Archive for January, 2007
I just ran across the WikiSummaries site which is off to a great start at becoming a resource for high quality free book summaries. My own book notes tend to be outlines that are more ideal for reviewing material I’ve already read in depth. In contrast, WikiSummaries take a more narrative form, similar to CliffsNotes or Barron’s Book Notes and make for easier reading.
Both fiction and non-fiction titles are included. WikiSummaries can help you decide whether or not to read Barack Obama’s The Audacity of Hope or help you review the plot of a previous Harry Potter book before starting the next one. And since anyone can edit the wiki, it’s easy to contribute your own summaries or help to improve the existing ones.
I ran across a sad, yet fascinating article about 8 lottery winners who lost their millions via the I Will Teach You to Be Rich blog. I’m sure there are other profiles of lottery winners out there and I bet they’d make for a fascinating book. There are a variety of reasons I don’t play the lottery, but the article left me with even more reasons not to.
William “Bud” Post won $16.2 million in the Pennsylvania lottery in 1988 but now lives on his Social Security.
“I wish it never happened. It was totally a nightmare,” says Post.
A former girlfriend successfully sued him for a share of his winnings. It wasn’t his only lawsuit. A brother was arrested for hiring a hit man to kill him, hoping to inherit a share of the winnings. Other siblings pestered him until he agreed to invest in a car business and a restaurant in Sarasota, Fla., — two ventures that brought no money back and further strained his relationship with his siblings.
Post even spent time in jail for firing a gun over the head of a bill collector. Within a year, he was $1 million in debt.
Post admitted he was both careless and foolish, trying to please his family. He eventually declared bankruptcy.
Now he lives quietly on $450 a month and food stamps.
Anyone using WordPress may want to check out the recent call for ideas and feedback over at the WoredPress Development Blog. It’s a chance to offer some constructive and even not-necessarily-constructive feedback.
If you could add anything in the world to WordPress, what would it be? If you could name the thing that frustrates you the most about WP, what would that be?
I just finished watching a documentary called “The Power of Community – How Cuba Survived Peak Oil.” It details Cuba’s energy crisis in the 1990’s that resulted from the fall of the Soviet Union and the continued U.S. embargo. The documentary ignores most of the politics of Cuba and focuses on how the Cuban people dealt with the shortage of oil and all that goes along with it (manufacturing collapse, food shortages, transportation crisis, etc.). It’s an inspiring look at how everyday people adapted, largely by changing their way of thinking about energy and by coming together as a community.
The documentary focuses largely on the switch from agribusiness farming to small organic community gardens. According to the video, in addition to the decrease in pesticide polution, individual and cooperatively run gardens proved to be more productive per acre than large government run farms.
Unlike a lot of the political documentaries that have been coming out lately, this documentary is more likely to leave you feeling inspired and optimistic, rather than depressed. I highly recommend it.
I just ran across a report on open source software via the Creative Commons blog. The report, prepared by a company called Optaros, includes a fairly comprehensive catalog and evaluation of over 250 open source projects. For anyone needing to evaluate or compare open source software options, the report is a great starting point.
There are many guides and catalogs for open source business software online and doubtless there are things to quibble with about Optaros’ take, but having a fairly comprehensive catalog in a nice looking 45 page PDF may come in handy at IT departments worldwide. Handier still, the CC license allows customization so long as credit is given to Optaros.
Now that the holidays are over and the new year has begun, it’s a good time to rethink personal spending. A Time Magazine article entitled The Year of Living Thriftily, details a trend that started recently of people making a commitment to scale back their consumerism.
A little over a year ago, 10 friends got together in San Francisco over a potluck dinner. There were a few teachers, a technology marketer, an engineer, a dog handler. What would it be like, they wondered amid the Christmas shopfest, if they all pledged not to buy anything new except food, medicine and essential toiletries for a year? Thus was born a movement that they named, in a light-hearted way, after the 1621 Mayflower Compact. “We are a group of individuals committed to a 12-month flight from the consumer grid,” they wrote in a chat-room manifesto that lists their aims as going “beyond recycling,” reducing clutter in their homes and simplifying their lives: “Borrow, barter or buy used.”
Serendipitously, Amanda and I are part-way through our own scaled down — one month — version of the same idea. Just a couple weeks has definitely helped us refocus on simplifying our lives. Before running across the article above, we had already talked about limiting our non-essential buying to one weekend per month, once this month is up. Maybe we’ll take the plunge and try for an entire year of not buying anything new.
In the past, I’ve taken a year-long hiatus from eating meat, drinking sodas, and watching television. My eating, drinking, and watching habits have all been lessened significantly after each year-long fast.
Amanda and I visited the Blanchard Springs Caverns in Arkansas a few weeks ago, just before Christmas. If you can believe the tour guides, it’s the top rated show cave in the United States, as determined by the National Caves Association. Regardless of the hype, it is definitely an impressive cave, with some very large formations. If you’re ever in the area — a couple hours north of Little Rock — I recommend checking it out.
Unfortunately, I forgot to load a blank memory card in the camera before the tour, but I did manage to get a few photos before running out of space. Click on the photo to see some of the highlights on Flickr.