Wednesday, February 25, 2009

my life as a ruthless mogul

Okay, I haven't spoken about myself lately, mainly because I've been extraordinarily busy.

"But Astrid," I hear you say, "what could possibly be keeping you so busy that you can't keep informing me, your devoted public? I love you, I revere you, I demand details of what you had for breakfast today. Also, I may or may not have resorted to going through your garbage to stay caught up on things."

The answer, dear public, comprises the following:

Art stuff
Biotech stuff
MBA stuff
Personal stuff

In other words, I was at the ASC open house and volunteering at the SOC awards. I'm project managing grants and working on new designs for Menssana. I'm gearing up for going back to school in the fall to get my MBA at UC Irvine. I've been hanging out with old friends, and occasionally new ones. As for breakfast, I still haven't been eating it, to the chagrin of my oatmeal-and-grapefruit-oriented parents; I'm just going to be hungry again by lunch, right? Duh.

A little more about the MBA thing: there are so many signs pointing to this being a good idea, it's almost ridiculous. First of all, I'm a naive artist who's been screwed out of more paychecks than I'd care to contemplate, and that officially ends now. Second of all, I know plenty of fantastically talented people with great business ideas and zero business sense who could use my MBA brilliance. Third of all, Menssana's doing well and could use more business help. Fourth of all, being back in school means I get crazy-awesome student discounts on stuff, plus it's a great excuse to talk to lots of different people doing fascinating things and figure out how we can all collaborate.

Astrid's MBA keywords: visual storytelling, technology, health, user experience, clog dancing, constructive social change, entrepreneurship, women's empowerment, Martin Dupont. If you can think of ways I can combine all of these things and make tons of money in the process, write to me immediately. Venture capital seems to be the best bet right now.

Speaking of the Merage School of Business at UCI: Do you know the Paul Merage story? Here are the highlights:

- He invented the Hot Pocket. (You could argue that the turnover had existed well before Merage came along, but he apparently perfected the recipe so that it could stay crisp after microwaving.)

- He sold his Hot Pocket empire to Nestlé for a hot $2.6 billion, which he probably did not stash in his pocket.

- He earned his MBA at UC Berkeley, but did he choose to endow it with $30 million from his Nestlé deal? No indeedy, he gave his Hot Pocket millions to UC Irvine. Why? Did he hate Berkeley that much? Or is UCI really that awesome?

- Some of that Hot Pocket money is going toward an MBA fellowship for a pocket-sized gal named Astrid Phillips. I don't know about you, but the thought of a Hot Pocket MBA fellowship just slays me.

- Mr. Merage also puts a chunk of his change toward a summer film program for high schoolers at Chapman University.

What can we take away from this? I think it's obvious: Mr. Merage loves Hot Pockets, education, film, and me. As far as I'm concerned, the man is better than holograms, SpongeBob, dark chocolate, and sunshine COMBINED. And you know that's some serious stuff.

Take us away, Mr. Dupont:

greenwash and bushfires

First [from, via ENN]:

Sin of the Hidden Trade-Off: e.g. “Energy-efficient” electronics that contain hazardous materials. 998 products or 57% of all environmental claims committed this Sin.

Sin of No Proof: e.g. Shampoos claiming to be “certified organic,” but with no verifiable certification. 454 products and 26% of environmental claims committed this Sin.

Sin of Vagueness: e.g. Products claiming to be 100% natural when many naturally-occurring substances are hazardous, like arsenic and formaldehyde. Seen in 196 products or 11% of environmental claims.

Sin of Irrelevance: e.g. Products claiming to be CFC-free, even though CFCs were banned 20 years ago. This Sin was seen in 78 products and 4% of environmental claims.

Sin of Fibbing: e.g. Products falsely claiming to be certified by an internationally recognized environmental standard like EcoLogo, Energy Star or Green Seal. Found in 10 products or less than 1% of environmental claims.

Sin of Lesser of Two Evils: e.g. Organic cigarettes or “environmentally friendly” pesticides, This occurred in 17 products or 1% of environmental claims.


Bushfire Talk by friend Bruce Williams, based in North Warrandyte, Australia. It's horrifying how little information is available to those in bushfire-prone areas, and Bruce has just set up a site to discuss safety strategies and tactics. If you know someone in a hot, dry climate (Malibu in a month or two?), point them over here.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

innovation and Estelle Getty

Harvard Business Review: Breakthrough Ideas for 2009 (thanks to Hugh McGrory for sending this to me) - A lot of good stuff here. I'm especially looking forward to the printable solar cells, plus I always enjoy learning new ways to manipulate-- er, interact with my peers.

On a completely unrelated note, because that's how I like my notes: I was watching "Golden Girls" earlier today (shuddup, I was waiting for a beast of an NIH grant proposal to load), and when Bea Arthur asked Estelle Getty about being paid in cash, Getty said "No! In pistachio nuts!" Needless to say, this totally made my afternoon. Ms. Getty, you made sassiness look easy and will forever remain an icon for me; RIP.

Because it's wreckable, alright? [a YouTube essay]

Are we ruled by an oligarchy of banks? Is our government too close to the banks to properly regulate them? Do we need to chop up a few of the companies which were "too big to fail?" Bill Moyers & Simon Johnson have a very interesting chat about this.

Which tangentially reminds me of this:

But more importantly, there's this:

And this:

What will be the future of our awesome republic?

Do I really want Kevin Costner to be my mailman?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

cheese, cheese, that's what I love

Here we are, already into February, and this is my first blog entry for 2009. Why, you ask? Because I have been too busy having adventures to bother writing about them. Someday, I will write about those adventures. Right now, however, I need you to listen to this song about cheese.

(NB: I hate ReverbNation's blog widgets, since I can't figure out how to embed one song alone, but Jenn Beast is totally worth the agony.)


I really like "Wish" too, but seriously, I'm all about the cheese.

[Thanks to Paynie at breadbuttercheesevictory for the tip.]