Monday, November 27, 2006

Super Mario Music?

You thought you'd seen the last of the original Nintendo console (except, of course, for what's emblazoned on the tees and belt buckles of those nerdy-in-a-cute-way guys). But the Super Mario Brothers tune, and others like it, live on, thanks to video game lovers turned music impresarios.

The Blip Festival will feature their music, which is created from the sound cards once used in now-obsolete video game consoles. They call all of this pretty nifty nonsense ChipTunes. The event will run Nov. 30 through Dec. 3 at The Tank(www.thetanknyc.com), a cool performance and visual art space at Collective:Unconcscious in Tribeca.

At the very least, you must must must see the crazy-cute logo of 8bitpeoples (www.8bitpeoples.com), a group of folks known to while away the hours composing these ditties.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Tunes

These days I'm listening to:

"Light Up Ya Lighter" ~ Michael Franti and Spearhead
"Breathe" ~ Snake River Conspiracy
"Only a Memory" ~ The Smithereens
"Rockstar" ~ N.E.R.D.
"Lips Like Sugar" ~ Echo and the Bunnymen
"Crooked Teeth" ~ Death Cab For Cutie
"Little Things" ~ Good Charlotte
"Click Click Boom" ~ Saliva
"Mojo" ~ Peeping Tom
"Chick Magnet" ~ MXPX
"Natural One" ~ Folk Implosion
"Set It Off" ~ Skindred

Try-my-what?

The so-called marketing gimmick of "tryvertising" can be as simple as a sample of perfume in a magazine or mini bottles of shampoo in a hotel room, or as costly (to the company, but free to you!) as brand-new, luxury loaner cars at hotels, provided by the auto manufacturers.

It has expanded to include test-living a house, much like one would test-drive a car. While this could theoretically allow a family to stay the night in and get the feel for just about any house that's on the market before plunking down a huge chunk-o-cash for it, this idea was sparked by a straw-home company whose owners tired of answering the question, "What's it like to live in one?"

According to Trendwatching:
Think of tryvertising as a new breed of product placement in the real world, integrating your goods and services into daily life in a relevant way, so that consumers can make up their minds based on their experience, not your messages.


That home builder is called Ruatuna, and these dwellings are gorgeous.

But the point to ponder here is, if this gimmick continues to expand in popularity (and it could very well, as it benefits both consumer and manufacturer) what WON'T we be able to try before we buy? (Hopefully, the answer will include people!)

What shall we listen to?

"New York Minute" ~ Mobile

"Plug Your Ears" ~ Hey Rosetta!

"Citizens of Tomorrow" ~ Tokyo Police Club

"Gideon" ~ My Morning Jacket

"Chasing Cars" and "Hands Open" ~ Snow Patrol

"Ibi Dreams of Pavement (A Better Day)" ~ Broken Social Scene

"Rebellion Lies" ~ Arcade Fire

"Sing Me Spanish Techno" ~ The New Pornographers

Do you have a list?

Found this on the Internet. It was refreshing after a long day. Thought you all might enjoy it. I'm off to start my list...

"1. Make list of dreams. 2. Start to live them."
By Marilyn Gardner

'Someday' is a word filled with promise and possibility. "Someday I want to ..." we say dreamily, finishing the sentence with a variety of specific or vague plans. There are books to read, trips to take, projects to start or finish.

But then clocks tick and calendar pages turn. Months and years go by, and "someday" never quite comes. Caught up in careers and families, duties and interruptions, we become masters of postponement.

For Carrie Tuhy, a former magazine editor in New York, that realization finally prompted action. After losing her job as editor of Real Simple magazine three years ago, she began considering her next step.

"I had always said I'll do certain things when I have time," says Ms. Tuhy, who is in her 50s. "Suddenly I had time, but I wasn't sure what these things were that I had been planning to do." Afraid she might squander this opportunity - "dribble it away on things that didn't seem significant" - she began compiling a "life list."

"We all have to-do lists," Tuhy says. "Pick up the dry cleaning or work out three times a week. They tend to be the kinds of things that aren't very nourishing. When I sat down to think about it, I made a list of things that were nourishing for me."

That list included nature, travel, spirituality, and friends. In addition to being nourishing, she says, those broad categories were "empowering."

Under each heading, she wrote specific activities. Her list grew to 25 goals. Some were big: "It wasn't just 'Take more trips.' It was 'Go to India.' " Explaining her desire to visit India and Turkey, she says, "I wanted to see the world through Muslim eyes."

Other destinations were more modest. After moving to New York as a young journalist, Tuhy stopped driving. But she still has a driver's license, and the open road beckoned. She wanted to take a driving trip.

Some items on the list were small and practical. She classifies them as "life skills" - things she wanted to know to feel competent. She enrolled in Spanish language classes, broadening her view of other cultures. She also mastered Microsoft Excel and learned to make her own business cards on the computer.

"The world requires different things of me than in the past, and I wanted to become proficient in them," Tuhy says. In the process she found pleasure, satisfaction, and accomplishment.

Making a life list is an idea gaining popularity and visibility. Ellen DeGeneres, host of a daytime talk show, encourages her celebrity guests and members of her audience to list things they'd like to accomplish.

In similar vein, novelist Stephen King recently told a New York Times reporter, "You get older, you find out time is shorter, and you read stuff you've missed before. You say, 'I can't wait forever anymore to read Eudora Welty.' I finally got to Eudora Welty."

Tuhy emphasizes that nothing about her list was done with the notion of mortality. "It was more about making the most of each day," she says.

In an achievement-oriented culture, she found that drawing up a list made her "more cognizant of the real achievements of being alive." She adds, "It made me recognize the things that will both feed your soul and engage your mind."

Today Tuhy has completed 23 of the goals on her list. But merely checking off each accomplishment isn't her point. "It wasn't just to do them, it was to dream bigger dreams." The result? "I'm much happier with the person I've become."

Ask friends and relatives what they'd like to do "someday," and the responses can be intriguing: Start painting again. Take piano lessons. Visit the Great Wall. Trace family genealogy. Attend an opera.

So many dreams, so little spare time.

Still, even the simple act of putting pen to paper and listing those dreams can spur hope that the simpler items, at least, could be carved out of moments that might otherwise be frittered away. From there, who knows? Even the grander goals might begin to take shape.

If it's never too early to start a life list, it may never be too late, either. Someday could come tomorrow, or even today.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Music To My Ears

My friends know I love them when I give them song recommendations. (And that I really, truly adore them if I fork over a custom CD, a cousin to the mixed tape once swapped by middle school puppy lovers back in the day.) Otherwise, I'm quite selfish when it comes to my music.
 
Surprise! I'm feeling generous. So, here's a short list of what I'm loving these last few days:
 
"Wolves" - Josh Ritter
"I Hear The Bells" - Mike Doughty
"Fuck the Pain Away" - Peaches
"Chinese Translation" - M. Ward
"Le Disco" - Shiny Toy Guns
"Is It Any Wonder" - Keane
"How 'Bout You" - Yonder Mountain String Band
"My Dick" - Mickey Avalon
"Level On The Inside" - Dovetail Joint
"I Turn My Camera On" - Spoon
"How Soon Is Now" - The Smiths
 
Check 'em out. I'm sure you won't be disappointed.

9-Letter Riddle

There is a common English word that is nine letters long. Each time you remove a letter from it, it still remains an English word ~ from nine letters right down to a single letter.

What is the original word, and what are the words it becomes as you remove letters one at a time?

Sunday, August 27, 2006

"Gay" sheep researcher talks back

Joe Robertson, a scientist at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, Oregon, responded to my e-mail complaining about his team's research on "gay" sheep and how to "cure" them. In his response, note that while he states his research is not about "curing" homosexuality, he never tells me what it is meant to discover.

Dear friend,

I recently became aware of PETA's concerns about this research. Thank you for this chance to respond.

Let me start by saying the information you have received from PETA is incorrect. We have contacted PETA to let them know. I expect that their Web site will be corrected shortly. We also expect they will be contacting you with an email to correct their error.

The study that PETA urged you to write me about is indeed based in sheep. However, it is not being done to "cure homosexuality." Homosexuality is not a disease. I join you and our researchers in being personally offended by anyone who suggests that it is.

In fact, over the years, our researchers have been contacted by several gay and lesbian groups who appreciate our scientific results which support their beliefs that homosexuality is genetic and biological, not a choice.

As for the animals in this study we care deeply about them and they are treated ethically. All our research is conducted under the strict rules of the Animal Welfare Act and National Institutes of Health guidelines. It was funded by the federal government only after being reviewed by and approved top scientists in the field. In addition, panels of experts at both universities, which include members of the public and trained veterinarians, approved the research before it was allowed to commence and OHSU animal care is overseen by the US Department of Agriculture and AAALAC.

Thank you for the chance to respond. I also ask that you please join us in contacting PETA at Info@peta.org and ask that they correct their information about this research.

Thank you,
Joe Robertson, M.D., OHSU

The e-mail I sent to Robertson and other scientists was basically a form letter created by the folks at PETA, and it likely was sent by thousands of other animal lovers and GLBT supporters.

Dr. Joseph Robertson, Jr.
Oregon Health and Science University
3181 S.W. Sam Jackson Park Rd.
Portland, OR 97239-3098

Dear Dr. Robertson, Jr.,

I find it appalling that experimenters Charles Roselli of OHSU
and Frederick Stormshak of OSU are cutting open and killing gay
sheep in an attempt to "cure" homosexual tendencies. Choosing a
same-sex partner is not a disease. I urge you to stop wasting
millions of taxpayer dollars on these ridiculous experiments. I
am sure that you want your university to be known for making
real medical advancements that actually benefit humans, not for
torturing animals and promoting homophobia.

Sincerely,
xxxxx

How to drink vodka and stay sober

Russian Blog is quite interesting, and useful, especially for vodka enthusiasts!
This is a post telling what to do before, during and after drinking vodka to avoid getting sloshed (if that is, in fact, your goal):

Russians are renowned for drinking a lot of vodka staying sober. That’s not something to do with biological inheritance but with the way we drink. Russians believe that foreigners don’t know how to drink. They don’t eat while drinking. They mix cocktails. They sip vodka instead of taking shots. They drink vodka with highly carbonated sodas. In short, they do everything to get drunk from the minimum amount of alcohol. May be it has something to do with innate Western avidity or expensiveness of alcohol.
Russians, on the other hand, do everything to stay sober while drinking as much alcohol as possible. How do we do it? We try to neutralize alcohol as long as possible. I try to outline the basic principles of vodka drinking for uninitiated.


One hour before the party.

1.) Eat a couple of boiled potatoes.
2.) Drinks one or two raw eggs.
3.) Drink one or two table-spoons of olive oil. Sunflower oil will also do.

Thus it’s guaranteed that at the Russian party you will stay sober for at least one bottle of vodka. I’m not kidding. Raw eggs are the most important part of Russian pre-party preparations.

At the party.

1.) If you start drinking vodka – drink only vodka. No beer or wine. No water or juice. Carbonated drinks are taboo.
2.) Drink vodka only in shots. Never sip.
3.) Eat immediately after taking a shot. Russian zakuskis are often translated as appetizers. That’s not quite correct. Zakuskis are something you ‘zakusyvayesh’ with after taking a shot of vodka. They are very important to neutralize alcohol. That’s why they all contain two most important alcohol neutralizers – acid and salt. I recommend taking the following sequence:
- immediately after taking a shot – two slices of lemon;
- then some salted cucumbers, pickles, marinated tomatoes or caviar.
- then something with a lot of oil: herring (traditionally with cold boiled potatoes and onion), sardines, or shproty (small smoked sprats in olive oil);
- then traditional Russian salads, like Oliviye or Herring with boiled beet and mayonnaise. Almost all Russian salads come under heavy mayonnaise dressing. Remember – acid, salt, eggs and oil. Ukrainians and Southern Russians prefer smoked lard with garlic but it’s a zakuska for professionals.
4.) Only three first vodka shots at a Russian party are ‘obligatory’ so to say. That means you have to take them if you want to show you’re a friendly person but not an unsociable person. After that you can ‘miss’ one or two shots. Just say, “Ya propuskayu” (Literally, I make it slip) and cover your glass with your palm. That doesn’t mean you can abstain from drinking till the end of the party. It means (excusing yourself that you’re a foreigner) can take one shot out of two your Russian guests take.

I think, some Russian party traditions need to be explained here. In Russia we party around a big table with bottles and zakuskis. We drink only when someone makes a toast and we drink all together. The person who makes a toast usually pours vodka to all glasses. Taking a bottle yourself and drinking vodka without others is a faux pas. Actually you (and all others) are ordered to drink after a toast. Everyone at the party is supposed to make a toast – being a foreigner is not an excuse. So be prepared – buy yourself a book on party toasts (there are a lot of them on sale in Russia) and learn some by heart.

5.) Zakuskis part of the party take about an hour – or something like 200 grams (4 shots) of vodka. Then comes “goryacheye” (hot dishes). Even though zakuskis could be very filling – you should eat goryacheye if you want not be become drunk.
6.) Actively participate in intellectual talks around the table. Mental activity is probably the best method to keep you excited but sober. Try, for example, to drink two pints of beer while reading a philosophical book and see the result.
7.) At the end of the party come tea and cakes. Don’t miss it too. This way you show your hosts that you’re survived the party without dire consequences.

Now in the course of 4 or 5 hours you drunk a bottle of vodka (500 grams) and you’re only slightly tight.

After the party.

1.) Keep a small bottle of beer in refrigerator. Wake up at about 5 in the morning, drink your beer and go back to bed. It prevents hang-over in the morning.
2.) If the early morning beer didn’t help (it usually does), drink a glass of brine from the jar you kept you pickles in.

Many Russians recommend taking a shot of vodka in the morning to fights hang-over. Don’t do it. It helps only alcoholics. If you’re not, it will make things worse.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

(Another) Word of the Day

vi·cis·si·tude (v-ss-td, -tyd)

noun
A change or variation. The quality of being changeable; mutability. One of the sudden or unexpected changes or shifts often encountered in one's life, activities, or surroundings. Often used in the plural. See Synonyms at difficulty.

[Latin vicissitd, from vicissim, in turn, probably from vics, pl. of *vix, change. See weik-2 in Indo-European Roots.]

This was also used in the Utne editorial piece:
May your next seven years unfold in ways that surprise and amaze you. May you find ways to put your gifts to service. May you laugh and cry and dance with the vicissitudes of life.

Side note: What a lovely paragraph!

Word of the Day

ko·an (kän)

noun
A puzzling, often paradoxical statement or story, used in Zen Buddhism as an aid to meditation and a means of gaining spiritual awakening.

[Japanese kan : k, public (from Middle Chinese kw) + an, matter.]

This was used in the editor's message in the September-October 2006 issue of Utne magazine:

While I bemoan the fact that the single-title publishing business model has become a koan - one that I, for one, have been unable to crack - I am deeply grateful that we have found such a compatible ally in Ogden.

Abortions at Sea

Women living in countries that outlaw abortions can now take advantage of top-notch Dutch medical care aboard the Women on Waves ship.

See, the catch is that the women are allowed to board this special ship, just like they would any other. But once this boat is floating in international waters, the anti-abortion laws in their home countries become a moot point.

This is a boon for oppressed women throughout Europe. Not only can they receive abortions, but ultrasounds, birth control and general gynecologic healthcare (such as pap smears and breast exams) are provided. (If you are American, think of the services provided by Planned Parenthood.)

According to its Web site, the nonprofit organization sees it this way:
Every 6 minutes somewhere in the world a woman dies needless as a result of illegal, unsafe abortion. In response to this violation of womens human rights and medical need, Women on Waves operates a mobile clinic on a ship that sails to countries where abortion is illegal. This is done at the invitation of local women's organizations. With the use of a ship, ultrasounds and early medical abortions can be provided safely, professionally and legally. Women on Waves aims to prevent unsafe abortions and empower women to exercise their human rights to physical and mental autonomy, by combining free healthcare services and sexual education with advocacy. Women on Waves is a non-profit organization.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Fort Lauderdale doggies: Unchained!

Yeah, I'm on an "All God's Creatures" kick today. Shoot me. But it was sparked when I read this news in Paw Prints, the Humane Society of Broward County's magazine:

Dogs in Fort Lauderdale and Oakland Park are wagging their taiils and thanking the mayors and city commissioners for passing an important ordinance. Taking effect this summer, the new law prohibits the long-term chaining of dogs...
We urge you to speak up for the animals and be sure to report any violations of this law to your local police department. Things to watch for include: tethering during extreme weather, availability of food and potable water, adequate shelter from the elements, periodic supervision, adequate space for exercise, and a fenced yard or sufficient enclosure to prevent the dog from escaping.



Mystery Loaf

Does meatloaf bore you? Tired of the same ol' seitan?

Go to the Mystery Loaf generator, where a new loaf recipe is posted every five minutes.

(Yes, you should feel a bit silly as the voice in your head reads these words! It's meant to be fun!)

It was created by a vegan woman named Jennifer in Washington state who posts what she packs in her son's lunch box each day on her blog called Vegan Lunch Box.

You'll never find yourself "loafing" in the kitchen again!

Gay Sheep?!

Peta2.com sent this mass e-mail around today, and I thought it was worth sharing with you:

Just when you thought animal experimenters couldn't get any lower, along come new cruel and pointless "gay sheep" experiments.

That's right; Charles Roselli of Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) and Frederick Stormshak of Oregon State University (OSU) are killing homosexual sheep and cutting open their brains in an attempt to find the hormone behind homosexual tendencies so that these tendencies can be changed.

And guess what? Roselli plans to "cure" humans of their homosexual tendencies next. Please click here to send a message to OHSU and OSU today asking them to stop experimenting on and killing gay sheep.

After you send a message, please do everything you can to help spread the word. There's an online form here that you can use to e-mail all your friends to ask them to write in.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Crafting is cool again

Consumerism is not punk rock. But creativity and self-sufficiency are.

So, craftiness is uber cool. For those crafty women-folk the world over, this is not news. But crafting has met the mainstream these days, and The Felt Club is recognizing that.

Like an awesome green market in the heart of NYC in the summer, this craft fair in Hollywood, CA, brings together a mix of modern crafters and crafting suppliers.

Crafty kitties not in Southern California should visit the Web site for links to many of the vendors. Happy shopping!

Saturday, June 03, 2006

That's some sucker!

Few celebrities have done the many good deeds that Angelina Jolie has taken the time to do. This is the primary reason ~ besides her hotness ~ that she is well-liked.

So it comes as no surprise that folks enjoy doing nice things for her. When Shiloh Nouvel, her and Brad's baby girl, was born in Namibia recently, the celebrity swag began to pour in.

It included a domain name in the child's honor (shilohjoliepitt.com), courtesy of Angelina's attorneys. Also, there was a custom-designed pacifier from itsmybinky.com, a company that specializes in just such things. This is a very special binky ~ 14K white gold and 3 carats of diamonds special ~ $17,000 special.

Angelina has been generous with the people of Africa, including donating hunderds of thousands of dollars for new hospitals, schools, etc. But the folks over at TMZ.com thought it would be clever to see what that $17,000 could buy in Africa:

283 girls to go to school for one year

708 school kits - with pen, pencil, slate, pencil sharpener, erasers, notebooks and transportation of the supplies to remote areas.

61,000 people to eat for a day or feed 400 families for a month.

77 families to start small poultry businesses. Each family would get 25 chickens, a hen house, feed, and vaccinations for the chickens.

1,000 families to receive a fishing kit (two packs of twine, one pack of hooks) so they can fish to feed themselves.

10,000 safe delivery kits to help women give birth in communities or in emergencies where there is no hospital or clinic. The kits contain soap, razor blades, plastic sheeting, string and instructions to help facilitate a clean, safe delivery.

Of course, that money could put one Florida kid through a four-year state college. But that's crazy talk.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Singapore for Hedonists

A cantilevered beach 50 stories in the air.
Palm trees growing amongst slot machines.
Who-knows-how-many square feet and en-suites.
All in the heart of Singapore.
As if there weren't enough reasons to visit the city already.
It isn't coming until 2009, but we should start packing now.







Visit The Gutter at Curbed.com for more pics and links to Moshe Safdie's other goofy but awe-inspiring projects. As always, the site has really cool info and pics of interesting architecture the world over.

Another look at NYC





This is a view of the Manhattan Bridge, as seen from Houston and Suffolk streets by Forgotten-NY.com, a Web site that chronicles the lost, forgotten or otherwise often unseen parts of NYC with a camera. Take a look: there's a lot of beauty (and filth) to see and history to learn ~ even for die-hard Gothamists.

My favorite place on Earth ~ Manhattan





This is Times Square, as seen on June 2 by ChuliPichuli, whose beautiful photos of the city can be found on Flickr.com.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Are you a cheese curl or coffee ice cream cone?

You are what you eat.
Well, actually... yeah... sort of.
Neurologist Alan Hirsch, author of "What's Your Food Sign? How to Use Food Cues to Find True Love," has discovered that he can tell a lot about a person by looking at what she prefers to eat. He gave personality tests to 18,631 married people and asked them to choose their favorites from a variety of foods. He calls his theory a "food Rorschach test" and said his findings are true 95% of the time.
So, what's your favorite food?
Here's a taste of how the New York Post reported it:

ICE CREAM

Coffee ice cream lovers live life with gusto. They don't vest too much time thinking about the future. Most compatible with strawberry lovers.

Double chocolate chunkers are self-absorbed drama-queens who may be charming, seductive and flirtatious. They might be gullible and trusting, so thrive best in intimate, close relationships. Compatible with butter pecans or chocolate chips.

Vanillas are dependent, needy idealists who are most com-fortable in a secure relationship. Compatible with rocky roads and other vanillas.

SNACKS

If you like pretzels, you're over-committed, fad-following, quirky and fun. You're good with other pretzels, but may fall for chips and cheese curls.

Tortilla chips: You're a justice-minded perfectionist who's always on time. Stick with other tortilla chips.

Potato chips: You're a competitive high-achiever. Compatible with chips and pretzels.

VEGETABLES & FRUITS

If you prefer fresh apples, pineapple glaze and corn on the cob, you don't like taking "no" for an answer and have a work-hard, play-hard ethic.

If you like most of the following items: bananas, broiled fish, fruit, honey, tapioca, nuts and hot curry, you're a natural optimist who values friends and is easy to work with. If you don't like most of those foods? You're a suspicious pessimist with trust issues.

Men who favor strawberries tend to be insecure and suffer from feelings of inadequacy. They also like to be dominated.

Like spicy pickles? You're probably a pessimist.

Now, that's some food for thought.

Who gets a street named after them?

What committee decides whether a person deserves to have a street named after them, post-mortem? I mean, really. Come on!

Well, actually, someone must, because Peter Jennings has his own street near ABC News' studios in Manhattan.

A portion of West 66th Street is now also known as Peter Jennings Way.

I am clearly not a part of this streets-named-for-dead-folk committee, or I'd known about this way earlier. So, I will refrain from giving my opinion about whether the late, esteemed journalist should be living it up (err, wrong terminology, sorry) on the West side.

All joking aside, though, this does beg the question of who is deserving of such an honor and who makes that call.

Make up your mind already!

I've always been an indecisive clod, worrying too much over how any choice I make might affect my entire life. Then, after I've finally relented and made a decision, I wonder, "What if? How might things have been different if I'd gone with Door #2 instead of #1?"

When folks think about their choices too hard and for too long, the decision becomes more difficult and the more likely they are to not be happy with their final choice, according to stories recently published by Slate.com, Yahoo News and the New York Times.

The news stories state that simple decisions are more wisely made when they are pored over a bit, but the same is not true when the decision is more complex and difficult to make.

Ultimately, the study seems to say that we ought to listen to our gut instinct, our first choice, because we are more likely to be happy with it in the long run.
Some theorize that this is because our unconscious brain is better at complex reasoning or can better handle an overload of info than can our conscious brain.

There are plenty of theories and ideas swarming around this story, but my first guess, my gut instinct, is that we should trust those instincts because they are just that - part of our animal being, the way in which God or nature (you choose) intended for us to know what to do in life.

Of course, if you're a fatalist, there's always that possibility, too -- When things are meant to be, they happen. That's also known as, "God has a funny way of working things out."

And if you don't believe in fate or God, perhaps you can sum it up as, "Your heart knows better than your head."

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Daily Image


"flippinBird" from Cornershots.com, a collection of photographs taken by uber-talented urban photog "Jimmie of Brooklyn."

He delights all by chronicling urban architecture and infrastructure (skyscrapers, fire escapes, overpasses and such), and you'll likely see more of him here and elsewhere.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Eco-friendly Olympics

To following is today's Sierra Club Daily Ray of Hope, a daily e-mail blurb of good news regarding the Earth. To sign up for this daily ray of sunshine in an otherwise gloomy world, visit www.sierraclub.org.


The Olympic Games in Italy are expected to generate "just over 100,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide with the main sources of emissions coming from transport and the operation of the Olympic venues," according to the United Nations Environment Programme.


The good news is that the International Olympics Committee worked with the EU's Eco Management and Audit Scheme to employ ways to offset the CO2-producing activities including: a waste-materials plan that combines recycling with an efficient system of energy retrieval; an extensive sustainable transport plan for athletes and spectators; an eco-friendly Olympic Village built using pollution-free materials; and state-of-the-art soda machines at the event that use carbon dioxide as refrigerant instead of ozone-damaging substances.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

"American Idol" vs. the Olympics?

It should not be terribly shocking that 55% of TV viewers would rather watch "American Idol," while 34% prefer the Olympics. (The remaining 11% of voters in today's AOL Sports poll don't like either one.) But I am surprised.

Perhaps my judgement is clouded by memories of having to get up and turn the dial to watch TV as a child, when "Star Search" and "Love Boat" ruled the airwaves and the Olympics and the Miss America pageant were huge events around which the week's schedule was planned.

I am surprised that the two shows are even in the same category, or, at the very least, that the modern-day version of "Star Search" was not put on hold for the Winter Games - as were all pro hockey games. (Smart and respectful of you, NHL. Thank you.)

But the poll shows that 72% of people find this year's Games less compelling than those in the past. Is this because of the serious overhyping going on thanks to 24/7 media coverage? Is the excitement of the competition overshadowed by the grand size of the build-up?

The rest of the poll findings are as follows:
55% said "American Idol" has more real-life drama
56% said the Olympic judges are the fairest
68% said the Olympic crashes are better
68% said "America Idol" is a better star-maker
55% said "American Idol" contestants have the brightest futures

Wow! I can't see "Star Search" ever beating out the Olympics in viewer ratings 20 years ago. But then, Ed McMahon is so much nicer (and, thus, less fun to watch) than Simon Cowell.

Which Movie Star Are You?

Ever wonder which movie star you are most like?

Well, a team of researchers got together and analyzed the personalities of movie stars. There's only 10 questions, so it doesn't take long. Answer each one with the choice that most describes you at this moment, and then add up the points that correspond with your answers.

Don't look ahead or you'll ruin the fun! And post a comment telling me which star you are!

1. Which describes your perfect date?
a) Candlelight Dinner for Two
b) Amusement Park
c) Rollerblading in the Park
d) Rock Concert
e) Have Dinner & See a Movie
f) Dinner at Home with a Loved One

2. What is your favorite type of music?
a) Rock and Roll
b) Alternative
c) Soft Rock
d) Classical
e) Christian
f) Jazz

3. What is your favorite type of movie?
a) Comedy
b) Horror
c) Musical
d) Romance
e) Documentary
f) Mystery

4. Which of the following jobs would you choose if you were given only these choices?
a) Waiter/Waitress
b) Sports Player
c) Teacher
d) Policeman
e) Bartender
f) Business person

5. Which would you rather do if you had an hour to waste?
a) Work out
b) Make out
c) Watch TV
d) Listen to the radio
e) Sleep
f) Read

6. Of the following colors, which do you like best?
a) Yellow
b) White
c) Sky blue
d) Teal
e) Gold
f) Red

7. Which one of the following would you like to eat right now?
a) Ice cream
b) Pizza
c) Sushi
d) Pasta
e) Salad
f) Lobster Tail

8. Which is your favorite holiday?
a) Halloween
b) Christmas
c) New Year's
d) Valentine's Day
e) Thanksgiving
f) Fourth of July

9. If you could go to any of the following places, which would it be?
a) Reno
b) Spain
c) Las Vegas
d) Hawaii
e) Hollywood
f) British Columbia

10. Of the following, who would you rather spend time with?
a) Someone who is smart
b) Someone with good looks
c) Someone who is a party animal
d) Someone who has fun all the time
e) Someone who is very emotional
f) Someone who is fun to be with

Now total up your points on each question:
1. a-4 b-2 c-5 d-1 e-3 f-6
2. a-2 b-1 c-4 d-5 e-3 f-6
3. a-2 b-1 c-3 d-4 e-5 f-6
4. a-4 b-5 c-3 d-2 e-1 f-6
5. a-5 b-4 c-2 d-1 e-3 f-6
6. a-1 b-5 c-3 d-2 e-4 f-6
7. a-3 b-2 c-1 d-4 e-5 f-6
8. a-1 b-3 c-2 d-4 e-5 f-6
9. a-4 b-5 c-1 d-4 e-3 f-6
10. a-5 b-2 c-1 d-3 e-4 f-6

NOW, take your total and find out which Movie Star you are:

(10-17 points) You are MADONNA:
You are wild and crazy and you know it. You know how to have fun, but you may take it to extremes. You know what you are doing though, and are much in control of your own life. People don't always see things your way, but that doesn't mean that you should do away with your beliefs. Try to remember that your wild spirit can lead to hurting yourself and others.

(18-26 points) You are DORIS DAY:
You are fun, friendly, and popular! You are a real crowd pleaser. You have probably been out on the town your share of times, yet you come home with the values that your mother taught you. Marriage and children are very important to you, but only after you have fun. Don't let the people you please influence you to stray.

(27-34 points) You are DEBBIE REYNOLDS:
You are cute, and everyone loves you. You are a best friend that no one takes the chance of losing. You never hurt feelings and seldom have your own feelings hurt. Life is a breeze. You are witty, and calm most of the time. Just keep clear of back stabbers, and you are worry-free.

(35-42 points) You are GRACE KELLY:
You are a lover. Romance, flowers, and wine are all you need to enjoy yourself. You are serious about all commitments and are a family person. You call your Mom every Sunday, and never forget a Birthday. Don't let your passion for romance get confused with the real thing.

(43-50 points) You are KATHERINE HEPBURN:
You are smart, a real thinker. Every situation is approached with a plan. You are very healthy in mind and body. You don't take crap from anyone. You have only a couple of individuals that you consider "real friends!" You teach strong family values. Keep your feet planted in them, but don't overlook a bad situation when it does happen.

(51-60 points) You are ELIZABETH TAYLOR:
Everyone is in awe of you. You know what you want and how to get it. You have more friends than you know what to do with. Your word is your bond. Everyone knows when you say something it is money in the bank. You attract the opposite sex. Your intelligence overwhelms most. Your memory is the next thing to photographic. Everyone admires you because you are so considerate and lovable. You know how to enjoy life and treat people right.

Vintage art to wear and hang

Wolfgang's Vault is an online warehouse of tees that were actually created for and sold at rock concerts from the 1960s through today.

A quick scan of this Web site brings you back to your college days - or at least the halcyon days you wish you'd experienced.

If Cream or the Grateful Dead are your thing, or if you are more into U2 and Nirvana, you can find a shirt on this site. And they are way cool! Sure, they probably smell a little musty and are pretty creased from being boxed up for 30 years. But, hey! That's precisely what "vintage" means, and that's exactly what keeps you out of the "poser" category.

The site also sells tees and posters that are newly made but replicate the vintage artwork; it calls this category "retro." The posters range from rock shows and stand-up comedy nights to art exhibits and films.

When will you die?

I will die Dec. 30, 2072 and have about 2,110,074,120 seconds left to live.

If you, like me, are feeling a tad morbid and would like to know just how many seconds you have left to live it up, check the Death Clock.

You will answer the following questions, and a clock will pop up on your desktop to taunt you:
- Your age
- Your Body Mass Index (your height and weight ratio)
- The way you look at life (are you optimistic, pessimistic, sadistic or somewhere in between?)

As I watch the clock - my seconds dwindling to 2,110,073,000 - I consider getting away from the computer and living my life...