Shut Down For a Day on Shutdown Day

Shutdown Day banner

Shut down, switch off, unplug, disconnect, go offline, go analog, jack out — No matter how you say it, sometimes it’s really a good thing to get away from technology for awhile.

Shutdown Day is a non-profit Canadian organization founded by Dennis Bystrov & Ashutosh Rajekar to help raise awareness of the increasingly excessive use of digital media (TV, computers, game consoles, cell phones, MP3 players, etc.) and how technology can interfere with real world social interaction.

The idea of this global experiment is simple — just turn off your PC on Saturday, May 3rd, for the entire day and involve yourself in some other activity:   go outdoors, play sports, get together with friends & family — whatever, the point isn’t to reject our wired culture, but just to take a brief technology vacation and re-engage with the real world.

Maybe this also serves as a good opportunity to reflect & consider:   Are we too wired?   What do you think — can you survive for 24 hours without computers, email, & Internet?   Are you willing to take a technology vacation for just one day?   Do you think there’d be any benefit to doing so?

Note:   (I first mentioned Int’l Shutdown Day quite a bit earlier last year.   Dennis & Ashutosh explained that the annual event was shifted from its original March 24th date to May 3rd for the sake of warmer weather and a tree-planting event that’s to be held in Quebec.)

Paris Hilton Shall NOT Be In Attendance

Baking For the Birthday Boy

Dede's homemade cupcakesLiam is turning the big "2" tomorrow so in preparation for the occasion, Dede got all domesticated today and baked not only a coupla dozen cupcakes for his daycare class, but also a big cake, complete with artful writing & sprinkles, for a little family gathering that we had today.

Yes, that’s right Brad D. & Glenda, we’re not total sticks in the mud — we do let Liam have sweets from time to time.   And even though he’ll be turning 2 years old tomorrow, this’ll be the first time he’s ever had a birthday party, so this certainly qualifies as a sweets-worthy occasion!

Watch our Russian Adoption Journal blog for highlights & photos of the big event!

Have Birthdays Jumped the Shark?

And on the topic of birthdays, Dede & I have been noticing that there’s a definite trend towards increasingly extravagant children’s birthday parties.   Renting a traveling petting zoo, reserving private time at a water park, a block party complete with a DJ spinning kids’ music…   These soirees costing hundreds of dollars or more are arranged by ordinary, otherwise well-meaning, mere mortals like us or you — not whackadoo celebrities in LA-LA-Land for whom money is no object.

University of Minnesota social science professor William Doherty has founded an online campaign called Birthdays Without Pressure to shed a little light on the excesses that seem to have overtaken today’s birthday parties & offer resources to help combat the intense pressure that some parents say they’re under to ramp up for these behemoth birthday bashes for their kids.   The website offers some great ideas for low-key, low-cost, low-stress birthdays that’re still fun for all involved.

Do you think childrens’ birthday parties are beginning to become excessive?   Have you encountered a birthday bash that seemed over-the-top?

Are You Aware?

RSS Awareness Day banner

You’ve no doubt seen the acronym "RSS" or the now-familiar little orange icon on some of your favorite websites, but do you know what it is?   Do you know what RSS feeds can do for you?

As I mentioned in my Lose Weight With RSS article a few months ago, an RSS feed reader allows you subscribe to, organize, & easily keep up with websites that feature regularly-updated content.   And you don’t have to remember all of those individual web address URLs.

Daniel Scocco over at DailyBlogTips has declared May 1st to be RSS Awareness Day in an attempt to help more people become familiar with RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feed reading & its benefits.   Head over to to learn more!

By the way, Google Reader is still my reader of choice and one of the features that I really like about it is the ability to share favorite blog posts with others.

Happy Earth Day!

Liam got in on the Earth Day action in his spiffy new "Save My Planet" t-shirt.

Liam wearing a Save My Planet tee shirt

By the way, can you guess what film & TV actor Eddie Albert has to do with Earth Day?   Ben over at Environmental Graffiti notes that, due to the actor’s extraordinary work with environmental causes & groups, when International Earth Day was being organized in the early 70s, it was decided that the holiday must be held on April 22nd — Eddie Albert’s birthday.   Puts a whole new spin on Green Acres, doesn’t it?

HEB Saves the World

HEB reusable shopping bagTo encourage more people to switch to reusable products & recycle more, H-E-B Grocery stores in Texas are celebrating Earth Day (Tuesday, April 22nd) by giving out coupons for a free reusable shopping bag when you drop at least 5 plastic shopping bags into the recycling bins located at the front of their stores.

While I’m not 100% sure, these look to be H-E-B-branded versions of the 1 Bag at a Time reusable bags that Dede wrote about last year.   They’re made of non-woven polypropylene from yogurt cups, syrup bottles, straws, medicine bottles, etc. — typically one of the least recyclable plastics.   These shopping bags are sturdy, water resistant, allergy-free, & shaped like the paper sacks that used to be popular at grocery stores so they have a flat bottom to make ’em easy to fill & unload.

By the way, have you ever wondered about those little numbers with the arrows around them on the bottom of plastic containers?   They’re called and they indicate the type of plastic that an item is made from.   These codes are designed to help consumers know how to recycle various plastic products & packages.

So, mark your calendar to remember to drop by for a free bag next Tuesday, April 22nd so you can do your part to help H-E-B save the world!

ProBlogger Today, Rolling Stone Tomorrow?

Hot on the heels of my first venture as a guest blogger over at NeonScent — well, hey, it only took 8 months — I’ve had another guest blog article published!   This time, I’m deeply honored that highly-esteemed professional blogger & author Darren Rowse chose to post an article of mine on his renowned ProBlogger, one of the foremost sites for blogging techniques, advice, & skill-building.

So, pop over to ProBlogger to check out Geoblogging – How to Geotag Your Blog for a look at a relatively new way to place your blog or website on the map — literally!

Now that I’ve had another tiny taste of fame, it makes me wonder what’s next… maybe the cover of the Rolling Stone?

Wrap It Up!

I read a post on Melissa’s Sarcomical blog about an article by Neil Kramer who decided to seek immortality by coining his own deli specialty, a.k.a. “The Neilochka.” I wondered, could it be that designing a signature sandwich really is the recipe for fame & fortune? Well heck, I can do that!

Anyone who’s tried ’em can attest that our 2Dolphins Tuna Wraps are awesome — although admittedly, I was a bit off the mark when I made this for Karen P. last month. (I was experimenting with chipotle mayo and got a little carried away!) So here’s the high protein, high fiber, kick-butt wrap that laughs heartily at other, lesser excuses for sammiches:

2Dolphins Tuna Wrap

2Dolphins Tuna Wrap sandwich   1 pkg Albacore tuna (in the pouch, not canned!)
   2-3 dollops of real mayo
   2 spoonfuls of dill relish
   1 finely chopped celery stick
   Several liberal pinches of finely chopped parsley, green onion, and/or chives
   Coupla sprinkles of red pepper flakes
   Splash (or two) of Tabasco sauce

Serve with shredded sharp Cheddar cheese and Romaine or Green Leaf lettuce on a 10″ Mission Carb Balance Whole Wheat Tortilla.

So, what would be the ingredients of your signature sandwich and what would you call it?

April ’08 Blogtipping – All About the Benjamins

Blogtipping iconWhat with April bringing a close to tax season and lots of people getting those handy rebate checks in, "personal finances" seemed like a really suitable topic for this month’s Blogtipping post.   The Internet is peppered with all kinds of great sites with terrific information about personal finances — far more than I could mention here — but here are 3 blogs I frequent that really have something special to offer:

Generation X Finance by Jeremy Vohwinkle has articles that’re geared towards "Generation X" but I keep coming back because:

  1. While the topics may be geared towards those in their late 20s – 30s, the great info here is applicable to anyone.
  2. Very practical packing tips!
  3. Clean site design!
  • Tip: Hey Jeremy, maybe you need a snazzy logo for your site?

Dumb Little Man from Jay White isn’t strictly a blog about money matters but it’s definitely worth a look because:

  1. Tons of useful articles on healthy living, personal development, organization, & finances.
  2. Easy-to-navigate site design!
  3. DLM Blender scoops up great posts from around the Web.
  • Tip: I’d like to see just a few more images in the posts.

Wise Bread is a fantastic group blog for personal finance & frugal living tips.   There’s lots to like about this community-driven site:

  1. Tons of practical & applicable tips for living large on a small budget.
  2. You’ll definitely want to subscribe via email or RSS feed to keep up with the very frequent updates.
  3. Very active forum provides a place to interact with others amd get even more info on making every penny count.
  • Tip: This is one of my never-miss mainstay blogs — I can’t think of anything that’s missing.

As a bonus, SNL offers a revolutionary debt & money-management program.   Chris Parnell teaches Steve Martin & Amy Poehler the secret to financial success.   Stop whatever you’re doing right now and go watch this hilarious video at


Now it’s your turn!   What are some of the personal finance blogs or sites that you frequent?   Post a comment and share the wealth!

Need For Speed

photo of fast swimming dolphins

Longtime readers may recall my older article Speed Is Skin Deep, Too in which I mentioned "Gray’s Paradox," a theory published in 1936 that contended that dolphins were physiologically incapable of producing sufficient power to achieve the speeds mariners had observed.   Researchers have long since disproved this, discovering key flaws in Gray’s calculations.   Then a couple of years ago, Japanese scientists discovered that the way in which water flows over the dolphin’s rubbery & continually shedding skin significantly reduces the vortices that would otherwise create too strong a drag on the tail.

But now, as reported in the March 2008 New Scientist article "Dolphins swim so fast it hurts," findings from a pair of researchers at the Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa have discovered that the main limiting factor of a dolphin’s maximum speed is neither physical ability nor friction-causing turbulence.   What’s holding dolphins back from even more impressive speeds?


As dolphins propel themselves through the water, there’s a continual formation of microscopic bubbles around the tail, a phenomenon known as "cavitation."   These bubbles form as a result of the pressure difference created by the movement of the tail fins or flukes.   As the bubbles collapse, they produce a shockwave.   This same condition produces the foamy wash that streams behind boats & ships and is known to deteriorate the metal on propellers.

The Israeli scientists revealed that, to dolphins and other fast-moving aquatic mammals, cavitation is painful since they have nerve endings in their flukes.   According to their calculations, this begins to happen when dolphins swim at speeds greater than 22 miles per hour.   So shorter bursts are tolerable, but to sustain that speed becomes too painful for the animal to endure.

Dolphins can cheat around this problem by swimming deeper in the water rather than at the surface because cavitation decreases as pressure increases.   With measurements being so much more difficult in deeper waters, the theoretical top speed of dolphins is once again anybody’s guess.