Past Picks of the Day

Seacoast Eat Local
Seacoast Eat Local is the site to visit if you want to find restaurants that support local farmers, farmer's markets, U-pick-ups, farm stands and CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture farms). Almost area every farm and local food organization now has a website, and you can find them all -- and useful information such as the seasonal availability of New England seafood -- via Seacoast Eat Local and it's sister site, Seacoast Harvest.

Chef James Haller
Chef, cookbook author and Portsmouth restaurant pioneer James Haller maintains a low public profile these days. His last publicized appearance was in April when he returned to the kitchen at 29 Ceres Street, the site of the Blue Strawberry, with its current occupant, chef Evan Mallet of the Black Trumpet Bistro. Haller, however, continues to be active if low key. He maintains a website where friends and fans can track his doings, order books and contact him for lectures and consulting.

CDC Swine Flu Page
The Centers for Disease Control is the leading authority for information about the swine flu.

Save Our Bridges
An ad hoc coalition of Seacoast citizens, non-profits and businesses has created a web site to stir up support for two Portsmouth-Kittery bridges -- the Memorial and Sarah Mildred Long -- that conceivably could be closed to foot, bicycle and vehicular traffic within the next several years. The groups says the two bridges "are critical to sustaining economic growth and quality of life in the towns of Portsmouth, Eliot and Kittery, encouraging local commerce as well as pedestrian and bicycle transportation."

Recovery.gov
Recovery.gov has a large job: To let Americans know where $800B in economic stimulus money is going. While clearly putting the Obama Administration's slant on things, the website does provide an exceptional level of detail and some clear goals, such as creating or saving 16,000 jobs over the next 2 years in New Hampshire.

Lincoln Photographs from the Library of Congress
The Library of Congress has posted more than a dozen photographs on Flickr that let you see how Abraham Lincoln looked over 20 years — from the earliest known photographic likeness in 1846 through the U.S. presidential campaign of 1860.

(H)EAT
Seacoast Local, the association that promotes independent local businesses, has embarked on a campaign to raise $50,000 this winter for heating oil and food assistance. With the poor economy, local food pantries and fuel assistance programs have already seen a dramatic increase in applicants. New Hampshire and Maine government agencies that provide fuel assistance expect to help more people than ever this winter  which will reduce the amount of assistance for each recipient. To help out, donate on the (H)EAT website, buy (H)EAT merchandise from participating Seacoast local sites, donate food and tell your friends.

NH Energy Saving Tips
The State of New Hampshire has created a web page with straightforward tips on how to save energy this winter. The page summarized basic areas of your home to look at and how much improvements are liable to help.

The Pindell Report
James Pindell, the baby-faced managing editor of the Politicker.com, made his name covering New Hampshire politics, first for PoliticsNH.com and then for the Boston Globe. Now Pindell and Politicker.com has together a report on the hottest political races in the country using its trademark method of inside, on the ground reporting. New Hampshire figures prominently in the hottest races, with Sen. John Sununu's bid to retain his seat currently (Aug. 14) ranking No. 1 in Senate races and Rep. Carol Shea Porter's bid to retain hers ranking No. 5 in the House of Representatives.

Killer Startups
Killer Startups hopes to tap the wisdom of crowds to identify the Facebook, MySpace or YouTube. The site lays out the concepts of new websites, and then lets visitors vote for those they think are the hottest. The site also reviews 30 startup sites each day - from travel photos to Web 2.0 human resource assistance. Serious people can get investor information.

Catalog Choice.
Each year 19 billion catalogs are sent to Americans, accounting for 53 million trees and CO2 emissions equivalent to 2 million cars. If some your catalogs go directly to the garbage or recycling bin, Catalog Choice may be for you. Catalog Choice lets consumers indicate which catalogs they no longer wish to receive, then gives businesses a list of consumers who no longer want to receive their catalogs. As Catalog Choice says, it's a good way to simplify your life and save natural resources.

GC Cycling
Writing a blog is a dicey business. There are so many ways you can go wrong. That said, GC Cycling, a biking blog written by Seacoast rider Giles Cooper, largely succeeds because Cooper obeys the basic commandments of good blogging. Keep it current. Have a focus. Provide useful information. Photos are nice ... Cooper writes about bike equipment, racing, benefit events, bike routes in the Seacoast and his own adventures. Some it is inside baseball ("Naming Your Bike"), but it's the season to be excited about biking.

FreeRice
FreeRice is both a vocabulary game and a way to fight world hunger. For each word you get right in the quiz, FreeRice will donate 20 grains of rice to the UN World Food Program. As with "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" and similar shows, the questions get harder as you go along. There's a running total showing your best and current ratings, and default option is for words you miss to be repeated, so you have a chance to learn. Advertisers pay for the rice contributions. So far more than 32 billion grains have been donated.

RPM Challenge Jukebox
Maybe you missed the RPM Challenge v3.0, a local event that has gone national. The event, which asked musicians and bands to record a CD in month, wrapped up at the end of March. Maybe you missed it -- or maybe you were just too busy to listen to all 10,000 or so songs. No matter. the Challenge has a solution: the RPM Jukebox. This impressive online application will let you review the whole thing, plus entries from 2007. Participants have uploaded their music tracks and cover art, and it's all searchable or displayed 100 songs at a time on the home page.

The Hunger Site
The Hunger Site was established in 1999 with the mission to aid world hunger. Help fight world hunger every day by clicking on the Hunger Site's yellow button. How does it work? Just visit the site and click. There are no gimmicks, no need for membership and it's free. With the help of corporate sponsors who are allowed to post advertisements (not pop-up windows), the site collects money to send to legitimate aid organizations both domestically and internationally. The Hunger Site has sister sites which help provide free mammograms, health care for children, books for children, preserve the rain forest, and care for rescued animals. You can help out more by purchasing fair trade items in their gift shop. It is the first site I visit every day when I go online to check my e-mail. It takes less than twenty seconds to click all of these sites, and by doing it you've helped a little each day.

Travel Zoo
A lot of websites out there compile travel deals, but Travel Zoo has become one of the most popular. A major feature is the Top 20 travel deals of the week. Samples: A 6-day stay in London including tround-trip flight from Boston and hotel for $749, and a 5-night western Caribbean cruise in March for $399. Some Top 20 deals you may not care about – say, a $99 round-trip flight from Minneapolis to Las Vegas – but it is possible to search for deal for a particular city. On the downside: Registration is required to see most of the deals.

Etsy.com
Etsy devotes itself to selling handmade arts and crafts items – from art to woodworking, with bags, ceramics, candles, clothing, crochet and more in between. Its "stores" are free to all, and the charges for selling items modest. With such a liberal policy, Esty has become very large. The jewelery section alone offers more than 36,000 pieces.

Creek Man
In January Gary Sredzienski, well-known locally for his "Polka Party" radio show on WUNH-FM and his accordion-led surf-rock band, swam 6 miles to the Isles of Shoals. The 4-1/2 hour swim, raised thousands of dollars for th Krempels Brain Injury Foundation. Read all about it and watch a video on a web page devoted to "Creek Man."

RealClearPolitics.com
Feeling withdrawal now that the NH Primary is done? RealClearPolitics.com may be the answer. An amazingly dense website, RealClearPolitics.com collects election analysis, commentary, poll results and news, and presents it all in an easily accessible headline format. You can see the latest polls for NH, South Carolina, Michigan, Nevada and California, or look averages or each state or the country. Pundits from Brit Hume of FOX News to Howard Fineman of Newsweek say they check the RealClearPolitics.com daily.

Pandora Radio
Pandora Radio lets you create personal internet radio "stations" based on the music you like. Say you like Radiohead. After you enter the band's name, Pandora creates a selection of songs it thinks is similar, such as "Not Even Jail" by Interpol or "Control" by Magazine. It works with Sinatra, too. The service, which is free after registration, is based on the work of the Music Genome Project, which analyzed the qualities of thousands of songs. The site has other interesting features such genre stations, the ability to create a station based on a single song, the ability to rate Pandora's selections up or down, and to share what you find with others.

NHPrimary.com
OK, NHPrimary.com is really a front for the Nashua Telegraph's NH Primary coverage. But the site stands out for its well-organized "Candidates" section, which includes hour-long videos of each candidate talking with the Telegraph'seditorial board and related news coverage. If you haven't made up your mind and can't see them all in person, NHPrimary.com is an excellent resource.

Fridge Watcher
"Every fridge tells a story" is the motto of FridgeWatcher.com, a blog that posts photos and descriptions -- sometimes very long descriptions -- of refrigerators from around the world. Is this interesting? Surprisingly, yes. Everyone eats and stores food in a different way, and the exteriors can become hodge-podge works of art.

dealnews
A bargain hunter's paradise, dealnews reports the best online deals available for computers, technology, gadgets, and other items. The site can list as many as 200 new bargains, coupons, and sales in a single day. Every deal is the lowest price dealnews can find that is, importantly, sold by a reputable store.

Smitten Kitchen
Smitten Kitchen is a well-written, gorgeously photographed, food blog written by Deb Perelman, a technology reporter who evenings writes about cooking from her 4th-floor apartment in New York City. Perelman describes her projects -- from Arroz Con Pollo (Cuban Chicken with Rice) to Zucchini, Ham, Basil and Ricotta Fritters -- in a detailed and charmingly personal way that has won her a loyal following, an appearance on Martha Stewart, and reviews in major newspapers.

eHow
eHow attempts the ultimate in practicality, which is to be the site that explains "how to do just about everything." The site includes tens of thousands of articles in hundreds of categories. Many are contributed by editors, while some are written by users. They range from the extremely practical ("How to Buy a Cheap Car") to the possibly useful ("How to Dance at Homecoming") to the exotic ("How to Make a Profitable Morocco Property Investment").

Seacoast Eat Local Wiki
Many people would like to eat more local food to support Seacoast farms, boost community, have fresher food and the reduce environmental impact of the food they eat. It's not always easy locating local suppliers, however. To change that, residents and farmers have created the Seacoast Eat Local Wiki. The site, which relies on users for its content, helps you locate eggs, milk, meat, beverages, seafood, grains and more. And then you can contribute your own information.

Billy Connolly
If you're afraid of public speaking (most of us are), imagine stepping onto the stage as a comedian at Carnegie Hall and having only a vague idea of what you were going to say or which jokes you were going to tell. That's how fearless, on-the-very-edge, Scottish comedian Billy Connolly works. He also has advice for dieters: "If you want to lose a few pounds, don't eat anything that comes in a bucket." Amen.

FORA.tv
The brainchild of Brian Gruber, who helped developed C-Span and C-Span II, FORA.tv is the place to watch interviews, lectures, panel discussions, debates, and presentations by leading thinkers from all over the political spectrum on a vast range of subjects. Watch this Andrew O'Hagan interview of Norman Mailer and Gunter Grass on the same stage at the NY Public Library in June 2007. Mailer died in November at age 84, but back in June he was still sharp as a tack.

Select A Candidate Quiz
A tv station in Illinois has put together a useful quiz on the Presidential candidates. The quiz asks for your positions on major issues and then selects the candidate whose positions most closely match. The general result will probably be as you expect - Democrats will generally select Democrats, and Republicans will generally select Republicans - but your nearest match may be surprising. Food for thought.

Dog Judo
Fans of British humor, and there must be one or two out there, will love this animated site which features two Cockney dogs, Rexley and Roy, dressed in judo togs who try a dating service, get mugged, and argue constantly. The creator, apparently a judo instructor, posts a new blog each week and a new video each month.

Woodman Institute Museum
Dover's Woodman Institute Museum and accompanying William Damm Garrison has a Flashy new website showing off its eclectic and eccentric collection. Established in 1916, the Woodman Institute remains a turn-of-the-century museum offering such oddities as the stuffed Last Cougar Shot in New Hampshire and Abraham Lincoln's saddle, along with items of great historical value such as the William Damm Garrison itself, a fort-like 1675 home now completely enclosed by another building to protect it from the elements.

ResellerRatings.com
These days, if you're buying online, beware: Aggregate shopping sites may include seller ratings flooded with bogus positive feedback. Before you buy, check out the ratings at ResellerRatings.com. ResellerRatings.com includes comments about more than 12,000 online retailers, who are rated on a scale of 1 to 10. The site requires reviewers to register, and comments are reviewed before they are published. Some poor ratings are surprising, like for Circuit City, Dell and Buy.com, but other retailers are consistently rated highly.

MapMyRun.com
You don't have to be running, you could be walking. No matter. MapMyRun.com will let you calculate how far you'll go and draw the route on a map. The site is an elaborate Google Map mashup, not unlike Portsmouth downtown. The map program even let you add custom markers, like for water stops. It's sister site, MapMyRide.com, does essentially the same thing, but adds information (and ads) for cyclists.

Patriot's Reward
One of Rye resident Stephen Clarkson's ancestors owned a slave in Portsmouth during Colonial times. Now Clarkson, a retired executive of Newport News Shipbuilding, has published a book Patriot's Reward imagining a time when his namesake, Will Clarkson, became a hero of the Revolutionary War but remained a slave. "Compelling," "well-written," and according to area historian Valerie Cunningham, "historically accurate," Clarkson's book is being published locally by Peter E. Randall, Publisher.

Skybus.com
Skybus Airlines offers flights from Pease Tradeport to its hub in Columbus, Ohio for just $10. Of course, once you get to Columbus leaving for places like San Francico or Florida is much more expensive, but you can do the math. Skybus has modeled itself on Europe's extremely successful budget airlines, like Ryanair. It's totally and completely no-frills. You pay extra to check bags, get on the plane early, or eat or drink.

CarbonFund.org
A host of websites have sprung around the idea of giving environmentally-conscious consumers an opportunity to do what many businesses must do: offset the greenhouse gases they generate while driving, keeping our houses warm or flying around the country. CarbonFund.org, like ConservationFund.org or NativeEnergy.org, uses contributions to support climate-friendly projects such as renewable energy, energy efficiency or reforestation projects that directly reduce a specific amount of carbon dioxide emissions. A $99 donation, for instance, eliminates 18 tons of CO2.

Yahoo! Widget Gallery
Widgets are little programs — geeky or hip, depending on your point of view — with a nice graphic look that you can place on your desktop. Some can be quite useful, like the one that will automatically notify you when it finds a Nintendo Wii in stock online, or the countdown timer. Others are odd or obscure. The widgets, however, are relatively easy create and a whole community of user developers has grown up around Yahoo!'s scripting engine. Expect to see more of them.

OpenOffice.org
OpenOffice.org is a suite of office applications not unlike Microsoft Office, the main difference being that OpenOffice.org is free. Sun Microsystems released the underlying code in 2000 with the aim of reducing Microsoft's market share. Public-minded developers have been improving it ever since. The programs run on almost any operating system, can read and write MS Office files, and often look like the MS Office applications they were designed to replace. This is not cheap software. By 2004, 14 percent of large corporations and government enterprises had adopted it, meaning it's worth a look for anyone on a budget.

Piero Scaruffi's Web Site
A modern-day Italian Renaissance man, Piero Scaruffi -- holder of a PhD. in mathematics, author of a 6-volume history of rock music, published poet, authority on film, and "free thinker" -- is also a relentless cataloguer of all that he learns. His web site contains a mind-boggling array of information, but the lists probably have made his site a popular online destination. A small sampling: the 1000 best movies, best novels ever (Armenian through Ukrainian literature), the greatest writers of all time, the greatest places in the world, the best rock albums ever, and the best jazz albums of all time.

Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch
Eat fish, nutritionists say, it's good for you. On the other hand, some types of seafood are overfished, some are fished in ways that harm the environment, and some contain potentially harmful levels of pollutants like mercury and PCBs. What's a sane person to do? Check the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch. The Seafood Watch provides up-to-date advice on sustainable seafood choices for different regions of the U.S., including printable pocket-size versions of the regional guides.

Farecast
Farecast is a new website designed to help eliminate that sinking feeling you get when you realize you've paid twice as much for your airline seat as the person sitting next to you. Enter your trip plans, and Farecast.com will predict whether ticket prices will go up or down in the next 7 days. You can view a 90-day history of fares for the route you select, and also see the current lowest fares from you airport of choice. Seventy-five airports are listed so far, including Boston and Manchester.

Market Square Steeple
A July 28, 2006 thunderstorm showed just how Portsmouth would look without the mammoth spire of North Church rising above Market Square: Rather odd and much more plain. The spire was being restored when the storm hit and is now being rebuilt. Slide shows document the entire project, and there is ample information online about how to contribute to the private fundraising efforts that are making the project possible.

City of Portsmouth Newsletter
The City of Portsmouth publishes an informative community newsletter covering city-sponsored activities and projects. Published biweekly, the newsletter covers the wide range of topics affected by city government such as Eastern Equine Encephalitis and mosquito control, public access television, roadwork and construction projects, recreation, school news and neighborhood events. Sign up or read back issues on the City of Portsmouth web site.

Soccer Commercials
Like football and other bigtime American sports, soccer has its own collection of high-powered ads. Soccer fan Chris Cooper made available more than 60 of them for downloading on his web site. They make entertaining and exotic viewing. Now if only the games were as exciting ...

World eBook Fair
Starting on the 4th of July and for a month afterward, more than 300,000 electronic books will be available for free download from the new web site, ww.WorldeBookFair.com. The site will combine the library of Project Gutenberg, which consist of 100,000+ classic books whose copyrights have expired, include Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, the Sherlock Holmes stories of Arthur Conan Doyle and the works Shakespeare, with the collection of the World eBook Library, which ordinarly charges $9 a year for unlimited downloads. 2006 marks the 35th anniversary of the first text made availabe for downloading, the Declaration of Independence.

Senses Challenge
Seeing is believing, but that doesn't mean it's true. This quiz from the BBC illustrates how your eyes and mind can fool you. Twenty interactive challenges show some of the peculiarities of perception.

Internet Archive: Wayback Machine
You'd think that when a web page changes, the old version just disappears into cyperspace. Some do, but increasingly a copy is available for posterity. The Internet Archive, a San Francisco-based nonprofit group, maintains copies of many web pages dating back to late 1996. Sometimes images are missing or things don't work, but you can get the idea for some 55 billion web pages. It's possible see how things were, say, at the Millenium or to revisit an older version of your favorite web site. (PortsmouthNH.com?)

WebExhibits.org
An online museum, WebExhibits.org features colorful, nicely done science exhibits on a wide range of topics. Current subjects include Daylight Savings Time, Color Vision in Art, and a famous painting, Feast of the Gods, done originally in 1512 by Giovanni Bellini but then painted over seven year later by another great painter, Titian. Why? That's the mystery.

Annoyances.org
Annoyances.org is devoted to cataloging and addressing the irksome aspects of Microsoft Windows, a program with a lot of annoyances. A well-organized site, Annoyances.org is clearly for geeks, but there are useful topics for regular people here, too, like how where a file might have disappeared to or the top reasons for random fatal crashes.

WeeklyEcho.com
Major search engines publish rankings of their most popular and fastest-rising topics, and Portsmouth resident Ari Alexenberg has taken advantage of that to create a snapshot of popular culture. WeeklyEcho.com consists of a mosaic of images based on those rankings, along with links to the sources. If it was hot last week, it's there -- from "Japan under attack by giant jellyfish" to "Paula Abdul's tantrum" to "Rice: Iran Can't Have Nukes." Alexenberg says the site juxtaposes "seemingly unrelated events/people/things that become intimately related by the point in time and our culture's interest in them."

CoffeeGeek.com
Portsmouth may be the coffee capital of the Seacoast, but it's Amateur City compared to CoffeeGeek.com. The truly coffee-obsessed can only look in awe at CoffeeGeek.com's authoritative information on tasting, milk frothing, Turkish coffee, and different methods of brewing, exhaustive reviews of exotic coffee makers, steamers and grinders, and lengthy feature articles on various aspects of coffee love. On top of that, there is an extensive CoffeeGeek community of users that offer up opinions and comments in the forums and product-review sections.

JibJab.com
Despite a nearly total takeover of this site by advertising messages, JibJab.com continues to draw visitors with its wacky, often politically-tinged animations. You can watch President Bush, Dick Cheney, John Kerry and many other recognizable figures sing "Good to be in D.C." to the tune of "Dixieland," or listen to Santa gripe, muscial-style, about how tough his job has gotten, what with the ever-escalating demand for more toys.

FutureMe.org
Thinking about the future? FutureMe.org may help you get specific about your plans, ideas and hopes. The site lets visitors email themselves at any date in the future. For the young, the optimistic, and those who plan to keep their email addresses for a very long time, the site accepts dates up through the year 2035. Now there's a concept. What would you want to say to yourself 30 years from now?

SwarmSketch.com
SwarmSketch.com is about cooperative doodling. Each week the site selects a popular search engine phrase (like "the world's ugliest dog" or "prison break") and makes it the theme of a collaborative drawing. Anyone can view the drawing and add a line of their own. You get about an inch. You also get to decide how light or dark a few lines by other people should be. As you can imagine, some of the drawings are pretty crappy. But then some of them are pretty interesting, too. Past drawings are archived, and the site features animations showing how each evolved.

IVR Cheat Sheet
An IVR (as you'll eventually discover if you search every inch of phone geek Paul English's otherwise worthy web site) stands for Interactive Voice Response system. They're the often annoying computerized phone systems you get when you call any large corporation. English has achieved a small sort of fame by publishing a list showing how to circumvent IVRs at many companies in order to talk to a real person. Example: At Visa, hit "000" and ignore the "invalid entry" prompts. English's efforts have irritated some corporations, but probably not those with good customer service programs.

Bloglines
Bloglines is one of the new and hot web services called a "news aggregators." Nowadays online information providers often broadcast their content in "syndicated feeds" or "news feeds" in technologies like Really Simple Syndication (RSS). There are billions and billions of these feeds. (Well, almost: Bloglines currently searches and indexes more than 80 million live web articles.) Here's how it works. Create an account, pick a subject and/or specific blogs, and Bloglines organizes the feeds for you on a single web page.

Sundance Solar
Hurricane Katrina made SundanceSolar.com suddenly relevant. Whereas once upon a time the online store may have been pigeon-holed as a website for environmentalists or novelty gift shoppers, now it seems very practical. Besides an array of solar panel options, Sundance Solar offers useful tools for the person who finds himself in an electricity-free zone: solar-driven battery chargers, solar and wind-up radios, solar cellphone chargers, solar ovens, solar powerpacks, solar flashlights and lanterns.

Blogcritics.org
Blogs can be fabulously entertaining and tremendously informative, but there are billions and billions out there in the Internet universe. How to find your way? Blogcritics.com tries to separate the wheat from the chaff, each week picking what the editors think are the top blogs in various categories. There is A LOT of information here.

Mail2Web.com
Mail2Web offers lots of features, but it's based around a surprising and free service: Enter your email address and password on the home page form, and Mail2Web.com will let you check your messages. Seems to work no matter what your server settings are. The messages stay on your server, but after an hour they're deleted from Mail2Web's archive. Very handy if you're on vacation. The site also offers free Instant Messaging with access to multiple accounts at a single time. For businesses and travelers, there are also a variety of relatively low-cost email and groupware services, as well as Internet access in 170 countries.

WWOZ in Exile
Despite Hurricane Katrina, the New Orleans public radio station WWOZ-FM (90.7) continues to broadcast, but now only online. Calling itself "WWOZ in Exile," the station streams its lineup of New Orleans jazz and heritage programming with the aid of New Jersey community station. The station also has become a community resource, offering an extensive list of musicians who survived, PSA's and government bulletins, message board, a blog by the station manager, and information about benefit concerts and fundraisers.

Rediscovering the Ivory-billed Woodpecker
Ivory-billed WoodpeckerSixty years after it was considered extinct, researchers in 2004 found evidence that the legendary Ivory-billed Woodpecker still existed, living in the Big Woods of eastern Arkansas. An impressive red-crested bird up to 20 inches tall, the Ivory-billed also is known as the Lord God Bird, supposedly because when people saw it some would exclaim "Lord God!". The Cornell Lab of Ornithology web site documents the bird's rediscovery in detail and features images, video and sound.

iFilm.com
iFilm.com is the place to go if you want to find the clip of Bob Novak melting down on CNN, watch SuperBowl ads, catch the latest movie trailers, or view music videos, William Shatner circa 1970, and battle scenes from Iraq. The site, which has a distinct 20-something edge to it, organizes the video into channels like Adrenaline (extreme sports), WarZone, Girls, Comedy, and Music Videos. Clips are ranked by popularity and viewer feedback. Each clip is preceeded by a usually annoying ad (the U.S. Army is a big advertiser), but fyi, it's possible to skip most of it by fast-forwarding.

Photomuse.org
Two major photography centers, the George Eastman House in Rochester, N.Y., and the International Center of Photography in Manhattan, have started an ambitious web project that will soon feature one of the largest freely accessible databases of masterwork photography online. When done in the fall of 2006, the site, Photomuse.org will include almost 200,000 photographs. Already the site features many famed images by photographers such as Alfred Stieglitz, Ansel Adams, Robert Capa, Gary Winograd, Alfred Eisenstadt, Gordon Parks and WeeGee. Eventually, the online library will be searchable not only by photographer name, but by terms, such as "New York" or "immigration."

Wikipedia
Wipipedia seems like an inherently flawed idea. It's an encyclopedia that anyone can edit. Anyone - and we mean anyone - can add topics, add "facts" or (compulsive editors note) rework the prose. The idea is that with so many people editing and monitoring, the articles will eventually be accurate. Wikipedia keeps growing, and recently the L.A. Times even decided to test the concept on its editorial page. Wikipedea features 606,182 topics in 102 languages, from Africans to Zulu. Recently added articles include krill fishing, jockey Kent Desormeaux who won 598 races in a single year, and Love Israel, a cult located in Washington state. You get the idea. Put in your two cents. See article about the July 7 London bombings.

Crying While Eating
A man sits at table holds his head and weeps, pausing only to take large bites from a chocolate eclair. He's crying about "not enough positive news stories." A woman standing outside sobs and wolfs Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. She's crying about "living life under a microscope." These and about 30 more similar, disconcerting, hilarious and strangely uplifting Quicktime video clips comprise Crying While Eating, suddenly one of the most popular web sites with about 15 million hits in the past month. We're not sure what it's about - college students with time on their hands or post-modern art - but it does capture your attention.

Words at Play
Words at Play (a Flash website) starts off with a white screen filled with groups of words and some background voices, babbling. After staring at the screen for a bit, you realize that the word groups all use the same letters. Then you think, 'There's got to more to this web site than this. I better move the mouse.' That's when things start to get interesting. A fascinating site that recently won a Webbie Award for the best home/welcome page.

Television Without Pity
Who can take television seriously? Yet, truth be known, after watching Desperate Housewives late one bleary night while eating a reasonably sized dish of ice cream and falling asleep before ... you have to admit that you want to know what happened. So many TV shows are like that. Who won the last Amazing Race? Became the next big chef? Got the smarmy bachelor? Finally got to be the apprentice? Is House worth watching? He just seems rude. Television Without Pity to the rescue! In snarky dissy prose that will make your inner Scrooge grimace with delight, this web site recaps hundreds of episodes, letting you know what you missed even if you actually watched it. Plus you can skip the summer reruns.

RoadsideAmerica.com
People create a lot of whacky things, and in America they usually put them next to a highway. There's a the 134-foot high thermometer in Baker, California, and the copies of Stonehenge in Washington, Georgia, Texas, Missouri and New Hampshire (North Salem), not to mention a "Carhenge" built out of junk automobiles in Nebraska. RoadsideAmerica.com chronicles all these attractions and more, lots more, and many attractions are within driving distance of the Seacoast. The four-legged chicken at the Woodman Institute in Dover gets a mention, and of course the roadside attraction capital of America, Route 1 in Saugus, is featured in two articles titled "Frightening Saugus." If you really like this sort of stuff you can sign up for their email newsletter.

MyPyramid.gov
We found the new FDA food pyramid totally confusing, but the FDA web site devoted to it helps clear things up. It appears the FDA wants to take a more sophisticated approach. The new food pyramid suggests everyone tailor his/her diet according to age and activity level, and encourages everyone to get more execise. Possibly the most useful link on the site is for "My Pyramid Plan." Fill out the form the web site will create a personalized list of target amounts for each food group (which can be printed from a PDF file). There also are helpful tips and resources, and for the really serious, a Pyramid Tracker which will help assess your exercise level and let you track what you eat for up to a year.

Call of the Green Monster
It may be time to visit a site that doesn't take things as seriously as your average Red Sox fan. CallOfTheGreenMonster.com features imaginative/imagined stories about the World Series Champions, like: "Several Red Sox Players Hit by Line Drives While Staring at Johnny Damon's Wife"; "Red Sox Forced to Layoff 75 Employees Who Worked Exclusively for Pedro Martinez"; and "With the 'Curse' Now History, Dan Shaughnessy in Seclusion Exploring New People, Families, and Teams to Ridicule, Torment, and Humiliate." Ok, some of it may be inside baseball, but it's worth exploring with spring in the air.

Bode Miller
The first American to top the World Cup Overall standings in 22 years, Bode Miller naturally has a very cool web site. The laid-back resident of Franconia sports a Flash site with a background music grooves (three to choose from), photos of Bode looking cool, a video trailer of him skiing, and some fabulous ski photos. If that just whets your appetite, visit one of the several Bode Miller fan sites like Bodelicious.Net or put in your order for Miller's autobiography "Bode: Go Fast, Be Good, Have Fun," written by Bode and former Seacoast resident Jack McEnany, due out in November. Then look for the official Bode Miller film, "Flying Downhill," being produced by Bill Rogers in Portsmouth.

PortsmouthPeaceTreaty.com
2005 is the 100th anniversity year of an event that made Portsmouth famous world-wide, the signing of the Treaty of Portsmouth. Negotiated in over 30 days in August and September of 1905, the treaty ended the bloody Russo-Japanese War and in the process won President Theodore Roosevelt the Nobel Peace Prize. An elaborate web site, PortsmouthPeaceTreaty.com describes the events that year in great detail, adds 19 pages of photos, and offers scholarly analysis. Dozens of centennial events are planned this spring and summer, including re-enactments, parades, performances, and exhibits, right up to and including the 100th anniversary of the moment the treaty was signed: 3:47 pm EDT on September 5th. Many events will posted on the PortsmouthNH.com calendar, but visit the PortsmouthPeaceTreaty.com for a complete listing.

The Somerville Gates
Christo and Jean-Claude rocked New York with their open-air art happening "The Gates," a $20+ million project that filled Central Park's 23 miles of paths with thousands of saffron-colored portals. Not to be outdone, the non-artist Hargo created his own version "The Gates" in his Somerville home. The gates are a lot smaller - only 3.5 inches - it costs a lot less: $3.50. The reclusive non-artist says there are no official opening events planned, no invitations, no tickets to be had. However, there may be a reception with the mayor of Somerville now that he's famous.

CDC Traveler's Health Info
Headed out on vacation? The U.S. Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta publishes a web site giving detailed and up-to-the-minute health advisories on countries around the world from Afghanistan to Zaire. There are notices of outbreaks (i.e., Asian Bird Flu in Vietnam) and descriptions of all manner of disease. There is useful advice on how to be sure you're drinking safe water and eating safe food, and how to avoid bugs. People who are easily alarmed or inclined toward hypochondria should not spend excessive time on the site, but forewarned is forearmed.

Mardi Gras Zone
Mardi Gras accessories -- beads, hats, boas, masks and costumes -- are easy to find in New Orleans. In New England it's a different matter. So if you want to be prepared for Fat Tuesday, Feb. 8, you may have to go online to a store like the Mardi Gras Zone, which offers a staggering array of colorful items to throw or wear. And if you're too late for Mardi Gras, commerce being what it is, the Mardis Gras Zone has branched out, now offering accessories for Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, Cinco de Mayo, 4th of July and Halloween.

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Papers Project
The King Papers Project is a major effort to assemble and disseminate historical information about Martin Luther King, Jr. and the social movements in which he participated. Headed by a Stanford University professor and supported by King's widow, Coretta Scott King, the project aims to publish the definitive 14-volume collection of Dr. King's most significant written work. Hundreds of documents and recordings are available online including the "I Have a Dream" speech, his Letter from Birmingham Jail, and his acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Das Partyzelt am Albanifest in Winterthur
We're not 100% sure of what's going on at this this somewhat rude and entertaining site, the text being almost entirely in German. But, after clicking on the "Start" sign, it appears the object is to see how far you can make the very well-illustrated and inebriated European party animal walk forward, using the mouse to keep him upright. After he falls, and he will fall, wait a second and you'll get your score in meters. The Flash movie is in poor taste, admittedly, but it's also highly amusing and technically very impressive.

InterAction
InterAction is a coalition of more than 160 US-based private relief, international development and refugee assistance organizations, most of which have been involved in the tsunami relief efforts. InterAction members agree to abide by a set of standards to ensure accountability to donors, professional competence and quality of service. The site lists members who are assisting in Southeast Asia, provides links to their web sites, and offers a "Guide to Appropriate Giving."

Tsunami Relief
Google has put together a simple web page for people who want to donate for tsumani relief. Links to more than a dozen agencies that are providing information about the disaster and accepting donations for victims are listed.

Am I Right? Misheard Lyrics
Songs lyrics can be tremendously hard to decipher and when they are, people tend to make up their own, often hilarious, versions. Like the guy who sings along with Eric Claption's "Cocaine": "Sheep don't lie, sheep don't lie, sheep don't lie. Cocaine." (Correct: "She don't lie, she don't lie, she don't lie. Cocaine."). That gem is just one of thousands of mishead lyrics in the monterous and growing collection at Am I Right? Am I Right also tracks song parodies, band names and real lyrics in categories such as funny, repetitive, insulting or misrhymed. But the star of the show are the misheard lyrics. You can browse for them by artist, song or decade.Ç

Firefox
Firefox 1.0 is the new and suddenly popular "next generation" web browser from Mozilla, a community of web developers created after Netscape gave up the ghost. Firefox has some very handy innovations. It adds "tabs" that let you keep many windows both open and organized. It has a password manager for logins. It's extra-safe against spyware (because it ignores web programs written in Microsoft's ActiveX.) It lets you search or even look up words from the address bar. And UNLIKE Internet Explorer, it lets you sort your bookmarks alphabetically with the click of a button! What a concept. "Next generation" may be too strong a phrase, but there's a lot to like with Firefox 1.0.

Portsmouth Voter Information
The City of Portsmouth web site includes complete voter information for the 2004 general election, including where to vote, how to register on election day, and a sample ballot. Polling hours in Portsmouth are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Portsmouth Community Radio
Years in the making, Portsmouth's low power, nonprofit community radio station WSCA-FM 106.1 is now up and running from a studio off Islington Street in Portsmouth. Its website offers a complete schedule, information about how to get involved, a Top 30 list and more.

Newmarket Freecycle Group
Just about everybody in the Seacoast has stuff they don't want, can't sell, and think is too good to throw away. To the rescue comes the Newmarket NH Freecycle Group, offering northern Rockingham County and Strafford County area residents a place to give away items that need a new home. The group, part of the national Freecycle movement, uses a Yahoo! bulletin to let people give away, or find, stuff. Among recent offerings: a king-size waterbed, 9-foot artificial Christmas tree, metronome, cordless answering machine, and a gas clothes dryer. The rules are simple: items must be free, no yard sales, no animal posts, no spam. For a list of other Freecycle groups, see www.freecycle.org.

Google Desktop Search
Google has released a search engine for Windows XP and Windows 2000 computers, one that will let users do a full text search of their hard drives through Outlook/Outlook Express, Word, AOL Instant Messenger, Excel, Internet Explorer, PowerPoint, and Text files. After downloading and installing a small program (400K), Google Desktop indexes your PC and presents a search page that looks exactly like Google online, with the "Desktop" option added. Searches are extremely fast and, so far, there are no advertisements for local searches. Google maintains the new service does not make your computer's content accessible by Google or anyone else.

The Blogosphere
There's new force in the politics, the Blogosphere, where thousands of amateur and not-so-amateur columnists rant, rave, pontificate and analyze the electoral process on a daily basis. Reaction to news happens in hours or minutes because there's always someone watching online. While some are written in pseudo-journalism style, most are cryptic, aggressive, one-sided and proud of it. Here are some of the most well-known.

2004 Electoral Vote Tracker
As we found out in the last Presidential election, what really counts are the Electoral College votes. Winning the popular vote is nice; winning the Electoral College vote means being President. So how are the candidates doing? You won't hear on the evening news -- it's too complicated -- but the the LA Times has created a web page showing the breakdown between "blue" (Kerry) and "red" (Bush) states. (Look for the "Interactive Map" link.) The current totals: Kerry, 161; Bush, 147; Up for grabs, 230. You can put states with whichever candidate you favor, or go with the current state-by-state poll results, even if they are really statistical ties. The experience can be heartening, or depressing. Site registration is required.

NBCOlympics.com
Creating a website for an event with hundreds of competitions in dozens of sports with thousands of athletes has got to be an overwhelming task, which is probably what happened to the official site of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, www.athens2004.com. The official site had to cover it all and, unfortunately, tried to do it all on its home page. It's more than the mind can handle. NBC, the official spinner of the games, has a much better grip on things. NBCOlympics.com ruthlessly and rather brilliantly simplifies the whole mess, featuring the best stories and biggest stars on the home page, while inside each sport has a similar format with athlete features, bios, results, photos, and video (and of course NBC promotions, stuff for sale, and tv listings). Let's hope the tv coverage (Aug. 13-29) turns out as well.

CameraTown.com
The camera world is going digital, and Cameratown.com wants to pave the way. The brainchild of Rye resident (and frequent contributer to PortsmouthNH.com photo contests) Ron Risman, CameraTown.com tries to collect in one place the links and information users need both before and after a digital camera purchase -- specifications, professional reviews, accessories, links to free software for photo editing and recovery, firmware downloads, online product manuals, news, how-to guides, and links to free photo courses. All in all, it's a big site, well-done, and an ambitious entry into a highly competitive field.

Seacoast Grower's Association
Since 1977, coordinating the Seacoast's seven farmers' markets with their locally grown fruits and vegetables, crafts, plants and flowers, and homebaked goods has been the Seacoast Grower's Association. It's utilitarian website includes what you need: a regional schedule, list of vendors, and directions to each market. There's also a handy seasonal timetable, downloadable as a .pdf, that shows the approximate harvest dates for fruits and vegetables so you'll know what to expect when you get there.

Heavens Above
If you're interested in star-gazing, constellations or tracking satellites, you could buy a software package, install it on your computer and learn about the night-time sky. Or, you could go to Heavens Above and get a lot of the same information at no cost. This no-frills, somewhat nerdy site is highly interactive. It's capable of creating a sky map for any time from any location, up to and including Portsmouth's Christian Shore neighborhood or Foye's Corner. It also lets you know when satellites like the 9-ton Earth observation Envisat are visible and will print sky maps and ground track maps to help you locate them. Remarkable and reportedly highly accurate.

Newseum
A deceptively simple-looking site, Newseum has many fabulous features for the news-obsessed including a daily sample of more than 300 newspaper front pages from the U.S. and around the world. With a couple clicks you can see how the top stories play in newspapers from the Abilene Reporter-News to Le Monde and the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle. The site also features a frequently updated news quiz and 20 online exhibits on topics such as D-Day, Pulitzer Prize-winning photos, the space race, the war in Iraq and more.

Subservientchicken.com
A person dressed in a chicken suit appears in front of a webcam. You type in a command - jump, hop, fly, kneel - and the chicken obeys. That's the essence of subservientchicken.com, a very popular web page and an ad for Burger King. It's fascinating and a tad creepy. There's no sound, just a person in a chicken suit obeying orders. Reportedly, the average person spends about seven minutes on the page, but why it would make anyone want to eat at Burger King is anyone's guess. Personally, it makes me long for a home-cooked meal.

Froogle
Google, the search engine that revolutionized finding things on the Internet, has at last added it's shopping comparison machine, Froogle, to it's home page. With Froogle, shoppers can type in the name of a product and you'll get dozens or hundreds of results, all with the price right at the top and usually accompanied by a photo. While the reasons some products end up at the top isn't clear, you'll able to sort by price, specify a price range, and refine your search as you go.

Sistani.org
Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Husaini Sistani is Iraq's leading Shiite cleric, the one whose whose objection caused the U.S. to reevaluate its plans to delay direct elections and to bring in the U.N. While he rarely appears in public, Sistani does have a web site. Available in five languages - Farsi, Arabic, French, Urdu and English - the site includes a lengthy biography, extensive information and scholarhip on Islamic law, and many photos.

Jump the Shark
"Jumping the shark" is that moment when you know a television show has peaked, will never be the same, and has started its descent into reruns. According to the website Jump the Shark, the term originated with a "Happy Days" episode in which Fonzie goes water-skiing and tries to jump over a shark, a stunt widely viewed as the beginning of the end for the series. Jump the Shark lets visitors try to define that moment for more than 2000 television shows. Some say "The A-Team" never jumped the shark, but others say it was when "they stopped running from the government and started working for them." For romantic sitcoms, it's usually when the main characters spend the night together. For "Sex and the City," the consensus is it was when "Miranda is pregnant ... and wants to stay that way."

Cheapflights.com
Cheapflights.com is a fresh face in the online airline tickets business. The site offers a clear focus -- low-cost flights -- and a simple interface. Select a destination and then a departure city, and Cheaptickets.com will simultaneously search dozens for airline and travel sites for the best deals. The key appears to be the direct search of the airline sites for special deals. In a quick and unscientific comparision test versus Travelocity and Expedia, for a flight from Boston to California, Cheaptickets.com came out on top with considerably lower fares.

DeanGoesNuts.com
Howard Dean's Iowa concession speech has passed into pop culture, and nowhere is that clearer than on DeanGoesNuts.com. This no-frills site, created by an ardent Dean supporter, offers musical remixes of the candidate's excited Iowa speech, including "Rapping It Up With Dean," "Hellraiser Remix," and "Hey YEAAAAHHHHH!!"

The Economists
The web page linked above includes a very amusing Flash movie that illustrates how economists see the world. The movie, however, is only one of many startling interactive movies available on the personal web site of Andy Fould, a British-born graphic designer now living in New Zealand. Fould combines amazing technical skill with Macromedia Flash and a very fertile imagination. Most of his interactive creations are difficult to describe, but among those that aren't are movies in which you help Tony Blair break dance, lead George Bush around by the nose, and create abstract art in the style of Jackson Pollack or Piet Mondrian. For the main page, click here. Credit: This site was pointed out by survey question commentator TJ.

Friendster
Friendster is the largest of a suddenly hot new type of web site, the social networking website. Using the Kevin Bacon Six-Degrees-of-Separation Principle that everybody can be connected to everbody in about six steps, sites like Friendster, Tickle, Ryze and Tribe.net connect people for dating, friendship or business. The genre is so hot there's even talk of more internet IPOs. (Yikes!) The sites aren't making money yet, but they're having no trouble attracting users. Friendster, which is free for the present, has has more than to 4 million registered users. To join, you fill out a questionnaire and email your friends, asking them to do the same.

419eater.com
The Internet and particularly email are filled with offers from scammers, cons, and sleezy ripoff artists. What a world. On the bright side, some of the intended victims are fighting back. Scam-baiting - replying to the emails and stringing along the con artists with a view to humiliating them as much as possible - is now the subject of more than 100, often hilarious, websites. Scammers have been lured into faxing their allegiance to the Queen, posing for photos with signs they obviously don't understand, and even sending money to the intended victims! 419eater.com has been among the most successful as its archive of scammed scammers shows. (Warning: Some of the letters include 'mature' themes.)

Michigan Tech Aurora Page
For some spectacular photos and an idea of what the Northern Lights are about, visit the Michigan Tech's aurora page. Or try Solar Terrestrial Dispatch although it may be a very long download for the latter.

Urban Dictionary
Urban Dictionary is a useful resource when you're having trouble conversing with a local teen or skateboarder and an interesting concept. The site keeps up with urban slang by letting users contribute their own definitions. Popular phrases like "fo' shizzle my nizzle" or "metrosexual" can get dozens of definitions, which are rated on a scale of one to five stars. Warning: Lots of strong language.

Reality TV Links
It's even worse (or maybe better) than you thought: There are well over 100 reality tv shows and Reality TV Links lists practically all of them -- how to find them on the net, fan sites, and more. Lots more. Of special interest, we imagine, is the section on casting calls. If you're the sort who would rather eat bugs on tv than watch someone else do it, this is for you.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
A relatively simple home page hides the CDC's mindboggling array of authoritative information on health issues. From AIDS/HIV to zoster (chickenpox virus), it's all a few clicks away, and relatively easy to find, for the concerned citizen or health researcher. The CDC also publishes travel advisories, informations about health-related hoaxes and rumors, and interactive activities for middle-schoolers, and its recommendations on thousands of health issues.

World Beard and Moustache Championships
The eagerly awaited biennual World Beard and Moustache Championships are Nov. 1, 2003 in Carson City, Nevada, and organizers say they are hoping a large turnout of bearded and moustached Americans to compete against the dominant German team. In addition to contestant photos, the page of beard and moustache categories is worth viewing.

Astronomy Picture of the Day
This simple page created by two professional astronomers promotes the science astronomy by featuring a daily image, like say the "Cat's Paw Nebula" in the constellation Scorpius, and explaining what's interesting about it. The site is translated into a dozen languages, and by virtue of having published these images for years, contains the largest collection of annotated astronomical images on the internet.

Rotten Tomatoes
Called the "best movie reaction site" by Roger Ebert, Rotten Tomatoes offers more than 100,000 movie titles and 360,000 links to the view of the nation's top print and online film critics. The keyis the Tomatometer, which summarizes the overall verdict: a fresh red tomato if it's good, a rotten one if it's rotten. The site has a lot of information and the navigation is unfortunately complex, but with so many topnotch critics the reading is worthwhile. Warning: Children and small pets should be shielded from the reviews of Ben and J. Lo's "Gigli."

National Do Not Call Registry
Donotcall.gov is the government website for people who want to stop or at least reduce the number of telemarketing calls they get. Register a number -- you can register up to three numbers at a time -- and beginning in October telemarketers who call face potentially hefty fines. There are exceptions, of course. Those include political organizations, charties, telephone surveyers, companies that you have an existing relationship with ... well, you can read the fine print yourself online. Any personal phone number can be registered, including those of cell phones. The toll-free number to call is 1-888-382-1222.

Portsmouth Poet Laureate Program
Portsmouth's active poet laureate program has its own website with information about the fourth and current city poet, John Perrault. Perrault, a singer, songwriter, writer and attorney, is known for authoring two classic songs about local history, "The Ballad of Louis Wagner" and "The Ballad of the Squalus," but his poems have appeared in various publications and he's recorded six albums. The poet laureate program aims to build community through poetry. The website also features current information about the program's monthly poetry hoot.

COAST
COAST, the Seacoast bus service, has taken a large step toward making itself useful in Portsmouth by initiating routes to two of the busier commerce centers of the city, Lafayette Road and Pease Tradeport. Schedules, in many formats, and rider information is available from website. Visitors also can download a form to order a monthly pass for unlimited rides ($25).

Dan Brown
Seacoast author Dan Brown has rocketed to fame (and a Hollywood movie deal, no doubt) with his latest tale, 'The Da Vinci Code,' a heavily researched page-turner about murder, secret religious societies, coverups and vengeance that is now No. 1 on the NY Times best-seller list. Brown's web site includes biographical information about the author, strange facts uncovered by his exhaustive research, and information about Dan's previous three books.

Eclipse Web Pages
If it's clear tonight, a longshot these days, step outside, find a dark spot, and look for a total eclipse of the moon. The eclipse will be one of two viewable from New England this year, according to the NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Eclipse web site. (None will be seen in 2004.) The NASA/Goddard site describes tonight's even and all eclipses in great detail, including a lot of detail we ddin't follow (i.e., penumbral magnitude = 2.09990). But according to our interpretation, it did reveal the greatest eclipse will be around 11:40 p.m. EDT. But better check that yourself.

David Mendelsohn, Photographer
Photographer David Mendelsohn, who is based in the Seacoast, began as a graphic designer and he's carried those skills over into a brillant photographic career. Mendolsohn doesn't so much take photographs as make them - using the real world as a set for his ideas. The web site features two genres of his work in small format: the commerical, which typically is very colorful and graphic, and the personal, here is a large collection of extraordinarily imaginative nudes. (Some of Mendelsohn's work will be on display on the Dover Yoga Studio and Gallery April 26-June 5.)

The Smoking Gun
The rabble-rousing side of us loves the Smoking Gun, a web site that uses public documents to expose the embarassing side of almost everything. Currently, the Gun features an obituary of Dick Cheney (he's not dead) that CNN inadvertantly published on its web site for about 20 minutes. Then there's Mug Shot Mania, an archive of mug shots of the famous, from Tim Allen to Bill Gates(!) and Yasmine Bleeth. You'll also find things like a BBC video of President Bush getting made up before announcing the war in Iraq had started, and an item, "Dude, You've Shot a Dell," about a man who shot his laptop four times.

Chocophile.com
Probably you've had good chocolate, but have you had chocolate at up to $70 a pound? Chocophile.com offers a guide to that kind of luxury and excess with news, ratings, sources, recipes, and much more. Of particular interest are the monthly deals -- from "the chocolate co-op" pages - which offer the most specific insight and easy access into the world of gourmet chocolate. For just $10, for instance, you can try a 72 percent dark-chocolate bar, flavored with rum and vanilla, from Italy's BruCo in a two-bar sampler package.

Harris Farm
By now it should be clear that the snow is not going away anytime soon, so you might as well make the most of it. And Harris Farm in Dayton, Maine is a good place to start. In winter the 500-acre family farm, 45 minutes from Portsmouth, doubles as Southern Maine's most accessible cross-country ski center. The farm features 70 kilometers of open and wooded trails, rental equipment (including snowshoes) and lessons, if you're so inclined. Visitors also can stock up on home-grown maple syrup, milk, beef and seasonal produce.

The Weight of Water
A "major motion picture" from Lion's Gate Films starring Sean Penn and Elizabeth Hurley, the film The Weight of Water was based on Anita Shreve's best-selling novel, which was based on 1873 murders of two women on Smuttynose Island. A charismatic German immigrant, Louis Wagner, was convicted of rowing to the Isles of Shoals and hacking the women to death with an axe. He was executed in 1875. The movie shows at 7 p.m. Jan. 8-9 at The Music Hall, sponsored by Isles of Shoals Steamship Co.


































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































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