Rocket Man For Real

Nat Seymour Running Photographer

Photo credit: Nat Seymour
Running Photographer Courtesy of
Be Technical Graphics

In our daily lives, most of us are not presented with an opportunity to interact with an aeronautics engineer. One may think an aeronautics engineer’s personality might be staid, or disengaging to a nontechnical person. Well, the total opposite is true in the case of Nat Seymour.
In 2013, shortly after the MIT Enterprise Forum panel discussion at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, WA on Space commerce, tourism, and mining in space, MIT graduate Nat Seymour shared with fromacloud his passion for rockets, fluid systems, explosions (the safe kind, of course), and the importance of engineers in society.

A career transition from engineering to photography seems to be a perfect fit for him. No matter whether he is running backwards in a marathon to take in the moment shots of a marathon runner or teaching a photography course or taking photographs during social and corporate events, Nat’s engineering background still plays a role in his approach to capturing the essence of his subjects.

He is also a published author, and his exciting novel Rocket Religion allows us to take a great ride through the eyes of an engineer. Rocket Religion is available on Amazon.

Nat’s interview will make you think about engineers in a different way.

http://wp.me/p3eIPI-En

Ann Levorn

Rocket Religion Book Cover

Photo credit: Courtesy of
Nat Seymour, Author
Available on Amazon

Nat Seymour Photo

Photo credit: Nat Seymour, Photographer
Courtesy of Be Technical Graphics

The Rise of the Personal Chef – "Pushing for Perfection"

Today culinary delights are introduced to us through the media by celebrity chefs who duel to encapsulate the flavor, technique, and presentation of an entree or dessert just before time runs out in a competition. We also enjoy television show segments with only seconds allotted to show us how we can duplicate celebrity chef recipes at home, or we can leisurely watch a chef’s television show for an hour, as he or she seems to talk directly to us. Beyond watching back to back shows on food channels, thanks to YouTube, we can spend even more time watching video of celebrity chefs. Some people consider celebrity chefs the supermodels of the 21st century.

Nevertheless, a category of chefs exist who deserve their own accolades—the personal chef. Personal chefs are not a new phenomena. The wealthy have always had someone to prepare meals in a corporate setting at the executive level, and in their homes. However, a burgeoning middle class in the U.S. began to adopt personal chef services as one of the affectations of becoming upwardly mobile. Hiring a chef to come into one’s home to personalize a multi-course meal is a delightful experience. If the chef happens to be as personable, entertaining, and knowledgeable about food and wine as Chef Jay DeLong of Canapé Speciality Chef Services, your experience is guaranteed to be superb.

From upstate New York watching his mom cook at home as a child and licking the wooden spoon in her kitchen to learning how to grill for the family, Chef Jay’s impressive culinary career that led him to the Seattle area is grounded by strong culinary influences. From classical French training, dedication to creating dishes using fresh seasonal ingredients, to providing satisfying client services, and teaching at a local college, Chef Jay is the consummate professional.

Recorded in 2013, Chef Jay allowed fromacloud to interview him before he began personal chef services on an early fall evening. Watch snippets of Chef Jay’s preparation and listen to him describe his amazing gastronomic journey.

Learn more about Chef Jay DeLong and his culinary services: http://www.canapechefservices.com

Ann Levorn

Sachal Vasandani July 2013

 

“There’s always space in your heart for love”

In 2014, it’s refreshing to know that Jazz still lives. Many people can name the male jazz singing greats from the past—Nat King Cole, Sammy Davis, Jr., Billy Eckstine, Frank Sinatra, or Tony Bennett. Others can name those from the past who sang the American standards including Bing Crosby, Mel Torme, Steve Lawrence, and Johnny Mathis to mention a few. Thankfully, a contemporary voice in today’s jazz and standards music world, Sachal Vasandani, reflects the influences of his predecessors. Although Mr. Vasandani pays homage to the past in his vocal styling, he simultaneously imprints the music he sings, writes, and composes with his own distinctive cadence and phraseology.

During the summer of 2013, Sachal Vasandani participated as an instructor and performer during the Centrum Jazz Port Townsend Festival. The annual event celebrating the arts in Port Townsend, Washington is more than MainStage performances, but a well designed celebration of the arts through education, multigenerational and diverse activities and events, which occur throughout the year.

Various workshops covering different art genres provide “…artists and creative thinkers from around the world, students of all ages and backgrounds, and audiences seeking extraordinary cultural enrichment” common ground (Centrum.org, 2013). The concerts, workshops, and artist residencies take place at Fort Worden State Park in Port Townsend, Washington (http://www.parks.wa.gov/511/Fort-Worden).

Mr. Vasandani lent his talent not only to teach during Jazz Port Townsend, but he also performed on the mainstage as well as in an intimate setting at the Manresa Castle in Port Townsend, established in 1892 as a private home of a local businessman (www.manresacastle.com). fromacloud had the pleasure of interviewing Sachal Vasandani in between sets at the Castle.

Credit – Music courtesy of Sachal Vasandani

Ann Levorn

Breasts, Killing, and American Television

Breasts, Killing, and American Television

Recently on the Arsenio Hall Show, some cast members from the reality show, VH1’s Basketball Wives LA graced Arsenio’s couch. The ladies included Draya, Malaysia, and Brandi.

When the ladies walked onto the stage to take their seats, I thought something went wrong with my eyes. Each lady had a white blurred oval on the front of their bodies in the chest area, and at first, the blurry areas did not automatically register in my brain. Then I realized, the network was covering their breasts.

They must have been wearing attire that revealed more of their breasts than the network was comfortable showing. Perhaps the network was afraid of possible litigation because too much breast would be exposed on late night television offending Arsenio’s audience, and Superbowl magnitude lawsuits would ensue for showing forbidden breasts.

Bullshit.

We cannot seem to escape the barrage of what I call, the killer shows. The killer shows aka crime shows come in so many variations one cannot keep them straight. The cop shows, the mind-reader, the investigators, police in sleepy hollows, horror stories, vampires, CSI in multiple cities in the U.S., doctors who murder, old school Sherlock Holmes gone new school…death galore. Death in hospitals, in the military, revenge deaths, murder in the early days of the Catholic church, we cannot escape all the shooting, stabbing, asphyxiation, and all other manners of killing and death that are spoon fed to us like our favorite ice cream.

Not to forget, all the raping and killing of women. Abduction of women and girls. In 2013, there were over 75 television shows that either centered on finding killers, preventing a killing, or saving someone from being killed after having been tortured. Somehow this steady diet of murder and mayhem is fine with the networks. Do network executives believe women are as disposable as the shows they order season after season?

Yes, it’s hard to escape the gun-filled, killing shows on television. I admit, there are a few I watch because the story lines involve more than murder. However, there are so many I cannot watch. I have a daughter, I have a sister, I have female friends. The thoughts such shows plant in one’s mind about if a particular scenario would happen to someone you care about can be disturbing. Nevertheless, killer shows are televised 24-7.

Showing breasts? Oh, we must be careful about that on television. Those dirty, disgusting breasts of women can only be displayed within certain measured allowances. Wouldn’t want to offend the viewing audience with the natural state of a woman’s body. Unless she’s being tortured, kidnapped, raped….or murdered. Of course, a man can walk around shirtless on every show without a problem. No blurry areas on male chests.

What is the message we send young people who watch all this murder stuff about men and women’s bodies, and what is acceptable in American society? In many European countries, nudity is a regular part of television. People don’t freak out because they see breasts, or a female pubic area.

The networks’ hypocritical assessment of what is offensive, what they are protecting us from is laughable, and insulting. I’d rather see some beautiful women’s breasts, sitting up perky, or hanging down low than to watch another murderous act, or someone trying to find the killer, or trying to save another woman from an abductor.

When you communicate to young people that something is wrong with a female’s nude body, but still exploit the female nude body in certain situations, no wonder America is so conflicted about female nudity, sensuality, and sexuality.

Ann Levorn

Goodbye Luxury

Goodbye Luxury

Every year end people come up with a list of words to banish from popular lexicon. I hope in 2014 we leave behind the word “Luxury,” and those who sell so-called “Luxury” immediately take note.

Merriam-Webster defines luxury as, “a condition or situation of great comfort, ease, and wealth…something that is expensive and not necessary…something that is helpful or welcome, and that is not usually or always available” (Merriam-Webster.com, 2013).

During at least the last two decades, the increasing use and misuse of the word has taken on a laughable quality. If luxury were a person, she, or he would be a caricature with an exaggerated physical appearance and an unrecognizable faux accent. According to Merriam-Webster, the origin of luxury is traced to the 14th century, and Anglo-French roots translate luxury to mean excess (Merriam-Webster.com, 2013). Granted, luxury definitely applies to a category of consumables that fit a certain profile. However, the term’s application now includes all sorts of consumables that do not necessarily communicate the meaning or original purpose as a descriptor of all things in excess.

Examples that come to mind including upgraded apartments that are called condos and now qualify as luxury because appliances may be a step-up from the low-end is baffling to a logical mind. Mediocrity labeled as luxury is now the norm. An inflated price point, but shoddy material is passed off as luxury in clothing, cars, housing…almost anything imaginable marketers label, luxury.

A place to live is not a luxury or excessive. Not for the average person. Of course, there are people in the world who can afford to purchase overpriced and unnecessary consumables. However, the mainstreaming of the world luxury to apply to everyday necessities is a strange development. Take the apartment example again. Across the U. S., the gentrification of urban neighborhoods have replaced affordable living with luxury living, and as a result, those who lived in the neighborhoods become displaced because they lack the financial means to join the luxury club.

Unfortunately, the capitalistic nature of a contemporary society anchored in consumerism creates the perfect storm. Few people will probably decline an opportunity to live in comfortable surroundings or buy convenience if they can, but those things are relative. What may be luxurious to one person can be considered common to another, it’s all a matter of marketing, perspective, and disposable income. When a company slaps the word luxury on a product that lacks the qualities befitting the label, we should resist the temptation to fall for such illusions.

Let’s work on redefining what luxury really means and stop accepting the most mundane items like appliances as luxury items instead of nicer than average functional tools.

Luxury RIP, please.

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