New Stuff Tuesday – March 11, 2014

Dear Life

Dear Life:
Stories
by Alice Munro
PR9199.3.M8 A6 2013
New Arrivals Island, 2nd floor

PR9199.3.M8 D43 2012
Browsing Books, 2nd floor

Canadian Alice Munro has done it again! Dear Life, her thirteenth book of short stories, is world class literature. Not only that, it contributed to her winning the 2013 Nobel Prize in Literature. The Swedish Academy boldly declared her “master of the contemporary short story.” High praise indeed. Ms. Munro had previously won the prestigious Man Booker International Prize (2009), the National Book Circle Critics Award (1998), and many more accolades celebrating her skilled writing, most particularly regarding the short story.

As is common with Munro’s short fiction, these stories focus on rural and small town life and all that that entails, from minutiae to grand schemes. To round out the collection, are four strongly autobiographical “stories.” In the first section of the book is “Dolly,” which details the end of life musings of a woman well past her prime. Having first skipped the intro, I read several pages and then went back. What was revealed the first few pages of the story completely changed my opinion of, quite frankly, everything I’d already read. I don’t recommend doing that. Munro’s well thought out story lines definitely contribute to her mastery of the genre.

I hope you enjoy this great read!

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Money Mondays: Mortgages

The past few weeks we have focused on loans that you will likely have to think about in the very near future. Perhaps a little farther off is another loan: a mortgage. At some point in your life, you’ll probably want to buy a house. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average cost of a new home (including land) in December 2013 was $311,400 and the median cost was $270,200. Not many people have that much money on hand, which makes mortgages incredibly useful.

Cottage, by photosbyflick (flickr)

The most common type of mortgage is a 30 year fixed rate mortgage. This means that a homebuyer makes monthly payments to the bank for 30 years before they actually own the home. “Fixed rate” means that the interest rate will never change during the 30 year period. Because the homebuyer does not own the house, should he or she fail to make payments the bank can reclaim the property and sell it in an effort to make back the money it loaned the homebuyer. This is known as foreclosure.

In order to avoid foreclosure, you must first ask yourself what you can afford. How does a mortgage fit into your budget? One tool that lenders use to determine how much individuals can afford is called the debt-to-income ratio. Lenders will look at both your front-end ratio and the back-end ratio. The front-end ratio tells them what percentage of your income will go toward mortgage payments each year; this includes the principal, interest, insurance and taxes. A good rule of thumb is that the front-end ratio should not exceed 28%. For example, if you make $40,000 a year, your monthly mortgage payments should not exceed $933.

(40,000 * 0.28) / 12 months = $933.33

The back-end ratio tells investors how much of your total income is needed to fulfill all of your debt obligations. This includes your mortgage, car loans, student loans, credit card bills, etc. This ratio should not exceed 36%. Using the example from above, your total debt payments should not exceed $1,200.

(40,000 * 0.36) / 12 months = $1,200

A lender will also look at a potential buyer’s credit score, which we will discuss in depth next week. The higher the score, the easier it is to get a mortgage.

There are a few more things to keep in mind when buying a home. First, the traditional down payment required is 20%. You would need more than $54,000 to put a 20% down payment on a $270,900 home. According to Freddie Mac, the average interest rate for a 30 year fixed rate mortgage is 4.53%. If you put down the 20%, you’ll be looking at payments of over $1,000* after real estate tax and homeowners insurance are accounted for. Notice that this amount exceeds the $933 limit set by our front-end ratio. Make sure you have realistic expectations and limit yourself to homes that fall within your budget, not homes that compare with the national average. Also, check sources like American FactFinder, which includes the American Housing Survey, to determine average housing costs for the city in which you’ll be living.

If you’re looking for more information, check out the two Spending on Housing chapters in Who’s Buying by Age, available online through Andersen Library.

*If you’re wondering how I got the monthly payment amount of over $1,000, try a few of the mortgage calculators listed below. I used $696 for my average annual homeowners insurance amount and $1,812 for my average annual real estate tax amount (numbers based on median amounts payed by Americans in 2011):

Note: This blog post is for informational purposes only. No content should be construed as financial advice.

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T3: Wireless Printing

Want to print from your laptop to Library printers? You will need to download and install a program on your laptop that allows your computer to connect to the printers in any General Access Lab on campus.

Windows Instructions

Mac Instructions

Stop by the Reference Desk if you have questions or need further help.

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Treats 4 Our Troops

-By Andrew E.

UW-Whitewater is joining up with the non-profit “Treats 4 Our Troops.” This organization’s main goal is to send needed items to American soldiers serving overseas.  From now until March 17th, you can donate to “Treats 4 Our Troops” by bringing your items in to the Andersen Library Circulation Desk. The main donations being accepted are foot powder, hand/body lotion, and fruit/nut bars. Along with this, razors, toothpaste, and writing utensils are also being accepted. Get those donations in before March 17th so show your appreciation for the American soldiers!

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“Treats 4 Our Troops” is a national non-profit organization started by Yael Roggen in 2007. Each year, Yael sends at least 3000 pounds of candy to American troops serving overseas. Headquartered in Arlington, Virginia, this organization is showing appreciation for all the sacrifices made by the American troops. On the website, Roggen lists several quotes from actual soldiers who have received her candy. One states, “Opening a box full of Halloween candy put a smile on our faces all the way in Afghanistan.” Another positive testimony comes from a Lance Corporal in Camp LeJeune, N.C.: “Working such long hours with such hard working Marines, it was nice to feel appreciated and get the treats from the local community. I know it’s just candy to most of us, but such a small gesture goes a long way, especially for people who are so far from home.”

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Race Unplugged

Ruha Benjamin, professor of Sociology and African American Studies at Boston University and author of People’s science: Bodies and rights on the stem cell frontier, will talk about “Race Unplugged: Beyond racial sound bites of pundits, politicians, and pop culture” at 7 p.m. on Monday, March 10, in the Irvin L. Young Auditorium. It’s the next Spring 2014 Contemporary Issues Lecture.

Strange Neighbors coverAndersen Library has related materials. Search HALCat for books such as Media & minorities: The politics of race in news and entertainment (3rd-floor Main Collection, PN1995.9.M56 L37 2006), “Can we all get along?”: Racial and ethnic minorities in American politics (3rd-floor Main Collection, E184.A1 M347 2010), and Strangers and neighbors: Multiculturalism, conflict, and community in America (3rd-floor Main Collection, F30.S67 V69 2013). Search article databases for additional resources, such as “Race talk: The psychology of racial dialogues” (American Psychologist, 2013, vol.68:no.8, p.663) and “What is racism? Racial discourse and racial politics” (Critical Sociology, 2006, vol.32:no.2-3,pp.255-274).)

If you’d like assistance with finding additional materials, please ask a librarian.

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Wall Street Journal, Where Are You??

image of newspapersLooking for the Wall Street Journal? Go to the Journal Holdings List (linked from the Library’s home page) and search for it…you probably want the Eastern Edition.

Click ABI/Inform and either search within this newspaper, or browse issues by date.

Do you need articles in a particular section of the paper? Alas, not searchable in the database! However, if you scroll down through the list of articles in a selected issue of the paper, when you get to the section C page numbers, e.g., C1, you’ve found the Money & Investing section, which some students have been requesting recently.

Or, go to the Wall Street Journal‘s web site. Click “Today’s Paper” and then click “Money & Investing.” You can copy the URL from this button and change the date portion if you want, e.g., use the url http://online.wsj.com/itp/20140226/us/moneyandinvesting for that section of the paper for February 26, 2014.

Here is a video showing how to find the WSJ. YouTube Preview Image

If you have additional questions, please ask a librarian.

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Body Adornment Exhibit

The Whitewater Arts Alliance is hosting an exhibit on body adornment from Mar. 8-Apr. 27, open Fridays through Sundays from noon-5pm at the Cultural Arts Center (402 W. Main St., Whitewater). The opening reception will be on Sun., Mar. 9, from 2-4pm, and local tattoo artists, local jewelry designers and a henna artist will be there!

The exhibit will include “jewelry by local artists and UW-W students, tattoo designs by local artists and examples of tattooing equipment.” A video of body adornment in cultures around the world will air continuously during the show.

You can participate! Submit a photo of an heirloom piece of body adornment, such as jewelry and clothing, along with a written description or story that explains its significance. A binder of these submissions will be available during the exhibit.

Presentations scheduled during the exhibition’s run, all at 7pm, are:

  • Mar. 13: History of Tattoos by Skye and Chuck Schaffer of Chuck’s Body Art
  • Mar. 20: History, Art and Ceremony of Body Adornment by Kelly Novak of Indiana University Art Department
  • Apr. 3: Tattooing: Decisions and Designs by local tattoo artist Bear of Voodoo Daddys’ Tattoos
  • Apr. 15: Ceremonial Jewelry of the Victorian Age and Beyond by Teresa Faris of UW-Whitewater Art Department. Those attending are encouraged to wear ceremonial dress and/or jewelry to the presentation.
  • Apr. 24: The Brooches of Madeleine Albright by Marion Burrows

Workshops on precious metal clay, enameling with traditional Americana designs, and polymer clay and heirloom pieces are scheduled as well. Please visit the exhibition web site for descriptions, dates, locations, costs, and registration forms.

cover of Body Piercing bookAndersen Library has resources for learning more! Titles found searching HALCat include a 2013 UW-Whitewater master’s thesis Inked and in public: Tattoos and disclosure (online), and books including Natural fashion: Tribal decoration from Africa (3rd-floor Main OVERSIZE Collection, GN650.5.E8 S5213 2009), Body piercing and tattoos (3rd-floor Main Collection, GT2345 .B63 2003), Tattooed: The sociogenesis of a body art (3rd-floor Main Collection, GN419.3 .A75 2003), Adorn: New jewellery (3rd-floor Main Collection, NK7310.5 .M36 2008), and Metalsmithing for jewelry makers: Traditional and contemporary techniques for inspirational results (2nd-floor New Arrivals Island, TT212 .M3955 2014). Search article databases for resources such as “Visual optics: Interpreting body art, three ways” (Visual Communication, 2013, vol.12:no.1, pp.97-122), “The Ancient Practice of Tattooing” (Ancient Egypt Magazine, 2012, vol.13:no.3, pp.38-42), and “Secret Ink: Tattoo’s Place in Contemporary American Culture” (Journal of American Culture, 2012, vol.35:no.2, pp.153-165, doi:10.1111/j.1542-734X.2012.00804.x).

Please ask a librarian for assistance with using the catalog.

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Pickleball, anyone? 3rd annual Wellfest!

The Working for Whitewater’s Wellness coalition’s 3rd annual Wellfest will be on Sun. Mar. 9, noon-3pm, at Whitewater High School. It’s free!

There’s something here for everyone! Choose from boot camp, Zumba, Pickleball, sports activities provided by UW-Whitewater athletes, healthy cooking demos with the Black Sheep Restaurant, health screenings, a resource fair, and a chance to become CPR/AED certified (Participants must register by March 7 by emailing whitewaterwellness@gmail.com for that!). See the web site for details about times and locations of events. Pickleball, for example, is only offered during the first session (12:20-1pm). There will be a raffle for prizes including a signed Packer football, t-shirts, gift cards, bike helmets, and more.

Office Yoga coverCan’t make it to Wellfest? Andersen Library has resources that can help. Search HALCat for resources such as Easy yoga for easing pain (2nd-floor Browsing DVDs, RA781.7 .E3 2012), Complete guide to pilates, yoga, meditation & stress relief (3rd-floor Main Collection, GV481 .C66 2003), Office yoga: Tackling tension with simple stretches you can do at your desk (3rd-floor Main Collection, RA781.7 .F75 2003), and The diabetic gourmet cookbook: More than 200 healthy recipes from homestyle favorites to restaurant classics (online via EBSCOhost eBook Collection). There also are many resources available online, including Healthy Cooking and Recipes from the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, a web site that includes links to healthy recipes from government sites as well the American Health Association, The Mayo Clinic, and others.

MedlinePlus®, The National Institutes of Health’s web site for patients and the public, has several resources including interactive tutorials to learn more about Managing Stress, Exercising for a Healthy Life, and Weight Management.

Please ask a librarian if you would appreciate assistance with finding additional information.

FDLP logo Andersen Library is a federal and Wisconsin depository library with many federal and state government documents on a variety of current and relevant issues available to you in many formats, including online. Check out your government at Andersen Library!

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New Stuff Tuesday – March 4, 2014

Jerusalem

Jerusalem:
A Cookbook
by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi
TX725.M628 O88 2012
Browsing Books, 2nd floor

Plenty:
Vibrant Vegetable Recipes from London’s Ottolenghi
by Yotam Ottolenghi
TX801.O88 2011
Browsing Books, 2nd floor

Plenty

Winter blues got you down? Want to daydream about warm, sunny climates? How about a sensory trip to the Middle East? These two cookbooks by Yotam Ottolenghi, a noted Israeli chef cooking at his restaurants in London alongside his equally talented sous chef, Palestinian Sami Tamimi, are just the ticket to a food and sensory paradise. These two books are among my hands-down, most favorite cookbooks ever. Not only are the photographs of the people, food, and recipes beautiful, but the text is a great read too! Learn about both Palestinian and Israeli food cultures and traditions (hummus wars?) and cook some excellent food while you are at it.

The recipes range from simple (the hummus is fairly easy to make) to complex but all of them are delicious. My favorite recipe is in Jerusalem, Beef Meatballs with Fava Beans and Lemon. This is a perfect dish to make when you want to think about spring! It’s full of fresh herbs, fava beans (I’ve used fresh fava beans, canned fava beans, and even substituted cannellini beans and edamame beans), lots of lemon, and a delicious sauce. It goes well with rice, bulgur wheat, or couscous and the meatballs freeze really well. Every recipe I’ve tried in these books has been great.

Even if you don’t end up cooking a thing from these two books, looking at the pictures will take away some of the winter blues!

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Money Mondays: Vehicle Loans

Even if you don’t have student loans, which we discussed last week, you will probably have other kinds of loans at some point in your life. One example is a vehicle loan. Unless you plan to live in a place like New York City, you’ll probably need a car to get to and from work, the grocery store, etc. According to USA Today, the average price of a new car in August 2013 was $31,252 (though it’s important to remember that you don’t have to buy a new car). Your ability to pay for a car, new or used, outright as a fresh college graduate is unlikely, so it’s important to understand the way car loans work.

You have a few options for obtaining financing for a car. Direct lending means a finance company, bank, or credit union loans you the money you need for the car and you agree to pay that money back with interest. Dealership financing is the same thing, but you sign a contract with the dealer rather than a banking institution. With dealership financing, the interest rates will likely be a little higher. However, this option is often more convenient and more timely than applying for a loan through a banking institution. According to the Federal Trade Commission, the interest rate you will pay on your loan is determined by a number of factors, including your credit history, current finance rates, competition, market conditions and special offers. If your credit score is relatively low, you may need a co-signer (such as a parent) on the contract. We’ll talk about credit in detail in a few weeks.

Another option is leasing a vehicle. Just like renting an apartment, you would be using the car for a time but you would not actually own it. When you lease a car, as opposed to buying a car, your payments will likely be less each month because you are only paying depreciation expenses, rent, taxes, and fees. Depreciation is “a method of allocating the cost of a tangible asset [such as a car] over its useful life” (Investopedia). This is what people are talking about when they say a new car loses a lot of value as soon as it leaves the dealer’s lot. Cars depreciate a lot initially and then less and less over time, creating a graph that looks a lot like this:

Depreciation

You can see the graph is already staring to flatten by the end of year five. Depreciation is an important consideration when deciding whether to purchase a new or used vehicle. Unless you plan to drive a car until it dies, it may not be worth it to buy a brand new vehicle.

Whether you decide to purchase or lease a vehicle, you have to make sure the vehicle you are looking at is affordable for someone in your current position. According to an article published by Business Insider, “Many personal finance experts suggest the 20-4-10 rule. It means you should have a 20 percent down payment on a car loan, borrow for no more than four years and make sure car payments are no more than 10 percent of your gross income.” Revisit your budget and see what repayment plan will work best. You can use an auto loan calculator to help you visualize how long it will take you to pay off a car and get an estimate of the amount you will need to pay each month. Don’t purchase your dream car right away. Be okay with driving adequate vehicles right now and saving up for something nicer in the future.

You can read Consumer Reports online through several of Andersen Library’s databases to determine which new or used cars might be a good investment for you!

Note: This blog post is for informational purposes only. No content should be construed as financial advice.

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