E-Tree at Aquarium in Japan

The Aqua Toto Gifu aquarium in Kakamigahara, Gifu, Japan features an alternate energy source for lighting their Christmas tree - an electric eel!

Each time the eel touches a copper wire in the tank, power is sent straight to the Christmas tree.

Find more information here.


Five From My Playlist - 12/05/2007

1. "No One" - Alicia Keys. It took me two times of hearing this song before I decided I liked it, but now I really, really like it.

2. "Stop and Stare" - OneRepublic. The follow-up to the band's success with "Apologize" proves that OneRepublic's talent goes beyond just what Timbaland can create.

3. "Shake It" - Metro Station. This song is a throwback to the fun of 80s music.

4. "Into the Night" - Santana featuring Chad Kroeger. I love a solid guitar song, which Santana is always good for. The mix of the guitar plus Chad Kroeger's unique sound is a winning equation.

5. "Whatever It Takes" - Lifehouse. This is another strong hit from this melodic rock band. The special effects in the video are awesome.

Live performance:


Barneys Gets Their Green On

Rudolph the Recycling Reindeer finds a home for the season in the window of the famed Barneys New York, making it the first "green" window in the NYC history.

Rudolph, made of cans and other recycled materials, is also joined by a listing of the 12 Green Days of Christmas:
12 Tons of Tofu, 11 Solar Panels, 10 New Age Gurus, 9 Organic Carob Bars, 8 Tickets to Burning Man, 7 Sustainable Ostrich Farms, 6 Compost Toilets, 5 Rolls of Recycled Gift Wrap, 4 Fair Trade Futons, 3 Free Range Sustainably Farmed Organic Hens, 2 Vegan Chefs and a Pirus in a Pear Tree!

For more information:
- Barneys New York
- Article from the Observer


Cards With Meaning

This holiday season, try sending cards with special meaning - those that give back to people in need.

Here are a few sites:

- Inspired by Lillie - Donations go to The Loneliest Road Campaign
- Cards That Give - contains a list of charities with greeting cards
- Good Cause Greetings
- Heartfelt Charity Cards
- Hallmark - UNICEF & Project (Red)
- Children's Cancer Research Fund
- Alex's Lemonade Stand


James Blunt Visits Sesame Street

James Blunt mourns his lost triangular love on Sesame Street:


Five From My Playlist - 11/01/2007

1. "Time After Time" - Quietdrive. This Cyndi Lauper cover is even better than the original.

2. "Ruby" - Kaiser Chiefs. Catchy. It's hard enough to say "Ruby" three times, fast, let alone sing it.

3. "Jessica" - Elliot Minor. The band's tribute to Jessica Alba has a unique sound that really works.

4. "Mr. Rock & Roll" - Amy MacDonald. This Scottish vocalist/guitarist/piano/drummer has a "booming" voice and lyrics to match.

5. "How Far We've Come" - Matchbox Twenty. Matchbox Twenty is back in full force. The video is a montage of historical events, good and bad, making one ponder - how far have we really come?


New Music: Josh Groban

A long awaited Christmas album from tenor Josh Groban releases today. The album, Noel, features guest apperances by the London Symphony Orchestra and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. It also includes two duet pieces with Brian McKnight and Faith Hill (okay, so it's not perfect).

1. Silent Night
2. Little Drummer Boy (this track is the highlight of the album)
3. I'll Be Home for Christmas (includes soldier tributes)
4. Ave Maria
5. Angels We Have Heard on High
6. Thankful
7. The Christmas Song
8. What Child is This
9. First Noel (this one is the Faith Hill duet and is easily the worst thing about the album)
10. Petit Papa Noel
11. It Came Upon a Midnight Clear (Josh plays the piano for this track)
12. Panis Angelicus
13. O Come All Ye Faithful

The album does not contain the previously released "O Holy Night".


Five From My Playlist - 10/01/2007

1. "Up to the Mountain (MLK Song)" - Patty Griffin. Love, love, love this song.

2. "Flowering Spade" - Sean Hayes. Wikipedia says "He has been described as playing Appalachian Ambient Folk music like an Irish rooster channeling Nick Drake." Exactly.

3. "Wicked Game" - Three Days Grace. I enjoy just about any of TDG's acoustic tracks, but I especially like this Chris Isaak cover.

4. "Songbird" - Eva Cassidy. Eva lost her battle with cancer back in 1996, at the age of 33. Truly a tragic loss to the music world.

Another artistic interpretation:

5. "Apologize" - OneRepublic. This band includes a cello, a piano and a lead singer who can really sing.


New Music: David Phelps

A new album from one of the most beautiful voices around, David Phelps, releases today. This album, One Wintry Night is a must-have for any holiday music collection.

David's version of "O Holy Night" from the Gaither music collection is the best, most moving arrangement of the song that I have ever heard. The version on this album recaptures the magic of that version with a slightly contemporary flair. It will still send chills down your spine.

1. Prelude: O Come O Come Emmanuel
2. The Singer (Let There Be Light)
3. Hallelujah!
4. Blue Christmas
5. Interlude: Lully, Lullay (with What Child Is This?)
6. Away In A Manger (with Sleep Little Baby)
7. One Wintry Night
8. If Everyone Believed
9. If Christmas Never Came
10. Interlude: Silent Night
11. O Holy Night (the highlight of the album)
12. Hark The Herald!
13. One King (beautiful duet with Sonya Isaacs from The Isaacs, another of my favorite vocalists)
14. Interlude: Santa Claus Is Coming To Town
15. Santa Claus Tonight


Artist Spotlight: Mike Birbiglia

I first heard about Mike Birbiglia on the morning show of my local radio station. They played a couple of his clips, which were hilarious. Check him out below.



Lillie Boyte
04.09.2004 - 08.28.2007

Lillie died today after a brave 10 month battle with Neuroblastoma. Memorials can be made in honor of her memory to The Loneliest Road campaign. Thank you for your prayers, and please continue to remember her family.


Growing a Green Economy

"We work for a world where all people have enough, where all communities are healthy and safe, and where the bounty of the Earth is preserved for all the generations to come."

This is the vision of Co-op America, a non-profit organization specializing in the betterment of society and our environment through economic aspects.

Check out their extensive informational resources on green ideas for individuals and for businesses, as well as issues that affect the integrity of our society.


Andrea Bocelli Visits Sesame Street

Andrea Bocelli visits Sesame Street to sing Elmo a lullaby based on "Time to Say Goodbye":


Planet in Peril

Coming in October - a CNN 360 special investigation on environmental issues affecting our planet. See the website for more information.


Artist Spotlight: Angélique Kidjo

With a powerful voice and astounding performance capabilities, Angélique Kidjo epitomizes world music at its best. This hard-working singer/songwriter was born in West Africa. She grew up listening to James Brown, Otis Redding, Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Wonder, and Santana. Her music combines traditional African beats with flavors she picked up from these artists and other artists from around the world.

I saw Angélique perform earlier this year, and her commanding stage presence impressed me immediately. After hearing the passion in her songs, the rhythm, the blending of musical styles and her magnificent voice, I immediately went out and got her latest album - "Djin Djin". I have thoroughly enjoyed it. Her music reaches beyond language barriers and invokes a sense of world unity and peace.

Angélique has released duets with many other popular artists such as Santana, Peter Gabriel, Dave Matthews Band, Ziggy Marley, Josh Groban, Alicia Keys & Joss Stone. Several of these appear on "Djin Djin".

You'll find a great blending of styles on this album. My personal favorites are "Salala" and the haunting rendition of Ravel's Bolero ("Lonlon"). The tracks are:

  1. Ae Ae
  2. Djin Djin (featuring Alicia Keys & Branford Marsalis)
  3. Gimme Shelter (featuring Joss Stone)
  4. Salala (featuring Peter Gabriel)
  5. Senamou (C'Est l'Amour) (featuring Amandou & Mariam)
  6. Pearls (featuring Carlos Santana & Josh Groban)
  7. Sedjedo (featuring Ziggy Marley)
  8. Papa
  9. Arouna
  10. Awan N'la
  11. Emma
  12. Mama Golo Papa
  13. Lonlon (Ravel's Bolero)

Gimme Shelter:


Bald Eagle Comeback

After thirty years of intense conservation efforts, the US national bird soars off the endangered species list. Scientists estimate that there are now 9,789 breeding pairs of Bald Eagles.

Scientists blame the dwindling population in the 1970s on hunting, habitat destruction and food contamination.

While the removal is a tremendous victory for conservation, the bald eagle's habitat will no longer be protected.

For the next five years, the species will be closely monitored to insure it continues to thrive.

More info:


Manta Ray Born in Captivity

A baby Giant Manta ray was born in captivity yesterday at the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium in Japan. The baby, the first ever in its kind to be born in captivity, stretched out to about 1.9 meters. The picture on the left shows a baby with her father.

This event gives researchers an excellent chance to study and learn more about this rare species.
  • Watch the video! (click on the link in the CNN article)
  • News Release from the Aquarium


Music For Relief

Music For Relief is a group of music industry professionals seeking to promote awareness and raise support for those in need. The organization began as a response to Tsunami relief needs by musical group Linkin Park. LP reached out to their musical peers and then to the community, forming Music For Relief. MFR has raised over 2 million dollars for victims of the tsunami and hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Not only does MFR respond to natural disasters, they also seek to bring awareness on global climate issues and the environment.

For more information, visit musicforrelief.org.


Artist Spotlight: Lucia Micarelli

I first heard Lucia Micarelli at a Josh Groban concert earlier this year. She accompanied him on "Mi Mancherai". Her stunningly beautiful playing gave me chills. She did a solo cover of one of my favorite songs, "Kashmir" by Led Zeppelin.

This artist exhibits a true passion for her craft, and she makes this obvious in every fluid move with the violin. The instrument becomes a part of her, and if you are lucky enough to be in the audience, you can prepare to be amazed.

Find out more about Lucia at her website, and grab a copy of her album, "Music from a Farther Room". Each piece on the album is fantastic, but I especially enjoy "Nocturne/Bohemian Rhapsody".


"Nocturne/Bohemian Rhapsody":


Five From My Playlist - 06/01/2007

1. "The Story" - Brandi Carlile. Brandi packs a lot of raw emotion into a simple song.

2. "Working Class Hero" - Green Day. This Lennon cover is a feature on Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur. Green Day's interpretation is right on the mark.

3. "First Time" - Lifehouse. This is a group that releases consistently good music.

4. "Wild Is The Wind" - Amel Larrieux. Amel's soothing voice alone makes the whole "Lovely Standards" album a must-have.

5. "Beautiful Flower" - India.Arie. Inspired by a school for girls in Africa, India wrote this song to empower young women.


Discovery & PlanetGreen!

Discovery Channel announced a rebranding of the "Discovery Home" network, creating the first all-green channel! The movement, titled PlanetGreen will bring environmental issues to the limelight, and will provide ideas and information on living the Green Life!

Here is the Press Release.


Junk Your Junk Mail

For a $15 one-time fee, you can stop your junk mail. greendimes will do all the work involved to get your name off of the mailing list for dozens of direct marketers. They will create an online account for you so you can set your catalog screening options.

The numbers at the right were taken as of publishing this, but go to their site to see the constantly increasing savings!


Artist Spotlight: Jon McLaughlin

"After all, we're only human
Always fighting what we're feeling
Hurt instead of healing
After all we're only human
Is there any other reason
Why we stay instead of leaving
After all"

So goes the refrain of the beautifully poignant "Human" by Jon McLaughlin, a talented singer/pianist from Indiana.

Be sure to grab a copy of his amazing new album "Indiana". Highlights are "Human", "Indiana" and "Beautiful Disaster".


Five From My Playlist - 05/01/2007

1. "If Everyone Cared" - Nickelback. Outstanding lyrics. Example - " And as we lie beneath the stars / We realize how small we are / If they could love like you and me / Imagine what the world could be". If you have not seen the video - check it out - the statistics pointed out are staggering.

2. "What I've Done" - Linkin Park. A song of taking responsibilities for one's own actions. Another world-changing concept.

3. "Nothing Left to Lose" - Mat Kearney. Great song for a care-free summer.

4. "Stolen" - Dashboard Confessional. DC's Chris Carrabba has a voice like butter, and this song showcases it.

5. "Boston" - Augustana. A lovely song with a lovely piano part.


Site Spotlight - Earth 911

There are tons of environmental information out on the web, but where can you go to find local information? Earth911.org. Here you can type in your zip and find information about environmental services and events in your community. You will also find all kinds of tips and good ideas to help you help the planet.


Spotlight on Planet Earth

After five years of shooting high definition film all over the world, Discovery channel now proudly presents a poignant and beautiful series - Planet Earth.

If you have not tuned in yet, you are missing out on seeing a whole new dimension of the planet we live on.

Planet Earth features rarely seen wildlife caught on film with amazing HD capability.

You can purchase the series on DVD and other related merchandise at the Discovery Channel store.

Explore the Planet Earth website to see clips and find out more information - here.


Knut the Polar Bear

Knut the Polar Bear may have been rejected by his mother at birth, but he captured the heart of people all over the world. This week he was formally introduced to the public at his home in the Zoologischer Garten Berlin.

The publicity surrounding Knut could be just the thing that we need to bring conservation of this magnificent species to the forefront.


Save Energy This Spring!

Spring is in the air!

Spring is a popular time to buy new appliances. Make sure appliances you buy have the Energy Star label. Not only is it better for the environment, but it will save you money on your energy bill.

While you are working on spring cleaning, take a moment to replace any lightbulbs that you have with CFL lighbulbs (yes, the spiral-looking kind). They use around 65% less energy than regular lightbulbs, and may last 10 times longer!


New Nephew

Grayson Charles Theis was born to Peter & Tammy Theis yesterday (03/10/2007) at 1:53 AM. He was 8 lbs 7 oz & 22 inches.


Artist Spotlight: Ingrid Michaelson

With simple melodies, quirky lyrics and a lovely voice, Ingrid Michaelson might just be the best "new" artist that I have heard in a while.

I heard her song "The Way I Am" online the other day. Instantly impressed, I downloaded the rest of her album "Girls & Boys".


Site Spotlight: stopglobalwarming.org

The existence of a global warming becomes more undeniable with every day that passes. Greenhouse gases have reached unimaginable levels. Glaciers are melting. Significant weather events have increased in frequency and in intensity. Species are becoming endangered or extinct because of changes in climate. Droughts are rampant all over the Earth. A global problem requires a global solution.

Humans can make a difference by awareness and commitment to change.

The Stop Global Warming Virtual March leads the way in both regards. SGW works hard to spread the word about global warming and what we can do to counteract the damage done to the environment every day.

Activist Laurie David and singer/songwriter Sheryl Crow kicked off a tour of college campuses across the United States this year to send the message and urge college students to become a part of the movement.

For more information, go here.


Site Spotlight: Forest Ethics

"Motivating people to reform corporations. Motivating corporations to protect forests." These are the objectives of ForestEthics, a nonprofit organization committed to protecting endangered forests.

ForestEthics initiates change by calling out the corporations who produce and/or utilize products that contribute to the destruction of our valuable, endangered forests. The groups uses protests, websites, email campaigns, national advertisements and more to send the conservation message across to the corporations and to consumers.

This tactic works. A great example of this is the "Victoria's Dirty Secret" campaign. This campaign catapulted environmental responsibility to the forefront and called the Limited Brands corporation to action.

Visit the website for more information.



Recycling is one of the easiest actions that you can take to make a difference. Visit your local government's website to find information on the "what", "where", and "when" for your area.

The policies for Raleigh are located here.


Site Spotlight: del.icio.us

Welcome to the world of social bookmarking.

5 reasons you should use del.icio.us:
1. You will have access to your "favorites" no matter where you are, just as long as you can get online
2. You can share your bookmarks with friends
3. Friends can share bookmarks with you
4. You can easily organize your links into multiple categories that are meaningful to you via tagging (no more drilling down into folders or even shifting through a long list of links if you don't use folders)
5. Metrics. del.icio.us keeps records. You can see how many other people share a favorite with you, or you can just go to the main page and see what's hot (websites lots of people have bookmarked).


People Against Dirty

Looking for a greener way to clean your home? So am I.

It's refreshing to see the trend in so many companies working to market greener products. As a result, there is a wider selection, and the products themselves are more effective.

One company that I have been impressed with in my research is Method. Their products are biodegradable, innovative, effective, non-toxic, true clean smelling (like green tea, lavender, cucumber, grapefruit, magnolia or smell-free) and contained in recylclable packaging. Method's goal is to provide "A Cleaner Way of Cleaning".

When visiting their website, be sure to check out the People Against Dirty Blog.

To find more information about environmentally friendly cleaners, go here.


Site Spotlight: treehugger.com

Here is your ultimate guide to living the green life - treehugger.com.

The slogan: "We care about the environment. There. We said it."

The method: treehugger.com is a leading media outlet. They create newsletters, blogs, video segments, and even have a radio show available. High profile magazines and television shows find their information right here.

The Site: Find News, Suggestions, Solutions, Information on Environmentally Friendly Products and much, much more.


Artist Spotlight: Darren Holden

I recently had the opportunity to catch "Movin' Out" in Raleigh (Broadway Series South). My favorite part of this exciting show was definitely the band, with Darren Holden at the front as the "Piano Man".

Darren could be considered the stand in for Billy Joel himself, but he has a vocal quality and piano talent all of his own. He gives all the songs his own edge, and he definitely makes the piano rock (especially at the "rapid-fire" opening of "Angry Young Man").

The touring production of "Movin' Out" closes this month, so be sure to check it out if you can.

You can find out more about Darren at his official website.


Nancy Pelosi Makes History

Today, Nancy Pelosi made history as the first woman to be Speaker of the House. This makes her the most powerful female in Washington - only second in line to the presidency after the Vice President.

In her speech Pelosi encouraged action for all members of the Congress, saying "Let us stand together to move our country forward, seeking common ground for the common good. We have made history; now let us make progress for the American people. May God bless our work, and may God bless America."

A copy of her speeches and more information can be found at the official website.



New year, new resolution. Mine?

This year I decided to take a long look at ways that I can help our environment. There are so many little things that can help us protect our planet.

So, 2007 is the year to be green!