Charity Solicitations Visualized

Way back in 2006, I tallied my charity solicitations, and since then the situation has gotten comically worse. So over the past year, I’ve tried to keep all the solicitations I received from various charities, some of which I haven’t contributed to in years. This time, instead of a simple table, I’ve made a couple kitchen floor charts showing the actual pieces of mail received. I probably missed a few, and phone calls are not represented.

Here are my “charts” of charities sending the most and least amount of mail in 2014.



Care is easily the most annoying (I even found another piece after taking the pic). I didn’t even know I had donated to Care, but they handled a donation for typhoon relief.

It’s good to see that Public Citizen and Southern Poverty Law Center are doing better. They were the top offenders in 2006, but they’re now mostly honoring my request for one solicitation per year.

Perhaps the annoyingness is exacerbated by my giving pattern, which is to give toward the end of the year. Unfortunately for me, common practice is to accept the December gift and then send an “annual renewal” just a few weeks later in January.

The worst offenders have either been dropped or switched to reduced anonymous giving, but I expect the junk mail to continue for years. And anonymous giving is expensive as far as I can tell. Network for Good adds a 5% fee and JustGive adds 4.5%. Hopefully, that includes the credit card fees, but I’m not sure. It shouldn’t been so expensive just to move money. Fidelity Charitable with a flat fee of $100 per year may be another option, especially if the credit card fee is separate for the other options.

My truly least annoying charity (annoyance == 0) is one that sent me no mailings or online annoyances: the Online Encyclopedia of Integer Sequences. Thanks to Neil Sloane and many volunteers for that excellent resource. Wikimedia was also in the no-mailings camp, but they made Wikipedia pretty annoying to use for most of December, so I’m not sure where to rank them.

Tom Peters Apple Prediction

I used to follow Guy Kawasaki in the early Mac days, and I recently noticed he has a new book out. I haven’t seen it, but the announcement prompted me to check out some of his older books from my local library. One was called Hindsights: The Wisdom and Breakthroughs of Remarkable People and contains interviews with successful people. Only a few of the interviews are very insightful; Mary Kay Ash was probably the best.

In spite of the book’s theme, Tom Peters decided to show off his foresight:

I can’t imagine a scenario where Apple is a leader twenty years from now. Maybe it will be ten times bigger … but setting the agenda? That’s an insane thought.

The book has a copyright date of 1993, so the interview must be from about twenty years ago.

Running with Thieves?

After owning an iPhone for only two weeks, I’ve already lost my earphones. Searching for replacements, Google led me to, which I know nothing about. At $3.50 and free shipping, I figured it was too good to be true and went elsewhere.

The interesting part was the “customers also purchased” list:


Four of the items are related to breaking locks. I wonder if these earphones are popular with people that steal iPhones and iPods.

Carmine’s of Chapel Hill

It looks like my (mild) promotion of the term gluten freendly hasn’t caught on, but I have discovered another gluten freendly local restaurant. Carmine’s of Chapel Hill is a new Italian restaurant in the space that used to be Sal’s Pizza. I haven’t eaten in an Italian place since my Celiac diagnosis, but Carmine’s carries gluten-free pasta and even a gluten-free beer.

Both times I’ve been there, the chef-owner came out to assure me the gluten-free noodles would be cooked in fresh water and that my entire entree was gluten-free. I had the Veal Marsala, which was delicious, with a wine sauce made with real cream (no flour thickener!).

Obama Tie-dye

I figured out a folding pattern to make the Obama logo in one pass. After I made the first one for Beth, I made a second batch for other friends, though I think the first one came out better. I keep thinking I know what I’m doing, but it’s hard to reproduce a tie-dye pattern. Here’s the first one on the left and one from the second batch on the right.

Now, if only I had thought of this a year ago, they’d be all over the country…

Unsophisticated Art Review: 10 by 10

I imagine a lot of art pieces start with a single good idea and get expanded with supporting content that isn’t as good as the original idea. In the “10 by 10” format, each of the ten plays is only ten minutes long, so there’s no time for supporting content — you just get the good idea. It seemed like that way at the Ten by Ten in the Triangle show we saw at the Carrboro Arts Center last week.

Technically, most of the plays ran a few minutes more than ten minutes, but no one was complaining as the quality was good throughout. The entire show of ten plays and intermission took 150 minutes. The set changes between plays was very fast, often less than a minute when they just had to move a couple of chairs. The minimal sets did forgo the extra dimension of set design in the presentation.

Speed Mating was probably my favorite. Written by a mathematician, it featured four cicadas in their brief emergence to mate after 17 years underground. The actors made the most of their wings and bug eyes to capture the stages of cicada activity.

Dead Cat was also notable just because it seemed like an exercise in how much can we put into a ten minute play. Narration was mixed with “live” scenes and flashbacks. It all went together seamlessly, but I don’t remember the message.