I know that there are way too many “Top Blah Blah” lists of 2009 but with all the noise out there I decided to compose my own list of great discoveries I have made this year via the online world with a brief description of what it is. The list is in no particular order and perhaps you will find something useful.

Library Thing:  an online service to help people catalog their books easily – often described as “MySpace for books” or “Facebook for books.”

Readability Web Tool: This is an awesome and free tool that allows you to read web pages/articles without all the distracting “bling” like ads and flashing neon signs – a must have!

TBUZZ: Another free toolbar button that allows you to Tweet any page you are visiting and/or keep track of the buzz surrounding it

The Big Think:  A global forum connecting people and ideas – worth checking out!

The NY Times Times Skimmer: That’s a mouthful! A fantastic way to browse through the online version of the NY Times – I actually enjoy reading the news this way and it is very easy to switch to different sections, etc and is customizable

Stumble Upon:  Not new for many but new for me and what a treat! The button is like a slot machine handle  – you choose the categories of things that interest you  – hit the  button – and voila a site that fits your interests – I have found some really cool sites using Stumble Upon

Culture Change: This is one of my favorite sites – great articles and ideas

One Word: “simple. you’ll see one word at the top of the following page. you have sixty seconds to write about it.as soon as you click ‘go’ the page will load with the cursor in place. don’t think. just write.”

Anxiety Culture: “a webzine with a wealth of ideas & gimmicks for navigating the crazy, paranoid, work-obsessed, media-crapulent times we live in.”

Groove Shark: A great way to listen to music online – I used to listen to Pandora and Last.FM but found Groove Shark and like it so much better – for one thing it lets you choose what songs you want to listen to

75 Ways to Draw More: Exactly what I just said

Okay, that’s enough because too much is well…too much!

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one word

23Dec09

I recently discovered an awesome writing site called One Word. It’s purpose is explained below:

simple. you’ll see one word at the top of the following page. you have sixty seconds to write about it.

as soon as you click ‘go’ the page will load with the cursor in place.

don’t think. just write.

Here are 2 entries that I recently submitted and I hope to partake in it often and will post my submissions in my blog.

Pine:
I love the smell of pine – it has been my favorite scent for as long as I can remember – you would think that it would be the smell of the ocean since I grew up around the sea but it’s not – it’s pine. It makes me feel safe and at home. I walk through the forest and go up to smell pine trees which may seem weird but I don’t think so.


Tray:
first thing that comes to mind is an airline tray – please put your trays in the upright position because if you crash at 600mph  that tray may cause your death – not the actual splat on the ground – but the damn tray – who would’ve known – could’ve lived if I put the damn tray up


I last posted the letter I wrote to the Prime Minister of Japan in hopes to pressure him into stopping the yearly dolphin/whale slaughter in Taiji. My one letter won’t have any impact but thousands of letters will, so I urge anyone reading this to watch the movie, The Cove and take action  – every small action helps. Below is the letter I sent to President Obama and if you are asking yourself, “Aren’t there more important issues on the President’s mind?” I hope to have answered that in my letter below.

___________________________________________________________________

Dear President Obama,

I have just watched the very disturbing documentary film, The Cove (http://thecovemovie.com) which exposes the horrific dolphin slaughter that occurs yearly in Taiji, Japan. I know that you have so many issues you are dealing with that may seem more important but at the end of the film, Richard O’Barry said something that resonates in me:

“I have to see this end in my lifetime. Right now I’m focusing on that little body of water, where that slaughter takes place. If we can’t stop that, if we can’t fix that, forget about the bigger issues. There’s no hope.”

To say that I was moved by this film is an understatement and I intend on being active in educating others on what is happening in Taiji. I could not believe that the Japanese government knows this is happening and does nothing to stop it. I want the US to use its sanctioning powers available under the Pelly Amendment against Japan, Norway, and Iceland until they stop whaling.

Sincerely,

Me


After watching the powerful documentary, The Cove this past weekend I researched how I can take action to help stop the yearly dolphin hunt and slaughter that occurs in Taiji, Japan every year. Japan’s government issues permits to the 26 fisherman who are responsible for these atrocities. If you have not yet seen the film, please watch it and send your own personal letter to Japan’s Prime Minister demanding change. It does not take much time and it lets them know the world is watching and cares. I also wrote a letter to President Obama which will appear in another post. My letter to the Prime Minister appears below.

__________________________________________________________

Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama,

I have just watched the very disturbing documentary film, The Cove which exposes the horrific dolphin slaughter that occurs yearly in Taiji. To say that I was moved by this film is an understatement and I intend on being active in educating others on what is happening in Taiji. I could not believe that the Japanese government knows this is happening and does nothing to stop it. It is also a health issue regarding the high amounts of mercury found in dolphin meat that your citizens and others consume. I vow not to purchase any Japanese products or visit Japan until they stop killing and capturing dolphins and whales. I urge you take action to stop dolphin and whale hunting in Japan – you have the power to make change happen.


The problem with reading and searching for truth and information in the world is that you end up finding a lot of things wrong with it. There is no shortage of wrongs being done and no shortage of causes worth dedicating your time and energy. I have felt passion and anger about many issues – social injustice, the environment, government corruption, consumerism, corporate takeover, and the list goes on and on. I have been enraged about plenty for a long time which has left me mentally and emotionally exhausted.  My activist energies have been directed like a spray of bullets from an automatic machine gun instead of a focused shot from a sniper rifle.

I believe that changed last night with one of the most powerful and moving movies I have ever seen called The Cove. If you have not seen this documentary that was released this year, make it the next thing you watch. I dreamt about it and woke up thinking about it.  At the end of the film, Richard O’Barry said something that resonates in me:

I have to see this end in my lifetime. Right now I’m focusing on that little body of water, where that slaughter takes place. If we can’t stop that, if we can’t fix that, forget about the bigger issues. There’s no hope.

A statement that quite simply has answered my question: How do you pick your fight?

We will protect what we care about – what we love. I know now where my sniper rifle is pointing.

For more information please visit the links below:

http://www.thecovemovie.com/

http://www.thecovemovie.com/_blog/Blog

http://www.takepart.com/thecove


digital diet

11Dec09

I actually attempted to do this awhile back but I am going for a complete digital fast this weekend. The girl said we had 2 snow days this last week and probably spent most of it sucked into the computer or me computer/Xbox  instead of spending quality time together and you know what…she’s right! So starting after work today we are going off-line. I wanted to share the diet I did back at the beginning of November that for some reason I never got around to writing a post about – so I digress and share it now.

Digital Diet Weekend 11/7/2009-11/8/2009

I am exhausted – a week of IT work during the day which is overload by itself  and then come home to be swept up into Twitter, Facebook, and XBox 360. Sometimes I get lost in the social media abyss – caught up in angry comments where I comment back with more anger and frustration. No wonder I’m exhausted – it’s draining – my energy cells are depleted.  I decided to make a vow on Friday night to go on a digital diet over the weekend – not a “fast” but a diet so I’m not cutting everything out completely but will drastically reduce the time I spend on-line. No Twittering – No Facebook and as little web site work, email, etc. In fact if you are reading this right now in my blog these very words were first written in a small notebook using something called a pen. I am going to record how I’m feeling and what I did instead of being hooked up to the planet – this includes my beloved BlackBerry, my “always on” device is now off for the weekend.

Saturday: woke up slowly and read out loud to my partner from “The Greatest Show on Earth”, had coffee, sticky bun from local bakery on the deck topped off with 1 cigarette.  Worked on preliminary web work for an addition to the work website, read some more of Darwin’s book, took a nap, took long hot shower, went for a  great hike. Got hungry after the hike and stopped at local burger joint for homemade chili and fries.

Sunday: Went for another beautiful Fall hike – air was refreshing. Ate a sandwich, read some more, took a nap, woke up from nap and had an urge to play on XBox – evil fu#%^*$ XBox. Well I give in and justify it by thinking that the day is practically over! Ok, so I may have a problem. Although, I don’t have my laptop or BlackBerry next to me so I am at least single tasking and not causing digital overload. The girl flashes me a look of disappointment.

Conclusion:

We live in a digital world and whether that is good or bad, like anything else, we must have balance. I know the feeling of overload and I have to learn when to walk away  – that feeling of too many cups of coffee – all my neurons sparking like fireworks trying to deal with the wave of 1’s and 0’s crashing over me – yeah that’s a sign.


I was startled awake this morning by loud gunshots…BOOM…BOOM!  Amplified by the snow and stillness of the woods the shots seemed to come from right outside my window. My clouded sleepy head took a few seconds to remember that it is hunting season and it will be a frequent sound for a short while. I can’t help to think and in my limited experience only begin to imagine how many people in this world right now awake to the same sounds…BOOM…BOOM but under completely different circumstances. Bullets and bombs that are not meant for deer or wooden targets but for people – “others” – the “enemy”. Many are civilians – people just like us who are caught in the middle of political and resource wars wondering if the next bullet or bomb will claim their life or the life of a loved one. Others are not only the source of chaos but depending on the day also the recipient of weapons meant for only one thing – to kill.  When I was awoken today I remember feeling how unnatural that sound is…the sound of destruction – how it cuts through silence – no other creature on this planet has the capability to make things that are simply built to destroy – how ironic a concept. Most Americans are out of touch with the realities of war and we seem so quick to fight for freedom or security in other countries when we know nothing of it here in our own country. Can you imagine a 9/11 everyday? Can you imagine being bombed or shot at and in fear of your life on a daily basis? It’s one thing to go into war as a last resort – to defend your country, your freedoms or to stop atrocities. I remember a great quote by someone whose name now escapes my mind: “If you want peace then stop participating in war.”

Stop participating…could it be that simple?