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December 2, 2008

This final exam brought to you by Starbucks


File under "when the going gets tough, the tough (read schoolteachers) get creative."

What with school budgets being slashed so much that teachers routinely pay for supplies out of their own pockets, Rancho Bernardo (San Diego, California) High School calculus teacher Tom Farber decided there's got to be a better way.

His solution: sell ad space at the bottom of his test papers.

His rates seem quite reasonable, actually: $10 for a quiz, $20 for a chapter test and $30 for a semester final exam.

Here's today's USA Today front page story by Greg Toppo and Janet Kornblum on the new new thing in higher education.

    Ads on tests add up for teacher

    Tom Farber gives a lot of tests. He's a calculus teacher, after all.

    So when administrators at Rancho Bernardo, his suburban San Diego high school, announced the district was cutting spending on supplies by nearly a third, Farber had a problem. At 3 cents a page, his tests would cost more than $500 a year. His copying budget: $316. But he wanted to give students enough practice for the big tests they'll face in the spring, such as the Advanced Placement exam.

    "Tough times call for tough actions," he says. So he started selling ads on his test papers: $10 for a quiz, $20 for a chapter test, $30 for a semester final.

    San Diego magazine and The San Diego Union-Tribune featured his plan just before Thanksgiving, and Farber came home from a few days out of town to 75 e-mail requests for ads. So far, he has collected $350. His semester final is sold out.

    That worries Robert Weissman, managing director of Commercial Alert, a Washington-based non-profit that fights commercialization in school and elsewhere. If test-papers-as-billboards catches on, he says, schools in the grip of tough economic times could start relying on them to help the bottom line.

    "The advertisers are paying for something, and it's access to kids," he says.

    About two-thirds of Farber's ads are inspirational messages underwritten by parents. Others are ads for local businesses, such as two from a structural engineering firm and one from a dentist who urges students, "Brace Yourself for a Great Semester!"

    Principal Paul Robinson says reaction has been "mixed," but he notes, "It's not like, 'This test is brought to you by McDonald's or Nike.' "

    To Farber, 47, it's a logical solution: "We're expected to do more with less."

    The National Education Association says teachers spend about $430 out of their pockets each year for school supplies. This semester, Christine Van Ruiten, a teacher at E.C. Reems, a charter school in East Oakland, has spent $2,000. She scours Craigslist for free supplies and posts requests to DonorsChoose.org, which matches teachers with donors.

    Founded in 2000 by Charles Best, then a Bronx teacher, DonorsChoose has funded about 65,000 projects totaling $26 million. Best calls it "a more dignified, substantive alternative for teachers than selling candy door-to-door — and certainly than selling ad space on final exams. That's crazy."


The picture below appeared with the USA Today story.


Its caption: "A small ad for Arcon Structural Engineer Inc. on the bottom of the first page of a test paper in math teacher Tom Farber's Advanced Placement calculus class at Rancho Bernardo High School in San Diego."

December 2, 2008 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

What are they?


Answer here this time tomorrow.

December 2, 2008 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (9) | TrackBack

BMW — by Keith Haring


Above, the late artist with his 1990 painted BMW ZA, which was on display late last month in the Emirates Palace Hotel as part of Art Paris Abu Dhabi.


It's currently for sale by Paris dealer Enrico Navarra, a snip at $4,500,000.


Apply within.

December 2, 2008 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

MomSpit — 'Universal no-rinse cleanser for hands and face'


"Inspired by the original."

Boy, I used to HATE it when my mom would use her spit to rub something off my face — ewwww.

From websites:


    MomSpit is the universal no-rinse cleanser for hands and face.

    Inspired by the original, it's for everyone — children and adults alike.

    Whether you're urban, suburban or good old country, a soccer mom, golf dude, fashion diva or business suit, MomSpit was designed with versatility in mind.

    It's for you when you're on the move and in your groove.

    Eliminate milk moustaches, chocolate faces, sticky fingers, grease, dried food, latte foam, gas-pump grunge and mystery dirt — just MomSpit on it.


    • Works like magic, smells like heaven, cleans like soap and water without the sink

    • Contains no alcohol, mousses brilliantly, moisturizes gently and feels great

    • Fits in small spaces and travels effortlessly anywhere that you do

    • pH-balanced, biodegradable product and recyclable packaging

    • Easier to use and easier to install than plumbing



[via Milena]

December 2, 2008 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

PrivNote — 'Mission Impossible' Lives


Choose any of seven languages:


You have 5 seconds.

[via Milena]

December 2, 2008 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Straw Straw


Designed by Yuki Iida and winner of this year's Muji Award Gold Prize.

From a website:

Straw Straw

The 3rd annual Muji Awards took place this past summer.

The winning entry was a straw made from actual straw,


mimicking the ancient practice of using straw to drink from.

This year’s competition theme was "Muji Found" and it received 1,986 entries from 35 countries.

The winners will be exhibited soon in Tokyo and later next year at the Salone del Mobile in Milan.

The judges for this year’s competition included designers Naoto Fukasawa and Jasper Morrison.


[via Interior design room]

December 2, 2008 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

TechnoDolt™ tip — Searching by numbers


The other day I needed to find an article I'd read in the previous day's New York Times.

For a change I'd gathered the days-old heaps of newspapers from their various rallying stations around my house (the treadmill stop appears above and below) and stuffed them into a giant Hefty bag and thrown them out back in the trash.

The story I needed was among that mass.

I had no interest in pawing through my garbage — especially on a 27°F evening — to locate the piece.

So that left the internet.

Which became a problem since I couldn't remember any distinguishing words from the story nor its author, though the content was crystal clear in my mind.

I tried all manner of words that might've been in the article but nothing came back via the Times' search function.

Then I had an idea: for some reason the number "200,000" stuck in my mind as having appeared in the story.

So I put "200,000" into the search box and asked for articles in the past seven days: Bingo — there was the one I wanted, among 26 in the past week which had employed that same number.

Very cool.


Like I always say, "Even a blind, anosmic pig finds an acorn every now and then."

December 2, 2008 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Off-Road Commode


From the website:

Off-Road Commode

Bears will wish they had one!

Every sportsman needs his own throne, and the Off-Road Commode fits the bill — with comfort and luxury to boot.

Easily attaches to any 2-inch receiver hitch and supports up to 500 pounds.


The 1-5/16-inch diameter steel tube seat is covered with soft, padded camo.

Can get slippery when wet.

Not for use when vehicle is in motion.

Thank you for that.


$39.99 (toilet tissue not included).

December 2, 2008 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

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