Staying Informed With Countable

Amidst all the news about the sweeping executive orders, and “undoing” legislation coming from our federal lawmakers, I’ve been looking for tools to help me follow my own advice and be a better-informed citizen. It didn’t take long to find just what I wanted:

Countable is a free non-partisan website and app that not only tracks all the legislation passing through Congress and the Senate, but also offers basic details about the pro and con debates around a bill. You can learn at a glance what is being negotiated (or more likely fought over) in legislation, and understand who might be affected, or what effect a bill may have on existing rules or regulations. They even track activities like the ongoing confirmation hearings for new cabinet nominees. And you can browse all of it by different categories, or search for specific keywords you’re concerned about.

After you create a profile, Countable also gives you direct access to the senators and representatives from your district. Just tap their name and you can see their complete voting records, as well as any bills they are currently sponsoring. And this might be my favorite part: just one more tap and I can call their office, send them an email, or even record a short video message to them to share my concerns.

Because if we learn nothing else from this current political era, it is clear that we can and should all be more vocal and active in how we reach out to our elected representatives. And thanks to technology, it is easier and faster to do that than it has ever been before. “It’s too hard,” or “it takes too much effort” is not an excuse anymore.

I plan to stay involved, or at the very least, stay aware, and not let bad decisions get by without comment. I think Countable is a great place to start.


Have you found a similar tool or organization that you rely on to keep you informed about issues that are important to you? Let me know in a comment below. I’d love to learn more!

How a Hoarder Handles 208 Hours of Reading in One Day

My name is Dave and I am a hoarder. Not the “piles-of-garbage-in-the-living-room” kind of hoarder but a virtual one. I have an invisible mountain of magazine articles, blog posts, and other random bits of information in a stack that stretches on and on for what feels like miles, with little to no organization or purpose other than at some point I thought I needed to read it or otherwise act on it. And even though these are not physical piles that I am walking past and ignoring, they have grown large enough that I can feel them there, waiting for me to do something about them.

The primary enablers for this bad habit have been my favorite “save for later” web clipper apps, Pocket and Instapaper. I’ve been using them for many years without any cleanup, and between just those two apps I have enough unread articles saved that I could read for 8 days straight and still not be finished. Many of those articles I no longer even remember why I saved them. And yet I still haven’t done anything about it because it’s “virtual” clutter.

But tomorrow is the start of a brand new year, and I’m determined that I am going to start 2015 with as much of a clean slate as possible, so it’s time for drastic actions.

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