Interview: Michael Grodsky, Founder of Aquarius Financial

Michael Grodsky is a musician turned financial planner who now specializes in health insurance for artists. Michael shares how he made that transition and more. Creative professionals of all types will find this interview insightful.

I love Michael’s quirky sense of humor and his expert ability to understand the needs of artists. It’s been wonderful to watch Michael blossom with the second career he created.

About Michael

Michael Grodsky, Accredited Investment Fiduciary®, provides education and access to health insurance for California artists and arts organizations. He is the founder of Aquarius Financial and Insurance Services, and board president of Side Street Projects (, a non-profit artist-run organization.

Michael Grodsky

Michael’s Health Insurance 101 workshops have been hosted by the 18th Street Arts Center, Armory Center for the Arts, Avenue 50 Studio, California Lawyers for the Arts, LA Art Park, LACE (Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions), Los Angeles County Arts Commission, Municipal Art Gallery at Barnsdall Park, Outpost for Contemporary Arts, and Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects. Michael provides pro-bono insurance consultation to patients of the Cancer Support Community-Benjamin Center and Premier Oncology Foundation.

Michael earned bachelor’s & master’s degrees in guitar performance, music theory/composition from California State University, Fullerton. He enjoys swimming, making sounds with friends. He is married to artist Mara Lonner, making their home in Los Angeles with their two rescue dogs and menagerie of garden spiders.

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Interview: Paul Anthony Romero, composer & pianist

Interview with Paul Anthony Romero

My friend Joe Lopiccolo introduced me a couple of years ago to his friend and former colleague Paul Romero, a composer who started his career as a professional classical pianist and today whose written soundtracks for over 70 film and gaming scores. Gamers might know of Paul’s music through his scores for Everquest & Heroes of Might and Magic.

I know several composers who are interested in breaking into scoring music for games so they might find this interview insightful.

Paul Anthony Romero

Pt. 2

Pt. 3

Pt. 4

Pt. 5

Paul’s bio

Paul Romero enjoys an award-winning career as both a classical pianist and a soundtrack composer.

Paul Romero has composed over 70 original soundtrack movie and computer game scores, including the monumental orchestral/operatic/choral scores to Ubisoft Corporation’s popular computer game series, “HEROES OF MIGHT AND MAGIC”. So popular are the “HEROES OF MIGHT AND MAGIC” scores that Paul is obliged to compose his first Symphony based on the best musical themes from his “HEROES” soundtrack scores. Romero’s Symphony no. 1, entitled “HEROES” will be completed in 2008.

Romero is also the composer of Sony’s “EVERQUEST”, the world’s most popular online computer game. Romero is the winner of the BMI-Jerry Goldsmith Film Composers Award as well as the recipient of 2 National Endowment for the Arts grants. Two of Romero’s original scores for the “HEROES OF MIGHT AND MAGIC” series have been listed in GameSpot Magazine’s ALL-TIME TOP TEN COMPUTER GAME SCORES. The CD soundtrack collection from the complete ‘HEROES’ series was released in January by UBISOFT and is available at most retail outlets around the world.

As a classical concert pianist, Romero is the winner of numerous international piano competitions including the Paris and the Van Cliburn international piano competitions. Famed music critic Wayne Lee Gay of the Dallas-Fort Worth Star Telegram recently wrote “Romero evoked the aura of the golden age of the virtuoso, when Liszt and his cohorts crisscrossed Europe and the United States, presenting solo recitals of transcriptions, monumental showpieces and their original music to culture-hungry audiences.

Paul’s  website

Do you know someone I ought to interview? 

You comments, feedback, and messages are encouraged and welcomed.

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Take the high ground and be a Space Optimist

You’ve seen the headlines and people remark, NASA is closing down or spaceflight is over. While the space shuttle program has ended, there are still rockets being launched by NASA, just not manned ones for now.

Yes, NASA has significant internal issues and has seen better days. However, I’m hear to tell you the best of spaceflight is yet to come. Private industry is going to play a larger role which will include but not be limited to ferrying people and cargo to space. Commercial efforts can be thought of as complimentary and not competitive which seems to be a common misconception. Private space industry players understand the enormous challenges with developing relatively safe, lower cost space related technology.

Before you dismiss what is or is not going with spaceflight in the U.S., consider following private industry’s efforts with an open minded curious nature.

Thoughts from the front lines and beyond


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China’s Lunar Waxing and U.S. Lunar Waning – Troubling Times for U.S. Space Leadership

Since the 1970‘s China has worked steadily on developing its own space program. Currently, China is still behind the U.S. in terms of space technology. However with its ability to create and implement plans, China could be poised to eventually become a global leader in space. Later this month, China intends to  launch an unmanned lab to orbit in an ongoing effort to master skills such as docking which will be necessary for a lunar trip. China plans a manned mission to the moon which might occur between 2020 and 2025. Meanwhile, NASA has no plans for any manned trips back to the moon.

China and other countries have a long tradition of leveraging (some might even use a less friendly word) technology developed here in the U.S. As futurist and author Alex Lightman pointed out, the decline of NASA might force other countries (i.e. China) to actually go out and innovate. Lightman pointed out that countries taking responsibility for their own technical development could be beneficial for space flight as a whole.

Others speculate that when China eventually is ready to set a date for its manned moon landing, it will pull out of the Outer Space Treaty in order stake claim to parts of the moon. Lightman further wrote in an email he that has “no doubt China will make a territorial claim within hours of the first lunar footfall of taichonaut.” The gravitas of a Chinese claim to the moon would be substantial. It’s now no secret as to the potential bounty of resources that are on the moon..

It’s estimated that it would cost less to open a lunar moon than it is to open a new terrestrial one. Some of the valuable resources on the moon could include water ice, platinum, aluminum, and Helium-3 (a potential fuel for fusion reactors).

If it takes another country such as China to reinvigorate public’s interest in space, so be it. It might actually take another country’s achievements in space to serve to serve as the radical wake-up call for the US from its space leadership slumber.

The space program provided many innovations and sources for technology which we all benefit daily from. How likely will potential benefits flow from China to the rest of the world. as they develop their own program?
Don’t count the American or other countries completely down and out. There’s a reasonable chance that several private teams will send unmanned missions to the moon as competitors for the Google Lunar X PRIZE. The competition rules require teams is to successfully land an unmanned probe on the moon and transmit back data to earth. Most of these competitors look at this mission as the early steps for future lunar exploration and maybe eventual colonization.

Some view China’s space program as being a copy of the American manned space program which could prove  to be potentially unsustainable approach due to costs. Let the Chinese set their agenda and find out for themselves if their path is sustainable.

China’s advances in space exploration could be a motivator for the U.S.  and other countries to take space seriously again. It might be easier to make a few jokes about China and forget about its space focused efforts. The reality is that China understands the benefits that come from in global space leadership. China maintains a long term view on space exploration which the U.S. (along with other countries) could benefit from also adopting. If the U.S. allow its space infrastructure and leadership to erode, the U.S. will most likely miss out on the potentially boundless benefits that will continue to come from being a global space leader.

What can you do today to help?

  • Encourage Science Technology Engineering Math education (i.e. STEM).
  • Support the STEM program, Teachers in Space
  • Remind your Representative & Senators they are not rocket scientists!  Let NASA compete all the best ideas for a Space Launch System.
  • Learn about various spinoffs that come out of NASA.
  • Use your favorite social networking tool to “like” the space focused efforts of,  X PRIZE, NASA, Google Lunar X PRIZE competitors, Space Frontier Foundation


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Made to Inspire

Over the weekend of May 21st, I attended the 2011 Maker Faire in San Mateo as a part of the Molnari group who was invited to exhibit and present. Molnari the developer of a gyrocycle, a flying motorcycle. ” Maker Faire is an event created by Make Magazine to celebrate arts, crafts, engineering, science projects and the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) mindset”(Wikipedia). Maker Faire is family friendly but has something that appeals to almost every age and demographic.

Whether you make things, appreciate DIY culture,  or seeker of inspiration & innovation, you (and the kids) will probably enjoy Maker Faire.

Maker Faire (San Mateo) brought together a wide variety of communities included Burners, hackers, urban farmers, artists, techies, and many others which I found refreshing. I would love to see more people  including but not limited to students, teachers, politicians, business leaders, and parents experience Maker Faire if only for  the inspirational the factor alone.

Some exhibitors who caught my eye include the following:

More articles on 2011 Maker Faire, San Mate0

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16 FREE Things to do in the L.A. this Spring and Summer

16 FREE Things to do in the L.A. area this Spring and Summer

As gas prices march north, you might be already thinking about how it will affect your spending. I want you though to still have a great time this spring and summer – no matter where you live. Being familiar with the L.A. area, I’m sharing 15 free activities  you can take advantage of.  Not only are these events free, but they make up part of the rich cultural fabric that envelopes L.A. Although, the area is a desert region, it’s cultural offerings are as extensive as the offerings of a rain forest. Don’t take my word for it, explore the calendars of the 15 free things to do listed below.

  1. Levitt Pavillion Summer Concert Series, Pasadena
  2. Levitt Pavillio Summer Concert Series, Macarthur Park
  3. Twilight Dance Series, Santa Monica
  4. Sundays Live Music series @ LACMA
  5. Jazz @ LACMA
  6. Latin sounds @ LACMA
  7. Grand Performances, downtown Los Angeles
  8. Pershing Square (spring & summer), downtown Los Angeles
  9. MOCA Grand Ave, downtown Los Angeles (free, Thursdays 5- 8pm)
  10. MOCA, The Geffen Contemporary, Little Tokyo, (free, Thursday evenings)
  11. Artwalk Pasadena, May 20th
  12. Saturdays Off the 405, Getty Center
  13. Hammer Presents, Westwood
  14. Culver City Music Festival, Culver City
  15. Hollywood and Highland Summer Jazz Series, Hollywood (Tuesday nights)
  16. Farmer’s Market Events, Fairfax area
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I’m Friends with FRED

A few hours ago, I spoke @ FRED hosted by Steve Glenn of Living Homes. What a wonderful way to end a Wednesday. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to share my love of space. I don’t think there were any pics taken at the event- guess you had to be there.

For those who were there, I’m copying some of the items, events, etc I mentioned. I plan on posting some of links to some of companies and resources I referenced in my talk.

  • Space Tourism Industry + Ten, April 28th, Los Angeles – I’ll be speaking at.
  • 62MileClub’s HQ:  Connecting the mainstream with private spaceflight, Learn how private space flight is going to change the world.
  • 62MileClub’s most recent newsletter
  • Almost obligatory Facebook page cause you never know who else might be a space enthusiast.
  • Space Angels Network – premier source of aerospace dealflow for investors and of early-stage capital for aerospace-related ventures across a wide spectrum of technologies, markets, and industries.
  • Linked In 
  • Subscribe to 62MileClub’s periodic newsletter

I think that’s enough for now. Ad Astra!

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Sonic Explorer, Theo Bleckmann – Interview

As part of my periodic interview series, I interviewed  GRAMMY nominated musician Theo Bleckmann on behalf of 62MileClub which I c0-founded to bring an expanded awareness of emerging private spaceflight.

Theo is a remarkable artist who consistently pushes the boundaries in instrumental and vocal music. His work work ranges from contemporary jazz to alien voices for film to 14th Century French Music.

Blog posting with interview

Catch Theo in San Diego and New York City( 4/20 & 4/24) the week of April 17.

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Irec – Disabling Geolocation and Exploration in Sub

I periodically make recommendations to tools, websites, people, and places that I find useful and/or intriguing. I’m not receiving any compensation for these recommendations. You can find more under the category labeled Irec.

  • Disable Geo-locating on your web browser.
  • Participate as a citizen scientist on a submarine courtesy of Ocean Gate.
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Supercharge your Searches and Presentations – Two awesome tools

Two awesome tools I recommend to speed up your research and presentation creation, so you can free yourself up to do the things you really love to do.

  1. Get expert knowledge from factual queries. Try it, you’ll probably like it- Wolfram Alpha,
  2. Find relevant, up to date info on the United States with StateMaster cause searching many government websites can be painful.

Thank you to Ken Rutkowski of METal International for making me aware of the above resources.

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