OnMilwaukee.com recommends, April 14, 2012
Baseball books, apps that bring paper to your iPad, a feel-good online donation system and colorful polishes for your kids' little piggies – it's all here in this week's OnMilwaukee.com recommends.
"Wherever I Wind Up," by R. A. Dickey with Wayne Coffee (Blue Rider Press) – As a reader I'm most interested in what veteran knuckleballer Dickey has to say about his time with the Brewers and Mets organizations – he loves the latter for believing in him and the offer from the former came at a tough time in his life and helped buoy him (he also talks a bit about Doug Melvin, Gord Ash, Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun) – in his memoir, subtitled "My Quest for Truth, Authenticity, and the Perfect Knuckleball." But what's gotten the most advance attention and what makes the book more important than a typical baseball autobiography is Dickey's facing down of his demons on the printed page. He discusses being sexually abused as a child and the insecurities that dogged him long afterward, growing up with an alcoholic mother, flirting with suicide, cheating on his wife and seeing a syringe lying on the floor in the Texas Rangers clubhouse, among other things. Dickey could have written an interesting enough book by merely charting the ups and downs of spending years in the minors and popping up occasionally and briefly in the majors – and how that affected his confidence and his family – and reinventing himself as a knuckleballer, but, as we see from the book, Dickey never takes the easy way out. It's what makes him fun and frustrating to watch and entirely sympathetic on the mound. It's also what infuses his book with the same qualities. – Bobby Tanzilo
Paper iPad app – The new iPad dazzles for a few reasons, but most of all, it's that screen. Paper, a new app by FiftyThree, is the first one I've seen to take full advantage of the new Retina Display. A drawing, sketching and outlining tool, it's elegant in its simplicity. Using your finger (though better with a cheap stylus, trust me), you can bring your ideas to life. Simply. Beautifully. The first tool is free, but for the entire suite of fountain pen, pencil, marker, ink pen and watercolor brush, you're looking at $7.99, and it's well-worth it. The app isn't without its shortcomings, one of which is a very limited color palate, but that will be addressed in future updates. Also, the iPad's tiny lag time is still noticeable, so drawing doesn't feel as fluid as real pen to paper. But it's close. And it's really fun. – Andy Tarnoff
Kiva – When I 'm looking for the perfect gift for the person who is truly materially blessed already, or perhaps for one of my socially conscious peeps who may scoff at receiving mere objects, I turn to Kiva, a non-profit organization that offers loans to people around the globe for the purpose of creating opportunity for themselves. According to Kiva's website, "Kiva works with microfinance institutions on five continents to provide loans to people without access to traditional banking systems." The loans are purchasable for as low as $25 and you can choose whom you would like your loan to benefit by researching the borrowers listed on the site. A friend introduced me to Kiva by gifting me a $25 Kiva credit that I utilized to lend to Nafija Osmanbegović of Gračanica, Bosnia and Herzegovina for her fruits and vegetables business. Once she repaid the loan my credit became available again, so I loaned to Dominic Kitipa Nkuito of Narok, Kenya for his farm. He, too, repaid the loan, and I am currently awaiting repayment of my third loan to Joyce Sosa for her bakery, Frosted Delights in San Antonio. The gift of a Kiva credit is an interactive, charitable present that really does keep on giving. – Lindsay Garric
Piggy Paint – I'm not a big nail polish gal, but I know a lot of kids who are, including, occasionally, my own sons. Hence, if little people are gonna paint their bodies, it's probably best they do so with a non-toxic product. Piggy Paint was developed by a mom and is, indeed, non-toxic as well as odorless, non-flammable and hypo-allergenic. The product, which comes in playfully bright colors, is apparently catching on with celeb mamas like Tori Spelling and Jessica Alba. Check it out at piggypaint.com. – Molly Snyder
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