It’s Up to Us

“We are taught you must blame your father, your sisters, your brothers, the school, the teachers – but never blame yourself. It’s never your fault. But it’s always your fault, because if you wanted to change you’re the one who has got to change.”

Katharine Hepburn, Me: Stories of My Life

These Days: Thoughts on Covid-19

Henry Rollins Quote

So much has been going on – and yet not going on, interestingly – for the last 6 weeks. It’s been a very strange time for all of us, and I’m definitely no exception. With a head full of mixed priorities and trying to figure out that magic combination of things to do that will pull them all together, it’s been at times confusing, frightening and frustrating for a variety of reasons.

On one hand, there are externally focused issues, such as being the primary caregiver for an older parent who is basically hiding in her home in another state. There’s also an inundation of highly urgent projects and programs that need launching, all in emergency status with faster-than-the-speed-of-light timelines due to the nature of Covid and the high speed of change in the markets right now.

Then we have the internally focused issues, which if I’m to be completely honest are much more troubling than the stress of any of the immediate day-to-day work that needs to be done. I love fast-paced smart work that makes a difference. Tangible activities with tangible outcomes overcomes any stressors from quick turnarounds, immediate deadlines or any amount of multi-tasking.

It’s this time alone with your own thoughts and dare I say, insecurities that spring out of the quiet moments when there is no more immediate work to keep your mind busy. There has been a lot of introspection of the good and not-so-good kind during the last 6 weeks. Half of my mind reeling as I sit inside these apartment walls, thinking of a lifetime of choices and outcomes, efforts and inactivity, dreams, goals, and aspirations still yet to be fulfilled.

I suppose this kind of utterly extraordinary circumstance breeds these thoughts and misgivings – of both past and present choices as well as future prospects and dreams. One thing I have grappled with during this time is falling into that comfy old afghan of self-doubt and regret. It’s a snug old thing, always calling me into its cozy recognizable warmth – but it’s a deadly embrace. One that will suck all joy and hope from you if you aren’t careful.

So I’m making an active choice – EVERY DAY – to throw that old blanket off (maybe a trip through the washing machine will get that stench of self-pity out) and get moving. It’s not going to be easy, but when is anything that is amazing in life easy? A little self-forgiveness and a lot of one-step-in-front-of-the-other and we can all make it through this … and anything, to be fair.

We’ve got this!

How Street View is Chronicling Heritage, Arts and Culture

Sforza Castle in Milano

In the third in this series of “Things About Street View You Likely Don’t Know”, we get into a little known way Street View project dealing with Arts and Culture. While at the Google Street View summit this past year, another big topic of interest was how StreetView combined with Google Earth’s Voyager stories through the Arts & Culture team is chronicling some of the world’s most historic and noteworthy art and heritage sites. Google is going out and imaging these singular historic sites, art and artifacts with incredibly hi-res photography as well as capturing with Street View locations that have a significant place in history.

In regards to the historic locations around the world, StreetView, Google Arts & Culture and Google Earth’s teams are working to capture what they can as quickly as possible and luckily for the rest of us, in some cases, this has happened in the nick of time.

Not only does this give people from around the world the ability to appreciate and experience these treasures from anywhere, but this project could literally save the past for the future, if by at least preserving an exact representation of the original. They have locations captured in moments of time just years or on occasion even months before war, fire or unforeseen natural disasters struck and destroyed the original areas and artifacts.

Take the Brazilian National Museum which was destroyed by fire in 2018. Google Arts & Culture worked with the museum in 2016 utilizing the “Museum View” version of Street View to create a virtual tour that, although is not remotely a consolation for the 90% artifact loss that occurred from the fire, at least is a window into what is now lost.

Another great example of this is the Iraqi historic sites that have devastated by time and the rages of war. https://artsandculture.google.com/project/wmf-iraq Google Arts & Culture had undergone a significant project that involves mapping, 3D modeling and hi-res imaging to chronicle the indelible historical culture that is being lost.

They are working with one-of-a-kind artworks imaged so perfectly (think gigapixels) that it is possible to zoom in and see the every individual brushstroke of the paintings. The smallest of elements that even the artist’s family had never noticed before have been preserved, as in the case of the xxxx painting by xxxx, whose son didn’t even realize he was depicted with his father until shown the zoomed-in version of the painting once it was captured. 

There are everyday people capturing historic sites, such as the architecture and art inside ancient temples, and other places of worship around the globe, with just a personal insta360. Places of unsurpassed intrinsic value, which will now be memorialized at that very moment for historians and others to look back on, while the ravages of time continue to alter the actual locations.

There are so many ways this could be utilized to protect these creations for future admiration and study. You could perfectly 3D print the sculptures into almost perfect replicas of the originals for posterity or send out for traveling exhibits. You could capture historic site changes year over year to study the alterations from weather, entropy, human interaction and more. You could preserve cultural  on the brink.

How incredible it will be to look back through time and see the way these historic places and artifacts actually were before time too it’s toll.

Google Street View, Earth Voyager and Conservation

Google Earth has a fascinating feature that many people don’t even know about called Voyager. Voyager consists of a variety of “stories” that are hand-curated by Google and take the visitor on a journey through time and place.  They live on Google Earth and the best ones incorporate Google Street View to really bring you inside the experience, giving you a feeling of actually being there in that very moment – at that very spot.

The best of these showcase the wonders of our living world, past and present. They teach us things we have never known and take us to the farthest reaches we have only dreamed of, whether it be the Taj Mahal or the epic vistas of Earth from the orbit of space.  

One of my favorites is “Goodall, Goombe and Google“, which is a beautiful story about Jane Goodall and some of the chimpanzees (including one named Google)  living in the Goombe mountains. Like any good story, it moves the mind, touches the heart and educates just enough to be impactful and inspiring.

This one is specifically adept at this by incorporating poignant video, beautiful imagery, Street View powered trails just brimming with the chimpanzees being written about as well as a Voyager feature allowing for location overlays to Earth that in this case, show animal and tribal boundaries that affect the future of their survival.

In essence, in the way the story is weaved, you can follow the exact trails Jane blazed when she began her legendary career. Almost directly following in her footsteps through the mountain passages she took, seeing what she saw without leaving the comfort of your sofa. It’s awe-inspiring to contemplate.

What does this mean for conservation?

It means we can study environmental changes through time of human influence, weather, natural disasters, wars, overpopulation, and all the other factors that take a toll on the environment. It means that just maybe we can even learn how to stop some of the things that are destroying our incredible Earth. 

Take a look at this other conservation-focused Google Voyager story about “Saving the Kordofan Giraffe” created by National Geographic. This tells the tale of explorer Naftali Honig’s usage of Google Maps and other tools to help save endangered animals from poaching and other threats. Street View is helping conservationists see changes in habitat, environment, and even historic areas throughout the world.

It’s truly something that can impact not just us, but generations to come. Even more impactful, it’s something you can actually help with yourself during your travels with your own 360 camera.

Now, about the animals… I couldn’t leave you with a look at these fun animals on Google Street View.

This is the second in a Google Street View series.

Everything is Figuroutable by Marie Forleo

Everything IS Figuroutable by Marie Forleo

I’ve been a fan of Marie Forleo for a bunch of years and always loved her whole perky vibe and the advanced principles of her B-school. But, to be honest, I kind of stopped reading her emails a few years ago after one where she mentioned what a horrible failure she had once (trying to be relatable to those of us who have had a few of those ourselves, I’m assuming) when she had her team send out an email before it was finished! THE HORROR! 

Needless to say, if that was the extent of her “failures” then how could she possibly understand me with – well, let’s just say more interesting failures than that under my belt. Now, give me a huge meaty epic failure that you learned and grew from, like when Elvis Presley bombed his first performance at the Grand Ole Opry so badly the talent manager told him “You ain’t goin’ nowhere, son. You ought to go back to drivin’ a truck”. That’s life telling you something!

“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.”

JK Rowling

So it was with a little hemming and hawing that I decided to take a chance on Everything is Figuroutable. I’m glad I did. 

Maria Forleo is a branding maven, inspiration to people around the globe and social media magician. With her successful MarieTVwebsite and 8-week interactive B-School for people looking to grow their business, she has a lot to say and it’s all for your benefit.

Knowing she has also been involved with the likes of Richard Branson, Oprah, and Arianna Huffington just adds more credit to her list of amazing accomplishments. But can she really get what it’s like to be in my skin, I kept wondering to myself. Her life seems so “silver spoon”.

Well, I took a chance and began the book and…. couldn’t stop listening. Needless to say, she went deeper into her stories and it really made a difference. I felt she did get my “it” and she did have some pretty valuable insight to give. 

Marie narrated the Audible version herself, and it really works. A bit milder and a bit self-back-pat-y than some other books in the genre that I love, it’s still chock full of great suggestions, optimism and actionable suggestions to make you unstoppable in life and career. As she calls it on the website, it’s a mindset, a mantra, and a conviction.

And it really is all three.

After you close the pages or take off the headphones, if you are like me, you will walk away really feeling like Everything really is Figureoutable.