Thursday, February 26, 2009

TurnOffYourTV.Com Says Let Your Signal Die

The March 2nd New Yorker has a review by Nancy Franklin of Joss Whedon's new television show DOLLHOUSE, followed by an "essay" on the push back of the change from analog to digital television.

In talking about the choices analog-set owners have to adapt to this brave new world, the article says:
There's another choice as well. Analog-set owners could follow the advice on "Let your television signal die and explore the world around you Wake up out of the TV-induced stupor and enrich your life with real experiences."
I had never heard of this movement, so I checked it out. You might also want to check out and form your own opinions.

To me, the weirdest part of the whole brave new television world is that some people are watching a show like LOST on a huge television screen and some people are watching the same show on their phones. So who's living a more two-world experience? The characters from LOST or we ourselves?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Critiquing Art: It’s All Subjective

The English novelist Ian McEwan is the subject of the New Yorker Life and Letters’ Feb 23rd article The Background Hum: Ian McEwan’s art of unease by Daniel Zalewski.

While part of the article deals with McEwan discovering at an advanced age that he has an older full brother about whom he never knew, part of the article deals with the opinions of other writers about McEwan’s novels.

In light of full disclosure, I’ve read three of his novels: AMSTERDAM, ATONEMENT (before I saw the film) and SATURDAY.

The novel SATURDAY, which takes place in the course of one day, reminds me of Barbara Vine (Ruth Rendell) novels. And also there’re the obvious hints of Virginia Woolf’s MRS. DALLOWAY (with one of the most memorable first lines in English literature: “Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself.”).

Yet for any writers or aspiring writers, the most important idea to take away from this New Yorker article is that opinions about novels, just as opinions about paintings or fashion or automobiles, are subjective. And those of us who create stories have to remember that something we write might hit a troubled chord in a reader – a troubled chord that has nothing to do with our writing – and yet turns the reader against our work.

And when that happens, we need to say to ourselves “It’s their loss,” and keep on writing.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Buy Coffee for Our Deployed Troops

I was just in Borders and, while buying a book, I also bought a $10 bag of coffee that will go to deployed troops. I didn't understand how the bag would get to the troops. The Borders clerk told me it was a joint venture with, an organization that I support.

I went to the website and learned the story:
You can send a special message of thanks to a soldier serving far from home by purchasing a Cup of Joe for a Joe.

In more than 60 cafes overseas, Green Beans Coffee provides a welcomed moment of respite where deployed services members can relax, enjoy premium organic coffees, teas and fresh baked pastries, hear great music and for a few minutes, escape into a peaceful oasis of tranquility that brings a little bit of home with every cup of coffee served.

Your generosity, in any amount of your choosing, will help provide a much-appreciated gift of Green Beans premium coffee to a deployed armed services member. And in keeping with our commitment of service to our troops, Green Beans Coffee will contribute a portion of your purchase to charities that support soldiers and their families.

Please join Green Beans Coffee in honoring our troops. It only takes a few moments plus the spare change in your pocket to say thanks. Simply choose a purchase of any amount and we'll do the rest!
Donate any amount now to this worthwhile project.

Thursday, February 19, 2009 Facilitates Micro-Lending in the Developing World

In the recent guest blog post "Mico-Economics: How to Win the War in Afghanistan" for my Mrs. Lieutenant blog, Andrew Lubin explained how very small investments can make huge differences in Afghanistan.

Yesterday I came across the organization that facilitates micro-lending in the developing world. Here's the site's explanation of how it works:
Choose an Entrepreneur, Lend, Get Repaid

1) Lenders like you browse profiles of entrepreneurs in need, and choose someone to lend to. When they lend, using PayPal or their credit cards, Kiva collects the funds and then passes them along to one of our microfinance partners worldwide.

2) Kiva's microfinance partners distribute the loan funds to the selected entrepreneur. Often, our partners also provide training and other assistance to maximize the entrepreneur's chances of success.

3) Over time, the entrepreneur repays their loan. Repayment and other updates are posted on Kiva and emailed to lenders who wish to receive them.

4) When lenders get their money back, they can re-lend to someone else in need, donate their funds to Kiva (to cover operational expenses), or withdraw their funds.
Read Andrew Lubin's guest post and then check out to see if there's a micro-project in which you're interested in investing.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Ageism: Rearing Its Ugly Head in the World of Computers and the Web

Those of you who are regular readers of this blog know that for weeks I’ve been doing posts about do-gooder projects and I haven’t had a Scrooge post in quite a while. So be warned – today I’ve switched to my Scrooge hat.

This weekend I attended a conference at which I presented about my project Operation Support Jews in the Military. At the beginning of the conference when I couldn’t write down any information, a young woman told me she had two friends planning to be Jewish chaplains in the military. I gave her my card and requested that she contact her friends to email me.

Two days later I saw her at a time when I could write down emails. I asked if she knew her friends emails and I would contact them. (I know several simple email addresses by memory if I happen to use them frequently. I thought these two people might be good friends with whom she frequently emailed.)

She looked at me, then launched into an explanation about how she and her friends don’t use manual address books (as if I do!) and instead they keep all their info on computers (and thus she didn’t have the info).

I admit to rage coursing through me. How dare she assume that I’m computer illiterate and still use a handwritten address book! She knew nothing about me, but felt confident in her opinion that, because of my grey hair, she could patiently explain the new computer world to me.

Now I also admit I’m feeling somewhat guilty for how furious I got. And, I admit, I muttered partly to myself, “I’m sure I’m more advanced on the internet than you are.” (She didn’t seem to hear.)

In analyzing why I got so furious, I have concluded it is because this is my first experience of face-to-face ageism. Perhaps some people online think this about me (my photo with my grey hair appears with all my social networking profiles), yet no one says anything to me. And if they engage with me online they soon learn that I am very advanced in my use of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, blogging, etc.

This weekend at the conference the Hasidic reggae performer Matisyahu performed at the conference. Before he sang the first number he announced that he was on Twitter. That evening I “followed” Matisyahu on Twitter, and the next day he “followed” me back.

Last night when I watched the most recent episode of the TV show NUMB3RS (from Friday night) there was a minor subplot of Charlie’s father starting on Facebook. I applauded this minor subplot showcasing that more and more “older” people are getting on this social network.

Now I’m finished with this rant – the first in a long time on this blog – and I hope this post helps young people understand that they should NOT assume older people are not computer and internet savvy. If anything, older people may have social networking strategies to share with young people.

Want to ask me questions about Twitter?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Volunteering Ranging from One-Day to Long-Term Commitments

The February 12th Wall Street Journal had an article by Jane Hodges titled "A Virtual Matchmaker for Volunteers."

The article raised an interesting point: Some people would be happy to volunteer for a one-time project even though these same people might not be willing or able to volunteer for a long-term commitment.

How to find out about one-day or short-term volunteer opportunities? Hodges tested several free online services. Here are the ones she tested:

USA Service

She also mentioned that many organizations that need short-term assistance are indexed at the governmental program

If you're looking for a one-day or short-term volunteer commitment, consider checking out the sites tested by Hodges. You may find just the right volunteer opportunity for you.

Monday, February 9, 2009

TV Show Grey's Anatomy Deals with PTSD

I rarely send readers of this blog to my Mrs. Lieutenant blog. Yet yesterday's guest post by my younger daughter Yael covers such an important topic -- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder -- that I do want to share her post with the readers of this blog.

Read Yael's PTSD guest post connecting Homer's THE ILIAD, Vietnam and Grey's Anatomy, and then share the post with anyone you think may be in need of this important information.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Twitter Communities Around the World on February 12th Sponsoring Clean Water

Here's what this amazing worldwide event is about:
Tweet. Meet. Give.

On 12 February 2009 175+ cities around the world will be hosting Twestivals which bring together Twitter communities for an evening of fun and to raise money and awareness for charity: water.

charity: water is a non profit organization bringing clean, safe drinking water to people in developing nations by funding sustainable clean water solutions in areas of greatest need.

Join us by:

* Attending one of the events detailed on the city sites listed on this page.
* Uploading or buying music at
* Taking part in the t-shirt design competition.
* Donating to charity: water.

The Twestival is organized 100% by volunteers in cities around the world and 100% of the money raised from these events will go directly to support charity: water projects.
Read the rest of this amazing story and take part in whatever way you can. I've bought tickets for the LA event. Tweet me at @ZimblerMiller if you're going to be there too.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Popular TV Show HOUSE Uses Its Star Power to Support Mental Health

The January 30th Daily Variety issue celebrated the 100th episode of the Fox drama series HOUSE. (Full disclosure – I’m a fan of the show.)

As I flipped through the several pages of the special section, I stopped at the full-page ad of the actors who play Dr. House and Dr. Foreman. Both actors were wearing a black t-shirt with the words “Normal’s Overrated” on the shirts. At the bottom of the full-page ad were these words:
Buy a T-shirt. Change a life. Purchase a T-shirt from and you will help the National Alliance on Mental Illness end mental illness and improve the lives of all who are affected.
What was this ad about? I looked for an article in the special section that would explain the ad. The article by Jon Weisman, entitled “Charity reaps benefit of skein’s support,” noted:
In October, the U.S. government passed the Mental Health Parity Act, requiring health insurance companies to evaluate mental illness on the same basis as physical illness. The law was a long-term mission of the National Alliance of Mental Illness, which “House” has dedicated itself to supporting.
I don’t know where I’ve been in these past 100 episodes, but it appears that in the second season executive producer Katie Jacobs decided “to get out in front of a charitable organization so that we could all sort of own it, feel attached to it.”

And apparently the show has been raising “hundreds of thousands of dollars for the charity, creating cast-heavy ads that have run in Seventeen and Rolling Stone as well as T-shirts that have sold online.”

If you want to be part of this very worthwhile cause, buy your Normal’s Overrated T-shirt now as proceeds go to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. I just did.