Wednesday, January 5, 2005

Errata: A Few Items To Brighten Your Day

Bits and pieces often fall through the proverbial cracks... but we just can't let them be. Take a look at this issue's errata – we hope you enjoy them just as much as we do.

Adopt a GI, online
We recently contributed to the war effort – beef jerky, hard candy, paperback books, magazines, bath products, and girl scout cookies. We answered the call on, a site that puts soldiers in need of supplies (or even just a letter or postcard) in touch with supportive benefactors on the home front. Our package took about two weeks to get to Iraq and the soldier we sent it to responded by email to let us know how appreciated the effort was: "thanks for the box ... it made all of our days ... the women i work with really liked the bath stuff and I love the books and razors and the snacks. Thank you."

AnySoldier was started in August 2003 by Sergeant Brian Horn from LaPlata, Maryland as a simple family effort to help the soldiers in one Army unit. Due to overwhelming requests, on January 1, 2004 expanded its services to include any member, of any of the US Armed Services in harm's way. Horn was serving with the 173rd Airborne Brigade in the Kirkuk area of Iraq when he started to distribute packages that came to him addressed "Attn: Any Soldier" to the soldiers who were not getting mail.

As of this writing, Horn is serving in Afghanistan but AnySoldier continues to help the men and women in khaki worldwide – 114,667 to date. Adopt your own GI, today. fb

Custom M&Ms! Too good to be true!
As if M&Ms weren't good enough to begin with (their overwhelming Star Wars tie-in aside), the Mars candy company now invites customers to create their own personalized M&Ms at

In addition to a number of other custom M&M options, you can write your own message on the classic candies. Choose from 21 different colors and print messages on your very own candy mix. While your message is limited to two short lines or eight characters each (how much text could we honestly expect to squeeze onto such a tiny morsel) and individual orders can only include one or two colors, the prices and packaging options are surprisingly fair (though not exactly cheap). An standard 8oz bag (4 bag minimum order) sells for $9.49 a bag while a number of "party favor" options round out the selection, including a stylish silver tin (20 tin minimum order) selling for $4.25 apiece.

We were most excited to see the bright orange M&M color available.. and, wouldn't you know it, "Fight Boredom" fits perfectly in the two line scheme. If we don't eat them all ourselves, maybe you'll see a bag or two. fb

National Geographic's Genographic Project
National Geographic and IBM have begun a five-year study to assemble the world's largest collection of DNA samples to map how humankind populated the planet. This Genographic Project will result in the creation of a global database of human genetic variation and associated anthropological data (language, social customs, etc.) that will fill the anthropological gap between humankind's African origins and its worldwide distribution.

With a simple and painless cheek swab kit (and $99) you can sample your own DNA, submit it to the projects secure, private, and completely anonymous system, then log on to the project Web site to track your personal results online. This is not a genealogy test and you won't learn about your great grandparents, but you will learn of your deep ancestry, the ancient genetic journeys and physical travels of your distant relatives. Also, you will be contributing financially to the project.

The price might seem steep for a cheek swab, but the project's effort is laudable and, much more to our point, fun. fb

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