Sunday, June 14, 2009

Flat Black Helicopter

In the first of what may become a new series of posts, I'll be sharing a series of web search results based on a dream I had. I was working on a film set for some crazy Australian director, (I can't wait to meet him!) and the cast and crew were on the top of a hill overlooking a valley. There was a huge glass-blowing furnace that everyone was fueling by breathing into long tube stuck into the furnace. And they were all dressed like Dickensian Paupers. I know.

What inspired this post, however is what happened right at the end. I was looking at the moon, and saw a little flicker of red light just beyond it. After all of my crop circle research lately, I was thinking of what the first sign of Nibiru will be like from Earth. But as always, that's another story.

With unbelievable speed the source of came zooming towards the hilltop. At a distance it looked like a helicopter. Here's where it gets fun. That prompted me to look up what I thought it looked like. The first image came from Artist Christopher Conte. This guy is a true Leonardo da Vinci type. He is a trained artist that design prosthetics and biomachines, in addition to a unmanned helicopter for the military that looks close to the craft in my dream pictured up top. Check him out.

As the helicopter dramatically dropped below the ridgeline, only to emerge seconds later and come directly overhead, people noticed and started questioning what it was. As it got closer it looked nothing like this folding Hummel Helicopter, but that's another interesting search result. It actually looked like a flat black sting ray with short wings. It was directly overhead, within a meter of our heads. It got closer and closer until it was directly over me. At this point I had that feeling that my life had just taken a turn for the bizarro X-files.

To my relief I woke up and, to my knowledge, haven't been the subject of an abduction. The closest match to "Flat Black Helicopter" was actually a new beer brewed with coffee called the "Flat Earth Black Helicopter", oddly enough, as described by Aaron Landry. To give you the full background and draw you pictures of what I really saw in my dream, we'll have to discuss it over a cold one.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Durham, NC in Top Ten Places to Live

I love Durham. Directly from the U.S. News & World Report...

Best Places to Live 2009
U.S. News & World Report, 09 June 2009

U.S. News & World Report looked at areas with strong economies, low living costs, and plenty of fun things to do.

With the decade winding to a close, Americans have grown increasingly reluctant to gas up their moving vans. Last year, the Census Bureau's national mover rate—which represents the percentage of Americans 1 year and older who moved within the past year—hit its lowest level since 1948, when the bureau began tracking the data. And who can blame us? In the face of a terrifying banking crisis, a historic housing crash, and a grueling recession, relocating to a new city isn't exactly on the to-do list. But despite the uncertain economy, the nation's diverse topography presents an enviable menu of great places to find work, retire, or just change your scene.

In selecting our Best Places to Live for 2009, U.S. News took a thrift-conscious approach: We looked for affordable communities that have strong economies and plenty of fun things to do. The cities we selected are as distinct as America itself—ranging from a quaint suburb to a live-music mecca. But whether you prefer hiking through the Rocky Mountains, pulling a fish out of the Atlantic Ocean, or grilling hot dogs at a college football tailgate, here are 10 places that will fill up your daybook without emptying your wallet...

Durham, North Carolina
Once a tobacco town, Durham, N.C., has evolved into a world-class center of all things advanced. This city of 206,000, located halfway between the Atlantic coast and the Great Smoky Mountains, is called the "City of Medicine" because of its expansive healthcare industry. And although widely known as the home of prestigious Duke University, it's also a thriving technology hub. At the same time, Durham's mild climate allows residents to get out and explore the region's abundant outdoor attractions. Consider hiking one of the many distinct trails and greenways or heading over to the Durham Bulls Athletic Park for an afternoon baseball game.

More on Durham...

The Nine Other Best Places to Live...

Albuquerque, New Mexico
Along the banks of the Rio Grande, with the Sandia Mountains in the background, is the beautiful city of Albuquerque, N.M. The sunny climate and endless landscape have long drawn writers, poets, and artists to this spot, which includes an unconventional mix of American Indian, Hispanic, and Anglo cultures. But it's not just freethinkers who drift to this Southwestern city of 511,000. Kirtland Air Force Base, Sandia National Laboratories, and Intel Corp. have helped develop the area into a manufacturing and research hub. They provide a stable anchor for the local economy.

Auburn, Alabama
For Southern charm with collegiate vigor, consider Auburn, Ala. This diamond on the eastern Alabama plains has a population of just under 50,000 and is home to Auburn University. On football Saturdays, when die-hard fans arrive in droves to cheer their beloved Tigers, Auburn swells to the state's fifth-most-populous city. And as Auburn's largest employer, the university also plays a starring role in the local economy.

Austin, Texas
If you're a free spirit, music junkie, or barbecue lover—or if you simply have what it takes to "keep Austin weird"—Texas's state capital is for you. Considered ground zero for live music, this city of 716,000 residents is home to legions of musicians and nearly 200 performance venues. In addition, Austin hosts the always popular South by Southwest festival. Since its inception in 1987, the event has mushroomed from a local gathering to a 1,800-band, 80-stage extravaganza of music, filmmaking, and interactive activities featuring performers from all over the world. Austin is also a high-tech hub, with companies like Dell and IBM, which employ thousands of residents.

Boise, Idaho
Although often overlooked, Boise, Idaho, is a terrific destination for those looking to escape out West. With a high-desert climate of sunshine, clear skies, and four distinct seasons, this city of 200,000 makes a perfect base camp for exploring southwest Idaho's dramatic panorama. Choose from the many nearby parks, which total some 2,700 acres, cast a fishing line into the Boise River, or head over to Boise State University for a Broncos football game.

La Crosse, Wisconsin
With a population of about 50,000, La Crosse, Wis., is a great staging ground for exploring the natural wonders of the upper Mississippi River area. Although winters can be bitterly cold, friendly Midwesterners and the nearby ski slopes will keep your spirits high. The spring opens an active outdoor culture of camping, hiking, hunting, and fishing that brings more than a million visitors to the area each year. Explore the mighty Mississippi on a riverboat tour, or try your luck with the northern pike in Lake Onalaska. "Great people, fun town," says Dave Lueck, a 36-year-old graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. "It's not too big, not too small." And with a 2008 median home sale price of $113,000, it's also an affordable destination.

Loveland, Colorado
Located just outside the breathtaking Rocky Mountain National Park, Loveland, Colo., is considered the "Gateway to the Rockies." But while it has 27 public parks and nearly 16 miles of recreation trails, it's Loveland's affection for man-made beauty that sets this community of 56,000 residents apart. Thanks to its Art in Public Places program, more than 300 pieces of sculpture and two-dimensional works are on display throughout the community. And with a 2008 median home sale price of $186,000, the area's real estate market is relatively affordable.

San Luis Obispo, California
Tucked into California's sweeping Central Coast region is lovely San Luis Obispo, Calif. Its warm, gentle climate, with temperatures rarely surpassing 90 degrees, is perfect for hitting nearby beaches or touring local vineyards. In addition, California Polytechnic State University, which is located in town, infuses the community with intellectual energy.

St. Augustine, Florida
As the nation's longest continually inhabited European-founded city, St. Augustine, Fla., considers itself the oldest city in the United States. Founded in 1565 by Spanish Adm. Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, this community of 13,000 residents on Florida's northeastern coast has managed to maintain its colonial charm. Take the Castillo de San Marcos, for example. This remarkable stone-and-mortar fort is located right in the heart of St. Augustine's cobblestoned historic district. And even though 300 years of violent storms and enemy firepower couldn't penetrate its walls, visitors can enter the 20.5-acre monument site today for just $6.

Upper St. Clair, Pennsylvania
For a quiet residential option, consider Upper St. Clair, Pa. This quaint town of fewer than 20,000 residents is located in the hilly woodlands outside Pittsburgh, where the Whiskey Rebellion of the late 1700s was centered. The median home price of this family-oriented community was $240,000 in 2008. And its school system is superb: Ninety-eight percent of its high school graduates go on to college, and the Upper St. Clair school district currently boasts 10 federal government blue-ribbon "Excellence in Education" awards.

See a slideshow of the 10 best places to live...

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Global Sustainability Summits

All over the world we can find Summits on Sustainability. Just in Sydney and my favorite town, Durham, NC there are two strong examples happening this week. What drove me to write this immediately rather than study Finance was the amazing mention of Australian Transition Towns within Durham's Summit on the New Green Economy. My very existence is reinforced by this connection, and I feel like I'm in the right place at the right time.

The United States Study Center at the University of Sydney is holding a National Summit entitled "Sustainable Globalisation: Will it Survive the GFC?" My short answer for them is YES, but if you check out their website at you'll see a long list of Speakers and a link to an even longer list on their Summit Program page.

The event is sponsored in part by the Economist, the Macquarie Group, and an academic partnership with the Harvard University Committee on Australian Studies. It's all so awesome. I wish I could go but I have class and some worthwhile AGSM Diversity Week activities to attend.

Meanwhile on the other side of the globe in my home away from home is the Summit on the New Green Economy in Durham, North Carolina. If you read the list of speakers at this event, they are giving the National Summit in Sydney a run for their money! The event is sponsored and organized by SJF Ventures, a Socially Responsible Venture Capital fund managed between offices in New York, NY and Durham, NC. That is amazing news. With the Full Frame Film Festival in Durham every year sponsored by the New York Times, half of New York shows up every spring. I invite this wholeheartedly. I think half of New York should outsource their operations to Durham. People are starting to figure it out!

SJF is a visionary leader providing venture capital to companies that share their ethics. They have a list of case studies on their site. Don't be surprised to find my work on that list some day! Between Durham and Sydney there is a wealth of resources I am discovering more everyday. Sustainable Sydney 2030 has been my mantra, and through the network of Creative Catalysts coming out of the woodwork during Vivid Sydney, the social resource available is overwhelming.

I will continue to surround myself with the reality that I believe in, and in time find my footing for a giant leap.