Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The Statue of Liberty's Pedestal - An Experiment in Crowdfunding

So as you may know, there's no Brenda Novak Auction For Diabetes Research this year. Instead, I've decided to use any available funds that I would have donated, to back projects on the crowdfunding site, Kickstarter (and also a project for a fun run that my sis is doing for the kids of her afterschool program), but anyway, I think I've become a bit addicted to Kickstarter. I've been finding projects that are beautiful, inspirational, and brilliant.

And I found a book at the little break room library, about New York. Although my stepfather once lived for a while in Manhattan, I've never been there and rarely even consider traveling to the East coast. As I heard once, "West Coast, Best Coast". Lol.

So anyway, I picked up this book and started reading through it, and I was surprised to learn that the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty was pretty much crowdfunded, and before there was a Kickstarter to speak of. In 1885, publisher Joseph Pulitzer collected donations, offering to publish the names of all contributors to the project (sound familiar?). According to the Wikipedia page, he " started a drive for donations to complete the project that attracted more than 120,000 contributors, most of whom gave less than a dollar." (Sounding even more familiar?)

So books show us that as much as things have changed, some (good) things (like the idea of crowdfunding) stay the same.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Leaving soda behind for Lent

So first, let's start with some background info. about me, that you might not know. I was baptized Catholic when I was a child, and went to Sunday school. Somewhere around my teenage years, I felt rebellious and toyed with Wicca/Paganism. Around the age of twenty-one, I went to India and got a first-hand look at the Hindu religion. My stepfather was Buddhist, and I was influenced by him. Later in my twenties, I returned to Catholicism/Christianity, but with a unique perspective on it.

So I've never really practiced giving up anything for Lent, but I always sort of had this lingering feeling that I ought to. This year, I decided to give up soda. I've done this for extended periods of time throughout my life, but never really kept track of the way that soda made me think or feel (although before I took Judo, I did drink a lot of it and always felt a bit pudgy).

So starting February 18th (Ash Wednesday), I gave up soda. And I successfully made it to Easter, soda-free, only slipping up once, the day after Ash Wednesday because I honestly forgot. In place of soda, I drank beer, iced teas, Perrier, those Starbucks Refresher thingies, etc. Close enough to soda, but not soda exactly.

Here's what I've discovered: Soda makes you perky, and it's that feeling of perky-ness that can get you addicted as much as the caffeine. It ups your alertness level, which people are always needing in this go-go-go world we live in. At the same time, it can help you to relax, as it becomes a sort of comfort food in this insane, often hostile world we find ourselves in. I've been insanely in need of soda, I FEEL like, because we live increasingly stressful lives nowadays. Stress is not good for your body. Soda is not good for your body. But if you have to choose the lesser of two evils, choose soda, if it'll keep the stress demon away. That's what I say.

At any rate, I think it's been good for me to test my self-control like this. Self-control is something that not many people have nowadays. It's the thing that makes me a good martial artist - the ability to control a kick and land it exactly where I want it to go, every time. It's what gives me an edge over the competition, in this world.

Do YOU have self-control?