Saturday, December 29, 2007

Why Blog?!

I have not posted here in a long time, been going through the "why blog" stage. Either too much going on or not enough, in my life. Six months ago my definition of blogging was 60 million writers and 20 million readers, now it's 100 million writers, and 10 million readers, the blogosphere is growing! I did recently post a link to that great Bubble 2.0 video, but YouTube took it down for copyright reasons, so I deleted the post. You can probably still find it in one of the links at Techcrunch

Much better writers and thinkers than me, with more ambition and energy, such as Kathy Sierra, seem to be going through "...what to do next", though I am in no way comparing myself to her, nor our blogs. I am more productive in my work blog, but even there I don't have the time to write about all that I want to.

In the meantime, here is a nice simple web site one of our students at Connecticut College made with Google Pages: Surfing Costa Rica

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Anyone going to Mali?

If so, the Djembe Hotel in Malako looks like an interesting place to stay. Only $30/day includes high-speed Internet access, light breakfast, full lunch and dinner. It seems like a great opportunity to also learn about Mali life, culture, and especially drumming.

The djembe is a traditional drum from West Africa, played for many different occasions in Africa and is associated with traditional dances. Jeremy Chevrier, who runs the hotel with his wife Tewah, started the above web site, and Rootsy Records. The mission of Rootsy Records is the cultural preservation and promotion of traditional djembe drumming music, including the preservation and promotion of African culture, knowledge and values. There are a lot of interesting videos on the site, showing how much you can do with an inexpensive camcorder. It's great example of documenting culture, and sharing your works.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Lucca: A great restaurant

Had a fantastic dinner with my wife yesterday at Lucca

The owner, "Lucky," ran the Bank Street Cafe for many years. But Lucca is a totally differnt place, casual but upscale. The food was delicious, the service great, and the owner friendly and attentive to every nuance. My wife's scallops and shrimp over linguini included the largest shrimp I've seen in a long time. The sauce was esquisite. My cajun salmon had just the right amount of heat in the slightly charred exterior (some of us Northern folks can't handle too much), and the fish inside was fresh and moist. Vegetables are purchased every morning.

Here is a 23 points out of 25 food review

I would have given our meal 25 out of 25. Dinner entrees are $20 to $22, and include a generous salad and fresh bread with herb butter. This is a bit above our usual budget, but we splurged as we are "on vacation". We were going to go to Maine, but decided to paint the house instead, and needed a small morale boost. Lucca definitely provided it. If you ever need a perk, or want to eat at someplace special, and have the funds, I recommend it highly.

Lucca is the best evidence yet that New London is making a comeback as a nice place to live and visit.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Fun Place to Work

This looks like a fun place to work. Is this Business 2.0?

Lip Dub - Flagpole Sitta by Harvey Danger

They even have some job job openings. I'm sure they get a lot done, but the atmosphere reminds me of my fraternity in college, a bunch of smart fun-loving people. These folks do sound a bit more sassy and irreverent, but I think it's a generational issue.
At ZBT we had a big, almost-empty room in the basement with a long wooden bar and a free jukebox loaded with the latest music (I Want to Hold Your Hand, House of the Rising Sun, etc.), with a big party every Saturday night, open to the whole campus. We worked hard, and played hard (now I just work hard).

Our highlight was hiring the Kingsmen of Louie Louie fame, the song that would have been number one on the charts at the time, if not for the Singing Nun. Needless to say the party became a legend over the years. It was open to all, in the good old days before cover charges.

I'm glad to see the Kingsmen are still on tour. Most of my fraternity brothers have made out well, and are doctors, engineers, and corporate heads. And Eric Burdon and the Animals are playing at Misquamicut Beach, for free!

Saturday, July 07, 2007

First web viral video flocking?

Surfing the web yesterday, July 6, I stumbled into this intruiguing video....

Chasing down the threads, I discovered a bunch of YouTubers are meeting in Washington Park this morning (070707!), at 11 am! Wish I could be there...

Jill claims to have organized it. There are now over 60 videos on YouTube on this gathering, such as this one...

I imagine there will be many more. The Drupal site set up for the gathering, undoubtably by a well intentioned volunteer, is down. Maybe they should have used PBwiki, a very popular tool for the "self-organizing" BarCamps

(2 pm update-Drupal site is somewhat working, with some errors. Good going on trying to fix it while everyone else is having fun!)

There have been previous planned gatherings of vbloggers, or videobloggers, but I think this is first "self-organizing" viral video event, where while one person has the original idea, it is defined and shaped by flock behavior.

I have to find the recent National Geographic article on this, which I saw a few days ago. An earlier November 2000 issue of Scientific American article on self-organizing communities refers to the "fascinating theory of emergent behavior, which describes how complex social interactions can arise when individuals obey a few rudimentary but very special rules." I know human interactions can be more complex than that, and I have to chase down that latest NG article on the newest thinking regarding these self-organizing communities and behavior patterns. I did find the NG web article.

Totally OT: there are 30,000 weddings today, due to the "lucky" date. This is 3 times the normal stats!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

iPod Shuttle

Above is a nice NASA image of Astronaut Clayton Anderson, STS-117 mission specialist, on the middeck of Space Shuttle Atlantis, taken on June 9, 2007.

Now look in the close-up below. What do you see above the Bible? If I were to be marooned in space, those would be the first two non-edible items I might take also. Now, I would love to know what's on their playlists!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

The Schooner Family

This is about the good old days, and how they are still good. The photo was taken in 1994, the day Voyager left Mystic for Michigan after I sold it. I saw a lot of the above folks the last few days. Amy, the woman smiling in the center, started out as a mate in the early 90's on Voyager, the 95 foot schooner I designed and built in 1977. She became its captain after a year or two. After I sold Voyager, Amy came back and captained and managed Argia, a smaller 86 foot schooner I designed and built in 1986. Amy bought Argia from me about 6 years ago, along with the associated business, Voyager Cruises. Last Friday, Voyager Cruises expanded when Amy brought to Mystic the biggest schooner built in this country since World War II. Amy brought it up from its construction yard in the Florida panhandle. The schooner is appropriately called "Mystic". Amy herself had it designed, raised the financing and had it built, a 150 foot three-masted multi-million dollar boat.

It just amazes me the hundreds of people that have gone through Voyager Cruises, family and friends, how well many of them have done with their lives, and how many are still involved. I went down to the docks a few hours ago, and there were about 20 people, all hustling and bustling, getting "Mystic" ready for its first cruise. Passengers boarding this Sunday, and boat leaving Monday morning! There is LOTS to do.

There was Mal, in the left in the above picture, working on "Mystic". Mal was mate on Voyager a long time ago. Mary Kirby is next to him in the photo. I was best man at her wedding in the mid-90's. She also was a mate, and then captain with us, and is now mate on the high-speed ferries to Block Island. She was taking trash off the schooner, with Denise, who used to cook for us over 10 years ago, and also played hostess for catered day sails. She had also taken the above photograph 13 years ago. Denise's younger sister, who I had never seen working on a boat, was happily painting a ceiling.

In the picture, next to Mary is Marco, who also started out with us in the early 1990s. He now drives big 2,000 horsepower tugboats up and down the West Coast to Alaska, but he was relief captain on the 100 horespower Argia while on leave last week. Behind Marco is John Smallidge. Have not seen him in a while. He gave me my first job in the marine business, as assistant sailing instructor at Niantic Bay Yacht Club in the early 60's, then hired me as steward, the bottom man on the totem pole, on the 108' Mystic Whaler in 1971.

Behind Amy is James, who cooked on many schooners, and worked with us on and off since the early 1990s. James has hundreds of thousands of miles of sailing under his belt. James and Marco both came down to the docks Friday night to greet the "Mystic". Next to James is Kitty, who managed the Steamboat Inn for many years, where Voyager and Argia docked. Before the building was an Inn, it was a restaurant, and James was the head chef. Next to Kitty is me and then Nick the bridgetender. Nick lived in the little bridge house in the picture, 8 hours a day, so he knew a lot more than I what was going on with the boats. Nick had a great sense of humor.

Not in the above picture, but working hard getting "Mystic" ready for its first cruise, were other captains that had worked with us at least a decade before, Rick Nestler, Tim Rice, Beth Mongillo and Jody. Coming down to see the schooner were many other "old timers" Dean Seder, Josh Lyons, John Bebeecenter, and my wife Gig (please don't refer to her as an "old-timer"). And my daughter Leigh was on her second day as captain of Argia, docked next to "Mystic."

So, what's the point of all this rambling? It's not bragging or self-serving. I started a business in 1977, sold it 25 years later in 2002, and many of the people that I hired years ago are still involved with it as its friends, and part-time and full-time employees. To me, that is BIG. Voyager Cruises has always been more of an extended family than a traditional "business". These people are what made, and still make, the business great. The most important thing was always to treat the crew right, the second most important goal was a quality product at a fair price. The third, but not forgotten, priority was to make money, which is probably why I'm almost always on a tight budget. But someday on my deathbed, when I can't take anything material with me, how much money I made will not be very important. What will be important is the legacy I leave behind. (I promise I will leave enough funds for my wife to live above the poverty level).

Amy is a much better business person than me, and makes a loads more profit, but I like to think I helped give the business its heart, which is still beating thanks to her and our sailing fraternity.

When I saw a licensed master captain taking mounds of trash off a boat to get it ready, late in the day and at no pay, I knew I started something right.

Below is a picture of the schooner Voyager, taken in the early 90's. James is at the wheel steering. It's lunchtime, and we went down below to get out of the wind to eat the great lunch he made. James loved to steer while the crew was eating! It's blowing about 25 knots, all the sails are up, and Voyager is cutting though the water at about 11 knots, with a "bone in her teeth".

Friday, April 13, 2007

Three Stories

Stanford University Graduation, 2005

Thursday, April 12, 2007

What great pictures!

c|Net News published some beautiful pictures of Nigerian students powering up their $100 open-source laptops. This school is the first test deployment site for One Laptop Per Child's XO laptops. OLPC installed a satellite dish, power generator, and modem to give the school electricity and Internet connectivity.

A while ago I told my fellow worker Marisa Catagno that 1 BILLION PEOPLE ARE NOW CONNECTED TO THE INTERNET!, she said, well, "how about the other 5 billion!". Good point, Marisa, hope that the OLPC will help equalize things.

One Laptop Per Child:

The "rabbit ears" are the wireless antennas.

Photo credit: Khaled Hassounah

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Burning Man in Bologna

I saw many memorable things in Bologna on my visit. One of the more interesting was their "Burning Man". This was a contruction, shown here, that was about 40 feet high, and is set on fire on New Year's Eve at midnight. It is a symbol of the end of the old, and the beginning of the new. The man is set up at one end of the biggest public squre in Bologna, Piazza Maggiore. I imagine this is packed with happy revelers on New Year's Eve. There was a large tower set up in the middle of the piazza, with monster speakers. The celebration may be the equivalent of Times Square, on a smaller scale, but with a 40 foot statue burning! The flames must shoot up at least a hundred feet in the air, and must be quite a sight. A bit more spectacular than a crystal ball falling.

I've always wanted to go to the Burning Man festival in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada, USA. Maybe it's because I missed the Summer of Love in San Francisco in 1968, and did not get there until the Fall of Discontent. And then I missed out on Woodstock, having been drafted and dodging bullets in Vietnam in '69. Anyhow, I feel I have to get one of those big festivals under my belt. Of course, Burning Man in Black Rock has turned into a lot more than the one in Bologna.

As a part-time videographer, I would love to be part of the video production crew at Burning Man.
This sounds like a fun and challenging job, and is well desrcibed in a recent issue of DV Magazine. My appearance, of course, is a bit more conventional than that of the featured shooters, Tim Laurel. But I do know how to use a camera and a Mac!

My aunt worries when I am out after dark, and I was not about to roll in at 1 a.m., so unfortunately I missed the lighting of the man in Bologna. According to my almost 94 year old aunt, she remembers going to see the burning man when she was a very little girl, so the tradition must be at least 90 years old.

Both Burning Man in Bologna and in Black Rock were about 40 feet high, and there is a thorough clean up after the event. I went to the Piazza Maggiore at noon on New Year's Day, hoping to get a photo of the burnt and charred remnants. Was I surprised when there wasn't a trace that anything had happened! The piazza was spotless, the layer of sand under the Burning Man was removed, with the stones underneath showing no sign of a fire. You had to look pretty hard to even detect the sand that was covering the stones only a few hours before.

In a similar fashion, Burning Man in Black Rock is a Leave No Trace Event

I aim to do a bit of research on the history of Burning Man in Black Rock, to see if it has its roots in any festivals similar to the one in Bologna, or if it was conceived independently. There certainly seems to be a symbolic connection, though I may not take it as far as a Jungian archetype. How long have the Bolognese have been burning their man, and does this tradition exists in other European cities and countries?

To the right is the Burning Man 2006 poster for Black Rock, designed by Dominic Tinio.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Cool iPod Accessory in Bologna

I recently saw the coolest iPod accessory.

First, a little sidebar. I was visiting my 93-year old aunt in Bologna, Italy, right after Christmas, on my annual visit. I have written about her before, she lives totally on her own, and does her own shopping, cooking, cleaning, laundry, banking, etc. Her hearing and memory are sharper than mine, and she does not miss a thing.

I felt pretty guilty on my visit, as the only thing she let me do was wash the dishes. One evening, I brought home a few groceries, and she was mad at me for 2 days! She enjoys being totally independent. I felt a bit guilty having a 93-year old taking care of me. The photo shows her with her "young" 75 year old cousin.

When I visit Zia Lelle, I enjoy walking around Bologna every day. This is a great old city, and people have been living here for three thousand years. First settled by the Villanovians in the 9th Century BC and then taken over by the Etruscans a few centuries later, Bologna went through countless rulers until Italy's independence.

The University of Bologna was the first university founded in the western world, and is the world's oldest university in continuous service.

Every day I would walk to the Piazza Maggiore, in the heart of the old city, about a half hour from my aunt's house. The piazza is also the site of the unfinished Basilica of San Petronio. This took several centuries to build, and the facade was actually never finished. Now I don't feel too bad that the outside of our house also needs a bit of work.

Ok, on to the story. It Italy, people are always drawn to the piazzas, even if there is nothing special going on. There is always "people watching", and the many small open cafes at the periphery are usually bustling with folks coming and going, and in friendly animated conversations.

One of the days I went to the piazza, there was a street musician singing and playing who had an entire sound system mounted to his large motorcycle. I was amazed to see that the heart of the system was an iPod! This was connected to a mixer, along with his mic, guitar, and drum machine. The iPod provided the background music for his show, with everything amplified by a small amp powered by a small, very quiet, generator. I must say this is one of the cleverest uses for an iPod that I have seen.

Here is a close-up of his system, showing the weatherproofed iPod. Everything was sturdily mounted to steel bars bolted to his bike, so he could just fold things up, cover them, and hit the road again.

Now, how cool is that.