Technology Changing the Way You Read? Win Cash for Your Thoughts

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Silicon Valley Reads 2014 Essay and Poetry ContestHas technology changed the way you read for better? Worse? You, or someone you know from middle school to adult, can win cash by sharing your insights in an essay or poem in the 2014 Silicon Valley Reads essay and poetry contest, co-sponsored by the Cupertino Library and the Cupertino Library Foundation (CLF). The deadline is just four weeks away, on March 17.

The annual essay contest is open to Cupertino adults and teens in grades 9-12, and focuses on responses to a question springing forth from the two featured books from the 2014 Silicon Valley Reads program. This year’s book selections are: The Shallows: What is the Internet Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr, and Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan.

This year’s essay contest question is: “Is technology changing the way you read and access information? Is this bad or good?” [Read more…]

The Kindness Challenge Day 5 and Beyond

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From the “Free Hugs Campaign” YouTube video.

In honor of Valentine’s Day and Day 5 of Random Acts of Kindness Week, today’s Kindness Challenge is to give an extra someone a hug. Yes, you are going to hug the ones you love (I hope), but why not extend a hug to someone you wouldn’t normally hug? There may be someone out there who really needs it.

“I have learned there is more power in a good strong hug than in a thousand meaningful words,” novelist Ann Hood is quoted as  saying, and I know in my own life that’s been true. I don’t remember a word people said to me after my father passed away more than 20 years ago, but I do remember the hugs I was fortunate to receive. [Read more…]

The Kindness Challenge Day 4

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A few of Shannon Weber’s loveyou2.org notes.

Sometimes I think the massive onslaught of electronic messages we see all day long starts to blend together like some kind of digital stew in our brains. Bits and bytes start to swirl together and end up getting lost in the mix. So when an actual heartfelt paper message crosses our path, one that expresses authentic feeling—love, admiration, thanks, congratulations, encouragement—that stops us for a moment and stays with us for a long time. I guess electronic heartfelt messages stand out from the rest, too, but there is something about a note, card or good-old-fashioned letter that stands out as special.

Today’s Kindness Challenge, as part of Random Acts of Kindness Week, is to write a note, card or letter to someone. It could be someone you know now, someone from your past, or even a stranger. Is there a teacher you want to thank? An old friend you could share how you really feel about your friendship? A family member you haven’t spoken to in awhile? Or the very people you share a roof with? [Read more…]

The Kindness Challenge Day 3

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random-acts-of-kindness-week-random-acts-of-kindness-foundationIt’s Day 3 of Random Acts of Kindness Week, and time for a third Kindness Challenge. Every day this week I’m issuing the challenges to encourage us to start a wave of kindness through our communities and the world.

On Monday I encouraged readers to smile a little more. Tuesday’s challenge was to have lunch with someone you don’t normally eat with. Today’s challenge: let someone behind you in line jump ahead of you. The extra twist is to tell the person you’re doing it for Random Acts of Kindness Week, and ask them to “pay it forward” by doing something kind for someone else. [Read more…]

The Kindness Challenge Day 2

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random-acts-of-kindness-week-smiling-is-good-for-you-science-of-smiling-by-pam-marino-good-neighbor-storiesIt’s Random Acts of Kindness Week, Day 2, and each day I am issuing readers a “Kindness Challenge,” some simple act to spread kindness and cheer to friends and strangers you come across during your day.

Yesterday I challenged readers to smile at one extra person during the day. Did you know that smiling gives you the same (if not better) effect on your brain as eating chocolate, and that the relaxing effect of smiling is similar to getting a good night’s sleep? People who smile more are generally healthier and live longer than people who don’t. [Read more…]

Be Kind! Random Acts of Kindness Week Kicks Off

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Image by the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation.

Kindness is a popular Internet topic. People are consistently searching the word “kindness,” which I know personally since the Good Neighbor Stories “Be Kind: Kindness Ideas” page is usually the most viewed on the site every single day. It’s heartening to know that there are folks out there who actively seek to be kind in a world where the bad can at times seem to overshadow the good. But this week the good will hopefully shine above all in a wave of kindness, thanks to International Random Acts of Kindness (RAK) Week, which kicks off today and ends on Sunday.

For 19 years the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation and others have promoted the event, which always falls during the week of Valentine’s Day. The idea is to promote kindness by encouraging people and organizations to perform good deeds for others around them, both those they know and total strangers. The acts can range from simple things like smiling at people, to more involved community volunteering. The foundation has a list of 10 ideas for this year’s week, plus dozens more for places like the home, school, and office, as well as hundreds more ideas on its site. Of course you can always check out my “Be Kind” page for more ideas. [Read more…]

Five Ways to be a Good Neighbor in February

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national-heart-month-american-heart-association-american-heart-monthThere are many problems we can’t individually solve, from a possible mega-drought in California to the entertaining-but-possibly-serious snafus at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. We can’t fix those head-scratching bathrooms in Sochi (!), but we can look around our own communities and find something we can fix, or at least take steps toward a positive resolution. Here are five ways you can help your own community or circle of influence in February.

1. Mend a Broken Heart: This is the 50th Anniversary of American Heart Month. The American Heart Association (AHA) is teaming up with Walgreens to offer free blood pressure screenings all during February. According to the AHA, unchecked blood pressure can seriously damage arteries, the heart and other organs. Get checked, and make sure those you love get checked, too. And consider readying yourself to one day save a life by signing up for a CPR course. The AHA offers many levels of training, including the basic “Friends and Family.” The AHA website allows you to search by zip code for classes, and you can even get CPR training online at your convenience. [Read more…]