Friday, February 18, 2011

Freebie Friday 2.18.11

Worthy Things to Do, Listen To, or View that Won’t Cost You a Dime 

TGIF once again. Since the first Free Things Friday was a hit, here’s a second edition — new name, same idea. Once again, I’ve tried to include something for everyone.

  • The first link is for parents and teachers who have a doodler in their midst. It has both time and age restrictions, so don’t delay, and do pay attention to the rules. If you have a dreamer with an artistic bent, this one’s for you. Doodle 4 Google is an opportunity for students to use their artistic talents to redesign Google’s homepage logo. This year’s theme? “What I’d like to to someday…”  The prizes are awesome. 
  • The next one is for the procrastinator who has not yet sent this year’s Valentines, the planner who is already thinking about next year, or the sentimentalist who likes to send messages of love all year long. Map Your Valentine, launched this past Monday, allows you to send a unique message with a map or image (using Google Maps and Street View) of a favorite spot to “remind your Valentine of a special place.” Give it a try.
  • While you (and the rest of the nation) were watching Jeopardy to see whether super-computer Watson would emerge as the new champion, you may have found yourself wondering whether you have what it takes to beat Ken Jennings, Brad Rutter, or even Watson. If you really want to find out, check out this online quiz at the Jeopardy site to determine whether you should continue to pursue that dream.
For some of you, a long-weekend is fast approaching, and travel may be in your plans. Here are a few tools to help you plan that trip, near or far.
  • If you will be traveling by land, check out Google Maps to plan your route. There are options for driving (taking or avoiding the highway, paying or avoiding tolls), walking, bicycling, or using public transit (in some cities).
  • If you will be packing a suitcase, check out this much-viewed YouTube “Packing Like a Pro” video showing just how much you can cram into a small bag if you do it carefully. If you are flying, you just might be able to avoid a checked-bag fee.

  • Calculate the carbon footprint of your trip with the best carbon footprint calculator I’ve found. If you are calculating the footprint of a flight, be sure to check “include radiative forcing” to obtain the most accurate reading. This site also has calculators for various forms of ground transportation. Please do consider purchasing carbon offsets or making a donation to environmental group if it is in your budget. [More on this topic in a post from the past.] 
  • Finally, before you pack, it might be useful to determine the weather at your destination. Weather Underground is my favorite weather site. The first internet weather service, it has developed the world’s largest network of personal weather stations (nearly 19,000 in the US and over 13,0000 across the rest of the world). This excellent site contains a wealth of weather resources including maps, videos, and blogs. And, yes, the name comes from the lyrics of Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues.”

Happy Presidents’ Weekend and safe travels to all. Please pass these links around. Come back soon!

FYI Why a piñata? Just like a blog link, until you open it, you won’t know what’s inside.

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