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Nominal Me

I'm falling in love with my camera and taking photos everywhere I go. That, combined with my passions for politics, sports, religion and other things we all agree on, makes this blog persist.

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Location: Astoria, New York, United States

I'm born in Manhattan and raised in Queens.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The Global Village in Americus, GA

If you've heard of Americus, GA, it's probably because of a little non-profit nick-named Habitat For Humanity International. It's a quaint little town with a fun downtown area. Habitat, the international organization concerned with substandard housing throughout the globe.

One of the things in the city that demonstrates Habitat's global work is the "Global Village & Discovery Center," located near the organization's headquarters. The purpose is simple: to demonstrate substandard conditions that people live in throughout the world and show how local affiliates help people get themselves out of it.

The global focus of the center is apparent everywhere you go.

In it's quilts...

...and in its language.

The feel-good organization has a serious problem to tackle: about 1.2 billion people live in absolute poverty.

The Global Village moves past statistics and gives you a real life-size image of what this is like.

Town centers may have shacks for community gatherings. Don't be fooled by the television set, this room has no electricity. In many places, the town will get together once a week to watch a movie powered by a car battery.

Sleeping conditions for many are not anything close to what we would expect for ourselves. It is easy to think that the situation is hopeless. But this is not the message of the Village, and certainly not the goal of Habitat, which is powered by faith.

For instance, this interior of a Mexican home represents a great improvement over what many people live in today. Like all Habitat homes, it's build based on local materials, local labor, and local standards of what is "simple, decent, and affordable".

Here's what a Habitat home in Guatemala. You'll notice a porch area up front that is connected to all the rooms. This is rooted in cultural norms for houses.

This home model from Kenya features a tin roof...which is a big deal over there.

This home interior from AIDS-ravaged Malawi features a meager interior and a relatively small number of chairs for a large family. The reason is simple: the women are "too busy" serving the men and eating on the floor to think about chairs. That's for the men.

But they like their tin roofs too!

The exterior of a Habitat home in Haiti is interesting to look at. The roof is shaped in a way so that the family living there may collect water. This design has changed however, as the materials to build a roof like that are becoming more and more expensive; this moves it away from "simple, decent, and affordable" to something more extravagant.

The South African exteriors also have an "out of the box" thinking approach to them -- at least by American standards.

Indian homes had some fairly fancy features, like a squat-down toilet. Nice!

Homes in Papua New Guinea are on stilts. No one was truly sure why. One theory pointed to monsoon season, another to accommodating livestock. I used to know a guy who worked there, I'll have to ask.

As you leave the village, you are reminded of Habitat's supernatural focus: it relies on people who are driven by more than logic and practicalities to accomplish the near-impossible. For most things, logic will do.

For others, it requires faith.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Welcome Back To The South

My first main drive back on the road had me going from Atlanta to Americus, GA.

It was on this drive that a streak of mine was broken.

I know now what Cal Ripken, Jr. must have felt when he didn't play a game. I'll know what Brett Favre will go through when he sits down for a game.

It's a feeling that you get when something you've worked long and hard for ends.

For the very first time in my life, I was pulled over by a cop.

A Georgia State trooper to be exact.

I deserved it. I won't get into details.

I'll hand it to the cop though, with a perfectly clean driving record, considering I'm 33 years old, I'm sure he didn't know what to do with me.

He did give me a classic line though, saying "is that the way they drive down there in Neeewww York."

He let me off without a ticket.

But I feel ever closer to prison now that I'm on the cop's radar. In fact, on the way to Americus, we passed by the Macon State Prison, convienently located on the major state road we needed to take to get there.

I of course, have to look up things, so here's some key facts on the place:

Macon State Prison opened in 1993 and houses approximately 1300 adult male felons. The prison has a staff of 352 with an annual payroll of approximately $11 million. The mission of the prison is to house inmates who have presented management problems at other institutions.
If I keep this up, I'll be living the life of the Blues Brothers movie.

After all, "I'm on a mission from God."

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Moving Out

January 25, 2006, I was back to square one.

I moved out of my apartment, donated everything to the Salvation Army (at least, the stuff they would take), and kept only the things I could store at my Dad's house. I am going to be on a professional road trip for at least five months, if not more, and the lease was up.

When I had made the decision, it sounded like a really cool thing to do in a "Rebel Without A Cause" kind of way.

But staring at an empty apartment...watching people take all my stuff away...there was more than a tinge of lament in my emotions.

There's no going back when you've gotten rid of almost everything you have.

So now, I am back on the road, which means my blog will get interesting again.

I had better not look back, for fear of turning into a pillar of salt...

Good bye New York, for now.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

NYC Subway Graffiti

Most New York City graffiti consists of some moron scribbling their illegible tag name onto public property. This is ugly and boring and stupid. Yet sometimes, people get clever with their markers, and this is a homage to some stuff I've recently seen. Here are some of the best subway graffiti I've seen in Western Queens.

Special thanks to Mayor Mike Bloomberg for not doing anything about graffiti while being mayor, which made this blog entry possible.

The upcoming Producers movie has taken a couple of hits, on top of the mustache that the Uma Thurman pic got above.

Uma, it turns out, is a Nazi bitch.

Project Runway, a show I've never heard of, also has some graffiti fans.

Heidi Klum, the host, is also a Nazi bitch. I wonder if the same person did this? Does he have a thing against slender blondes? If so, he must be stopped.

If you find her G-spot, she'll be your friend for life. Her eyes are scratched out however, so she won't be able to see what you look like. This can work to your advantage.

Some people like to make artistic statements, like the "my shadow was created by Photoshop" comment. Is there anything real anymore?

Using their first amendment rights to bash bad fashion, always a worthy thing to do, one person writes "say 'no' to faux hawks please". I agree graffiti man.

The New Jim Carey vehicle Fun With Dick and Jane also features Tea Leone, who I haven't heard about since she make a career killing move by marrying David Duchovny.

Little did I know she was Jewish.

That one sort of doesn't make sense.

Oh well. More to come if I find it.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Things To Do In New York: The Rose Center for Earth and Space

Today I went to the Rose Center for Earth and Space, featuring the New Hayden Planetarium. Years ago, when this place was much less high tech (and I was a high school dork) I would take dates (not that I had many) to the U2 and Pink Floyd laser light shows here.

Silly boy.

Years ago they closed it down to renovate the place, and I had not been back since. It's part of the American Museum of Natural History, which I covered in a previous post, and the combination is quite impressive.

Even though the place ridicules things like Intelligent Design, people from all races, colors, and creeds seem to show up there.

They all get to see the obligatory "we suck" sign.

One of the more impressive pieces of their collection is the Willamette Meteorite, the largest one ever found in the United States and is revered by the Native American tribes that once lived in the area it crashed into.

The center used graphics, videos and displays to convey information, and unfortunately half of the stuff did not work (it really needs to be maintained better). That being said, what did work was really cool...like this wavelength reader. This is what I look like, based on a censor's measurement of heat and wavelengths.

I look hot.

To demonstrate the variation of gravity on nearby planets, scales are spread out in various parts of the main hall. I weigh 419 pounds on Jupiter, and I didn't even diet to get it that low!

Life-sized examples of things like the Mars Rover, which is currently looking for water and life on our nearby neighbor, brings space exploration to life.

The real big upgrade to the center is its focus on geology, and it does a wonderful job of explaining difficult concepts and theories in a (relatively) simple way. It's hard to think of the Earth's crust as being "light" and the continental crust only covers 41 percent of the surface of the planet, but people smarter than me say it's so.

According to the diagrams and charts, scientists use shock waves, including those coming from Earthquakes, to study the nature of what's below us. It is through this method that we believe the Earth's core is made of Iron, as certain kind of shock waves cannot penetrate it.

A good amount of volcanic (igneous) rock is on display, along with theories on how and why they take place.

With all of the changes, the rocks and minerals that were a big part of the previous museum is preserved and expanded.

Where else can a guy see some agate geode from Uruguay?

In the lobby, somewhat seemingly out of place, is a quote from a Republican President, Theodore Roosevelt, who speaks of environmental conservation. "Conservation means development as much as it does protection," he says. I wonder if anyone really believes that today.

This is well worth the trip.

Other Things To Do In New York

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