Monday, 15 November 2010

For writers, a good use for all that e-mail spam

A tip for fellow writers:

I use Michael Tsai’s outstanding SpamSieve on my Mac to control e-mail spam. Based on the training I give the program, it actively and automagically sorts spam into a designated folder, leaving my inbox pristine and filled only with the e-mail I want to receive.

Now, what to do with all that spam collecting in that aforementioned designated folder?

Most folks would simply delete it all, and too bad if something found its way there that shouldn’t be. Some folks, myself included, would give it a quick going-over, to make sure their spam-filtering software hadn’t flagged a false positive: a “good” e-mail inadvertently labeled “bad”.

And an enterprising fiction writer would tap this new-found wealth for character names.

I mean, where else are you going to discover “Abdul Travis”? What a great name for a fictional character! (When I first saw that one, it sounded like something one would read in a William Gibson novel.)

So I created a new text document in BBEdit, gave it the oh-so-original title of “character names.txt”, and starting dumping in names from my spam e-mails.

I’m not sure how many pieces of spam I went through, or how long I did this, but the current document has 456 different names in it. And by virtue of receiving upwards of 5,000-plus spam e-mails a week, I always have a ready source for more names if I need them.

So skip those fancy character-naming programs, fiction writers. You’ve got a wealth of names right there in your e-mail client.

posted by retrophisch at 9:40 PM -->in helping , writing
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Wednesday, 23 December 2009

On the narrow path

Tony Woodlief:

I remind him to watch the cars, to look the drivers in the eye and make sure they see him. His brothers and I sit in the minivan while he goes to the curb and waits for a chance to walk out to the girl. Finally a car stops to let him pass. The girl’s face is turned down; she sees nothing but the ground. I watch my son’s narrow shoulders as he crosses the drive, and I am praying that no harm will come to him, not now or ever, that someone who is this loving will be spared the pain of the world, which is when I remember that it is Christmas, the time when we celebrate precisely the opposite, the coming of pure love to suffer for all we who sit with faces turned down, not even knowing what to ask for, knowing only in our crusted-over hearts that anything will help.

posted by retrophisch at 3:13 PM -->in God , helping , love , parenting , salt and light
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Saturday, 11 October 2008

You never know

Dr. Wess Stafford, President and CEO of Compassion:

“The cure to cancer might be in the slums of Kenya or Indonesia.”

In other words, you don’t know what the children of today are capable of tomorrow, how God may use someone like me, someone like you, now to change the lives of scores, hundreds, thousands, possibly millions, years from now, just because we help change the life of one child today.

Please consider sponsoring a child.

posted by retrophisch at 11:51 PM -->in God , helping , love , quote , salt and light
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Sunday, 08 June 2008

New hat

In preparation for the mission trip I’m going on next week to build houses in Juarez, Mexico, I picked up a Panama Jack cowboy hat at Wal-Mart earlier this evening for a mere ten dollars.

New hat
Click on the photo to see a larger version.

The Juarez trip can be tough on gear (the boots I wore last year won’t be making a return trip), but I figure for ten bucks, I won’t worry if the hat doesn’t go another year. (And yes, a backup hat will be packed, just in case.)

posted by retrophisch at 9:13 PM -->in God , helping , photography , salt and light , travel
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Tuesday, 01 April 2008

Texas Rangers 2008 Calendar

I was a little miffed to learn the Rangers offer a downloadable calendar for the season, only as a comma-separated .csv file. This is fine and dandy if you’re running Outlook, as apparently the Rangers front office does, but it’s not so good if you’re one of the millions of people—and trust me, there are millions—not running Outlook.

The .ics calendars I found online weren’t quite up to my expectations, either. I ended up taking one and heavily modifying it, notably adding all of the away dates, since this particular one focused only on home games. You can download the calendar by clicking on the link below:

Texas Rangers 2008 Calendar

Simply unzip (decompress) the downloaded file, and follow your calendar of choice’s method for importing a calendar. The .ics format is an open standard, so pretty much any modern calendar app—yes, including Outlook—will read it.

posted by retrophisch at 1:43 AM -->in baseball , helping
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Friday, 21 December 2007

The Spirit of Christmas

The following landed in ye olde e-mail inbox earlier today, penned by talk radio host Laura Ingraham:

Megan pulled a three-ring binder out of her bag and showed me a photograph of herself and her husband. Young—they’re both 21—with big smiles on their faces and obviously wildly in love. “That’s what he looked like,” she said with a somber face, “He was such a cutie-pie, always buying me little stuffed animals and writing the most thoughtful notes the entire time he was in Iraq.” Then she showed me the photo of her husband receiving the Purple Heart on Wednesday from President Bush at Bethesda Naval Medical Center. As President Bush pinned the medal on Mike, he lay unconscious in the ICU, having suffered a traumatic brain injury caused by a piece of shrapnel that pierced his temple.

“This is my Mike now,” she said, rubbing her eyes. He is completely blind and to alleviate a terrible cranial pressure build-up, doctors had to remove the front of his skull. Since being wounded several months ago, Mike has never regained consciousness and suffers from terrible seizures. “That’s my guy,” she repeated, before she went on to tell me about how they met and fell in love.

For whatever reason, I kept thinking about the fact that some person somewhere carefully assembled the IED that would eventually maim Mike and many others. They are often packed with nails, hunks of lead and screws to cause maxim human suffering. When they explode, the contents rip through flesh and bones, shattering countless dreams in the process.

How to comprehend this level of evil and the physical and emotional agony it causes? This young woman and her husband should be out buying their first Christmas tree together, going to parties, raising a glass to their future. When I asked what she was doing for the holiday she said, “I’ll be here with Mike. I would never want him to be alone on Christmas.” They had been married for about three months when Mike was wounded.

In these days before Christmas, Megan and other military wives and moms gave me a precious gift. They reminded me that true love requires sacrifice—sometimes seemingly unbearable, heart-wrenching sacrifice. They are living out their love in big and small ways. Many have moved thousands of miles to relocate to the hospitals where their husbands, wives, sons, and daughters are being treated. This takes an enormous emotional and financial toll, yet they do it for love. When they are not at the hospital bedsides of their wounded warriors, they sit for hours a day in waiting rooms across the United States, hoping for good news—or at least no more bad news. They pray with each other, cry with each other, and yes, even manage to laugh with each other as they hope for a day when they can return to “normal life.” Yet for the families of our most seriously injured troops, they know they will have to get used to a “new normal,” much different from the life they knew before.

As we are about to celebrate Christmas spending time with our families and friends, let us all do our best to live up to the true spirit of this season—and make it a time filled with love, faith, gratitude, hope, charity, and, yes, let’s try for some peace on earth. Let us remember the military families and our wounded heroes who will spend this Christmas at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Brooke Army Medical Center, Bethesda Naval Medical Center and other medical facilities across the nation. As we rush around stressed out because we “haven’t found the perfect gift” for so-and-so, these families hope and pray for gifts that cannot be wrapped up: a hand that squeezes back, a smile, the first step on a new prosthesis, or a positive medical report.

They need our prayers and support at Christmas and every day. Please give what you can to any of the wonderful organizations that support our bravest and their families.

Merry Christmas.

posted by retrophisch at 9:29 PM -->in God , armed forces , helping , liberty , love , salt and light
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Friday, 01 June 2007

Hasta la semana proxima

Well, dear readers, after being gone for a week on a family vacation, I’m now leaving in the wee morning hours—in six hours, to be precise—on a mission trip to Juarez, Mexico. It’s an annual thing our church does, and this year I decided to go as one of the adult volunteers. It’s really a mission trip for the youth of the church, with something around a 65-35 breakdown of youth to adults.

Normally the trip is to build simple homes for the poor of the area, but this year we’ve been asked by the mission sponsor, Amor Ministries, to build some duplex housing for attendees of the local Bible college.

So you won’t be seeing any updates from the phisch bowl for a bit, as we will have little power available, little running water (which we don’t drink any way, we bring our own drinking water), and absolutely no Internet access of any kind. Mobile phone coverage is even spotty, and insanely expensive.

It’s going to be a blast.

See you next week.

posted by retrophisch at 11:19 PM -->in God , helping , love , salt and light , travel
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Tuesday, 24 April 2007

Oh, but to love…

I’m not sure if there’s anything to the fact that as George Thorogood’s “Who Do You Love?” was playing, I came across Steve’s great poem, “my convenient social gospel”, but regardless, it’s a good poem. Thanks, Steve!

posted by retrophisch at 3:07 PM -->in God , helping , music
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Friday, 13 April 2007

The Big Push

Okay, campers, we’re in the home stretch, and I’m way behind.

As we all know, my wife has the high-earning friends, so with just a few people, she can rack up quite a lot of donations. That means that I need a lot of you to donate to the March of Dimes for this year’s WalkAmerica.

I’m $195 short of the goal of $400 I set to raise this year, and about $350 behind my beloved. While it would be nice, in the spirit of our loving competition, to catch up to her, I’d be pleased if I were just able to reach the $400 goal.

Five hundred thousand babies are born prematurely in the United States each year, and the March of Dimes is at the forefront of research that helps many of them survive. Our son was among that number in 2003, so we know firsthand the good things this organization does, and this is why we participate each year in WalkAmerica.

My deepest thanks to those of you who have already donated, and for those readers who have not, please consider a donation before this Wednesday, the 18th. The walk is next Saturday, the 21st. Thanks, all!

posted by retrophisch at 4:43 PM -->in helping
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Thursday, 15 February 2007

She knows!

Well, well, well. The cat is out of the bag. I told you it might not be long.

So the missus calls me while Brent and I are still at lunch, and in the course of the conversation informs me I’m “busted”, that she’s activated her WalkAmerica site, and she’s already started emailing her friends.

Now, you have to understand the different circles my wife and I run in. She’s an attorney (pipe down there in the back; it’s corporate law, not ambulance chasing or class-action cannibalism), so naturally a lot of her friends are attorneys, which, as a group, tend toward the wealthier side of the populace.

I, on the other hand, am unemployed. You can see where I’m going with this, can’t you?

Given my past, most of my friends tend to be in the IT and creative fields, or in some sort of service area, and thusly, as a group, tend toward the less-wealthier side of the populace. Thus, I have to make up for this disparity in numbers of donators, and would appreciate all the help I can get.

To top it all off, that minx I’m married to set her goal forty bucks above mine!

posted by retrophisch at 2:30 PM -->in fun , helping
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Wednesday, 14 February 2007

WalkAmerica 2007

Well, I suppose this is as good a time as any…

Fundraising for the March of Dimes’ WalkAmerica has begun, and once again, the missus and I will be walking with the tyke (who will be riding in a running stroller).

In an attempt to get the jump on raising donations over my wife (we have a friendly competition), I’ll point you to my personal WalkAmerica page. (Said jump will likely last as long as it takes from this post’s publication to her reading it, so we’re talking sixty seconds to a couple of weeks, folks.) Any amount is greatly appreciated. I’ve also placed a March of Dimes badge at the top of the blog’s sidebar, so you can come to my site at any time and click on that to donate.

You were all very generous last year, blowing through the first, second, and third fundraising goals I set, so I’m raising the bar this year: $400. Yes, four hundred measly dollars, but four hundred bucks that could do a world of good. And I’m starting with $25 of my own, so that only leaves $375 for the rest of you to pick up. Should be a snap, right? Right!

The walk is in April, so you have plenty of time, but why wait for me to annoy you to make a donation? ;-)

Thanks, all!

posted by retrophisch at 4:41 PM -->in helping
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Thursday, 28 December 2006

O Holy Night

A little while ago, I finished watching “The Christmas Show” episode of Studio 60. The show closes with an awesome performance by New Orleans musicians who are supported by the Tipitina’s Foundation. The group performs one of my favorite Christmas songs, “O Holy Night”, and you can still snag a MP3 from Studio 60’s music page.

posted by retrophisch at 3:25 PM -->in God , helping , music
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Monday, 04 December 2006

This is pretty much how I feel (or at least, how I should feel)

Walter E. Williams:

[T]he founders of our nation were suspicious, if not contemptuous, of government.

[…]

Today’s Americans hold a different vision of government. It’s one that says Congress has the right to do just about anything upon which it can secure a majority vote. Most of what Congress does fits the description of forcing one American to serve the purposes of another American. That description differs only in degree, but not in kind, from slavery.

At least two-thirds of the federal budget represents forcing one American to serve the purposes of another. Younger workers are forced to pay for the prescriptions of older Americans; people who are not farmers are forced to serve those who are; nonpoor people are forced to serve poor people; and the general public is forced to serve corporations, college students and other special interests who have the ear of Congress.

[…]

You say, ‘Williams, don’t you believe in helping your fellow man?’ Yes, I do. I believe that reaching into one’s own pockets to help his fellow man is both laudable and praiseworthy. Reaching into another’s pockets to help his fellow man is despicable and worthy of condemnation.

The bottom line: We love government because it enables us to accomplish things that if done privately would lead to arrest and imprisonment.

Like Mr. Williams, I don’t mind giving money to help others. In fact, my faith compels me to help others, if not with my time and sweat, then at least with my money. I am happy to give. However, I believe I am a better steward of my own money than the government, especially when it comes to charity. Private charities do a better job in their respective areas than similar government agencies. There are charities which receive federal and state funds, which to me means nothing more than the government acting as an unnecessary and fund-stealing middle-man. The government needs to get out of the charity business.

Speaking of charities, a good one to consider this holiday season is Feed the Children. Hunger is still a problem even in the United States, and it’s especially important for children to get proper nourishment so they develop normally. Please consider a donation to Feed the Children as part of your end-of-the-year giving.

posted by retrophisch at 10:29 AM -->in helping , liberty
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Wednesday, 29 November 2006

Compassion’s AIDS Initiative

As we enter the holiday season, please consider a donation to Compassion International’s AIDS Initiative. More than 12 million kids have been left orphans in sub-Saharan Africa, and Compassion’s efforts are among many trying to stem the flood. Donations to the AIDS Initiative provide food, shelter and basic care for AIDS orphans, as well as medical treatments, including AIDS-inhibiting antiretroviral therapy, and HIV/AIDS awareness education for surviving adults and children.

You can make a one-time donation, choose to donate monthly, or, better still, choose to sponsor a child on a monthly basis in the affected areas. Sponsorship is certainly worth the time and effort; we look so forward to the letters, photos, and drawings from the child we sponsor in Tanzania.

This season is big on gift-giving, and here is an opportunity to give the gift of live in a land where survival is beyond anything most of us can imagine. Please consider a donation today.

posted by retrophisch at 12:43 AM -->in helping
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Wednesday, 08 November 2006

March of Dimes + MasterCard

November is Prematurity Awareness Month, and the March of Dimes has teamed up with MasterCard to raise awareness and double fund-raising efforts. If you use your MasterCard to make a donation to the March of Dimes, MasterCard will double it!

As parents of a preemie (though you’d never know it to see him now!), the March of Dimes is a charity near and dear to our hearts. Please consider using your MasterCard to double your donation this month. Thanks!

posted by retrophisch at 8:09 PM -->in helping
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Sunday, 29 October 2006

Winning hearts and minds

From Jack on the World_SIG list, who said, “You’ll never see this in the MSM.”

Winning hearts and minds The text accompanying the photo reads:

“Air Force Chief Master Sgt. John Gebhardt, of the 332nd Expeditionary Medical Group at Balad, Iraq, cradles a young girl as they both sleep in the hospital. The girl’s entire family was executed by insurgents; the killers shot her in the head as well. The girl received treatment at the U.S. military hospital in Balad, but cries and moans often. According to nurses at the facility, Gebhardt is the only one who can calm down the girl, so he has spent the last several nights holding her while they both sleep in a chair.”

CMS Gebhardt will never be singled out by the American or Arabic press for his compassion. He will not receive an award for the love and affection he has shown a little girl in such desperate need of both. His action may not resonate with anyone on this blue marble except the little one on the receiving end.

A couple of nights ago, I caught a M.A.S.H. re-run. It was the one where a Korean-American baby is left outside The Swamp, with a note attached telling the camp the baby’s father was an American GI. Like Japan, Korea is a very homogenous culture, and children of mixed heritage were (are?) looked down upon. This little girl would not have a happy childhood, and would likely even be killed before she reached adulthood. The staff of the 4077 try in vain to get her transferred to the U.S., and finally resort to leaving her at a nearby monastery, where the monks will keep her cloistered and safe from those would harm her.

As they’re saying their goodbyes outside the monastery, Hawkeye tells the baby, and forgive me for my paraphrasing, “You brought a little light in to a world filled with darkness.”

Thank you, CMS Gebhardt, for bringing light in to a little one’s world of darkness. I know you are likely not concerned with receiving it, but I pray she is able to thank you some day, too.

posted by retrophisch at 1:00 AM -->in armed forces , helping , love
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Saturday, 23 September 2006

Shouldn’t everyone have access to clean water?

Jeff lays in to Richard Branson for donating billions to “blue-sky research” on alternative fuels, when for a fraction of that, he could be helping people survive by having access to potable water. I’m all for alternative fuels, but I have to agree with Jeff that priorities seem to be a bit skewed, and it’s not just Branson who’s doing the skewing. (Hey, that’s actually a verb. Wow.)

Jeff notes Dean Kamen’s latest venture, which sounds fascinating, and it reminded me of Blood:Water Mission.

Blood:Water Mission was started by Jars of Clay, as a result of a visit Dan Haseltine, the group’s lead singer, made to Africa. Its mission is to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS by providing clean blood and clean water, digging 1,000 wells, and providing medical facilities to treat the sick. All Blood:Water Mission is asking for is a simple, one-dollar donation per person.

The new technology Dean Kamen is working on will help untold thousands, perhaps millions, but it’s not available yet, and won’t be on a massive scale for a while. In the mean time, please consider a donation to Blood:Water Mission or a potable-water charity of your choice.

posted by retrophisch at 1:35 AM -->in helping
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Monday, 21 August 2006

Miscellany

  • Thanks to the folks at Xerox, with help from Layer 8 Group, you can send a postcard, with original artwork by a child, to a member of the armed forces serving abroad: Let’s Say Thanks. I sent one, how about you?

    [Via Susan via e-mail.]

  • About.com has some good advice in its Back to School section concerning backpack selection for students. The first tip they offer, to get a bag with two straps instead of just one, to help balance the load across the body better, is why I’m a dedicated backpack guy.

  • My new addiction is Armagetron Advanced, an open source 3D game of the lightcycle contest from Tron.

posted by retrophisch at 5:36 PM -->in armed forces , fun , helping , learning , parenting , tech
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Friday, 04 August 2006

Miscellany

Photo mosaics have become popular; I have one of Darth Vader, made up of different scenes from Episodes 4-6.

There are many tutorials online for making your own photo mosaics, but John Tolva has one where you create your mosaic with LEGOs. You’ll need Photoshop, and a healthy bank account for all those LEGO pieces you’ll be buying.

[Via Photojojo.]

* * *

How close to you and yours does a convicted sex offender live? Find out, thanks to Family Watchdog.

[Via Daily Dose.]

* * *

Happy Birthday to the United States Coast Guard, which turns 216 years old today.

posted by retrophisch at 9:30 AM -->in armed forces , fun , helping , photography
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Saturday, 10 June 2006

Earthquake survivor assistance still needed

Associated Press:

Many of the nearly 650,000 displaced by Indonesia’s earthquake are living with deteriorating sanitary conditions, forced to wash with dirty water that infects wounds and spreads skin disease, doctors said Sunday.

Please consider donating to any of the many organizations providing relief assistance. We like the package and plan from World Vision, which has put together individual kits for survivors.

posted by retrophisch at 12:36 PM -->in helping
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Sunday, 28 May 2006

Earthquake relief

World Vision is one of many non-government organizations (NGOs) providing emergency survival kits in Indonesia, as a result of the recent earthquake there. World Vision’s kits include blankets, temporary shelter, medicine and clothing. If you’re seeking to help out with relief efforts there, please consider a donation to World Vision.

posted by retrophisch at 10:09 PM -->in helping
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Tuesday, 02 May 2006

Miscellany

I know Lee will be interested in Anil’s observations on web site comments.

* * *

Stop wandering aimlessly through that phone tree, and get a human on the line.

* * *

“This is hot.” New fan-created Firefox ad that’s really good.

* * *

Love coffee? Love cafes, but don’t want to support the corporate monstrosity? Then use Delocator to find local shops near you. And please, if you know of a local cafe that’s not listed on Delocator, add it!

[Waves of the phin to John, Paul, and John at FD.]

posted by retrophisch at 12:35 AM -->in helping , tech , web/site
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Thursday, 13 April 2006

There and back again

Since leaving yesterday at 6:40 AM, and arriving back home today at 3:40 PM CST, I’ve driven 1,122 miles, spent 17 hours in a vehicle, and spent $106 on gas for the minivan. Whew.

posted by retrophisch at 4:38 PM -->in helping
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Tuesday, 11 April 2006

Dressing for success

I knew about Dress for Success, because my wife’s donated some of her business clothing to them before. Now, for men, there is Career Gear. If you have business suits still in good shape you no longer wear, consider donating them to these non-profits, and help low-income men and women move up the ladder. Who knows, you may see your suit again, on someone else!

posted by retrophisch at 11:23 AM -->in helping
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Friday, 24 March 2006

Miscellany

The National Next of Kin Registry. Thanks to Motorola, I cannot look at NOKR’s acronym without thinking of mobile phones.

* * *

Apparently, today is National Waffle Day. [Via Radical Breeze.]

* * *

Tom snapped photos at the gathering of Abdul Rahman supporters outside the Afghan embassy in D.C. today. Jeff was there as well.

posted by retrophisch at 3:29 PM -->in fun , helping , liberty
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Saturday, 04 March 2006

Still higher

The goal of $300 for the March of Dimes’ WalkAmerica has been breached. I’ve now bumped the goal to double of the original double: $440. Help me help preemies!

posted by retrophisch at 1:13 PM -->in helping
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Friday, 03 March 2006

Raising the bar…again!

You people are awesome. In less than two hours last night, you blew through the goal of $110 for the March of Dimes’ WalkAmerica. So I doubled the goal to $220, and now you’ve blown through that as well, with donations now at $260.

Do I hear $300?

posted by retrophisch at 9:37 AM -->in helping
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Thursday, 02 March 2006

WalkAmerica 2006

Yes, folks, it’s that time of year again. One of my favorite charities is having its annual fundraiser, and you—yes, you—can be a part of it. “How?” you might ask.

Easy: sponsor me. My goal this year is to raise $110 before WalkAmerica 2006 here in Dallas on April 29th. So we have just under two months to get there.

So, if you’re a friend of mine, or a family member, and want to save yourself the anguish of my hitting you up for a charitable donation every time we chat, just hit the link now.

This charity is near and dear to our hearts, as our little guy came nine weeks early, and we had first-hand experience with some of the work the March of Dimes does for preemies. Please help us help other preemies!

Update: Just to show you I put my money where my mouth is, I’ve kicked things off with a $25 donation. With $5-10 here and there, we’ll reach the goal of $110 in no time. No excuses about being poor college students, etc. Skip the pizza and beer for one sitting, and your donation’s paid for.

Update 2: Thanks to the generous spirits of some of my friends, we have already blown past the goal of $110 to reach $125. I’ve now doubled the goal to $220. Thanks so much to those who have given!

posted by retrophisch at 10:11 PM -->in helping
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Thursday, 02 February 2006

It’s nice to know some people still get it

William Blair was recently outed as the secret benefactor to a group of World War II Pacific Theater former POWs, who get together for a monthly breakfast at Bunny’s Restaurant in Suffolk, Virginia.

I’ve met a good number of WWII vets in my time, and a few of them were POWs. Mr. Blair is correct in his noting that the Pacific Theater POWs usually get little mention compared to their European Theater brethren. I had the privilege in college of meeting a group of former POWs, including a Bataan Death March survivor. Those men have borne heavy burdens, and still do to this day. Mr. Blair, we salute you for your generosity and patriotism.

posted by retrophisch at 7:51 PM -->in armed forces , helping
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Thursday, 29 December 2005

But we’re just as bad as the terrorists, right?

By now, most people have heard John Kerry’s slanderous comments about our servicemen terrorizing women and children in Iraq. James Taranto turns the table on the man who would be President, noting a CNN story about what a handful of our servicemen are really up to: doing everything possible, with help from folks stateside, to see that a little Iraqi girl doesn’t die from spina bifida.

posted by retrophisch at 3:11 PM -->in armed forces , helping , politics
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Monday, 05 December 2005

Donate to the Angel Tree

During the Christmas season, one sees Angel Trees nearly everywhere: at work, in the malls, at church; you can hardly go anywhere without running in to an Angel Tree. Between church and work, we’ve already picked a few angels ourselves, and I’m sure many of you have, too.

There is a group of children that are often overlooked this time of year, and those are the children of prison inmates. Prison Fellowship started its Angel Tree ministry in 1982, and has been going strong ever since. It’s not these kids’ fault their parents are behind bars, and they deserve to get something for Christmas as much as any other child.

This year, a generous donor is matching all Angel Tree contributions up to $100,000, which means a normal donation that would give one child a gift will now serve two kids.

So please consider making a donation that can turn what is often a lonely time for these kids into one of joy.

posted by retrophisch at 4:25 PM -->in God , helping
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Monday, 07 November 2005

Project Valour-IT

Soldiers’ Angels has started Project Valour-IT, an endeavor to get voice-activated laptops to our wounded servicemen. To help with raising money for the project, a friendly competition has been set up between four teams, one for each of the service branches. Holly Aho is running the USMC team, which Hugh and Glenn are a part of. Sign up with one of the teams and donate to help out our wounded personnel.

posted by retrophisch at 8:32 AM -->in armed forces , helping
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Monday, 31 October 2005

Don’t forget your local charities

I read an article in one of the local rags that donations to CCA are down in the wake of the massive outreach for hurricane victims. CCA is one of the leading charities in north Texas, serving primarily the communities between Dallas and Denton, with most of their efforts concentrated between Lewisville, Flower Mound, and Carrollton. CCA President Ed Johnson says, “All of the merchandise that has diverted to hurricane relief leaves the 12,000 people we serve each year short—very short.” (CCA takes in unwanted items and resells them in a retail environment as one way of raising funds.)

I’m sure there is a similar charity in your own community, which may be seeing a shortfall in light of hurricane relief efforts. I urge you to not forget about the help they give year-round, and to continue to support them, with your time or donations.

posted by retrophisch at 1:17 PM -->in helping
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Monday, 10 October 2005

SAVE earthquake victims

World Vision has started a relief fund for those affected by the earthquake in southwest Asia, which has claimed at least 20,000 lives in Pakistan alone.

posted by retrophisch at 12:02 AM -->in helping
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Wednesday, 21 September 2005

A public service message

There are a lot of people with overactive bladders, and let’s face it, when you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go. Novartis Pharmaceuticals has teamed up with noted travelogue Arthur Frommer to develop a free booklet, Where to Stop & Where to Go, for use by those who may be away from their local comfort zone.

Just read about it in Reader’s Digest and thought I would pass it along.

posted by retrophisch at 3:34 PM -->in helping
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Tuesday, 06 September 2005

It’s raining again, hallelujah, it’s raining again…

Since you won’t hear about it any where else, Arthur Chrenkoff has the latest good news from Afghanistan. It is amazing how much is happening in this now-free nation in such a short amount of time. It truly shows the bias and if-it-bleeds-it-leads mentality of the mainstream press that these stories are not getting more coverage. We wrought this, America, through the service and sacrifice of our sons and daughters in the armed services. They should be proud. We all should be.

posted by retrophisch at 11:42 AM -->in armed forces , helping , national security
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Wednesday, 03 August 2005

Donations for Niger

World Vision is seeking donations to aid folks in Niger who are victims of the recent drought and locust swarms which have devastated crops in the country. If you are able and feel so inclined, please help.

posted by retrophisch at 9:47 PM -->in helping
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Monday, 01 August 2005

Good advice

Don’t mess with Texas. Now you can buy gear and support the anti-litter campaign with the awesome slogan.

posted by retrophisch at 11:46 AM -->in fun , helping
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Sunday, 31 July 2005

Too many miles

Have more frequent-flyer miles than you know what to do with? Well, transfer some to me! I’ve got to get back to the islands!

Seriously, if you have more miles than you think you’re going to use any time soon, here are some web sites that might be able to help:

MileDonor.com: up to 80 charities accepting point donations from 17 different airline programs

Points.com: trade in your miles, buy yourself an Iced Mocha Frappicino Grande. Or a new jacket.

Mileage Plus: 10,000 United miles = 100 downloads from Sony’s music service. Someone ping me when it works with iTMS.

[Via the 29 July 2005 edition of The Week, which got it from Real Simple.]

posted by retrophisch at 10:48 PM -->in helping , web/site
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Tuesday, 05 July 2005

Geldof and friends miss the mark

I am quite proud to say I did not watch a single second of the incredibly vapid, colossal waste of time and public airwaves that was Live 8. Rick Moran, on the other hand, did watch it, and gets what Geldof and crew do not:

The idea that “raising awareness” of Africa’s plight will save starving children is absurd. In order to save those children, you don’t have to snap your fingers, what you need is wholesale regime changes in 2 dozen or more countries where governments use starvation as the weapon of choice against rebelious populations. Africa’s problem is not lack of food. It is not a lack of arable land, or water resources, or agricultural know-how (they’ve been farming in Africa since before the Egyptians got themselves organized). At bottom, Africa’s problem is, well, Africans. Embracing the socialist doctrines of the old Soviet Union and Cuba during the 1970’s and 80’s, the grandiose schemes and huge development projects undertaken with some of the $220 billion in western aid that has gone to the continent since the 1960’s proved to be boondoggles of the first magnitude.

Dam building for electricity that nobody needs or can use is just one small example. What isn’t known and probably can never be calculated is the out and out theivery of aid funds by African leaders, their families, their extended families, their cronies, and the western companies who are forced into kickback schemes in order to win contracts with this human daisy chain of graft and corruption.

[…]

Which makes Live 8 about as relevant to helping solve Africa’s problems as the activities of the masked anarchists who are gleefully running around Edinburgh smashing windows and torching automobiles as if to prove the efficacy of corporal punishment denied them when they were children.

All something like Live 8 does is alleviate whatever guilt those who organize and participate may be feeling about the problem. Personally, I’m making a difference in Africa, one child at a time. His name is Emmanuel, he lives in Tanzania, and though he is five years older, he shares a birthday with my son.

I don’t share this to get a pat on the back; I share it to say you don’t need a bunch of celebs cavorting on stage, “raising awareness,” to personally make a difference. Not to mention that Geldof and crew would never tell you about Compassion, World Vision, the Barnabas Fund, Mercy Ships, or myriad other organizations which have been making a difference for years.

How many meals could be provided, through organizations already on the ground, by the multi-carat diamond necklace Madonna was wearing, if she weren’t so busy flipping off the world? Angelina Jolie aside, when was the last time any of these spoiled celebrity brats spent time helping in a refugee camp? They are the ones with the supposed influence, and certainly the funds, and the best they can come up with is a concert to “raise awareness”? Let’s see Geldof, Madonna, McCartney, and the rest put their money where their mouths are.

[A wave of the fin to Jeff for pointing to Rick’s post.]

posted by retrophisch at 8:26 PM -->in helping , politics , rant
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Monday, 18 April 2005

WalkAmerica 2005

It’s that time of the year again, when I pimp my readers for donations to a worthy cause. At the end of this month, my wife and I will be participating in the annual March of Dimes WalkAmerica in Dallas. We’ve both registered to raise money for the event, so I’m asking for donations, which you can contribute by going to my WalkAmerica web site.

Our son, now a healthy 20-month-old toddler, was born 9 weeks premature and spent 6 weeks in the Neonatal ICU. During that time, we witnessed the good things done by the March of Dimes first hand. We’d appreciate any support you can give to this great event. Thanks!

posted by retrophisch at 1:20 PM -->in helping
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