Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Kids write Santa this year for basic needs instead of toys

USA Today: "Santa Claus and his elves are seeing more heartbreaking letters this year as children cite their parents' economic troubles in their wish lists.
U.S. Postal Service workers who handle letters addressed to Santa at the North Pole say more letters ask for basics — coats, socks and shoes — rather than Barbie dolls, video games and computers.

At New York City's main post office, Head Elf Pete Fontana and 22 staff elves will sort 2 million letters in Operation Santa, which connects needy children with "Secret Santas" who answer their wishes.

Fontana, a customer relations coordinator for the Postal Service, has been head elf for 15 years.

"The need is greater this year than I've ever seen it," he says. "One little girl didn't want anything for herself. She wanted a winter coat for her mother.""

Friday, December 10, 2010

Duct-tape crimes: ‘There, I Fixed It’ taps our inner MacGyvers



A wise man (or woman) once said: “All of life’s problems can be solved with two things — duct tape and WD-40. If it moves and it shouldn’t, you need duct tape. And if it doesn’t move and it should, you need WD-40.”
If this quote speaks to you on any level, you may already be a fan of There, I Fixed It, a blog that harnesses photographic evidence of ingenious do-it-yourselfers gone wild.
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It’s a site worth visiting at this time of year as you hunt down the perfect present for that weekend warrior on your gift list. After perusing photos of, say, a car engine’s air intake hose replaced by a Pringles can, or a water pipe repaired with a dog chew toy and a C-clamp, you might opt to get your DIY-er a nice, safe fruitcake instead of a new set of tools.
There, I Fixed It is part of the ever-growing Cheezburger Network, a collection of sites beloved by Web surfers who adore a) zany humor, b) zany photos and c) photo-caption-writing contests. The network includes I Can Has Cheezburger? (funny cat photos), I Has a Hotdog (funny dog photos) and FAIL Blog (funny photos of, well, complete and utter failures).

http://thereifixedit.failblog.org/
This fix-it job appeared under the headline, "Good news is you can never get rear-ended."
At the helm of the network is Ben Huh, a 33-year-old Seattle resident who knows how to tap into the general mood of the Internet at any given moment in time. He said There, I Fixed It works because it touches people’s everyday lives.
“People think to themselves, ‘I thought about doing that, but I didn’t actually do it,’ ” Huh said. “It’s actually kind of genius, but in a horrific way.”
Brilliant — and dangerous
All of the photos that run on the site (and on other Cheezburger sites) are submitted by users. They get screened by living, breathing employees who make sure they’re appropriate for online publication, and then the community of users takes over. Users vote for their favorite images and determine which ones appear on the home page.
Gallery: THAT’S how you fixed it?? (on this page)
Huh has a staff of about 50 people overseeing more than 40 sites, which, combined, get 16.5 million unique visitors a month. His growing company relies on Web advertising, and it also makes money from sales of books, T-shirts and other merchandise.

Cheezburger Network
Ben Huh, 33, has an uncanny ability to tap into the general mood of the Internet.
FAIL Blog is the Cheezburger Network’s most popular site, and next up is I Can Has Cheezburger. There, I Fixed It is another biggie for the company; Huh said it gets millions of page views each month.
He said the fix-it photos that come pouring in each day never cease to fascinate.
“Some of the simple ones are kind of genius, but kind of dangerous,” Huh said. “This one person had wired an LCD TV on top of their showerhead. It’s kind of ingenious in that it’s not going to get wet — but do you really need to watch TV that badly?”