Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Some web pages you might like

I've launched some new pages on my web site, designed for those who aren't volunteer managers, and aren't professional nonprofit staff -- rather, these new pages are for individuals, particularly young people, who want to do some good, or need community service hours, or want to fund a volunteering trip abroad, but aren't sure where to or how to get started:

For those seeking volunteering in order to fulfill a community service obligation from a court or school obligation.

Detailed information on Finding Community Service and Volunteering for Teens.

Detailed Advice for Volunteer Groups / Group Volunteering.

Ideas for Funding Your Volunteering Abroad Trip.

More than you ever wanted to know about Creating or Holding a Successful Fund Raising Event.

The majority of my web site, which is focused on those who are formally affiliated with nonprofits and NGOs, are ad-free. This new section of my web site is not. By clicking on any of the ads on these pages, you help me raise funds to maintain my entire web site (web hosting, domain name ownership and, ofcourse, my time).

So, tell your friends, and click on some ads!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

World Cup and Burning Motorcyclist Effigies

To the left is what my Facebook updates looked like during one of the World Cup games (I'll let you guess which one). I am so enjoying the World Cup, particularly since there is interest in it in the USA as I have never seen before, not even when it was hosted here back in the 1990s. I love the commentary by Alexi Lalas (hilarious and right on!) and I love that so many friends are into it! It's been great to not feel so alone while watching the games, many of which are at 6 a.m. our time (yuck).

Alas, I am broken-hearted over the USA loss to Ghana -- at least we weren't denied a goal yet again!). I was oh-so-sad that Mexico lost/Argentina won (I hate Maradonna). I was ELATED over Germany's win over England (Stefan was too). I want a team that has NEVER won to win it all -- or Germany.

* * *

We had a great time at our very first Burning Moto Man motorcycle rally in the Willamette National Forest. Eric and Gail live in the kind of space I dream of having some day -- a big comfy house in a gorgeous setting and plenty of room to host lots and lots of people, including lots and lots of motorcycle traveler friends. We did a presentation on our Eastern Europe trip in 2008. I didn't go on the Saturday ride, however... I stayed behind to watch the USA v. Ghana game. I appreciated so much that Eric and Gail let me watch it in their lovely, refinished living room. But I was about to kill one of the guys watching it with me ("What does the yellow card mean? Do you think those are LCD panels on the side of the field? When is the commercial break? Is that a foul? Why are you so upset that Ghana scored -- it's just one point! What do you mean they play 45 minutes with no commercial break? This game is a lot like American football, don't you think?").

Check out our photos from the Burning Moto Man event. It was a great time, though they need a place at the event for people to socialize past 10 p.m. It is a motorcycle rally, after all... we like socializing at night time, particularly around fires (perhaps a bonfire the second night as well, and tell those that want to go to sleep early to camp farther away?).

Friday, June 18, 2010

More Whirled Cup Madness

I want a vuvuzela. I have a Coca Cola horn I got in some World Cup promotion in 2006 in Germany, plus a plastic yellow card and a plastic red card (so I can make my own decisions about fouls while I'm watching games), and I do a really good job of driving Stefan crazy with those during games, but nothing is as powerful as the vuvuzela.

I think the commercials during the World Cup have been way more fun than the Super Bowl commercials of late (with the exception of the Snickers commercial with Betty White). If you have been watching, then you know which one is my favorite, by far (I actually trembled the first time I saw it -- yes, that movie still has that power over me).

I'm SO angry over the Slovenia game. THE USA SCORED A WINNING GOAL. The ref blew that BIG TIME. Where was the foul?!?!?

I usually keep personal information off my professional FaceBook profile, but I have been posting about the World Cup a bit there, since I have so many, many international colleagues in that particular FaceBook network. The posts are all rather tame; I save my trash talk for my personal FaceBook profile.

What I want most out of the World Cup is for a team that has never won it all to win it this year.

I hope the fans in South Africa are being as wonderful to each other as most folks were in Germany. My favorite moment in the World Cup back in 2006 was watching the USA-Ghana game with a bunch of Ghana fans, and how sweet they all were during and after the game. I loved seeing all these people from different countries wanting their photos with each other. It was a party for everyone.

* * *
I had to withdraw from consideration from a fantastic, part-time, temporary job (only until Nov. 1) with a local office of Habitat for Humanity, as I'm going into second interviews for two full-time jobs, either of which I would love to have. Some folks said I should have taken the job, had it been offered, and then quit if I had gotten the other jobs (in four - eight weeks). And, to be honest, had it been a for-profit company, I would have (I'm sure a corporation wouldn't hesitate to hire me for a job that they might eliminate four months later). There's no guarantee I'll get either of these jobs I'm second-interviewing for. But I think Habitat for Humanity is a great organization, and I would be leaving not only the organization in the lurch, but also, all their many, many volunteers as well. And right now, I need to not create any bad karma...

* * *
I've now put in more than 1600 miles of motorcycle riding since I got my motorcycle license a year ago (though I didn't start accumulating miles until I bought my own motorcycle in October 2009). And that's with no overnight trips yet; it's all been short rides and day trips. I'm really proud to have ridden that much, because so many people buy motorcycles and then just let them sit. I think that setting riding goals has really helped me progress.

Ofcourse, I'm still an absolute novice rider. I've dropped the bike three times: once in the drive way when I stopped on the incline, once in the garage when I was getting it off the center stand, and once while trying to park on the last trip. It's so humiliating to drop the bike. But I guess that's way better than it going over while I'm going any kind of speed.

The map below is courtesy of Stefan's GPS.

Our last trip was all the way to Mt. Hood, then through the gorge and back. The riding to and from Mt. Hood was fantastic. There is a lot of snow up there, but the roads were completely clear of all snow, ice, and even salt. The Timberline Lodge, with exteriors featured in The Shining, doesn't look at all intimidating, and there's no hedge labyrinth. Neither Stefan or I had ever been a ski lodge before, or seen a station for mountain climbers (where they check in before a climb, and leave reviews of their climb when they are done).

The Hood River valley is gorgeous and was my favorite part of the ride. My least favorite part of the ride: the Columbia River Gorge. It's absolutely brutal, because of the wind. I was totally chuffed that I did it after the ride, but during the ride, I was really scared, and the next day, I was mentally and physically exhausted - it had taken all of my energy and focus.

It sounds like I'm riding beyond my abilities, but I'm not. I'm an ultra-cautious rider. I ride with the idea that no one can see me; I never assume all the drivers know I'm there. And I ride the speed I ride and if you are behind me and don't like it, TOUGH; I'm not going to go faster or do any kind of riding that is beyond my abilities.

After our trip to California next month, I'm going to look into taking the next level of motorcycle classes. I need to work on breaking, starting and stopping on hills, and going around curves faster (cornering).

* * *

I've started to place a few ads on the non-professional portions of my web site (some of the travel pages, the camping with your dogs page, the tips for moving to Germany page), and I've started a series of pages that I've made only to generate ad revenue (as opposed to promoting my expertise, though they still do that):
I picked those three topics because
  1. they are frequent questions on YahooAnswers (which means there is a high number of people seeking answers to such), and
  2. they aren't subjects I like training on (so I'm not interested in them being on the professional, ad-free part of my web site).

Feel free to visit any of those pages and click on those ads and, therefore, earn me some revenue! Remember, I'm unemployed!

* * *
Every time the doorbell rings on the Simpsons, or even the commercial with Ronaldo and Homer Simpson,, Albi thinks there is someone at *our* door. Bark.

In Germany, she was always trying to catch rabbits (she got one) and field mice (she got at least two). Here, she's after gophers.

* * *

Do you really want to know what I think about BP? And all of their many defenders? Really? Can't you already guess? If you know me, you can. Not that I'm not also disappointed in our government as well, but the behavior of BP and Haliburton is, yet again, criminal. So many, many, many small business and workers will never recover economically from this, will never see appropriate financial compensation (if any), and the natural resources may never fully recover. And it gets worse and worse every day. Every day. AND IT WAS ALL PREVENTABLE. When will anyone from these companies ever face criminal charges? Will that day EVER come?

Sunday, June 13, 2010

It's the World Cup!

It's World Cup madness again. I'm feeling nostalgic for four years ago, when the World Cup was in Germany. What an amazing time that was (a few photos here - I so regret not taking more). Soooo much fun. Very pleased at the US 1:1 draw with England (I was expecting a blood-letting) and Stefan loved the 4:0 result against Australia (the Germans looked textbook amazing, except for those two attempts at taking a dive which were STUPID).

I blew my Coca-cola World Cup horn for all USA and Germany goals. I'm sure the neighbors were all wondering what in the HECK was going on. If the USA comes in 2nd in its group, it will have to play Germany. Our household shall be... shall be... interesting for that game...

In the USA: if you want to see what the World Cup is about, find an Irish pub or a Scottish pub and watch some games there. No, it can't just be a sports bar -- you need a place where foreigners gather. That's a *taste* of what the World Cup is like for the rest of the world. Whats similar in the USA? March Madness in Kentucky, no question.

And for the record: the TV commercials during the USA world cup games are even better than the Super Bowl.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

wine (but no whines)

We had a nice time at the Canby Wine, Art and Garden Show today, and it prompts me to say some things about the Oregon and other regional wines we've tried thus far since being back in the USA:
  • in terms of good, cheap wine (less than $10 a bottle), the best I've found (for my taste) is the Gnarly Head Wines, out of California, particularly the Old Vine Zin. Everyone seemed to be drinking it in Louisville (it was a popular recommendation at Old Town Wine & Spirits).

  • Stefan got called into work while his parents were here, and also has been putting up huge amounts of uncompensated overtime, so his boss loaded us down with six bottles of what I call guilt wine. Two of the bottles were stand outs: the Pinot Noir 2008 from Montinore Estate here in Oregon (not too far from us), and the Cabernet Sauvignon Sterling Vintner's Collection in California.

  • We liked the Canby Wine, Art and Garden Show, but none of the wines grabbed us in particular until we were almost ready to leave. We decided to make two more stops, and it was well worth it. We ended up buying a bottle of Riesling from the Nehalem Bay Winery in Oregon, and that's saying a lot, because I am NOT a Riesling fan. I'm not a white wine fan. But it is really good. I was tempted to buy a bottle of their Gewurztraminer as well, also usually not a wine I'm crazy about. We also really liked the Merlot, Drop Dead Red, from Hip Chicks Do Wine.
We would love to try and buy more regional wine, but it's just too bloody expensive. We talked about the ridiculous wine prices of Oregon and the region with the delightful representative from the Nehalem Bay Winery (who has visited the Szépasszony völgy in Hungary -- it's always fun to talk about that place with someone who has been). We'd love to support more local wineries, but we just simply cannot afford it.

As for the Canby Wine, Art and Garden Show, it's a nice event -- a variety of vineyard are represented, and the art items that are for sale were terrific (lots of things that would make awesome wedding gift items). But the event desperately needs better signage in order to attract more people. It needs a big banner on the fence that can be seen by traffic passing by on 99E (that's the only reason we went to the Clackamas County Master Gardeners Spring Garden Fair in May), and sandwich boards on the sidewalks on 99E as well (readers of my blogs from Germany know that Stefan and I are notorious for critiquing community event marketing -- we really need to start a consulting business).

Okay, I actually have to do a bit of whine: the Oregon weather has brought us so down. The constant rain -- and I mean CONSTANT rain -- and frequent cold has far exceeded what anyone warned us about in Portland. Turns out it's been record-setting for the area. That gives me some comfort, because it's got to get better soon, right? Right? If it's any consolation to us, it's been the same in Europe, so we haven't missed anything...

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Interview your grandparents!

Back in 1986, I interviewed my grandfather, James Vernon Cravens (Jack Cravens), regarding his Army service during World War II from 1941 - 1944. "Papaw" served in the Aleutian Islands (Alaska). I recorded our interview on audio tape, transcribed the interview years later, then researched the places and people he talked about, adding lots of historical notes and maps into the transcription, to further explain the things he talked about, and put it altogether into a 32-page document. I gave each of my siblings a copy of the document and the recording, then made the document available online.

In the summer of 2009, my grandmother gave me her and my grandfather's scrapbooks they kept during WWII. I scanned a few images from my grandfather's in October 2009 and shared them on Flickr; over the 2010 Memorial Day weekend, I scanned many more. There's now 56 photos and scans of postcards on Flickr, and the set has had about 200 visitors so far.

I'm really glad that the Internet allows me to share this time in my grandmother and grandfather's lives online with anyone who is interested (and that I had a brief moment of wisdom to record such). I strongly encourage you to talk to your grandparents about their lives, to record your interviews, and to scan photos relating to their stories. Did they live through World War II? Other wars? The Civil Rights Movement? A big disaster? Do they remember when JFK was elected, the Cuban Missle Crisis, or when JFK was shot? Do they remember Martin Luther King's marches, or when he was killed? Where were they when men first walked on the moon and what did they think? There's so many things you could ask them about -- and so much you will learn.

My next project? Transcribing two tapes I made interviewing my grandmother about her time in the Depression, World War II, and during various major events.