PicoIyerI still like this three-year-old New York Times New Year’s essay, The Joy of Quiet, by Pico Iyer. (Click the link for the entire essay.)

The urgency of slowing down — to find the time and space to think — is nothing new, of course, and wiser souls have always reminded us that the more attention we pay to the moment, the less time and energy we have to place it in some larger context. “Distraction is the only thing that consoles us for our miseries,” the French philosopher Blaise Pascal wrote in the 17th century, “and yet it is itself the greatest of our miseries.” He also famously remarked that all of man’s problems come from his inability to sit quietly in a room alone.

Photo: Gabriel Amadeus/Flickr

Photo: Gabriel Amadeus/Flickr

Not that we need it here in northern California, but if you’ve ever wondered how people living at high latitudes manage to get through all those dark winters, here’s a clue: Hygge.

Russell McLendon explains: “Hygge, originally a Norwegian word for “well-being,” first appeared in Danish near the end of the 18th century…. It has evolved into a big part of Danish life since then, absorbing connotations over time like a semantic snowball. The dark winters of Denmark helped turn hygge from a mere word into a kind of cultural panacea, manifested in various ways to buffer Danes against cold, solitude and stress.”

Photo: terra2025/Flickr

Photo: terra2025/Flickr

“OK”—in honor of its 175th birthday on March 23, Russell McLendon explains how this uniquely American acronym went viral.

headphonesFrom Discovery News: Flight delays, bad weather, traffic jams and frazzled nerves: Welcome to holiday travel. Sadly there is no app guaranteed to lull screaming babies on a plane or a teleportation device to prevent waiting in endless lines on the ground. But there is tech that could help prevent headaches en route to holiday destinations. This subjective list was gleaned from frequent travelers who used this tech to find some relief in the rush.

lootoursLooking for the perfect gift for a traveler who already seems to have everything? Look no further than the “Loos of London: 3D Calendar with twelve months of stunning 3D photo prints! Don red-cyan glasses and watch them pop out of the page!”

The calendar was created by my friend Ethel Davis, an accomplished travel photographer who is based in London, and has apparently taken a fancy to its public facilities. (Maybe private ones are included, too—who knows?) It is offered by 3dphotolibrary, a commercial image bank that distinguishes itself from other purveyors of 3d images (anaglyphs) because “the emphasis is on quality of the image, not merely the 3D effect for its own sake.”

Orphaned elephants at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

Orphaned elephants at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

Thanks to Kaye McKenzie for this link to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, to which you can contribute by adopting or fostering an orphaned elephant or rhino.

Dr. Dame Daphne Sheldrick (“the first person in the entire world to successfully hand rear newborn fully milk dependent African Elephant orphans”) explains the organization’s philosophy: “Saving wildlife and wilderness is the responsibility of all thinking people. Greed and personal gain must not be permitted to decimate, despoil and destroy the earth’s irreplaceable treasure for its existence is essential to the human spirit and the well-being of the earth as a whole. All life has just one home — the earth — and we as the dominant species must take care of it.”

I could have titled this post Shameless Self-Promotion, because it’s about my first book, An Erotic Alphabet. This slim volume of ABC’s for adults celebrates eroticism in all its forms, from silly to sensual, playful to X-rated.

It’s a delightful combination (if I may say so) of naughtiness and humor; one reviewer called me “the Shel Silverstein of erotica.” Here’s a sample:

Z is for the zipper
Easy access, up and down.
Nothing is much quicker
For getting to the mound.

Thanks to Bob Ecker for this link to Tom Lehrer’s Hanukkah in Santa Monica, a travel video if I ever saw one.

Please grant me the favor of occasional shameless self-promotion: The book (Hot Flashes 2: more sexy little stories and poems) I co-edited, along with Linda Watanabe McFerrin, is featured in a YouTube video. Please help us spread the link far and wide, as an experiment in virtual book promotion. We all want to learn to do that, don’t we?!

Happy Thanksgiving

December 4, 2008 | Leave a Comment

A young man named John received a parrot as a gift. The parrot had a bad attitude and an even worse vocabulary. Everything it squawked was rude, obnoxious and laced with profanity. John tried and tried to change the bird’s attitude by consistently saying only polite words, playing soft music and anything else he could think of to clean up the bird’s vocabulary.

Finally, John was so fed up and he yelled at the parrot. The parrot yelled back. John shook the parrot, and the parrot got angrier and ruder. In desperation, John grabbed the bird and put him in the freezer. For a few minutes the parrot squawked and kicked and screamed. Then suddenly there was total quiet. Not a peep was heard for more than a minute.

Thanks to Easy Going Books for this link to the Norad Santa Tracker. You might want to turn the sound down before clicking …

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