Monday, June 29, 2009

Who wants to learn this with me?

The guitar chords and lyrics for House of the Rising Sun:

Am C D F
There is a house in New Orleans

Am C E
They call the Rising Sun

Am C D F
And it's been the ruin of many a poor boy

Am E Am C D F Am E Am E
And God I know I'm one

Am C D F
My mother was a tailor

Am C E
She sewed my new blue jeans

Am C D F
My father was a gamblin' man

Am E Am C D F Am E Am E
Down in New Orleans

Friday, June 26, 2009

My New Favorite Band. Seriously.

Please check out Natalie Portman's Shaved Head.

These songs go with my Wayfarers and commute-ipod-swagger, and ALSO Brookes-Nike-Jogger-bobbing.

Love it.

Check out the rest of the music on youtube or myspace.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Re-Cykle Water Bottles

I do my best to avoid buying plastic - water bottles, excessive plastic packaging, etc. - but it seems almost impossible. I also try to recycle and reuse all the plastic I do buy, but again, there's just not always a way to do that. Plastic is the biggest threat the environment has.

Some statistics on plastic waste from the EPA:

  • In 2006, the United States generated 14 million tons of plastic through containers and packaging.
  • The amount of plastic consumed as a percentage of total waste has increased from less than 1 percent in 1960 to 11.7 percent in 2006.
Soda Stats:
  • Americans drank approximately 14.7 billion cases of non-alcoholic beverages in 2004 (this includes both plastic and aluminum containers; note that aluminum cans are lined with plastic).
More Statistics:

Its just horrifying, isn't it?

I love hearing about breakthroughs in ridding the earth of waste and this is a great example:

An 18 year old high school student created a prototype of a water bottle that is 70% cardboard and only 30% plastic (which is needed to keep the water in). He calls his bottle "Cykle" and is looking for investors! Read more here.

Visit the Cykle website to read more and donate to the project.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Adopt a Pet in the Recession!

A lot of us are hurting in these tough economic times, but the little spoken-about victims are really family pets that are forced out when folks can't afford to feed themselves AND Fluffy or Princess. There are plenty of places out there that are accepting these Recession Pets, but those places are running out of room.

For instance, down in Florida, the 10th Life Sanctuary is caring for 600 cats. They have a no-kill policy (which means they don't euthanize animals when they are not adopted) but they are running out of space and funding.

If you are currently financially secure enough to have a pet, perhaps adopting a loving animal who has lost its home due to financial hardship is an option for you. If you can't adopt a pet at this time, maybe you can make a donation to the 10th Life Sanctuary, or another No-Kill shelter to help these animals have a good life their families were unable to afford.

Photo Credit: Lara Koch Photography

1 Millionth Word Update!

"Austin, Texas June 10, 2009 – The Global Language Monitor today announced that Web 2.0 has bested Jai Ho, N00b and Slumdog as the 1,000,000th English word or phrase. added to the codex of fourteen hundred-year-old language. Web 2.0 is a technical term meaning the next generation of World Wide Web products and services." -- from the Global Language Monitor

Web 2.o? Ok. I'll take it.

Its hard to know exactly what word is 1 millionth, obviously. This whole deal is a little bit flimsy -- many scientists and linguistics specialists think the whole formula is questionable.
Geoffrey Nunberg, a linguistics professor at the University of California at Berkeley says, "I think it's pure fraud ... It's not bad science. It's nonsense." And I hear what he's saying.

Our language is really incalculable, but I think it's really fun to think about how language is created, how it regenerates ( At its current rate, English generates about 14.7 words a day or one every 98 minutes.), and how it builds on other languages. We are lucky to have such an evolving language without the restrictions many languages have. A lot of other countries don't accept popularization of a certain word or phrase as a reason to affect its acceptance into the canon, but I think America understands itself to be a growing, changing place. We started seeing this when words like Homer's infamous admission of mistake, "Do'H!" was added a few years back (2001), alongside "Bling Bling" (2003) and Will Smith's "Jiggy."

Who knows, maybe one of us will coin a term that will end up in the dictionary, and stay forever like the Bard's many contributions. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

In Less Than 12 Hours!

The English language is constantly evolving (who ever heard of the word Twitter before 12 months ago??) and there is actually a formula for counting how many words are added each day. According to the site, the Global Language Monitor, the language should hit its one millionth word at about 5:22AM Wednesday morning. Maybe I should wake up early and celebrate with a mimosa.

A million words is just an amazing amount, considering we are born without language at all and learn (primarily through experience and observation) words one at a time. I wonder if there are people who try to learn every word in the English Language, although I don't even really know how you would test that --because every time a dictionary is printed it becomes irrelevant.

A recent CNN article explains which words are considered:

"Words must make sense in at least 60 percent of the world to be official, he said. And they must make sense to different communities of people. A new technology term that's only understood in Silicon Valley wouldn't count as a mainstream word, he said.

His computer models check a total of 5,000 Web sites, dictionaries, scholarly publications and news articles to see how frequently words are used, he said. A word must make 25,000 appearances to be deemed legitimate."

I love that American's have an interest in words--jugding by the popularity of books and movies about Scrabble, Spelling Bees (1,2,3) and Crossword Puzzles.

Here's to the one-millionth word in the English Language. Maybe learning them all can be my next project...

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Women Rock!

Just a quick post today for all the gals out there. Todays heroes? Women.

Clearly women go through a lot of stuff unique to their gender from facing gender stereotypes that imply weakness and incompetence, getting paid less than men, and having to deal with some uncomfortable physical situations men really can't understand.

Although I did just find one guy who might have a little bit of an idea. New York Times columnist Dana Jennings wrote a piece yesterday about the 6 months he was on hormone therapy as a treatment for an aggressive case of prostate cancer. His eye-opening journey into the emotional world of a menopausal woman is funny and honest:

"Hand in hand with the hot flashes came the food cravings. I lusted after Cheetos and Peanut Butter M&M’s, maple-walnut milkshakes, and spaghetti and meatballs buried in a blizzard of Parmesan. Isn’t it funny how cravings very rarely involve tofu, bean curd or omega-3 oils?"

It wasn't JUST dealing with hot flashes and food cravings, he learned. There was more.

"Then there was the weight issue. During the six months I was on Lupron I gained about 25 pounds. That was partly a byproduct of the cravings, but it also stemmed from the hormonal changes triggered in my body. And I hated it, hated it, hated it. I had never had to worry about my weight, and I began to understand why media aimed at women and girls obsess over weight so much."

Although this experience was an unfortunate side effect of his treatment, Mr. Jennings chose to acknowledge the strength of all women by writing this article about how challenging it was.

So, to all the gals out there who just take whatever our bodies dish out: Woot to us!

Check out the rest of the article here.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


Today's hero is a combination of Early Hominid Ancestors and Modern Chimps.

Homo Habilis, meaning "handy man" or "skilled person" is an early ancestor of modern man who lived in the general range of 2 million years ago. This hominid was named as such because although he had many ape-like features (such as long arms and a short stature) his bones have been found accompanied by primitive tools. Earlier hominids (like most animals) didn't use tools, so this guy is a big step in human evolution, although it is still debated if Habilis was indeed the very first. He also had a more human-like face and smaller teeth.

Overall, we give a lot of credit to tool usage when we consider the approximate intelligence of an animal. A new study which has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Human Evolution compares tool usage by chimps and that of early man.

"Josephine Head and Martha Robbins observed chimpanzees at Loango National Park on the coast of Gabon, Africa. They identified at least five different types of chimp-made honey extraction tools used in sequence. The tools consist of pounders, enlargers, collectors, perforators and swabbers. Chimps, suspended in acrobatic positions on branches, might first pull out a thick stick pounder to break open beehive entrances. They then reach for another stick, the enlarger, to perforate and widen different honeybee hive compartments. Next comes the collector, used to dip or scoop out honey."

Way to go Chimps and Homo Habilis! I have seen animals (like cats!) learn strategies and use them repeatedly--which boggles my mind, but if i ever saw my cat use a knife to open its food bag I think I'd pass out. Luckily, even if they had a million years, cats would never learn to use tools -- because humans will always be there to treat them like tiny royalty. Isn't evolution grand?

Image courtesy of -- Reconstruction of Homo habilis

Monday, June 1, 2009

Octo-Not A Hero

On this day, June 1st, 2009, I make an attempt to participate in NaBloPoMo, National Blog Posting Month. The theme for this month is Heroes. I often stumble upon people in life or in the news who I deem to be heroic in one way or another, but today I start this game with the opposite. Unfortunately, this morning I have already encountered someone who I think is NOT HEROIC. Who should not be considered a hero?

The Octomom.

I read this morning on that she signed a deal with some network for a reality TV show surrounded herself and her 14 kids, like none of us were expecting this crazy turn of events. It did surprise me how my immediate reaction was so angry -- what the heck is this woman doing? Should we really make people like her into celebrities/heroes? This story tags on to all the recent trials and tribulations surrounding TLCs Jon and Kate Plus 8, another show about raising kids (8, in this case) that spotlights people who aren't really being great parents.

When you put someone on TV you immortalize them, and you create fans. You make role models of average people who often are not exemplifying positive character traits. Do we really want to make a person who has had 14 children without any means to support them into a hero? Should she become some sort of scene for voyeuristic American's to look in on and converse about how "wacky her life is with all those kids!" when the kids are suffering?

Does reality TV create heroes by televising/paying these people to make bad decisions on camera?

Photo Courtesy of