For my birthday, help people in Haiti

by alec on January 27, 2010

Today is my birthday.  And, while I’m not nearly as talented as Wolfgang Mozart and Lewis Carroll, it’s a birthday I hold in common with these two gentleman. 

This year I decided to try the Facebook application Causes as a way to celebrate.  Causes lets you tell your friends that you’d rather have a donation to a charity than a birthday gift.  They even provide ways for you to promote your cause, and collect the money on your friends behalf and send it to the charity you’ve chosen. 

I selected Oxfam Canada for their relief efforts in Haiti.  Oxfam already had people on the ground in Haiti, and my reasoning was simply that the money would likely be put to work faster as a result.  They’re currently supplying clean water and housing to 92,000 people in Haiti and need all the help they can get.

I could easily have selected the Red Cross or Unicef, as both of those had people in Haiti as well.  The reason for choosing Oxfam’s Canadian arm was simply that Canada’s Federal Government is matching money donated to Canadian charities for Haitian relief.  Every dollar turns into two dollars this way.

The campaign has been a bit of a disappointment.  I reckoned that if a reasonable percentage of the 2,100 friends I have on Facebook each gave just $10, then thousands could be collected for Haitian relief.  We’ve raised $250, including the $50 I seeded the campaign with.  With the government match, that adds up to $500.

I’m hoping that since today is my actual birthday, and the last day of the campaign, a few more people will come out of the woodwork.  I’d like to get to $1,000 at least.  If you’d like to make a $10 donation to help kids in Haiti, then click here.  Don’t worry if you don’t use Facebook – just click the big green donate button in the center of the screen and choose the option that says donate without Facebook. 

Do it for the kids in Haiti.  Or because I asked.  Or, failing that, because I’m sure that Lewis Carroll and Mozart both would have approved too.


There’s no denying that some meetings have to be had face to face.  Increasingly, however, people are becoming more willing to have those meetings virtually – via conference call, video conference or some other vehicle. 

Because it’s Earth Day, I thought I’d work up a small calculation for what one of those face to face meetings might cost.  Let’s say, for the sake of example, that my friend Jeff Pulver, myself, iotum co-Founder Howard Thaw, Andy Abramson, and GigaOm founder Om Malik all decide to meet at San Jose’s Computer History Museum to hear a speech by RIM co-CEO Mike Lazaridis on the topic of battery conservation in wireless mobile devices (something that Mike is an authority on). Oh, and Robert Scoble crashes the party as well with his video camera in tow.

  • I fly from Ottawa
  • Jeff flies from New York
  • Howard flies from Halifax
  • Andy flies from San Diego
  • Om drives from San Francisco
  • Scoble drives from Half Moon Bay
  • and Mike Lazaridis drives from Waterloo to Toronto, and catches a flight to San Jose.

A visit to the handy carbon offset travel calculator reveals that we would have collectively generated 8.6 tons of carbon by travelling 21,402 miles.  Better yet, it shows that we can offset that carbon by buying $126 in carbon credits from NativeEnergy at the paltry price of $15/ton.  That’s a steal compared to some carbon offset vendors!


Or you could spend a lot less money on a conferencing service, or a streaming video solution to hear Mike speak.

We charge $50/month for as many meetings as you want using Calliflower.  No matter how you look at it – whether it’s the $126 environmental offset price, or the actual cost of plane tickets — $50/month is cheap compared to the alternatives.

So think about holding fewer face to face meetings. The planet doesn’t care which conferencing or online meeting tool you use, but we hope you’ll at least give Calliflower, with its organic green color scheme, a good look. 

Happy Earth Day!


SquawkBox – July 3, 2008 – Greg Clinton with Talk Soup, and a conversation about

July 3, 2008

On today’s show we had special guest Greg Clinton, developer of a new application called Talk Soup that lets people easily start podcasting. Available at the URL , the application involves two people simply calling each other, talking for some period of time and then at the end of the call both agreeing to […]

Read the full article →

What price, security?

March 25, 2007

Security is a sensitive topic for Americans.  In the post 911/War on Terror/Iraq era, it's easy to see why.  Men are in harms way, and the country remains on a war footing. At what price? American airports are starkly reminiscent of George Orwell's classic novel Nineteen Eighty-Four.  People bustle to and fro, under the watchful […]

Read the full article →

Last days in Mexico

March 25, 2007

Did you know that Winston Churchill and his wife took separate vacations — he to paint (preferably at a beach), and she on tour?  Well, we don’t take separate vacations, but certainly by the time Thursday of last week rolled around we were all ready for a little relief from touring around.  So, we shopped.  […]

Read the full article →

West to Celestun

March 24, 2007

Wednesday we headed west out of Merida to the Gulf of Mexico and the tiny fishing village of Celestun.  It’s only about 80 kilometres from Merida, but the lack of a high speed road, and the number of Mayan towns you have to travel through on the way turn that 80 kilometer trip into a […]

Read the full article →

North to Progreso

March 23, 2007

Tuesday we headed North out of Merida toward the fishing village of Progreso.  Along the way we stopped at Dzibilchaltun, which is famous for the Temple of the Seven Dolls (an astronomical observatory), and a beautiful cenote where you can swim.  However, there was no swimming to be had on the 20th of March, nor […]

Read the full article →

South of Merida

March 22, 2007

To the south of Merida there is an area of low hills called the Puuc Hills.  Rich in historical sites, it offers a number of Haciendas and Mayan sites to visit.  Monday, we hit four of them. We began with Hacienda Yaxcopoil, in its time one of the most important rural estates in Yucatan.  With […]

Read the full article →

Museums and Luchadores

March 20, 2007

Sunday we had a decidedly unusual day. Fans of Jack Black's goofy comedy Nacho Libre will understand that when we learned that the Lucha Libre were in town, we had to make a trip to see them.  However, because the Luchadores didn't get underway until 12:30, we zipped over to Merida's Regional Anthropology and History Museum, […]

Read the full article →

From Cancun to Merida

March 20, 2007

Saturday we changed locale from Cancun, to Merida — the capital city of Yucatan State.  Getting to Merida is a 3 1/2 hour drive from Cancun on the 180 toll road.  Tolls will set you back just over M$300.  Halfway to Merida, about 20 km from Valladolid, there is an infrequently visited post-classic Mayan site called Ek Balaam.   It's well worth […]

Read the full article →
Alec on LinkedIn Alec on Twitter Alec on Facebook Calliflower on Youtube RSS Feed Contact me