Long before the Internet, TED Conferences, and South by Southwest, new ideas and innovations were introduced at the World’s Fairs. Countries, companies and individuals participated in order to learn from one another, fan the flame of customer demand and move the needle of progress forward. The World’s Fairs exhibit at the Kansas City Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art provides the back story on these events, which shaped the modern world.

The inspiration provided by the World's Fairs challenged manufacturers to create jewelry from new metals, such as aluminum.

Innovation in science and technology: Innovative manufacturing technologies and materials, such as plastic, synthetic rubber, poloyester and Plexiglas were showcased at the World’s Fairs.

British porcelain manufacturers were inspired by Indian textiles presented in World's Fair displays.

Cross-cultural influences: As one example of this, Prince Albert pushed for London to host the 1851 World’s Fair because he wanted to raise the level of design in his country by exposing artisans to the work of other countries. For example, British manufacturers were inspired by Indian metal work and textiles, which is reflected in this vase.

National pride: Finland was trying to break away from Russia at the turn of the century so the pieces the country entered in the 1902 World’s Fair in Turin features Finnish motifs.

Style: Japanese style was first introduced to the rest of the world at the World’s Fair in 1855. Prior to that, much of the world had no exposure to this mysterious country. The Z Clock, which debuted and the 1933 World's Fair in Chicago, introduced sleek modern style that used less materials and lowered production costs.

History: Many objects presented at the World’s Fairs used the modern manufacturing techniques of the time paired with classical designs of another era.

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Make It Count: A Cool Video

by Cathy on April 12, 2012 · 0 comments

in Ideas,Travel

Actor and director Casey Neistat was hired by Nike to make a video with the theme “Make It Count.” Instead, he used the money to travel the world with his friend Max until the money ran out. (Smart man!) The resulting video he created is pretty amazing but then, hey, I love to travel. I also love the inspiring quotes that appear in the video.

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We took the same Carnival Cruise twice, three years apart, and booked two wildly different shore excursions in Progresso, Mexico. The first excursion was tourism at its worst — local merchants constantly pestering us to buy cheap souvenirs as we attempted to sunbathe on the beach. This most recent excursion was a grand adventure, rich with local culture, beauty and physical activities. (Though the scuba nightmare and the human sacrifices lent a chilling air to the experience!)

Our excursion began with an hour van ride to a small Mayan village. (Yes, the Mayan people still exist!) A primitive dirt road wound its way past simple, side-by-side shacks and led to our first stop, a bicycle shop, We hopped on mountain bikes and trekked along bumpy paths through the jungle to a cenote — a natural sinkhole filled with crystal clear water. The cenote resembles a water-filled cave with stalagtites and stalagmites.

The Yucatán Peninsula is the site of the largest series of cenotes in the world. Two creepy facts: First, the ancient Mayans performed ritual (as in human!) sacrifices at the cenotes and just a few days before our visit, a scuba diver got lost in the vast array of underwater caves, never to be seen again. Thankfully, our snorkeling in the cenote was not nearly that dramatic. Before we jumped in the water, a Mayan shaman “blessed” our adventure with a Mayan prayer. Then he told us just a bit about the local plants and herbs he used to cure a host of physical maladies among the local villagers. An interesting guy!

After a bit of snorkeling, we pedaled to a larger cenote and snorkeled there. Then, we hopped back on our bikes and pedaled through the jungle to an open-air cottage with a thatch roof. Here the local Mayans fixed us a tasty, authentic Mexican lunch. (And no, we did not get sick eating it because they washed all the produce with bottled water.)

The van ride back to the cruise port found many of us dozing. We were exhausted but man, it was a good adventure! If you take the Carnival Cruise to the Yucatán Peninsula, be sure to book the Biking and Cenote Snorkeling Expedition.

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The next time you travel to New Orleans, plan to stay at a charming historic hotel that is a destination in itself — the Hotel Monteleone in the French Quarter. This ornately furnished gem is only one of three hotels named a literary landmark by the Friends of the Library Association. (The others are the Plaza and the Algonquin in NYC). My family and I spent the night there a few nights ago under the same roof that once sheltered Tennessee Williams, Eudora Welty, Ernest Hemingway, Truman Capote, and a long list of famed southern writers. The Hotel Moteleone wasn’t just a place to hang their hats — it figured into the lives and writings of many literary greats. Here is a sampling:

Nobel prize winner Ernest Hemingway covered the Spanish Civil War as a journalist and the Hotel Monteleone is proudly memorialized in his short story “Night Before Battle”, which takes place during that war.

Truman Capote was fond of telling interviewers that he was born at the Hotel Monteleone. Actually, his mother stayed at the hotel leading up to his birth and the hotel staff transported her to a local hospital to give birth.

Rebecca Wells, author of the Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood, features the Hotel Moteleone in her novel Little Alters Everywhere.

In addition to the Nobel Prize and a Pulitzer Prize, William Faulkner received the Legion of Honor Award and was interviewed at the Hotel Monteleone by New Orleans newspaper columnist, Albert Goldstein. Faulkner biographer Joseph Blotner has written that the Monteleone was Faulkner’s favorite hotel.

Eudora Welty, born in Jackson, Mississippi, in 1909, is best known as a Southern writer of short stories and novels (although she also worked professionally as a photographer). During her lifetime she was the recipient of numerous awards, including several O. Henry Awards and the Pulizter Prize. The Hotel Monteleone’s famous Carousel Piano Bar and Lounge is immortalized in her short story, The Purple Hat.

Playwright and novelist Tennessee Williams first visited the Hotel Monteleone as a young child, and always claimed it was his favorite hotel. He was so enamored of it that he included it in his play The Rose Tattoo.

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I was incredibly disappointed that Viola Davis didn’t win the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in The Help. One parent’s humorous take on the best picture nominees, however, lessened the pain a bit. Pretty clever!

The Help

 

Hugo:

 

The Artist

 

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Searching the web on my iPhone has been a lesson in frustration. I don’t want to see a bunch of random text links that may or may not deliver the information I need. I want quick access to relevant information that is optimized for mobile, rather than just repackaging the PC experience … and Leap2 Navigator delivers.

Leap2, available for both the iPhone and Android, links search results with direct web browsing. Here are its features:

  • The Query Wheel categorizes search results.
  • The Category Search Selector accesses related news, buzz, images, local information, maps and answer information.
  • Direct-to-Web takes you directly to web content for the top three results, rather than providing a search results text list.
  • The Tabbed Browser allows you to select from one of the top three search results. The tabs provide full browser capability.

Take a look at the product demo:

http://youtu.be/d4WSKMJn7sI

For example, I typed “Kauffman Foundation” in the search box. The query wheel shows “Kauffman Foundation” as the main selection but also lists related topics above and below on the wheel, such as the FastTrac program (entrepreneurship training offered by the foundation) and the Kauffman Foundation Conference Center (which hosts entrepreneurship business conferences in Kansas City). The bottom half of the screen has tabs to related sites. If you click on a tab, the corresponding web page appears.

What’s next for this Kansas City-based startup? They are brainstorming around taking the idea in the other direction — integrating the mobile experience to the laptop or tablet. Very cool!

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How We Learn Has Changed and Why it Matters

by Cathy on January 29, 2012 · 0 comments

in Ideas

Maybe my antennae is up but a common theme keeps emerging. I attended a volunteer training session at an art museum and the main message was that people now learn information in new ways. Therefore, the museum was implementing creative methods to engage visitors. A month ago, a client hired me to pull together research and write a white paper about the fact that religious institutions must engage the emerging generation in new ways. Why? They learn differently than previous generations. Then I read an article that explained the technology that college professors were employing in the classroom to connect with students. Why? They learn differently than previous generations. Each group cited different research but the findings were the same. You can learn from the principles below every time you are asked to speak before a group, lead a meeting, direct a team, connect with a group of teenagers, participate in a volunteer organization or seek to broaden your own learning.

1. The Lecture is Dead. The days when a teacher could engage a young audience in a 60-minute lecture with no visuals, just endless blah, blah, blah, are over.  NPR ran a segment recently in which some college physics professors (of all people!) realized that students weren’t learning physics through the lecture method. What these professors found was that …
2. Peer Learning is In. The professors spent just a few minutes at the beginning of class imparting basic physics information. Then the students broke into teams to explore the concepts further and learn from each other. (Listen to the following link if you want to learn more:  NPR: Lose the Lecture ) It worked. The entire class began understanding physics and doing well on the tests.
3. Technology is Huge. Whether you are tech savvy or not, the truth remains. Most learning in the present and future will involve technology. Educators are using a variety of tools to engage students and expand learning. Journalism students are using tablets to record interviews, edit and upload their audio files, and create story segments. University classes have created wiki sites where students can contribute and update information pertinent to the course. Professors are presenting material via podcasts and students are creating their own content using the same. HotSeat, which integrates with a student’s Twitter and Facebook accounts, allows students to post related information and questions during a college lecture to add to the information being shared. Professors can also use HotSeat to take a real-time reading of whether students are understanding the presentation to make adjustments as they present. Also, heavy, expensive and static textbooks are being replaced by interactive, constantly current electronic text books. Take a look …

4. Self-Learning is King. The model for learning has changed with the changing economic model. The agricultural society was the era of apprenticeship when people learned from their elders. The industrial age was the era of the institution when public schools became the norm. Now, we live in information age, which is the era of the learner in which the individual engages in self-directed learning. The teacher or leader is merely a facilitator and much information is imparted by software/technology. The new learning tools are portable devices, apps, video and 3D experiences and conferences/web content.

How are YOU learning and facilitating learning in this new world?

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Work/Life Balance: Seven Fun Ideas

by Cathy on January 20, 2012 · 0 comments

in Ideas

Many of us — myself included — make a living at a computer keyboard. I love technology as much as the next person but please, we need a little work/life balance here! If your idea of a full life has been reduced to watching your favorite TV show (we have all been there!), you may need to shake things up a bit. Here are seven ideas I’m putting into play within the next few weeks. Feel free to copy or come up with your own plans to break the mid-winter blahs.

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Two Tasty, Healthy Breakfast Recipes

by Cathy on January 17, 2012 · 0 comments

in Food

If you are trying to get your health on track for the new year, eating a healthy breakfast is a huge step in the right direction. These two recipes are tasty, healthy and easy to make. In fact, one only takes minutes to assemble. Using Greek yogurt, which is loaded with protein, will fill you up, though you could serve either recipe with a scrambled or hard-boiled egg for good measure. Both recipes contain fruit, whole grains, low-fat dairy and protein, which is a balanced meal.

Healthy Breakfast Muffins
Ingredients:
3 cups Fruit and Fiber (or other whole grain flake cereal)
1/2 cup whole wheat flour and 1/2 cup of white flour
1/2 cup of brown sugar
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 egg
1 cup of low-fat vanilla Greek yogurt
1/4 cup of canola oil
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/4 cup of dried cranberries
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 12 muffin cups. Combine dry ingredients and mix well. Add rest of ingredients and mix well. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups. Bake for 25 minutes. Enjoy!

 

Breakfast Parfait
Ingredients:
1/2 cup of berries strawberries, blueberries and/or raspberries
1/2 cup of Low-fat vanilla Greek yogurt
1/2 cup of low-fat granola
Directions: Layer each of the ingredients in a parfait glass. That’s it! You DO have time to make breakfast!

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Fashionable for Less

by Cathy on January 14, 2012 · 0 comments

in Fashion,Ideas

Winter is well underway and if you are like me, you are looking for a few items to jazz up your wardrobe. Mid winter also offers some great shopping bargains, and boy, do I love finding cute clothes for less. Check out a couple of pieces I found recently.

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