This view + cocktails + friends = perfect nightcap. 🙂 (thx @MickDarling!)

Taken at Rooftop @ 75 Wall Street

update on yesterday’s high altitude jump: 99 seconds of freefall and getting past the fear to get to the beautiful…

So I did my first high altitude jump yesterday (from 23,000 feet!). I was nervous and excited. More nervous than usual – maybe because I hadn’t jumped in a couple of months, or maybe because it was a new, scary thing, or some combination of both. After our organizer, Marius, briefed us on the procedures, Peter, Mark and I decided to do a 3-way formation, or rather, we would try to do some semblance of a formation, and have fun in the process. 😉

It was cold, around 50 degrees on the ground (10 degrees celsius), which means it was a good 40 degrees colder or so at altitude. Getting bundled up, I rushed to the rig shop where my reserve was just finished being re-packed (a maintenance procedure that’s required every 180 days). There was a little drama because the rigger had misunderstood and didn’t realize I needed my rig ready that early, so I almost didn’t make the jump because it was still being re-packed (the spring was still out when I rushed in to get it with a 10-minute call time!).

The ride up to altitude was surprisingly quick, probably because it was a light load/not many people were on board. Around 15,000 feet, Marius told us to put our oxygen tubes on (the oxygen is needed because the air is thinner up there). This is me, smiling/biting my oxygen tubes on the ride up, which I then switched to my nose, where, logically, it worked better.

Around 22,360 feet, the green light went on and the door opened. Incredibly cold air rushed in, and Peter, Mark and I piled into the doorway. I find that once I get out of the plane, all the fear melts away, and as I stand at the door ready to jump, it’s like a small meditation – you can’t jump with your fears and stresses, so quite literally, you have to leave them at the door, and just jump!

Because the air is thinner at higher altitudes, your body (and the usual stable arched position) tends not to be as stable and so there was a bit of flailing around at first, but then we were able to stabilize and fly with each other. We were in a circle then did a 360 degree turn, then Peter and I linked up again while Mark flew toward us, coming into his slot in our formation. For some strange reason, with 10,000 feet still left in the jump and Mark coming into his slot, Peter broke off and flew away. I’d like to blame it on hypoxia and say that he didn’t get enough oxygen thru those tubes, but really I think it’s just his regular ADHD. 😉

In any case, there was still tons of air time left so I tracked away and played around a bit, enjoying the horizon and the freefall, making my way back to the dropzone and landing safely within it. We clocked 99 seconds of freefall time, which is an amazing amount of freefall! It makes me wonder how much freefall time I could get with my wingsuit! I bet I could double that.

All in all, a great first high altitude jump and am happy to have shared it with friends on one of my fave dropzones, Skydive City…and a good reminder that you sometimes have to get past the fear, to get to the beautiful stuff. Check out the 10 Commandments of Skydiving: starting with”Be brave” all the way down to “Be joyous” – IMO, it’s a lovely life philosophy, regardless of whether you’re a skydiver or not. Blue skies!

Nom factor of 10 on a cold day: hot chocolate w a heart in the milky middle

Posted from: 26-28 Washington Square North, USAFrom Third Rail Coffee, one of my fave coffee joints in the city: nom factor of 10 on a scale of 10 + staff that always cracks me up

Best.Conference.Idea.EVER: hammock-like beds overlooking the lounge area, for quick disco naps in btwn events. WIN.

There’s a dutch word that defies English translation: gezellig – which implies something like a homey, friendly, comfortable vibe – ‘cool’ in a warm way. That’s what PICNIC has been; in addition to being just downright awesome and inspiring, it’s gezellig.
I write this as I sit under the TwitterTree, kicked back on green pillows and real grass in the middle of the conference common area.


I’ve described PICNIC before as “akin to the TED conference, but funkier and in Amsterdam” – and I think the thing that sticks with me is this playful vibe, as if the city’s culture is infused within the persona of a festival focused on innovation, curiosity and creativity. Fun, it’s FUN.

Our This Spartan Life @ PICNIC show this morning went really well. Some unexpected quirks occurred, like when our guest, Dr. Gerri Sinclair, fell off the back of a cliff and was lost in space while host Damian Lacedaemion (nee Chris Burke) and in-world cameraman RealMyOp searched for her amidst the alien hills, all the while continuing the conversation about literacy in virtual worlds and video games. But that’s the beauty of a live event – foibles make it more interesting. Add a dash of mixed reality and those layers of you and your virtual self juxtaposed against the terrain of game space and “real” space – makes for a fascinating metaphor. Damian and RealMyOp eventually found Gerri, where she was hanging out on an overlook with Peter Molyneux who we introduced in Halo before he walked onstage to start his talk. The audience seemed to be having fun as well, so, all in all, a great This Spartan Life show. Here are some pics (and yes, we’ll be editing the video into an episode soon). For more pics, check out our PICNIC ‘09 Flickr set:
By the way, the Best.Conference.Idea.EVER is here: hammock-like hanging beds overlooking the lounge area, for quick disco naps in between events. WIN.
I just woke up from a 3-hour disco nap, attended the rest of the afternoon events and am ready to dance now. Bring it.



prepping for This Spartan Life – LIVE @ #PICNIC09

We’re here at PICNIC, a 3-day festival for movers and shakers in the creative and innovation fields (it’s akin to the TED conference, but funkier and in Amsterdam) – full of ideas, fun and sensory stimulation in media, technology, entertainment, art and science.

We’ve been invited to do a live version of This Spartan Life, a talk show that happens inside the videogame Halo, as part of the festival. We’ll be interviewing video game expert Dr. Gerri Sinclair, with an appearance by Peter Molyneux, creative director of Microsoft Game Studios Europe. It’s a mixed reality experience, so the audience will be seeing the show live within the Halo game, as well as in the physical space at PICNIC. The interview happens while the game is being played, so the talk show host and guests are “under fire” – dodging virtual bullets and plasma rifle-wielding aliens, while chatting about talk show topics and being projected on the screen before the audience. Described by Wired Magazine as “a mash-up of The Charlie Rose Show and Doom,” This Spartan Life combines high-brow interviews with non-stop fragging, hilarious asides and slapstick comedy.
We go on today at 9:15am in the Conference Hall in Westergasfabriek, Amsterdam, right before Peter Molyneux takes the stage. We’ve been setting up and rehearsing these last couple of days, and things have been going really well so we’re excited to bring it!

Following are some shots of prepping This Spartan Life – LIVE @ PICNIC, the festival surroundings and the Augmented City Lab which we participated in yesterday.
The Augmented City Lab focused on near-future scenarios for mobile location-aware services – great workshop hosted by Ronald Lenz. Our particular task was to figure out an “Augmented City” application that used laser tagging technology. We came up with the idea of “Augmented Branding” – adding your voice to advertisements.
Here’s how it would work:

A laser tagging station is set up in one city in front of a specific billboard. Users at the station are encouraged to tag on top of the billboard, sharing their comments on the brand, product or implications of the ad. The users’s graphic overlays are saved to an online database. This is done with a number of other billboard ads.

Other participants with cell phones download an augmented reality app. Using the app they find billboards that have been added to the database and which also exist in their city. They go to the billboard and point their cell phone camera at it. The software tracks the ad image and displays a selection of user-created overlays to view. This way users can share their thoughts on a range of advertising images in their environment.

For more workshop info, check out
…and here’s a cool augmented reality app by Lemonade, who facilitated our group during the workshop
…and when you want to chillax, you can put your feet up & tweet underneath the “TwitterTree”

from Plaza Ché, with love

Day 2 and T-3 hours till premiere tonight. As Montzerrat and I walked through the campus of the National University of Colombia this morning, I took photos of some of the graffiti on the buildings. It’s an interesting campus where students really express themselves and it’s evident in the politically charged art everywhere. In the plaza – appropriately titled “Plaza Ché” -there’s a huge image of Ché Guevara and the words: “We’re sons of the revolution. Our souls scream for liberation.”

We’re still setting up the space at the university. The lighting and additional electrical outlets were supposed to have been taken care of this morning, but surprise – they weren’t done. That’s not a diss against any of the Encuentro folks, who have been super-friendly and helpful. They’ve been bending over backwards to fix things. One of the curators that we’ve been working intensely with, Nicolas, has been an absolute doll, and so have the rest of the crew. I know it will all come together.

We’re dressing the space with various and sundry costumes, wigs, and other funky accoutrement so we and visitors to our installation/performance can create different ‘characters’ that will then be recorded into Seesmic and projected. We’ll then use these live+recorded elements to improvise live dance performances, which will then be posted to Seesmic as well, creating a recursive loop of improvised performances. I think we’ll start with projecting some of Tiil’s visual conversations since that was one of the first video conversations that inspired us to create this piece. Both Montzerrat and I love movement, improvising and philosophically questioning the boundaries of performance. The theme of the Encuentro festival is “Staging Citizenship” – so it seems a perfect time and space to be staging our own performance that crosses the borders between on and offline citizenship, from Plaza Ché, with love.

hello from La Candelaria in Bogota & the adorably cute flat we’re staying in

Hello from Bogota! Montzerrat and I are prepping for the Encuentro Festival where we’re premiering Firsthand performances, a multimodal project that fuses physical and online performance and explores performance as dialogue, live and within Seesmic. More on that later, we’re running off to set up the space at the National University of Colombia. Here are some pics of the adorably cute apartment we’re staying in. It’s in La Candelaria, a neighborhood that’s said to be very ‘la boheme’ – an artsy, older part of the city, like the East Village (there’s my attempt to fit everything into New York-centric stereotypes)  🙂

video & pics from Karp Cup – a fun & casual 4-way competition at Skydive Cross Keys. Our team got 2nd place in the rookie division – yay!

Video & pics of our team doing a series of four 4-way jumps for the Karp Cup ‘09 competition at Skydive Cross Keys. I’m the one with the pink and turquoise container on my back. It was a fun and casual competition, and we got 2nd place in the rookie division – yay!
Kudos to Cherie & Karl Schuch for their massive organization efforts. What I like about competitions like the Karp Cup are that they are a fun way for rookies like me to get in on the action. Those of us with not so much experience feel welcomed and it’s a nice way to learn some new moves while having fun in a competitive environment.
I had a great time and my teammates for the day – Art, Dana, Neal & our cameraguy Dan – were awesome. Special thanks to Neal for showing us the ropes and sharing his 8,000+ jump knowledge. The only wonky thing that happened that day was that on my 4th jump, I had a cutaway (cutaway my main parachute and flew my reserve in) and landed at a golf course next door, but the golfers were really friendly and helpful, and my main parachute and free bag were immediately found, so all in all, it was the best situation for a cutaway scenario.
Later that evening, dinner and drinks and partying ensued around the tiki bar, and the awards were given for the competition along with raffle prizes. Cherie also announced the formation of CK Blue, which will be an ad hoc competitive team. The way it works, as I understand it, is that experienced skydivers who want to compete but don’t have the extra 200-300 hours to dedicate to training, can join CK Blue and compete as a team, without having to commit to practicing. It’s like no-strings-attached competition – I love it! Good luck to all those who join. Enjoy the pics and vid (both by Dan Ortiz). Blue skies!

video of our four 4-way jump series here:

thx to @rikomatic for another great talk on Global Kids’ SL edu projects & taking Virtual Learning Environments studts on a tour

shots from @rikomatic’s talk with my Virtual Learning Environments students. Here he’s taking them on a tour of some of the Global Kids’ projects like I Dig Tanzania and a Roma Archaeological site.

Russell Shorto on dutch history of NY & the Island: mobile GPS game connecting players in NY/Amsterdam #PICNICNY