Archive | August 2009

Daily Inspiration #31: Turns Out You Can Trust Strangers

Snap Happy in Snowdonia, Wales

Snap Happy in Snowdonia, Wales

“A student left a camera on a picturesque mountaintop in Snowdonia, Wales in an experiment into human trust.

Paul Bellis Jones, 24, left a note with the camera near the summit of Mount Tryfan, instructing walkers to take a picture then leave it for the next person.

He was keen to know if the camera would be returned to his home in Glan Conwy, near Llandudno, as per his instructions, of if it would be stolen instead.

Thankfully for Mr Jones, over 30 ramblers took photographs of themselves at the beauty spot, which overlooks two large rocks near the summit.

When the film ran out four days later, the camera was personally returned to his house by a National Park warden.

The student, who left the camera and accompanying note in a sealed bag, launched the experiment in mid-May.

He said: ‘I was speaking to a friend who said you can’t trust anyone, anywhere these days.

‘I didn’t want to believe that so I set up this experiment to found out what might happen and proved you can trust people.’ ”

Read more at Mail Online

Daily Inspiration #30: South Pole – Most Exciting Classroom on Earth? Definitely the Most Dangerous.

This Friday’s daily inspiration is brought to by Micah Cratty, Rob Fried’s Assistant

In December 2008, three adventurers traveled to Antarctica to try and break the record for fastest unassisted trek to the South Pole. (I was working as an intern at Outside Magazine at the time, and I had the opportunity to write an online series chronicling their expedition.)

snow expedition

The expedition team.

Ray Zahab, Richard Weber, and Kevin Vallely dragged 170 pound sleds 700 miles over 34 days in the least hospitable place on Earth. They gained 10,000 feet of elevation during the trip, traveled through blizzards, and nearly fell in deep ice chasms. But none of that stopped them.

In the end they broke the record by nearly six days. But what’s really inspiring to me is not the harrowing trip itself.

Via text message and satellite phone, Ray, Richard and Kevin were in constant contact with thousands of school children across the world during their adventure. After a hard day of trekking or cross-country skiing, perhaps just when they wanted to collapse in their tents out of exhaustion, they took the time to answer questions from the school kids that had been sent to them in text messages.

The Mezi Community School congratulates the team.

The Mezi Community School congratulates the team.

Their goal was to inspire the kids to attempt the impossible, and in the process they transformed the South Pole into one of the most exciting classrooms on earth.

You can read the school kids’ questions and listen to the expedition team’s answers from the trek at the Student Q&A section at South Pole Quest.

You can read Micah’s Q&A with the expedition team after their trip at Outside Magazine.

Christmas in August: Behind the Scenes of The Gift of the Magi

The treadmill was used to create the illusion of walking.

The treadmill was used to create the illusion of walking.

Sure, it’s 110 degrees in the Valley today, but why not take a moment to celebrate those things we usually do it when it’s chillier: compassion, generosity and family.

Here is our Flickr photostream for the green screen shoot for “The Gift of the Magi”, a SpiritClip based on O’Henry’s famous Christmas short story, which celebrates a poor, young couple’s love over their most prized possessions.

We shot this film in the summer of last year, so we quite literally had Christmas in the midst of summer: it got pretty hot wearing those period costumes! The actors were shot in front of a green screen so that turn of the century New York could be recreated using Visual F/X.

A still from the final film.

A still from the final film.

You can see the final product (with some pretty amazing CGI animation) of “The Gift of the Magi” at SpiritClips

Read O’Henry’s original story at Project Gutenburg

Daily Inspiration #29: Fan’s Amazing Handmade Video Better than the Professionally Produced Music Video?

Can you guess which video was made by a fan on his computer?

27-year-old Gabe Askew made the top row video for Grizzly Bear’s “Two Weeks” over the course of a few months using his computer. He’s been doing visual effects since he was 15, and it doesn’t hurt that’s he’s very talented. Since being posted by Gabe on Vimeo (a kind of upscale youtube) at the beginning of August, it’s gotten 160,000 views and counting.

On Tuesday alone, Gabe’s fan video was viewed over 40,000 times.

The bottom row video is the official video for “Two Weeks”, which stars the band and was produced by The Directors Bureau (a production company that represents Sophia Coppola, among others). It was posted on Youtube in May and as of today, it has 621,016 hits.

If Gabe’s video continues to spread virally, he could surpass the official video in views in a few weeks.

If one person can make this with only a computer and talent now, imagine what the possibilities are for the future.

Daily Inspiration #28: After Cancer Fight, Senator Ted Kennedy dies at 77

Ted Kennedy

Ted Kennedy

“Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, the liberal lion of the Senate and haunted bearer of the Camelot torch after two of his brothers fell to assassins’ bullets, has died at his home in Hyannis Port after battling a brain tumor. He was 77.

In nearly 50 years in the Senate, Kennedy served alongside 10 presidents — his brother John Fitzgerald Kennedy among them — compiling an impressive list of legislative achievements on health care, civil rights, education, immigration and more.

…To the American public, Kennedy — known to friends and foes alike simply as Ted — was best known as the last surviving son of America’s most glamorous political family, father figure and, memorably, eulogist of an Irish-American clan plagued again and again by tragedy.”

Read more at MSNBC

Daily Inspiration #27: In the Future, Trade in Your Clunker for One of These


Jory Squibb built the Moonbeam (above), which has traveled 10,000 miles and carries two passengers “if they are on good terms,” he says.

The government ended the Cash for Clunkers program yesterday, but I hope some of the ideas from these amazing hand-built and fuel efficient cars will be available when I’m in the market to replace my 2004 Toyota Matrix.

My little Toyota does OK by today’s fuel efficient standards – 30 mpg on the freeway – but is nothing compared to a whopping 100 MPG that the Moonbeam (pictured) does.

This picture was taken last weekend, when hand-built, eco-friendly cars raced across Boston as part of Greenfest 2009.

See more of these amazing cars at Gas 2.0

Daily Inspiration #26: 7-Year-Old Raises $3000 at Lemonade Stand For A Good Cause

Abby at her Lemonade Stand

Abby at her Lemonade Stand

For a 7-year-old girl, Abby sure knows how to make a difference in her community.

She wanted to help the Greenville Humane Society, an animal shelter in South Carolina, and took action by:

-Giving away her $2 from the tooth fairy and $49.02 Disneyworld money she had saved

-Raising $2300 and about $700 worth of food for dogs and cats from her lemonade stand

I don’t remember what I was doing when I was 7, but I doubt it was anything as amazing as this!

Read her story at Inc. Online

Daily Inspiration #25: Our CFO Finds His Sports Heroes Volunteering For the Special Olympics

This Friday’s Daily Inspiration is brought to you by Lorne Mattner, Chief Financial Officer at SpiritClips. Lorne is an avid volunteer for the Special Olympics year round. I’ve often wondered how does he have time to work long hours at the office and make time to give something back?

Lorne explained it to me this way:

The Santa Clarita Sharks at the Antelope Valley Special Olympic Basketball Tournament. <p> Lorne is wearing the red cap in the back row.

The Santa Clarita Sharks at the Antelope Valley Special Olympic Basketball Tournament. Lorne wears the red cap in the back row.

“Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt”

This is the oath recited prior to every Special Olympic event.

After ten years as a Special Olympics coach, I will tell you that I have never seen athletes as brave as those I’ve coached in the Special Olympics. I regard them as my heroes.

Every week, I look forward to practice. I draw energy from their determination and effort.  It’s what encourages me to make it through my hectic weekly schedule.  When asked how I have the time to volunteer for the Special Olympics, I can only say “how can I not?”  They are the ones who make it all worthwhile.

Daily Inspiration #24: Diver finds lost wedding ring — 16 months later

The Taumoepeau family

The Taumoepeau family

A New Zealand man who promised his wife he would find his wedding ring after it fell into the capital’s murky harbor made good on his promise…16 months later!

Talk about persistence!

Read the rest of the story at MSNBC

SpiritClips “The Fork” Special Intro by Rob Fried

Rob Fried – Writer, Director, and Producer of “The Fork” – gives a special intro for the film. Watch the film in it’s entirety at SpiritClips