the_skinny

Urban Hiking: the Yellow Brick Road

It all started when I woke up to doggie diarrhea. I have wall to wall carpeting, and unless you are a product tester for Nature's Miracle, they just do not mix.

My dog has a sensitive stomach, and this isn't the first time for this kind of rude awakening, so after the mess was cleaned up, I decided to look for fencing materials. Sometimes these bouts of digestive distress can last for days, and I wanted to avoid multiple puddles while I am away at work.

So I headed out looking for abandoned chain link fence. Why pay $70 for more fencing material than I need, when I can…

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Have we lost our minds?

I was a freshman at Reed College the year the Renn Fayre t-shirts were maroon, and had a drawing of a naked woman with beer bottle tits. We considered ourselves progressive. The big fight on campus that year was about the rights of students to write the names of their rapists on the bathroom walls. The zygote of The Yes Men had been organizing 'Reverse Peristalsis' protests of the US Administration where we all ate potatoes and food coloring and…

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Fukishima: the (other) definition of Insanity

The Pliedians have a mythology about this planet we live on being a sort of sacred library of information. And while you may not believe that there are life forms in other galaxies who appreciate (or even know of) our planet, it turns out that they are correct.

The life forms we all are (humans, fishes, fungus...) amount to vast storehouses of information encoded and encrypted in our DNA and in the structure of the building blocks that make up 3 dimensional matter.

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The Dolor of Pencils

Whenever I've been forced to inhabit a cubicle, I've made sure Theodore Roethke's 'Dolor' hung on the wall. I first read Roethke in my American literature class as a freshman in high school (thank you Mr. Wofford and shortened here):

“I have known the inexorable sadness of pencils,
Neat in their boxes, dolor of pad and paper weight,
All the misery of manilla folders and mucilage,
Desolation in immaculate public places...
...And I have seen dust from the walls of institutions,

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Cloud Computing and Free/Open Source Software

cloud

Within the field of technology, there is an undeniable bias towards web applications. There are a number of reasons for this. While still nascent, the internet is the most stable infrastructures in large part due to it's lack of centralization. It is also one of the single most readily available communication tools (probably right next to the telephone). Unlike telephone communication, the internet has the ability to store information in digital form, and host applications that can…

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Miner's Canary

Some folks are miner's canaries.

One of the liabilities of mining is that there are all sorts of gas pockets in the mantel of the earth. Miners would run into them, and because often they are odorless the miners would asphyxiate. Canaries are little beings, and their bodies have a much lower tolerance for poison. A miners canary sacrifices (in most cases unwillingly) it's existence so that a much greater body can survive.

When we look at the conditions of society at…

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The Gospel according to Manny: Chapter 1

The desert is the kind of environment that requires an adaptive strategy.

People and plants are at the mercy of the elements here, and have to endure times of feast and times of famine - both of which can be fatal. And just like in those elementary school movies featuring lizards with strange plumes coming from their heads, and snakes shedding their skins, and birds hiding inside a spiny cactus, desert dwellers, particularly those of us who were not born here, can be a motley and tragically beautiful bunch.

Our adaptive strategies, born from the necessity of an extreme…

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Wanna be starting something? Tech advise for the entrepreneur.

So you're smart. You've got an idea and you want to change the world (or at least your world my making some cashish). These days, it takes more than an idea to make it happen - especially when you are competing with the Kardashians and the Republican presidential candidates (and their inverted sense of elegance and poise) for air-time.

If you are wanna be starting something but aren't sure where to start, you might find the following helpful.

  1. Make a list of what you do well and stick to those things…

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BLUR: a new paradigm for engagement

weird two-faced dude

I am looking for a great project. My engagement with the projects I have been focusing on has organically either hit a maintenance phase or has been completed, and I am finding myself, as many entrepreneurs do from time to time, under-utilized.

I'm not looking for a job, I'm looking for a context in which I can use the things that I am good at like well oiled tools.

I'm looking for a group of people I can join voices and hands with to create a world that is beautiful…

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Chasing the Dragon: or how I'm curing my Lyme Disease

We are all habitat.  Microscopic condos for animals old as dirt.  We breath and eat at their mercy.

I first found out I had Lyme Disease in 2003, about 3 years after I initially became infected.  In order to find it, I had to reassemble my own history.  I haven't trusted my memory since.

I was living in Carbondale, CO and we had just declared war on Iraq.  I wasn't getting meaningful work in my field, and so I spent a lot of my time tracking down the plastic candy machine salesman who…

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The Future of Education Software

Those of us who have integrated our work lives into our homes successfully understand the way working can feel when it is integrated into our living. It goes way beyond just being able to work in our jammies, and listen to the music we want and fix ourselves tea. These little freedoms we have in controlling our work environments add up, and eventually we are left with a sense that our work hours integrate into our lives seamlessly. There is no longer a division between work and life: we…

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Facebook in Fur

Facebook broke Google's lead last week for most visits to their site. Facebook had been getting a little over 2% of all visits on the world wide web a year ago, and topped off last week with 7.07% of the market share – beating Google's lead by 4 hundredths of a percentage point. What this means is that out of the estimated 200 million websites and services on the internet, 14% of all traffic was directed at two of them last week. One of them a (diversified) search engine, and the other a social media tool.

These tools obviously fill fundamental human needs. The steep increase in the…

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Finding money in Trees

As all business people do from time to time, I was sitting in front of my computer yesterday and wondering if I was going to have enough work in 6 weeks to sustain me.  It's something that can eat away at a person.  It's a fear that we are almost encouraged to have these days.  When we talk about it with friends or colleagues, they shake their heads and agree.  And so we think we find our fears, sadly, justified.

Until we look out into the world around us - at really what's going on.  I don't mean this is a zen way.  Let me explain.

Today I was getting ready for work, hopped…

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Green Eggs and Ham: a resolution.

There are a host of us who have been accused of having a Peter Pan complex out there, and we're sensitive. The inference that we might be acting childishly, or clinging to childish things is one that some of us generally avoid. 'Why even go there?', we might ask? 'What good would it do in the end?'

So - trust me - I am not turning my back on my fellow victims of Peter Pan complex accuse, when I say that my resolution this year is to have more Green Eggs and Ham.

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Translate This Button: the 15 minute module that will open up your world.

I just translated my entire site into 36 languages. It took maybe 15 minutes, might take the novice a half hour, and is probably the best half hour you will ever spend on your site.

You can do it, too.

A drupal module that combines the amazing power of Google Translate with the ineffable coolness of drupal called Translate This Button is well worth…

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Fishing in a Bottle

I was told to put fish in my office.

I don't want to give away too many trade secrets.  My sister said it was good for feng shui and encouraging abundance (money).  She said that I should get Betta fish because they are nearly indestructible.  So I got two, just in case.

The point being that sometimes running your life can be just about as scientific as a Ouija board.  In this case, I'm ramping up for business.  Economic disaster or not, I'm convinced that there are folks out there who want and need websites and databases.  And really, why shouldn't they?

Organizations…

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Creative Strategies for Survival

I don't need to say why this is important right now. We all get it and experience it every day. Survival is getting tricky for all of us but especially for organizations who rely on grant and foundation money for their bread and butter.

Survival of the Creative

We attribute 'survival of the fittest' to Darwin. And regardless of whether it really was Darwin or not, I would argue that to be creative is what was meant.
The word 'fit' conjures images of cave folk running away from woolly mammoths: the fast ones made it, the slower ones got squished. Or we might…

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David and Goliath: a new skin for the old drum.

This blog is about mobilizing our communities in support of (and somewhat demanding) fairness in business. We have the power collectively to leverage some power, and this week I made it my hobby to develop a mechanism by which that might happen.

Imagine that the game we are about to play is your life, and you have just put it all in an 8'x4'x7' box. In this case, the box was rented from a company called 'Door to Door' (or 'City to City'), and the game should typically go something like this…

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Financial Derivatives 101

I'm no 'HooHa' but let's say that I'm also no Banker Extrordinaire. I got no MBA. I'm no resident expert on the financial systems of the world. I try to stomach through a medicinal dose of conspiracy theory videos about the banking system. The only credentials I hold are those of an Industrial Designer, and I'm afraid they've expired from lack of use.

If only that were so for the debt.

All that said, what I am is a mathematician.…

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Plato and the Calculus of a Dimension Shift

I don't know about you, but when I read Plato in High School and then again in College/s, I had to wonder a little about what they were pumping into the campus water that made this guy so friggen important. Particularly the Platonic forms. I just didn't get it. Who gives a fuck about 'Chairness'?

Dude going on and on, boring his own damn self. Please.

Pan out like, I don't know, say 20-30 years later, and I'm having a bit of an 'Aha' moment out of the blue…

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Working Smarter through Tough Times

We have resources available to us that we don't see.

In lean economic times, it makes sense to account for the various flows of information and resources that travel through an organization. Mapping these flows enables us to take a birds eye view and see visually things that otherwise would be invisible. Especially in difficult economic times, working smarter means understanding what you are working with.
There are some tips that I can offer people, businesses and organizations…

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