November 30, 2009

paper and pencil

i always love artists who use household items to make something beautiful. today, i share with you origami master won park and pencil sculptor jennifer maestre.

November 29, 2009

how to cry on an airplane

it's difficult to cry on an airplane. but, wedged in a middle seat, surrounded by sudoku puzzlers and skymall shoppers, i did just that today, weeping silently, wiping away tears with my sleeve. at first, it sat in my throat, and i thought i could keep it there -- play it cool. but pretty soon it welled up into my eyes, and i couldn't stop it.

the culprit? a podcast.

second only to this american life, WNYC's radio lab is one of the greatest radio shows on the air waves. honestly one of the best-edited, most interesting productions out there. podcast available on itunes. get on it.

the episode was short #13. "gone" is a reading from poet and writer mark doty reflecting on the loss of his partner, wally. stunningly beautiful.

November 26, 2009

broccoli casserole: regional delicacy

the new york times had some great thanksgiving infographics today about search terms entered into regional differences are fascinating.

November 25, 2009

TED India archives are up!

in lieu of sending DVDs of all the talks to attendees, TED has made the rough footage of all the speakers available to TED India attendees on the internet. now i don't have to wait so long to rewatch some of my favorites.

unfortunately, these clips aren't ready for the public yet (password protected), so non-tedsters will have to wait until they're posted on the website over the next month or so...or just find me and an internet connection, and i'll share some of the highlights :)

food waste in the u.s.

9.6 million u.s. residents go hungry every year. saving just 5% of u.s. food waste could feed them all.

think this thanksgiving.

thanks to GOOD for their always-awesome transparency videos.

November 24, 2009

don't fret

for all my over-26-and-single friends: don't fret. there's a graph-making nerd waiting for you somewhere.

thanks to xkcd. always good.

buying for equality

one more reason to pick target over wal-mart: human rights campaign released their 2010 guide to buying for equality, so you can make good decisions this holiday season.

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troops in afghanistan

we management consultants love a good bubble chart...

here's a graphical representation of the troop levels in afghanistan vs. the size of the taliban (via one of my favorites, andrew sullivan)

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November 22, 2009

twitter is crack cocaine

internet vices: comparing online time-sucks to controlled substances (credit: patrick moberg). thanks to zoe for sharing this timely dose of reality. so true.

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November 15, 2009

kiva's transparency problem

my talk at TED India was especially targeted toward the leaders of social enterprises seeking support from generation y, a particularly timely message for i explained that a comprehensive online presence is table stakes, and to really win over the next generation of philanthropists, an organization must embody transparency (make it easy for us to figure out exactly where our money is going) and problem solving (solve the core problem / teach a man to fish).

i was only able to speak for a few minutes -- TED curators ensure speakers adhere strictly to time constraints -- but if i'd had more time, i was going to speak briefly about kiva, an organization i thought embodied those principles to a t. ultimately, the example got cut from my speech in the interest of time.

i'm now glad i did not hold up kiva as an example of transparency in a video that will live in perpetuity on the TED website. i would have been quite embarrassed...

just days later, stephanie strom's article about david roodman's blog post dropped in the new york times. it unearthed the controversy regarding kiva's disclosure of where lenders' money goes. it turns out that $25 lent "directly" to an entrepreneur doesn't actually go directly to her. it appears that kiva has a model similar to that of heifer international (another organization i love, by the way), where donors give to support a micro-cause -- a specific person or a specific animal -- but in reality, their money doesn't exactly go to that recipient.

i admit, i'm very disappointed to learn that i was wrong about kiva. i still respect kiva a lot, and i'm proud to have supported them in the past. i completely identify with the need to make charitable models easy for donors to understand -- it's a prerequisite for widespread engagement. that said, this debacle sheds light on an important lesson for all social enterprises: obscuring the truth about your financial model, even if benignly, can get you into trouble. like i said:, so important.

November 12, 2009

kerala trip day 5: last day in india

we slept overnight on the house boats and woke up to a beautiful sunrise over the water.

the sunlight illuminated the boats perfectly.

the crew burned incense on the bow of the boat, as we cruised through the canals out onto the open lake.

we were served breakfast (photo below) on our ride back to the resort, passing local fishermen and water ferries along the way.

the house boats docked right next to the pool at the resort we'd left the morning before.

i wandered around the resort a bit more before we left that afternoon. the gardens and pools were just breathtaking. i even met a little bunny friend.

i went back to my room to pack up. as usual, i found that housekeeping had taken care to position the bear just so -- leisurely propped up in the suit case, arms crossed like a maharajah.

i checked out and gave back the enormous key necessary to open the ornate kerala door on my room. i really enjoyed my last hours at the resort.

it was almost a 4-hour drive from the kumarakom lake resort back to the cochin airport. along the way we saw some rush hour buses practically buckling on the sides with commuters. we also got to try some traditional kerala street food -- fried bananas and peanut brittle.

at the cochin airport, our flight was delayed. i had a connection in mumbai, but i'd booked it on my own, not through the tour company. nevertheless, the tour guys hustled to move us all onto a different flight on another airline, to ensure we got to mumbai as soon as possible. that would never happen in america. as we entered the terminal to fly to mumbai, we walked down what felt like a red carpet because there were so many people standing there, eagerly awaiting the arrival of their loved ones.

a similar scene met us in mumbai (after our nightmare flight on air india -- an airline i hope to never do business with again), but don't let the photo below fool you. the mumbai airport isn't nearly as nice as this photo makes it look.

this stairwell (inside the airport!) is much more representative. this is where i waited for an ancient elevator to bring me to the departures level.

navigating the departures level at the mumbai airport was a challenge. the sidewalks are crowded with snack vendors, disorganized gaggles of family members, and a surprising number of people napping on the ground. i passed a lot of signage directed at haj pilgrims, something else you'd rarely find in america.

my trip was very nearly perfect, except for my final hours in india battling the air india bureaucracy and the interminable chaos of the mumbai airport (a cockroach crawled on me while i was eating dinner. sigh).

i was pleased, in a way, because it made me grateful and excited to be headed home. i feel like i really squeezed every last drop of awesome out of this trip to india, and i'm so thankful to have had the opportunity. from the life-changing TED India conference, to the peaceful banks of lake vembanad, i breathed it all in, and i am supremely satisfied.


kerala trip day 4: lake vembanad

we were up early to hop on the bus to another part of lake vembanad. unfortunately, a leaf spring on our charter bus broke, so we had to wait (with our eternally patient tour guide, dileesh) by the side of the road for a new bus.

luckily, this gave me an opportunity to walk around the local streets for a bit. we broke down right in front of a tiny market, and i got some good shots of the local scenery.

the wealthier families have their surnames displayed on the gates outside their homes.

all of the fiber optic cable is identified with little road markers that look like tiny headstones.

en route to go kayaking, we went through allepey, which is known as the "venice of india" because of its many canals.  we passed the police station (photo below) and miles of water hyacinth growing on the canals.

it was sprinkling when we arrived at the kayak launch point, but we hopped in anyway.  a little motor boat (photo below) accompanied us with our luggage.

tedster and los angeles real estate agent renee and i were kayak buddies, and it really required some teamwork because our rudder was broken.  after kayaking beneath a bridge full of bats, we headed out onto the canals.  it was beautiful when the sun finally came out.  we even saw a little river snake.

we stopped for a snack and renee tapped out because she was getting sunburned.  no sooner did i get a new kayak buddy did the sky open up and really release a downpour.  our guides side it was like monsoon weather (although the season is over).  we were soaking wet, and i was nervous about my little kayak filling with water.

wet and exhausted, we were happy to finally reach our destination -- a private home for lunch.  after eating, we hopped aboard our house boats for the night.  my boat was called the "lake home."

the house boats were surprisingly spacious with a "living room" area, three bedrooms, three bathrooms, and a full kitchen.

pictured below are the aforementioned jake and his wife fiona, self-described "possibility accelerator" rafe, and q fund CEO and founder chellie.

the afternoon house boat ride was spectacular.  the sun came out, so we soaked up the rays on the boat's bow.  lots of people live along the canals' banks, so we saw many scenes of daily life including children finishing school (photo below) and women washing their hair in the river.

we literally watched the storm roll in over the lake, and once the rain was really pouring down, the boats docked for the night on the water.