Back when I reviewed Pieces for GdL, I wasn’t very annoyed with how it was hard to remove the overlapping DVDs from the case since I could just switch them (along with the cover art) over to a new case. Seems kind of odd, right? After all, wouldn’t that mean I’d have to spend extra money on an empty DVD case?
Granted, I had done that in the past, but the sheer amount of cheap DVD cases that used smelly plastic and often break when you try to open them turned me off of the idea. Then I discovered how to get spare DVD cases for free.
How? Well, normally I go to the local Blockbuster Video and get spare cases from them. I’d just go in to the big box of empty cases marked “free” by the checkout, grabbed some cases, and went to the register to get my receipt. However, the one in my area recently closed down and I also realize that not everyone has Blockbuster nearby that does this (or might not even have a Blockbuster at all). For those of you in such a situation, that’s where the HHMI comes in.
The Howard Hughes Medical Institute, or HHMI, offers up a variety of free educational material (including DVDs) for the public at their website: http://www.hhmi.org. All one has to do to get them is register on the site and fill out an online order form. So when you buy a DVD whose case is hard to remove discs from, just swap the disc(s) and cover art with that of an HHMI DVD.
Now, I’m not saying you should exploit a non-profit organization; you should only take what you need. In fact, I didn’t provide a hotlink to the site in order to weed out potential abusers (who tend to be too lazy to copy-paste). Hopefully, you’ll chose DVDs that feature a scientific subject that interests you. That way, you’ll be getting free stuff and honoring the original intention of said free stuff. Despite being primarily lecture based, they’re not all that boring (I vaguely recall a Godzilla reference in one of them). They’re perfect for anyone still in school (or knows someone who still is) and might need a little edge in any science-related classes. In fact, I only got the idea for case-swapping after ordering some to help with some courses back when I was in college. What do I do with the repackaged DVDs in the troublesome cases? I donate them to thrift stores. Hey, the swapped HHMI DVDs in the old, troublesome cases have to go somewhere. Just because you have a hard time with the case doesn’t mean that other people you might know would have the same problem. Alternately, your local library or public school might be thrilled to get such a donation. Doing so means you can help yourself and your community at the same time.
It would also be very cool if you took the time to watch at least some of the DVDs they sent you and fill out/mail the surveys that come with said DVDs. The postage is already paid, but it would be a nice gesture to provide a stamp. You might even want to think about making donation to the institute at some point in the future. That way, they can both continue with their research and continue to provide free educational items to the general public.
As you might suspect, this blog entry is not endorsed by the HHMI in any way, shape, or form. Please don’t be greedy. Here’s hoping that a desire to save a little extra cash on DVD cases now can lead to a richer appreciation of biological sciences in the future.