Put Parking Spaces to Better Use

What a great way to bring awareness to our use of space in urban centers. If I created a collapsable version, could it be put in any parking space?What if I transformed a flatbed trailer into a mobile park or common area? If the meters were paid and rules followed, I don’t foresee any problems besides taking alcohol into the street. However, the Pub Trolley allows drinking on a vehicle (?) in the street.

San Francisco

Vancouver

Park(ing) Day at Ritual Coffee Roasters

City of Gold

This model depicts what ancient Rome may have looked according to six etchings done by Giovanni Battista Piranesi in 1762. It also reminds me of a Rube Goldberg contraption I made for a high school physics project. I came home to find the completed Contraption gold and decorated with toy parts, rocks, and feathers. I hated it at first but then saw how baller it was compared to other projects. Thanks Mom!

“Model created by Yale School of Architecture students for 2012 Architecture Biennale, Venice. Model manufactured by Materialise; gold leaf applied by Pasquale Bonfilio. Photo:Materialise.”

Source: ArtDaily.org

Airy Thai Library

Fifteen Norwegian Architecture students went to Thailand to build Safe Haven Orphanage’s first library on a budget of $4,650 in January of 2009.

It is amazing the climate demands only one wall and an overhang. Removing the midsection to play with light was a great idea and it throws in the use for a gangplank!

If only Americans were more willing to embrace nature instead of sticking to the confines of a controlled climate! Really, who needs conditioned air all the time? I only like it at home, work, in my car, while I’m shopping, at the gym…..oh. 

Source: Great Spaces

P.S. I don’t condition that much of my air, only the hottest of nights in the bedroom and the hottest of days when I’m in the office (the rest of the house doesn’t have AC), which was probably only 30 times total this year. Also, I spent the first half of the summer in the house because I broke my right fibula and the second half starting a food truck – which means no work or gym AC.

Startups Are Enjoyable Work and Pain

Startups are not fun, they are stressful and quick-moving but they come about from a necessity to DO MORE and that is what makes them so enjoyable. A successful startup is building on an amazing number of failures, of dumb ideas and fitful nights obsessing over tiny details. Learning to manage time and duties, finding out what it truly means to “self-start”, and effectively coping with the stress and setbacks creates a wealth of tools to use for the rest of your life. Sure, I might fail in this endeavor but the time won’t be wasted, unless I learn nothing from this experience. I embrace the hard work because now I am building something that I want, for you.

“Startups are not magic. They don’t change the laws of wealth creation. They just represent a point at the far end of the curve. There is a conservation law at work here: if you want to make a million dollars, you have to endure a million dollars’ worth of pain. For example, one way to make a million dollars would be to work for the Post Office your whole life, and save every penny of your salary. Imagine the stress of working for the Post Office for fifty years. In a startup you compress all this stress into three or four years. You do tend to get a certain bulk discount if you buy the economy-size pain, but you can’t evade the fundamental conservation law. If starting a startup were easy, everyone would do it.”

Paul Graham on “How to Make Wealth”

Colson Whitehead’s Rules for Writing

The art of writing can be reduced to a few simple rules. I share them with you now.

Rule No. 1: Show and Tell. Most people say, “Show, don’t tell,” but I stand by Show and Tell, because when writers put their work out into the world, they’re like kids bringing their broken unicorns and chewed-up teddy bears into class in the sad hope that someone else will love them as much as they do. “And what do you have for us today, Marcy?” “A penetrating psychological study of a young med student who receives disturbing news from a former lover.” “How marvelous! Timmy, what are you holding there?” “It’s a Calvinoesque romp through an unnamed metropolis much like New York, narrated by an armadillo.” “Such imagination!” Show and Tell, followed by a good nap.

Rule No. 2: Don’t go searching for a subject, let your subject find you. You can’t rush inspiration. How do you think Capote came to “In Cold Blood”? It was just an ordinary day when he picked up the paper to read his horoscope, and there it was — fate. Whether it’s a harrowing account of a multiple homicide, a botched Everest expedition or a colorful family of singers trying to escape from Austria when the Nazis invade, you can’t force it. Once your subject finds you, it’s like falling in love. It will be your constant companion. Shadowing you, peeping in your windows, calling you at all hours to leave messages like, “Only you understand me.” Your ideal subject should be like a stalker with limitless resources, living off the inheritance he received after the suspiciously sudden death of his father. He’s in your apartment pawing your stuff when you’re not around, using your toothbrush and cutting out all the really good synonyms from the thesaurus. Don’t be afraid: you have a best seller on your hands.

Rule No. 3: Write what you know. Bellow once said, “Fiction is the higher autobiography.” In other words, fiction is payback for those who have wronged you. When people read my books “My Gym Teacher Was an Abusive Bully” and “She Called Them Brussels Sprouts: A Survivor’s Tale,” they’re often surprised when I tell them they contain an autobiographical element. Therein lies the art, I say. How do you make that which is your everyday into the stuff of literature? Listen to your heart. Ask your heart, Is it true? And if it is, let it be. Once the lawyers sign off, you’re good to go.

Rule No. 4: Never use three words when one will do. Be concise. Don’t fall in love with the gentle trilling of your mellifluous sentences. Learn how to “kill your darlings,” as they say. I’m reminded of the famous editor-author interaction between Gordon Lish and Ray Carver when they were working on Carver’s celebrated short story “Those Life Preservers Are Just for Show,” often considered the high-water mark of so-called dirty realism. You’ll recall the climax, when two drunken fishermen try to calm each other after their dinghy springs a leak. In the original last lines of the story, Nat, the salty old part-time insurance agent, reassures his young charge as they cling to the beer cooler: “We’ll get help when we hit land. I’m sure of it. No more big waves, no more sharks. We’ll be safe once again. We’ll be home.” If you examine the Lish papers in the Lilly Library at Indiana University, you’ll see how, with but a few deft strokes, Lish pared that down to create the now legendary ending: “Help — land shark!” It wasn’t what Carver intended, but few could argue that it was not shorter. Learn to kill your darlings, and don’t be shy about softening them up in the hostage pit for a few days before you do.

Rule No. 5: Keep a dream diary.

Rule No. 6: What isn’t said is as important as what is said. In many classic short stories, the real action occurs in the silences. Try to keep all the good stuff off the page. Some “real world” practice might help. The next time your partner comes home, ignore his or her existence for 30 minutes, and then blurt out “That’s it!” and drive the car onto the neighbor’s lawn. When your children approach at bedtime, squeeze their shoulders meaningfully and, if you’re a woman, smear your lipstick across your face with the back of your wrist, or, if you’re a man, weep violently until they say, “It’s O.K., Dad.” Drink out of a chipped mug, a souvenir from a family vacation or weekend getaway in better times, one that can trigger a two-paragraph compare/contrast description later on. It’s a bit like Method acting. Simply let this thought guide your every word and gesture: “Something is wrong — can you guess what it is?” If you’re going for something a little more postmodern, repeat the above, but with fish.

Rule No. 7: Writer’s block is a tool — use it. When asked why you haven’t produced anything lately, just say, “I’m blocked.” Since most people think that writing is some mystical process where characters “talk to you” and you can hear their voices in your head, being blocked is the perfect cover for when you just don’t feel like working. The gods of creativity bless you, they forsake you, it’s out of your hands and whatnot. Writer’s block is like “We couldn’t get a baby sitter” or “I ate some bad shrimp,” an excuse that always gets you a pass. The electric company nagging you for money, your cell provider harassing you, whatever — just say, “I’m blocked,” and you’re off the hook. But don’t overdo it. In the same way the baby-sitter bit loses credibility when your kids are in grad school, there’s an expiration date. After 20 years, you might want to mix it up. Throw in an Ellisonian “My house caught fire and burned up my opus.” The specifics don’t matter — the important thing is to figure out what works for you.

Rule No. 8: Is secret.

Rule No. 9: Have adventures. The Hemingway mode was in ascendancy for decades before it was eclipsed by trendy fabulist “exercises.” The pendulum is swinging back, though, and it’s going to knock these effete eggheads right out of their Aeron chairs. Keep ahead of the curve. Get out and see the world. It’s not going to kill you to butch it up a tad. Book passage on a tramp steamer. Rustle up some dysentery; it’s worth it for the fever dreams alone. Lose a kidney in a knife fight. You’ll be glad you did.

Rule No. 10: Revise, revise, revise. I cannot stress this enough. Revision is when you do what you should have done the first time, but didn’t. It’s like washing the dishes two days later instead of right after you finish eating. Get that draft counter going. Remove a comma and then print out another copy — that’s another draft right there. Do this enough times and you can really get those numbers up, which will come in handy if someone challenges you to a draft-off. When the ref blows the whistle and your opponent goes, “26 drafts!,” you’ll bust out with “216!” and send ’em to the mat.

Rule No. 11: There are no rules. If everyone jumped off a bridge, would you do it, too? No. There are no rules except the ones you learned during your Show and Tell days. Have fun. If they don’t want to be friends with you, they’re not worth being friends with. Most of all, just be yourself.

 

from “How to Write“, NY Times: July 26, 2012

An Open Letter to Todd Akin from Eve Ensler

This open letter is an important read for all men and women, especially women, especially men with daughters or who plan on having children and especially those who are planning on voting Republican. The decisions made in the next 4 years regarding women’s health will affect you and your daughters and sisters and mothers someday so you better make sure you make the right decision now.

Here is the story:

MIssouri Rep. Todd Akin told a MIssouri TV reporter  “If it’s legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down,” in regards to a rape victim becoming preganant. That’s odd, because the Center for Disease Control reported more than 32,000 pregnancies a year are a product of rape. In response, Eve Ensler, an American playwright, performer and women’s right activist wrote an open letter to Mr. Akin from the Congo, where she is currently helping rape victims.

Dear Todd Akin,

I am writing to you tonight about rape. It is 2 AM and I am unable to sleep here in the Democratic Republic of Congo. I am in Bukavu at the City of Joy to serve and support and work with hundreds, thousands of women who have been raped and violated and tortured from this ceaseless war for minerals fought on their bodies.

I am in Congo but I could be writing this from anywhere in the United States, South Africa, Britain, Egypt, India, Philippines, most college campuses in America. I could be writing from any city or town or village where over half a billion women on the planet are raped in their lifetime.

Mr. Akin, your words have kept me awake.

As a rape survivor, I am reeling from your recent statement where you said you misspoke when you said that women do not get pregnant from legitimate rape, and that you were speaking “off the cuff.”

Clarification. You didn’t make some glib throw away remark. You made a very specific ignorant statement clearly indicating you have no awareness of what it means to be raped. And not a casual statement, but one made with the intention of legislating the experience of women who have been raped. Perhaps more terrifying: it was a window into the psyche of the GOP.

You used the expression “legitimate” rape as if to imply there were such a thing as “illegitimate” rape. Let me try to explain to you what that does to the minds, hearts and souls of the millions of women on this planet who experience rape. It is a form of re-rape. The underlying assumption of your statement is that women and their experiences are not to be trusted. That their understanding of rape must be qualified by some higher, wiser authority. It delegitimizes and undermines and belittles the horror, invasion, desecration they experienced. It makes them feel as alone and powerless as they did at the moment of rape.

When you, Paul Ryan and 225 of your fellow co-sponsors play with words around rape suggesting only “forcible” rape be treated seriously as if all rapes weren’t forcible, it brings back a flood of memories of the way the rapists played with us in the act of being raped — intimidating us, threatening us,muting us. Your playing with words like “forcible” and “legitimate” is playing with our souls which have been shattered by unwanted penises shoving into us, ripping our flesh, our vaginas, our consciousness, our confidence, our pride, our futures.

Now you want to say that you misspoke when you said that a legitimate rape couldn’t get us pregnant. Did you honestly believe that rape sperm is different than love sperm, that some mysterious religious process occurs and rape sperm self-destructs due to its evilcontent? Or, were you implying that women and their bodies are somehow responsible for rejecting legitimate rape sperm, once again putting the onus on us? It would seem you were saying that getting pregnant after a rape would indicate it was not a “legitimate” rape.

Here’s what I want you to do. I want you to close your eyes and imagine that you are on your bed or up against a wall or locked in a small suffocating space. Imagine being tied up there and imagine some aggressive, indifferent, insane stranger friend or relative ripping off your clothes and entering your body — the most personal, sacred, private part of your body — and violently, hatefully forcing themself into you so that you are ripped apart. Then imagine that stranger’s sperm shooting into you and filling you and you can’t get it out. It is growing something in you. Imagine you have no idea what that life will even consist of, spiritually made in hate, not knowing the mental or health background of the rapist.

Then imagine a person comes along, a person who has never had that experience of rape, and that person tells you, you have no choice but to keep that product of rape growing in you against your will and when it is born it has the face of your rapist, the face of the person who has essentially destroyed your being and you will have to look at the face every day of your life and you will be judged harshly if you cannot love that face.

I don’t know if you can imagine any of this (leadership actually requires this kind of compassion), but if you are willing to go to the depth of this darkness, you will quickly understand that there is NO ONE WHO CAN MAKE THAT CHOICE to have or not have the baby, but the person carrying that baby herself.

I have spent much time with mothers who have given birth to children who are the product of rape. I have watched how tortured they are wrestling with their hate and anger, trying not to project that onto their child.

I am asking you and the GOP to get out of my body, out of my vagina, my womb, to get out of all of our bodies. These are not your decisions to make. These are not your words to define.

Why don’t you spend your time ending rape rather than redefining it? Spend your energy going after those perpetrators who so easily destroy women rather than parsing out manipulative language that minimizes their destruction.

And by the way you’ve just given millions of women a very good reason to make sure you never get elected again, and an insanely good reason to rise.

#ReasonToRise

Eve Ensler
Bukavu, Congo

What makes a book a classic?

Definition of a classic book, as according to Italo Calvino’s in “Why Read the Classics?” from The Uses of Literature. 

1. The classics are those books about which you usually hear people saying: ‘I’m rereading…’, never ‘I’m reading….’

2. The Classics are those books which constitute a treasured experience for those who have read and loved them; but they remain just as rich an experience for those who reserve the chance to read them for when they are in the best condition to enjoy them.

3. The classics are books which exercise a particular influence, both when they imprint themselves on our imagination as unforgettable, and when they hide in the layers of memory disguised as the individual’s or the collective unconscious.

4. A classic is a book which with each rereading offers as much of a sense of discovery as the first reading.

5. A classic is a book which even when we read it for the first time gives the sense of rereading something we have read before.

6. A classic is a book which has never exhausted all it has to say to its readers.

7. The classics are those books which come to us bearing the aura of previous interpretations, and trailing behind them the traces they have left in the culture or cultures (or just in the languages and customs) through which they have passed.

8. A classic is a work which constantly generates a pulviscular cloud of critical discourse around it, but which always shakes the particles off.

9. Classics are books which, the more we think we know them through hearsay, the more original, unexpected, and innovative we find them when we actually read them.

10. A classic is the term given to any book which comes to represent the whole universe, a book on a par with ancient talismans.

11. ‘Your’ classic is a book to which you cannot remain indifferent, and which helps you define yourself in relation or even in opposition to it.

12. A classic is a work that comes before other classics; but those who have read other classics first immediately recognize its place in the genealogy of classic works.

13. A classic is a work which relegates the noise of the present to a background hum, which at the same time the classics cannot exist without.

14. A classic is a work which persists as a background noise even when a present that is totally incompatible with it holds sway.

Personally, my classics offer a sense of discovery upon each reading (#4).

My Food Truck Startup

My friend Tom approached me a few months ago about a joining his new food truck venture. He thought I would be a good fit given our personal history and my previous work with startups. Well, that talk at Surf Club led to bringing our dream food truck to life. We bought the truck bus and have started cleaning and preparing it for our culinary adventure.

You can follow our ride at Ready to Roll.

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The Food Bus on day of purchase!

An Exercise in Gender Awareness

I read a few articles in the New York Times using a Chrome extension called Jailbreak the Patriarchy and found it empowering and revealing. It functions to swaps gender-specific words on any webpage to it’s opposite. For example, “he used his sister’s computer” is switched to “she used her brother’s computer”. From a gender-swapped perspective, never have so many women, worldwide, run the most powerful economies, businesses and laboratories, nor had they resorted to such violence.

Here are a few (swapped) observations and headlines: women were dunking in the NBA without fanfare; a group of armed women killed 7 peacekeepers in the Ivory Coast; men are very concerned about their looks; the Venezuelan government is a one-woman show; Mrs. Taylor, former president of Liberia, was sentenced to 50 years in prison for war crimes including rape, use of child soldiers and mutilation; women dominate the Fortune 500 and move a lot of money.

Certain themes seemed to be more predominant with one gender than the other but hopefully this will not always be so and some themes would be best as a thing of the past.

Be aware.

The Best Chefs in the Triangle are…Women!

The poll results from the Independent Weekly’s Best of the Triangle were released this week and I immediately noticed that all the Best Chef awards went to women! (Coincidently, all their names start with A.) The rest of the finalists were men save for the husband and wife team at Magnolia Grill in Durham (now closed).

The Winners
Ashley Christensen, Poole’s, Raleigh
Andrea Reusing, Lantern, Chapel Hill
Amy Tornquist, Watt’s Grocery, Durham

The culinary world is famously male-dominated but it seems the citizens of the Triangle are gender-blind! Here are some gender-related culinary statistics: in 2011, the James Beard Foundation nominated 96 chefs, 18 of them being women, up from 16 in 2009 (both Christensen and Reusing have been nominated); at the Culinary Institute of America, men outnumber women 7 to 3; of Michelin’s 106 3 star restaurants, there is one female chef.

Congratulations winners (and voters), this is a step in the right direction and a great achievement for women, the Triangle and the culinary world!

Django Unchained Trailer – Tarantino

ahh Tarantino’s “Southern” movie trailer has finally been released…another inventive soundtrack and cast including Jamie Foxx (much better than the rumored WIll Smith), Christoph Waltz (the Jew Hunter from Inglorious Bastards, who I predict to become a Tarantino regular) and Leonardo DiCaprio.

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His thoughts:  “I wanted to explore something that really hasn’t been done, I want to do movies that deal with America’s horrible past with slavery and stuff but do them like spaghetti westerns, not like big issue movies. I want to do them like they’re genre films, but they deal with everything that America has never dealt with because it’s ashamed of it, and other countries don’t really deal with because they don’t feel they have the right to,” via The Telegraph.

This will tide me over until Kill Bill Vol. 3 in (possibly) 2014 when the 10 year respite for The Bride and Beebe is up.. unless somehow he releases the Vega Brothers prequel in Amsterdam (possibly titled Double V Vega).  Who he will cast considering John Travolta and Michael Madsen are too old?