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Going after rare items

It’s in the clouds. Remember when you were a kid and would lie on the ground on a balmy afternoon, gazing up at the sky? Before long, someone would point to a fluffy white cloud and say, “Look, it’s a bear” … or a dinosaur, or a clown. Sometimes you saw what they meant and other times you envisioned something entirely different. But it was always imaginative fun.

Now you can relive those days at LookItsA.com, which has lots of pictures of clouds for you to “decipher.” And to go one step better than reality, you can click on the images of the clouds to enlarge them for a better look.

Coming to a computer near you. This Friday, May 5, will see the first full-length movie released exclusively on the Web. Despite the fact that John Cleese is one of the stars, Quantum Project is a drama. The biggest drawback to this online movie is that downloading it will take more than eight hours unless you have a DSL line. And, of course, watching on a tiny screen has its limitations, not to mention there’s a fee, just as if you were watching in a theater. But no doubt many people will want to be part of this pioneering effort. Read about it in a Wired magazine article, then check out Sightsound, which is the spot for downloading–for a free preview of the movie.

Star Trek salsa. At the international webquarters of LNSEMSF (Leonard Nimoy Should Eat More Salsa Foundation), the tongue-in-cheek premise is that Leonard is an outstanding guy, but he’d be 10 times better if he appreciated salsa. As you chuckle, check out some of the unexpectedly good salsa recipes included on the site — they’re no joke.

Space Day. Thursday, May 4, is the third annual Cyber Space Day 2000 Webcast, for kids around the country to learn more about living and working in space. Students will able to interact with space pioneers and go on a virtual Mars mission in Flash and non-Flash versions.

Cute critters. Those of you who don’t like webcams can skip to the next item. But I think otters are adorable. You can observe indoor and outdoor activities of a pair of otters through National Geographic’s Ottercam. You can even access the otters’ schedule to see whether they should be outdoors or in at any particular time. (What’s the world coming to when otters have Day-Timers?)

Getting organized. It may seem silly for otters, but for the rest of us, it’s important to keep up with our favorite Net links, our calendar and our e-mail no matter which computer we’re using — his, hers, office, home, on the road. (And we were told that computers were going to simplify our lives.) One way to end the frustration you feel when you need a URL that’s bookmarked on another computer is to keep your favorites on the Web. While there are numerous sites that let you do this, Turboclip.com is about the best organized I’ve seen. In fact, it lets you organize your bookmarks easier and better than most browsers. Click on “take a tour” to see if this free service is for you. It allows you to share your links with friends and co-workers, if desired, or keep everything completely private.

Lots of links. If you’d like to find more high-quality links to topics in which you have an interest, Mondolink Web Directory offers nice ones in more than 50 categories. Pets, kids, jokes, hobbies, sports, live cams, gardening and many more. Hint: The index is more complete than the “quick links,” which lead to only one site.

And baby makes three. The goal of Bouncing Baby is to help new parents and parents-to-be to find the most useful websites about everything from baby names and showers to guides for expectant dads. It even includes safety recalls to help you find out if that used playpen you’re considering has been recalled. The site has evaluated the links and chosen what it considers the top five in each category, but also gives other links for you to check, should you be so inclined.

Belated birthday A couple of months ago, a reader suggested that I give a link to Monticello on Thomas Jefferson’s birthday, April 23. Naturally, as a native Virginian, I agreed that Mr. Jefferson (as UV grads refer to the author of the Declaration of Independence) deserved a different kind of recognition than he — and his relatives’ DNA — have been getting lately. Then the day slipped past me. But anytime in spring is a lovely time to visit virtual Monticello. If you’re a gardener, check out the heirloom seeds and plants that date back to TJ’s day. But don’t think that Monticello was Jefferson’s final home. Many people don’t know about Poplar Forest, which is where he went to get away from it all in his later years.