Sunday, March 30, 2008

Eeny Meeny Miny...Obama!

That's right! I thought I was for Hillary, but it turns out Obama's my man...or so says, a great site that helps to demystify the elections just a bit. Answer a few questions on major issues facing the country and see which candidate best fit your views. The results are also supplemented with quotes and video clips so that you can hear what they have to say straight from the horse's (or donkey's, or elephant's) mouth.

Some other resources of note:
select2008 blog

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Scraptacular Bots!

Resource reclamation broken down as simply as possible.... 1 box o' junk = 1 rad robot.

These creations from Guy Robot are great. Made from industrial parts reclaimed from a variety of depots like aerospace and automotive salvage yards, these bots are a creative re-envisioning of what would have otherwise been waste. The type of dedication needed to create these characters radiates throughout the website -- from the small bios accompanying each bot to small blurbs like the one below. I'd love them to come out with a kit for these bots so you can build your own.

"Please note: Guy Robots are not toys: they do not walk or talk or give legal advice. They are not dangerous and will not bite, kick, pinch, or emit ozone. Guy Robots will not -- unless repeatedly provoked -- harass your dog or cat. They are unique pieces of handcrafted art, meant to be enjoyed visually and displayed prominently. While requiring only minimal care and feeding, your Guy Robot is guaranteed to provoke discussion, spark new ideas, and generally contribute good vibrations to your life."

Originally spotted:

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Coca-Cola can protect your home!

Is this great or ironic? You be the judge. This picture, taken in Mamallapurum (outside of Chennai) shows Coca-Cola bottles broken up and reused to add a bit of extra protection to the top of a concrete wall surrounding a house. Oh, how fine the line is between quintessential Americana and home intruder deterrent. In a sense, they (to borrow Coke's tag line) are really 'making every drop count.'

Friday, March 14, 2008

Chai Chai Coffee Coffee....

In India, tea is huge! But the actual cup size isn't. They serve small shots of tea that are sipped and savored in many different venues -- on the side of the road, delivered to your door, in a local eatery. And so that you don't burn your little piggies, part of the brewing process includes a high pour to allow the air to cool the thin stream of liquid before it even touches the cup (they call it 'pulling' the coffee or tea...check out this image of someone pouring coffee in Sing).

It's a ritual which we embraced in India and continue to enjoy in Singapore ;)

This was the average size of a cup of tea in India...about the size of a shot glass.

In Kumily, where the weather is cooler, there's no better start to the day then a 25 cent cup of coffee made fresh right before your eyes. I have a sweet tooth, so the tendency of the coffee and tea to lean towards the sweeter side was A-OK with me. See the high pour?

And while sitting in a local veg restaurant, Craig and I were confronted with this coffee presentation. Curious outer cup. Was it to keep our hands from getting burned on the metal cup? Was it to catch extra drips? Well, actually, what we soon found out (after looking around the room) was that it does it all. Some people lift both cups together to keep from getting burned until the coffee is cool enough to hold only the main cup. We also saw some people pour the coffee back and forth between the two cups to cool off the coffee themselves.

Tea on demand? Many entrepreneurs bike or walk around with a vat of tea doling it out to paying customers wherever they may be.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Entrepreneurial Spirit

Ok, to follow up on the theme based entries on our trip to India...

Here are some examples of unique services that we saw during our trip as well as a couple of things I'm throwing in just because I want to. (Insert "It's my blog, I'll do what I want to" here.)

Seriously though, it is a great reminder as to what true entrepreneurial spirit is all about!

Originally I was going to entitle this blog entry "things you think you need but don't" and the lead photo was going to be this one with the caption reading "electricity." This picture from Kumily is for a roadside ironing service. If you can't tell from the picture, you fill the body of this metal iron up with hot coals and presto!

Or what about anything you need sewn? Well, this tailor only needs a sewing table and has set up shop at the local market. It's old school, it gets the job done and it's great for a quick hem.

Charging ports with multiple connectors are available at various locations ranging from the airport (where this one was) to a local eatery. So many people rely only on mobile phones there that this is such a necessary service.

And if you don't happen to own a mobile, don't worry! There are plenty of telephone stands such as this one for all of your international and local calling needs.

This makes me appreciate the phrase "find one thing you love and do it well," and reminds me how caught up we can get in trying to do everything under the sun and end up not doing anything very well. (Also, this is a nod to my Ba who loves garlic. LOVES!)

I had to throw this in because it's too cute. Do you see that little seat on the bar of the bike? Too cute.

This ice cream man (who's taking a break in the back of his ric) shows us that you don't need a hefty diesel powered truck to dole out the fact, you don't even need that 4th wheel.

Lunch service at a Shiva temple in Kanchipuram.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Gateway Blog

Like all great blogs, a gateway blog is one that has top-notch entries but what sets it apart from others are the resources which is unleashes for the reader. I happened upon Challis Hodge's UX blog today and what a gateway blog, indeed! It focuses on user experience, design, and strategy and aside from the great blog entries themselves, Hodge's serves as a wonderful gateway to other design and human factors related blogs. Oh, and attention k-mart shoppers, Hodge also includes a long list of book he recommends as well. So...I've found what I'll be doing today, have you?

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Casulo...For the Nomad in You

Here's a piece of furniture that makes you question just how much does one person really need? Besides, if your friends are anything like my friends then you know that people move...a lot and as they criss-cross their way through the world, sad Ikea throwaways lie in their wake. So, all you discarded furniture thrown together with allen wrenches and rotting away in landfills, this is for you!

From the designers: The CASULO is for people on the move, those in job training, students, and people who have to change their location frequently. The unit is ideal for people in the service industries. People who must move frequently and rent empty rooms need no longer accumulate sets of inexpensive furnishings whose transportation costs are higher than the value of the furniture.

So recap...what exactly DO you get in this box?

1 wardrobe
1 large desk/table
1 desk cabinet with locking drawers
1 revolving, height-adjustable desk chair
2 stools
1 single (twin) bed
1 mattress
1 tall set of shelves.

For more info: Casulo Mobile Living

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Ode to a Friction-ful Life and a Reawakening of the Senses

[Craig and I just got back from our trip to India. During our 11 day trip we covered Mumbai, Chennai, and parts of Kerala. Rather than try and post a slew of pictures all at once, I'm going to post them according to themes...mindless musings, I guess.]

The first morning I woke up in Thane (a suburb of Mumbai, but a city by any other standard) after having spent the previous day soaking in the city, I immediately felt like I was in New York again listening to the buzz of traffic outside our window and hearing the shouts of familiar neighbors to one another. It was comforting. But wait! How could this be? They're so completely different!

It's because of the friction. Everyday in either city you are crowded onto a train, bumping into people, feeling the wind of cars whizzing within inches of you. It's great. It made me think of the stark contrast this serves to other places (which will remain nameless) that are filled with double paned windows, drive-thru eateries, and reserved seating. When friction is taken away from your life, you feel numb. You don't remember what it's like to feel another persons arm pressed against yours as you both brace yourselves on a speeding bus. You escape to places where it's OK to look away and you forget about the world around you. How can this be a better quality of life?

Friction can radiate and so people are affected by everything around them. So, naturally, they care what happens. One of the most fascinating things we observed in India is that if there is a conflict or a commotion, a group will form -- not a group of spectators, but a group of participants. In most of the world, life has become a spectator sport when what we really need more of are participants. Participants willing to engage in the world around them. Who get pissed at people when they're acting like crap or laugh with them when they're being silly. And best of all, when you become aware you awaken your senses.

Bustling traffic, honking horns, and near collisions help to snap you right into the reality of a friction-ful world :)

And a perfect follow-up...a commuter train in Mumbai. Next to this, the subways of New York seem so roomy and this was at 9pm! At around 6pm there are 3 people deep hanging out of the doors.

Walking around the temples barefoot with your skin against the hot rock, you realize how much feeling you miss when we rock our thick-soled shoes.

The poverty was all around. It was playing in the streets and it was sleeping on the sidewalk. The initial site of it made you aware of how much we have but soon you see past the poverty and you see smiling faces and realize how much of what we have is material. Quite a reality check.

The colors are everywhere and they are vibrant and when I look from this beautiful crumbling wall to my khaki pants, I realize how drab (seemingly) normal can be.

And foodies take note! You are not NOT a true foodie until you can feel and manipulate your food with your own digits.