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A personal tour of Belfast by Ann Treacy
June 25, 2013, 3:05 pm
Filed under: Belfast

We landed in Belfast after a very full and partially Amazing Race kinda travel day from Tobermory. We covered a ton of ground – but when we landed in Belfast my friend Mary was waiting for us! Which was totally unnecessary and totally appreciated! We headed out for a pint or two at McHugh’s, which was fun. The next day we took a whirlwind tour of Belfast.

Mary is from Belfast and did a great job touring us around. We started with St Pat’s – where Mary had been married and where much of the consternation regarding the recent flag flying had taken place. We saw the Belfast Cathedral, the Victoria shopping center, the big fish, lots of shopping, especially some nice secondhand places, Linen Library and a ton of other things as we toured around. It was interesting to hear about the recent history of Belfast from Mary who lived through much of it.

Then – and I super appreciate it – Mary brought us down the Falls Road to see the murals. I think the murals are fascinating. I have seen them before but I thought Mary would enjoy them – and of course I never mind seeing them again. I think they are such a testament to the recent history. We also visited the Milltown Cemetery – which includes many IRA members. It was interesting to see the graves and to travel out a bit.

Finally we had a really nice dinner and a few drinks at the Duke of York, which has a cool alley/patio for drink, which I feel is pretty optimistic of them given the weather.

Tobermory on the Isle of Mull by Ann Treacy
June 25, 2013, 2:13 am
Filed under: Scotland

From Oban we took the ferry to Tobermory. From remote to remoter! Again a beautiful place.

We took a boat tour to try to find basking sharks. Sadly no luck!! But the boat was fun anyway. We did get up close and personal with a school of dolphins, which was fun. And we saw an eagle, which I suspect is a bigger thrill if you won’t live by the Mississippi. And we saw some seal. Apparently the boat we took has seen 5 whales this year and has seem some basking sharks BUT the season has been too cold for them in general. They are present when the plankton float to the surface.

Ironically my friends in Girvan had recently seen basking sharks near their place, which was sort of comforting to me. Because while I may not get to Tobermory again, I feel like Girvan isn’t an impossibility.

We took a fun walk to the Tobermory lighthouse – and got caught in our first rain of the trip. It was more of a heavy mist so we didn’t’ really mind. Well we didn’t mind until we ended up in a freshly mown golf course and no signs of the trail! Luckily we found our way and there was by some miracle a pub near the end of the road.

We also had a really nice meal at the Galleon Grill – just off the main drag. Mary tried and liked the local whiskey. All in all a great visit!


Oban – Scotch & Scenery by Ann Treacy
June 24, 2013, 11:48 pm
Filed under: Scotland

We visited Oban, which is South Highlands or maybe the gateway to the Inner Hebrides. I kind of picked the location out of a semi-educated hat and we got lucky. It started with the train ride through Loch Lomond and an absolutely perfect day. It was gorgeous!

Oban is known for seafood and whiskey. There’s an almost Coliseum-looking structure above the town called, McCaig’s Tower. The views are spectacular! Its’ about 100 years old – so not super old but Scottish standards, but very cool. There’s also some castle ruins and lighthouse. The castle seems to be in a forest – it feels a little like Sleeping Beauty land. You could certainly see where the story idea could come from anyways hanging around a place like that.

We did a ton of walking, had a nice meal and a last pint on the way back to the hotel. It’s a small town, very touristy but nice.

Tiny tour of Glasgow by Ann Treacy
June 24, 2013, 11:23 pm
Filed under: Glasgow

En route from Girvan to Oban we stopped in Glasgow for a tiny tour. Actually we had to switch train stations and had minutes to burn so we got some quick pictures of Glasgow…

Visiting Friends in Girvan by Ann Treacy
June 24, 2013, 9:22 pm
Filed under: Scotland

On Sunday we traveled from Edinburgh to Girvan. It was a beautiful day! And I was delighted to see Cath and Preston, TED friends from last year.

Cath gave us a great tour of the town. We learned that Yeats has slept in the building next to their house. Their house is kind of amazing. They live above a bank in what was clearly a very fine home in its day. Not saying that it’s not fine now – it is – but it has the gorgeous high ceilings and detail of a grand home of yesteryear.

We had a lovely barbecue cooked by Preston. A lot of great conversation and a night-cap at the Queens Pub. My favorite thing about the pub? The dog with the dyed pink hair.

It really was fun to see Cath and Preston and to hear about Google+, which Cath is always trying to get me to really try and to hear about their fundraising on Indiegogo. They are raising funds for an album and US tour for Preston.

TED Day One: Truth, Drones & Wildlife and Human Nature by Ann Treacy
June 21, 2013, 10:48 pm
Filed under: Edinburgh

Session 1: Moments of Truth

George Papandreou – Former Prime Minister of Greece

First a note on Papandreou’s appearance and the ensuing demonstration. The TED folks warned us about the demonstration – suggesting that we turn our name tags around so that no one would know who we were. Turns out the demonstration was quite small and any advanced warning unnecessary – but I guess better safe than sorry.

Papandreou spoke about the failure of leadership – claiming that the people have been taken out of the process of politics. Greece, he explained had been used as scapegoats in the economic meltdown. By the time he had been named Prime Minister the unemployment, which had been described as 6 percent was actually more than double that. He went to the EU meeting thinking that the problem would be solved on a regional level. What he found was that the problem of Greece was solved hurriedly to beat the opening of the market in Japan. Papandreou said we need to restore confidence in government , we need to work on youth unemployment and our lack of creativity and compassion. Use Europe as a global model, he suggested. Give immigrants in the EU European citizenship as a step to developing a common identity that could become a democracy.


Steve Howard – IKEA

Three billion people will join the Middle Class by 2030. We’re seeing temperatures increase due to global warming. Populations in cities are growing. The rise of populations, especially in urban areas will create environmental issues. Businesses need to step up to be stewards of the environment. IKEA has already done this with an expectation of 100 percent goals towards being environmentally friends with things such as LED light bulbs, solar energy and a code of conduct in their supply chain to encourage environmentally sound decisions and prevent child labor. Businesses need to measure their impact on social concerns and shouldn’t be afraid to go all in.

George Monbiot – Journalist

George has plans to rewild the world – by that he literally means introduce wildlife – plants and animals into the ecosystem. He talks about lions in Trafalgar Square – and not the lion statues. By allowing wildlife to emerge again that will allow for rewilding of human life. His ideas were very out there – but interesting, starting with the idea that we can ecologically bored.

MUSIC – Tariq Harb – played guitar

Manal Al-Sharif – Women Can Drive

Manal became an accidental activist women’s rights in Saudi Arabia by driving. The common law belief in Saudi Arabia was that women couldn’t drive, although there actually was no such law. But when Lanal drove she and her brother (who has lent her the car) were both detained. A video of her driving raised even more questions. Her actions and a concerted effort to create a day when hundreds of women drove led to a change – women now drive in Saudi Arabia but it left Manal with a dual identity of sorts. She became a hero outside of her community but a villain within her country. A funny example was two hashtags used to track her actions: #oslotraitor and #oslohero.

Anne-Marie Slaughter – US State Department/Mother

Anne-Marie spoke about reassessing the feminist narrative. She had a big job with the US State Department and gave it up to stay home with her kids, when we kids were a bit older. (Teenagers, not toddlers.) It was a very thought-provoking talk and many people seemed to have an opinion on it. I think her best point was the need to socially lift up the role of staying home with kids. As she said, making a place for those we love is a global imperative – but often there’s not much social street cred that goes with it. She said we need to re-socialize men to be comfortable making the decision to stay home. I think staying at home could use a good PR campaign with both genders.

Session 2: Flying Things

Raffaello D’Andrea – Autonomous Systems Visionary

Raffaello gave a demonstration on drones and spoke about how they work. They are agigle but unstable. They can be programmed, but they can’t necessarily learn and adapt.

Lin Pin Koh – Drones Ecologist

Lin Pin advocates for positive use of drones as a means to view and monitor wildlife. He gave a range of positive puposes for drones:

  • Survey wildlife populaiton
  • Take pictures of animals and habitats
  • Zoom in and out for patterns
  • Create a map of landscape
  • Create 3D models of forests
  • Thermal imaging
  • Camera traps
  • Track radio collars
  • Access remote areas with microphones

Andreas Raptopoulous – Greek Activist

Promotes drones as a positive means for providing service to people with no access to roads. Apparently 1 billion people have no access to roads. So his idea is that drones could be used to deliver medicine and other follow up to telehealth care. Infrastructure required to do that would include: flying machines (drones), landing stations and routers. They are testing this in some emerging communities. The thought is that it could also work in future urban locations where the shortest distance between two points might include a flight rather than road transport. His motto – Matternet will do for transportation what mobile did for communication.

Daniel Suarez – Sci-Fi Thrillers

Daniel spoke to the nefarious side of drones, lethal autonomy and fear of the anonymous war. There are three ways war becasome less human with drones:

  1. Deluge of video from drones
  2. Electronic jamming
  3. Plausible deniability

In a war with drones citizens in high tech societies are most vulnerable. The deluge of data will provide opportunities for folks who can recognize patterns and anomalies. The secret to minimizing impact of drones on warfare is transparency.

Music – Elizaveta – Musical Alchemist

Greg Asner – Aerial Ecologist

Uses technology to map the Amazon. Has been able to learn things like female lions hunt out in the open during the day. Male lions hunt but very differently – they ambush as night. He had three question:

  1. How do we manage carbon reserve in the rain forest?
  2. How do we prepare for climate change in the rain forest?
  3. How do we manage biodiversity in a planet of closed/protected areas?

Session 3: Exquisite Enigmatic Us

Russell Foster – Circadian Neuroscientist

Why do we sleep? Restoration – Energy Conservation – Brain Functioning à Mostly people need sleep for mental health

The numbers:

  • 32 years – the amount most of us sleep in a lifetime
  • 31 percent of drivers microsleep
  • 8 hours – average time slept in 1950
  • 6.5 hours – average time slept in 2013
  • 9 hours – time teens need to sleep
  • 5 hours – time teens actually sleep

Tips for falling asleep – dark room, turn off phone, no caffeine, wind down

Elizabeth Loftus – False Memories Scholar

Memories are like a Wikipedia page – we can change and update them, but so can other people. Researchers have been able to successfully (and pretty easily) plant false memories. It has been done to get kids to “remember” that they like healthier foods.

Hetain Patel – Visual Artist

I thought Hetain’s performance piece was fascinating to watch. He started by speaking in Cheinese and had a translator – until the translator revealed that actually he had been repeating the same paragraph over and over. His native language was English but he didn’t want to be stereotyped by his North England accent. He said his art was art based on what we look like and what determines our identities. Limiting someone, he said, can reveal something unique.

Sandra Aamodt – Neuroscientist and Science Writer

Sandra spoke about learning to eat mindfully. She had good news and bad news. She had learned to eat mindfully and had lost weight quite easily. The good news is that hunger and energy are controlled by the brain. The bad news is that your brain has a set point weight for you – and the weight your brain has may not be the weight you want. The hypothalamus regulates weight, hunger, activity and metabolism. If you lose more than 10 pounds, your metabolism will change for 7 years. Changing food environment may be the most effective way to combat obesity.

Intuitive eater tend to be smaller. Controlled eaters are more likely to be bigger. Weight obsession predisposes people to weight gain. Family teasing also tends to lead to obesity.

Kelly McGonigal – Science – Help Psychologist

People who experience stress but didn’t think it was a bad thing did not die sooner than people with no stress. People who think they experienced too much stress died sooner than others. Stress is not a bad thing – the issue is how you handle it. Stress signs may prepare you for action. Constricted veins is the difference between stress and joy. Otherwise physically the two emotions are quite similar. Stress makes you social; it causes oxytocin (the cuddle drug). Oxytocin is a stress response that helps heat cells regenerate.

Music – Natasha Bedingford – UK pop songs

TED University & Institute Notes by Ann Treacy
June 19, 2013, 8:20 pm
Filed under: Edinburgh

I wanted to take (and save) notes from the TED Global conference. They might not be of interest to anyone but me, but now I’ll know where to find them and I’ll post the rest as I write them up. Right now I have the “pre-conference” session notes…

Pre-Conference Workshop: Taming Wicked Problems

Tom Wujec, from Autodesk, gave two presentations on Wicked Problems – the interactive morning session and he spoke as part of the TED Institute. He works with companies on their “wicked problems,” which are simply problems that are difficult to tackle, multifaceted and ongoing. Normally he offers the session as a 3-day workshop or works intensely with an organization over a period of time through his process of taming the problems. The key is defining the problems and working together to create a solution – a solution that doesn’t necessarily fix the problem but tames it. His solution is very visual.

We started in teams. Each of drew instructions for making toast. The we (silently) grouped our images and organized our images to use the best from each team member to provide instructions for making toast. It was interesting to see where people started (making the bread, slicing, buying the toaster, maybe building a fire) and what they focused on (the toaster, the toast or the person). No one was right or wrong but there were a lot of approaches. Then in teams we set out to tackle real world wicked problems.

It was interesting to see how well it worked. The key was the visual approach, the silent cooperation and the process of working together.

Tom also spoke about the design continuum: Ideas go from impossible to impractical to possible to expected to required.

TED Institute

Tokunbo Ajasa-Oluwa – Go ThinkBig

Tokunbo is a former journalist and HEAD OF Go ThinkBig that encourages young people to do well and do good. He build mentorships with young people at risk to help them get ahead and build their own connections that will help them succeed and make things happen. Couple of points

  • Young people will do tirelessly
  • Digital tools open quality education to everyone
  • If every enterprise in the UK employed one young person it would eradicated youth unemployment

Kate Groch – Bush Schools

Kate works has built digital learning centers across rural South Africa. She started by turning a banana factory into an ICT that serves 200 adults and 450 school children. Stressing that technology is not enough, Kate talked about how they have transitioned from meeting in small groups under trees to encouraging small groups to meet via telepresence. It’s been a good way for folks to connect, communicate and get used to the technology. A powerful message from the ICTs in the rural areas was the shift for the residents from “chance to choice.” It used to be if you were born in rural South Africa your opportunities were few. Now if you have access to the learning centers, you have a choice to go to school, to learn, to meet people from around the world. Technology has removed the possibility of being born in the wrong place.

Phillipe Schulz – Renault-Nissan

Phillippe is working to accelerate the transport revolution from the inside. He develops cars that minimize use and need for oil. He points out that in 15 years 70 percent of the world’s population will be urban and offers three reasons we need to work faster to reduce dependence on oil:

  1. To avoid an environmental disaster
  2. For the economy
  3. Oil is a finite resource

Mahadev Raman

Mahadev spoke about the comfort equation – which is 20-25 degrees Celsius with a humidity of 30-70 percent. He talks about the energy wasted trying to maintain that comfort zone around the world in places that may or may not hold people. For example the futility of keeping airports set to comfort equation 24 hours a day when few people are visiting airports in the off hours. They key is better design, smart thermostats and a little bit of common sense and sacrifice – often means small steps such as put on a sweater.

Jeremy Betham

Jeremy works for Shell and talked about his idea of “building memories for the future,” which to me sounded like higher order daydreaming with a purpose – or scenario planning. In the example of Shell, it’s a matter of looking at how human needs and infrastructure are entwined in alarming ways and finding ways to make that productive. On a community level is takes business civic society and government to work together to challenge themselves, put themselves in tight spot and come up with solutions that suit the memories we want for the future.

Chris Perretta

Chris leads technology efforts for State Street. He recognizes that technology is changing the way we do technology – and that the changing that are happening within IT today are changes that will trickle to other fields and departments tomorrow. We need people who can handle these changes, which means we need people who think deeply and wide – people who can understand a whole system because when you understand the whole system you see value where no one else can see value.

Jennifer Healey

Jennifer was a spokesperson for personal ownership of your digital footprint. She chastised the privacy policies that no one reads pointing out that we are giving out a lot of information about ourselves for very little in return. Part of the problem is that right now access to personal digital information is an all or nothing proposition. There are times when you might be OK with sharing your personal data (from buying history to contacts) when the return is worthwhile – but access to the latest game app might not be it. People need the power to be able to manage and negotiate with their own personal, digital data.

TED University

Sheryl Connelly- How to Take in TED

Sheryl talked about the Art of Listening and Taking notes. She offered 5 suggestions for getting the most out of a TED conference:

  1. Give it your all
  2. Take notes
  3. Be open to new possibilities
  4. Challenge yourself
  5. Savor every moment

Peter Doolittle – The Way People Remember

Working memory works by storing – retrieving – processing based on goals. Building a strong working memory is helpful for telling stories and communicating. Generally we can remember 4 things for up to 10-20 seconds but there are some tips to improve working memory. Process immediately by thinking and repeating. Think in images. Build structure and support for new ideas.

Paul Kemp-Robertson – New currencies

Technology is disrupting our trust in money. Trust n technology trumps trust in institutions:

  • 61 percent trust “people like me”
  • 43 percent trust CEOs
  • 38 percent trust government

Drug dealers are now using Tide (yes the detergent!) as currency. Nike community is starting to build a community based on points earned via calories burned in the shoes. In Africa Vodaphone credit is money (FAKKA). BITCOIN is the fastest growing currency. It is a virtual currency earned by accomplishing math challenges.

Ted Gourneios – I’m Elmo and I know it

From Rollins College Ted reminds us that the digital revolution is brought to us by people like you! We don’t just watch media anymore, we live it.

Winka Dubbledam – Bottom-up urban design for Bogota

Bottom-up renewal for a community requires intrinsic motivation. Bogota has used MyIdealCity.com to help spur and channel bottom-up renewal and civic society. The site is a community portal that engages residents is regular conversation – and topics big and small. But it has also given birth to a crowdfunding project that funded a 66 story building in the city. They appealed to resident (although there were few inner-city residents), commuters and potential friends of the area as well. One push is to create a space that will attract residents.

Solofa Batterjee – A unique father-daughter relationship

Solofa shared lessons she learned from her father

  • If you don’t know the difference between pleasure and joy than you haven’t lived
  • Be shy as a woman, but brave as a man
  • Even the sky is not your limit
  • Women are raising the next generation of women
  • Philanthropy is our top job
  • Believe in justice

Yana Buhrer Tavanier – Don’t discount the uncounted

There are inhumane conditions in institutions, such as orphanages. Adequate healthcare would save lives in many of these institutions and love can bring a child back from the brink of neglect.

Julian Treasure – The most powerful sound in the world

Julian offers the 7 deadly sins of speaking:

  1. Gossip
  2. Judging
  3. Negativity
  4. Complaining
  5. Excuses
  6. Exaggeration
  7. Dogmatism

Instead remember HAIL – honesty, authenticity, integrity and love

Sunny Bates – How to meet people at TED

Sunny offers tips to meeting people through GRACE

  • Generosity
  • Rescue
  • Attention
  • Confidence
  • Exact
  • Serendipity

Xavier Vilalta – Designing for emerging economies

Xavier showed his building design for emerging communities- which means using materials that make sense for the environment and a blueprint that mimics those currently found in the economy. So if the economy is based on a market of stalls now – don’t build for department store in the future.

Arzu Coltekin – Three generations of Turkish Women

Introduces the novel idea that women are people and Turkish women vary as in looks and attitudes as women all over the world.

Roberto & Francesca D’Angleo – Parenting our Exceptional Son

Talk about overcoming the challenges of having a child with special needs. Through the challenge they learned to turn the challenge into an opportunity. They tried to teach their son through repetition of action and realized the son wasn’t watching the action; the son was watching them. So they started bringing him everywhere as you might with any non-exceptional child.

Jane McGonigal – My Favorite Game

Jane introduced the audience to Massively Multiplayer Thumb Wrestling. Developed by monochrome, it is exactly what it sounds like – lots of people thumb wrestling each other simultaneously. She got the whole audience to play. (I won one of two games and am now considered a Grand Master!)

Juliana Rotich – Designing Digital Products for Local Needs

Juliana works with Africa on the Edge. She has been working on fiber throughout Africa but one of the very local problems is access to power as much as access to the Internet. SO they are users of BRCK, a tool developed by TED Fellow Eric Hersman that acts like a hub providing access to wireless Internet and storing power to act as back up when local power goes down. BRCK does load balancing for the community/ICT and can act as an on ramp for things if the wireless is used to monitor or otherwise remotely control appliances.

Bastian Schaefer – A 3D-Printed Jumbo Jet?

Introduced plans for the next airbus with a focus on light, mimicking a living organism and end user comfort. Part of the plan assumes use of a 3D printer to replace milling.

Margaret Heffernan – Don’t Stay Silent

I have to mention that Margaret was one of my very favorite speakers last year – on a related topic. (And rumor has it she’ll be in the Twin Cities for an event with The Wilder Foundation.) What I really like about her is the push to say something when you know something is askew. She mentions that silence is often more articulate than what’s being said. To coax out the meaning we need to learn to ask small questions – such as “Does anyone know anything about…” The idea is to explore ideas and options and to build allies.

Last Full Day in Edinburgh – Mountains, Demonstrations, Caves by Ann Treacy
June 18, 2013, 5:23 am
Filed under: Edinburgh, Scotland

Mary arrived on Friday afternoon. We had a fun afternoon evening getting her situated and making her stay up late enough to curb the effects of jetlag. We also had a nice final supper with some of my TED friends. It’s always a little bittersweet to say goodbye since it’s such an intense week.

We made the most of Saturday – our full day in Edinburgh. We start with breakfast at The Elephant House, the coffee shop where JK Rowling wrote Harry Potter. Then we walked from the Castle, down the Royal Mile to Holyrood, where we saw the start of a Pride parade promoting marriage equality. (Super proud to be from a state that also supports marriage equality at a moment like that!)

Then we climbed up Arthur’s Seat. It’s a good climb up the hill/mountain. I have to admit that it’s not so much the physical nature of the task that gets me – but climbing higher and higher, especially in the steep parts. So we ended up taking an easier but longer way down. That was very OK because really after that we just continued to walk – and you can see the pictures.

We stopped in to see Mary King’s Close – well we didn’t pay for the tour, but we got the idea. It’s a sample of the layered living in Edinburgh going back centuries. There really was a whole village under the city. A couple years ago, we did a ghost tour that also showcased the layered living – the Close exhibit wasn’t quite as scary. But it did give the idea of a livelihood in the caves.

We got a great sneak into the caves again at night. We went to see a band called the Darligntons play at Bannerman’s. The pub part of Bannerman’s is fun but architecturally unremarkable. But in the back room for music you can clearly see that the space is a cave. It’s dark, musty and pretty good. We also went to a bar called the caves, where again we could clearly see the history of the caves, although this bar had done more the feature the cave appeal. In some ways the back of Bannerman’s was even cooler because they just seemed to take the heritage for granted.

We went to The Caves to attend the Torture Garden. No pictures allowed there!

The junkyards of Edinburgh by Ann Treacy
June 17, 2013, 1:13 pm
Filed under: Edinburgh, Scotland

For my friends Amy and Camille who are not on Facebook! I knew if I just posted the picture there you’d never see them. So it may take a week or so before I wrote up all of my TED notes, I figured I could at least write up some of the non-conference details.

Today we have a late start for the TED Global conference, which is super nice as it gave me time for a good 2-hour walk.

Edinburgh is a gorgeous city. All tallied I have spent about 3 weeks here and have seen loads of beautiful things. But beautiful doesn’t always fill 2 hours so today I decided to walk to the  sea. So I set off from my hotel (which is amazing and super centrally located) and headed north. I love UK cities so it was fun to walk by the regular shops and pubs, and off licenses and tattoo parlors – although I soon realized I was walking by more pubs and tattoos than say libraries.

Then I got close to the sea, which it turns out is pretty industrial. To be fair I knew the potential for industry so close to the city. But it was a great opportunity to check out a Scottish junkyard, landfill and recycling center. (Wish I could capture a smell in a camera!) But all of that industry is just a short walk from the sea!

The highlight was walking between the sea and the storage rental spaces. And those of you who know me well will know that I don’t love dogs. So image my delight when I could hear the mean storage security dogs going crazy as I walked past their domain.

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