I like to read a lot. That should be obvious. Especially since I wrote a book about how to read a lot. Said book launches next week.
So I’m in promotion mode, frantically emailing people, whipping up marketing ideas and every now and then enjoying that glorious moment when someone loves my book. And then slipping right back into the frantic terror you feel while waiting for the reactions to a creative project.
Today I created a video for 137 Books in One Year. I like to think I have a reputation for creating homemade videos, since that’s exactly the level of quality I can create: homemade. I did it for Foursquare in 2007 (wow, that was painful) and for the Table Project last year (not quite as bad), both projects where the idea was to make a video that was less than professional.
Of course this time my only excuse for being less than professional was because I am. I wanted to make a video that was slightly more than just me talking at a camera, without taking more than a day to do it. The result? Homemade goodness! Hey, I’m no Kid President.
Here it is in all its embarrassing, awesome glory:
There I am, sitting in my grandmother’s rocking chair reading the first chapter from my novel, Least of These. It’s kind of like attending an author reading at your favorite bookstore, except you can be in your house and I can be in my house and nobody pays me to record audiobooks for a reason. But it’s still pretty cool.
You can buy a copy from Amazon if you like. A few friends have also created e-versions from the free PDF (iPhone and ePub, I think), but I haven’t gotten around to posting them. If you’re clamoring for those, hit me up in the comments I’ll stop procrastinating.
And for the record, I noticed one error and a handful of corrections I wanted to make after reading the first chapter outloud four or five times. I told you it was a rough draft.
On Sunday I carried five gallons of Mississippi River water (weighing 40 pounds) two miles from the river to my house. All to bring awareness and support to the one billion people throughout the world who don’t have access to clean water.
Water=life. If you’d like to do something, you can:
Donate. ($20 provides clean water to one person for 20 years, but donate whatever you like. Every bit helps. Donate now.
Pray. If that’s your thing you can say a prayer for the one billion people who don’t have access to clean water. Pray that the 4,500 children who will die today because they lack clean water wouldn’t have to.
Act. You don’t have to carry water or shave your head, but you can do something. Tell your friends about this issue. Support the Water for the World Act. Cut back on your own water usage (no, it won’t directly help those without water, but it’s an act of solidarity).
I think charity: water does some good work. One of the coolest things they do is bring you closer to the people they help with pictures, stories and videos. One of my favorite videos is this little 5-minute clip taken when charity: water was drilling wells in Ethiopia this spring as part of the Twestival.
In the video a few Internet geeks decide to carry 5-gallon jerry cans on their backs just like the people of Ethiopia do every day. Obviously carrying that water didn’t help anybody, but it made those well-off Americans understand what not having clean water really means. It made the situation personal (and painful), something Shane Claiborne often talks about (Don’t make poverty history, make poverty personal).
At the very end of the video they show an 11-year-old girl carrying the same 5 gallons of water. She does that every day. You can help change that.
After vaporizing water a week or so back I thought I should try another cold weather science experiment. This time? Freezing bubbles. It was only -7 this morning when I tried it, so not as cold as it could be. But the bubbles still froze.
It’s hard to see from the video, but when my dog Mazie bites the bubble, you can hear a distinctive crunch. Frozen bubbles.
For best results, blow bubbles upwards so they have more time to freeze. The frozen bubbles are like thin gossamer cellophane and are very fragile, usually shattering on impact, so it’s hard to get a good picture. Plus, floating bubbles aren’t exactly easy to photograph in the first place. Also, the colder, the better. I imagine doing this at night would have been better, both for pictures and faster freezing bubbles.
Most of the water vaporized but some of it crystallized, turning to ice droplets (from the sound of it, I’d guess some of it still hit the ground as liquid). So some of it turned into a cloud that drifted off and some turned to ice that fell in a slow arc to the ground.
To really pull it off, it helps to boil the water and keep it as hot as possible. And, for the record, it didn’t feel that cold outside (granted I wasn’t out for very long). Here’s a better video of this experiment.
Here’s how it works: Virgin Mobile set up Blank2Clothe.com where anyone can submit a video*. They approve the video and donate one article of clothing to one of the millions of homeless youth in America. That’s it.
But it gets better. Each time a video is watched five times, they’ll donate another article of clothing. So far 11 articles of clothing have been donated from my video and the site claims more than 100,000 donations so far.