Kuroshio Sea video by John Rawlinson

I stumbled across this video tonight and was completely taken aback by its beauty.

It was filmed and edited by Jon Rawlinson and is titled Kuroshio Sea - 2nd largest aquarium tank in the world.  

It's best if watched full screen in HD.

What is Kiva.org & Who are the Happy Kiva Lenders?

In my effort to drum up support for the Happy Kiva Lenders Team I've had a lot of people ask me what Kiva.org does and why I'm so happy.

The conversations were fun, but I was starting to lose my voice so I threw together this 3 minute video called What Is Kiva & Who are the Happy Kiva Lenders?

Visit the Happy Kiva Lenders team at http://www.kiva.org/team/happy_kiva_lenders

The presentation in this video was created using Prezi.com and is available for sharing and remixing under the Creative Commons Attribution License at http://prezi.com/123760/.

Share and Enjoy!

Happy Kiva Lenders take on Unhappy Kiva Lenders in a Lending Cage Match!

I just started a new group on Kiva called Happy Kiva Lenders and lent $100 to get things started.  Please join the group and lend some money on Kiva.

This is in direct response to a group on Kiva called Unhappy Kiva Lenders who are complaining about a recent Kiva decision to support loans to US citizens but seem to put up very little of their own cash. (see below)

I urge everyone to join the Happy Kiva Lenders team and lend some money.  Hopefully a lot more than the paltry amount the Unhappy Kiva Lenders have put up.

Update July 4th 2009 9:56 AM: @bdarfler was kind enough to point out that you need to identify the happy kiva lenders team when you lend in order for it to count towards the team. So here are the 4 steps to get you started.

  1. Sign up on kiva.org. All you need is an email address.
  2. Visit the Happy Kiva Lenders page and click Join.
  3. Choose some people and make loans.
  4. When you check out be sure to choose Happy Kiva Lenders as the team! It looks like this on the checkout page.

Where this all started...

I came across a story while surfing the web tonight titled "The Inevitable Anti-U.S. Backlash Has Started On Kiva" and it really bothered me.

A few things you need to know:
  1. Kiva.org is Kiva is a person-to-person micro-lending website, empowering individuals to lend directly to unique entrepreneurs around the globe.
  2. Kiva used to only support loans to people outside the US. They recently changed that to allow lending to US people as well.
  3. According to wikipedia a "backlash is a popular negative reaction to something which has gained popularity, prominence, or influence."
  4. The Anti-U.S. Backlash article appears to be been authored by one person and plagiarized by another .  Here it is on TechCrunch by Leena Rao and here it is on TechDare by Steve
  5. Whoever actually wrote it. It's a load of crap.

The premise of the article is that Kiva's decision to start supporting lending to US residents, in addition to the 3rd world country residents they support, has resulted in a "Backlash." In other words there are some people that think Kiva should not support lending to people in the US.

Here's my problem.  Aually I have two:

  1. It's not a backlash. For it to be a backlash it has to be a "popular negative reaction." Another way to say it is, a backlash can't be a small group of people who have demonstrated a profound lack of willingness to do anything useful, but are willing to click on a link to say they think other people should it their way.
  2. It really bothers me when people who tell other people how to live their lives without setting an example of what they are preaching. 

If you look at the Kiva page for the Unhappy Kiva Lenders group mentioned in the backlash article you will see these statistics:

Number of Unhappy Kiva Lenders         381
Number of Loans                                     51
Number of Loans per Member                0.13
Total Amount Loaned                           $1,375.00

The people in that group have donated an average of $3.54 per person. (Yes three dollars and fifty four cents). The large majority of them, 328, have never donated a penny!

I wouldn’t call this a backlash, I’d call it TechCrunch pushing a story about the barely perceptible sound of people who like to whine and tell other people how to live their lives without putting any of their own skin in the game.  And now these people are getting press which might actually make them popular!

Update July 4th 2009 9pm: A few people have pointed out that Kiva allows people to lend without attaching those loans to a team. That means many, if not all of the Unhappy Kiva Lenders probably (almost definitely) lent more than the total $1,375 attributed to the Unhappy Kiva Lenders Team.  So my previous statements about them being a bunch of do-nothing-whiners is probably very inaccurate. That said, I still completely disagree with the position that they would stop others from lending to US residents via Kiva.

So please consider joining the Happy Kiva Lenders and showing your support for lending to whomever you want to support!

Before the Rains Came

Alex Conner and our July Garden

I have no memory of a time when it rained as long as it has this summer.  I've discovered that I actually prefer riding my bike in the rain because I stay cooler.  But not everything is better in the rain.  The kids and our garden miss the sun. 

Christine and I have taken to describing events based on when they happened. Either before or after the rains came.  So it's only fitting that this garden update be in those terms.

Before the rains came
the boys ran and played and laughed in the sun.

Before the rains came
we planted the seeds.

Before the rains came
we tilled the ground.

Before the rains came
we had to water every day
or the seedlings would die.

Before the rains came
the seedlings died.

Before the rains came
we went to the store to buy replacement plants.

And then the rains came...

Since the rains came
the ground is too wet to plant.

Since the rains came
our pots lie fallow. 

Since the rains came
the land we tilled has turned into a swamp..

And once the rain stopped for a few hours...

While the rains stopped
we drained the water from the pots.

While the rains stopped
we scrambled to plant our garden.

While the rains stopped
the boys ran and played and laughed in the sun.

But that was a only for a short time...

Before the rains came again...

The Great Letter Debate


Conner loves to practice letters. He knows the letters C, O, and P and is so eager to learn more letters he begs us to sit and do flashcards with him. Some of these sessions last up to an hour. He's very motivated since his big brother can now do all the letters. 

Here's how it works. Conner insists on sitting in a chair while I show him the flash cards. If he knows the letter he yells it out.  If he doesn't he stealthily looks over to his brother for help. Alex then swoops in and whispers the answer to him. This lead to the following event:

Me: "Ok Conner next letter."

Conner: [Screams] "C!"

Me: "Good!" [turns over the next flash card]

Conner: [Screams] "O!"

Me: "Excellent!" [turns over the next flash card]

Conner: [eyes peak over at Alex]

Alex: [swoops in and whispers] "Z"

Conner: [confidently to Alex] "That's not C"

Alex: [swoops back in and whispers] "Zeeee"

Conner: [More defiantly looking at Alex] "That's not a C!"

Alex: [swoops back in again and whispers] "No ZZeeeeeee"

Conner: "Stop it Alex! I know that's not a C!!!"

This went on a few more times until it became clear that Conner had no knowledge that a letter "Z" existed, and if I didn't intercede he was going to attempt to physically stop Alex from giving him what he believed to be the wrong answer.  So, stifling back giggles over the preceding dialog I introduced Conner to Zebras, Zoos and Zippy the wonder slug.

A few days have passed since that session and Conner still knows the letter Z. He can identify it in a split second. Yet I've shown him the letter H in calm situations at least 30 times and he still doesn't recognize it.

Never has it been more apparent that heightened emotion facilitates learning than with the way that Conner learned the letter Z.