I spotted Indexed, another blog-turned-book success story, in the Chronicle Books store the other day. Indexed represents two great ideas: first, it’s a novel use for index cards (other than, say, Getting Things Done with a Hipster PDA or other office applications), and it’s also an inspired concept for a blog. ThisIsIndexed.com is one of those brilliant ideas, like the Million Dollar Homepage — simple, clever, and enviably unique (which translates into lucrative).
Every weekday, author Jessica Hagy — copywriter, doodler, and philosophical statistician — publishes a diagram or an equation that succinctly captures an insight into modern life. The index card doodles range from the trivial to the thought-provoking, most often amusing and challenging in terms of how fast you can "get it." Hagy covers topics as diverse as shelter-versus-purebred canines, drifter cuisine, the boggling math of emotion, and undergoing water torture (both voluntary and involuntary). Hagy includes larger, more complex figures in the 5×7 section.
Kindred spirit Hugh MacLeod, author of gapingvoid, also admires Indexed. Chronicle Books published a couple of companion products, the Indexed book of postcards — (because, go figure, index cards are the perfect size for postcards!) — as well as the Indexed notebook.
Posted August 13, 2009 by Mariva in arts, blog-turned-book, books, business, entertainment, fun, gifts, humor, innovations, media
To: Mr. Guy Kawasaki
c/o Garage Technology Ventures
Dear Mr. Kawasaki,
The manager of the Microsoft booth at Macworld was going to throw this away after you were finished with your book signing for Reality Check, and I couldn’t bear to see it go into the garbage, so I rescued it.
Then, at the GTD Summit, David Allen inspired me to go through my Inbox (a big pile of random papers) and do a Mind Wipe or a Mind Sweep or whatever he calls it, and I realized that as much as I enjoy looking at a photo of you — (who doesn’t?) — I simply have no use for this.
Again, though, I hate to see it thrown into the trash, so I’m sending it to you care of Garage. Perhaps you can add it to your souvenir collection of professional engagements.
On a personal note, I thoroughly enjoyed listening to your interview at the Commonwealth Club, and I got a kick out of you interviewing David Allen at the GTD Summit. I’m sorry my fellow attendees and I ineptly let the elevator door shut on you before you could get on, but we couldn’t find the "open door" button in time. (Probably designed by Microsoft.)
You mentioned at the GTD Summit that you feel guilty that you don’t have time to respond to all your fans, so I’m proactively letting you off the hook. You don’t need to write back. I won’t think you’re an @ssh0le.
P.S. I might blog this at mariva.com. It’s vaguely funny.
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Posted March 23, 2009 by Mariva in audio, books, business, celebrities, media, social, technology
It’s hard to imagine a better — or funnier — gift for the parents-to-be who already have everything than Safe Baby Handling Tips by David and Kelly Sopp.
This novelty picture book is basically a series of contrasting dos and don’ts with regard to taking care of an infant. For example, the correct way to "bond with baby" is to hold and coo at the baby, not attempt to engage him or her in a timed game of chess! And when you’re putting the baby down to play, put him or her in, say, a playpen, not a cage. When taking baby for a walk, put him or her in a baby backpack, not in an old potato sack.
I mean, sheesh, people — take care of the baby! Get this book.
Posted March 23, 2006 by Mariva in books, education, entertaining, entertainment, fun, gifts, home
A couple of years ago, I co-founded a major book club in my city. Because I was the facilitator, I felt it was my duty to read not only the chosen books but the study guides as well. It was like taking a literature class, without the term papers and oppressive overhead lighting.
Ah, those were the days. Now I’m in the middle of seven different books and can’t seem to finish any of them. Seriously. (I hope at least to finish Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix — yes, that’s Book 5, not even Book 6! — before the movie is released.)
If you’re an avid reader — even a lapsed one, like myself — you might be inspired by the myriad book clubs and resources available online:
- Adobe eBook Mall: Compendium of online bookstores and retailers selling reading material in PDF format.
- AmazonConnect: Amazon.com’s service that enables readers to receive messages directly from their favorite authors.
- Barnes & Noble Book Club Center: Free online reading groups with authors and other readers.
- Book Club Resource: Comprehensive guide to discount book clubs and reading groups.
- BookCrossing: Free, serendipitous exchange of books “in the wild.” (BookCrossing is related to other forms of “Internet-Guided Offline Recreation” — a phrase coined by yours truly — like Geocaching and Database Rituals.)
- Booksfree.com: Online library of paperbacks and audiobooks delivered to your door.
- BooksOnline.com: Clearinghouse of book clubs, including specialty interest and niche clubs.
- Dear Reader: Serial portions of books delivered via email — an innovative yet simple way for busy people to get started on good books.
- Google Reading Groups: Large compendium of reading groups and literature lovers. (A great place to start.)
- Great Novels Wikispaces community: Anyone can participate in this wiki (collaborative online resource) for readers.
- Internet Public Library: Handy reference site put together by librarians. It includes a reading room of free books and other materials.
- Library of Congress: An important national reference site that should be on everyone’s list of bookmarks.
- MSNBC Today’s Book Club: Big-media resource for books that includes feature stories, book excerpts, interviews and individual sections for different genres.
- National Education Association’s Read Across America: National tour to inspire kids to read and — laudably — to bring books back to Gulf Coast public schools.
- NetLibrary: Partnered with many public library systems to provide library card holders with access to free digital books.
- Oprah Winfrey is credited with inspiring millions of adults to read good books in the age of information overload and media exhaustion. You can view her list of cited books and join the famous Oprah Book Club. If you’re feeling crafty, check out the nifty free Bookmark Maker.
- Page By Page Books: Free repository of public domain books in easy-to-read page format.
- Playaway: Pre-loaded, self-playing digital audio books.
- Project Gutenberg: Free repository of public domain books in plain-text format.
- Reader’s Circle: Online directory of face-to-face book clubs and reading groups, including readers’ circles (free-form groups in which people attend with whatever they’re reading, which can include books, articles, magazines and other print materials).
- Readerville: An organizational resource for readers interested in participating in lively, lofty discussions of chosen books on a schedule.
- Spaghetti Book Club: Book reviews by kids for kids.
- SparkNotes: Free study guides for literature and other academic subjects.
- Target‘s "Ready, Sit, Read!" book club for kids. (You can use this $2-off book coupon until September 8, 2006.) Target also offers Bookmarked, a book club for grownups.
If this got you thinking about books and literary resources, you can listen to an imaginative discussion on libraries of the future. (Will they be bookless community centers chock-full of digital information, accessible from anywhere?)
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Posted March 17, 2006 by Mariva in books, community, education, innovations, resources, social
Sometimes the perfect thing to say has already been said by someone else. Lunch Mail has encapsulated this concept in an attractive product designed to uplift and inspire. Each Lunch Mail pack contains a set of thirty colorful business-card-size "surprise" messages. (Think fortune cookies or Cracker Jack prizes without the calories.) Created by the National Education Association, Lunch Mail was conceived as a special treat to include with children’s lunches, but I’ve seen them used for various grownup purposes, such as ice-breakers for cocktail parties, classes and business networking mixers.
Another creative company that showcases pearls of wisdom is quotable, which produces notecards, magnets, journals and other stationery products that feature memorable quotes. Especially notable by quotable (ha!) is the Truth Be Told card pack, which contains "48 calling cards to give to your friends or enemies." Personally, I could imagine handing someone "nice to meet you" or "you rock" more than, say, "enough already" or "you need a mint" — but that’s just me.
As they say, though, words are cheap, so if you’re feeling crafty, you can create your own cards and gifts from the sayings of various wordsmiths. One of my favorite inspirational quotes, featured in the movie Rushmore, is:
When one man, for whatever reason, has the opportunity to lead an extraordinary life, he has no right to keep it to himself.
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Posted March 15, 2006 by Mariva in arts, books, crafts, education, fun, gifts, innovations, social
If you’ve ever read the scandalous classic Peyton Place — now in its fiftieth anniversary — or seen the movie, you’ll no doubt be fascinated by the backstory. The death of author Grace Metalious seemed similar to that of Jack Kerouac. As long as they shared that tragic ending, it’s too bad she didn’t meet up with the Beats while she was alive; perhaps their own penchant for producing salacious works may have made her feel a bit less like an outcast, or at least a total outcast.
One thing that struck me about the movie (other than the horrifying stuff, of course, which is still shocking fifty years later) was the abundance of stock footage of nature scenes inserted abruptly — yet not displeasingly, and often accompanied by voiceover narration — throughout the movie. Did the filmmakers not have a budget back then to pay a guy with a camera to romp around the woods, capturing bucolic scenes of ducks on lakes and snow-blanketed towns? Or was it more a matter of color correction?
Posted March 13, 2006 by Mariva in arts, books, entertainment, movies
In the spacious but homey split-level basement of Cody’s Books, I always find myself drawn to the tables displaying the Cavallini & Co. stationery products. I can’t seem to keep my eyes off the passel of varicolored notebooks, notecards, carte postale (postcards), flashcards and magnets and accessories, among other products.
Many of the designs embody a neo-Victorian aesthetic, reminiscent of decoupage and Beatrix Potter books, whereas the frames have a distinctly Italianate flavor. Whole maps feature prominently in Cavallini’s collection of gift wrap, making the paper itself a gift. (With Cavallini map gift wrap, I don’t use tape and I advise the recipient to open the package carefully without tearing the paper.) The file folders are works of art, almost too beautiful to kept in a drawer.
Posted March 9, 2006 by Mariva in arts, books, decor, gifts, home
Oh, man. With all due respect to Crash, Reese Witherspoon and, um, Three 6 Mafia — Brokeback Mountain, Felicity Huffman and Dolly Parton were robbed. Oh, Oscar, I wish I knew how to quit you.
Also overlooked — by critics and the Academy alike — was Memoirs of a Geisha. While visually stunning in its cinematic narrative, Geisha may have made the critics happier if the screenplay had been bookended by (warning: spoilers — you may highlight the following white text if you’ve already seen the movie) scenes of New York City as the novel had been. I believe this would have made the story more cohesive and satisfying — especially to those who hadn’t read the book. But heck, what do I know.
The movie may not have inspired critics, but it did inspire Geisha fashion, renewed popularity of the Maiko Barbie Doll, and — from Fresh, makers of my new favorite scent — the "Memoirs of a Geisha" beauty collection.
Posted March 6, 2006 by Mariva in arts, beauty, books, fashion, gifts, movies, music
We use technology all the time — telephones, computers, the Internet, television, cars and so on — but do you ever wonder how these things work? What happens after you press the "on" button or turn the key? In plain English, Marshall Brain (yes, that’s his name, and no, it’s not a pseudonym) demystifies everyday things from tattoos to airplanes to cell phones in How Stuff Works, a fun reference book featured on today’s Oprah.
If you’re not sure whether to invest in the book, start with the HowStuffWorks.com web site, which features explanations of Google Earth (how it works), dieting (how it works) and chocolate (how it works), as well as experiential things you may not have even realized had explanations, like laughter and dreams.
Posted January 19, 2006 by Mariva in books, education, fun, innovations, resources