Monthly Archives: October 2010

Me and my Kindle – One Month Later

Just finished my From the Ground Up column.  The subject is about why I purchased a Kindle.  Here are a couple of excerpts:

Amazon released its first e-book reader in November 2007.  It sold out in a matter of hours.  Several of my acquaintances were among the purchasers.  They were unanimously enthusiastic about the device.  I could not see paying $399 for one.  I’m one of those people who love the touch, smell and feel of hardbound and softbound books.  I also love to underline and make notes when I read, especially in nonfiction books.  Whatever desire I might have have mustered for an e-book reader was quickly dissipate by price.  One can buy a lot of books for $399.  Even better, one can go to the library and get them really cheap.  So it was the price that caused me to dismiss the e-book reader.


I really like my Kindle.  It has more than ample battery life, an excellent reading screen, and even a Web browser.  It seems that every day I am discovering some new feature.  Yesterday, I read a few chapters on my MacBook (free Kindle download for it), and then today when I picked up my Kindle e-book reader it asked me if I wanted to sync forward and pick up reading where I had left off on my computer.  There is a long list of features that are too numerous to name here.  All are useful.

Why I prefer my local coffee shop to Starbucks.

I like Starbucks coffee.  I’ve developed a taste for its bold flavor and the consistency of taste that is found at every location.  I also like the Starbucks cafe environment.  What I don’t like about Starbucks is the wait for its coffee.  When I go to Starbucks I am most often in the market for just plain ole coffee.  What I often find  is a line of people in front of me who are ordering lattes, cappuccinos, Frappuccinos (R) and all sorts of specialty drinks.  So I wait and wait and wait while the frazzled, smiling barista scrambles to blend, mix and pour a variety of coffee creations for customers who are willing to pay $3.50 and up for a cup.  I just want a cup of joe.

Now Starbucks is telling its baristas to slow down, according to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal.  What?  Now I get to wait even longer?  And Starbucks is looking into serving wine and beer after 4:00 p.m. at certain locations.  That strategy might work in some locations, but I suspect that it is going to chip away at the Starbucks brand.

So what do I, the everyday coffee consumer do?  It’s simple.  I go to Broad Street Baking Company and Cafe or Cups, my local coffee shops.  Broad Street is a hip eating and meeting place in Jackson, Mississippi that is an excellent alternative to Starbucks.  There, instead of waiting in line for a cup of coffee I can just throw a couple of dollars in a basket beside a selection of four blends of coffee and get my own coffee.  It’s called the honor system.  And the coffee isn’t bad either.  And then there is Cups, a collection of local coffee shops featuring art from local artists on its walls and a person behind the counter who seems to not take forever to create those coffee concoctions.

I’m not swearing off Starbucks.  Especially when I travel.  But in my home town, you’ll find me and my java at my local coffee shop.

How to help low income and underserved students reach college.

Earlier this week I had the opportunity to facilitate a discussion with a group of 27 high school counselors about college counseling. The issue was framed as “How do we help low income/underserved students reach college and be successful there?”

There were many inspiring and enlightening examples, as well as a sharing of some of the barriers faced by the counselors. At the end of the day the following options emerged as ways of dealing with the issue:

– focus on parents and their roles/responsibilities/needs;
– instill more college information in the high school curricula;
– more ACT test prep; and
– provide more information about the benefits of going to college.

Interestingly, the group did not rate “lack of money” as one of the top options.  It seems that for good students there is a way to reach college and succeed.