Slinging #Hashtags at the Virtual Diner

“If you build it he will come.”

Hearing those words, the fictional Ray Kinsella (as opposed to the author of the same name) decided to build a baseball diamond in his corn field. His baseball heroes did indeed come, and Kinsella found himself losing control of the situation. Some years later, after Field of Dreams had been made into a movie, the farmer who allowed his corn field to be used for the filming was overrun with tourists and movie fans.

As we begin the holiday season it’s easy to see how communities establish traditions. Thanksgiving turkey, stuffing, cranberries… the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade… football games. Followed by Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Red kettles and bell ringers on street corners collecting donations for charity. Trees, decorated windows, menorahs, carols, Scrooge and the Grinch… Leading to “Auld Lang Syne” and popping corks at the stroke of midnight. In my family the rule was that if we did something once and people liked it, it became a “tradition.”

Apple Computer is an example of a company that has built a strong community of enthusiastic product users. To those of us who don’t own a Macintosh computer, Apple’s most loyal fans can seem a bit too evangelical. (Just ask a question in an online forum about anti-virus software and the Apple disciples will tell you to buy a Mac and not worry.)

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I spent Thanksgiving Day 2008 at my Dad’s house. Dad isn’t a techie; indeed, I call his house the “technology-free zone.” He’s never used a computer nor seen the Internet. I’ve told him that I have a blog, but I’m not sure if he really understands what that means.

What Dad knows and loves is sports, so Thanksgiving is a day-long football fest. As a non-football fan, I sometimes have difficulty following so many games at once. By mid-afternoon, Dad was channel surfing from game to game, and if I stepped away for a minute I don’t even know who the teams were when I returned.

On that day in November 2008, surfing past the news channels presented the horror of the terrorist attack in Mumbai, India. Dad paused occasionally for updates. To New Yorkers it was eerily reminiscent of the feelings, if not the circumstances, of September 11, 2001. To me the drawn-out attack in Mumbai and the multiple gunmen in different parts of the city seemed, if possible, even more terrifying than the brief but intense attack on the United States seven years earlier.

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Karen’s Not-Yet-Famous Fruit Relish

Thanksgiving is this Thursday (in the United States; Canada celebrated in October) so it seems appropriate to digress from my usual posts and share a recipe. This tangy fruit relish has warm, spicy notes that feel very Autumnal and it goes well with a traditional feast.

I first made this relish two years ago and have been tinkering with it ever since; you’ll see there are several variations. I brought it to a couple of parties, where everyone seemed to like it and I’ve given out the recipe a few times, so now I’m sharing with the virtual community. It’s highly adaptable: you can tweak the spices and even the ingredients, and it goes equally well over a slice of pound cake or as a side dish. Aside from the sugar, it’s quite healthy–but don’t let that deter you!

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DIY Gift and Donation Combinations

In Monday’s post I suggested that making a donation to a non-profit organization can be a terrific gift for someone. But even when you have carefully considered the recipient’s interests and know their favorite charities, it can be more fun when you have an actual gift to offer, wrapped up nicely. So today I’m going to look at ways to combine donations with tangible gifts in creative ways.

My inspiration for this is the World Wildlife Fund‘s “adoption” gifts. For a small donation you can symbolically adopt an endangered animal for yourself or a friend. For a little more money, you get a cute plush toy that looks like that animal.

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