Clicking Your Way to a Better World

I must admit that I spend entirely too much time on the internet. You do, too. Don’t believe me? What are you doing right now? Tiptoeing through the tulips? I think not.

(Not that I’m not happy to see you. I’d miss you if you weren’t here. I really would.)

Sometimes I think I really should make a permanent, all-encompassing change in my life and reduce my screen time to, say, an hour a day. But gimme a break. I’m as likely to do that as I am to give up pizza, and I have the thighs to prove it.

I do try to do the next best thing, though. There are quite a few sites out there that allow you to have a positive impact on the world simply by clicking a button. That’s amazing. I can save the world while staying comfortably potatoed on my couch. (Yup. Potato is now a verb. Because I say so.)

What follows are some of my favorite “positive click” sites. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

  • Ecosia. This is a search engine, similar to Google, with an important difference. For every 45 searches you do on Ecosia, they will plant a tree. They’ve planted more than 20 million trees so far. That makes me incredibly happy. So Ecosia is now my default search engine.

  • Free Rice. This is a fun site. You can feed the world while learning things. Basically, you choose a topic, such as English Vocabulary, or World Landmarks, or Language Learning, or SAT Test Preparation, or Human Anatomy, and you’ll then be asked a series of questions. For every question you get right, they donate 10 grains of rice to the World Food Program. 10 grains of rice doesn’t seem like much, but it adds up quickly. So learn stuff and feed people. It’s the ultimate win/win situation!

  • The GreaterGood. I cannot say enough about this site. Everything you do there will have a positive impact. They have various categories, such as Hunger, Breast Cancer, Animals, and Veterans, and if you go to those sections of the site once a day and click, you will be helping these causes, and it won’t cost you a penny. But beware. They also have a store, and it has the coolest clothes and shoes and jewelry that you have ever seen in your life. And when you buy an item, more donations kick in. For example, I bought an awesome jacket, and because of that, they donated 50 bowls of dogfood to an animal shelter. I think about that every time I wear that jacket, and it makes me feel even warmer.

There are all kinds of websites out there that have positive side effects. You just have to look. If you can suggest any other sites of this type, by all means, include them in the comments section, below! And keep on clicking!

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Fireworks Fallout

Apparently I have moved into a very patriotic neighborhood. Even though the 4th of July is several days in the past, my neighbors on all sides are still setting off fireworks at random moments. Very random moments. Mid day. Three in the morning.

As I write this, my dogs are cowering behind me, under the covers. They will be shaking for a long time. This is never a good month for them. I have to force them outside to do their business. It takes them a long time to feel safe again.

I can understand the desire to celebrate, and I actually do love fireworks. I just like them to be predictable and properly monitored and not close enough to set my house afire. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

And if my dogs are terrified, I can’t even imagine what this month must be like for combat veterans with PTSD. It must feel like they’re back in the thick of things again, risking their lives. It must feel like death is imminent. Most of us cannot comprehend what that’s like.

Just like not everyone wants to hear your blasting radio as you go down the street, there’s a distinct possibility that not all of your neighbors find your fireworks fun. Patriotism doesn’t mean, “I’ll pursue my happiness, and to hell with you.” Freedom doesn’t mean freedom from common decency. That concept seems to be one of the finer points of democracy that has fallen by the wayside, and it’s a shame.



Sometimes a Teapot is Just a Teapot

There’s such a thing as being too sensitive.

The other day the mayor of Culver City, California absolutely freaked out over a teapot, because if you squint hard enough it resembles Adolph Hitler. I kid you not. Check out the article. The sh**storm was so immediate that JCPenney actually had to pull the pot from its product line.

Culver City is in Los Angeles County and has a crime index of 11 (100 is the safest), and more than 50,000 people sleep in the streets in that county every night, so you’d think the mayor would have bigger fish to fry. But no. That kettle had allllllll of his attention for a while there.

And then there’s the “huge” scandal about President Obama forgetting to salute a marine before boarding a helicopter. He immediately realized his mistake and went out and shook the young man’s hand, but some took this incident as an outrage.

Lest we forget, the man is the leader of the free world and probably has a few other things on his mind. He’s also never served in the military himself, so saluting probably is not the gut reflex it is for your average veteran. And as this article mentions, some would debate the appropriateness of saluting when out of uniform and not wearing a hat. But the main thing I took away from this story is that many of us have entirely too much time on our hands.

Take, for example, the latest news from the city of Wildwood, New Jersey, where they are planning to ban droopy shorts on the boardwalk. Kids, today. They can’t be trusted to keep their pants up high enough to suit the older generation, apparently, and this means that legislation is required. And what if the kids don’t comply? Will they be arrested by the fashion police? One wonders.

And there are those veterans who still boycott Jane Fonda because she went to Hanoi to protest the Vietnam War. In 1972. Even though it’s long since been proven that she never passed notes from prisoners of war to the enemy as previously alleged. Are these same people boycotting Dennis Rodman for going to North Korea? Not so’s you’d notice. And that happened this year. It seems to me that your energies would be better spent focusing on current and active gadflies to our servicemen such as the members of the Westboro Baptist Church, rather than a rapidly aging actress who does not share your political opinions, but honestly, it’s so much more fun to piss in the wind of the past, isn’t it?

Before you get your knickers all in a twist, I’m not an anti-Semite, I fully appreciate the service of our men and women in uniform, I don’t enjoy gazing at the butt cracks of the nation’s youth any more than the next person, and I don’t think that Jane’s visit to Hanoi was her finest hour even if she did make her point and voice her opinion as every American, fortunately or unfortunately, has a right to do. I just happen to think that there are so many other causes to take up, so many other stands to make that are much more important than the foolishness we so often get spun up about. I just get disgusted with society in general. That’s all.