Today’s column shows how you can listen to Thomas Edison’s rare
recordings from the turn of the century via today’s MP3 technology and
leads you to a website that tells you what people doing the same type of
job as you are earning.

The world at your fingertips. Websites that have thousands of
links of all kinds make surfing easier — you just head to one place and
click away, whether you’ve looking for a “people finder” or financial
advice. One that does an excellent job at this is GeoPortals, which says it offers “the
world at your command.” I particularly like the fact that the various
topics are organized as separate websites. A few are e-commerce, but
most offer great links to good non-commercial sites. You can try GeoTravels, GeoWomen, GeoNerd, GeoHistory, GeoFinder (lots of search engines;
many you may not know existed) and plenty more.

Great for kids. You might also think of Berit’s Best Sites for Children as a
mini portal for kids. It connects to thousands of excellent websites for
the younger set. To lessen the overload, you might want to start with
the 25 links that are most popular with visitors, then bookmark the main
page, to return again and again.

Did you see that one, Joe? Anyone who watches sports on TV
eventually ends up shaking his or her head at the commentator’s and
play-by-play announcer’s remarks (or maybe this is just something that
drives us English-major types nuts). In any case, you can’t have tuned
in, even casually, without hearing such inane remarks as “He’s some kind
of player,” “They’re better than their record indicates,” and “He always
gives 110 percent.” A huge list of these are collected at The Sports Cliché List, which adds
a few funny comments along the way.

Of course, sports enthusiasts aren’t the only culprits when it comes
to clichés. Steve Lautenschlager has collected more than 1,600 general
clichés at Steve’s
Cliché List
. The mixed clichés are hilarious.

I’m a poet and don’t know it. Anyone who’s ever attached one
of those magnetic poetry kits to the refrigerator door will appreciate
the online version, Electro-Magnetic
. All of the words are there, scrambled up, waiting for you to
click and drag them into whatever sentences or poems you’re inspired to
create. Don’t think of it as wasting time; instead, consider it a
creative diversion.

Are you making enough money?’s Salary
will search its database of thousands of jobs — and what
they pay — to tell you if that job offer is what it should be, or if
you ought to be asking for a raise.

A smile a day… When you want less-serious fare, see if you
get a chuckle from Cats Are From
, which “proves” its point with all sorts of “scientific”

Art in the park. When I travel, I like to visit public gardens
and if they contain sculpture, so much the better. (My favorite is
Holland’s Kroller-Muller Sculpture Park — the flowers and the outdoor
art are both stunning; the “indoor” art is by van Gogh, and it’s pretty
neat, too.). Now, San Francisco sculptor Benbow Bullock makes it easy to
find these gardens with his new International Directory of
Sculpture Parks
. The several hundred choices range from West Point
to a French prison.

Who Threw the Overalls in Mrs. Murphy’s Chowder? Well, I don’t
think that song is likely to knock Britney Spears from the charts, but
in 1901, it was the bee’s knees, as the saying went. And you can listen
to it — and many more songs — through today’s technology. From 1888 to
1929 Thomas Alva Edison made thousands of recordings to demonstrate his
invention of the phonograph — Tin Pan Alley, opera, brass band marches,
jazz, ragtime, spirituals, political and documentary speeches and
vaudeville comedy sketches, among others. About 37,000 of these rare
recordings survive and you can download and listen to many of them
(“Some of These Days” by Sophie Tucker, for instance) at the Edison
Historic Site’s Sounds.
And you don’t need an MP3 player; each file has its own player (or, if
you do have an MP3 player, you can just download the file).

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