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2008 » January

IDE Chosen for Agricultural Grant at DAVOS

January 25, 2008 by  

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Today, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Bill Gates announced that IDE was chosen as one of the recipients of a package of new grants for agricultural projects designed to combat poverty in the developing world. IDE was awarded a four-year, $27 million grant for a micro-irrigation project which will improve the lives of 250,000 families in 14 states in India, increasing farmers’ income by a minimum of $400 per year, and boosting the agricultural economy by $300 million at the grassroots level.


Modern Night Lights

January 25, 2008 by  

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My hotel room has twelve lights that stay on after I turn off the last lamp before bed. There’s the green smoke alarm, the dvd standby light, the microwave clock, the dim orange bedside cd player/alarm clock, the ghostly screens of the two laptops. And then the phone with the flashing red message light that won’t turn off and the tiny flashing green light that says line 1 is in use even when it is not, the red television power light. The printer standby light, the blue light around the power plug of my laptop, the flashing green of the EVDO card. The path to the bathroom is lit like runway lights at an airport. Contrast this with the warm glowing plug-in lights on the baseboards of upstairs hallways leading the way to the stairs or the toilet. Lit-up angels or Snoopys or ladybugs. Or compare it to the Pennsylvania farm where I was raised. We had three kinds of light at night when we went to bed – the stars, the moon, and the headlights of passing cars, maybe a dozen throughout the night. I think most of us don’t often realize how much things have changed…

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Yanus in SF – Social Business

January 21, 2008 by  

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Yesterday I had the opportunity to hear Muhammad Yunus of the Grameen Bank speak at the Commonwealth Club here in San Francisco about his new book, Creating A World Without Poverty. I have seen and heard him speak about microfinance several times before, but this event was particularly interesting in that it focused on “what comes next” and how microfinance may be used to leverage benefits in many more ways — above all business, and how a new type of company may be established whose primary purpose is to “do good for others.” That companies — food companies, water companies, health companies, any type of entity that produces something used by and useful to society — could actually focus on the return to society of such ventures. Ultimately there could even be a stock market on which this type of company trades. How cool is that? I remain more than a little concerned that many of today’s current companies would actually buy in to the concept of “maximizing the returns that others can make,” or would realistically be ready and able to invest in ventures where they…

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Chilling Upstate New York

January 16, 2008 by  

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I’m heading to upstate New York, Richard Russo’s stomping ground and the area that most inspired his work. While I miss this area on occasion (a number of family members still reside here), I don’t miss winter visits, especially January/February winter visits, which are very different from December and March winter visits. In other words, I may as well be traveling to Alaska or northern Maine because that’s what the wind chill feels like. Apparently it was 7 degrees yesterday and now they’re having a heat wave (18 degrees but the weather report says it feels like 10. READ MY LIPS – it should say 10 below zero). I know global warming is real but it never ‘feels’ real when I’m in upstate New York in the winter. I love fresh fallen snow, pond ice whether its for fishing or skating, sleigh riding at midnight to a full moon and all those things that made CHILDHOOD grand. Now when I feel the cold, I don’t think of great childhood memories at all – I just think “this is insane, why subject yourself to this level of discomfort on a regular basis?” HA – something clearly has happened between…

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Living Wabi Sabi by Taro Gold

January 15, 2008 by  

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Wasabi In December during a trip to Mexico that was extremely disappointing because of the amount of commercialism and American influence, I had the fortune of meeting a dear friend and partner of a former client. Magically, the timing worked out perfectly. Taro Gold was not new to me however, as not only had I read 80% of his books prior to meeting him, but had one with me on the trip. Taro’s work is largely a series of small, simple books that move you to not just reflect on your core, but act on it in a way that will bring more joy into your life. Living Wabi Sabi was one of the few books I had not yet read until recently.  It’s an enchanting, educational and inspirational book about an ancient Japanese practice that can be integrated into your life regardless of what religious belief system you have — or none at all. Wabi Sabi is about embracing your imperfections. He writes, “regrettably, many of us are taught early on to be uncomfortable with the differences in our lives, to make sure we always color inside…

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April’s Notes from the Road: Southwest China

January 15, 2008 by  

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This travelogue was originally written in the summer of 2002, when I spent nearly 2 months exploring southwest China. Some of the observations may be outdated or seem otherwise out of context, but, well, that’s what can happen in 5+ years. Ni hao — greetings in Mandarin — and Happy Midsummer! I have just returned from an extraordinary adventure through southwest China, where several weeks were spent exploring, photographing, and hiking in Guangxi, Yunnan and Sichuan (Szechuan) provinces, and ‘bookend’ time in Hong Kong was included at the beginning and end of the trip. On balance, I was struck most by the incredible diversity (ethnic, geographic, and level of economic development), the pervasive kindness and stunning beauty of the people, the much-higher-than-anticipated language barrier (accompanied, of course, by incessant calls of “hello hello where you go? hello hello you want? hello hello special price!”), and the incongruity of the region’s economic, political, and legal systems in transition. Each province was markedly distinct from the others, though common threads between them gradually became apparent (for example, the ‘hybrid’ nature of religion (see below), the emphasis on community, mega-statues of saluting Mao, and the existence of fiery chilli peppers, fried beef, and…

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Imagine a CES That Focuses on Women

January 14, 2008 by  

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One of the things I fell in love with at this year’s CES wasn’t exactly new, but it is something that marks an underserved market for gadgets: diverse colors and great design. Women in my life care about both and wouldn’t it be nice to have choices other than black, white or silver? While Apple clearly gets this, most vendors don’t have a clue. Check out Iomega’s external hard drives. They’re small, slick and have a broad range of colors, all of which are muted, not shiny with some cute design logo that would only appeal to a geek or a 16 year old. I’m still surprised that blue didn’t make the cut and while pink was proudly displayed at their booth, I only found red, black and silver on their site. Iomega_cool_design_hard_drives_ce_2 While others were crazed over the Sony Rolly, an MP3 player that dances to the music in its guts with neon light trimmings, I kept wondering where all the practical stuff was that women would actually use and get excited about. I stopped by the Kodak booth to talk to someone about my…

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Food Las Vegas Style

January 13, 2008 by  

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Those who go to Vegas frequently for industry conferences know that its not the city it was ten’ish years ago, when we were all hard pressed to find a decent restaurant with a fabulous chef. Today, the MGM, Palms, Bellagio, Venetian and others have upped the standards. Emerils has had a restaurant there for awhile now, although most say better to skip the Vegas experience. Of those I have tried in the past, Bouchon, Joel Robuchon, L’atelier, Eiffel Tower Restaurant (the view is amazing), Postrio and Spagos are worth a shot. Then there are well known chains, such as Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant in the MGM and P.F. Changs at Planet Hollywood. This year, I had sea bass that melted in my mouth at Tao Asian Bistro (its where Dow Jones held their party this year), and at MGM Grand’s Nob Hill where I had dinner with the B5 Media crowd. They had Kistler on the menu as well as an amazing 97 Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Below a few dishes from Nob Hill to give you a taste. Dinner_at_nob_hill_with_b5_mediajpg Dinner_at_nob_hill_with_b5_mediaj_2 On the last…

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