Thursday, May 28, 2009

Durham Home Ownership Month


I'm so proud of my neighbor Tonya Wall! She pretty much sums up how I feel about Eastway Village, site of the celebration around Home Ownership next week, in the quote in the article below. In a parallel universe, I would be celebrating with them June 6th.

Some developers really understand the value of East Durham. Anyone spending time in the amazing Goldenbelt space will attest to the fact that our neighborhood is a great place to live. Even though I'm currently in Australia, I left part of my heart in Durham.


Durham Celebrates National Homeownership Month in June

City to Celebrate Completion of Eastway Village

DURHAM, N.C. - The City of Durham has slated a month-long list of free activities and events to celebrate National Homeownership Month and help Durham residents become - or remain - responsible homeowners.

The City's Department of Community Development kicks off the month with the Eastway Village Neighborhood Festival, scheduled for Saturday, June 6, 2009, from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. This neighborhood celebration, designed especially for the existing homeowners, is to acknowledge the final phase of the Eastway Village development nearing completion with most of the 47 single family homes and condominiums sold or under contract.

According to Tonya Wall, a new resident of Eastway Village since 2007, her decision to purchase her first home in this revitalized location was an easy decision to make. "Eastway Village is affordable, attractive, and convenient to my job. I am glad to see the diversity among my neighbors and I take pride in living in Eastway Village," Wall said. "I am currently a block captain in my neighborhood and a PAC 1 member. I think my neighbors are great because we all believe in reaching out to others in the community. A special thank you goes out to Mayor Bell, Durham City Council, City of Durham employees, and Blue Ridge Construction for having the vision and commitment for the revitalization of the old Barnes Avenue area. It's wonderful to see so many caring people involved in improving the quality of life in Northeast Central Durham."

For more information on any of these events, or to learn more about homeownership, foreclosure assistance, homelessness prevention, fair housing information, or homebuyer tax credits, call the City's Homeownership Hotline at (919) 560-4000 or log onto the City's Web site at http://www.durhamnc.gov/departments/comdev/

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Nanotechnology from Nokia

This video just blew my mind! I'm working on the Sydney, Australia version of the ETA Cafe business plan, part of which is to partner with and pioneer developing technologies at the University level to bring them to market. UNSW has some leading solar and nanotechnologies, but this is one of the best illustrations of what's to come:



Now, to be fair and balanced, nanotechnology production does pose a lot of threats. We have no idea what happens to the environment when we introduce complex materials that are small enough to breath and could lodge themselves in our lungs. We simply have no idea what may happen with the introduction of new molecular sized structures into the ecosystem.

Friday, May 22, 2009

My Health Care Story for Obama

I recently submitted this story upon Barack Obama's request of his fellow Americans at http://my.barackobama.com/page/content/healthcarestory

The last company I worked before currently enrolling in business school held a meeting with a health care representative talking about changes in the company's coverage. The costs were going up for everyone, and I know these people weren't making enough to live comfortably in the face of rise in costs. I encouraged my co-workers to push for legislation to change the health care system, as that is our right in a democratic country. I spoke with the representative after his presentation and he was doubtful things would ever change, even though he willingly recognized the injustice in where the money goes and how people are denied their health care coverage based on pre-existing conditions.



My recent partner and dear friend has been hit with rising costs for her own pre-existing condition and was faced with financial pressure from her family when she moved back to the United States from Australia for her sister's wedding. She is fully covered under the Australian government health system as a Permanent Resident, shown here talking to her family back in the States after a trip to Austin Hospital in Melbourne. Back in the US, however, her health care per month is nearing $1000. Families are expected to live and grow together, but when affordable medical care is not available in the United States, other countries like Australia are more accommodating. As a US Citizen I stand for our country to make the right health care policy for our people, not only because it is the right thing to do, but because we otherwise become a liability for other countries.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A Wagga Wagga Weekend



The day was Friday May 15th. We had just finished our first round of finals at AGSM and been rewarded with two weeks of vacation. I came across an email newsletter from the Australian Graphic Design Association that mentioned the Australian International Animation Festival. In an ostentatious display of abject freedom I woke up Saturday morning, hopped in a borrowed car, and hit the road for Wagga Wagga. I say that because when I am completely free I can't help but fly by the seat of my pants. My utter enjoyment comes in the face of the sheer terror this would present to a normal person with any inkling of obligations and a schedule. I am in a rare position of personal freedom and I wear it like the badge it is; good and bad. Good because free is fun, but bad because I feel the world isn't built by capricious people. Or maybe it can be. I'm not sure yet but I'm determined to find out.



With a bag packed just shy of a cartoon character's handkerchief at the end of a stick, I was off toward Wagga Wagga and the Animation Festival. When I got there I was struck by the professional charm of the receptionist at the Townhouse International where I had made my reservation. After she had made quite an impression on me with her interest in the festival and armed with her positive directions, I found the FORUM 6 Cinema and made my entrance into the overwhelming interconnection among undergrad animation students just in time to catch the International Program #2 part of the schedule. There was a short break and then the racy part of the schedule commenced with the Late Night Bizarre. The program ended with the Superjail pilot from Adult Swim on the Cartoon Network. It is HILARIOUSLY INAPPROPRIATE.

After the screenings I had an awesome conversation with an animator from Blue Tongue in Melbourne about a project he's working on. I really enjoyed listening to him, which corresponds to this quote I read from the Dalai Lama and reminded me of someone "speciar" back in the States:

"It is through listening that your mind will turn with faith and devotion, and you will be able to cultivate joy within your mind and make your mind stable. It is through listening that you will be able to cultivate wisdom and be able to remove ignorance. Therefore , it is worthwhile to engage in listening even if it costs your life.
Listening is like a torch that dispels the darkness of ignorance. And if you are able to make your mental continuum wealthy through listening, no one can steal that wealth. It is supreme wealth."



Sunday started with another conversation at the reception desk. I took my new friend's advice and went to the Wagga Wagga Art Gallery and National Art Glass Gallery, pictured above. I was thoroughly impressed, and inspired to find more inspiration. I went and bought a dozen CD's. Rather than going right back to the Animation Festival, I rebelled from my own rebellion and spent that sunny afternoon driving around town in search of the highest point on a nearby hillside. I wanted to soak up the full view of this little town that had already made quite an impression on me, not to mention the second conversation I had with the Townhouse receptionist. It turns out she's a Psychology student who recently discovered she can draw. I will not stop until she is fully encouraged! I couldn't help but invite her to the evening screenings that night. I drove up Lord Baden Powell Drive past the Museum of the Riverina and found the view I was looking for.



I motored down the hill listening to the Greatest Hits of Arrested Development and absolutely loving it. I drove past the train station where I know I'll be arriving again someday soon. By the time I made it back to my obligation at the festival I caught the end of the Animation 103 and 104 Seminars from the People's Republic of Animation in Adelaide and Jonathan Nix of Cartwheel Partners based in Sydney. The organizers of the festival agreed that these two were the best presenters ever, and I felt lucky to meet them.

I don't have any pictures to prove it, but the night took an amazing turn when I got a call towards the end of International Program #3 from none other than the Townhouse receptionist, whose identity I continue to protect with my utmost respect and admiration. We decided to have a quick dinner before returning for the Digital Panorama part of the program. We ended up having a number of drinks after dinner at the All Seasons Pavilion, and I enjoyed a wonderful night of wholesome company and honest conversation. We caught the rest of the Animation gang at their last round of drinks and I promised to see them again next year.



I have to say my departure on Monday was hesitant. My mind was playing with all sorts of ideas of settling down in Wagga Wagga, but I had to make it back to Sydney for the Sustainability Showcase at UNSW, and to feed the fish of my dear friend at AGSM. On the way down I traveled the Hume Highway, so on my return I chose to head north through the Blue Mountains back to Sydney. I was continuously impressed with the level of culture in the small cities like Cowra, population 13,100, and Cootamundra, home of the Milestone Sculpture pictured above. In the United States, a city of 13,000 in the middle of nowhere echoes the film Deliverance, while in Australia I was completely blown away with the level of culture I experienced.

As the sun set on my Wagga Wagga Weekend, I had gained everything I imagined and much, much more. I imagine the conversations I shared will fuel my actions far into the future... or at least until Session 2 at AGSM once again predominates my vision. We'll see. I owe a special thanks to the owner of my borrowed car. My life would feel much different if I hadn't afforded myself this experience with the resources available. She must be as happy as I am. Reading from the scroll now hanging in my little studio...

"Happiness is not so much in having as sharing. We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give."

Monday, May 11, 2009

Awoken by a Leaping Genius

After being awake for two ungodly hours in the early, early morning I am finally reminded of Elizabeth Gilbert's TED Talk on Nurturing Creativity. It seems, as I awoke from a dream with a shout, that I have been possessed with one of the most vibrant "genius" sessions I've had in a while. Only now am I typing after I've written creative ideas for the ETA Cafe, AGSM Events, and the next screenplay I'm working on called Paradigm Lost (Paradigm Louvst if you're nasty), but that's on the down low.

The way Gilbert puts it, and especially after tonight I must agree, is that we artistic people have no control over our lives. (What an awesome scape goat THAT is!) The ancient Greeks, (and now Elizabeth, her TED audience, and myself) believe that it was not the artist who creates the work of art, but a "genius"; a spirit that comes out of nowhere, uninvited, and causes a flood of activity ending in the creation of some lasting contribution.



There I was, sleeping before the first of our four finals at AGSM, happily immersed in yet another flying dream. In this dream I was actually leaping from tree branch to tree branch in a giant rain forest. The trees were so tall their limbs were the size of train cars, and the ground was so distant that I couldn't tell which way was up exactly.



In the leaping and lurching I happened upon a dwelling in a cave, guarded surprisingly by Jeff Storer! In my dream I must have been some wild-looking mutant tree frog, as I startled Cavekeeper Jeff. He shouted, I shouted, and the next thing I know I'm awake at 3:00am with more thoughts running through my head than ants on a bird carcass.



My genius happened by at the right time. For the next four days I will continue around the clock to earn my keep towards the MBA, and may not be available. (Are you listening, spirits?) Or maybe I'll be visited by a genius every morning; hardly the worst way to live.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

In Defense of Zeitgeist and Role Models

I love being exposed to new sources of news and information. I was entertained by the insights of Public Christianity recently sent to me by a respected elder. In the video, Dr. Chris Forbes of Macquarie University enjoyed playing down the movement that now includes Zeitgeist Addendum, featured not only on YouTube but also in credible journals like The New York Times.



Peter Joseph, producer of Zeitgeist, has thankfully moved away from religious debate and is now focused on solutions to the current financial crisis. By delving deeper into the US Fiscal Policy segment of Zeitgeist, his shared vision with inventor Jacques Fresco offers a solution to the greed and scarcity that are a part of the current system I also aim to change. That's why I'm here pursuing the AGSM MBA at the Australian School of Business.



In Dr. Chris Forbes' defense, perhaps unlike Peter Joseph I have no problem with the story of Christ as a role model. However, rather than Dr. Forbes I choose as my scholar of choice Dr. Bart D. Ehrman. He is the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He wrote an insightful book, Misquoting Jesus, which conveys how the story of Jesus in the Bible has been lost in translation since the text in ancient Greek.



This is one of many reasons why you won't find me in Bible Study: I feel the Bible is as flawed as Chris Forbes feels about Zeitgeist! Perhaps the Bible is even as flawed as I am as a human being, but that's going a bit too far. The Bible isn't that bad.