A Fast Food Company That Cares for the Environment

Posted on October 19, 2013. Filed under: Art, food, interesting, learning, media that matters, music, politics, Social Media, technology, Uncategorized, video | Tags: , , |

Here is an example of a fast food company that sources sustainably raised agricultural products, including Niman Ranch pork.  It has hired small media company to produce a video and an iphone application to tell the story of how industrialized agriculture is destroying the planet.  Watch the video they created (soundtrack by Fiona Apple):

and then what the behind the scenes video:

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Anacostia River Trail loop

Posted on September 8, 2013. Filed under: Bike, bikeing, interesting |

Today, I completed a very nice loop on the Anacostia River Trail. I ride my bike every day, but I almost never just go out just for a ride.  However, this is a great 40-60 minute loop that anyone can do very easily.  If you live in DC, you should do it at least once.  It is very beautiful!! 

The loop I rode, is highlighted in red.

Anacostia River Trail Loop

Anacostia River Trail Loop

I started at Stanton Park, then went south and then east on Pennsylvania Ave. (passing near Eastern Market, which was not open yet), and then south on 11th St.

I then crossed the river on the brand new 11th St SE bridge, which has a very wide pedestrian walkway.  I then arrived in a part of Anacostia that I had never before visited.  I noticed also a CapitalBikeShare station (Good Hope Rd & MLK Ave SE) and a sign indicating that the Anacostia Metro station was half a mile away.

I then paralleled the river until I got to Benning Road, where there is also a CapitalBikeShare station (Anacostia Ave & Benning Rd NE / River Terrace).

During this stretch, I saw maybe 4-5 runners and some rowers on the river.  It was a gorgeous ride and I recommend it to anyone with a bike or a willingness to get on a BikeShare bike.  It could take you 20-30 minutes going at a very relaxed pace.  It is completely on bike path, no traffic to deal with.

I went east on south side of the sidewalk on Benning Road, and passed the entrance to Kingman Island.  I  then resumed on west side of the River Trail heading south past the Stadium and past the boat houses and yacht clubs where I took these photos:

photo 5

photo 4

photo 3

photo 2

photo 1

For more info see:



I did the loop in reverse today (December 21, 2013) and made this video.

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Posted on June 22, 2013. Filed under: interesting, media that matters, Uncategorized, video | Tags: , , , , |

Documented is a new film by Jose Antonio Vargas

The film had its world premier at the AFI Docs Festival last night to a sold out crowd at the National Portrait Gallery.

It chronicles the struggles and efforts of the Pulitzer Prize-winning former journalist, both before and after he outed himself as an undocumented immigrant in the New York Times Magazine. “Documented” chronicles his decision to transform his life. At some point, he could no longer keep his secret. He had become a successful journalist covering political campaigns and appearing on television. He had all the trappings of the American success story, but he lacked permission to be in the United States. He had been brought to the U.S. as a child and had no way to obtain a valid immigration status. And after seeing and speaking with thousands of immigrants in the same situation, he decided to “let the world in” to his secret and decided to become an immigration reform activist/provocateur.


Mr. Vargas has made a compelling film that brings into focus what it really means to be an American. It is not a piece of paper, a birth certificate, a passport, or the luck of being born here. It is a love of country, which Mr. Vargas has in abundance. It is also about hard work and struggle. My Vargas’ grandparents were U.S. citizens and brought him to the USA when he was 12. He became an outstanding student and with the help of dozens of friends, mentors, and surrogate parents, he achieved the American dream. However, the cost of this dream were high, and not being able to be open about his status exacted a toll on his psyche. Seeing other young immigrants struggling to keep their families together and lobby Congress to pass the Dream Act., made him realize that he could use his talents as a writer to help America to peel back the layers and understand the complicated issue of immigration reform. The complexity of the topic has been lost in the political bickering and punditry that characterizes our political system and our society. Sound-bites are particularly inappropriate to understand this complex topic. The film sheds a bright and focused light, like very few other films on this topic. It also highlights his struggle to repair his relationship with his mother, who for twenty years had been trapped half way across the world (in the Philippines) with no way to see her son. The film shows that there are thousands of young adults from all over the world who face the same situation. At one moment towards the end of the film, Mr. Vargas is invited to testify before the Senate. His words are profound and he leaves the Senators with the following question that I think we all must consider thoroughly: “What are you going to do with people like me?” There is not one person who does not recognize how dysfunctional our current immigration system has become. Almost as dysfunctional as our political system. It cannot be acceptable in 21st Century America to have some individuals relegated to the back of the bus, or thrown off the bus after having established such strong roots and allegiances to this country. As Mr. Vargas stated, everyone is entitled to his or her own opinions, “but not their own facts.” Before making a decision, one should see this film and lean the facts.

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“Granito: How to Nail A Dictator” to air on some public television stations

Posted on June 21, 2012. Filed under: interesting, learning, media that matters, politics, Uncategorized, video | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |


I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Guatemala in the late 1980s.  Since that time, I have tried to stay informed about what is going on there.  It is an amazingly beautiful country with a brutally violent history.  It was with great sadness that I recently learned that the United States will no longer send volunteers to Guatemala and many other Central American countries because of an escalation of drug war violence.

(As an aside, I recommend that you watch for why the drug war is a failure.)

The purpose of this post is to highlight the national distribution of “Granito: How to Nail A Dictator,” which I have heard is an amazing film and will be nationally broadcast on public television stations starting on Thursday, June 28.

However, as I explained in the post below, many public television stations have decided not to air it at all (this seems to be true for WHUT and MPT), and some, like WETA, have decided to air this film only in the middle of the night. 

How is it that Antiques Roadshow can air repeatedly occupying many prime viewing slots and an amazing documentary film is relegated to the middle of the nightSee post below to help correct this problem.

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New Peace Corps Promotional video (13 minute)

Posted on September 15, 2011. Filed under: Books, interesting, learning, media that matters, Uncategorized, video | Tags: |

I’m looking forward to the 50th Anniversary commemoration of the Peace Corps next weekend. There is going to be a story slam, a gathering of Peace Corps authors, a Third Goal Bash, Embassy receptions, and a march to President Kennedy’s Tomb. Below is the latest recruitment video from the Peace Corps. While it is good, it seems to have omitted the traditional refrain, “The Toughest Job You’ll Ever Love,” which is too bad because it was quite apropos. Also, the video seems to gloss over some of the real challenges of living in the third world. Anyway, its worth watching if you are considering the Peace Corps. Another, more time-intensive way to learn about the Peace Corps is to read some of the books written by Peace Corps volunteers. This is one of my favorites, but there are dozens that I have really liked and none that I have not liked: Under the Neem Tree, by Susan Lowerre (Senegal 1985–87). Without a doubt, the Peace Corps is not for everyone, but if it is right for you, it will be a remarkable, life-changing experience that you will cherish. It will alter your life path in a significant way.

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Art Project

Posted on March 27, 2011. Filed under: Art, interesting, learning, media that matters, technology, video | Tags: |

It’s now possible to visit about a dozen art museums around the world without ever leaving the comfort of your home.


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Appropriate Projects

Posted on August 8, 2010. Filed under: interesting, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , |

I just donated to a project that is building a water tank at a school in the neighborhood where I used to live in the late 1980s, when I was a Peace Corps Volunteer.  At the time, I took this photo. I wonder what these women are up to now?

The project was funded in advance by Appropriate Projects which is an initiative of Water Charity, conceived to slash through the red tape and get projects done immediately.

Access to safe water is a human right, and they are fighting to achieve this goal for every person on this planet. they don’t sit around while people are dying and suffering from illness due to lack of water, contaminated water, and unsanitary conditions.

They use appropriate technology, meaning that the simplest and least-expensive methods are utilized to bring about the biggest impact at the least cost.

They do not deal with studies, reports, evaluations, nitpicking, reviews, administration, overhead, talk, delays, processes, procedures, format, overseeing, micro-directing, or excuses.

They start with the understanding that there are about 8,000 Peace Corps Volunteers stationed in over 74 countries around the globe. Each Volunteer is living in a city or community making a great contribution toward world peace.

Each Volunteer is competent and dedicated, having gone through a rigorous selection process, and having trained for the tasks to be done.

Each Volunteer has identified crucial projects that will affect the lives of those around him, but remain undone due to lack of funds.

Each Volunteer has the skills and capacity to manage the projects and funds, and complete the projects on time and within budget.

The projects submitted to Appropriate Projects by Volunteers are small, but they indeed have a big impact.

At the same time, there are millions of individuals around the globe who would like to do the right thing, to help those in need, and to make the world a better place to live.

Your contribution will bring to being a needed project in a distant place. It will affect the lives of individuals and communities, by letting them have the necessities of life.

Join The fight. Adopt a project.

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Good explanation of the financial crisis

Posted on August 8, 2010. Filed under: interesting, media that matters | Tags: , , |

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Collaborative Map

Posted on March 13, 2010. Filed under: Art, interesting, media that matters, Uncategorized | Tags: , , |

I made this cool interactive, collaborative map on Google today. It includes all of the art galleries and some (of the many) “hot spots” on H St.

See below or click here for the full-featured map:

Studio H Gallery and Workshop, 408a H street NE
Dissident Display, 416 H Street NE
City Gallery, 804 H Street NE upstairs
Gallery O/ H, 1354 H Street NE
Conner Contemporary Art, 1358 Florida Av NE
G Fine Art, 1350 Florida Av NE
Industry, 1350 Florida Av NE (upstairs)
Evolve Urban Arts Project, 1375 Maryland Av NE

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Stoves for the Masses

Posted on December 18, 2009. Filed under: interesting | Tags: , , , , |

You must get the print version of the December 28th edition of the New Yorker to read this article (excerpt below) about folks trying to save the world, one stove at a time. Something I spent two years doing in Guatemala in the late 1980s.

From The NEW Yorker Blog, December 16, 2009

The Perfect Stove

Posted by Burkhard Bilger

This week in the magazine, I write about engineers who have set their sights on the low end: a ten-dollar stove that even the world’s poorest people can afford. In the past few years, though, industrial giants like Bosch-Siemens, British Petroleum, and Philips Electronics have all tried their hand at building more expensive and sophisticated devices—stoves that cost between twenty and a hundred dollars retail, and are clean enough to run indoors. The results have been mixed.

The Germans, at Bosch-Siemens, developed an elegant oil-burning unit called the Protos, but it never really took off. (It’s as noisy as a blast torch, I was told). The British, at BP, spent millions designing a stove that runs on pellets, then promptly abandoned the project and sold the design to an Indian company. The Dutch, at Philips, have just finished field tests of a stainless-steel fan stove, a prototype of which I tried out this fall. The Philips stove has a rechargeable fan in its base that works as a kind of bellows: it helps the fire light quickly and keeps it burning hot and clean. The stove that I used boiled a pot of water faster than my GE gas range, produced almost no smoke, and left only a thin residue of ash behind.

Even more promising is a stove designed by an Italian-American engineer named Nathaniel Mulcahy. The LuciaStove, as he calls it, is a gasifier made of beautifully injection-molded aluminum. It’s modular in design, so its most intricate parts can be packed flat and shipped inexpensively, while the rest can be manufactured locally. (In the Congo, the combustion chambers have been made of spent munitions shells.) Mulcahy, who is a former research director at Emerson appliances, claims that his stoves can cut fuel use nearly in half and burn fuel with ninety-three per cent efficiency. Whether they can also overcome the tetchiness inherent to gasifiers remains to be seen, in ongoing programs in Africa, Mongolia and Afghanistan.

Finally, Dean Still and the engineers at Aprovecho have joined with a start-up firm called Biolite to create a new generation of low-emissions stoves. Their design incorporates a thermoelectric fan designed by Jonathan Cedar and Alec Drummond, co-founders of BioLite. The fan runs without batteries or external electricity. Instead, it uses the heat from the fire to generate its own power. Cedar and the Aprovecho staff built the prototype in October and presented it for the first time at an international stove meeting in Bangkok, in November. The new stove reduces emissions by more than ninety per cent, compared to an open fire, and should cost about twenty dollars a unit to build. Best of all, it’s user-friendly: unlike other fan stoves, it has a side-feeding combustion chamber that’s easy to refuel. Aprovecho and BioLite hope to make it commercially available by 2011.

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