About Renee Blodgett
Renee Blodgett is the founder of We Blog the World. The site combines the magic of an online culture and travel magazine with a global blog network and has contributors from every continent in the world. Having lived in 10 countries and explored nearly 80, she is an avid traveler, and a lover, observer and participant in cultural diversity.
She is also the CEO and founder of Magic Sauce Media, a new media services consultancy focused on viral marketing, social media, branding, events and PR. For over 20 years, she has helped companies from 12 countries get traction in the market. Known for her global and organic approach to product and corporate launches, Renee practices what she pitches and as an active user of social media, she helps clients navigate digital waters from around the world. Renee has been blogging for over 16 years and regularly writes on her personal blog Down the Avenue, Huffington Post, BlogHer, We Blog the World and other sites. She was ranked #12 Social Media Influencer by Forbes Magazine and is listed as a new media influencer and game changer on various sites and books on the new media revolution. In 2013, she was listed as the 6th most influential woman in social media by Forbes Magazine on a Top 20 List.
Her passion for art, storytelling and photography led to the launch of Magic Sauce Photography, which is a visual extension of her writing, the result of which has led to producing six photo books: Galapagos Islands, London, South Africa, Rome, Urbanization and Ecuador.
Renee is also the co-founder of Traveling Geeks, an initiative that brings entrepreneurs, thought leaders, bloggers, creators, curators and influencers to other countries to share and learn from peers, governments, corporations, and the general public in order to educate, share, evaluate, and promote innovative technologies.
Latest Posts by Renee Blodgett
I had a chance to chat with Viviana Guzman recently about her music and how she got started with her career as a flutist. Her first answer really astonished me, so a dialogue continued. Below, a more recent photo of her playing in Easter Island is a far cry from how and where she played music as a child.
Viviana grew up in a body cast so she couldn’t run and play like most kids and as a result, she started music lessons when they flipped her over in the hospital gurney where she lived in Chile. It was here and how she learned how to play piano as a child.
Chilean-born, she has been described by the New York Times as “an imaginative artist,” who now performs over 80 concerts a year throughout the world and has performed in 120 countries. By age 15, she had played as a soloist with orchestra, studied with Jean-Pierre Rampal and was featured on NBC’s nationally televised John Denver music special.
She has since appeared as soloist with orchestras in Wisconsin, Vermont, Houston, Khabarovsk Chamber Orchestra (Russia), Filharmoncia de Santiago (Chile), Great Falls Symphony (Montana), Diablo Symphony (California), Irving Symphony (Texas), Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra, San Jose Chamber Orchestra, Stockton Symphony and in New York City’s Alice Tully Hall Carnegie Hall and Avery Fisher Hall.
When I asked her who her earliest inspiration was for her early on in her life, she speaks of her mother, who was a concert pianist in Chile where she grew up. Like so many women of her generation, she gave up her career to take care of her, so she now plays all of her concerts with her mother in mind.
Viviana was trained in classical music having attended Juilliard and the opportunity to play at Carnegie Hall. As she started traveling, she was suddenly exposed to different kinds of world music and that influenced her music in a big way. The result was a shift to playing various flutes from different cultures. She says, “As I became more of a musician of the world, my music started reflecting this. Now I play classical, celtic, tango, samba, salsa…. you name it, I can play it!”
I asked her what her favorite piece to play was and most importantly, why? I had to chuckle at her answer. She says that her favorite piece to play depends on what mood she’s in and that changes daily. In January this year, she performed on Easter Island, so her favorite piece was a tune from Easter Island. In February, she premiered a piece written by a Chilean composer, Sergio Berchenko at El Teatro Del Lago for Semanas Musicales in Chile. And, In March she will be performing in Taiwan and Philippines, so she predicts she will find music from both of those places that will become her favorite music to play this Spring.
With my own art and writing, I get my biggest source of inspiration from nature so was thrilled to hear that Viviana’s answer was the same. I’m not surprised. Nature constantly inspires and when you’re playing flutes from various cultures around the world, nature can have an even bigger impact. She says that she loves performing at the Sacred Sites of the World, such as the Pyramids in Egypt, in Easter Island, Santiago de Compostela and Acropolis in Greece.
Below: Philippines and Peru.
She has also played in of all places, Antarctica. If you’ve ever wondered why someone would go to Antarctica for any reason, nevermind to play a flute, check out some of the Antarctica photography from that icy but astonishing beautiful place in our Antarctica travel section. I can guarantee that you will soon see the inspiration and be blown away by its beauty.
I interviewed Viviana because I fell in love with her music and because of her global approach to music, which couldn’t be more perfect for We Blog the World. For example, last year alone, she performed in Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Angels Camp, CA, Ohio, Berkeley, Tahiti, Canada, New Orleans, Hawaii, American Samoa, Mexico, Thailand, Panama, Peru and as a soloist with the Philippines Philharmonic Orchestra. Whoahh! Dizzy yet?
In 2014, she has concerts planned in Easter Island, Tahiti, Argentina, Taiwan, Philippines, California, Chicago, U.K., San Jose, Missouri, and Asia and that’s not even an exhaustive list.
Viviana has recorded 8 different albums with different labels including Polygram, National Geographic, and Sugo Records. Bonnie Grice of KUSC-LA says of her classical CD, Telemann Flute Fantasies, “It is a wonderful album, it has gotten a lot of great response…it’s magic. She is a bright young flutist, a delightful musician.” Her albums include “Planet Flute” (1997), “Telemann Fantasies” (2002), “Mostly Tango” (2002), “Argentine Music” (2009), “Meditations for Flute” (2007), “Serenity” National Geographic (2002), “Danza de Amor” (2000) which has sold over 40,000 units. As an author/poet, she has been published by Simon and Schuster and her book of poetry entitled, “Love Soliloquies” was published by Syren Press.
She has been the recipient of numerous awards including the Lincoln Center Scholarship, Institute of Hispanic Culture Award, Shepherd Award, Emmanuel Olshan Award, Hirsch Award, Phillips Foundation Award, and the Ruth Burr Award. Ms. Guzmán attended Rice University on fellowship first with an emphasis on medicine; subsequently, she chose music as her career path and attended the Juilliard School on scholarship. She has participated in the Aspen, Banff, Marlboro and Caramoor Music Festivals and has studied with Albert Tipton and Julius Baker and in Masterclass with James Galway and Jean-Pierre Rampal. She has presented workshops and masterclasses at the San Francisco Conservatory, Juilliard School, University of Mississippi, Wright State University, Rick’s College, Stanford University, Humbolt State University, among others. Viviana has many fans worldwide including Kate Winslet (Titanic) who said, “I LOVE your music, it’s truly beautiful!” and Isabel Allende (House of Spirits) declared, “Your music is celestial!”
We love inspiring and passionate women doing fabulous things around the world – be sure to check out her work to be inspired and awed. The links to the above performances (Egypt, Easter Island, Santiago, Greece and Antarctica) will give you a taste.
Photos provided by Viviana directly.
The DryCASE Waterproof Phone Case (DC-13) is a flexible, crystal-clear reusable case that allows for full use of your device while protecting it from water, sand, mud or pretty much anything else you can throw at it! Designed to create a watertight vacuum seal, this case allows you to use your smartphone underwater (up to 100 feet deep).
How it works: you merely slip your device inside the DryCASE and use the vacuum hand pump to remove all the air and then use the included neoprene armband to attach the case to your arm or other secure place. It’s a great way to keep your phone with you while swimming, kayaking, windsurfing and more.
A built – in three-way headphone jack lets you use both stereo headphones and a microphone to listen to music or take calls. And because of its flexible shape and size, the DryCASE can be used with almost any size phone, camera or MP3 player. It is priced at roughly $40.
The DryBUDS Waterproof Headphones (DB-12) can be used while you’re out doing adventure sports and activities, such as snorkeling, swimming laps or playing water sports. Completely submersible, stereo DryBUDS can be used at depths up to 3 meters and are the perfect match with DryCASE. Every pair comes with three ear bud shape options that you can choose from to maximize fit and comfort. They are priced at $30.
Both Drycase accessories are perfect (and small) additions to any adventure trip.
Over a period of 9 days in Sharjah, in the United Arab Emirates, from February 6th to the 14th, 2014, the night shines and the city is reinvented. Urban space is offered an escape from its daily routine… it becomes a new land of mystery. Streets are lit up, architecture is altered, parks and gardens appear under a new light. Magic, light and sound move the audience.
For those unfamiliar with Sharjah (الشارقة (ash-shāriqah), it is the third largest and most populous city in the United Arab Emirates, forming part of the Dubai-Sharjah-Ajman metropolitan area. It is located along the northern coast of the Persian Gulf on the Arabian Peninsula and has been ruled by the Al Qasimi dynasty since the 18th century.
The festival is a special time for exploration and adventure; in each corner a new image appears – the colours are multiplied and endless. Eyes sparkle, questions arise… let’s take a look at the highlights of this fabulous festival from last month.
Below is a video to give you a more alive experience of the event.
Located in the Rocky Mountains near Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks one mile from the Continental Divide and within a short drive of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Brooks Lake Lodge and Spa awaits. Their style? Where Luxury, Adventure and Classy Rustic meet. Below, a 35 foot river rock fireplace is flanked by huge picture windows framing magnificent views of Shoshone National Forest. It’s all about tranquility here in this peaceful gathering room, which is where guests can read, relax or meditate.
When you visit Brooks Lake Lodge and Spa you are following in the footsteps of generations of adventure seekers. In other words, they tout a whole lotta history. The Lodge, which is listed on the National Park Services Register of Historic Places, was built in 1922. Known at the time as the Two-Gwo-Tee Inn, the Lodge first served as a stopover for vacationers headed to Yellowstone National Park.
Soon thereafter, the Two-Gwo-Tee Inn was converted into a dude ranch, renamed The Diamond G Ranch, and became a vacation destination in its own right–serving well-to-do Easterners in search of a Western-style vacation. They obviously attract a lot of California residents as well since its such a short flight and would make a great escape for Europeans and others interested in experiencing America’s rustic western landscape.
The main lodge was constructed in a record four months time in the Western Craftsman architectural style that developed in the Rocky Mountain Region during the early 1900s. Through multiple renovations and additions this architecture has been carefully preserved–more recently during the building of their spa which emulates the main lodge.
The Lodge sits 9,200 feet above sea level. It is one mile from the Continental Divide and surrounded by mountain peaks including the Pinnacle Buttes, Austin’s Peak, and Brooks Mountain. This natural beauty is what surrounds you in a very intimate setting – they only have a handful of lodge rooms and private cabins. They also have a rustic cowboy bar on the premises where you can hang out after a long day of skiing (if winter) or hiking in the summer and the Governor’s Tea Room for a cozier ambiance.
The rooms are also rustic in design, but most certainly not basic.
There’s also a fitness center and spa, where you can get typical spa services such as facials and massages, including hot stone massage treatments, which are not commonly found. Even though its in the mountains, they offer lush white robes, and there’s a sauna and hot tub for the taking. Afterwards, you’ll want to curl up with a cup of tea or a glass of wine and a good book by the tranquility room’s fireplace. It won’t be long before you’ve forgotten the rest of the world even exists.
Imagine a hot tub with a view like this? Brooks Lake is no ordinary place.DETAILS: Brooks Lake Lodge & Spa 458 Brooks Lake Rd. Dubois, WY 82513-9731 866-213-4022
Wearable World is hosting two upcoming events in San Diego on March 19 and in Los Angeles on March 26, events they’re calling Wearable Wednesdays. At the event, you’ll hear from thought leaders and entrepreneurs on the topic of truly wearable technology in the form of smart fabrics, e-textiles, and clothing that connects us to all things internet.
From fabrics that change color with your movement to textile sensors that monitor oxygen levels for firefighters - the potential for intelligent clothing is unlimited. Although researchers believe it will be another 20 years until products like these are made commercially available, that hasn’t slowed down companies like Adidas, Under Armour, Nike, and Reebok from exploring the potential for connected apparel.
Soon enough wearable tech watches will become archaic when the very shirt and pants you are wearing can provide data on everything from muscle exertion and skin temperature to who is tweeting you. They will discuss the current state of smart fabrics, where the industry is moving, and how the leaders in connected clothing are breaking away from the pack.
ABI Research estimates the global market for wearables in health and fitness alone could reach 170 million devices by 2017. Big-time technology players have taken the hint and are making a big leap into the world of wearable tech. Wearable technology has moved beyond product concepts to actual consumer products. However, building hardware for the wearables market is only the first challenge. Companies are challenged to create differentiated experiences, products that work, and useful technologies people will incorporate into their daily lives.
Now in its second year Eight’s Check, Please! Arizona Festival hosting a renowned celebrity chef lineup showcased in wine seminars, cooking demonstrations and a rare discussion panel by Arizona’s James Beard Award winners. The festival adds more culinary hotspots in preparation for the food and drink transformation to hit CityScape, closing down Central Avenue in the heart of downtown Phoenix.
The Arizona Festival foodie event is set for Sun., March 30, 2014 from 11am-3pm which will include a day full of celebrity chefs and restaurateurs who will do cooking demonstrations, wine seminars and the foodie favorite, the James Beard Award winner discussion panel. Three stages will set the scene for the scheduled showcases, the SubZero/Wolf Chef Demonstration Stage, the Safeway Grill Master Stage and the Chow Bella Stage.
Celebrity chefs include: Check, Please! Arizona host and James Beard Award winner Robert McGrath, who will moderate the discussion panel and share his unmistakable charm and culinary insight in a cooking demonstration; James Beard Award winner and chef, Nobuo Fukuda is also set to participate in the discussion panel and deliver his exotic cooking knowledge sure to impress every food lover; as well as James Beard Award winner and chef, Christopher Gross who is also participating in the discussion panel as well as a wine seminar, showcasing his more than 40 years of experience in the wine and food world.
In addition to celebrity chefs offering a number of unprecedented insights, more than 30 of Arizona’s favorite independent dining spots are set to dish out their specialties, in addition to wineries and craft breweries. A singular opportunity for fans at the CityScape event is the chance for guests to audition for the fifth season of the TV show Check, Please! Arizona, which airs on Eight, Arizona PBS.
Robert McGrath. True to his role as Check, Please! Arizona show host, Chef McGrath will lead the panel discussion once again. McGrath was awarded the James Beard Award for Best Chef Southwest in 2001 and has been nominated for the prestigious award five times. McGrath has earned national acclaim for nearly two decades touting a long list of awards including “Ten Best Chefs in America” by Food & Wine magazine in 1988 and “One of the Best New Restaurants in America,” Esquire magazine in 1991.
Christopher Gross. Most recently acclaimed for his Christopher’s & Crush Lounge (which has been named one of the top 10 New Restaurants in the U.S. by Gayot.com), Christopher Gross received the James Beard Award for Best Chef Southwest in 1995. He has been named one of America’s 10 Best New Chefs by Food & Wine magazine; and also was the first chef in Arizona to receive the Robert Mondavi Culinary Award of Excellence. Gross has been featured on numerous panels with Jacques Pepin and Julia Child at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, Colo. And, for some fans, most noteworthy of all is Gross’ inclusion in the book and PBS television series “In Julia’s Kitchen with Master Chefs” — Julia being Julia Child, the grand dame of culinary pursuits.
Nobuo Fukuda. Most recently acclaimed for Nobuo at Teeter House (which earned a five-star rating by The Arizona Republic, a “Best Of” award by Phoenix New Times, among other rave reviews and awards), Nobuo Fukuda has been dishing out his inventive, Japanese-inspired cuisine in Arizona for more than 30 years. In 2002, Chef Fukuda opened the Japanese tapas bar Sea Saw earning him the James Beard Award for Best Chef Southwest in 2007. Winning accolades from all major local publications, Nobuo Fukuda was touted as “Chef to Watch” by Esquire magazine columnist John Mariani; and earned a spot on the “Best New Chefs of 1999″ list by Food & Wine magazine.
There will be a Music Hackathon at South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin Texas this year. For the first time, developers, designers and musicians, can participate in the first ever SXSW Music Hackathon where they will present in front of a judging panel. The event is no-charge and open to the public!
The Hackathon will be March 12th- March 13th, 2:00 PM- 2:00 PM (24 hours), Hilton Austin Downtown Championship Awards will be March 14th, 6:30 PM + afterparty, Base at the old La Zona Rosa.
Using their programming know-how and a collection of music-tech APIs, teams will have 24 hours to work on their prototypes and compete for the AT&T Grand Prize of $10,000 plus a grand prize package; 2nd prize of $2,500 and 3rd prize of $1,000. The Hackathon Championship Awards Show will be held on Friday, March 14th from 6:00PM – 8:00PM at Base (formerly La Zona Rosa).
Judges will include Shawn Fanning (founder of Napster and Destroyer), Ian Rogers (CEO of Beats Music), Alex Ebert (frontman for Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros), Jermaine “Mack Maine” Preyan (rapper and President of Young Money Ent.), and Stephen White (President of Gracenote).
The Music Hackathon Championship is proud to have AT&T U-verse with GigaPower as the event’s presenting sponsor. Further sponsorship and API support comes from Tech Open Air Berlin, Beats Music, Choose Digital, Warner Music Group, Gracenote, Rdio, Senzari, The Echo Nest, Spotify, and more.
Carnival in Brazil’s sprawling Rio de Janeiro took over its streets for its annual event from February 28 through March 4, 2014, another year, we sadly missed being there directly. That said, we’ve been watching it from the road and was excited to see people packing the streets for parades, dancing and raucous open-air parties that began at daybreak the night before the kick off and pulsated throuhout the week.
The Carnaval in Rio is a world famous festival held before Lent every year and considered the biggest carnival in the world with two million people per day on the streets. The first festivals of Rio date back to 1723. Above is from this year and the below shot is from 1999.
One of the many main purposes of the Rio carnival parade is for samba schools to compete with fellow rival… not (they are called co-sisters) samba-schools; this competition is the climax of the whole carnival festival in this city, related to the samba-schools environment.
Some of the important roles include the porta-bandeira and mestre-sala. The porta-bandeira is a very important lady who is in charge of the samba school flag, including making sure to not allow the flag to roll. She is accompanied by the mestre-sala, who is supposed to draw everyone’s attention to “his queen”, the porta-bandeira. Floatees, who are also important, are the people who populate the floats, also known as destaques. The floatees have the most luxurious and expensive costumes that can be extremely heavy. Along with all the floatees is one main floatee that is located at the top of each float. The main destaque dances and sings for the entire time that the float is on the runway.
One other aspect that is mandatory is the presence of the ala das baianas. This is a wing of the samba school entry that includes at least 100 females only. These women along with many other people do not ride on the floats as many others do, instead they are passistas, the people who belong to the samba school that do the marching alongside and between the floats.
In addition to Rio, there’s also sequin-drenched samba group parades this week. The nightlong parades see six samba groups showing off both Sunday and Monday nights, with powerful percussion sections, elaborate floats and more than 2,500 participants in each parade, which last about an hour. Forty judges take part and the groups are judged in 10 categories, from the quality of the drum sections to the beauty of costumes.
Photo credit: top photo from (YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images), second photo from totallycoolpix, third photo from Wikipedia.