Matt\’s Cuppa

My take on tea, technology, and our environment

Archive for the ‘Our World’ Category

Thanks, Gidge

Posted by telecommatt on January 6, 2008

Live from the Wang of America


I was getting some stuff ready for eHub when I got sidetracked by a fellow blogger (blogher?) on Twitter. Bridgette McNeal blogs about being a real person, and she does it very well. The posts that I read were down to earth, well written, and very, very open. Every once in a while I run into someone on the web who reminds me that there are more important things out there than tracking down little-known internet startups…


Posted in Our World | 1 Comment »

A Blogging Great Has Passed

Posted by telecommatt on December 10, 2007

Deeply sad news: world of blogging has lost a great writer & friend – Download Squad

Marc’s name will be well-known to those that have frequented any of Weblogs Inc’s technology-focused blogs in the past, or in fact anyone interested in productivity and Getting Things Done.

Marc was a great writer and a great teacher. Anyone with more than a passing interest in productivity has more than likely learned from him. His passing leaves a void that will be felt for a long time to come. To all who knew Marc, I’m sorry for your loss.

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The Story Of Stuff Is A Must See Wake-Up Call

Posted by telecommatt on December 6, 2007

Thanks to Andy McCaskey‘s excellent Slashdot Review podcast, yesterday I ran across one of the best short film documentaries that I have ever seen. It’s called The Story of Stuff. It’s about twenty minutes long, and it will change the way that you look at every modern manufacturing marvel that you’ve ever owned.

In the film, Leonard walks us through the life cycle of the “stuff” that we buy. Sounds boring? Nope! There’s enough cynicism thrown in to keep people age twelve and up amused for the full twenty minutes. And it’s all done in cartoon, so that takes care of anyone under under twelve and any healthy adult male.

You can view the film directly from the website. If you’d rather know what you’re getting yourself into first, you can view a two minute YouTube preview here.

The “cycle” is something we’ve seen before in business or economics classes:

Extraction – Production – Distribution – Consumption – Disposal.

The difference is that Leonard focuses on what happens between each phase, because they don’t just fit neatly together like they do in the text books. For example, between the production and distribution phases, there’s a whole lot of industrial and manufacturing waste that has to be put someplace.

She also looks at the context in which all this takes place. And that is often the scarier picture. The film highlights dependencies that occur between people and the “stuff” cycle. Our whole economy is dependent on the idea of planned obsolescence, and we’ve managed to drag most of the world in with us. If they won’t ride in our wagon, we make them push.

A lot of the film is stuff that we already know. It’s simply draws our attention to the wider context. Contrary to what people steering our economy would like us to think, none of this happens in a vacuum. We live in a world of finite resources and we’re burning through those resources at an irresponsible rate. So next time you buy a radio, think about who really paid for it.

If that last line didn’t make sense, what the film.

I sincerely thank Annie Leonard and everyone else who helped put together the film and the website. It’s not a comfortable message, but it’s one that we all need to hear.

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Posted in Environment, Our World, Politics | Leave a Comment »

Choices: Take Action? Or Watch?

Posted by telecommatt on October 26, 2007

Choices: Take Action? Or Watch?

Why is it important to take action? And how big does the action have to be before it makes a difference?

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Birches By Maya Eventov

Posted by telecommatt on October 24, 2007

This past Sunday, I ended up in Stillwater, MN for lunch and coffee. The main street in ‘downtown’ Stillwater is filled with small restaurants, antique stores, and small boutique-style shops. At one point, I wandered in to an art gallery after being struck by a certain painting. Do you ever see something that you instantly know is miles superior to anything around it? On prominent display in the small gallery was a series of paintings done by Maya Eventov called Birches. Not being able to afford, well, anything that was on display in the gallery, I struck up a conversation with the young woman working there in order to learn about the artist.


Maya Eventov is Russian by birth and now lives in Ontario, Canada. Although her art training was rather traditional, these paintings are extraordinary in the way that she uses different size palette knives rather than brushes. The acrylic paint is layered very thickly and applied in short strokes giving the finished work an actual three dimensional texture. It works so well with the scenery in Birches! The tree bark comes alive and from a few feet back, where you can’t tell one stroke from another, there is a wonderful depth to the scene.

For the benefit of the aficionados out there, I won’t even pretend to know what I’m talking about when it comes to painting. And, yes, it’s off topic too. But I really enjoyed this series and thought a few of you out there might as well.

She doesn’t seem to have a website of her own, but you can read more about her and Birches here and here.

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Posted in Our World | 14 Comments »

Mapping The Southern California Fires

Posted by telecommatt on October 23, 2007

Mapping The Southern California Fires

As I was keeping up with the news, I came across some maps online from Google Earth, Google Maps, Virtual Earth and elsewhere that I thought I’d share with others.

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Is Web 2.0 Changing The Digital Divide?

Posted by telecommatt on October 6, 2007

Today I found a really interesting commentary by Thomas Scovell, and there was one paragraph in particular that intrigued me.

And maybe we don’t have a computer in every home or on every desk
yet. But when they do get online these people are using it in much more
radical and revolutionary ways. And its because, not in-spite of, their
lack of recognition or power during the mass-media era. The strength of
community, oral traditions and the like are what are being pulled into
their use of the Internet.

I live in a community that’s about as diverse as you can get in the upper midwestern United States. Actually, we have very strong immigrant populations here from all over the world. In the last decade, the number of languages I hear on the streets has exploded.

I don’t have strong ties to any of these communities. I’m just an observer. But what I’ve observed is exactly what Thomas writes about in his post. I can sit on the train in the morning and hear three or four languages being spoken on any given day. And they’re being spoken into mobile phones. They’re taking pictures and videos of their friends. I hear the words ‘Google’ and ‘Facebook’ and ‘YouTube’. And when I don’t hear anything, it’s because they are quietly sending someone a text message.

I know there’s a Digital Divide out there. It’s unfortunate. I think that our current economy pretty much guarantees that this will be the case for the foreseeable future. But I think that the trends we call ‘web 2.0’ are lowering the barriers of accessibility that were a serious problem with the World Wide Web from the beginning. Costs are declining and more people, immigrant and not, are finding the internet relevant to their lives. I think that anyone who calls the internet, and ‘web 2.0’ in particular, an exclusive domain of the 20-something-white-male needs to step outside their airconditioned office and walk the streets.

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Posted in Geekstuff, minneapolis, Our World | 1 Comment »

USe Your Computer to Help Someone

Posted by telecommatt on October 1, 2007

Technophilia: Save a Life With Your Computer – Lifehacker

What if you could use your computer for more than writing up the latest TPS report or surfing the webernets for last night’s Family Guy episodes?

Use your PC for something good…

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Kenneth “Ironman” Raboin

Posted by telecommatt on September 12, 2007

Congratulations goes out to Ken for completing the 2007 Ironman Wisconsin and besting his personal best.

We all knew you’d do it!

Not sure what the Ironman is all about? Check out this YouTube video.

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Posted in Our World, Success | Leave a Comment »

One of Our Own

Posted by telecommatt on September 10, 2007

Lost Bloggers

Sorry to hear that one of Weblogs Inc’s bloggers, Adam Finley of TV Squad, died on Thursday. The 30-year old was hit by a bus while riding his bike in Minneapolis.

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