Friday, November 21, 2008

Jeffrey Tillou Antiques - Litchfield, CT

After I left White Flower Farm I stumbled upon a beautiful antique store in Litchfield, CT. Jeffrey Tillou Antiques specializes in 18th and 19th century American art. I love folk art, so my heart sang as I walked through the store. I am so grateful I was allowed to take photos!
The carousel horse in the window did a great job of luring customers inside. It immediately made me think of my best friend from high school who restores carousel horses for a living. I love being able to say that! Learn about Lise Liepman's studio here.
Speaking of horses, horse lovers can appreciate these weather vanes:

Speaking of weather vanes, this one's great. How great would this be to point the way during a wedding? I can also see myself using an image like this to say "see reverse side" on a brochure.

This photo is dedicated to Dr. Robin at Bird Tweets. Maybe she can tell us what those keys unlock and what the bird is tweeting about.

I was familiar with cross stitch samplers, but I had never seen family records that were done in calligraphy:

My inner calligrapher was very inspired. That day I decided that some day, in my spare time, I might make a family record like these. I thought the eagles give it a flair of authenticity so I started photographing the eagles displayed around the store for inspiration. Plus my mother makes patriotric quilts, she will appreciate these too:

love that camel:

A patriotic quilt to inspire my mother:

White Flower Farm and Jeffrey Tillou Antiques make for a very good day!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Tech Awards 2008 - The Laureates

After Muhammad Yunus delivered the keynote speech at the Tech Awards 2008, this year’s laureates were presented their awards in five categories.

Intel Environment Award

The guests of honor at our table were the charming husband-and-wife team Georg and Ulrike Gruber, of Vereinigte Werkstätten für Pflanzenöltechnologie (say that three times quickly!). They developed the technology to modify diesel engines so that they can run on pure plant oil and a green process for extracting plant oil. Plant oil extraction requires significantly less energy than extracting fossil fuels and the by-products are converted into high-protein food and straw which is used for mulch.

Please excuse the glass of red wine. I'm not sure what the proper wine pairing for Camelina Oil Cakes would be, but I can tell you first hand that it paired quite nicely with our dinner.

We all admired beautiful trophy the Gruber's brought back to the table. I realized for the first time that the globe stands on a silicon ingot base.

Learn how silicon ingots are grown to make computer chips here.

The winner in this category was the Cheetah Conservation Fund. They use technology to convert invasive thorn bushes into a clean fuel. In Namibia, 25 million acres of land are choked with this bush. It renders the land useless for agriculture, alters the water cycle, reduces soil fertility, and begins desertification. The uprooted bushes are processed by a biomass processing plant produces a clean fuel, replacing firewood and coal, while restoring Namibia’s vanishing ecosystems.

The organization also cares for orphaned, old or injured cheetahs that cannot be released back into the wild. It costs $5000 a year to care for each cheetah. Looking for a great Christmas gift? You can choose which cheetah to sponsor:

Sandy is available for sponsorship.

Accenture Economic Development Award

Many of India’s rural villages suffer because they are caught in a cycle of extreme poverty. Lack of electricity cannot support income-generating businesses and lack of income cannot bring electricity. DESI Power won this award because it brings affordable biomass gasification power plants to these villages.

The power plant creates many local jobs and improves a village's economic standing, but what I am most impressed with is its impact on girls and women. Bringing reliable, safe, and clean power and drinking water frees them from being forced to collect and process fuel and water and it saves them from being exposed to toxic fumes. As a result, they can now use the services of Desi Power’s Management Training Centre for Rural Women.

Microsoft Education Award

Digital StudyHall deploys school lessons on DVD’s because there is a shortage of qualified teachers in rural and slum schools in India. The DVD’s contain lessons that help both the teachers and kids from the schools. So far they have created more than 1,000 recordings of lessons given by high-quality instructors in English, math, and science, in Hindi, Bengali, Kannada, Marathi, Tamil, and English.

A donation to Digital StudyHall will help fund local “foot soldiers” to deliver the DVD's and equipment purchases.
Katherine M. Swanson Equality Award

Close to a million homes collapsed in earthquakes in the last three years. Build Change trains builders and homeowners to build earthquake-resistant houses in developing countries. Their designs are affordable, sustainable, easy to build and use locally-available skills and materials. They also ensure that they are culturally appropriate and resemble the traditional homes of the region.

When the tsunami devastated Aceh, BuildChange built 33 houses and aided in improving the design and construction of 4,200 homes. A resident gratefully exclaimed: “Now I can sleep at night”.

You can make a donation to BuildChange here.

Fogarty Institute for Innovation Health Award

The technology of the final award saved an estimated 3 million lives. Marc Koska of Star Syringe, Ltd developed a disposable syringe that is impossible to reuse. More than a billion K1 syringes have prevented cross-infection of Hepatitis B and C and HIV across the world. The design is simple, openly licensed to manufacturers, and kept at the same cost as standard syringes.

It was a great evening – a true celebration of the human spirit.

Photos - cheetah:, DESI Power rural women:, Digital StudyHall:, BuildChange:, Star Syringe:

Monday, November 17, 2008

Tech Awards 2008 - Muhammad Yunus

Wednesday night, my husband and I had the great privilege of attending the Tech Awards Gala along with 1,500 other Silicon Valley dwellers. This is the fourth time I’ve attended the gala and, as always, it was an immensely inspiring evening. What I like about the awards is the spirit behind them. There are oodles of awards and rewards in the industry recognizing pure technical innovation, but these awards honor those who use technology to benefit humanity.

Muhammad Yunus

The first award, The James C. Morgan Global Humanitarian Award, presented by Mike Splinter of Applied Materials, was given to Muhammad Yunus, the father of micro lending and winner of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize.
Splinter speaks of this award as a “reminder of all things going right”. Yunus’ efforts to focus on those who are marginalized and excluded, while being sensitive local customs, are partly responsible for making the world flat.

Yunus’ acceptance speech was stirring. He is not just a doer, but a visionary. He speaks of his belief that “all human beings are gifted with unlimited human potential”. His desire is to see the need for a poverty museum so that when a child asks what poverty is parents would have to take the child to a poverty museum because it does not exist anywhere in the world.

He knew his audience too. He spoke of the world that is coming next: “Silicon Valley is the midwife of what will be created in the next 20 years”, making many in attendance sit a little taller.

His intentions are clearly golden when he said that his effort was created “out of desperation” to help those in need. He told stories to exemplify that “poverty is not created by poor people; rather it is created by the system.” He described how micro lending can cause a ripple effect of social change and help improve lives with dignity. A sixteen dollar micro loan to the owner of a donut business, allowed him to build a home and send his children to school, thus breaking the cycle of poverty in his lineage. A $300 house loan allows one to build a home with a safe, tin roof rather than a thatch or leaf roof. He received a knowing chuckle throughout the audience when he said that the world now realizes that the poor are better credit risks then the rich.

Yunus’ efforts do not stop at micro lending. Bangladeshi children used to suffer from the disease nyctalopia, commonly known as night-blindness. Yunus learned that the disease is due to Vitamin A deficiency. Vitamin A can be delivered either through vegetables or tablets. Yunus chose to not go down the tablet path because he felt that once people are given tablets, they will forever be dependent on them. Instead, he helped facilitate the efforts to sell vegetable seeds in penny packets. Fortunately Bangladesh soil is very fertile and night-blindness is now history there.

Yunus likes to push the envelope in the realm of expectations. He worked with Danone to create yoghurt that delivers micronutrients missing in the diet of the children in Bangladesh. Danone quickly agreed to the project and the fantastic news is that they learned that children’s nutrients can be replenished within 9-10 months.
Once Danone agreed to develop the yoghurt, Yunus further insisted that Danone ought to make this a social business. He explained that after Danone recouped their investment costs, the remaining profits should be reinvested to reach more poor people. In other words, the business ought to be driven by a social objective.

Next, he insisted on using only biodegradable containers. Danone once again agreed with Yunus and found corn-based containers that are biodegradable. Still not satisfied, he asked: “Will the containers be eaten?” No, of course they will not be eaten. With a gleam in his eyes Yunus said: “I like to eat ice cream cones.” I’m sure you are not surprised to learn that Danone is currently working on edible containers.

That’s all for today, next time I will tell you about some of this year’s Tech Award Laureates.

Photos: Tech Awards -, Muhammed Yunus -, Danone yoghurt in Bangladesh -
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