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7 New Things I Learned This Week

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In a world where every minute of every day we are exposed to non-stop information from a myriad stream of sources, this week there were moments when I sincerely felt I'd reached the point of information overload.

Generally, if you ask me what I consider fun, I'd say "learning something new." Then I'd smile. Not what others might consider their way of having fun. Being Aquarian, an air sign, I love to bring ideas down to earth, to share with others. So when I felt overwhelmed, I stopped to look at what stood out, picking the seven most interesting and fun things I actually heard or learned about this week, also making note of how they showed up for me.

The first, was all about books. In my piece on my love of bookstores, I openly declared that I adore real books and don't enjoy reading them online. Although I'm apparently in the minority, I was thrilled to learn about two projects that are determined to honour and preserve the printed book.

The first story was about a modern day "Noah", Brewster Kahle, who personally has invested $3 million to buy and operate a real book repository. "We want to collect one copy of every book. You can never tell what is going to paint the portrait of a culture," Kahle told the New York Times. Each week, 20,000 new volumes arrive, many of them donations from libraries and universities delighted to find a home for material that no longer has a place in the Internet age. "Wow" I thought. "How incredible that someone would undertake such a monumental task." It left me smiling and definitely wanting to pass it on.

Then I heard about a small individual project started three years ago in Wisconsin, by Todd Bol. Called Little Free Library, today it has grown to include locations in at least 28 states and six countries including Canada, Australia and Afghanistan, with people from more than a dozen other countries expressing interest, according to Bol. The premise: take a book, return a book. What a simple, yet exceptional way, to engage people and contribute to building community. Both of these stories came to me via the Internet from emails. Glad I clicked on them.

Second thing I found really interesting, was revealed in a face-to-face conversation - my all time favourite way of communicating - by a young man I'd just met, who himself had literally just heard about this on the radio. A study by German researchers discovered that when people glanced at the colour green for two seconds before doing a creative task, it actually boosted their creative output in comparison to briefly looking at other colours, like white, grey, red, and blue. As someone involved in all kinds of creative undertakings, I was fascinated by this new bit of colour information. As I write, I'm trying it out by looking at a wonderful green elephant plant.

Number three came in one of my favourite daily emails, Gaping Void, with a tongue-in-cheek look at how we don't really talk to each other anymore. The stats are pretty wild. As author Hugh MacLeod wrote, "Truth is we live in a world dominated by mobile phones - there are actually more phones than there are people in the U.S. - yet we barely speak to each other anymore." Really? More cell phones than people in the U.S.! I got the details. According to a piece in the New York Times, there are 327.6 million wireless customer connections, equal to 103.9 percent of the United States population. Honestly, for me this wasn't really that much fun to learn about. I'm with Hugh when he says, "Our phones have become everything but a device to speak into (unless you're one of the iPhoners who talk to Siri).  Phone or no phone, we should talk more, don't you think?" I do think.

The fourth actually took me by surprise. Personally, I support many charities and organizations that do amazing humanitarian work around the world and really thought I was well-versed in who was doing what. Then I learned about World Neighbors, who have been building self-sufficient, independent communities for 61 years in over 45 countries around the world, and I had never heard of them! Their current campaign "Stop Saving The World, Start Changing It," is a great opportunity to join a movement that shows the world how to actually bring about lasting changes, not just offer short term aid. They're truly changing the lives of people living all over the globe, all on less than $1 a day. This one arrived compliments of a dear friend who herself had just been introduced to the inspiring work World Neighbors does.

Health and food items are always biggies for me, so this article in a real printed magazine caught my attention and became number five. It's about a condition called fructmal (fructose malabsorption), which is little known, yet makes it difficult to digest fruit sugars or fructose. Yes, this means even healthy fruits like apples, dates, pears, mango or cherries can upset your digestive system. It's associated with tangible symptoms that range from bloating and gas to depression.

Number six I heard about from a friend who saw it on a Sunday morning television show and told me about it over the telephone. (Make mine a landline, of course!) Already included in my piece about old things becoming new again, I liked it so much, here goes again. Old typewriters are making a comeback! Love it! Yes, old-fashioned typewriters are making a comeback, not only with collectors, but with a new generation of users too. "Type-ins" are a new kind of social event for those in their 20s and 30s. "You type so much quicker than you can think on a computer. On a typewriter, you have to think," Brandi Kowalski told the New York Times. She began a vintage typewriter business last April with a partner, and so far they've refurbished and sold more than 70 machines, many to first-time users. Their slogan is perfect: "Unplug and reconnect." And yes, I did find my 1970s portable Smith Corona in its original box in my collectibles-filled basement.

Number seven on the list was a fun one I heard on the radio. It seems there is a new wine on the market called "Hot Flash" created by B.C. winery House of Rose, especially for middle-aged women. Great product name. It caught the attention of the media when Brooke Shields ordered two cases after wrapping up production on her new movie called The Hot Flashes in Louisiana. I don't drink, but I'd love someone to let me know how this one tastes. Apparently it's not only for women, but men too!

I admit, there is so much to learn. It never ends. What interests one person may pass by another without even a glance. Sometimes I wonder how we can possibly continue to keep up with so much information? I can only trust that whatever I need to learn will show up for me at exactly the right time. It always has so far.

In retrospect, I had a really fun week of learning. How was your week? Love to hear something interesting you learned or heard about recently.

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