Top 5 Picks for the Week, February 17, 2012

Coonhounds, Reggae, Best Sellers, Pioneers, and Navigation

1. Theron Humphrey

Photo Credit: Theron Humphrey

Theron Humphrey is a photographer taking a new look at social media. Having a great appreciation for family, oral history, and generational ties, he is traveling across the country meeting one new person every day.  He interviews the people and takes amazing portraits which really capture the essence of his new friends.  Through his website, This Wild Idea, you can hear the stories, view the photos, donate to the cause, track his route, and even change where he is going.  You can feel Humphrey’s passion for this project of “finding out what it means to love (his) neighbor.”  His photography paired with the casual interviews truly makes you feel like you are sitting in a small-town coffee shop chatting with family.  Taking a lighter view of his travels, Humphrey also photographs his coonhound, Maddie, in various locations.  He has a dedicated site just for her that is solely made up of one new photo a day capturing Maddie showing off her amazing balance, standing on top of different objects throughout the areas he travels. Maddie will bring a smile to your face and This Wild Idea will open your heart; take a little time today to be grateful for the work of Theron Humphrey.

2. Legend: The Best of Bob Marley and the Wailers

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In life there are a few essentials that everyone should have in their repertoire.  When it comes to music, Bob Marley is undeniably one of the most influential of his time and genre.  A collection is not fully complete without a little from the reggae master.  Legend: The Best of Bob Marley and the Wailers is a wonderful album with a wide range from his most popular songs including: Three Little Birds; No Woman, No Cry; and I Shot the Sherriff.  Whether you have never had the opportunity to fully appreciate his musical genius, or you are a longtime fan, Legend is a staple album to enhance your playlist.  Currently, the Audio CD is available through Amazon for only $8.99  You can also upgrade to the Deluxe Edition, 2 disc set which features 13 additional tracks for only $14.49 for the MP3 download.  Warm up your winter and round out your library with The Best of Bob Marley.

3. The Help by Kathryn Stockett

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The Help by Kathryn Stockett has received much praise over the last few years as it topped the New York Times Best Seller List and was shortly thereafter made into an award-winning film.  I personally love to read, but recently I have not been making the time to adequately do so.  Ashamedly, I have often been a victim of only watching a film, having never read the book.  However, after hearing such rave reviews, I made the commitment to actually read The Help before I’d allow myself to watch the film.  The readers and critics were not over-exaggerating all of the wonderful accolades.  The Help surpassed all of my expectations, and I do look forward to watching the film soon.  I know hectic schedules can leave little time for what may appear to be just a novel; but this entertaining and personalized look at segregation in the South during the 1960s shows us how far we have come, and it can help uncover where hidden prejudice my still lurk even within ourselves.  Do yourself a favor and replace some TV time with reading or listening to The Help.  If you’ve already read the book and seen the movie, which did you prefer? Comment or send me an email, I’d love to hear your opinion.

4. The Pioneer Woman

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Over four years ago I was introduced to The Pioneer Woman website by a family member.  Being from the Midwest, we all appreciated Ree Drummond’s home-style recipes and hearty sense of humor.  I will admit that I had not been keeping up with all that was happening with the blog and the major leaps and bounds Drummond was taking.  Earlier this week I happened to pass her cooking show on The Food Network.  Her vibrant personality and yummy chocolate cookie recipe caught my eye; it was not even until I watched further that I realized this was THE Pioneer Woman I had followed years ago.  Her site has now expanded to cover all aspects of her life: family; entertainment; fashion; gardening; photography; and of course food.  I adore her style, charm, and creativity.  The Pioneer Woman encompasses everything I enjoy and does it all with a warm country flare.

5. Google Maps and Latitude

Photo Credit: Google Maps

Most of us probably already use Google Maps; it is a necessary resource this day and age.  But have you taken full advantage of all of the available functions provided through the app for your smart phone or tablet?  Google Maps has always been a standard app on our devices, and it didn’t take us long to ditch the old GPS unit and car atlases.  Google Maps is free and updates automatically, which is a stark contrast to the hundreds of dollars we spent on a windshield mounted GPS for one car and the several hundreds of dollars it will cost every year to update our other build-in navigation system.  Google Maps is much more accurate and provides so many other additional features; there is no contest anymore as to which service we use.  Google has taken painstaking efforts to map the country and even much of the world, making it a breeze to get directions and navigate from one location to another.  Of course this includes searching nearby areas for restaurants, gas stations, or grocery stores.  Complete with contact information, websites, ratings, and reviews, one can easily see what’s in the area.  The layers option allows you to view traffic congestion, satellite images, or terrain.  Latitude, another useful tool, lets you to check in and view the location of friends and family.  With a simple confirmation on your device and an email sent to the other party, you can add people to your group allowing them to see your location and they are able to share theirs with you (great to keep an eye on the kids or stay in touch when traveling).  In addition to standard vehicle navigation, Google Maps will also give you directions based on traveling by foot, bike, or public transportation.  Take some time to sort through the app and check out the Google Mobile Site to read up on all of the other great features including 3D Maps, Compass Mode, Street View, and the latest Indoor Maps to help get around inside select airports and other establishments.  Always at the forefront, Google Maps’ service is constantly improving with new additions; it will save you time and money.

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