Saturday, November 28, 2015

A Happy Holiday Season

I must admit I am not a fussy gardener. I do not grow orchids and other high-maintenance plants. (Not that I don’t utterly adore orchids, and I would grow them if any of my rooms had enough natural light, which to me seems never enough.) Sustainability entails as little human interference with natural systems as possible. So I must adapt. If you didn’t get it already, here’s the gist: sustainability is about using nature for life hacking, not about revivalism or tree hugging. As a biologist moonlighting as a designer, I truly believe some natural systems can be improved. I will go in detail about this on another occasion.
The day after Thanksgiving, to shake off the effects of overeating the typical yummy foods of the feast, I went into my dormant backyard garden and opened the bags of organic garden soil that I left on my three garden patches a few days ago. I spread them all over the leaf-covered plots and sowed my shade-friendly wildflower seed mix (I usually purchase it from American Meadows). I realized the plants need to be shade friendly after my white mulberry tree that I got from The Arbor Day Foundation grew amazingly large almost overnight. I had another bag of scented wild flower seeds, which I sowed in the patio containers, by the street. Although I reserved most of my containers for growing veggies, the ones near the street are too prone to be infested by traffic pollutants.
It is amazing how running my hands through the bare soil, raking it, and the simple act of sowing seeds brings so much peace and a funny sense of fulfillment. Must be the archaic regions of the cortex – so many generations of agricultural people must have left their imprint on the rewards systems of the brain. Maybe my seasonal tendency to start knitting and working with yarn come fall is related to the same mechanism.
And speaking of seasonal: the affective disorder is on the table again, no surprise for a sun worshiper like myself. Nothing tea and dinner parties with friends cannot handle, though…
P.S. Due to the changing climate (and maybe because I am still not used to living at parallel 40! thriving fig trees anyone?) my garden is not entirely dormant. I still have some mustard greens and nasturtium leaves growing in containers – delicious in salads and sandwiches!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Musings on The Future of Data Mining, “Old School” Mining and Genetics

There will come a time when humans will be able to access and copy the memory data stored as proteins in our brains. Even if consciousness would not be preserved, our “story” will.
There will come a time when landfills will be mined for raw materials, using machines controlled by other machines, while other machines will sort them, and others will reuse those materials for the benefit of humankind.
There will come a time when humans will be able to set up giant, planetary scale “primordial soup” laboratories to create new life forms, after performing simulations using dedicated super computers. For that, of course they will have to live for eons. To do that, they will use their stored genetic information to repair their aging DNA as needed. And (to come full circle), because any natural brain has limited data storage capacity, they will store their accumulated memories in microchip “zip drives”, or even a “God” cloud…
Now, to brag a little, about fifteen years ago I predicted that there will come a day when TV will merge with the Internet. I was not blogging back then, and the “unfortunate” interlocutor was my brother Horatiu, who is now a very appreciated programming engineer, living and working in Vienna, Austria, for a company that collaborates with NASA. He looked at me a little skeptical, a little intrigued, a little pensive. I also told him that I would miss the feeling of watching a show knowing that so many others are watching it at the same time. Now I know that feeling is replaced by the satisfaction of watching Internet-streamed shows recommended by my friends and vice versa, and temporality is irrelevant.
...And temporality will become more and more irrelevant.

Saturday, August 02, 2014

Mapping and Caffeine

This is what happens when you are a Jersey City based mapper with a caffeine addiction.


Thursday, July 04, 2013

Happy 4th of July!

Not going anywhere but working in my studio, as usual during holidays. This time I work on a design sketch for the next Pro Arts Eat-Up Party. The details of my submission are here, on the PRO ARTS website. This would be my first garden art installation, so I am a bit nervous. Last night I took one of the nightscape backgrounds that were lying around in my studio for a long time and I drew something that would resemble what I had in mind for my open air museum lanterns. I must admit I was inspired by the whimsical artworks of Katherine Dunn and her wonderful Apifera farm, but also by Diana Trout, who left a gracious comment on my studio blog, after I reblogged one of her posts. I own both Katherine’s and Diana’s books, which kept me inspired and happy.

The design sketch is still in the making.


Monday, December 31, 2012

The Clock

It looks like any concept of time attracts me no ends. So much that I decided to spend my New Year's Eve at MoMA, because of their show The Clock.
The idea of long lasting multimedia art installations and performances seduced me ever since I discovered the incredible Marina Abramovic. I have seen her on PBS, and her discourse enthralled me like no other. I didn't get to see her show at MoMA, but this decision is largely an homage to her.
A Happy New Year full of harmony, truth and wise decisions to you all, my friends!
"On December 31, MoMA presents a special New Year’s Eve showing of "The Clock" in its entirety, which is the first opportunity for the public to view all 24 hours of the piece at MoMA. The Clock will go on view at 10:30 a.m. on Monday, December 31, and will run continuously until 5:30 p.m. on January 1.

In conjunction with this showing, the Museum’s Cafe 2 restaurant offers a special menu of wines, cheeses, salami, and desserts on New Year's Eve from 9:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m., along with an all-night espresso bar.

Admission on December 31 after regular Museum hours is: Adults $12; Seniors (65 and over) $10; Students full-time with current ID $8; Children (16 and under) under free. Members free."

More information about "The Clock" can be found here:"
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Sunday, July 08, 2012

Natural vs. Civilized

The past few months have been a roller-coaster of unexpected events and revelations about people in our lives. A concert tour that was supposed to last ten days in August has been extended to a whole month. We reinforced existing friendships and reconsidered new collaborations. By not making profit our ultimate goal, only a desirable collateral perk and a means to a higher purpose, we have attracted not only highly auspicious friends, but also our share of people of a questionable integrity, or simple collaborators who, maybe unwillingly, mistook our not-necessarily-going-for-profit with affording-to-lose. In our constant effort of keeping our connection to persons whom we considered loyal friends and collaborators on the old continent, we were stunned at the extent some people whom we considered above any doubt can change when fleeting fame or power is bestowed upon them. Which made me think about what is considered natural in human behavior. In view of my sustainability studies.
It is only natural for a student to challenge their master. Natural, but not necessarily civilized. And by challenge I mean also shunning, ignoring, brushing off, being rude, double-crossing, abusing trust - the whole shebang that a lack of gratitude can bring. There's no master ego threatening progress here. There is no need for such an obtuse attitude and behavior. Dear former and eternal student, you will find out that gratitude is not natural. Gratitude is not even mere common sense. Gratitude is a higher level of conscience, of which your archaic brain that is pushing you to challenge your good old master is not capable. And the sad thing is that your archaic brain, fed and dazed by your current success and inflated ego, is tricking you to think that your good old master didn't teach you anything you couldn't learn on your own or from other sources. It makes you foolish enough not to see that your master is forever part of who you are as an artist. We wish you good luck and everything you need in your life and career.
It is only natural for a (formerly?) bohemian writer to want to collaborate only with people that hold higher values than money as their goals, to expect the trust of everyone around them, to want them acting on a mere handshake, to cut off everyone they consider too petty or greedy, to give in to rage fits or act on mood swings. All that is natural, but not necessarily civilized. Not by rashly gauging everybody through the same reductionist set of criteria. Dear former friend and eternal boho, you will find out that acting professionally does not come naturally. Expecting their not-for-profit collaborators to stoop below dignity, refusing to apologize when in error, threatening, taking back their own word after claiming that a handshake is enough, is not only uncivilized, but also insulting. We wish you wisdom and best of luck in your future cultural endeavors.

In the meantime, as far as sustainability is concerned - now THAT IS BOTH natural and civilized. Related post to follow.
Here's to nature, gratitude, civilization, professionalism and sustainable friendships!

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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Weaving Shuttle …in a Space Shuttle!

Alina Zară and her heritage project.

We are trying to send the globe-trotting weaving shuttle in a trip in the outer space!  Anyone who could help us in this endeavor is welcome to contact Alina through her website.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

A Wandering Weaving Shuttle

An antique shuttle from Țara Făgărașului (the name of the land near the Carpathians that covers part of the area of Brașov County in Romania), has been traveling for some time over meridians, connecting them by an invisible thread. It is the weaving shuttle of “mama Ruța” from Mândra, and you can find its story by clicking  here. (Use Google Chrome for an almost instant translation).

The citadel of Făgăraș, Brașov County, Romania

I have been honored to be the shuttle’s host for a while, proud that it comes  from my mother’s birth place, especially since my own maternal grandmother, “mama Maria” from Vad, Șercaia Parish, used to weave yards and yards of rugs, blankets and all kind of wondrous cloths. I don’t remember her shuttles, just her loom, which used to fascinate me. Holding mama Ruța’s shuttle, I felt the same thread connecting me to the amazing guild of the weavers from Țara Făgărașului, and I realized that this guiding  thread was always there, weaving a fabulous tapestry in my spirit; the details of this tapestry were just beginning to reveal themselves…

First, I took the shuttle to the Wesselényi castle in Jibou, my native town, where I happened to be for a few days in August. The former park of one of the most beautiful Renaissance castles in Transylvania has been functioning since 1968 as a Botanic Garden and it harbors the Biological Research Centre.




Then, with the loom shuttle in my purse, like an unmistakable identity sign, I returned to the metropolis that I call home since 2008: New York!

And here is the antique shuttle enjoying views of the East Coast megalopolis:


watching Manhattan’s skyline from across the Hudson and from Liberty Park, towards Lady Liberty,

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and taking a stroll through Central Park.

100_0523 I must admit I cheated on this one – I took this picture at an art opening that featured photography from New York.

The shuttle’s next destination? Not just one, but a whole bunch of them, in an extended world tour, beginning  October 14! You too can request the shuttle by writing to the email address provided on its blog. It is a magic traveling shuttle, carrying a spark from the sprit of mama Ruța  from Mândra, Romania, the relentless weaver who wanted so much to see the world. Host it for a while, and you will realize that by doing so, you are strengthening the warp of one of the world’s oldest and most mysterious tapestries…

Sunday, May 22, 2011

May 22, The International Day of Biodiversity

Video message by Edward Norton, United Nations Goodwill Ambassador for biodiversity on the occasion of the global launch of the International Year of Forests 2011.
The global launch of the International Year of Forests 2011 has been held in conjunction with the High-Level Segment of the ninth session of the United Nations Forum on Forests.

International Year of Forests 2011 website.

Friday, May 20, 2011

World Day for Cultural Diversity


A subject that always stirs my interest and activism. Accused during my teenage years in communist Romania of being “too cosmopolitan” and interrogated by the overly nationalistic authorities, as a consequence, at the age of seventeen, I can say I have been keeping a very keen interest in other cultures than mine for all of my adult life.

I was looking with a pleased smile over the suggestions of the UNESCO Facebook campaign “Do One Thing For Diversity and Inclusion” for this day – pleased because I have checked almost all those thought starters for individuals.

It’s no wonder to me that destiny has led me live in one of the most culturally diverse neighborhoods that I have ever encountered. Jersey City, at least its downtown, where my home is, not only has that refreshing urban variety that I have always favored, but it is also amazingly tolerant and peaceful. (Maybe I shouldn’t say amazingly, but unfortunately tolerance seems not to be yet the working norm in the world). I have no doubt that this harmonious patchwork of cultures has a lot to do with the fact that the place has become a thriving hub for a lot of free-spirited, creative people attracted by the affordability of living in a place so close to Manhattan.

I can only hope that more and more neighborhoods in the US and the world will become just as welcoming and peaceful.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Latest

I have been invited to participate in the eyeJAZZ training session that will begin tomorrow, March 17 2011. I am supposed to post my videos online, so be warned.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Why Jazz?

In short, because it is a lifelong love story.

In (life)long…

Music was not viewed as a suitable career in my small town bourgeois intellectual family in communist Romania. We had enough difficulties as it was. However, music, and especially jazz, has been a constant presence in my home ever since I was born. My parents were avid jazz record collectors, so, naturally, I grew up listening to jazz on a regular basis. During elementary school I took up private guitar lessons and later I taught myself to play piano, accordion and harmonica.  Encouraged by my father, who is a writer, I was publishing poetry, book and music reviews in national literary magazines. However, I followed a career in science. This was due to my mother, who one day brought home a microscope borrowed from a science teacher colleague; what can I say: as a standard nine year old nerd, I was hooked.

During my teen years I started my own record collection - naturally, a lot of rock, at first. But the fascination for jazz was still present, somewhere in the back of my exploration-starved mind.  Jazz was comforting. Jazz was home. My room may have been blasting hard rock, but I also had to regularly play my favorite old record: a seventies jazz-rock compilation.

After I graduated, I had the chance to substitute as a junior-high music teacher for a while, in a suburb. I cannot  forget the amazement of those kids, faced with the sudden obligation of copying scores, learning music theory and sight-singing, instead of repeating the same old popular songs every time.

During that time, I began focusing mainly on jazz and contemporary classical music. It was the dawning of the internet era, so I soon started a jazz blog, initially called  Jazzy Eliza’s Wor(l)d, later Hector’s Lounge, and an online jazz appreciation show at an underground radio station. Though short lived, that radio show, called Jazz Tuning, threw me directly into the realm of jazz journalism and music production. I was editing audio, I created my own jingles, I was communicating live with my audience - the works.

As I was covering each and every jazz festival and concert in the area, I eventually began collaborating with an American jazz musician (who has meanwhile become my husband), first as a promoter, then as a tour manager, as well.  I produced a jazz CD. I relocated to the US. I started my own label. I managed two radio promotion campaigns and their follow-ups.  I further developed my audio editing skills. Since then, we released a few jazz singles, in preparation of a big music project…

Lately I’ve been delving into animation and video editing. Mostly Corel Painter and Final Cut Pro. As a trained visual artist with a background in mass media, it was inevitable.

So what’s next?

Well, wouldn’t you like to know…

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

...And This Is How It Begins

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Why fear oblivion,
when it can harbor unutterable beauty?
Fallen angels walk among us,
trying to remember heaven,
striving to recreate it
here on Earth,
from veiled fragments
of a long lost memory...
They had to forget it;
or else how could they climb again
Jacob’s ladder

Saturday, September 25, 2010

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Story of Our Life


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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Jazz Camp in Romania

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Saturday, June 12, 2010

The DIY Beauty Recipes - Avocados

Something I was planning for a while now - starting a DIY-for-the-girl-on-the-run- beauty-solutions series.
Who am I to share these? – let’s just say that I started cooking when I was eleven – that is almost thirty years experience. Around the same age I started reading my mom’s collection of beauty books, and also trying on whatever I found useful for my skin type. That makes more than twenty years of continuous experience in the use and concoction of natural cosmetics...

Not only I am in favor of foods as close to the raw state as possible – without being a fanatic, though – but after years of using supermarket products, I developed intolerances that led me to my current cosmetic kit – pure oils and flower extracts. Of course, when it comes to make-up,  the more mineral, the better.
Fantastic in salads, as guacamole or on toast, avocados are an equal blessing as cosmetics. If you don't have an avocado tree in your yard and want to be thrifty, use just the inside of the peels as a leave-in-two-in-one make-up remover and moisturizer. I use them in the shower; they also make an amazing hair mask, especially mixed with coconut milk and a little aloe vera gel. I usually rub the inside of the peel onto my face, neck and décolleté, then I rinse the excess while applying a massage. The skin feels hydrated and fresh; just use an optional mist of rosewater afterwards and you’re good to go.
You can find more elaborate DIY beauty recipes with avocado here.

About the many uses of rosewater, in a future post.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Crazy about shopping

Crazier about shopping, originally uploaded by soranatarmu.

I found this cart apparently abandoned on a public lawn in Venice, California.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Late Spring

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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Organization: Ecochoice

Organization: Ecochoice

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Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Oceanic Boa Scarves


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Licensed and experienced as a nature scientist, I am also a published writer and a graphic artist, curently living in the metropolitan New York area, where I am involved in music production and cultural events. I support sustainability, life-long education and the conservation of the world's natural and cultural heritage.