Saturday’s Shout-Out: Operation Paperback

Any other avid readers out there with a plethora of books just laying around, gathering dust? If you know you’re not going to read that James Patterson thriller again there’s not much point in keeping the book on your shelf. And while it’s easy to donate your books to the local library or Goodwill, have you considered sending your books to military folks who are desperate for something good to read?

Earlier this week I found out about Operation Paperback, a Pennsylvania-based non-profit organization devoted to getting reading material to U.S. troops deployed overseas. They accept monetary donations, of course, but the cool thing about them is that you can sign up to be a volunteer shipper and send your gently used books to the troops. These folks make it easy to get your books to the right people, too:

“Once you have registered with us, you can log in and request addresses of troops overseas using our automated system. Input the genres you have on hand (mysteries, Westerns, etc.) and our system will generate a customized list of names for your use. Label your books and insert our standard shipping letter (or your own personal note). Pack and address your box using the names we provide. Then head to the Post Office to mail your box. It’s that simple!”

I’m a voracious reader, but I’m not much of a book-buyer – I’m a library kid, which is a topic for another Saturday’s Shout-Out. That being said, I love the idea behind Operation Paperback: anything that supports reading as a hobby AND supports the troops sounds fabulous to me.

So if you’re avoiding tackling that overstuffed Ikea bookcase because you don’t know what to do with all those Sidney Sheldon and Clive Cussler novels, go check out Operation Paperback.

Friday’s Hot Tip

Yes, it’s back. October was a bit hellacious and I wasn’t particularly motivated to blog on a regular basis. Anytime I go for a couple weeks without blogging T-Wizzle decides I am done with it, which annoys me enough to rebel and post several items. So I guess we can thank her for the new posts.

So many books, movies, and CDs…so little time. I have a hard time keeping up with all the authors, music groups, and actors that I enjoy watching/listening to/reading. Sometimes it will be months before I discover that a favorite author has a new book, or a band has released a new album. I’m not necessarily an early adopter, mind you, but I do like to be in the loop.

And guess what? There is a website that helps me stay in the loop without me having to do a damn thing. MyHound keeps tabs on all your favorite authors, musicians, actors/actresses, and even video games. When a new movie or DVD with Clive Owen comes out, I get an e-mail telling me the release date along with a link so I can find out more.

MyHound is free to sign up and free to maintain, and there’s several ways you can find out what’s happening:

  • Calendar – Click here to find out what events are happening in your neck of the woods today, tomorrow, next week, or next month. This feature seems to work best for major metropolitan areas, and I imagine it would be very handy for travelers looking for something fun while in New York, DC, or LA.
  • Recommender – Once you’ve registered and added several alerts to your account, you can use the Recommender to find new authors, artists, and movies to check out. I just ran the Recommender on my account and got a list that included U2 (love them), Radiohead (don’t know that much but I am interested), Rufus Wainwright (want to hear more of his work – Oh Beth! Help me out here!), Terry Pratchett (oddly enough I read one of his books earlier this year and enjoyed it a lot), and Stephen Colbert (ehh).
  • Search – Use the search engine to find your favorite performers/artists/authors, then peruse the list that pops up with all their recent happenings. A box on the left lets you sign up for e-mail alerts on that particular artist/author.

You don’t even have to register for MyHound in order to get the e-mail alerts, either. Registering does allow you to manage your alert subscriptions, however. Since it’s free it won’t kill you to sign up.

Go check out MyHound and see whatcha think. You’ll thank me when you get that e-mail reminding you that [your favorite rockstar ever] is coming to town.

Slaving Away over a Hot Project

I have put myself on lockdown with blogging while I frantically finish a freelance project. Through Guru.com, a job website for freelancers, I found a gig writing what amounts to Cliff Notes. I’m sure you remember Cliff Notes. They are those thin yellow books that you bought in high school to either help you understand the finer points of Pride and Prejudice, or to compensate for the fact that you didn’t read the book before the English Lit final.

Fortunately I got to choose my assignment from a list of books. I picked a fantasy novel that was actually quite good and very funny. Now I’m in the thick of writing very long-winded summaries of the action, which is taking much longer than I anticipated. With each summary comes an analysis section, where I have to write something quasi-intelligent such as “the jackass symbolizes the plight of humanity during the Reagan years” and that sort of thing. There’s only a couple days left before the deadline, so here’s to Moxie channeling her mad skills at writing exceptionally well under pressure.

There are some other fun, interesting developments that need to be documented, but I will save those for post-deadline blogging. Until then, please feel free to entertain yourself by reading some Grant Miller or perhaps sipping on a little Coffey. You’ll find their links to the right.