Wednesday, December 21, 2005

NW Biodiesel Party

Greener Party

Great event put on by the NW biodiesel folks. While I've only been to a few events, the Zeke's party was excellent on many counts. Good Food. Good Conversation. I met Lisa and Dave who are involved with a project to help Guatemala get started in biodiesel, and it was an excellent Central American connection, considering my recent trip to El Salvador. It seems everyone else does diesel but the USA. Let's change that, shall we?

Meeting Greg from GreenCarCo was interesting. I asked most of the questions, and we had a pretty good talk about the present and future situation with diesel car sales, biodiesel quality/price points, and ethanol filling station futures. It would be interesting to take a trip to Kirkland and see what the fuss is about. My impression of GreenCarCo improved after talking with Greg, but I need to do my own research.

The biggest spark (after the Central American glimmer) of the night was the ever-building hum of algae-biodiesel interest. The more people see folks acting crazy with palm oil deforestation, the more algae-methyl-ester sound like an ideal focus. Algae has the most promise, but it's the least researched and most misunderstood oil source. Max and Bioleco and I have our work cut out for us, but we're up for the challenge, methinks.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Superstringy Micrography Love


I publish my web log specifically so I can help start conversations about topics I am interested in. Particularly, World Peace and Biodiesel. It just so happens that I am interested in a few hundred thousand other things, but I have decided to keep the external chatter to a minimum (At least I am trying to do so).

However, one of the things I am quite interested in is the art of micrography. It's a fairly ancient art, made somewhat known by religious artisans in Safed, Israel. Although I am capable of doing the work in Hebrew, I like to focus my work in English. I have produced Ketubot, memorial pieces, and birthday micrography. I do it solely on commission, and the process is pretty painstaking.

For me, writing hugely important ideas in nearly unreadably small letters is a very Zen experience. My sense of scale gets all out of whack, my eyes get fixated and outside distractions fade away. I admit that sometimes I write things small in order for them to be harder to find. It's paradoxical, as I am interested in sharing as many good ideas as possible. I don't quite understand it myself.

I started doing small writing on the train in Europe so I could write in my journal without having it accidentally read by a passerby or a couchette-mate. Even if you had the thing in your hand, it would be hard to read. It started with a ballpoint pen (actually capable of quite a fine point if you have a light touch).

After 9-11 (hmm, such a potent phrase...) my need to express myself grew stronger as the thoughts I want to share piled up in my head. Trauma spurs much art... The only way I could see that would allow me to "get it all out" was to put as much writing on one page as possible. The smaller I tried to write, the more I realized the sentences were forming lines from farther away, a la Chuck Close or pointilist artists. Once I discovered my handwriting wasn't getting worse as the lines got thinner and smaller, I tried even harder to shrink the letters.

As I got more skilled, I would look for smaller and smaller tipped pens. My original choice was the Micron archival pen at .2mm. It offered a variety of colors and needed no refilling, pretty hassle-free if you avoided crushing the tips and kept the caps on. I moved deeper into a .13mm Koh-i-nor from Germany and found it was the smallest tip (capillary action!), but I only bought two of them due to their tendency to dry up (India Ink cartridges). I settled into a refillable cartridge pen by Rotring called a Rapidoliner. It's also .13mm and delivers solid inkflow.

I enjoy doing my own creative art somewhat by my own direction, but I like doing collaborative art much more. I have done some of my best work with other people's words, with other people's background art (ideally watercolors), and other people's subject matter and symbolism. I add my own feelings, art, and design to the piece, but I like the idea of combining multiple artist's work with my own and seeing what comes of it.

The basic process is:
1. Make a drawing in pencil
2. Write text within the lines of the pencil
3. Erase the pencil lines.

I have done some freehand drawings, but they aren't nearly precise enough. I enjoy doing my writing on other people's watercolors since there is a more freely-flowing set of boundaries to deal with, as well as the obvious benefit of a background color to work with.

The metaphor is clear to me, important things come from important beginnings. Wolfram-esque, I see that small changes in simple rules make large complex patterns emerge. I know that this world is made up of good things, that the base unit of the universe is perfect and spirit infused, and I mimic that creation when I make larger pictures from tiny letters. Each letter is essential, and they collaborate to make the larger picture. Although each letter may not be shaped perfectly, each droplet not be exactly placed, they combine with my loving intent to create a larger image of love-art.

I would like to do this art full-time, but I have not been good at archiving or displaying the work for viewing or sale. I have been reluctant to show the pieces I care most about, for some seemingly unknown reason. It could be fear of rejection, I suppose. Most have liked the work, so it doesn't really make sense. I have collected a number of pieces into a portfolio, but have shown it to very few for fear of seeming overly proud of myself or my work. Odd.

In any case, I will try to put links to jpg's on the blog at some point. I'd like to share the concept with the world via the web, I just don't want it to look silly or self-aggrandizing. I think it's a great art niche and I'd love to see more of it out there. I suppose I really should take that step myself if I expect others to do the same. Hmm...

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Where I'm coming from

What do you say to a man
With a disease and real sorrow,
Who is dying every day?
Do you judge only his actions
Or find out what he’s going through?

What do you say to a man
Whose father doesn’t understand him
Whose mother treated him strictly
Who lives in this country
Of greed and power
And can’t find his way?

I’m doing what I think is right
I’m trying to protect the people I love,
Who’ve been threatened with terror
So instead of waiting,
I put together a plan.

Did you forget he tried to kill
His own people, his neighbor’s people,
And then tried to kill my Dad?
In the name of Jesus, I can’t abide.
In my father’s name, I can’t abide.

Did I do it all right?
I don’t know, but I did what I thought would help.
I try to do right by my daughters,
But I couldn’t see them both graduate because
My motorcade would snarl traffic for miles.

All I ask, is that you remember
Where I’m coming from,
That I’m threatened with violent death
Each and every day of my life
And I’m doing the best that I can.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Biodiesel Career?

I'm in a quandry. It's the same quandary I've been in since graduation from the UW with an English Degree. I feel like I'm underqualified for jobs that I am qualified to do.

By this I mean that I have the basic, intermediate and sometimes expert skills in a particular field but do not have the specific accomplishments, job history, or formal education credentials required by employers.

The conundrum is that I have the capacity to get an education in the field I choose, but it seems to mean that I must put actual work experience off until after I have gathered the appropriate degree.

In particular, the burgeoning world of biodiesel seems to have exploded recently, but nary a job can be found in the industry. I am 2nd degree friends with a number of industry players, I'm intimately connected to a number of diverse biodiesel users and promoters, and I've even done specific biodiesel outreach and education. I'm a great public speaker. This is seemingly not enough, and I am becoming a bit flustered in my struggle.

The job titles I am looking to fill look like "biodiesel advocate" or "biodiesel evangelist" or "biofuels educator". Who offers these jobs? Few to none that I've noticed thus far in my search. Am I not looking in the right places? Not connected to the right people? Do I smell like garlic???

SO, I have looked deeply into starting my own biodiesel station (6 months of research, way too expensive to do at this stage). I've volunteered my time with TUWBA (excellent group, no paying work to be had as of yet). I've petitioned environmental groups and transportation lobbyists. Am I simply too early, or am I literally not qualified?

Any comments would be appreciated...