THE BLOG

SavvyMom Roundup: GMOs, Music Apps and an Anonymous Letter

08/24/2013 11:19 EDT | Updated 10/24/2013 05:12 EDT

The Google blackout, child advocates, an app to help you focus, bookshelves and ignorance. Those were a few things that caught my attention, and maybe yours too, this week.

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1. Were you inconvenienced by the Google blackout last Saturday (August17)? For four whole minutes, the Google machine was down, affecting 40% of global internet traffic. Think about that. Four minutes, 40% less internet traffic around the world. There isn't much more to the story as Google has not explained what happened, but it certainly does reveal the level of dependency we have on one search engine. It's not about Google's market share, but more about how it has crept into our lives and become habitual, perhaps even addictive. How often do you Google a day?

2. Imagine not knowing what life was like without Google? Rachel Parent, a lovely and very confident young lady doesn't, but she is much more interested in saving us all from another G-word--GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms). She has become a kid advocate and was recently up against one of the toughest adversaries on TV, Kevin O'Leary. Watch this video of 14-year-old Rachel speaking very articulately to Kevin, who to his credit, is not as rude as he usually is. But he still makes a point that the lobby groups might be taking advantage of her. Do you think one of your kids could handle that interview?

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3. Since I am new to the iPhone I'm not yet a huge app person, so when I find one I like, you'll hear about it. This week I was introduced to focus@will, a music app that is meant to help you focus. It's like Songza but with background instrumental music that won't distract you--it actually claims to HELP you focus. Based on a UCLA study, which shows the brain naturally tunes out every 20 minutes, the music tracks are carefully selected to trick the brain--and keep you focused. Right now I'm listening to Organ Concerto V and I haven't checked Facebook or emails in over 20 minutes. I'm in the zone!

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4. Since it's back-to-school season, I have been thinking more about reading and books, and thinking that my kids only have 10 days left to read one (sigh). When I came across these amazing book shelves, I was reminded that this is the only kind of bookshelf you should have in a kids' room. They work because kids can see the books--not the spine. Kids don't care about the spine. They like the cover. Then they will pick them up and read them. Then they will love reading forever. I wish my kids had had them when they were little...they show off artwork as well.

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5. Finally, the grotesque note from an anonymous neighbour to the grandmother of a child with autism--that hit social and mainstream media like wildfire--caught my attention. It's tough to accept that there is such ignorance in our society. But after my kids and I listened to the letter being read out on the radio, and I listened to their own horror, I was quick to remind them how the letter actually backfired on that person. The rest of our civilized society reacted swiftly by supporting the family, sharing their own horror and spreading awareness for autism and the challenges facing families with autism. Goodness triumphed over evil--and it took less than 24 hours.

Have a good week. For most of us, it's still summer so embrace it.