Monday, February 23, 2009

The Genesis of Ideas.

Edinburgh is a beautiful city, even on the dampest and mistiest of days. I fully understand why it is called The Athens of the North and fostered the Scottish Enlightenment (and a vast number of inventions which shaped our modern world). But, these days it is packed with politicians, students, financiers, and a steady stream of tourists. For those of us who are creative souls, the place comes alive in the quiet of midnight - the congestion of the day melts away into solitude and thoughts with a backdrop of historic buildings lit up for show. Those of you who know this 'nome well, know I get a little cranky without my walks. It is when I clear my head, let my subconscious work on problems, and create ideas. I tend to walk home, down the Royal Mile, with the company of a fox most evenings...

So, a few months ago when Queensland Tourism advertised what they billed as the "Best Job in the World: Island Caretaker for the Great Barrier Reef" it seemed like a great idea to apply. Only catch, unlike the traditional job applications I can complete in my sleep, this one required a 60-second video spot with a six week application window.

Daunted by the challenge at first, I thought, why not give it a go... Worst that could happen, I don't get it. And so, a personal gauntlet was thrown down. Over the course of the past 4 weeks, I have had an amazing journey of growth and creativity. I started with a simple goal, create something that is ME and was determined not to talk to the computer like the majority of the applicants I sampled.

Along the way I've learned technical skills - how to run a video camera, performed tape to digital transfers, and played with sophisticated editing software (a la iMovie '09 and Adobe Premier Pro). On the creative front, the idea has matured - first it was something like Jerry Maguire, then Forrest Gump, then old Travelocity ads and a memorable piece of music, arriving ultimately at the brand I have been developing for myself since 2006 "The Roaming 'Nome" and a little help from my friend's answers to the following question, "If you had to describe me in 10 words, what would you say?" I learned about the Great Barrier Reef, explored my vast library of photographs (both print and digital), listened to hours of random music on the Internet until I found a track I loved, and developed a renewed awe at the wacky world I choose to inhabit.

In the end, Queensland Tourism either received 22 copies of my application, or zero, depending on how the server was feeling; it was jammed from the over 34,684 entries they received. To be honest, I'm actually not that bothered if they didn't get it, or rejected it because their content monitor decided it was 61 seconds long. (Although, if they did, and I got the job, that would be fantastic and you are all invited to share the pool!) I had the most amazing experience putting the piece together that I wouldn't trade it for all the tea in China.

Below find my endeavor in its entirety (the application is slightly shorter on the 'credits'). To those who provided support and inspiration over this past month, I am sincerely in your debt. To the wider world, I challenge you to put yourself out there every day - it doesn't have to be something grand and earth shattering, but it should stretch your limits and broaden your horizons.

Living the adventure, The Roaming 'Nome

Sunday, February 15, 2009

A Groundhog, Lincoln, and Darwin.

After a busy year of gnome-ing, I took a much needed holiday from my adventures and journeyed west to visit friends and family. Sadly, the rather routine 15 hours from Edinburgh to Seattle turned into an epic 33 hours filled with missed flights, interesting passengers, and weather! At one point Delta wanted me to get through security in Atlanta without issuing me a boarding pass. Luckily I wasn’t apprehended for such shenanigans.

As the plane rolled into the gate in Seattle, the snowflakes began… We had almost 2.5feet in a little over 24 hours effectively snowing me in.

I had the opportunity to spend some quality time with my main squeeze – my fiery haired nephew Donovan; teaching him the cool things in life including cooking, dancing, and taking pictures. I bought him a cute little toy camera a few years ago and he caught on pretty quick. When I left he was saying, “Smile.”; “Take a picture?”; “Say cheese.” I’m certain that although endearing to me, its probably lost its charm with his parents. But, that’s what cool aunts do!

2008 was a big year for this wee gnome! I published a book. I was awarded a PhD. I adventured. And, in the end, three of my photos were published in the local science magazine – EUSci. (Check out pages 19 and 28 of Issue 2.) Ultimately, 2008 left without much fuss at all, although this crimson sky left me a bit apprehensive about the year ahead… It will be a year of changes for this gnome. Big ones!

After a few delays, I returned to Edinburgh just in time for the Groundhog to see his shadow. Shortly there after, the UK began experiencing its coldest and snowiest weather in almost 20 years. While crippling London, Edinburgh got just a dusting of snow, and that is more than enough for this gnome (originally from the land of sun). I admit, a couple days in a row I did take the longer route into the office to capture these images. Who knows when we’ll see the white stuff again?

My backyard complete with snowmen.

One of the classical views of this most classical city.

On to a mildly educational, but certainly entertaining thought. While in the US, major hay was made of the 200th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth, 12 February. Interestingly, Darwin was also born 200 years ago on the same day. It got me to thinking about chance. What are the chances that two men, who would have such a profound effect on the human condition, would be born on the same day? I wonder what they would have said to each other if they could have met during the 1830s? And, how different would the world be if neither had been born? I reckon the Flying Spaghetti Monster might be fact had Darwin not written On The Origins of Species. Although, there may be some scientific basis to global warming and the loss of pirates!

To celebrate Darwin’s 200th, Edinburgh has chosen to use the annual ‘One City, One Book’ initiative to continue the debate about evolution. As a means of a very short recap – Edinburgh is a world heritage City of Literature. Each February we promote literacy and our rich heritage by handing out hundreds of free copies of the book of choice. I invite you to join me in reading the book of the month – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World. For more information, please visit One Book One City 2009.

I'll leave you with undoubtedly my favorite view of Edinburgh: