed in any particular order, and it's simple coincidence that they are priced in descending order. Also, I do not personally own all of them (only the World of Chemistry book and the Homework Helpers one), so I can't recommend them in particular. Use your own discretion if you decide to purchase anything. From what I saw, Foundations of College Chemistry had the most favorable reviews, aside from the well-deserved accolades for the Homework Helpers book.
 
I don't normally link to anything that's referring to my own site, but I really do like what Jamie at the Time 4 Learning online Homeschool Blog describes as her method of bringing things together to create a study plan for her children. It's worth a look!
 
I was able to find the student editions of the newer PASS books on the Wayback Machine, so I have updated the links on the individual pages. (We'll see how long that lasts!) However, these links do not include the teacher editions. I highly recommend you use the information below to order the free CDs. You'll get the TEs this way. There is no guarantee how long they will be available, so do it soon. It may be that you never even use them, but they're nice to have, just in case, and you can always give the CDs away later, if you want.

Meanwhile, the World Geography PASS book apparently never made it through the revision stage. This means it is not available on the CDs, or at Wayback, like it was on the ERIC site. I have just spent over two hours trying to find a good, legal, free alternative, without success. There is a free geography book at Flatworld Knowledge, but when you click on the online free edition, all the photos are missing.

If you know of a free geography book, please let me know! I will keep searching myself and hopefully find something soon.
 
I have been in contact with the FLDOE representative in charge of the PASS textbooks.  They have gone back to offering the complete set of student editions and teacher editions on CD-ROM.  You may request your free copy by sending your full name and mailing address to:  BRIC@fldoe.org.  You do NOT have to be a Florida resident.  (I did confirm this.)  I will get the individual webpages that list PASS textbooks updated as soon as I can.