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Denise Voskuil-Marre
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Thanks to my wonderful sister Kris for her early Christmas present to me - a donation in my name to help the rabbits, dogs, and cats at the +RedDoor AnimalShelter here in Chicago! And thanks to the volunteers there for all that you do for homeless animals.

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It's that time again! Support indie game developers and awesome charities - Child's Play (video games for hospital pediatric units) and the American Red Cross - by your donation of whatever you want for 7 video games, including Super Meat Boy and Bit.Trip Runner. Donate more than the average person (only $5.21 at this point) and get two more games. Spend for good causes, and allocate what percent of your contribution you want to go to devs vs. charity.

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You may know Xeni Jardin from her writings on Boing Boing. If you want to read one of the best statements I've seen about a (breast) cancer diagnosis, read this.

I had my first mammogram this year. It hurt like a sonofabitch, by the way - just the way I'm built, they told me, and to premedicate with some OTC pain meds next time. It was still worth doing. I don't hold back information from my patients when I discuss pain or other side effects with them, so I believe in telling you this. Get it done anyway.

Pay attention to your symptoms. Xeni went and got one 10 years early partially because she noticed an odd patch from a self-exam she'd done.

(Side note: Heart disease kills more women than breast cancer. Educate yourself on the unique symptoms of heart attack that women can have, and you'll be extra-protected. Take care of yourselves, as much as you can.)
Honest and heartbreaking ruminations on her cancer, by +Xeni Jardin
"The thing about this thing, or, at least, this first week of this thing, is how it takes you out there to the cold planet again and again and again, when you aren't expecting it. Long, undulating waves of fear pull you out to where you are alone and unreachable, even by words sent from the strongest satellite.

"The thing that brings you back is love."

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George Takei on his experience in an American-created internment camp, and how the new McCain/Levin bill (S. 1253) will allow for the indefinite internment of American citizens who are merely thought to be potentially associated with terrorists. Please write to your Senators and ask them to vote against this bill.

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Most people have never heard of the awful little indie-before-there-was-a-name-for-it film, "Manos: The Hands of Fate." Many of those who do know of it have only seen it via a muddy print that the MST3K crew laughed and groaned over. Someone has come forward, after having bought a bunch of film in an eBay auction, with a pristine workprint of the original, and he's working hard to restore this film. Check out his fascinating explanation in the SA forum thread linked below, or follow the process at

Happy post-Thanksgiving to my fellow Americans, and greetings to the start of the winter holiday shopping extravaganza! This year, if you're able, consider giving some thanks and assistance to those who devote themselves to helping others who are in need.

My special thanks for all they do go to:
The Night Ministry - non-denominational, non-discriminatory (in terms of religion or lack thereof, sexuality, gender identity, race) organization in Chicago that helps the needy with health care, employment, housing, and other essentials.

+Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières - worldwide organization of healthcare professionals that donate their services to the poor.

National Association of Free Clinics - similar organization that is US-based.

Mother Bear Project - volunteer knitters make teddy bears for the comfort of children orphaned by AIDS, and who may not have much of anything to call their own. Over 69,000 bears have been sent worldwide.

+RedDoor AnimalShelter - no-kill shelter in Chicago that takes in dogs, cats, and rabbits.

House Rabbit Society - national educational and rescue society dedicated to an often misunderstood and neglected pet.

And many others!

If you want to find a charity near and dear to your heart, or aren't sure if certain charities are worth your money, there are ways to check up on how efficiently charities spend their donations, carry out their fundraising, etc. One of these resources is +Charity Navigator. Remember that certain charities, like hospitals, will have higher operating expenses than other charities just due to the nature of their operations.

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Since the holidays are coming up and I've been seeing posts about donations, let me share a great resource for evaluating charities. Not all charities are covered, but a lot are, and this site shows you what the breakdown of a charity's spending is and how accountable and transparent they are with their spending. The idea is so you can avoid charities that waste a lot of money on fancy or inefficient fundraising tactics and bring in less in donations. Keep in mind, though - certain institutions will have higher operating expenses, like children's hospitals and the like. For those, your donations help the hospital keep running as well as providing charity care.

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I know honey is expensive, but it looks like US store-brand honey isn't worth the savings. Analysis done shows nearly all store brands of honey - even Target's house brands - plus Sue Bee and others don't have any pollen in them at all.

So what's the big deal? Shady honey producers, especially from China and India (where honey contaminated with high levels of things like antibiotics, heavy metals, and other potentially harmful contaminants has been found many times before), have been heavily filtering their honey to remove pollen that would identify the country of origin - but not the contaminants. Honey from China has tariffs on it to keep them from flooding the US market, but if it's filtered and then shipped to other countries first, it's hard to trace. This honey even comes in through Canada, and I've been noticing "honey from US and Canada" on honey labels and assuming that's safe. And of course, big honey bottlers in the US might not even be revealing that they import some honey.
The FDA does not allow pollen-less honey to be called honey, but considering everything else they need to monitor and with not enough money or personnel, it's not a priority to heavily enforce what happens to honey.

So what honey is safe and legally processed? All of the honey tested by this independent test that came from local honey producers, Trader Joe's. farmer's markets, and natural food stores came back as having plenty of pollen. If you can't buy from those places, buying an organic honey at a larger store is more likely to be safe according to their testing results, but double-check the list given in the article.

If you care about food quality, consider your options.

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Uh, wow. Michael Winslow - you remember him, the "human noisemaker" guy? - is pretty impressive!
Wow. Filmsack recently sacked Space Balls. We commented that maybe Michael Winslow was not as good as we remembered.

Well today I take that back:

Michael Winslow - Whole Lotta Love by Led Zeppelin (Senkveld med Thomas og Harald)

Thanks to John in the comments over at the Filmsack site.

+Scott Johnson +Brian Ibbott +Randy Jordan

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I need to requisition one of these for my office. Purely in the interest of data security, of course.
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