Posted by: Lisa Pampuch | August 9, 2004

Wandering the WWW

It’s the dog days of summer and I’m in the mood to take a break from the somber and political. How about a little fun? In my wanderings about the Web, I’ve discovered some great sites to share with you.

• Columbia Journalism Review’s Language Corner. You don’t have to be a journalist or an English major to enjoy this Web site. You just need an appreciation for the English language. In short, witty pieces, Consulting Editor Evan Jenkins answers pressing questions like “Isn’t ‘a friend of mine’ a double possessive?” (Answer, paraphrased: Yes, but it’s better than the ‘correct’ alternative, “A friend of me.”) Jenkins tackles thorny issues including the correct use of bid, bid and bade. He dispenses sage advice on how far to stretch the word “decimate.”

If you appreciate the bumper sticker my husband spied at Starbucks the other day (“English doesn’t borrow from other languages. English follows other languages down dark alleys, knocks them over and goes through their pockets for loose grammar.”), then you’ll love the Columbia Journalism Review’s Language Corner at www.cjr.org/tools/lc.

• Schwab Learning. If you have a child with learning difficulties, you’ll want to visit this comprehensive Web site. Schwab Learning bills itself as “a parent’s guide to helping kids with learning difficulties” and is available in English and Spanish.

Funded by the Charles and Helen Schwab Foundation, the Schwabs started this project after their son’s struggles with dyslexia. The Web site offers information on identifying and managing a wide range of learning difficulties. It covers topics from assessments to individualized education plans to research.

If you’re raising or teaching a child with learning difficulties, this Web site could be invaluable.

• Television Without Pity. It’s not enough to watch your favorite shows; you also need to snark about them with fellow addicts online. Television Without Pity lists episode recaps of dozens of shows, from scripted dramas to reality programs. But even more important are the forum boards where fans share opinions and predictions about what’s to come.

I discovered this Web site during Survivor All Stars. I’m not too interested in reactions and recaps of any other shows, but I have to admit that I want to know other viewers’ reactions to the Survivor castaways. Fair warning: If you loved Rupert, you’re going to be in the minority at TWoP. Check it out at www.televisionwithoutpity.com.

• MLS Listings. Maybe it’s just that I grew up with a father who sold new and existing homes, but I do have a bit of a real estate addiction. This can be seen in my TiVo season passes (a heavy preponderance of HGTV) and in my vacation activities (I’m compelled to read real estate ads in the cities I visit).

Even if you’re not in the market for a new home, this is a great place to learn how much the owners are asking for the house down the street where the for sale sign just sprouted – without making your kid try to snag a brochure from those always-empty boxes.

You can search for houses for sale in Santa Clara, San Benito, San Mateo, Santa Cruz and Monterey counties by street name, city or ZIP code. Narrow your search by features (swimming pool, garage, lot size, number of bedrooms and more) and price range. Specify single-family homes, condominiums, mobile homes or multiple-unit buildings. Look for land, for commercial property, business opportunities or rentals.

In short, you can research a city, a neighborhood or be just plain nosy at all hours from the privacy of your own computer by visiting www.mlslistings.com.

• The Smoking Gun. This site is one of the downsides to being world-famous. If you’re arrested or sued and you’ve had more than 15 minutes of fame, your mug shot, court papers or contracts will end up here. Scroll through mug shots of the famous and infamous including athletes, gangsters, musicians, actors and beyond. Read contract riders specifying performers’ demands from dressing room food to flowers.

The Smoking Gun’s current featured document lists gifts given to the Bush family in 2003 and disclosed by the State Department’s Office of Protocol. Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Abdallah gave First Lady Laura Bush a $95,500 diamond and sapphire jewelry set. That’s just one of the gifts of jewelry bestowed upon the Bushes by the Crown Prince last year. The Smoking Gun reports that most gifts are “turned over to the National Archives for safekeeping.”

Renew your gratitude for anonymity at www.thesmokinggun.com.

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