Thursday, November 18, 2010

Inbox clean out...

I use Google Alerts to help me find the stories I post, and I can usually come up with a theme within a day or two, so I save the emails. But lately I've had a few orphans in my inbox, stories I thought were cool, but I couldn't come up with anything related to them. So I've decided to just put them all in this post. :)

Yahoo! News posted a story a little while ago that notes the stigmas attached with shopping at Goodwill or consignment and even using layaway are disappearing. Being budget-minded has apparently even caught on with the rich, Yahoo! noted, who are buying nearly a third more fast food than last year. People seem to finally have cottoned on to the idea that it's okay to say "I can't afford it."

Yahoo! also posted a story on what appears to be the oldest photo in existence of people. Granted it was taken in 1848, so that's not THAT long ago in the grand scheme of things but still pretty cool. The daguerreotype appears to show two men standing on a river's edge in Cincinnati. One man seems to have a foot resting on a wooden beam while the other is standing on the beam.

The last story is from CNN. While it dates from this past summer, it has only been sitting in the inbox for five weeks. :-P I promise. Four former Harvard students have found a way to harness the energy released from your foot when you kick a soccer ball. Their "Soccket" retains that energy and a plug in the ball allows you to power electronic devices like cell phones and lamps. The inventors believe it will do the most good in places like the Alexandria (South Africa) township where it was road-tested during the World Cup.

(Photo courtesy of Yahoo!)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A salute to the military and veterans...

Veterans' Day is not necessarily a happy holiday but finding heartwarming and good stories was a lot easier than I thought it would be. I didn't even have to leave Yahoo! to find three of today's links.

Lt. Col. Chester E. Bear (ret.) is the subject of the first of two Yahoo! profiles in today's post. A veteran of three wars, Bear parachuted behind enemy lines in the Korean, Vietnam and Desert Storm conflicts. A gift from a little girl to her father's Air Force Reserves unit, the stuffed animal became a mascot, flying first on a humanitarian mission before moving on to combat, where he received many medals. Bear (above right and left) was even declared MIA for three weeks when the US Infantry found him after a jump and wouldn't give him back.

The second profile I read centered on a rifle squad composed of decorated veterans from two generations and three wars who attend the funerals of fallen vets to provide one last salute.  Grown from the original patchwork six members, today's squad features 128 former soldiers spanning 30 years and all branches of the military who are believed to be the nation's only all-volunteer rifle squad.

My Yahoo! email contained a message from First Lady Michelle Obama's office marking Veterans' Day with a message and a link to It's a website full of ways to help military families across the country. One of my six rules to life is the absolute truism that one of the most sure-fire ways to feel better in your own life when you feel low is to help someone who is worse off than yourself. Military families often struggle to get by because of their nomadic lifestyles regardless of whether all members are stateside. is a great way to see how you can make your own and someone else's lives richer, often spending nothing but your time.

ESPN alerted me to this last story. The universities of Maryland, Texas Tech and Utah have teamed up with Under Armour to raise money for the Wounded Warriors Project. All three teams wore or will wear custom camouflage uniforms in games last weekend and this which feature camouflage numbers and details. The players' last names are replaced with one of the core values of the armed services - duty, honor, freedom, courage, commitment, integrity, country and service. The jerseys will be auctioned off after the games in which they're worn, and 100 percent of the proceeds go to the Wounded Warrior Project.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Better late than never?...

Okay, so first of all, my apologies. This week got a little crazy for me, and I didn't managed to post on Thursday. I started this blog when I had little to do at work, and now, oddly, that I'm less employed and a part-time grad student, I actually have far more to do in life than I did when I had a full-time job.

I composed this post mainly of four stories that are pretty cool. The first is a YouTube video which my friend Katie sent me. It's billed as someone who actually walked across the United States, but regardless of whether that's actually true, the music and editing on this video makes the few minutes you waste on it totally worth it.

Yahoo! Sports' Rivals blog had a story highlighting the fact sometimes you can have two winners at the end of a game (even when you're not playing soccer). Jarod Claybourn, head coach of Sterling (N.J.) High School's football team, managed to break a two-year long losing streak. He did it against Mike Karp and Gateway High School. But in the process, Gateway's own losing streak extended to 17 games - the length that Sterling had reached before snapping the skid. So what did Claybourn do with his longed-for winning game ball? He gave it to Karp and Gateway High...

The last two stories are related in topic and come from In both cases, the articles tell of thieves who had a change of heart. In the first, a homeless man who was held up in front of his shelter received his belongings back. In the second, someone burglarized an art gallery but decided to give the items back, leaving them with a note at a local church.