July 8, 2010

Something for fun may turn profitable for hobbyist moving on

FarmVille is serious business for some folks. One guy, known best as the FarmVille Lawn Jockey, was among the first to bring the power of databases and spreadsheets to the game first popular on Facebook. Looks like he will leave with cash for his hardwork.

The creator, who started playing too late to get the short-lived lawn jockey (it was taken away when some complained it was racist), calculated which crop to plant to earn the most points and the most funds. He looked at which animals were the best to keep around to raise funds, even calculating how many animals fit on each precious square.

The site kept growing - offering easy to use tools for others to blog about the game, to keep track of their successes, and to communicate with other FarmVille fans.

But his attention is turning elsewhere and his site is up for auction over on Flippa. Already 10 bids are in and his minimum reserve of $500 has been met.

He could have just abandoned the site, but confessed:  "I'm pretty busy with all kinds of other stuff and I really would like someone else who has the time to grow this site to its full potential."

I can't wait to see what the other stuff is, what someone pays and how they develop the site.

July 6, 2010

To grease up or not is summer's hot question

fun in pool

Sun, water and kids of all ages creates a perfect summer day.
I stand out at any outdoor outing from June through mid-September. Just look for the woman covered from head to toe and in the shade, my attempt to avoid the damaging rays of the sun.

Some of my prescriptions carry warnings about exposure to the sun. Plus, as someone who overindulged in the sun as a child and teenager and has already had some sun-related skin issues, I don't like to tempt fate.

I prefer the clothing method over sunscreen when I can for many reasons, including I often forget to reapply sunscreen and I don't like the feel of it on my skin. Today, my husband shared a link that reinforces some of my ideas: Does sunscreen cause cancer?

Here are some highlights from the Ask Pablo blog post:

  • More is not better as most sunscreens rated above SPF 55 offer 1-2% more sunburn rays than an SPF 30 rated sunscreen. They offer a false sense of protection.
  • Sunscreen loses its effectiveness so replace it when the expiration date pases.
  • Check the ingredients as some are known to "cause cancer. (I've got "cause cancer" in quotes as I'm not convinced we really know why some of us get cancer and some don't.)
  • Look for sunscreens with avobenzone, Mexoryl, titanium dioxide, and zinc for UVA coverage. The Environmental Working Group recommends these sunscreens. Alba Botanical and Beyond Coastal top the lists.
  • Limit time out in the sun between 10 am and 4 pm and  stay in the shade.
  • The best sunscreen is the kind you wear. Outdoor clothing manufacturers are producing SPF-rated clothing to keep you comfortable and sunburn free.
  • If you already have sunscreen check a nifty little database :to see how yours is rated.
  • When you buy sunscreen follow Environmental Working Group's list of recommended sunscreens.
You can read the entire The Bottom Line on Sunscreens from the Environmental Working Group. The government Food and Drug Administration site also provides sun precautions.

I'm heading out on the web to see about replacing some of my clothing.

Boy with big heart, rare disease asks for and gets help, hope

Every day, someone learns how rare they are, how unique. Sometimes that rarity is the happenstance of having a disease few do. Tyler Fehsenfeld has Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a disease only about 15,000 boys have.

It's the type of diagnosis that leaves little hope for the sufferer, family and friends. It is the type of diagnosis that often makes us turn inward, focusing on finding the best options for our connection.

But, sometimes, a family is energized by joining with other families for support. They work together, using their connections, to raise money for a better life for those with the disease, for research for a cure, for somthing that will make a difference.

So Tyler is lucky. His grandfather, the publisher of Michigan's largest daily, home-delivered newspaper, and grandmother sponsored something wonderful recently.

An event orgazined around the local premiere of "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse" raised funds for research on the disease. The movie's opening on June 29 was a chance to learn more about the disease and do good while having fun.

A June 30th update from Dan Gaydou:
"Generous friends continue to come through for the PPMD cause. As of this afternoon, the total raised is $139,840; $3,120 more just since last night. Thank you everyone for your support and God bless you."
The Grand Rapids Press published an article online that will help you learn why I called Tyler a boy with a big heart, a boy who may never celebrate a 30th birthday. The western Michigan news operation followed up with "Mission of 'Twilight:Eclipse' movie premier party was clear: End Duchenne (You'll find a video, photograph and more about the event, organized by Anessa Fehsenfeld, Tyler's mom.)

Gaydou asked his Facebook friends to help promote that event in hopes that many would attend the premiere.

(Sorry, I'm late - it is one of the posts I forgot to publish. But you still can contribute and at least be aware of the disease. You can donate online or send a check  payable to Parent Project Muscular Dystophy to Dan Gaydou at 155 Michigan NW, Grand Rapids 49503.).

The boy's father once was the Newspaper In Education coordinator at The Flint Journal.

The family has tried many things. In 2006, the family rocketed into the spotlight when the federal government delayed delivery of Deflazacort, a medicine approved in other countries but not in the United States.  A U.S. specialist had prescribed the drug.

"I'm choosing to give this drug to my son that a doctor says he needs, and my country says he can't have it," Anessa Fehsenfeld is quoted The Grand Rapids Press in an April 5, 2006, article. "As if the diagnosis isn't bad enough, and then you have this to deal with."

The options for treatment are few. The Internet has helped many parents to connect, including the Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy site which offers ideas, hope, support and more.

Still, it takes funds for that and for research. That's where events like Run for Our Boys and this western Michigan fund-raiser give help and increase the amount of hope.