Wednesday Website Wack – Focus. Can you?

There’s been talk, so much talk – some might say, “too much talking.”
It’s no secret to anyone that I am a practicing yogi, I try and attend at least one class per week.  I am in an out of schools as often as a kid with a Dad in the Navy but my level of enthusiasm for the flexibility, focus, stamina and stillness that yoga brings into my life never waivers, I am committed to the cause not the teacher or the class.  Each week I afford myself some time to recollect my thoughts, stretch my muscles, sit still and consciously breath.
Almost a decade ago, I took breathing to a whole new level.  I took the meditative principle out of the yoga classroom and into my everyday life.  It’s called meditation. I knew that there was something special in sitting still for a time and focusing on just one thing, whether I could achieve that goal, even for a minute, only practice and time would tell.  I couldn’t do it alone and instead I enrolled in a 10 day intensive Vipassana course.   Vipassana is a technique of self-observation, it’s one way to meditate.  The course provides guided, detailed instruction on how to travel through the conscious mind to the unconscious mind to gain control of our thoughts, our actions and our reactions in the face of any and every situation that arises, it is for EVERYONE.  It took me 10 years of deliberation to enrol and since my initial instruction I have returned once to re-align my meditation practice.
Is this a Wednesday Website Wack? Yes, it is.  This week on Lifehacker they posted A Guide to Meditation for the Rest of Us.  Lifehacker is an all round ‘how to’ kind of website, helping anyone get through life more easily through simple instruction.  Their posts are often technical (especially finding the best apps for Blah) but they also travel to other genres of day to day such as how to be fiscally responsible, reduce your credit card debt, practice creativity or solve your procrastination issues (ironic, especially if you are in the midst of a deadline and check Lifehacker to assist with the distractions).  It’s an extremely valuable resource for the most part and they have a great Guide on Meditation here.
As it states, you will require nothing.  Start with a 2 minute practice.  There will always be a distraction so it doesn’t really matter when/where you start but you need to be non-contactable and comfortable.  Meditation is free medicine for anxiety, stress, sleep deprivation, anger, depression and it is a way to start or continue a self-discovery of who we are and accepting whatever we find, without judgement.
Everyday I intend to meditate – some days I do and some days I forget or get distracted or feel alienated by the daunting process of focusing my attention on this one small thing when I have so many other things to do.  If I remember that meditation is a tool for awareness, above anything else, it often brings me back to the cause which is self-awareness and compassion which ultimately helps me with everyday occurrences such as Road Rage and Judgement on anyone and everyone! If only you knew me before I discovered Yoga.
Go forth and click.

note: this is from a Tiny Newsletter publication, Wednesday Website Wack.  You can sign up here if you want regular updates on what’s right about the internet!

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Wednesday Website Wack – Inferior on Interiors

Less clutter, more colour, minimise, expand, dress up, feature walls, hue, mood boards and feng shui are all common in the interior design vernacular but for me, I find it altogether confusing and consuming.  How many different styles of cushion cover really look good on the one couch? I feel that I am not doing one thing wrong, I feel that I am doing it ALL wrong.

A few weeks back stylist Megan Morton featured as a guest blogger on popular daily Melbourne based website The Design Files, you can see her posts here.  Megan gave such a great summary over 5 days of the things to take into account when making changes to your home that I finally feel empowered to make some decisions, even in my pokey rental, that will make me feel blessed every time I walk into my home.  Her love of all things design, teaching and colour did not finish there, she has also contributed to a new design website, Interiors Insider, which I think is a fresh approach to sharing information relating to home renovation and anything that fits within the Grand Designs banner.  Also this website is Australian based which does matter to locals where stockists and builders are concerned.

Megan quotes Andre3000 as one of her ideal clients. Check that burst of colour.
photo by: Jeff Kravitz

I also have a soft cushioning for Apartment Therapy, just for being the first of its kind and so encyclopaedic for anything home design. I particularly appreciate their posts on storage solutions and decluttering small spaces, let’s face it, none of us have enough room and, probably never will, so taking this advice is perfect.  As with most design websites, the pictures are communicating with our aesthetic nature. A great example of this is Google Images, try the experiment below next time you wanna make a room ignite.

EXPERIMENT: Go to google images here, type any colour idea with a room you intend to spruce to another level and wallah, amazing reference tools to accommodate EVERY preference.

Go forth and click.

If you want more websites to wack, you can sign up for the Wednesday Website Wack newsletter here.  You will be very welcome.

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Kickstart my heart

Once the beginning of a famous rock motto by Motley Crue, “Kickstart my heart” has always been an instant motivator to get my head rolling and methodically air banging. I am 100% sure that was the intended purpose. I can’t say I was a ‘Crue’ member but I can admit freely that I never get sick of the guitar licks, massive Tommy Lee drums and the drama surrounding the group AND all those tatts! This 1989 motto lives on, not just in the rock arena but constantly in my bones whenever I feel I need a boost of energy or ideas. Play it using the link, you’ll see what I mean.

Kickstarter, the online creative fundraising platform is equal to the Crue song in it’s energy and dedication to a cause. It allows any company or individual to pitch any idea and publicly raise funds accordingly. Some ideas are product inventions like a new city bicycle design or a collapsible sunglasses case while the creative projects are a broad mix of collaborations and public art, including documentary films. I first stumbled across Kickstarter via the industrial design website Core77, it seems they have project partners that help to publicise new projects. The idea was a converter for the the ipod nano into a functional wristwatch, it looked schmick and desirable, that’s all I needed really. Most recently though I discovered the Elevation Dock+.

For anyone that has ever used a docking system for their iphone/ipod this invention is set to take Apple mobile products to another level. Read the benefits. The popularity of the funding from pledgers/backers speaks for itself. They raised almost $1.5m from over 12,000 supporters to get the product into production.  There are varying levels of support, the more money you pledge the bigger the benefit when the product or idea goes into production.

Less shiny but more earthy is Kiva, a non-for-profit organisation that similarly garners support for grassroots projects to alleviate poverty and create empowerment and opportunities for people that need a kick start for their business. The major difference here is that the money offered is in the form of a loan. Supporting farming, food stalls, crafts, transportation methods, you can help anyone from anywhere with any business for just $25 and there is a 98% chance of getting the money back. Great odds for a reinvestment.

Both these ideas make me think how a little help can go a massive distance and if you really want something then pay for it and you will not only get it first but you will know that you contributed to a fresh idea that would make your own or someone else’s life better. Even more exciting would be a friend raising funds to support their idea through to fruition using the Kickstarter project page, it really separates the ‘gonnas’ from the ‘doers’.

Go forth and click.

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Peanut Butter

For the most part I am a peanut butter purist.  Fresh.  Usually available from market delis where they pour a bag of raw peanuts into a processor, the dial set to medium crunchy.  A pooey goo without the pong comes flowing, thick and slow.  My attention span is heightened, I love to watch.  Best $5 spent.

My coeliac state leaves me with little option for fresh bread.  Peanut butter is the best mask of dodgy, crumbling compacted baked dough.  When I discovered Matisse gluten-free bread and Fatto a Mano in Collingwood the flavour mask became unnecessary.  Don’t get me wrong, I still consider fresh peanut butter on toast a luxury but it’s not a necessity.

The point being, I have a new luxury.  The supermarket aisle has always been privvy to an M&M section, they are owned by Mars afterall.  We started with plain and peanut varieties, brown and yellow packs, not the most marketable packaging but I guess the crunch and flavour won us over plus, the original advertising of M&Ms was ingenious, remember?  “Melts in your mouth, not in your hand”.  Some years later a blue pack was introduced with almost a rice bubble texture inside, not quite biscuit but not all air.  The texture was heaven, the packaging as equally unappealing as the original counterparts in play-do blue.  Since then we have been marketed with countless varieties, including the classic Christmas M&M’s of red, white and green beads.

This week I was in Sydney, my friend introduced me to the new Peanut Butter M&M flavour.  Holy mother of smooth texture inside a crunchy colourful outershell.    M&Ms are not officially gluten free.  US brand manufacturing differs from Australian sources which use wheat starch.  That’s why the imported packaging wooed me.  I haven’t seen the same available in Melbourne but I will be on the look-out from now, especially considering that they have just released the new coconut flavour.  M&mmmmmmmmmmm.

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Are you worthy of the internet?

While the internet has a plethora of content worth noting, most of which I tend to impart from this very newsletter to infinity and beyond, it’s so easy to get clicking on crappy websites with no real sense of purpose of their own and a regeneration of content already on high rotation.

A tweet today by @brainpicker read like this, “if you aren’t reading @ListsOfNote, you’re bad at the Internet”.  When she’s right, she’s right.  Although she missed that there is a related website, Letters of Note, that is equally as thought provoking and brilliant.  The best thing about the net is simple ideas gone viral and having a community to share them with, whether it’s social media or really social.

Rather than harp on about how riveting and positively toxic these two websites are, I am going to share with you a snippet of my favourites from both.  This will give you the heads up on what you are about to encounter when you go forth and click for yourself.

First up, a list written by Sid Vicious, 12 things that make Nancy so great.  My favourite of all is too dirty to share, you will figure it out soon enough.

It must be love

http://www.listsofnote.com/2012/02/what-makes-nancy-so-great.html

I found a List of Note from revered author, David Foster Wallace.  I am always on the hunt for new vocabulary, always taking notes from books about words that describe exactly the sentiment intended instead of always having to revert to the same adjectives.  This is just a list of words but it offers great insight into the mind of DFW, if nothing else for the words that inspired his literature.

http://www.listsofnote.com/2011/12/david-foster-wallaces-word-lists.html

The notable feature of  Letters of Note are the stories within.  I learnt today that before Jeff Buckley’s Grace was published he had an encounter with Bob Dylan, which he shared in the form of an impersonation at one of his own shows.  Turns out this letter is an apology to Bob himself who heard an ‘out of context’ edition of the performance and was insulted.  It’s just amazing to read the thoughts of Jeff Buckley, especially knowing what came after, the success of the record and his death.

http://www.lettersofnote.com/2011/11/dear-bob.html

Straight from 1967 and a 20 year old David Bowie comes this very personal and grateful letter to an American fan wishing to start the David Bowie fanclub.  He discusses the perception he has of America through media and his real name.

http://www.lettersofnote.com/2009/12/my-real-name-is-david-jones.html

You won’t regret signing up for the Letters of Note and Lists of Note newsletter, which also come compliments of Tiny Letter.  They are a real hit.

Go Forth and Click.

If you wish to receive this newsletter in your inbox before the masses then sign up to my Tiny Letter, Wednesday Website Wack right here, it tickles weekly.

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Wednesday Website Wack – Rolling a tumblr

Allison and I met last year.  She was my first real connection with a random person on the internet, crazy.  I fell in love with her poetic storytelling, creative combinations of words, her typewriter font and most of all her energy to write and post.  We took our interest in each other offline and since have posted tangible objects and letters as a way to communicate to and fro, Wisconsin to Melbourne.  It’s a sporadic tendency without expectation.  She uses tumblr.

Tumblr is a blog template for wo/men of all types.  Literally.  Emily asked me this week, “do I pinterest?”  “No” I replied, “I tumble“.  I tumble as a way to express my visual and aural loves, especially design, art, food and music.  In the process I have uncovered a whole world of Allison types that are creatively expressive and motivated.  Tumblr gives surfing the net some purpose, it can be a snapshot of anything you have going on at the time.  You can create a look book or a wishlist or an encyclopaedic reference of something very specific.  Felix Inclusis colour codes art images to create a rainbow of art, it looks hot and it serves as a great visual reference.

Tumblr has had some bad press in the past but I say BOO.  It’s whatever you make it; a curated gallery, portfolio, music sharing, a link library or a search engine, plus it has an undertone of hilarity, I leave you here with the link to The Cosby Sweater Project.

Because I love to share, here are the images of 3 artists I have discovered as part of my tumblring addiction. They are Claire Whitney (Melbourne), Julien Picaud and photographer, William Wegman (in that order).

Go forth and click.

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Wednesday Website Wack published by Tiny Letter

Sent: 01/31/2012
Subject: Stories Gone Wild & Long

I am a frequent attendant of Women of Letters, a monthly event run by two Melbourne ladies, Michaela McGuire and Marieke Hardy.  It’s $20, it gets me out of East St Kilda on a Sunday afternoon and the stories I hear astound and inspire me.  Oh, and ultimately they raise stacks of cash to support Edgar’s Mission, a farm animal sanctuary.

Last Sunday we were met with great talent such as Chrissie Swan (Broadcaster), Emilie Zoey Baker (slam poet extraordinaire) and Annabel Crabb.  There were a few others but I felt that these three truly stood out.  Emilie and Annabel were especially enticing, it was the personal nature of their stories, the poetry with which they were told and the ability to flesh out the details without being boring.

I pondered something that I could connect my love of public story telling with the net….online storytelling. I have had some favourites up my sleeve for a while, opportunities for a long read should win over the time-wasting digital snippets we are so accustomed.  Somewhere between a book and a blog post, a long read will give you the insight about a topic or person that will help you lose yourself in a new world of words, until the period at the end directs you to again walk with purpose.

Longreads.com is dedicated to time-poor readers, it categorises all forms of writing based on word count/approximate reading time.  They are true to their name-sake too, nothing less than 1500 words.  They have a subscriber feed and they gather stories from all my old favourite news websites, journals and magazines, NYT, Atlantic, Harpers…etc.  There is a lot going on with this website, click around, type in some search terms and dig deeper.  No time – here’s one link to a biography/eulogy about Steve Jobs.

Much closer to the local hood is Meanjin, a special quarterly journal, the long reads are delineated by form; fiction, essays, memoir and poetry.  Many of the Australian journalists and authors I respect and seek out write for Meanjin.  It’s a 70 year old publication with funding from Melbourne University and the website is updated daily.  So much to read, almost overwhelming, but you can get around that by scanning one line and continuing that exercise until completion! Another period for you to look out for, the one with ultimate freedom at the end of the last sentence.

Want more, reply email.  I have a list as long as my leg!

Go forth and click!

You can subscribe to Wednesday Website Wack here, if it tickles your weekly fancy.

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