Thursday, June 16, 2011
I saw this article in my email this morning. I am big on stop buying gifts and instead to domate money to good causes. This article is very interesting. There is so many land mines in this world.
Dad Will Really Like This
By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF
Published: June 16, 2010
No more neckties!
Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times
Nicholas D. Kristof
On the Ground
Nicholas Kristof addresses reader feedback and posts short takes from his travels.
Sunday is Father’s Day, and we dads will be overwhelmed with neckties and wrench sets. We will feign ecstasy, and our loved ones will pretend to believe our protestations of pleasure.
But for a really nifty Father’s Day gift, how about sponsoring a rat? Specifically, an African giant pouched rat, about 30 inches long including tail. These are he-man rats, the kind that send cats fleeing. What’s more, we’re not talking about just any giant rat, but an educated one with the rodent equivalent of a Ph.D.
A Dutch company, Apopo, has trained these giant rats, which have poor sight but excellent noses, to detect landmines in Africa. The rats are too light to set off the mines, but they can explore a suspected minefield and point with their noses to buried mines. After many months of training, a rat can clear as much land in 20 minutes as a human can in two days.
In addition to earning their stripes as mine detectors, the giant rats are also trained in health work: detecting cases of tuberculosis. Possible TB sufferers provide samples of sputum, which are then handed over to the rats to sniff out. This detection process turns out to be much faster than your typical microscope examination. A technician with a microscope in Tanzania can screen about 40 samples a day, while one giant rat can screen the same amount in seven minutes.
What man wouldn’t pass up a necktie for the chance to be associated with an educated, supermacho giant rat? For just $36, you can buy a year’s supply of bananas to feed one of these rats. Or, for a gift more on the risqué side, $100 will buy a “love nest” for a breeding pair of rats.
Both options are at www.globalgiving.com, a site that allows donors to browse aid projects around the world and make a donation on the spot.
Father’s Day tends to be less a celebration of fatherhood than a triumph of commercialism. The National Retail Federation projects that Americans will spend $9.8 billion on Father’s Day this year. To put that in perspective, that’s more than enough to assure a primary education for every child on the planet who is not getting one right now.
In fact, we could send every child to primary school and have enough left over to get each dad a (cheap) necktie. And if we skipped store-bought cards (almost $750 million annually) and offered handmade versions, the savings alone could make a vast difference to great programs that help young American men escape poverty.
Think of the National Fatherhood Initiative, www.fatherhood.org, which works to support dads and keep them engaged in their children’s lives. There’s some evidence that absent fathers create a vicious cycle: boys grow up without positive male role models, get into trouble and then become absentee fathers themselves.
Another group is the Black Star Project, www.blackstarproject.org, which seeks to get families in low-income communities more involved in the educational lives of kids. Or there’s World of Money, www.worldofmoney.org, which coaches kids in poor communities on financial literacy and business skills.
For gadget lovers, how about a donation in dad’s name to the National Urban Technology Center, www.urbantech.org, which helps low-income youths gain computer skills?
Or for those into automotive accessories or tools and appliances (almost $1 billion a year, by the way), why not rev up instead a motorcycle used to bring medical care to people in remote areas? An aid group called Riders for Health, www.riders.org, provides motorcycles and cars to health workers in Africa, along with rigorous training on maintenance and repair. Health workers end up reaching roughly five times as many patients as they would on foot.
And if you give dad a stake in a motorcycle at a clinic in Zambia, you can be pretty sure he won’t crash it.
Wouldn’t most dads feel more honored by a donation to any of these organizations than by a donation to commercialism?
I think so. My hunch is that family members, manipulated by commercial messages, think that they aren’t showing dad enough love if they don’t buy him something expensive. But give us some credit! The friend who suggested this column, Sam Howe Verhovek, noted the huge sums spent on cuff links and Best Buy gift cards and said: “I don’t know about you, but I don’t really need any of the above. A handwritten, ‘Thanks, Dad!’ note from my kids would mean more than anything Hallmark’s poets could come up with.”
That’s the truth. But if you must pull out the credit card, this is my sincere advice: It’s a rare dad who would choose a store-bought card over a homemade card; or for that matter, a necktie over a gigantic, bomb-sniffing rat.
A version of this op-ed appeared in print on June 17, 2010, on page A29 of the New York edition..comments (103)
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Heated competition in the mobile communications industry is creating lots of options for consumers. There’s no reason you should ever have to sign up for another 24-month contract that keeps you stuck in a pricey calling plan. Check out these cheap no-contract alternatives.
Peek. This is an ideal option especially for kids and teens, who are more into texting and emailing than actually talking on the phone. Peek devices look a lot like a Blackberry, but without phone capability. They send and receive email and text messages anywhere in the U.S, no WiFi necessary. The device itself costs about $70. After that, you pay a flat monthly rate of unlimited email and texting for as little as $15 a month. There are no contracts, no hidden fees. One thing Peek does not offer is the ability to transfer your current phone number. Learn more at www.GetPeek.com.
Kajeet. Here’s a company that caters to kids who want to stay connected by offering cheap service and award-winning parental controls. Kajeet will transfer your current numbers and offers a full range of kid-friendly phones that start at around $24 for a refurbished unit. Monthly service requires no contracts and starts as low as $14.99 for unlimited texting and 60 minutes of talk. Check out the cool phones and learn more at www.Kajeet.com.
Net10. A perfect option for light cell phone users, there are no roaming charges, no hidden fees, no long distance charges or monthly bills. You pay a flat rate of 10 cents per minute, up front. Their Easy Minute monthly plans start at $15 for 200 Easy Minutes for your choice of talk, text/pictures messaging, web/email and calls to 411. You can cancel anytime without cancellation fees. Net10 phones start at $29, and are available at Walmart stores or online from Net10. Learn more at www.Net10.com.
Common Cents Mobile. Here’s a service that offers a pay-as-you-go mobile plan, as low as 7 cents per minute or per text message. Monthly plans start as low as $20 a month with no contracts or hidden fees and no credit checks, roaming or long distance charges, either. Bonus: This plan rounds minutes down, not up. If you talk for 2.8 minutes, that call is charged as only 2 minutes, not 3 minutes, the way other services round up. Buying more airtime is simple, too. Learn more at www.CommonCentsMobile.com.
Cricket Communications. Here’s a nationwide service with high-quality coverage that does not require contracts and does not hide fees. Calling plans start as low as $35. You can get unlimited talk, text and web starting at just $45 a month. Learn more at www.MyCricket.com.
You’ve got even more options with companies such as MetroPCS, Straight Talk, Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile. Want even more? Do a Google search for “No-contract phones,” “Pay as you go mobile” or “Prepaid cell phones.” You’ll be amazed how many options you have. Just make sure you read the fine print, research thoroughly, and then go for it!
As for the money you won’t be spending on phone service in the months ahead, determine right now that you’ll divert it straight to savings. Now you’ll really enjoy the decision.
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