Liquid Breakfast — Red

A year ago my mom got me a blender. A pretty powerful one. Now the thing’s become pretty much indispensable to me. Mostly for breakfast.

I find that if I can put it into a glass, I’m more likely to have a healthy breakfast on the go. It’s also a good way to fit in the five servings of fruits and vegetables you’re supposed to have each day. Most of my problems with eating vegetables are with texture, so liquefying them with other yummy stuff like fruit and honey makes a good way to avoid the nutritionally hazardous Drive-Thru.

Here’s my own version of gazpacho with some extra fruit thrown in for a breakfasty/brunchy twist.

Red Gazpacho
1 tomato chopped
1 c chopped cucumber
2 small apples, cored, peeled, and chopped
juice of one orange
juice of one lime
1 clove garlic minced
1/4 c minced scallions
1/3 cup honey (or to taste)
2 c spicy vegetable juice (i.e. V8)
1/4 t cumin
1/4 t of salt
Blend all ingredients in a blender for two minutes. Chill for two hours and serve.

Dad Tools: The Shrub Rake

I am a big fan of Kelvin Kelly’s Cool Tools. It’s one site that never fails to make me want to go shopping. Simple, often cheap, tools that fill a niche you never realized you need to fill.

Anyway, I’m doing my own, but from a “Slacker Dad” point of view. My first feature is the Shrub Rake. Mine’s never seen a shrub. Or the outdoors for that matter.

I use it for cleaning the kids’ rooms. The rooms in the house where you can’t see the floor periodically. The rake is perfect for getting toys out from under kids beds, chairs, desks while saving your back. I go into Fresh’s room and just rake everything I see into a big pile. Then I point and say, “pick that up.”

Flip it over and you can use it like a hockey stick, shooting Barbies over to the doll corner and clothes over toward the hamper, stuffed animals onto the respective kid’s beds, and shoes to the closet. It’s kind of fun to have the kids’ shoes in a pile in front of the closet and slap shot the shoes, one by one, trying to land them on (or near) the right shelves.

Yeah, it doesn’t qualify as “picking up,” but it gets stuff closer to where it’s supposed to go and makes it easier for the kids to get in and finish the job. At around seven bucks, it’s a Slacker Dad must have.

Football as an Occasion of Grace

This is a very heartwarming sports story. A football hero takes a knee at the 5 yard line rather than run up the score. The story has all the hallmarks of a family movie or at least an after school special. Heroics, action, a fall from grace, mercy, redemption, tragedy, grief, healing, and ultimately, kindness.

I don’t usually go for schmaltzy stories like this one. But I like the lesson. This kid knew to be kind because he was shown kindness when he least deserved it, at a point when others would dismiss him as another wasted youth. I hope this kid gets a football scholarship after all. God is good.

Scattered, Happy Brain

I came across a notebook of mine from over a year ago. It always amuses me to read my personal scribblings and try to decipher/remember the thought process that led to them. It’s like being able to step out of myself and bear witness to my own scatterbrained, flaky, ADD self. I have a lot of fondness for that guy, but he gives me a lot to laugh at. For instance, here’s a small sample of my stream of consciousness from a year ago:

Killer Elders – “Age Rage” — 14 million baby boomers develop Alzheimers
Brain Fingerprinting
PEPSI (proton echoplanar spectroscopic imaging)
cyberposses as online gaming
citizen relationship management (CRM for Gov’t)
room temp superconductivity by 2020?
field programmable gate arrays
computer imitates brain
self-replicating nano-machines
oil from bacteria
effective understanding of physiological basis of behavior by 2025?
pre-crime — prediction of criminal behavior
artificial photosynthesis
AC that harvests heat from exhaust air
combo desalination/power plants
multi-modal fusion
emerging ambient intelligence — embedded, context aware, adaptive, anticipatory
ontology of electrolytes — gel, solid, safe, ionic liquids, tonic conductivity?
wireless id via sensors
biometric regognition
song-based eye-blink (“blinkprint”)
paper batteries
sprayable batteries

You get the idea. It looks more organized because I typed these as a list. But they’re written all over the page with little arrows connecting words and ideas. I can recall the session now. Ideation on civil security and energy with a client group. What I can’t recall is which ideas are mine and which ideas I wrote down to look into further. I believe the ones that sound brainy, like proton echoplanar such and such, were things the smart people said and I wrote down to check out later. The flaky fringey stuff like “blinkprint” and “sprayable batteries” are scenario ideas I was getting from listenign to the smart people talk.

That session was a happy time. I was doing what I do. Taking the stuff smart people come up with and envisioning possibilities. It was one of the rare times I got to do exactly what I went to IBM to do. It was the moment I left a great job with NASA for. It was the kind of moment that I turned down an offer to go back to NASA for. And now it’s the kind of moment that makes me feel satisfied to go back to NASA knowing that I put my all into following my dream. Putting my ADD visionary brain into the service of an Asian government trying to envision a safer country for its future.

Basketball, poetry, punk, demons, and redemption

I hate when I discover a cool new (to me) poet from their obituary, but from the homage in Slate today, Jim Carroll sounds like a guy I’d have liked to drink a Scotch with.

Or maybe a cup of coffee. He was a recovering addict after all. He was the guy Leonardo DiCaprio played in The Basketball Diaries. He was a punk rocker, award winning poet, drug addict, Catholic Boy, and, at his lowest, prostitute. His is a story of glory from redemption. I’m a sucker for redemption.

The below is from a poem called “8 Fragments for Kurt Cobain.” Touching knowing that Jim Carroll wrestled the same demons that tortured Kurt Cobain to an uneasy peace. Took one to know one, but Carroll came out the other side. The fact that he died of a heart attack at his desk instead of at the hands of a demon is a testimony to the struggle that helped produce his genius.

Genius is not a generous thing
In return it charges more interest than any amount of royalties can cover
And it resents fame
With bitter vengeance

Pills and powdres only placate it awhile
Then it puts you in a place where the planet’s poles reverse
Where the currents of electricity shift

Your Body becomes a magnet and pulls to it despair and rotten teeth, Cheese whiz and guns

Whose triggers are shaped tenderly into a false lust
In timeless illusion

Hi and bye, Jim. I’ll get your book and have that cup of coffee with you anyway.

Crap Detection 101

I am supposed to teach a class next Tuesday at the University of Houston on how to do Futures Research. I thought I had a solid presentation. But I just read the best thing ever on how to verify online information — Crap Detection 101 — and now I think I need to add a few more slides to my deck. This article by Howard Rheingold is a must read for every internet user and any student who does research! (Via the always-interesting Rebecca Blood)

Wiggling Out of the Lobster Trap

Haven’t posted to Overflow for a while, I know. I’ve been active elsewhere online, but just not on my own blog. I’ve been on Facebook, which has become a rather insidious time sink for me.

I was inspired to post on Overflow after reading this article about Outsmarting Facebook. It’s about how Facebook is basically a “Lobster Trap” that uses your own friends as bait. Once Facebook (or similar social network sites) have you, you give them all sorts of valuable data as you post your status, comment on friends’ statuses, become a “fan” of this or that. This is a more sophisticated version of the “give us your list” marketing model of the dot-com/telcom sector.

That said, Facebook is still very much worth using. I get to interact and keep up with people whose paths I don’t get to cross very often. But I realize that I need to change how I use it to make sure that I use Facebook and Facebook doesn’t use me. The article has some sage advice for how to strike that balance.

And I do so love balance. Mainly because I find myself out of balance so often.

I went through my blog this morning looking for something I had written a few years back and got sucked into rifling through some of the memories I had stored there over ten years. The day we adopted Gracie, my appreciation of my parents, my observations about the Rocky Horror Picture Show, my homage to movie characters Larry Darrel and Lloyd Dobler, the Pie Of The Lord. And so on.

I realized that I do some of my best writing in that format, musings and ramblings that don’t fit into the little box on my Facebook “wall.” Yeah, there is the “notes” app, but Facebook is all about the “wall” and it’s snack-sized missives. I find myself spending my time “catching up” and “expressing myself” in short bursts on my “wall” and neglecting one of my favorite activities — real writing.

One change I want to make is to blog on my blog and quit giving Facebook all my best material. I want to have just one place to go to see what I was talking about, reading, learning, listening to, and interested in way back when. Not two or three fragmented ones. I don’t want a Facebook Me and a LinkedIn Me and a Blog Me. One Online Me is enough. And I can just let Facebook pull posts off my rss feed so my Facebook friends can still roll their eyes at my nerdly ways.

And that’s my Facebook status for today. :)