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Big Deal: CrowdRise Holiday Challenge Has Raised Over $1.6M

Folks, I've been supporting the CrowdRise #HolidayChallenge this season by giving $75k to the campaign. Nonprofits nationwide have been participating to raise money for their causes.

Right now, $1,655,270 and counting has been raised, excluding the money I donated. This is huge. I think we'll be able to raise even more by the end of the challenge on January 9th. If you're able, I'd really encourage you to support your favorite causes.

Bonus Challenge #1 was won by the Woodhull Sexual Freedom Alliance

Bonus Challenge #2 was won by Cure JM

Bonus Challenge #3 was won by Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust

Bonus Challenge #4 was a Rock, Paper, Scissors match between the first two teams to raise $250 each day that week. The winner got $1500 and the loser got 4 Verizon Droid Minis (some are using 'em as prizes for their own supporters which is so great). The winners are listed first:

Bonus Challenge #5 winner was Ian Somerhalder Foundation

Bonus Challenge #6 winner was Red Wolf Coalition

And, the final Bonus Challenge #7 starts on Monday, January 6th at 2pm ET. The team that gets the greatest number of donations between then and the end of the Challenge, January 9th at 11:59:59am ET gets $6000 for their cause.

What causes have you been supporting?

 

 

20 Awesome Bird Photos

Folks, it's been a great year for wildlife at my "home office" as I've had lots of visitors. I thought the beginning of a new year was a great time to share some of my favorites, especially since I recently posted some tips about how to attract feathery friends (and squirrels, too) to your yard. These photos are all by the Mrs. and myself, and were pulled from the #Crileen (that's Craig and Eileen) Birdography Spectacular. A Special thanks to Cornell Lab of Ornithology and eBird.org for helping out with some bird IDs, they do great work!

Hummingbird, Anna 2

Anna's Hummingbird

Black Phoebe

Black Phoebe

Cedar Waxwing 2

Cedar Waxwing

Cedar Waxwing

A few more Cedar Waxwings

Goldfinch, Lesser

A pair of Lesser Goldfinches

Grosbeak, Rose-breasted, juvenile male (a vagrant from the East)

Rose-breasted Grosbeak, juvenile male (a vagrant from the East)

Hawk, Sharp-shinned (note blue-gray upperparts and long banded tail)

Sharp-shinned Hawk (note blue-gray upperparts and long banded tail)

Hummingbird, Anna 3

Another Anna's Hummingbird

Hummingbird, Anna

And one more Anna's Hummingbird

Jay, Steller

Steller Jay

Jay, Stellers

Steller Jay again…

Northern Flicker

Northern Flicker

Pygmy Nuthatch

Pygmy Nuthatch

Sparrow - House and Robin, American

American Sparrows – House and Robin

Sparrow, House, female, feeding a Cow Bird

Female House Sparrow feeding a Cow Bird

Sparrow, Song

Song Sparrow

Brewer's Blackbird (AKA Swoops the bird.)

Brewer's Blackbird (AKA "Swoops" the bird)

Warbler, Townsends

A pair of bathing Warbler Townsends

Woodpecker, Downy, male 2

A busy Downy Woodpecker

Woodpecker, downy, male

And another busy Downy Woodpecker, male

I have a feeling that 2014's going to be a busy year at the "home office" so make sure to stay tuned, and let me know what your local wildlife looks like. A nerd's gotta do what a nerd's gotta do.

5 Viral Videos from 2013 That Will Wow You

Hey folks. I get asked by organizations how they can promote their issues better online. Sometimes creating videos can make a big impact.  Anyways, here are some of the best viral videos of 2013 that tackle some important issues and a couple that might be intolerantly cute.

 

1.  Code.org: What Most Schools Don't Teach

Bill Gates of Microsoft, Bronwen Grimes of Valve, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, Ruchi Sanghvi of Dropbox, and others talk about how learning to code is a lot like learning to play an instrument or a new sport. Coding is not about being a genius. It’s about solving problems and every industry relies on technology.

 

2. Homeless Veteran Timelapse Transformation

Real powerful video showing the transformation of U.S. Army veteran Jim Wolf who has faced poverty, homelessness, and alcoholism.

 

3. Pantene: Shine Strong

Sheryl Sandberg said it best. “This is one of the most powerful videos I have ever seen illustrating how when women and men do the same things, they are seen in completely different ways. Really worth watching. Lean In prize of the day for sure!”

This also does a good job combining social good plus advertising, much like the Dove body image ones that Ogilvy did maybe five years ago.

 

4. Goldieblox Princess Machine

As a nerd who also has five nieces it’s real important that young girls have toys that teach building skills and inspire the next generation of female engineers.

 

5. Batkid

Batkid is the real deal. 5-year-old Miles who was battling Leukemia was granted a wish by Make-A-Wish to meet Batman in Gotham. Watching San Francisco shut down to make his wish happen was pretty special.

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Extra thanks for VBA workers from your nerd-in-residence

W-S files

(the Winston-Salem VARO before and after pictures, showing VBMS kicking in for real…)

W-S clean

The Dept of Veterans Affairs does a lot of different things for vets. Most of the workers are on the VA medical side, but there's also a group that processes benefits payments for vets. That's the Veterans Benefits Administration–VBA–and they work on over a million claims from vets each year. They work hard but get a lot of crap. So this is for them…

Okay, folks, I've seen you get the job done, with lots of extra hours, that's appreciated!

Next steps involve lots more use of VMBS to get stuff done, those photos illustrates that around 75% of the claims inventory has gotten online. It also means getting VSOs involved, which also means connecting outside software like VetPro connected to VBMS via Digits to Digits, D2D.

This is in my role as "nerd-in-residence" at the VA Center for Innovation. (That's my designated term, I know who I am, and have a sense of humor.) (For Washington, I'm funny; granted that's a low bar.) (The wife reminds me that I'm not as funny as I think I am.)

5 Ways to Attract Birds & Squirrels to Your Yard

Okay, so my "home office" extends to the deck, and I have a bunch of feathered and furry friends who stop by. The wife and I have created the #Crileen Birdography Spectaular (that's Craig and Eileen…) to document the visitors. We've identified 48 species as of September 2013.

As a nutty connoisseur, here are my suggestions to attract birds and squirrels to your yard:

1. Provide clean-ish open water.

birdbath

2. Use a "squirrel-resistant suet palace." 
squirrel

This squirrel defeated Squirrel-Proof Suet Palace. I'm okay with this, he can only eat so much at a time.

3. Feed squirrels to attract hawks. (see #2, note "resistant", they see it as a challenge)

hawk
4. Have glamorous new wife fill the feeders and water. Then have her do so for the birds. They appreciate it.

jay

5. Go outside and act like a nut. (Mission accomplished)

nut