Thursday, August 31, 2006

2006 Blog Day 31.08.06 - August 31, 2006

Today August 31, written in many coun- tries as 3108, is Blog Day, 2006. The founder of blog day assigned this day to blogs upon realizing that if you scrunch up your eyes and peer sidesways 3108 looks a lot like the word "Blog". We won't comment on how many hours in front of a computer screen that takes, but the idea of a "Blog Day" is a good one. Several months ago I made a commitment to honor the day by introducing 5 new blogs from "other countries and other areas of interest." Today I make good on my commitment, and I hope you enjoy my picks. While I feature several blogs from other countries and other areas of interest on my blog roll to the right, after a great deal of thought I present the following five in honor of the day.

1. Offroad Pakistan - Ever wish you could take a jeep back in time to the Wild West? Looking for some genuine armchair adventure? The Karachi members of Offroad Pakistan, an informal online club, share pictures and stories of the wilds of Pakistan. This is a first rate adventure blog that will make you realize that there is a great deal more to Pakistan and its citizens than we see on the news. Stunning photos of a harsh and picuresque landscape will capture your imagination--it did mine!
Offroad Pakistan's companion blog, KO, is the personal blog of Offroad Pakistan's creator.
URL (Offroad Pakistan):

2. Mahmood's Den - Mahmood is probably the highest profile blogger in Bahrain. Mahmood takes you driving in his car, over to his office , introduces you to his family, shows you his home, and takes you on business trips with short video clips. His garden posts are the highlight, but his topics cover almost everthing that you can discuss on a blog. There always are numerous comments to every post (but you will have to scroll way down to see them) from from readers all over the world. When Mahmood ventures into political discussions, the comments will make you feel you have entered into some informal United Nations. Make sure you pay Mahmood's Den a visit soon!

3. Andolan - Andolan demonstrates why free access to blogs throughout the world is so vitally important, and why blocking blogs (done by numerous governments) is wrong. The earnest blogger at Andolan hasn't mastered html and he can't post pictures. There is little that is visually attractive. Nevertheless, the haunting and compelling messages byVidarbha Jananolan Samiti about the distubing plight of cotton farmers in Virdbha, India is worth reading and sharing with others. These famers, who grow cotton on impossibly small plots, are committing suicide in great numbers due to depair over cotton farming problems in their region. This blog shows how important one person with a computer and an Internet connection can be. It is a testament to Blogger software and hosting which requires little in technical skills to share a story with the world. Do take a few minutes to read this blog and share the link with others.

4. My Thoughts - Blogger Balaji is from Norwich, England, home of many of America's early Puritan immigrants. Balaji originally hails from India, and his blog is a great mixture of both India and England. My Thoughts is a fairly new blog that is bound to be popular in the near future, but is only on the verge of discovery. I've referened Balaji's blog in several posts, but have never put him on the blogroll due to occasional "PG" content. This blog is updated frequently with best-of-the-web feature articles.

5. World Wide Help Blog - What do you do to help directly after disaster when government fails or has not had time to act? The all-volunteer, energetic, globally based World Wide Help Team, of whom I am proud to be a member, turns to the Internet. One year ago they put together a number of Internet based products with information and aid in the Wake of Hurricane Katrina. This Team--which has received wide attenton in the press--started its first effort directly after the Boxing Day Tsunami in 2004 with the SEAEAT blog and its associated wiki, and has been refining its skills ever since. A mixture of old tech, new tech, and emerging tech is used to point aid in the direction its needed and facilitate information and communication to help the affected. The core group owes its genesis to Indian bloggers who networked their way to assemble a team spread over three continents within a few short days after the Tsunami. Take a minute to look at their efforts which are linked on the right hand side of the blog, and bookmark the page for further information when disaster strikes.

Phoro credits: The photo on the top is from Offroad Pakistan, and all other photos are from the blogs with which they are listed.

technorati tag:
Blog Day:

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Are You a Supertaster?

Ever seen Check Please, that Channel 11 show where various Chicago residents go to restaurants and report on the meal? The very popular show is so bad its good, and has provided hours of amusement around our house.

With eating in restaurants incredibly popular, I have been at a loss to explain why people would pay good money to go to a noisy restaurant for mediocre food, far less tasty than a simple meal pepared at home. Now, thanks to the BBC there is an answer: people vary wildly in the ability to taste due to the amount of tastebuds on their tongue. To make sense out of it all, you can take BBC's Supertaster test by clicking here.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Wilmette Weekend: End of August

Boring. Not much of a weekend for ideas. From a weather standpoint, this weekend doesn't look like it's going to be a winner. Maybe check out Site 59 for a very, very last minute getaway. You could book there up to an hour before leaving, so just pack, pick and head off to O'Hare. Otherwise, you could finally use that beach pass you bought if the weather improves. Get the kids ready for school. Visit the French Market.

You could just spend the weekend cleaning and organizing. There are plenty of tips on better ways how to do that at eHow. Or you could even check out Martha Stewart.

With Labor Day next weekend, its a good time to straighten up the yard and the house. If you don't have plans for next weekend yet, at least you will be able to invite someone over!

Upcoming: Wilmette will be participating in two webwide projects by bloggers. The first, Blog Day, is August 30. We'll be introducing 5 blogs that are likely very different from what you usually read. The second is a webwide tribute to the individuals killed on September 11, 2001. So stay tuned!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

In Memoriam: Joe Rosenthal

In Memoriam: Joe Rosenthal 1911-2006

Those who lost family and friends in the Battle for Iwo Jima thank you.



Monday, August 21, 2006

Pope to Wilmette "Don't Work too Hard!"
Wisdom for a Monday Morning in August

Good news for Monday morning! You should be delighted that the Pope has spoken.

For his Sunday address from his summer home at Castel Gandolfo the Pope quoted from the writings of St Bernard of Chiaravalle, noting that the saint had written to the pontiff of the times, Eugene III, warning him of the dangers of working too hard.

"We have to guard ourselves, the saint observed, from the dangers of excessive activity, regardless of the office one holds, because too many concerns can often lead to hardness of heart. This warning is valid for every type of job . . ."

So if anyone questions you about your dedication to work in the lazy days of late August, you are well within your rights to request a reasonable accomodation based on your religion. After all, its the law, right? You can check out the EEOC's website with information on religious accomodation in the workplace by clicking here.

Oh, yeah!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Wilmette Joins Walk of Fame

Feeling a little down lately? Need to send a friend a lift? Here's the latest--a customized Hollywood Walk of Fame sidewalk star featuring any name you choose. Go make your own here! Pretty clever, huh?

Want to share your fame with others? Just click on the little envelope to the right of comments, directly below. A new page will appear that will allow you to email the directions without all that aggrevating copying and pasting.

Thanks to Wilmette Trustees
Green Bay Road Hi Rise Disaster Averted

High rise disaster? Hey, in Wilmette five stories is a high rise, completely out of keeping with the character of the community. Thanks to the Village of Wilmette Trustees, the massive development proposed for the Old Ford Dealership on Green Bay Road has been sent back to the drawing board for improvement. The Wilmette Life has a has a story about that today. Unfortunately, their stories stay online for only a brief period, so if the link is dead, just click here to read the story. While the story doesn't give much comfort that all the Trustees will stand with Wilmette's citizens on this, there is hope.

Shame on Trustees Mari Terman and Chris Canning who supported the proposal which was guaranteed to change the character of Wilmette forever.

Special thanks to Wilmette Trustee James Griffith, who put it best: "Five stories is totally unacceptable to me."

Earlier stories about the Green Bay Road Development are here: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.

Wilmette's own Backyard Conservative weighs in here with her post on "Godzilla on Green Bay."

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Wilmette to Obama: Think Corn!

Shame on Barack Obama, the Illinois U.S. Senator who is touted as the Democrat's next Vice Presidential candidate. No sooner did he emerge from a Town Hall meeting where the extolled the virtues of high mileage hybrid cars, that he hopped into one of the biggest gas guzzlers of all: a GMC Envoy, the huge SUV not even available in a hybrid fuel model.

Barak Obama no longer represents Hyde Park; he represents the State of Illinois, home of corn and a likely beneficiary of corn-fed cars. While Obama wants to be a serious Senator, he needs to get serious about putting his money where his mouth is. Truth be told, this is a classic gaffe for someone new in office.

Obama needs to spend more time learning his political craft and where Illinois' interests lie before he eyes higher office. And, if he wants to talk about the value of gasoline conservation, he needs to end his penchant for choosing SUV's as his vehicle of choice.

Update: Someone should have given Barack Obama one of these "poor vehicle choice" tickets! As Hayley Rolfe, founder member of the England-based Alliance Against Urban 4x4s said,
"I do have to say that the drivers of these things in cities must be clinically insane." While I'm not so sure I agree with some of the Alliance's Euro-views and Euro-politics, you should read the top 10 reasons why you should not drive an urban 4 x 4 by just clicking here.

Keep thinking corn!

Monday, August 14, 2006

Mike Wallace Listen Up--The President of Iran Enjoys Rights Denied to Others

How very nice that the President of Iran got himself a blog--there's sure to be several news stories on that. Hope he doesn't find his blog blocked, as many bloggers in that part of the world have. You can read about Internet Censorship in Iran here. Interested in the issue of Internet Censorship? Click here. Interested in Iran? The Blog Iran website has some information about people who blog for Iran. I can't say I really understood, but they have a very nice picture, suitable for any story on Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or perhaps Mike Wallace.

Update 1: The entire page has been completely redesigned since last night and their server is no longer struggling, but I can't access any flags to show English! A friend is not seeing what I am seeing, and I'm looking into that. 11:09am

Update 2: Looks like Iran has mastered inbound blocking by ISP. Having studied Internet Censorhip for a number of months, I decided to try out what people do in that part of the world to circumvent the pervasive internet censorship in that region. The President's website has magically reappeared via technology. If you don't see a picture of the President of Iran when you click the reference to the blog in the first paragraph, click here. That is, unless that IP is blocked by the time you get there.

Clever way to block a website, seemlessly serving you a website in light blue, dark blue and orange--all in Persian instead of the President's blog . If you don't see a website in green, white and red with a picture of the Presiedent of iran on it, you haven't seen the President of Iran's website. It's still there, carefully hidden from my view. Hey, I'm living like the other half of the world now. No wonder it makes them a little crazed, having reproduced the result in front of my very own eyes. 12:31 pm. I'm updating the posting time now; original time of post was 2:20 pm August 13, 2006.

Update 3: Time for me to go get a life off the Internet.

I now understand why people who have their blogs blocked largely give up the discussion and the fight after the initial reaction. I can see the President's blog again at the url in the first paragraph. Is it a change in my leased ISP? Inbound blocking policy change? Did I get there via some server move to handle increased traffic? Results as listed above could lead one to think that, just perhaps, one temporarily lost one's sanity or one's eyesight.

I do know this: at the same time I could only access a completely different website in Persian, at least 2 other people accessed the President of Iran's blog using the same url. I didn't do a number of tests routinely run by people checking internet censorship, which might have revealed the truth. Whatever the case may be, blocking blogs is bad--I do believe that people smart enough to access the Internet are smart enough to make up their own minds on what they want to look at, that's for sure. 2:51 pm

Update 4: It's August 25. Ten days and the president-blogger hasn't gotten past his first post. In fact, the very same reader comment about wanting bigger fonts is still there, just like a week ago. Doesn't this guy even have a ghost writer?

Update 5: September 1, 2006 and the President of Iran still has not updated his blog.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Wilmette Weekend: August 12, 2006

With Labor Day right around the corner, it's time to get around to all those fun things to do that you haven't done yet. Start the morning right at the French Market at the Metra station, where you can stock up on french bread and pastry, fresh fruit, and vegetables. The corn has been delicious lately--hope you have been enjoying some of that. Hours are 8:00-1:00. If you have a complaint, the Listening Post will be open there from 10:00-12:00 with both a Village Trustee and a Village of Wilmette employee ready to hear your concerns.

With tax bills due September 1, a trip to the beach this weekend can ease the pain of settling up with the Cook County Treasurer.

If all your Ravinia Dollars ended up in the gas tank this year, head on down to Gillson Park for some free culture this evening. The well-regarded daCorneto Opera Company is featured at the Wallace Bowl tonight, August 12, 2006, at 8:00 p.m with a show called "A Night at the Opera."

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Wikiversity: Taking Global Learning Local

The Wikipedia folks--the people responsible for the free Internet Encyclopedia--are expanding their dedication for free knowledge for anyone with an Internet connection. Their latest initiative is Wikiversity, This looks to be a very interesting and exciting project, and you might want to check into it. There's no doubt that Wilmette's well educated populace could help the less academically fortunate in their quest for knowledge, so why not cruise over there and have a look?

While celebrities enjoy funding education initiative around the world, here's a chance to help others gain an education right from the comfort of your own home.

A wiki is a fast-loading webpage, and is particularly helpful to those who have slow internet connections. The unique feature is that they can be edited by anyone who has an Internet connection including you! You don't need to know html to edit a wiki, all you need to know how to do is to use your mouse and type. If you're interested in learning more on how to edit a wiki, just click here.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Lush England Burning in the Heat

I suppose you think of England as green and lush, a verdant treasure fed by rain, mists and fog. Not this year. It's been really, really hot there and drought conditions prevail in much of the country. These pictures of "dustbowl Britain" will give you a new appreciation of the value of rain. Thanks to Balaji for pointing out the photos.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Tall Ships Chicago - Traveling from Wilmette

If you are going to downtown Chicago to see the Tall Ships (which are at Navy Pier through August 9, 2006) do not take the Metra to get there. I did that yesterday and it was a very, very bad idea. While the free trolley stops near the station, the crowds will likely encourage you to hop on a CTA bus. Never again. Not only was the route designed to go through maximum traffic, the bus just sits and waits (for 15 minutes it waited) until there are enough passengers. The return seemed even slower, although I don't think it was.

Take the el from Linden. You will thank me for the tip.

Parade of sail is until 1:00 pm today, but I'm not sure I have the strength.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The Middle East Crisis - Maps for Understanding

I admit I am quite confused by the Middle East War. It seems that there is enough space over in that region that all the different groups could just learn to get along. Well, sometimes that happens, but it never lasts.

Israel is a pretty tiny country. In fact it's so small that you could put it in Lake Michigan without having to give up any beaches or sailing. You can access a map showing that here , but to be fair, based on that map we would have to Michigan take a little more territory to maintain our current lifestyle.

The map comes from a fascinating website featuring map which shows comparisons of Israel's size as measured against other geographic areas which you can look at by clicking here.

While not a neutral site by any means, there are additional maps which show the history of the various conflicts going back to the founding of the Israeli State here.

Newsweek has an interactive map which you might also find interesting.

We can't think of much else to say on the matter, but there is no shortages of opinions out there, so perhaps that's for the best. You might also want to have a look at Newsweek's current issue which has a wealth of information about the crisis.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Singer Mariza at Millenium Park August 2, 2006

Did you know that today, on August 2, 2006, you are in for a rare treat if you are willing to go to downtown Chicago? Fado singer Mariza will be appearing at 6:30 at the Pritzker Pavilion, in Grant Park (now known as Millenium Park) and she is notable for several reasons. First, she sings classical Fado. Second, she has a much larger repertorire than just Fado. Third, she enunciates each word so precisely it is likely if you know a little Portuguese you will actually be able to understand everything.

While Mariza doesn't look like your average Fado singer--she's blond and petite--it is notable when you can hear Fado outside the Alfama in Lisbon. If you're suffering from "saudades de Lisboa" this should perk you right up!

With country music--of all things!--on the schedule at Ravinia, head downtown for a free concert well worth your time.