Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Random List - Five Sites To Visit For Valentine's Day

Copyright 2008 Soderman Consulting
Early Valentine's Day

Yes, one of Hallmark's favorite holidays is here - Valentine's Day.

It's that time of year when a guy can either be a hero or a bum, depending on whether he thought ahead. I'm hoping for hero this year.

I decided to put together some sites for those of you who may need a little help getting through (or past) February 14th. This can be a tricky event to navigate, and hopefully this short list will get you through any tough spots.

Just peruse the offering below, and if you find any you like, be sure to let us know. And if you have a favorite, add it to the comments so we can all share in the resources. You never know when you might need help on this reddest of red holidays.

Oh, and as a side note, Valentine's Day is not the most popular for cards as far as Hallmark is concerned. Nope, not Mother's Day either. Try Christmas.

  1. - Some of you may not think this is very original, nor did I claim it to be. But these folks have never let me down. I have ordered from them for years, and the flowers are always delivered on time, and exquisitely fresh. They also tend to last. I have seen them hang tough for as long as two weeks, attesting to the quality of the packaging, shipping and the flowers themselves. If you thought ahead, you may have already used them. If not, get your order in to get out of the doghouse.
  2. How To Break Up With Your Boyfriend - For the more cynical gals, a primer on dumping the guy you're no longer interested in. Of course, if you read it, the more cynical it sounds. But hey, if you need tips, here ya go. But never fear guys, we found one for you too... How To Break Up With Your Girlfriend.
  3. The History of Valentine's Day from The History Channel - As you might expect from the fine folks at The History Channel, they've put together an entire mini-site dedicated to Cupid's day of frolic. Valentine's Day has a particularly religious origin, with as many as three Catholic saints as the possible namesakes. In fact, Valentine's Day was set as February 14th back in 498 A.D. by Pope Gelasius - so blame it on him.
  4. Custom Made M&M Candies - This is fun for just about any occasion. You can have M&Ms printed and gift boxed with your choice of messages and colors. The website even lets you preview them before you order. Yeah, it's too late now, but hey, there's gotta be an anniversary or something coming up, right?
  5. Valentine's Day on Flickr - A slideshow of images from Flickr tagged with Valentine's Day. One note - before you click the link, be sure you have your Flickr setting set to "Safe". Some of the images can be a bit racy.

If you got a favorite site, let us know by adding a comment! And be sure to give us a vote on Stumble if you liked what you saw!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Does Water Help The Creative Process?

Una Mas De Ducha (One More of the Shower) - atwose on Flickr

Ever hear someone say that they do their best thinking in the shower? That's me. For some reason, water seems to trigger the creative process in me like almost nothing else. It can be the shower in the morning, a tub in the evening, a Jacuzzi under the stars - doesn't really matter. It just seems that water gets the juices flowing.

I've racked my brain for a logical answer and haven't really found one. I suppose we could look at it metaphysically and say that the sound or sensation of running water, is like a subliminal message to the mind, telling it to let things flow.

Or perhaps, it's that I have adopted these routines over four decades. I used to read voraciously in the tub, and the act of taking a shower tells my body it's time to go to work. But I can say for certain that a vast majority of the ideas I come up with come from a place that seems to read "just add water".

Of course, there is a downside to this. Ever try balancing a laptop on the edge of the tub? It's a Wile E. Coyote scene waiting to happen. The laptop hasn't gone in yet, but the drink, towel, reading glasses and watch all have. So now I leave the laptop on the kitchen table and use my new analog PDA (writing journal) instead. Of course, paper gets wet too, and a warm tub has the effect of putting me to sleep. Not terribly productive, and it has potential to get ruined. But at least I won't get electrocuted in the process and my laptop stays safe.

But I think there is something deeper here. Everyone has a place or an environment that recharges them. Mine always seem to involve water and wind. I love the rain, storms make me feel recharged. One of my favorite places to relax and let nature work its magic is on a boat on Silver Lake. It's a High Sierra alpine lake that always has a breeze and the sound of water lapping on the hull of the boat.

As a kid, I would spend hours in the pool, coming out only long enough to grab a quick lunch. Ocean creatures are my favorites, and dolphins make me happy.

For some reason, my body is tuned into water, and water seems to let the creative muse out.

So why do you care? Simple. Everyone has a place, an environment that relaxes or rejuvenates them. Perhaps it's trees or a garden. Or maybe it's just the feeling of the sun on our face. Think to those times when you feel recharged, full of energy. What are the sensations, the sounds, the scents? And how can you recreate them? Find a surrogate for the sun or a proxy for the garden. Maybe you can pot a plant - easy to do indoors. Get out on your lunch break and soak up a few rays. Whatever it is, find the key to unlocking your creative vault. Just the process alone will make you feel better, stronger, more energized. And we can all use more of that!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Two Pots

I came across this entry on a website today, and for some reason it spoke to me. We spend so much time looking for the perfect that we forget that the imperfections are what makes us unique.

Take the time to embrace not only the imperfections in others, but in ourselves.

The Two Pots - Inspirational Words of Wisdom
A Water Bearer in China had two large pots, each hung on the ends of a pole, which he carried across his neck.

One of the pots had a crack in it while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water. At the end of the long walk from the stream to the house, the cracked pot arrived only half full.

For a full two years, this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots of water to his house. Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, for which it was made. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do.

After 2 years of what it perceived to be bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream. "I am ashamed of myself, because this crack in my side causes my water to leak out all the way back to your house."

The bearer said to the pot, "Did you notice that there are flowers on your side of the path, but not on the other pot's side? That's because I have always known about your flaw, so I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back, you water them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate the table. Without you being just the way you are, we would not have such beauty."

Each of us has our own unique flaw. But it's the cracks and flaws we each have that make our lives together so very interesting and rewarding.

You've just got to take each person for what they are and look for the good in them.

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Eepy Birds Strike Again! The Domino Effect
The Extreme Diet Coke & Mentos Experiments II - The Domino Effect: Fritz & Stephen, the mad scientists from EepyBird, take it even further - with over 250 geysers of soda. And this time they're linked together in one giant chain reaction! A clever mechanism harnesses the power of one geyser of Diet Coke to drop the Mentos into the next bottle. So just like dominos, all they have to do is start the first one, and the rest is Diet Coke & Mentos history!

You've probably seen these guys before. Their antics have even inspired an episode of "Mythbusters" where they worked to determine exactly what the mechanism is that causes Mentos and Diet Coke to react so vigorously. This time, they figured out a way to get one fountain to trigger the next. Watch and enjoy!

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