Monday, October 5, 2009

On turning 60...and finding the fountain of youth

I had a birthday last month. I turned 60 years old on October 11. I think of all my friends who also turned 60 this year...and especially my dearest friend of all, my husband, Danny.
I hope that it will be said of us that we died young; no matter our chronological age when that time comes.
I have finally come to the moment when I feel a certain acceptance that I am past the age of bearing children or inciting/inflicting lust in strangers. I don't know if it's a matter of incipient dementia, but older people have begun to look more attractive to me and hence; I look more attractive to myself. I don't mean, the "well preserved." I'm thinking of the people who stand so straight and look you in the eye, and who have crinkles around their eyes and mouths where laughter lives.
I think about all the social and economic catastrophes in our country and I realize that even if I retire, I won't be living a life of idle pleasure. Guess what? That actually is a comfort to me! I am a bit amazed, but I think I can bear continuing to work for many years to come as long as I have challenges. Failing a great job, I'm already involved in volunteer activities to which I would gladly give my time on a full-time basis.
To me, this is the "fountain of youth."

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Draft for ViewPoint Article

I enjoy thinking about energy efficiency and conservation.  I got interested while I was an electrical engineering student at UNH back in the 70s.  Between my junior and senior years, I wrote a proposal for and received funding to hire twelve of my fellow women engineering students to conduct energy audits at twelve NH colleges; members of a consortium of college plant managers.  We named the summer program “The Women in Engineering, Energy Management Project.”  The goal of the project was two-fold: 1.) Give women engineering students a summer engineering work experience, and 2.) Assist NH colleges in reducing energy consumption.  It was a great experience and measurably successful for the colleges.

Although I never actually worked in the energy industry, my inclination toward reducing power consumption was an important factor later in my career when I worked in notebook computer design for Wang Laboratories. I specialized in low-power circuit design and my team’s work led to a couple of design patents in that area. I know it sounds geeky…and it probably is, but I just love the challenge of doing more with less.

Last summer while visiting my brother in Hull, MA, I was awestruck by the sight of the Hull Wind I and Hull Wind II turbines.  My brother tells me that their home electric bill has been cut nearly in half.  Of course, Hull has a unique situation; ocean breezes and a municipal electric company make large turbine projects very cost effective.  Rindge does not have the same advantages, but is it possible that we could develop a project that would make economic sense and also help the environment?

Pat Barry, Rindge Selectman, told me about a potential wind project at Franklin Pierce University in Rindge.  I contacted FPU and, in response, Ken Clarke, an adjunct professor there, helped me with some basic facts and information about evaluating the potential for wind energy in Rindge.

One of the things that Ken educated me on was the necessity of Meteorological
wind towers (MET towers) for evaluating a potential site.  In the simplest terms, MET towers are very tall (more than 50 feet high) poles with wind measuring and communications equipment mounted at the top. I was shocked to learn that a MET tower and data measurement for a year can cost $20,000 per location!

By doing a little online research, I learned that Maine, Vermont, and Massachusetts all have MET tower loan programs through their state colleges.  New Hampshire does not.

I took it upon myself to contact my alma mater, UNH, to see if there was any interest in starting a loan program in NH too.

Well, who should write me back, but Jacob Aho of New Ipswich, President and Founder of the UNH Energy Club, and a graduate student in Electrical Engineering whose thesis project is wind turbine control systems!

I am so excited to know that there are young engineers out there who plan to dedicate their careers to moving us toward energy independence!  Jacob and I have only been talking since April, but he has kindly offered to take time from his busy schedule to present a forum on wind energy, to be held Thursday at 6:30 P.M. at the Rindge Recreation Building.  Jacob also enlisted the support of Dr. Rob Wills, a Professional Engineer from Temple, and owner of, to help us understand options for homeowners too. 

Rindge may be a tough town to sell on conservation or alternative energy projects.  A motion on the ballot to establish an energy committee in Rindge was defeated last year.  I imagine that there was a perception that such a committee would impose new regulations and cost the taxpayers money.  I'm hoping that we can build grassroots support for a volunteer energy committee by offering great information and workshops that will help people reduce their energy bills.  In any case, I feel as though we need to try.

I work full-time, so I can’t make a big commitment of time. However, I don’t see that as a problem. I think, like so many other things, if everyone does just a little bit to help, the sum of those efforts can lead to wonderful things for the community.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Wind Power Forum

This is the press release I sent out to the Keene Sentinel and the Monadnock Ledger Transcript. There's going to be a "ViewPoint" section in the Ledger on the 11th about the forum speakers. I feel really great about seeing this get off the ground. It's so encouraging to know that other people are interested and willing to contribute to the effort to reduce our carbon footprint and reach toward energy independence.
I'm supposed to write 700 words for the "ViewPoint" article from the perspective of an average person looking at Wind Power and the larger issue of energy conservation. I plan to work on it this weekend and will probably post a draft here to get some feedback.

Wind Power...Is it in Rindge's future?

Please join your neighbors for refreshments and an open forum on Wind Power including a discussion of its possible future in Rindge.  On Thursday, August 13, at 6:30 PM, the Town of Rindge is sponsoring an informational session about Wind Power at the Town Recreation Building on Wellington Road. 
No doubt, you have heard about the wind farm in Lempster, NH and may be aware of wind projects springing up in towns, schools, and college campuses throughout the country.  Is Rindge a candidate for small or large-scale wind projects?
Two local wind enthusiasts have offered to share their experience and expertise with us:

Jacob Aho of New Ipswich is a graduate student and teaching assistant at the University of New Hampshire. Jake is researching wind turbine control systems for his master's thesis in electrical engineering. In addition, Jake is the founder and president of the UNH Energy Club.
Jacob will be giving a ‘Wind 101’ presentation that will cover the basic physics and principals of wind energy and how to test if your site is right for a wind turbine. Jacob will also be sharing his pictures, experiences and insights gained from his recent ‘energy road trip’ to the International Student Energy Summit in Calgary Canada, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and various wind parks across the US and Canada.

Dr. Robert Wills, a Professional Engineer (P.E.) from Temple, NH is the owner of, a company making wind anemometers, data logging systems and computer software to analyze the wind data using a PC.  Dr. Wills also worked on developing the communication system and inverters for Southwest Windpower’s Skystream turbine.
Dr. Wills is also a member of Temple’s Green Committee.
Dr. Wills has put together a great presentation about wind energy and being wary of residential wind turbine manufacturers who make false promises just to sell product. He also covers some basics on:
Wind Energy,
Estimating energy production, and
Deciding what turbine is right for your situation, and
Cost considerations.
We hope this meeting will be the first of many forums/workshops aimed at helping the people of Rindge learn from each other and from experts about conservation and alternative energy projects.  Many projects that save energy and dollars are accomplished for little to no cost and opportunities for weatherization grants exist at many levels. 
The Town also has a Kill-O-Watt meter that will be available for loan from the library so that residents can conduct their own preliminary electricity use energy audits assisted by this user-friendly tool.   
Please contact Pat Martin at or 899-2894 (evenings) or Carlotta Pini, Town Administrator, at 899-5181 x100 with questions or comments about the event. 

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Time marches on...

It's been nearly three months since I posted anything on my blog. There has been plenty to write about; the Brady family had a huge reunion, my daughter bought her first home with her husband, I went to a Red Sox game with a friend from high school (Happy Birthday, Pam!), the Iranian election results were disputed and people in Iran took to the streets in protest, the national debate on health care reform heated up, I co-chaired the Rindge Memorial Day celebration, kept working on plans for some kind of wind energy study for Rindge, and danced in the recital with MPAA. Perhaps it was because there was so much going on that I didn't have time to write about it?

I've been thinking about time a lot lately. Everything in my daily life reminds me that I'm fast approaching 60...that our time on this earth is fleeting. It's not just my reflection in the mirror or seeing the video of my performance in the recital. I can see the lines and crinkly skin and the stiffness of my body when I dance...evidence I can see with my own two eyes. It's not just that...because we all age at different rates...I'm lucky to still have all my original joints and enough teeth to enjoy a meal. It's also that I have trouble summoning up enthusiasm for decorating my house or even cleaning it properly. I don't care very much about clothes anymore. I no longer believe that if I could just lose 10 pounds or find the right make-up, I would be so much happier with myself. I don't even care about finishing my master's degree before I retire. I don't think that I am ever going to be rich or famous or celebrated in anyway other than by my friends and family.

At first, and as I've written in my blogs, I railed against the unfairness of this life; it's shortness, it's social injustice, the oppression of one people by another. I thought, perhaps I am depressed? After all, symptoms of depression include a lack of interest in one's appearance and surroundings...feelings of hopelessness and helplessness.

Now, I think about all of this differently. I want to be engaged and to contribute to the future, but I know that my situation with work is not likely to change. I probably won't ever find a position again where I will be on the cutting edge of technological development. The company I work for will most likely continue to discount my ability to problem solve. And, I suspect, the young woman in sales will continue to call the shots and bully the rest of us. I used to feel such rage when she would assign me shipping tasks...!

Now, all I can think of is that I only have to hold on at work for two more years...then I'll be eligible for social security. When our office bully does something that feels disrespectful or mean, I just tell myself that I will be free of this in 2 years; she still has at least 26 years of misery (because you have to be miserable to want to spread it around) ahead of her. Meanwhile, my primary focus is on paying off all my credit card debt and staying mentally and physically active. I am simplifying my life as much as I can. I am spending more quality time with my friends and family...and especially my husband. Time is fleeting...!

I have not stopped dreaming...or recognizing the need to dream of something beyond the daily grind. I simply have come to recognize that, like a slave, I need to buy my freedom before I can move on. I have stopped trying to turn back the hands of time. I look toward to that future when I have the financial security to pursue the dreams and causes I've had to sacrifice in exchange for earning my daily bread.

I suppose I've come to these realizations later than some people. And, truly, it might be different if my chosen occupation were more friendly toward older workers. But, it is what it is and I certainly enjoyed many years of an exciting professional life. Although there wasn't an exact moment of epiphaney, I know what has most influenced me. At least two of my friends have dropped 10 years from their birth dates on their FaceBook pages. After I stopped laughing, I thought, "Well, what 10 years of my life would I like to erase so that I could be 10 years younger?" And, of course, the answer is none of them. Maybe there's a day here or there that I would surrender, some acts or words that I wish I could withdraw, but on the whole, I am content...even grateful for it all.

And, I think I am lucky to not care about Botox injections or plastic surgery to make me look younger than I am. I realize that if I need to pay down my debt, it is a good thing I don't covet fancy clothes or a showcase home. From this point on, all my decorating and improvement effort will be focused on the "inner" me...where the real action in life happens.

And so, I keep on dancing, keep on dreaming, and looking toward the future...a body stiff with age, but surrendering all self-consciousness to the joy of dancing my inner being to the music of life.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Saturday morning...ahhh!

I'm referencing an older blog...from the Vernal Equinox posting.
That day, I was fretting about not being included in the Monadnock Writer's Group page, having angst about dance classes, and being "dissed" at work.
I wound up cutting and pasting from my post to create emails to the Monadnock Writer's Group (MWG), and my Irish Dance teacher. In my modern dance class, I asked someone from the back row to switch with me so that she was in the front.
The result is that I am on the MWG writers page...though it hasn't made any difference in my readership. I think my daughter and I are STILL the only ones who read it. (Thanks, Liese!) They assured me that it was all a mistake related to an email address changing...I wasn't being shunned.
My Irish Dance teacher asked me not to quit, but that I wouldn't be under any pressure to perform either. At least I got it off my chest. I think I might be happier dancing if I dropped 10 pounds...and that goes double for modern dance.
In modern class, I got moved back to the front row in line with the woman I asked to switch with me. The wonderful young dancer is now in the center, in a row by herself with two people in the row behind.
I'm still annoyed with the costume for modern dance. It has a long skirt and puffy sleeves with a bare midriff. It seems like a hostile move on the part of the studio management. I'm nearly 60, another dancer will be 70, another is in her 50s, and one is in her 40s. The only dancer who would look good in this costume is the 22 year old. A bare midriff! And, by the way, none of us is skinny!
Plus, we do backward somersaults and a modified would be hard to find a costume more unsuitable and uncomfortable to wear for that dance.
I really don't think it's my imagination that they don't appreciate adult students. It's almost as if they would like us to just go away.
It's funny...some of the most wonderful dancers and teachers in the world are only interested in the dancing perfection that young bodies can produce. They can tolerate the imperfections of young dancers still in training, but they have no patience with dancers who will never achieve professional status. They even stop dancing themselves when their bodies will no longer reach those impossible heights of perfection.
I think it's sad.
As gifted as these dancers are, I think it is more of a gift to dance because you have to dance...because your soul finds expression...because your body is grateful for the sweat and the stretch and the flying across the floor on the wings of the music.
Kitty Lunn is my idea of a dancer who dances through her life. You can read about her at: You can also download videos of some of her performances at I'm actually planning on attending one of her performances with a friend of mine from New York on May 30th.
Work is about the same, but I think that with my renewed focus on building energy infrastructure in Rindge, I can tolerate the lack of interesting challenges and opportunities at work.
Of course, all the things that I was so upset about when I wrote that post became like little gnats on the windscreen of my life about a week later.
On April 7th, I found out that I had a lesion on my kidney and a melanoma on my left forearm. For three days I scoured the Internet, diagnosing myself and trying to come to terms with worst case scenarios.
Mercifully, I was able to get an MRI done within a few days and learned that the lesion was a benign fatty tumor. I had the melanoma excised the same day as the MRI and they tell me that it was stage 0 and they got it all.
Then, my baby called me on Easter Sunday to say that she was having pains that started in the middle of her back and shot through to her sternum. I think that was the worst moment of my life so far. I don't think my daughter knows how much she means to me. I think I could face my own death with more grace than I could ever face losing her. My world would dim and I don't think I could ever be truly happy again. Now I understand the literal meaning of saying that someone you love is "the light of my life!"
It wasn't a heart attack, but the pain continued for a week. She had an ultrasound to check her gallbladder, but nothing showed up. Even prescription strength anti-acids didn't relieve the pain. We still don't know what caused it. Liese will get more testing done, but she feels much better now.
Suddenly, all the little things that were bothering me don't seem so important anymore. I just want my baby to be well and for me to last several more years on the Earth enjoying her company and my life. Nothing else really matters that much.
And, sometime, in the midst of all the anxiety and pain, the conviction that I need to put my whole self behind making a difference in the energy demands and resources of my community coalesced.
So, now it is Saturday afternoon. I am grateful for the peace and quiet. I'm not planning on going anywhere or doing anything today. I'm just going to rest and putter around a bit...and dream of windmills on the horizon with people picnicking and dancing beneath the skyward reaching arms.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Have I found my encore performance?

I'm very excited. I think I may have rediscovered the passion of purpose in my life. I want to make an actual difference in energy conservation and alternative power generation in my community. I'm throwing myself completely into helping to make this dream a reality.
What I envision is a community effort with input from all the people who have any interest in this. In my mind's eye, I see a beautiful, towering, 1 GW wind turbine, arms reaching for the sky in a kind of ballet of hope for tomorrow. But that is a private image that may not prove to be practical or acceptable to the people of Rindge.
In any case, my motivation is not to build my kind of "science fiction" view of the project. My goal is to help Rindge build a power infrastructure that puts it into a position of having a sustainable local economy.
I have confidence that, as a community, we can research the possibilities together and make some choices. While we're looking for our "mother lode" of power, we can begin reducing our consumption and supporting people in the community who have the means to build alternative energy systems for their own properties.
We could even help someone start a business composting corn plastics...perhaps on the Famm Steel property? Would that be a good site for a wind turbine too?
I spent the morning at the Rindge Transfer Station helping with the Woman's Club sorting of recyclables out of the roadside trash pickup for Earth Day. They let me set up a table and talk to people about starting a committee or energy resource commission in town. I had a lot of interesting conversations with people in town. Some people think that photovoltaic is the way to go. One guy was pretty convinced that we don't have enough wind to even consider a wind turbine. Several of the people I spoke with had made improvements for energy conservation and were researching generating their own electricity via wind or solar. Seven people signed up to be involved.
I think this is going to be one of the greatest adventures of my life.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Vernal Equinox

Yesterday was the Vernal Equinox.
My plan is to celebrate it by cleaning the house and yard. I might even build a small fire to burn some of the smaller branches.
In some parts of the world, it marks the beginning of the New Year.
Along with cleaning my house and yard, I'm going to try to clean out all the old resentments and negative thoughts that keep me from moving forward. Of course, there will always be things that happen that hurt your feelings or cause you to feel like you should just give up. There are a few of those bouncing around in my head right this moment. My thought is that if you don't meet them head on, analyze and address them, they just keep blocking new ideas and new opportunities.
1.) I submitted my 'writer's profile" to Monadnock Writer's Group several months ago, but they never published it. I'm a member. I sometimes go to meetings. I wanted people to read my blog and give me feedback. Is my writing so bad that they decided not to include me? Should I just forget about writing?
2.) I have a degree in engineering and patents for computer inventions. I'm still working on an MS in computer science; which I think demonstrates my willingness and ability to continue learning. But, at work, I am most valued and rewarded for assisting the sales admin with clerical tasks.
I'm the IT person, but our UK office thought it was okay to move our public website without letting me know when they did it. (I knew it was being moved, but I was told they would let me know when it happened.) I only got told after people came to me to complain that the website wasn't working.
There was also a phone conference on a Lotus application launch...I was invited to the first one and brought my Domino expert consultant. Another meeting was scheduled, but I wasn't invited...he was! He is a contractor who charges 6X per hour what I'm paid. Wouldn't it make sense to involve me so that I could do the legwork and some of the implementation under his direction?
What is going on here? I keep the systems running, I solve people's technical problems. I answer technical questions with documentation and references.
I didn't get a pay increase this year either. I asked what the reason was; were they unhappy with my work? No, I was told, the decision was made by senior management and no reasons were given; just the amounts to be given out. I have it in writing.
I've been there two years without a performance review.
Am I so unpleasant, uncooperative, incompetent, or what? It makes no sense to me unless I'm totally deluded about my own performance...
3.) I love to dance, but there are elements of taking dance class that are not entirely comfortable for me. I'm in a modern class with other adults. When we started working on a performance piece, I lined myself up in the front row with a much younger and MUCH better dancer. I'm almost 60; she's barely 20...and her dancing is more than 3Xs as good as mine. I just didn't think about it.
Last week the teacher started talking about moving us around so that the same people weren't always in the front. I feel a little embarrassed, like my dancing isn't good enough to be out in front...or that maybe the other people in the class think I believe I'm a good dancer ( I actually do think I have my moments, but know I have limitations too)...or, who knows? I've been dancing the longest of anyone in the class.
I've been struggling with this for several years now. It seems that if I dance with MoCo, I always wind up in the background as part of the toddler or "creative dance" classes. I'm not the only one, but it feels a bit like a put-down to me.
In Irish Dance it is almost impossible for me to learn and keep up with some of the faster dances. It's embarrassing how awful I look in the traditional Irish Dance costume and wig. I hate looking at pictures of myself on the ID website. Am I holding the adult group back from looking very professional? I know I'm expected to practice and that's at least part of the reason that the other adults are so much better. It's just that I've been dancing longer than almost anyone else in the school, but I don't seem to be improving.
Is it, finally, time to hang up my dancing shoes?
If I could only let go of the pride issue; I could recognize the fact that I dance for EXERCISE. I don't practice because I have other things in my life that are more important to me, so I don't have time.
Maybe the solution is to stop performing?
4.) I'll never finish my master's degree. That's my fear. I am actually making progress on it, but I have a lot of anxiety about it.
There are probably several more negative ideas that hold me back from enjoying my life as much as I could. I bet everyone has a few of these? I'm not sure that I've resolved any of them completely, but I plan to write them on a piece of paper and burn them as I work in the yard today!
Happy Equinox!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

I missed an important anniversary

December 10, 2008 was the 60th anniversary of the adoption and proclamation of the "Universal Declaration of Human Rights" by the General Assembly of the United Nations. You can read the declaration at
I bring this up because, as I look around the world and within our own country, I see that we truly need to embrace that declaration.
It's difficult.
In our own country, we have people who want to impose their religious views on others. And, quite honestly, whether you look at the Taliban or the Christian Right, you see forces who wish to govern our lives, not based upon the "Universal Declaration of Human Rights," but upon their scriptures and religious teachings.
The declaration actually talks about "social safety nets" and the right to a living wage. It talks about the right to open and free expression of religious views, but it also warns against imposing those views on others. It is basically a reiteration of "Do unto others..." and "Love thy neighbor as thyself."
I find it SO interesting that the people most likely to be aggressively christian are also the ones to be uber-patriotic and very vocal about "supporting our troops."
"What's interesting about that," you may ask?
Did you know that the US Military recognizes almost 40 different religious markers for graves? See for a list. That list includes the symbols for Islam, Buddhism, agnostics, and Wicca.
How do the flag-waving, bible-thumping zealots reconcile their support of the military with denial for our soldiers to worship (or not) as they see fit?
Personally, I don't think they can. If you support this country, you support the separation of church and state and the freedom of religious expression and choice.
As a veteran of the US Air Force, I know that being a patriot is more about service to one's country...whether formal military service or community volunteerism, than waving flags, spouting slogans, or pasting decals on one's vehicle. Whatever money is spent on those decals would be better spent in a donation to a veteran's shelter or the USO. The money for those decals usually winds up in China.
And we all, every US citizen, have a responsibility to defend the freedoms outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the US Declaration of Independence, and the United States Constitution. Whether it is our personal freedoms that are under attack or those of another creed, race, sex, or ethnic group, as citizens we have both the right and the responsibility to speak up and defend those rights with our whole being.
So, today, though I am late, I celebrate the 60th anniversary of the declaration of human rights and hope that reason and brotherly and sisterly love will prevail.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

25 Things About Me

Please don't go away! I'm really not planning to list 25 things about me. I just love the whole concept of it. One of my Facebook friends sent me a "note" that read,
"Rules: Once you've been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it's because I want to know more about you.

(To do this, go to “notes” under tabs on your profile page, paste these instructions in the body of the note, type your 25 random things, tag 25 people (in the right hand corner of the app) then click publish.) Rules: Once you've been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it's because I want to know more about you."

I made my list and then "tagged" 25 of my friends (that was almost everyone!) on FB. That meant I had to send it to some "friends" whom I don't know very well. At first I felt uncomfortable and a bit shy about asking them, but then I thought, "That's the whole point; catch up with what old friends have been doing and learn more about new friends!"

It's an exhausting exercise to be sure, but wonderfully cathartic! One day later, I would probably change some of the information. For instance, I wonder if anyone else has ever experienced waking up with bags under their eyes after getting too much sleep?

In summary, try writing 25 things about yourself and get your friends to do the same. It's really fun!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Great Ice Storm of 2008...continued

It's been 4 weeks since the power was restored after the storm. Until yesterday, I was still counting my blessings and feeling as though the storm acted like a reset button on my life. I appreciated EVERYTHING; being warm, having lights to hold back the dark of night, and running water (HOT and cold) to flush toilets, take showers and wash clothes.
I felt an appreciation for the suffering of people in war-torn countries like Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, and Israel. I felt a solidarity with the people of India who often only have access to water for a few hours a day. Hearing about such things and living them are totally different experiences.
I've heard experts say that social attitudes are pretty much formed by the time a person is seven years old. After that, the only way to really change an attitude is through experience. Telling someone a thing is right or wrong just doesn't have much impact...they have to live it.
I wanted to change my life, change my attitude, make a difference in the world.
Now, I feel that underlying sense of discontent creeping back into my life.
I don't feel motivated to do much of anything except complain.
I am unhappy with myself for all of my failures and shortcomings. There are many. I should have control over most of them, but I don't seem to be able to get it together enough to tackle these challenges.
I guess the upside (if there is one) to confronting the fact that I disappoint myself, is that I find it pretty easy to forgive the failings of others. Although...
A person I admire has scolded me for this; saying that accepting and forgiving another person's flaws is just a form of enabling. I'm still trying to sort this out. Am I so forgiving because I'm enabling myself to be less than I ought to be...everyone (including myself) is a disappointment in some way? Why should I be any different?
At this low moment, I try to remind myself of the things that all the wise people in life have told me:
1.) Try to be useful to someone...everyday.
2.) Perform an act of kindness...everyday.
3.) Take a step, no matter how small, in the direction you want to go.

So, today, I signed up for an activity in honor of the "National Day of Service" and supported some kids from Peterborough, NH who are selling "Obama Bread" to benefit "Free the Children."
I bought a low-flow shower head that I'm going to install today.
And, I will at least LOOK at my thesis project for two hours.