Friday, December 26, 2008

old school does not rule

Tonight I got contacted by an old friend whose wife makes hand crafted jewelry and is trying to sell it online. "How do I get in the top of the Google search results?" I explained the basics about how Google ranks sites and pointed them to the concept of Search Engine Optimization. But when I tried to give them my real advice, I hit a brick wall.
"Do the easy SEO stuff, but I would not waste a lot of time trying to game the system. With handcrafted articles, you would do better to have her focus on some social media sites, become active and develop a network of people who know her, like her art and spread the link with their friends".
I got a blank silence on the other end of the phone. "So I could use a really obscure keyword and then use it to test when the Google spider has revisited the site and see what changes with my rank, right?".
We went back and forth like this for several rounds, slight variation on the words, but the same underlying meaning. No matter what I said, he was convinced that the only way to be successful was to get highly ranked on Google.
I finally caved. "You could always pay to have your site in the top listing...."
"Yeah, I think that is a little beyond what we want to do."
I did not have the heart to tell him that Adwords was not necessarily as expensive as he thought.
"well, I wish you luck and hope some of this was useful..."

How do you convince people of the value of social media without them living it first hand??

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Not your father's email...

I love email. There is no denying it. The first time I discovered email (back in the 80's...) I can remember a rush of electricity running through me. "the delivery time just went to zero" I remember thinking. "And I can CC: people... it is like a private bulletin board". You can imagine how long I laughed when my daughter recently looked at me and said "Mom, email is dead- no one reads email anymore". I tried to explain to her that I processed several hundred emails each day, there is NO way this is going away. Then I stopped and wondered if the people who used carbon paper on a daily basis felt the same way once upon a time. Was it possible that I was buried so deeply in my habits that I was not seeing a coming change in usage? I decided to take a moment, step back with an open mind and pay attention to how the teenagers around me were communicating electronically. Here are some of the insights I have gathered about our future workforce:

1) All electronic communication is one-on-one. Some communication is private and some is personal, but it is all on a one to one basis. I saw this first hand recently when I was drafting my 14 year old to assist with getting comments on an article in the HP Magic Contest on Chris Pirillo's site. I asked her to contact her friends on Facebook and ask them to read and comment on the article. When I tackled this task, I wrote one message, CC'd it to any of my friends on Facebook and hit send. When she tackled this task, she typed up a message and sent it to one friend. Then she typed something slightly different and typed it to another. Then she typed a new message and sent it to another friend. Then she typed... you get the picture. I asked her what the HECK she was doing.. which led me to observation number two.

2) Only spammers CC: people. Laugh all you want at the naivete in this statement. I had to bite my tongue to keep from laughing. Who in business today does not CC: ( or even BCC:) people on a daily (hourly??) basis? Once you stop laughing, stop and think about this. If an entire age group of people think and believe a certain way, isn't it likely to come true in the future? This is not just a misunderstanding of email, this is a philosophical stance being taken by a generation. What they believe and act on is the idea that all communication, even electronic communications, are personal interactions.

3)Messaging is ubiquitous, not a separate application. Email as an entity does not really exist. There is just the concept of messaging. Sometimes you send a private ( or public) message on Facebook, or MySpace. Or maybe you send a message in Flickr,, or from within a game you are playing. It might just be a text message on your cell phone. The concept of opening up a new application or web page JUST to do email is beyond silly (the actual term was "ridiculous") to the upcoming generation.

I have to admit that I am still struggling to imagine my life without gmail or Outlook or Thunderbird, but if I am honest, I have to admit that a change is coming. This is a topic that will continue to watch and discuss with the teens who cross my path- and I will be writing more on this in the near future. In the meantime, I have to admit that although my business usage of an email application has not changed, my personal use of email has become more and more limited- more an more of my one on one communication in my personal life takes place on facebook or twitter or through blog coments and not via email.

Is your email usage changing? What would your digital life look like without an email application ??

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Second Literacy

Although the invention of the movable type printing press by Gutenberg in 1440 is often quoted as the reason for the growth of literacy, it was not until hundreds of years later that reading and writing actually became common skills. The reason for this was the industrial revolution, which made printing cheap- and thus accessible to the masses.

Before this time, the "common man" relied on the "scholars" (usually the wealthy) in their towns to read for them. This meant that there was a small percentage of the population who were reading books and pamphlets of the time, interpreting them, and then telling the rest of the population what those words on the page meant. When cheap books became available, not everyone was happy about it. Those who had previously controlled ideas and influenced the masses with the interpretations that favored their point of view argued the "dangers" of teaching certain classes of people to read and write.

It has not been a smooth ride. Certainly the printed word has been misused and abused people in addition to freeing new ideas. Political propaganda, advertising,and government controlled press are all examples of this literacy revolution being manipulated against people. But once the masses experienced the power of understanding those little squiggles on the page, there has been no turning back. It is not a perfect world, estimates run between 15-20 percent illiteracy rates globally, and literacy is certainly not equally distributed amongst all classes and geographical areas. But today people across the globe read and write and share ideas and experiences in a way that continues to transform our thoughts and lives.

About 200 years after Mr. Gutenberg, a small treatise called Observations on the Bills of Mortality was published by John Graunt. At about the same time, Pascal and Fermat were developing probability theory. For statistical literacy, these events were the equivalent of Gutenberg's printing press.

Now, nearly 200 years after the industrial revolution, for the first time raw data and statistics are available cheaply to the masses. ( See CDC data here, for example) We are currently poised on the brink of a revolution in thought and understanding, and I look back and wonder if the people living and working in a time before literacy was common could have predicted the impact that reading would have on their world. We still live in a time when a very small group of people have a good understanding of statistics, interpret the data and tell the rest of the population what all of those numbers mean. Just as there were arguments that reading was unhealthy for women, we continue to hear how there are "liars, damned liars and statisticians". Look at what reading has brought to the women of the world. Just as there were arguments made that reading was too hard for "colored folks", we still here arguments that math is too hard to teach and learn. We just elected our first black president who is incredibly articulate and literate, and people all over the world are poised for the change they hope he brings.

There are some who are working not just to bring the raw data to the masses, but to bring a means of understanding them to the masses. Just as McGuffey created a set of readers that were age appropriate and helped to teach generations of children to read, Hans Rosling is working to create graphical tools that make statistics more accessible. If you have not listened to any of his GapCasts, or his TED talks, I highly recommend them. Check out this one, for example:

The curve of social change is going to be even more radical for this literacy revolution than for the first. During the first curve, it was already common for those who were "well educated" to be literate. Today, even most college graduates have no real understanding of statistics. During the first revolution, even in middle class working families, there was some ability to read simple bible passages and do some basic writing for business clerical reasons. Today, most hardworking blue collar families have no one who understands the difference between correlation and causation.

We are currently living in the equivalent of a world flooded with free books- stacked on every table, in every corner of every building- but with no one picking them up and reading them because reading is "too hard". I suppose it is possible that we will continue to live in these surroundings, allowing our statistical priests and scholars to tell us what the data means and what we should think, but my mind struggles against that. I can not imagine that the human spirit will continue to resist the urge to explore and pick up that book and learn to read. When we cross the bridge and statistical literacy becomes common, the variety of free data sets easily available will be much wider than the variety of books that were available to the first common readers.

When I hear people arguing that probability and statistics is much too hard to teach small children, I am visualizing an illiterate parent or grandparent in the early 1800s who did not see the utility of sending small children to school to learn to read, but wanted to keep them home to do useful work. When I hear people argue that math is important, but statistics is too advanced and not very useful, I visualize those same parents arguing with teachers that going to school beyond the 5th or 6th grade was a waste and it was time for the 12 year olds to go to work and be productive. It is easy now to look backwards and see how important early childhood education and a High School ( or college) diploma is, but can you look forward and imagine a world where equivalent statistical literacy is taken for granted?
What sort of a world will you choose, one where data is interpreted and manipulated for you, or one where people can come to a real understanding of data?

Friday, December 19, 2008

Wierder than you even imagined

I recently got tagged by WickedWriter, a twitter friend, to share seven weird and possibly unknown things about myself. Since I chatter a LOT on twitter and share random bits of my life, I am digging deep to find the truly odd bits of my soul.

1. I can not stand peely bits. It does not matter if it is on my body ( peeling nail polish, peeling sunburn) on someone else's body or just a bit of peeling paint on a wall. If I see something starting to peel, I feel compelled to work at it. Ogre, on the other hand, HATES to be peeled, so when he gets sunburned in the summer, it takes all my will power not to sit and tear off those tiny bits of skin. ( grossed out yet?)

2. I have Hashimoto's Disease. This is probably not as weird as you might think. Hashimoto's is a thyriod auto-immune disorder. It amazes me how many people I meet who have this or some other thyroid disorder. As long as I take my artificial thyroid hormones every day.. no big deal at all.

3. Sugar and I do not get along well. I am not diabteic,hypergylcemic or hypoglycemic, I just have a hyper reactive insulin response. I apparently release a lot when I eat sugar and then I react to it strongly. Best thing? Avoid foods with more than 10g simple carbs. Worst thing? I have an insane sweet tooth and when I get stressed, this is an immense craving. Some days I win, some days I lose.

4. I love clean floors and a freshly made bed. I am horrible about dusting, but I it makes me all excited to get down on my knees and scrub a floor.

5. I never use a dishwasher and wash my clothes on the line at every chance I get. In a crazy, hectic, gadget driven life I find those small opportunities to slow down and do something by hand are a great opportunity to just breathe and center and clear my thoughts.

6. I think best on the move. It is rare for me to sit through a conference call, I am usually up, walking around the house. If I get my body moving, it energizes my thoughts. The ability to do this may have ruined me for working in a cramped office ever again. I blame this on the fact that I grew up in "open space" schools in elementary and middle school and was never forced to sit in a chair at a desk for very long. Contrary to this, I also problem solve in my sleep. When I am really stuck, I lay down and take a nap. I almost always have a new line of thought or a solution when I wake up.

7. I love grocery shopping. Some days I go to relax, even if I do not really need anything. I love walking through the store, seeing all the possibilities, experimenting in my head with new combinations of ingredients, checking out what is new and interesting. The only thing better than a grocery store is the Farmer's Market in the summer. I am religious about going to the Farmer's Market every Saturday morning.

So, now seven more people who I am sure have oddities they have not yet divulged:


Saturday, December 13, 2008

scoble needs some backtalk

Yesterday morning, Robert Scoble was chastising someone for sending him a DM on Twitter. The strength of his dislike caught me off guard, especially since just hours earlier I had found out that I had won one of the HP Magic contests, and I was crediting a large portion of it to the power of a DM. I had to ask why he hated them so and he pointed me to an article he had written on why DMs suck. Although he has some reasonable points, I think for the most part, he is missing the point of DMs. If Twitter is the back channel discussion of real life, DMs are the back channel discussion on Twitter. If Twitter is a meeting room, DMs are the equivalent of sitting in a meeting, leaning over to the guy sitting next to you and quietly talking under your hand to him. If Twitter is a cocktail party, DMs are the equivalent of walking up to your lover in the middle of the crowded room and whispering something suggestive in their ear. I think that private one on one communication remains a powerful force, even on the internet, so I am presenting some counter arguments to Scoble's 10 reasons, reproduced below. I am interested in your thoughts... how and why do you use DMs?

Robert Says:
1. I can’t delete them all. So I ignore them all.

I say:
1. This seems like an incredibly binary reaction to the world. And honestly, it misses what was at first the most disconcerting "feature" of DMs for me- if the sender deletes their DM to you, your version of it disappears as well. This feature should give us a huge clue that DMs are meant to be transient. They are whispers, quiets jokes or a poke in the ribs from a friend.

Robert Says:
2. I can’t put them into folders. So, no way to prioritize them. Or, if you are a Gmail addict, no way to tag messages.

I say:
2. Why would you want to tag, file and sort transient information? And how is that useful if something you spent lots of time classifying could randomly disappear when the sender cleans out their DM drawer?

Robert Says:
3. No way to resort them. No way to see old messages. Or messages from someone specific. Email has those features.

I say:
3. DMs are not email. This is like saying that apples are not a good because banana skins are easier to peel. It would be more useful to discuss the features we would like them to have to make them even more useful, rather than just griping about how they are different from something they are not.

Robert Says:
4. No way to forward messages. That means they are useless for business. If you ask me a business question I MUST forward the question and get approvals. No way to do that on Twitter.

I say:
4. Thank God. The whole reason you whisper something is that you do not want everyone else to know about it. The real complaint here is that people are misusing DMs. Why would you mutter a business proposal to someone in real life without also handing them a business card that they can take with them and has more permanence? The opportunity here would be to educate people. Don't ridicule them for sending you DMs. If you like the proposal, respond by asking for a follow up email. If you don't like it, politely ignore it.

Robert Says:
5. No way to BCC messages. In email I can copy my boss blindly so you can’t see that I’m doing that. That’s a way that I can keep him involved in my life and up to date on all the wild promises I’m making to people. That’s why I don’t make promises on Twitter or Facebook.

I say:
5. You are right, don't make business deals in the wrong venue. But does the fact that you cannot BCC a cocktail conversation mean that you should not talk to anyone at a party? Not everything in life is a business deal, not everything on Twitter is meant to be productive.

Robert Says:
6. You ask me a question that requires a 500 word response but you ask it in a place that limits me to 140 characters. Thanks for frustrating me.

I say:
6. This would piss me off too. But get mad at the sender, not the medium.

Robert Says:
7. I can’t respond to your own DM’s unless you follow me. Seriously. The design of Twitter’s DM’s +is+ that lame.

I Say:
7. On this point I completely agree. It would be more useful to have a method that lets the receiver block an annoying incoming DM, rather than requiring a bidirectional relationship to start a DM.

Robert Says:
8. I can’t put an auto answer onto DM’s so that I can tell you to get a clue and to send me email instead.

I say:
8. I know I should say something astute here, but I am struggling with a mental image of Robert walking around a cocktail party with a sandwich board sign strapped to him reading " Just email me".

Robert says:
9. I can’t CC, or copy other people, or send a message to a group. Things that email has been able to do for years.

I say:

9. See Number 3 above.

Robert Says:
10. I can’t move my DM’s out of Twitter and into other systems. That’s something that I’ve been able to do with email for years and it’s served me well. Even Hotmail lets me forward emails to Gmail.

I say:
10. Again, with the mental images.. this time Robert is at a cocktail party with an MP3 recorder so he can record, resort and archive his conversations. Wait. he does this, only it is a cell phone.

Robert Says:
11. UPDATE, this just came in via Twitter from @TraciKnoppe: “@Scobleizer Use your great influence for good & get Twitter to chng the DM req. & API limits. Make it so number one. :P”

I say:
11. I hope that if I am ever as famous as Robert, I remember to occasionally use my power for good, and to listen to the requests of the "little folks", rather than just being annoyed by them. Ya'll make me famous and I promise to try.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Proof that a teenager's brain is disconnected from reality

( as if we needed proof)

Last evening, Sam was prepping for the HS Christmas Concert and we were casually talking. She looks over at me and says "I have figured something out". I turned, waiting to hear what revelation had occurred to her this time.

"I really suck at music"
"music, I suck at it".

This from the child who has been playing bassoon since 5th grade and the private instructor wants to get her hands on, but Sam does not want to work that hard.
This from the teen who, since you can not march with a bassoon, was handed mallets in June and by October was put in the front row of the pit, because she was excelling. Now, to be fair- she has played with percussion before, but not mallet.
This from the young lady who, since you do not play bassoon in the pep band, was handed a baritone, an instruction sheet and some sheet music. A week later, she was playing in pep band. With some fumbles, to be sure- but playing. From double reed to brass.

Yeah, she sucks at music.
Sam's teen aged brain and reality? Just not connected in any discernible way.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The importance of Bridges

EDIT: I won an HP Magic giveaway on Chris Pirillo's site ( link later when it is not the middle of the night). This makes me in-eligible for Sugar Jone's contest. However, I have already met some amazing people and Sugar has given me permission to continue to network with others. I won the contest I did, because of the power and reach of my network of friends and contacts. I will always believe in the power of reaching out to help someone without thought of reward, because eventually it really does come back to you. It is all very surreal right now, I am sure I will have more to share later on. If you are here to network and find other people whose lives you can change, read on and comment. I will reply. If you were hoping to just "gain points" by commenting, feel free to skip this and move on to the next link.

There is great clarity in my mind that one of the things I am best at is being a bridge. Bridges are structures that help to overcome an obstacle or clear a path from one thing to another. We usually think of bridges as wooden, or metal, or perhaps even rope. The word evokes different mental images in different people perhaps a large spanning structure, like the golden gate bridge. Maybe your mental picture is an old log you used to use to cross a stream in the woods when you were a child. For others, the word bridge calls up a scene from an Indiana Jones movie, with a precarious rope bridge barely attached to a cliff over a deep canyon. If you are really a geek, you might even be picturing a bridge in an electrical circuit- essential for converting energy from AC to DC. But I say that some of the most important bridges in our world today are the human ones.

None of us can fix all the problems in the world. None of us can help all the people who need assistance, or provide resources to everyone who needs it. We do all the small things we can to make our immediate world a better place- feed the family next door, donate used clothes or toys, lend a helping hand at the local soup kitchen and we can see the changes around us. It changes the lives of the people we touch and it changes our lives by reaching out. These are so important. In our immediate family, we work hard to teach our children to donate outgrown clothes and toys, to collect cans for canned food drives, to donate time to local animal shelters or to help fight teen drug abuse. They see us donate blood, vote in elections and take an active stance in the community we live in. Those are all incredibly important and I would not want any of them to stop.

But some problems are bigger than what we can tackle on a personal level. Some problems exceed our own personal resources ( time, money, location, mobility) and leave us feeling frustrated. This is where you can become a bridge. You may not have the time to donate to a local animal shelter, but you know three people who do and you can connect them. You may not have the money to put a new roof on someone's house, but you know of an agency who assists and you get them in touch. You may not be able to grow an extra row in a garden, because your yard is too small... but you know someone at your church or school who has a huge yard.

In the internet age, it is easier than ever to see potential connections. How often have you been online and thought.. "wow, how ironic. I just read about someone trying to figure out how to get rid of their old bed without a truck.. and now this person is blogging about needing a bed. What a weird world this is." Instead, be proactive. Introduce the person without a truck to the person needing a bed. It does not have to be a formal introduction... maybe just passing on a blog note, or a quick tweet reply to point someone in the right direction. Don't assume that just because you read something on the internet, everyone else knows it is there. The internet is a big big place, awash in information that often only small numbers of people see.

In the normal course of your online browsing, chatting, blogging and tweeting, take a minute.. when you see a potential connection- be a bridge. You don't need money or the ability to travel, or to even be well enough to leave the house. You just need to be willing to speak up and point out the connections you are seeing. Convert the crazy alternating current of energy flowing around us into a direct current that can take action and solve problems. Be a bridge and be astounded with how good you end up feeling with all that energy flowing through you.

note: this entry is published in response to a request for the HP Magic give away contest being hosted by the Living-in Theory Blog. If you are interested in what I would do with such great computer loot, you can check out an earlier blog post I wrote on the HP Magic Contest.

Social Media Lessons learned

The last week has been an interesting social media experiment for me. As you know by now, HP is doing a massive computer giveaway split across 50 different blogs. I became inspired and am still trying to work hard to win one of the contests to make a little Christmas magic happen here in the Heartlands. I entered a couple that were random drawings..and lost. I entered one on Liz Henry's Blog about poetry, technology and politics that was an "inspire me" contest. I got an honorable mention for my comment, but no computers. I was excited because people liked my writing, but no computers to share. Then I found out about Chris Parillo's contest.. it was a write a post and get the most comments sort of post. I wrote about something I have a passion for.. cooking and then started the social media pimping. I wanted to spread the word, but did not want to be completely annoying about it all.
I did a couple of tweets about the contest and included a link to the article. I posted it on my Facebook status. I sent out multiple emails to different mailing lists. The comments rushed forward... mostly family and really good friends at first. We jumped up to 21 comments in no time at all.. putting us at about number 5 or 6 in the contest. My hopes surged.. maybe we had a real chance at this.
The next day, I put out a few more tweets, but the response was slow. We stalled at about 24 comments. I really want this for the people involved, so I started calling some friends who I had emailed in the initial rush. I sat people down and asked them to read and comment on it... we jumped up to 41 comments. There was a chance after all..
With less than 24 hours left in the contest, I decided to get a little more pushy.. I started DMing people on Twitter. I actually DM'd so many that I used up my 24 hour quota of DMs (several of us did not even know the limit had been added...). But I started getting lots of positive results. DMs back from people, emails, wow. I got excited. I logged back into Facebook and started Facebook IMing people who were actively online.. asking them to please check it out and comment if they liked it.
The comments awaited moderation and poor Chris apparently came down with food poisoning, others covered for him. With no idea where I stood, I finally drifted off to sleep at about 1am.
I woke up at 3am this morning to check. Comment count was at 96!! Unfortunately, someone else has 100 and another yet has 110, so although no official winner has been announced, I am guessing this is one I did not win.
However, I learned a really important lesson about social networking. We all talk about the power of public statements and posts. We get in the pulpit and talk about how it streamlines communication and action to have things like blogs and general public streams of ideas and discussions. And I think these are all very very good things. This is a good way of asynchronously getting together groups of people who would never have converged, otherwise. But when it came down to really getting things done, to really motivating people to action? The personal, direct one on one interaction won out every single time.
I do not regret participating in Chris's contest.. I got introduced to Geeks!, which I did not know about and found some great new people to follow and interact with over at Twitter. Life is all about the journey.
Oh, and the computers? I have not given up on those yet either.. I found another contest to tackle and try all over again over at Sugar Jones' Living in Theory blog. You should come and join in the fun. This one is not about popularity or the power of your story alone.. ( thank goodness-- no more requests for contests)it is also about community building. I am impressed with the concept, and look forward to applying some of the lessons I learned in the last couple of contests. Watch a little later for my essay part of that entry, and check out the #sugarmagic tags on Twitter to see if we can get a community built up.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Holiday spirit running rampant FTW!!!!!

Best EDIT EVAH: I DID win the contest. OMG. Chris Pirillo and his team did the unthinkable, huge task of peeling down IPs and eliminating duplicate entries.... and I WON. I so could not have done this without the power of my friends in real life, my facebook contacts, but most of all my Tweeps. The people I network with regularly on Twitter jumped in and made magic come true to push this over the top. Don't ever discount that small networking connection you make... there is power in giving and it can come back to you in amazing ways. Living proof, right here!!

Edit: I want to note that two things have happened since I wrote this post.
1)Since I did not win this contest, I am trying my hand at another.. on the Living in Theory Blog. I am referencing this post to answer the "what would you do with these computers" part of the contest, as that is only a small part of the contest... the most important is a discussion of how we are all working to change or improve our world. I encourage you to follow through the Living in Theory link to read some amazing, inspirational stories.
2) It has come to my attention that the local preschool at our YMCA ( which both of my kids spent some time at) is really struggling. Much of their extra funding comes from United Way funds, and most of the United Way money comes from donations in the community. In a community where the two largest employers are related to the auto industry, it is probably no surprise that donations are down. Our old PC would be perfect for preschool education, and I am excited thinking about having the opportunity to donate it to them.
( end edit)

HP has stirred up a lot of energy and enthusiasm with their HP Magic contest. 50 blogs around the blogosphere were chosen to be able to give away amazing prize packages. The prize includes more than one computer, with the intent that the winner will "share the magic". Each blog owner gets to set their own rules and requirements (within reason) and so many different niche groups are being reached. I am impressed with HP's savvy on this.. by allowing themselves to give up some of the control, they will reach a wider audience with less work effort on their part. Seems like a win/win situation in all cases.
Never one to pass on the opportunity to share some joy,I pondered who I would share computers with and decided to enter a couple of contests. Most of the contests are "impress me with your story" or "random drawing" type entries. I encourage you to go to HP's website and find a few to enter yourself- everyone knows some person or organization who could really benefit from a new computer.
Chris Pirillo's contest is working a little differently. Since his website is about getting people to guest blog and write interesting articles to share, he is having folks write an article, then the article with the most comments wins.
This means I need your help. I know there is nothing in it for you, except the joy of knowing that you really helped someone out. I will, of course, do follow up articles, pictures and videos so you can share in the moment when the gifts would be revealed.
What would happen with these?

1) My best friend has never owned a computer in his life. He struggled against rough times and a very rocky start early in his life and has turned things around amazingly. he works very hard as a part time mail man ( yep, even through midwest winters) to make ends meet, but he does has not gotten to a point of being able to buy his own. I would love to see him with his own laptop. The freedom of not having to "borrow" computer time from friends or at the library would mean the world to him.

2) My new inLaws are farmers. not big corporate farmers, but small, "trying to make ends meet and not let the debt get too much bigger this year" farmers. They do not have a computer either. They use a data line, but we know that if we get them a computer, not only will it save money by replacing the dtn, but it will give them so many other options for running the farm, managing the business and staying in touch with their grandchildren who are scattered across two states. We know once it is in their hands, they will never want to give it up.

3) my daughter who is a freshman in high school is really struggling with splitting her time between two households ( mine and her dads). I am hoping that having a small mini laptop that is completely hers no matter where she goes will give her some consistency that she is lacking. I had hoped to get her one for Christmas, but since we got the "temporary layoffs up to 13 weeks are imminent" letter from our employer last week, gifts of that scale are out of budget this year.

I will not lie, we would use the last computer to upgrade our family computer.. with my stepsons 3 hours away, having a family room replacement computer will make video conferencing with them much easier, and give us a place to gather for fun. It will even run Spore! ( the graphics card in our famliy room computer will not run it now). Our old computer will then be donated to a local charity to pass on even more love.

So what do I want from you? go read the article on cooking tips to eat well and save you money that I wrote. I think you will like it. Then make an intelligent comment. Simple thing you might have done anyway... and it will help out a bunch of other people!!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Just under the wire?

EDIT: Well, I did not win this one, but a really cool grandma from colorado did. You can still click through and see the announcement and her story. I have another try going on Chris Parillo's site. I will blog that as soon as the bread is done baking...

Not really expecting anything to come of it, but you never know.. right? Gotta try. Just found out about Jake Ludington’s HP Magic Giveaway contest and entered it hours before it is over.. you can still enter too!