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Freecycle

Logo3This non-profit movement allows you to purge unwanted items from your basement without the hassle of a garage sale or the expense of a classified ad. The trade-off is that you have to GIVE it away. The Freecycle Network was started in May 2003 to promote waste reduction in Tucson's downtown and decrease landfills. Whether you wish to get a lawnmower, piano, lazy-boy or fax machine, Freecycle helps you find a taker. The only rules: Everything posted must be free, legal, and appropriate for all ages. You can also choose to give your stuff away to a non-profit organization. Membership is free"”just look to signup in your region.

Political Social Network: Essembly

EssemblyI love this "fiercely non-partisan" social network that allows politically-obsessed individuals to connect, communicate constructively and organize to take action. It's a chance to voice your opinion about controversial issues. A place that forces you to figure out what you believe. A space for meaningful conversation anytime of the day. And you can do it all without the annoying clutter of ads, personals and other screen-crap. Believe me, lounging online with people that don't agree with you is perhaps the best way to sharpen your argument anyway. This is Essembly's specialty.

Christine Peloquin

For those attracted to fresh textures, find some time to explore the work of Christine Peloquin, my personal favorite. Inspired by her French-Canadian ancestors who immigrated to work long hours at the textile mills during the industrial revolution, Christine claims to have a "personal intimacy" with fabrics and paper. She begins with a wood panel, then covers it with either antique (burlap, tea towels, tablecloths) or contemporary (velvets, polyester, cotton) fabrics, and then paints using charcoal, acrylics, tints and glazes. The two collections–collages and figures–are innovative and evocative, each whispering a message about the passage of time, the right to change, and the secrets that some choose to keep. With 15 years of exhibit history and countless awards across the southeast region, her online works are often sold before I can even take a peek. Visit gallery exhibitions in Florida, Tennessee and Alabama.

Tekkeon MyTalker


It's tough to keep up with technology's treadmill–it just keeps on going. And here's another lightweight gadget, another cord, another attachment, another thing to worry about having stolen. But it's pretty darn handy for long trips. Essentially turning your MP3 player into Bluetooth headset, MyTalker clips to your collar (instant speaker) and plugs to your audio jack (instant listening) Eliminating cord-crossing and frantic juggling, this thing will even interrupt your music to announce an incoming call, so you won't miss a thing. Just keep your phone close-by. The rechargeable lithium polymer battery provides up to five hours of talk time and 12 hours of standby time.

Spencer Tunick

American photographer Spencer Tunick has been taking pictures of nude people in public places since 1992, and apparently the mix of red, white and blue (it's really what our skin looks like!) hues all piled together hasn't given him any nightmares yet. This time, he chose Dusseldorf as the backdrop for his latest project. This particular installation was part of Quadrenniale 06, the first edition of an art festival which is set to take place every four years. And on the one hand, I'm like: Get over yourself. Photographing nude people is so overdone. But his juxtaposition of these bodies with large, urban structures is worth a look. Sign up to participate here.

Luxe Guides

With the biggest collection of cocky tag lines I've seen in a while, pocket-size Luxe Guides are very fond of themselves, but I can see why. Covering 16 cities in Asia and Australia, they claim to be the point where "style meets sass" and provide "lean, mean and on the scene" suggestions for shops, restaurants and hotels, unique services and lifestyle options. They're updated twice a year, written and edited by city residents and approved by a publisher visit. And finally, LUXE accepts absolutely zero paid advertising, free services or products, backhanders or gratuities. Authentic? Definitely. But let's be clear, these aren't really for backpackers, unless you're a trustafarian. Even the Web site says markets them by saying: "if you're fed up with guides written by people who wear their luggage," so you've been warned.

The Hospitality Club


It sounds too good to be true. A system where accommodating souls across the seven continents volunteer to put you, a complete stranger, up for a night or two (and maybe even show you around town), in the interest of cross-cultural learning, friendship and increasing the peace on our planet. But this is Hospitality Club. There is no cost, no obligation to host (although they obviously encourage this), your email address remains hidden and signing up is a breeze. Not everyone is up for this kind of personal space invasion, and I know plenty who would never consider it, but I like their energy: giving cynicism the kibosh and letting karma guide your actions. The truth is that for a long-term budget traveler, this is an unrivaled opportunity. So what’s with the pineapple? It’s the international symbol for hospitality. Duh.

What The Bleep Do We Know?


That's not a typo. It's a film. And it entered our conscious minds a few years ago, but would you believe there are still people who haven't seen it (i.e. if you are one of these people, stop reading and rent now). Exceeding expectations of its own producers, this documentary/story/animation, combines the theories of quantum physicists, neurologists, scientists and psychics, attempting to explain that our experience with the world is based on our own definition of reality; that the power of our thoughts is actually much stronger than we've been led to believe. Think of it like Tony Robbins with more science and less cheese. Sometimes it's credible and sometimes a little whack, but nevertheless, inspiring and empowering at the most fundamental level. Pay no attention to guffawing critics and practical thinkers"”they're stuck in their own boring reality.

Sozopol: Bulgaria

For a bargain tropical breeze, a striking blend of cobblestones and bikinis and $20/night Black-sea-views, find your way to Sozopol on the coast in Bulgaria. This might be one of the best-fighting-to-be-kept secrets in Eastern Europe. Bulgarians will tell you its crowded, and the beach is, but it's practically deserted compared to an American resort. Here, women go topless, skinny-dipping is practically encouraged and you can drink wherever you please. Lunch will cost you about a dollar and drinks are equally affordable. Of course, there are trade-offs. Service is far from impeccable, club sandwiches are rare and it costs to go to the bathroom. Small sacrifices for the pleasures that await. I recommend the seafood risotto and the second floor suite at Dr. Divalli's Bistro. Hint: Fly into Bourgas, take a 45 minutes bus ride there, then stroll along Old Town's Apolonia street until you hit the sea. Yes, yes, there's no official web site, but that's the point"”it's still a hidden gem!

Roadstor

For anyone who's traveled for more than a month, particularly across some remote deserts with no smelly Internet cafe in site, I'm sure you've cursed the digital world. While there are infinite advantages to that new CanonSD300 you just bought, when losing your camera means losing your photos, and storage is limited, the situation sucks. Imperfect solutions, like laptops (heavy), extra cards (finite) and hard-drives (expensive) will work, but provide no backup. Micro Solutions' Roadstor, a CD-writer/DVD-player combo, will apparently keep us smiling both in front of the camera and behind it, allowing you to burn CDs, and reading MultiMedia Card, Secure Digital, Memory Stick, SmartMedia, CompactFlash Types I/II and IBM Microdrive formats. Basically, Roadstor allows you to download photos and burn cds without a computer. There's no visual screen, but that's the breaks.

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