Sunday, November 24, 2013

Why I Hate Roman Mars....Not Really...Well Kinda...

I like to walk.  When I walk I think.  I do not have headphones in my ear.  I am, however, obsessed with podcasts.  I like to listen to them while I am doing things around the house
or while I am at work, but never when I am walking.  I think when I walk.

Yesterday when I was walking, I thought about something that I had heard on a podcast and it troubled me.  It was about my phone.  I have not gone so far as to invest in a smart phone because I think the design is awful and it is only getting worse (yes, I will tell you how I really feel.).  I have a flip phone and I like it, but thanks to Roman Mars and his podcast 99% Invisible, I now see it as woefully inadequate.

99% Invisible is a podcast about design and I like it because it makes me think abut things that I would normally have never considered.  Though initially, I went to school to be an engineer, I quickly switched to liberal arts because I am horrible at math.  That being said, I still have what I like to believe is an eye for design.

The most recent podcast was about interfaces and it was really very challenging.  It talked about the interface.  The interface is the way that we act and react to and with technology.  The QWERTY keyboard, the steering wheel, and more.  My favorite and the one that is currently breaking my brain is the phone.

The podcast touched on the idea that the flip phone that was initially created by Motorolla was backward.  This was the first, real world, flip phone ever created bt it was backward.  Why?  It was backward because the mouth peice flipped down.  The first Motorola flip phone, the MicroTAC,  did not sell well.  This was because people thought that the first phone of this type would be similar to Capt. Kirk's  communicator.  This is an example of how TV has taken over .

Let me explain.  When I am walking I think and every so often my mind flies to something that I had heard earlier.  In this case, I reached for my phone to make a call and that is when I realized that there was something wrong and shortly thereafter, that I am angry at Roman Mars.  When you look at the flip phone, the keypad on the bottom along with the mouthpiece, and the screen on the top with the earpiece.  This is wrong, people!

Think about what would (I contend should) happen if it were reversed.  First, you rarely need the keypad while you have the phone to your ear, yet, as you are holding the phone to your ear, your hand is in the best proximity to use the keypad.  I took my phone and held it to my ear, upside down.  If I am using the phone and someone calls, I have to pull the phone from my ear and look at it.  Further, I have to hold the phone away from my head, should I need to do anything while I am in the middle of a call.  Now, reverse it.

If the phone is reversed with the screen down, towards your mouth then you would, with regular use, be able to use the keypad while you are talking with the phone to your ear without having to pull it away.  Also, with a slight shift in the phone, you can see the screen, while still holding the earpeice to your ear simply by looking down.  If you had an incoming call, you can very easily see who is calling and even be able to continue talking.  If you were dexterous enough, you could even send a text or do something else while talking on the phone if you were good enough with your thumb.  When you think about it, it is common sense.

Think about would be able to talk, walk, text, and more without doing anything different,  It is the elegance of design and it would be perfect. Instead, because some designer, somewhere thought that the communicator should flip down instead of up, we see that as the norm and we do something that is basically counter intuitive.

So now, I hate Roman Mars.  He has made me think about the way the world is not wrong, but lacking.  Common sense would say that he and his podcast have given me an idea of what would be good.  I walk through the world with a sort of augmented reality, a lot like Arnold Swartzenegger had as The Terminator.  I am embarrassing myself in Starbucks, holding my phone to my ear upside down.  I stop to read plaques (always read the plaque). I find myself listening to his podcast and taking a moment to Google something that he is talking about, bubble houses, pneumatic tubes, and more.  More than anything, though, I am inspired by his work.  I hate Roman Mars, because he beat me to it.  Go to 99% Invisible and join me in hating Roman Mars...or hoping to be a bit more like him.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Somewhere there is a picture of Rose and Katie...The Greatest Volunteers!

Somewhere there is a picture.  I was tired most of the time and hammered a lot of the rest of the time at Winnie Mae's Music Festival last year, but I swear that it exists.  Or maybe it is just in my mind's eye, this image of two of the coolest people you ever want to meet sitting in lawn chairs at the gate of Winnie Mae's Music Festival on a cold May night.

They kept calling me and saying that they would be there and that they would show and that they would love to help.  A lot of people did.  Rose and Katie got there, asked what they could do.  The sun was up when they came to me.  I asked them to PLEASE just watch the gate for a little while and I would find someone to take over from them.  They got a blanket, two lawn chairs and spent several HOURS down there.

They had the biggest smiles on their faces and the only thing they asked for in return was some food.  They were awesome ant this was the epitome of what this is supposed to be about.  A couple of months later, we got them tickets to the Avett Brothers for their hard work, but I still don't think that did what they did justice.

Somewhere there is a picture. I know I've seen it.  It is of the two of them sitting in those chairs, flashing the "peace" sign or maybe it is just in my mind! (?)  The one above is the best I could find and even it is pretty cool. There are moments in time that you can't get back.  Still there is a feeling, a memory, and sometimes that is just as good.

Thanks Rose and Katie

Get ready to do it again.  Get your tickets here:

Friday, November 22, 2013

We Can't Do This...Apologies from the Editor (language)

The vast majority of the people that I encounter are people who come to me with a goal a dream, a vision.

They are large groups of people who have been told that they can't do "x" or they are not allowed to do "y".

They are told this by groups of people who, for whatever reason, and in whatever way became successful and now spend the majority of their time attempting to maintain that success and in my humble opinion, spend a lot less time on the thing that got them there in the first place.

The problem for these people is inevitably one of pure logic. If one continually tells enough people that they can't do something one is quickly outnumbered by these people and with every person that one tells they can't do something, there becomes a split into categories of those people who won't do something and another category of those who will. A further subset of those who will are those will try and fail and not try again. Then there are those who will try and succeed and support those who were told not to try. Then there are those who will try and fail and try again. The people in the latter category are those to be feared by those in the primary category. The enemy of those who say "We can't do this." is not those who try and fail...The enemy is not the person, it is the will.
 So, to those who would tell someone they can't do this or they can't do that, my advice is to tell that person how they can do it, otherwise you awaken a will that will that will lend to your downfall. Since my goal, however, my desire is to see a world forged of that will...forged of that desire, carved by those people who would say "Fuck you!" to those who say that we can't do this, I would say, hey, keep creating enemies...keep suppressing others because the one that rises, the one who dreams big and overcomes the combined efforts of those on top who would tell them otherwise is the person who will be the personification of triumph.
We can't have a tattoo expo...but we are.
We can't have a music festival...but we are.
We can't build a farm.
We can't build a school.
We can't build homes....
But we are
We are doing the things that so many people said we could not do, because enough people got pissed off at those who would say that this could not be done.
We are a group of the stones that the builder refused...but if you reject enough stones, those stones form a mountain.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Greenville INK! Raffle

The Greenville tattoo community has come together to help raise money for a great cause, and get the word out about their art.  The art of tattoo has come a long way and have made great strides in the Upstate.
These artists are donating their time and their talents to helping to raise funds for a Montessori School we are building in Paris Mountain and providing school supplies for underprivileged children in the Upstate.
We are going to celebrate their art and promote this medium by having just an awesome evening at Gringos, showing off their skill and talking about their work.
We are also offering raffle tickets for a number of great prizes provided by our wonderful sponsors:

Greenville Growler Station  and four local artists are putting up to win one of four, hand painted, growlers!

Second Prize is a trip for two for two days at the Atlanta Tattoo Expo in June of 2014.  Two days and nights in June in Atlanta with two meals provided at two great Atlanta restaurants.

Grand Prize will be a trip for two to the Seattle Tattoo Expo.  Four days and nights in Seattle the second week in August, with hotel, airfare and three meals at some great restaurants included! $10 per entry!  Take a chance get your tickets here:

You can only buy one at a time and Specify the name to go on the ticket!

We at EQGreenville would like to thank the artists Relentless Tattoo SC and Monster Ink Tattoo, Physical Graffiti South Tattoo!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

75% less waste at Gringos: Achieved. What's Next?

We are getting closer and closer to our deadline of reducing the waste of Gringos by a whopping 75% in 30 days.  Monday is the final day and the question is, did we?

Looking at what goes into the garbage it was not terribly hard.  It really just took a month of watching what was done and why.  Then there were little changes and simple conversations to be had with the staff who were more than willing to help.

What are the benefits?  Well there are plenty.  Overall, since we are now able to take their compost and add it to our numerous piles around the town, and since we are able to take their glass and put it in our bottle wall the staff are loving the lighter trash bags at the end of the day.

We want to pat ourselves on the back for doing so much, but in all honest, we have not done a whole lot.  It really just takes a moment and 75% of the waste that goes into landfills can be taken elsewhere...put to good use.

Why We Do This...Project 1

Project 1.  Shipping Container School.
A lot of people are asking why are we doing this and what is this great cause they are coming out to support.  We are building a school on our plot of land just north of the city of Greenville similar to the one pictured.

The school will provide daycare, pre-school, and kindergarten for now and eventually expand to further education.  So why do we do this?  So some underprivileged kids can get a better education and some struggling parents can have a safe, beautiful place to leave their children.  This is just the first of several projects.


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Dream house, dream world?

When you are looking to build a house, it is almost intuitive that you look around at other homes being built.  You begin to subconsciously look at what the Jones' are doing and how.  The house pictured is being completed in my neighborhood and all I can think about what I would take from it, is the the garage.  
Unless 50 more people were going to move in with me, there is no way that I would ever own this home.  
Then I thought about what a house was supposed to "say" about you.  This house screams that someone was so successful that they can afford to live in this home and they want people to know that.  It cannot be comfortable.  The bathroom has to be very far from the bedroom and that means a long stroll in the middle of the night or likely there is a bathroom in the master bedroom...a huge one.  Likely there is a bed in that bedroom.  Likely there is a sofa in there also.  So we have sofa, bed, bathroom.  If you throw in a small kitchenette, it would be a great apartment.
What does a home say about you.  I like to believe that my house would say about me that I have finally got it together, whatever "it" was.  The other 15,000 sq. ft. are superfluous.  You could fit everything I need and own would fit in the garage and I would not even need the drive way because I do not own a car.  

I am not going to get into the carbon footprint of this whole thing or even the overall moral implications that went into a home that large.  For that matter, I am not even sure if it is bought or not but  I would like to have the garage and you can haul off the rest so that I could use the rest as a yard and garden, maybe to play touch football. I don't judge this person for what they do with their money it is THEIR money and this is America, Dammit!

Still...give me a tiny home...

Monday, November 11, 2013

Veteran's Day Memories...(THE ARMY DOES NOT HAVE GUNS!)

I don't really look at this picture a lot.  I make it the profile picture on my personal Facebook page on days like today, Veteran's Day, Memorial Day, and so on.  I was in the U.S. Army from 1993 to 1996.  I remembered the day that I decided to go in, I was seriously poring over college applications in my senior year at Berkeley High School.  My dream was to go to Penn State and get an engineering degree.  I had the grades but not the money.  I come from a large military family and when the idea popped into my head to go into the Army, it was confirmed moments later when I got a call from Staff Sgt. Kane, the recruiter at my school.  He asked me what my plans were and noted that I had a really good ASVAB score.  I took it as a sign that I needed to join the Army.

I was luckier than most.  As I said, I came from a large military family and at the time, my brother was on recruiting duty for the Army at Ft. Dix, NJ.  A lot of recruiters do not volunteer information and my brother told me all the questions to ask and all the MOS (Military Occupational Specialties) I was qualified for.  I remember being in the inprocessing station some time later and someone bragging to me that they had only had to enlist for 3 and a half years.  I showed him my paperwork and how after a moderate amount of negotiation, managed to sign for 2 years 17 weeks.

I have to say that it was never that I didn't like the military or that I looked at it like a horrible thing.  In fact, it was the opposite.  My father was in the Navy at a time when black men were not really equals and had risen through the ranks, gone to Vietnam, raised nine kids of which I was the youngest, and retired.  To this day, on weekends he drives a van full of young, bright eyed kids like me to the inprocessing station in Columbia from Charleston, all the while telling them what to expect and regaling them with stories that we had long ago gotten tired of or never got a chance to hear because they were too embarrassing to share with one's  children.

I loved the Army, before, during and after I went in.  I remember going to work with my father sometimes and just thinking about how cool he was.  I liked the click-clack of his highly polished shoes and the way people would get out of his way when he was coming, with a curt "Good morning, Master Chief."   The Army was a bit more regimented but there was a realization that all those medals and ribbons were earned by doing something, by proving yourself.

I used to and still do like getting up early in the morning.  Running, push ups, sit-ups, cadence calls, saluting and hearing Retreat at the end of the day when they fire the cannon at Building One and everyone is officially off, though not really.  I was at a place called Pinion Canyon on maneuvers when we heard over the radio that there was a bombing in Oklahoma City.  For a moment, all I could think was that we were being attacked and that this is what I signed on for...Let's Go!  As details emerged about what had actually happened, we calmed a bit though saddened by the loss of life.

I tell everyone the truth about my military career.  It was not defined by any conflict or call to action.  I went in during that sweet spot where people were coming back from Mogadishu and I was getting out just before my unit was deploying to Kosovo.  My two years and 17 weeks were defined by hard work, constantly learning, blackout drunk trip to Vegas on my 21st birthday, pressing uniforms, firing cannons, rifles, and pistols (THE ARMY DOES NOT HAVE GUNS!).  I still have the two dots on my chest from when I graduated Jump School (they put your wings on your chest without the dammets behind them and punch them into your chest as hard as they can and say, "Welcome aboard, soldier").  I learned a lot about computers and earned enough money for most of my time at Clemson.

Knowing what I know, would I do it again...YES (I almost re-enlisted after 9/11)

When people ask me why I went in I tell them that I went in and they should go in for a melange of reasons.  It should be for the love of your country.  It should be because you respect the institution and see the service that you can provide for it (the only time I feel that paradigm should be so delineated).  You should go in to get discipline and learn about yourself.  Money and education, yes, those too, but not solely those because that weakens the institution.  Do not go in because you have no place else to go or because you cannot get a job at McDonalds.  Go in for a mixture of those reasons.  The chances are that in the world we live in, some mad man a third of the way around the world is going to do something stupid and you are going to have to suit up.  It never happened to while I was in, but I was ready for it every single day that I put on that uniform.

When I took it off for the last time, I noted how when it was issued to me, there was so little on it.  It was a blank green when it was thrown at me from a bin at Ft. Sill, OK.  When I left, I put it in a garment bag and noted how it had gold rank sewn on that said I was a Specialist.  It had brass Cross Cannons, that showed that I was in the artillery.  It had multi-colored ribbons (my favorite was a solid blue tab that showed that my unit had earned a Presidential Unit Citation).  I was expert marksman, I was part of the 4th ID at HHB 3/29 FA.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Tiny House Seminar...The world of good design.

A friend of mine introduced me to Bulls Eye with Jesse Thorn and I spent hours and hours listening to the podcasts....Jesse Thorn in turn introduced me to 99% Invisible and I spent hours and hours listening to Roman Mars talk with people who are doing amazing things in the world of design and architecture.  "Always read the plaque" has become my new motto and I think I may have missed my calling and should have been an architect.  The best designs are the ones that you do not even know are there.

So we are building a tiny house in Greenville.  I suppose that I am split.  Part of me wants to hate that moniker of "tiny" house because it implies that it is small and cramped.  That is not the case if it is done right.  I have a 1000 sq. ft. home and I rarely leave my bedroom.  I walk in and wheel my bike through the empty living room, down the hall and into my bedroom. So often do I think that the stove should be closer and that it is a hassle to heat the whole house when I only need one room.  I only shower and have not taken a bath probably since I was a toddler.  I and like minded individuals can get along pretty well in about 450 sq. ft., if that.

Is this going to be easier or harder?  We have the land and the next big step is to start talking to the city about plans and permits.  The design we are wishing to implement would likely fit in my neighbors' garage.  They own a sprawling (I am not sure what makes a mansion a mansion, but I will say that they own a...) mansion.  It takes up near the entirety of their property and has a small yard and a green belt approximately 2 feet wide that circles the house.  I do not judge...More power to them.

We are going to go look at this idea of the tiny house from all angles and all phases.  Our tiny house is going to be a work of useful art.  It is going to be small.  It is going to be cheap(er).  It is going to be sustainable. It is going to be semi mobile (yes, at some point we are going to move it) and that, in and of itself, is going to be amazing.  We are going to show people that owning your own home is not impossible.  We are going to show people that living comfortably in this world is not out of reach.  We are going to show people a design not just for this house, but for life.

If you want to be a part of this seminar on urban development and construction while learning to build your own tiny house, please sign up.  It is a four week course on home ownership and construction.  These projects help to make all of our endeavors affordable and your involvement gives you a hands on look at what goes into these homes.

We will meet at the site or other location every Saturday in January for discussions and looks at...

Week 1 Plans and permits
Week 2 Foundations and tie ins
Week 3 Electrical and more.
Week 4 Decoration and moving in.
Week 5 Fete Accompli (The ribbon cutting party!)

Sign Up!