Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Rubber Duckies and Global Warming

NASA has polluted the ocean near Greenland with 90 rubber duckies, all in the name of science. They wanted to see where water from the melting glaciers was going, so they put the duckies in and now want to find them so they can learn about climate change.

The major flaw with the plan seems to be that the duckies have to make their way underneath the glaciers and into channels of melting water. The thought is that this water flow is speeding the melting of the glaciers. However, since no ducks have been found, it seems likely that they have all gotten stuck under the ice, along with the football-sized GPS transmitter.

If you do capture one of these wild yellow ducks, be sure to contact the email address printed on the duck. You'll get a $100 prize if you find the first one! And we could all use a little extra cash.

Related Posts: A creeping problem; Earth Hour: Keeping us in the dark; Global Warming Cafe
Photo courtesy of Tambako the Jaguar.

Monday, December 29, 2008

2009: The year to be more ....?

'Tis the season for those resolutions (except if you don't believe in them, like John). Traditionally I resolve to floss my teeth on a more regular basis. However ---gasp!--- I've been doing that this year! Well at least for the last three months.

Instead of making concrete resolutions like "I promise to go to the gym or play Wii Boxing 4 times per week," I'm thinking about making mind/attitude change resolutions. The idea is that if I ingrain something like a "be more patient" mantra into my every day routine, that my actions will then reflect that. I'm less of a thinker and more of a feeler, so if this mantra becomes part of my life, perhaps it will impact my actions.

Some research has postulated that changing just one "node" of the emotions that make up an attitude can change the whole attitude. With a different attitude, you're bound to behave differently.

The attitude-altering mantras I'm considering are as follows
  • Be more patient
  • Be kinder
  • Think before acting
  • What would INSERT MENTOR HERE [my grandma Mil] do?
  • Do I really need that?
Do you have any New Year's resolutions?

Related Posts: Top 5 New Year's Resolutions; How YOU doin'?; Green Tips for the New Year; Delayed Gratification; Who is Happier?

Friday, December 26, 2008

TGIF- Dog in Snow

A friend sent me this post and I couldn't stop laughing. I thought I would post it because, isn't that what this season is all about, being Merry?

Well Enjoy and have a great weekend!

Related Posts: Sock It To The Holidays! --- A little humor , Don't forget about your pet;How to be Happier

Video Courtesy of: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0sUL0KCIc48

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Globe Santa - Struggling like many of us

'Tis the season to give to others, though I'm sure many of us are cutting back. I know I've made many gifts for family this year, and my friends and I aren't exchanging gifts. However, imagine for a moment that you're a mom with four kids whose husband has abandoned them, whose mother has just died, and who herself has just been laid off.

What do you do then? I mean, really? What would you do? This mom went without heat and hot water for six months until she qualified for state aid this winter, but now the boiler's broken. And it's Christmas time - a holiday that transcends religion, becoming a cultural tradition here in the USA. I'm sure all this mother wants to do is make her kids smile on Christmas morning, especially those young enough to still believe in Santa Claus.

Food or clothing? Heat or happiness? Choices a mom shouldn't have to make.

This is just one of the stories Globe Santa received this year in its pile of requests for aid. In recent years Globe Santa has raised over $1 million in private and business donations, which they use to buy gifts for families who request help. These gifts are then delivered by UPS.

However, according to an article in the Globe on Saturday, Dec 20, this year they have raised just over $388,000. And this is in a year when no doubt they are receiving even more requests for help. That's just 38% of what they need. Back in 2000 - those happy days of the tech boom when many were flush - they were able to raise $1.4 million.

I know pennies are being pinched, manicures are being foregone, vacations out West are being canceled, but if you have $5 to spare, perhaps you could donate it to Globe Santa so a kid can be happy this year. It would be a great gift to someone you love, who perhaps has fond memories of Christmas themselves.

And if you're one of those fortunate people who are still able to luxury shop but are hiding your purchases in unmarked bags, consider donating a larger chunk 'o' change and foregoing your Hermes bag.

It's for the kids, man.

Resources: Globe Santa
Related Posts: Charitable Giving in 2008; Read the Paper; Fuel Assistance Workshops;
Tapas for Toys; A gift to remember; 'Tis the season to change the present
Photos courtesy of the Globe Santa website.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Sock It To The Holidays! --- A little humor

It's been icing, it's been snowing, and all we hear about is how our economy is in trouble. Watch (and listen) to these "wise socks" tell you how it is. It's a little TGIH (Thank Goodness It's the Holidays) for you this Monday morning!

Related Posts: Ice Storms and How you can help; Penny Pinchin' Times; Don't forget about your pet; It's still the economy, stupid
Video shared with me by my godmother Jeanne. Thanks!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow

So in case you haven't heard yet Boston is going to be getting a boatload of snow in the afternoon hours. YEAH! I know I am probably the only person excited about the impending storm but then again I grew up in the Midwest and I am used to being covered in snow.

When there is a foot of snow you really see the true nature of people. I have seen neighbors come together to shovel out each other's driveway, and everyone seems to pull together. This is when I experience the most random kindness from strangers which is always appreciated and wish it didn't just happen when it was snowing.

So you want to volunteer? Get out and shovel a neighbor's sidewalk. You don't even understand how many pedestrians will thank you for the safe footing underneath! Plus the gratitude from your neighbors!

Picture Courtesy of: http://www.fnal.gov/pub/today/archive_2007/today07-12-17.html

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Food Banks and Food Pantries in Massachusetts

With all this talk about people's funds being limited and needing to seek assistance from food banks, I thought it would be useful to provide a list of all the food pantries in the Boston area, or Massachusetts overall.

But I couldn't find one.

At least not a comprehensive one. I could find the big ones - like the Greater Boston Food Bank, and a few smaller local joints, but no comprehensive list. A search on Google Local brought back lots of food pantries and food banks... as well as some Stop & Shops, Citizens Banks, and a few restaurants.

Not helpful.

Not to mention, many food banks and emergency food providers don't even have websites.

With allllllll of that in mind, I bring to you the great, the wonderful, the quite useful Food Bank and Food Pantry Map of Massachusetts. I compiled all of the information based on the Google Local search. You can zoom in on your local area to find the closest food bank to you, where you can bring donations or if you need it, get some help.

If you know of a food bank or pantry that is not listed there, just drop me a line at boston at oyfp dot org and I'll add you on.

Happy Food Banking!

Resources: Food Bank and Food Pantry Map of Massachusetts
Related Posts: Food is key to culture; Food for Thought; Partying for Good; Helping with a mullet; Helping a little old lady

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Partying for Good

Times are tight right about now, and have been for a few months. Perhaps you've been laid off, a victim of a Ponzi Scheme, or are just feeling the pinch from having to buy food, gas, and gifts. Still, it's important not to forget those who are even worse off than we are. After all, even homeless men in Detroit have found it in their hearts to collect money for others.

But what can you do if you want to help but don't have a lot of cash? Well, there's always my favorite: Collect donations from co-workers and friends on the promise that if you hit a certain goal, you'll cut your hair into a mullet. True story.

Not all of us are willing to sacrifice our lovely locks to such a fashion faux pas. However, if you look more like Goldilocks (or Brunett-i-locks) and less like Chuck Norris, you can donate your hair to Locks of Love for just the cost of a haircut. That is, as long as you have 10 inches and it's not highlighted or bleached.

Ok, so I don't have 10 inches, nor am I willing to sport a mullet... but my friends and I are getting together for a potluck instead of exchanging gifts this year. I'm going to propose that we all bring a few non-perishable goods to donate to a local food pantry, since shelves are looking pretty barren. It's an easy way for us all to help, just a little bit.

And finally, we're all planning on partying this New Year's Eve, I'm sure. Interestingly, I've search high and low for an event benefiting a non-profit and cannot for the life of me find one. The only remotely close item is the Back Bay Gala for Boomers, which has a silent auction benefiting Ellie's Fund. Perhaps OYFP will step up to the plate next year. In the mean time, before Christmas arrives, you could take in a few tapas at Tapeo, and bring along a donation for Toys for Tots.

If you have any ideas on low key ways to help out, please share!

Related Posts: Toys for Tapas; Ellie Fund and Oscars; If they can give, you can too;
Alternative holiday gift ideas; A gift to remember; Buy local for the holidays; Conscious Giving; 'Tis the season to change the present

Here's what we should be celebrating this season: Friends!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Ice Storms and How you can help

As you may have heard, the Northeast has been particularly hard hit by ice storms Thursday morning. Thousands of people are still without power in upper state New York, Central and Western Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont, including my very own parents. If you're lucky enough to have electricity and be reading this blog entry, here are a few ideas for things you can do to help:

1. Make some food, and bring it to a shelter or to a friend/family in need. Not only are these people cold, they're probably hungry too! If you have a gas stove, you're fortunate... but if not, Triscuits and peanut butter get old fast.

2. Buy or make your own gallons of clean, drinkable water, and bring them to a shelter or a friend in need. Rural houses typically are not on town water, and rely on wells.... which have an electric pump.

3. Call 617-274-5325 or visit the Red Cross site where you can register to become a trained responder volunteer during times of crises. Then you'll be able to help when storms like this one strike.

Below is a list of shelters operated by the Red Cross of Massachusetts, and a complete list of New Hampshire shelters can be found on the Concord NH Red Cross site. Other shelters may also be open, operated privately by churches or other groups.

Shelter Name Address City/Town State Zip
Amesbury Middle School 222 Main Street Amesbury MA 01913
Lowell High School 50 Father Morissette Blvd. Lowell MA 01852
Comprehensive Grammar School 100 Howe Street Methuen MA 01844

And finally, read these post-storm tips from the MA state government to prevent further mishap.

It's the holidays, peeps. Do a little something to help your neighbors and fellow citizens out. Perhaps I'll follow my own advice and bring my parents some food, though they're luckier than most and have a generator...

Related Posts: If they can give, you can too; Disasters, Crises, and Donating Blood; Food prices are rising, here's how to keep your dough
Photo courtesy of StreamingMeeMee.

Friday, December 12, 2008

School Safety Controversy

I am not sure how I feel about this story. The Georgetown, MA school district is considering a proposal to teach children as young as 10 years old how to fight back if gunmen were to enter their school.

What is this Red Dawn? Okay so Red Dawn was about High school kids fighting Soviet gunmen, but are 10 year old children emotionally equipped to fight back gunmen? More importantly do you want children fighting back, which could lead to their harm?

Would your opinion change if schools taught children where to go in the case of a Columbine like attack. Schools have tornado drills, why can they have a "safe shelter" drill?

I work for a University and we have a plan like this in place. Additionally, we even practice this drill to hopefully avoid/prepare the employees for any possible attacks. I would like to point out that there is a huge age gap between us (my colleagues at work) and some of the children of the proposal at Georgetown. Not to mention the emotional developmental differences between youth and adults.

As Kenneth Trump, the president of National School Safety and Security Services, states "We’re asking them (the children) to make some quite serious judgments that even trained adults are challenged to make". "I think that’s an unrealistic and highly risky expectation and burden to put on kids".

What are your thoughts? Should children be taught this in schools? If so, should there be an age restriction, say high school and above? What are your thoughts?

Related Posts: Handgun bans and Dogs

Picture Courtesy of: http://www.catholicregister.org/content/view/799/855/

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

If they can give, you can too

Times are tough, I get it. But if these homeless men in Detroit can raise $500 to adopt four families this Christmas, I'm sure you can spare $25 to buy a toy for a kid.

Homeless people, as in - they don't have a home, one of the basic necessities of life - are giving this season.

What's your excuse now?

Related Posts: Alternative holiday gift ideas; A gift to remember; Buy local for the holidays; Tapas for Toys; Conscious Giving; 'Tis the season to change the present; DesignGive - Creativity is a gift; 10,000 Reasons to Buy
Photo courtesy of Franco Folini.

Alternative holiday gift ideas

Last week, Krystle wrote about supporting local artisans by buying your Christmas/Hanukkah/ Kwanzaa/ New Year's gifts from them. I'd like to introduce three other options:

1. Make some gifts.
I know, I know. You might claim not to be "crafty." But that doesn't preclude you from making gifts, and perhaps saving a little dough in the meantime! Try baking an assortment of goodies (it's easier than you think), creating a photo collage or photo calendar for friends, family, or co-workers, or maybe giving "coupons" (massages, dinner, breakfast in bed, load of laundry, etc.). Or, perhaps you could do what my group of friends is doing this year - having a potluck to celebrate our friendship instead of giving gifts.

2. Buy some homemade gifts on Etsy.com.
If you'd like to give something with that homemade touch but really don't know where to turn, I highly recommend Etsy.com. Think boutique, or art gallery, only it's online, searchable, and you can request custom items from sellers! You're talking right to the people making the stuff. My favorites include some of the stained glass, baby hats, and vintage finds. Or, of course, the classic sock monkey or sock dog (cough, cough - shameless self promotion).

3. Donate in someone's name.
Sure, maybe this isn't original. But people are more in need than ever. Try giving a cow or a dozen chicks, volunteering for a day on behalf of someone, donating gifts to Toys for Tots, or donating money to your favorite non-profit. My brother once gave me a blank check for $50 that I could send to any non-profit of my choice (I chose Mercy Corps since it was right after the tsunami). He was in college at the time, so it represented no small sum of money. It meant a lot to me, and I'm sure the money made an impact.

So those are my ideas. I'm doing a lot of numbers one and two this year (aside from a few Amazon.com and clothing purchases), and some of number three. Please join me!

Related Posts: Buy local for the holidays; Tapas for Toys; A gift to remember; Conscious Giving; 'Tis the season to change the present; DesignGive - Creativity is a gift; 10,000 Reasons to Buy

Friday, December 5, 2008

Snoop Dog and Martha Stewart, Sitting in a Tree: TGIF

This video just about made my Friday. Martha and Snoop Dog have the pitter patter of a cooking show together down to a science, or should I say, "sizz-ience." Who would have thought Martha Stewart would be self aware enough to bring on an unexpected guest like Snoop?

Courtesy of Extreme Craft.

Buy Local for the Holidays

So the "experts" finally realized that we are in a recession. Thanks for FINALLY admitting what we all have known to be true for awhile now. With the terrible economy many are choosing to scale back on their purchases for the holidays.

However if are able to buy gifts this year, you can really help the local economy if you buy from local vendors. Where to find these local vendors? Come on out this Sunday to the Bazaar Bizarre at the Castle at Park Plaza on the corner of Arlington Street & Columbus Avenue in Boston.

Bazaar Bizarre began in 2001 in the Boston-area as a celebration of local artists and their handcrafted DIY wares to sell and at the same time staging an offbeat entertainment extravaganza. If you're looking for gifts that are unique, I guarantee this place has it.

Date: Sunday December 7, 2008
Place: The Castle at Park Plaza
Time: Noon-7pm
Cost: $1 to get in

Related Posts: The R-word, Sock Monkeys for Charity, designgive - creativity is a gift
Photo Courtesy of http://www.bazaarbizarre.org/

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Stay Healthy During the Holidays

So this post isn't exactly about volunteering, or doing good for others... but it is about doing good for yourself. 'Tis the season for weight gain. We're talking the annual "freshman 15" from all the booze, fruitcake, and rich foods you'll be eating this season, combined with the occasional pizza or Indian food takeout. It's not good for your figure, nor for your heart.

No worries, I'm not one to play Grinch of Holiday Yumminess. However, there are a few things I'm going to do this season that I thought you might want to do too:

1. Before going out to eat (or maybe at the table on my iPhone), I'm going to check out this handy dandy Eating Out Guide from the American Heart Association. It doesn't just tell you "order the chicken fillet instead of the burger," it includes "ethnic" foods, which are my favorites! You can still eat Indian food, but do so in a more healthy way.

2. Eggnog fan? Try a glass of half eggnog, half 1% milk, splash of whatever alcohol it is you put in eggnog. And make it a small glass while you're at it.

3. Try a little bit (like a bite) of all the desserts, and then stop. No really. Stop.

4. Go for a walk at lunch. Not only will this get your heart pumping, but the sunlight and vitamin D will help stave off seasonal affective disorder (read: winter makes me sad).

5. Go to the gym with a friend. Ok maybe some of you doobies out there actually go to the gym the required number of times per week, but I'm not one of them. I don't even belong to one right now. Too boring. But add a friend? I'm hoping for magic, or at the very least, discipline.

Any tips for staying healthy through the holidays? Please share.

Related Posts: Eating Locally; Tapas for Toys; A gift to remember; Conscious Giving; 'Tis the season to change the present; DesignGive - Creativity is a gift; 10,000 Reasons to Buy
Image courtesy of the NY Times.

Monday, December 1, 2008

World AIDS Day - How to celebrate

Today is World AIDS Day.

Why should you care?

Well, according to the Centers for Disease Control, at the end of 2003, an estimated 1,039,000 to 1,185,000 persons in the United States were living with HIV/AIDS, with 24%-27% undiagnosed and unaware of their HIV infection. The CDC estimated that approximately 56,300 people were newly infected with HIV in 2006 (the most recent year that data are available).

This means one of your partners could have HIV/AIDS and not know it, putting you at risk.

And the US population with HIV/AIDS is minuscule compared to the rest of the world. More than 25 million people have died of AIDS since 1981. Africa has 11.6 million AIDS orphans. And at the end of 2007, women accounted for 50% of all adults living with HIV worldwide, and for 59% in sub-Saharan Africa.*

What can you do about it?

1. Be safe. Have safe sex (read: condoms, folks), and if you're frequently using needles, make sure they're clean.

2. Donate money to the Boston Living Center, the AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts, or the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative.

3. Volunteer locally in Boston at the AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts or at the Boston Living Center. Volunteering internationally is always an option too!

4. Attend one of the Boston area World AIDS Day events, including a memorial service at the Boston Living Center; a talk at the MIT Museum entitled "AIDS: When will it end?"; or a chamber concert benefiting the AIDS Action Committee.

Either way, it's time to take action.

Related Posts: World AIDS Day 2007; 2009 Calendar Benefiting Indian Women; What to ask before you commit to volunteering; International Volunteering; Earthquake in China Volunteer Opportunities
*Stats taken from http://www.avert.org/worldstats.htm.

Images courtesy of WorldAidsCampaign.org.