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Archive for April, 2008

Columbus Brain Gain

There’s no better way to tell you about Startup Weekend than to quote the site:

Startup Weekend recruits a highly motivated group of developers, business managers, startup enthusiasts, marketing gurus, graphic artists and more to a 54 hour event that builds communities, companies and projects.
Founded in 2007 by Andrew Hyde, the weekend is a concept of a conference focusing on learning by creating. It is known for its quick decisions, ‘out of the box’ thinking, unique facilitation technique and letting the founders show what they can do. The program has already met with success in Boulder, Toronto, New York, Hamburg, Houston, West Lafayette, Boston, DC and more.
At the recent Boulder II Startup Weekend Andrew successfully launched a new format that involves even more launches per weekend, more dedicated teams, recruiting by already established companies, and even no requirement to incorporate a company at the end of the weekend.
The founders that attend a Startup Weekend decide what they want to tackle over the weekend and come out at the end with a developed company or project. Attendees are responsible for bringing the same desire and passion to the project and walk out of the room with the task at hand, in a short 54 hours. Sound intense? It is.

Columbus has received enough votes so far to put it in the number one position to host a Startup Weekend. If you’d like to see Columbus secure this dynamic event, click the City Vote tab and place your vote for Columbus.

Special thanks to Tim Eby and Ashley Routson for presenting this information at the recent Columbus Social Media Cafe event.

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Me and Mary

While chatting with a friend who has ties to Minneapolis, I became nostalgic and began looking for the Mary Tyler Moore theme song. My search took me to YouTube where I found the opening scene for the show. Watching it over and over, I recall fond memories of carefree days on Nicollet Mall, walks around Lake Calhoun and my sheer amazement with the IDS Tower when it was completed.

This fifty-three second video easily sums up everything I remember about growing up in Minneapolis. Alright, so I never had a blue Mustang, plaid pantsuit or worked in a newsroom, but for all practical purposes, THAT was me. And I’m quite sure that everyone who grew up in Minneapolis, at one time or another, has tossed their tamo’shanter into the air on the corner of 7th and Nicollet.


In the opening scene for the first year (1970) of the show Mary is driving along a near empty freeway with only the Foshay Tower poking up from the skyline. In this scene there’s a shot of the former Donaldson’s and Dayton’s department store – both places where I used to shop.

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I Weigh Myself in Canada

I don’t have a scale in the house.   The only thing I ever put on a scale is a letter at the post office.  But while I was in Canada this week, I stood on a scale at the home where I stayed and discovered that I’ve lost twenty pounds since my last visit.

I learned a few more things while I was in Canada this week.

I saw a Toronto police officer wearing a turban.  The Toronto Police allow Sikhs to wear turbans with their uniform.  It matches the uniform and is marked accordingly.  The Royal Canadian Mounted Police also permit turbans with their uniform.  And I wondered if Canada might have a better relationship with its immigrant population because it seeks commitment rather than compliance.

I heard the story of a Canadian who came to the US to open a factory but chose against it.  Though he was born and raised in Canada, his parents were from Jordan and each time he crossed the boarder he was questioned to such a degree that he decided that it wasn’t worth the hassle.  A small US town lost didn’t get the opportunity for an additional 140 jobs.  Another friend of Jordanian descent refuses to visit the US because of issues at the boarder.  An acquaintance from Iran moved to Miami and has decided to return to Canada because of the hassles.

I cross the boarder into Canada and I’m asked about where I’m going and how long I’ll stay.  When I returned to the US, my bags were searched, I was questioned about where I was, who I know, where I work and what I purchased.

I learned that some US opera companies decided against performing Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale over fears of anti-Americanism and how the performance may hinder future funding.

I learned how an effective waste management system and recycling program diverted 42% of Toronto’s residential waste away from landfills last year.

I saw public advertisements for condoms and wondered if that might be why Canada has a teen pregnancy rate that is 50% less than the US.

I weigh myself in Canada and it feels as if I have lost more than just twenty pounds.

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Mobile post sent by Urbaninfill using Utterz Replies.  mp3

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The good news is that my friend Joe wants to open a cup-cake shop in Columbus.  The bad news is that I’m on a voluntary cup-cake strike.

I was reading Augusten Burroughs’ book “Dry” when I discovered that he thanked Amy Sedaris for the cup-cakes during his introduction.  I’m in the final process of writing my first book as well, and I thought it would be nice to receive cup-cakes from Amy Sedaris so that I could write something similar in my introduction.

I wrote to Augusten and suggested that he ask Amy to send me some cup-cakes and told him that I would be willing to go without them until she did.  So far they haven’t shown up and it’s been three months.  And maybe it was that the box was stolen off of my front porch after they were delivered, but the fact remains that I still haven’t received cup-cakes from Amy Sedaris.

Joe and I thought it would be a great idea to have Amy come to Columbus so that she could sample his line of cup-cakes.  When she does, she’ll be able to buy them locally and not have to worry about the shipping.  So we’re extending an open invitation to Amy Sedaris to come to Columbus and partake.

Amy, if you’re reading this I want you to know that I have a spare room and you’re welcome to stay at my place.  Augusten is welcome too, but one of you will have to sleep on the sofa.

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Walker Evans of The Walker Evans Effect started his COTA Challenge yesterday. One of the things that Walker mentions is that the general population has retained a rather negative image about COTA, but he says, and I agree, that its not as bad as people think.

In eight years of using COTA I’ve had only three or four experiences when a bus has been late enough to force me into finding another transportation option. Walker states the obvious when he says that the bus is a machine and machines break.  For the most part, I can set my watch by the busses that pass along my street.

Another great point brought up in Walker’s first day of the COTA challenge is that the #2 along High Street runs with 10-20 minute headways. The best part about traveling along High Street, however, is that there are a multitude of choices, depending upon where on High Street one is traveling. In addition to the 2, one can travel north of Broad Street on the 4, 7 and 8 line. Each of these lines touch High Street at some point, even though the #2 remains the easiest and most popular of High Street lines.

Since January I’ve been relying on COTA for most of my transportation needs, using my car only when it’s absolutely necessary. Year to date, I’ve spent $122.31 on gasoline and with an employer sponsored transit pass (which is subsidized by the Federal Government) I have no out-of-pocket expense for public transportation use.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of bashing public transportation. “It’s not convenient” is the most common opposition or “I don’t ride busses”, spoken as if not using pubic transit was a status symbol. I choose to look at it this way; Each time we use a private automobile, we’re competing against our farmers for fuel and it will be far more inconvenient when our farmers can no longer afford the fuel necessary to grow our food. With that in mind, I can afford to wait twenty minutes for the next bus.

COTA can assist Central Ohio employers in offering the transit subsidy benefit for their employees. Call 614 275 5839 for more information or visit COTA’s Employer Services website.

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