Collective Soul’s Afterwords Coming Soon!

Collective Soul  Afterwords album coverMan, I am so stoked!

I just found out that one of my most favoritest bands, Collective Soul, is gearing up to release their seventh studio album in August.   I’ve long since been hooked on their sometimes-orchestral, post-grunge, layered music so I’m definitely psyched for this new disc!

The interesting twist that accompanies the release of their "Afterwords" album on August 28th?   The band has struck a deal with Target as the exclusive retailer for the (physical) CD & iTunes for the (digital) downloadable files.

You can give a listen to the Georgia quintet’s awesome, bouncy new single, "Hollywood" at Collective Soul’s MySpace page.   At first I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but the style of this new song really reminded me of another band.   Then it finally hit me… (with a gentle nudge from Dede)   The Cars, back in the ’80s..   Anyone else catch that vibe?

Blogathon ’07 Results

Jimmy Patterson at Blogathon 2007

A few days ago, I wrote about Jimmy Patterson’s Blogathon ’07 fundraising plans.   Well, by golly, not only did he go through with living atop a scissor jack 30 feet in the air for 24 hours, but in the process, he managed to raise the 2nd highest amount of all Blogathon ’07 participants!   Yup, even in spite of annoying technical difficulties (dang webcam!), looming storm clouds, drunks congregating at Whataburger at, and the sweltering West Texas heat, he toughed it out and raised $4,293 for Midland Fair Havens!   Awesome job, Jimmy!

At last tally, Blogathon 2007 has raised over $125k in pledges this weekend for a variety of worthwile charities.

Update:   In the interim since Jimmy’s descent from his lofty perch, donations have continued to pour in, bumping the new total up to $6,353.   Not only did he far exceed his $5k goal, but he’s claimed the top fund raiser slot for this year’s Blogathon!

Blogathon 2007 – Charity Gets a Lift

Blogathon 2007 logo

On July 28th, Blogathon 2007 kicks off across the blogosphere.   The annual grassroots fundraiser marathon founded by blogger Cat Connor has, since its inception, raised in excess of $225 thousand dollars for charitable organizations.

For his part in Blogathon ’07, Permian Basin blogger extraordinaire Jimmy Patterson will spend an entire 24-hours non-stop 30 feet in the air atop an industrial Genie scissor lift.   Yup, every 30 minutes, beginning Saturday at 8 a.m., Jimmy will write a blog entry.

Jimmy’s lofty goal (rimshot! is to raise $5,001 for Midland Fair Havens, a charitable organization which helps mothers & their children transition from bad relationships to a successful new start in life, addressing their educational, vocational, spiritual, & emotional needs in residential and non-residential settings.

If you’d like to make an online donation to Fair Havens on behalf of his efforts, you can sponser Jimmy for Blogathon 2007 or you can also drop by the Midland H-E-B parking lot (at the corner of Midkiff & Wadley) during the event to make a donation in person.   And be sure to check out Jimmy’s live webcast during the sleepless 24 hours at the Blogathon site.

OLPC Teaches the Birds and the Bees

OLPC notebook PC being shown to childrenOh yeah.   The MIT wonks gushed over the educational potential of their One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) program, but somehow, I don’’t think this is quite the "educational opportunity" they had in mind…

Via Gecko & Fly, I read a Reuters news article reporting that a pilot group of Nigerian schoolchildren who received some of the first OLPC notebook PCs have been caught using them to explore pornographic sites on the Internet.

Well, sure enough, that is educational…

An OLPC representative pledged that the computers will now be fitted with content filters.   Of course, installing safeguards to ensure that these PCs cannot freely browse adult sites with explicit sexual materials is vital — and I’m baffled how this was overlooked to begin with.   But there are core-level, big-ticket issues that’re far beyond this embarrassing incident.   For me, there are two separate but equally important concerns:

First, should we really be in such a hurry to place computers in Third World childrens’ hands when basic survival needs have not first been met?   While I appaud the good intentions & ideals behind this project — namely, to provide educational opportunities for children who’ve not had them before — I’m still convinced that the money would be better spent establishing self-sustaining agriculture, sewage & water systems, and/or disease prevention & cure rather than on PCs.   I’m not advocating quick-fix handouts – I’m talking about helping these people build infrastructures needed to become self-reliant.

Second, as I’ve wondered before, (or life) for children?   As a parent-to-be, I’m nervous about how computer-use skills are being made a priority for very young kids.   Are we wise to so casually rush to acclimate children – impoverished or otherwise – to the digital world?   And in doing so, are we robbing them of real world learning opportunities?

What’s your take on the OLPC project?

1 Bag at a Time

blue bag 1 Bag at a TimeWe’re far from being model examples of perfect environmentally-responsible citizens but we’re at least somewhat conscious of it and do try to do our part whenever we can.   If you want to see an ideal (and entertaining) example, check out Living with Ed.

Recently I read about Lisa Foster’s 1 Bag at a Time campaign and then I was surprised to find that one of our local merchants, Natural Foods Market in Midland, sells these bags.   As a side note, we were hoping this store would be more like Whole Foods (but that’s another story).

I’ve been making an effort to take reusable bags with us when grocery shopping and these bags are better constructed than most.   They’re only $1.99 plus I like the philosophy behind them.

Top 5 Reasons to Reuse a Bag:

  1. The petroleum in 14 plastic bags could drive a car 1 mile.
  2. Americans use over 14 billion plastic bags annually.
  3. It takes 70% more global warming gasses to make a paper bag than a plastic bag.
  4. Paper bags do not biodegrade in landfills.
  5. Cities spend up to 17 cents per bag in disposal costs.

If nothing else motivates you to do this, surely you’re tired of seeing all those plastic bags hanging from trees!

The Machine is Us/ing Us

Although not exactly new since it’s been circulating around the blogosphere for several weeks, there’ve been a few friends who drew a blank when this was referenced, so Dede encouraged me to post an entry about this video.

Ethnography is defined as the study of the origin, characteristics, and distribution of different cultural and ethnic groups.   An ethnographer’s job is to immerse himself in the social scene being studied and participate in order to get a better understanding of that culture.   Professor Michael Wesch & his students in the Digital Ethnography group at Kansas State University have done just that with their The Machine is Us/ing Us video.

Considered a crash course on Web 2.0, this fascinating presentation neatly dissects the dizzying social impact of the Internet, where people are more plugged in than ever before, creating, collaborating, discussing, & sharing virtual worlds.   The web is a machine.   It’s a tool.   It’s home for many of us.   Or to paraphrase Prof. Wesch, the web is us

Did this video strike a chord with you?   Does the whole "Web 2.0" thing leave your head spinning?   Leave a comment & let us know what you think!

8 Random Dede Things

Rob’s been nagging me about getting my "8 Random Things" list done ever since he tagged me a week ago, so here it is:

  1. I’ve kissed a dolphin.
  2. One of my dreams is to receive a hug from Elton John.
  3. My wedding anniversary is the same date (Aug. 3rd) as my parents and my grandparents.
  4. I was hit by a car when I was young.   I lived to tell the tale but my bike did not!
  5. I have an irrational love of Chuck’s, bags, & nature CDs – can’t get enough of any of them!
  6. National Lampoon’s Vacation is my favorite movie.
  7. I can touch the tip of my nose with my tongue.
  8. I once drove a borrowed stolen van to the Texas State Capital building at 3 a.m. to use the bathroom.   (Does it even need to be stated that there was drinking involved?)

Sorry, but the rules say I’ve gotta tag some peeps to keep this going.   So I tag the following:   Gretchen, Amy, SteveG, and Debbie.

I Want an iPhone

It seems that no blog would be complete this week without an iPhone reference.   Like me, David Pogue has drank the Apple Kool-Aid.

David is the New York Times Circuits columnist who’s created an original music video called “iPhone: The Musical” about his longing for an iPhone.

P.S.   David, if you’re reading this, throw me a bone here & send me one of your spares!   There’s no editor to pay for my new toys, so I don’t have an iPhone yet…   <sigh>

8 Random Things

Earlier this week, Rowan tagged me to join in the "8 Random Things" meme.   Like Bob, I usually shy away from memes because so many seem designed to do little more than artificially garner linkbacks & boost Google PageRank.   But, not unlike David Airey’s The Face Behind The Blog Collection, this meme aims to reveal some interesting & fun facts that give a little more insight on fellow bloggers, so it seemed worth a shot.

First, the rules:

  1. Each player posts a blog entry listing 8 random facts about themselves.
  2. People who’re tagged need to write a blog post with these rules & their own list of 8 random things.
  3. At the end of the post, you tag up to 8 other bloggers you’d like to see participate.

So, off we go!   Here are my 8 random things:

  1. I got my first pair of glasses on October 31st, 1970.   Yup, Halloween.   No kidding.
  2. I’ve loved Snoopy ever since my cousin Kathy taught me how to draw him when I was about 5 years old.
  3. I once climbed to the top of a water tower in Amarillo with an American Indian named Ivan.
  4. I’m about 10 years older than most people would ever guess.
  5. I haven’t had a carbonated beverage (alcoholic or otherwise) in 3 years.
  6. The first car I ever drove with a manual transmission (a.k.a. stick-shift) was an electric blue VW Karmann Ghia coupe.
  7. Almost nothing aggravates me more than wet socks.
  8. I’d secretly love to be a rock ’n roll drummer.   Okay, maybe that’s not a very well-kept secret since I drive lots of people crazy with my incessant tapping.

Now, to help keep this meme going, I hereby tag Dede, Bob Jones, David Airey, and TDavid.   Have fun!