Monday Morning Mind Meld – 5/18/20

  • Movie: “Becoming” (Netflix) Hope, I think we could all use some at this time and watching the Netflix documentary on Michelle Obama takes you back to a time in our nation’s not too distant past full of hope for a brighter future that is missing in most of America bearing the weight of Coronavirus.
  • Book: “For the Love of Men: A New Vision for Mindful Masculinity”(Amazon) I’m rereading Liz Plank’s “New Vision for Mindful Masculinity” and with the isolation of quarantine I find myself with the time for both self reflection and reflection on the world around.
  • Podcast: “Sam Harris” (Tim Ferriss Podcast) Because everyone should have some Sam Harris in their life

Photo of the week:

Monday Morning Mind Meld – 4/27/20

  • Article: “‘A Goofy Movie’ at 25: An Oral History of “I2I” and the Powerline Concert Scene” (Slashfilm) A Goofy Movie turns 25 this month and is one of my favorite movies, now available on Disney +. Slashfilm does a oral history of the timeless music from the movie.
  • Article: “INNOVATION VS. THE CORONAVIRUS: The first modern pandemic” (Gates Notes)
  • Audiobook: “Caffeine:How Caffeine Created the Modern World”(Audible) A quick listen that I finished on a long walk on evening. Michael Pollan tells the story of the rise of coffee alongside capitalism, and the history of the coffee break in this Audible original.

Photo of the week

Buc-ee gets it. 😷

Monday Morning Mind Meld – 4/20/20

Fighting the urge to fall into a “Too Hot To Handle” shaped time suck, here’s what’s been distracting me from the darkness this week.

  • Series: “Devs” (FX on Hulu) While sitting at home binging reality dating shows on Netflix to make you feel better about your sad existence, why not watch a show that questions the universe and the existence of free will. The eight part miniseries is worth sitting through the commercials on Hulu for Nick Offerman’s performance alone.
  • Song: “Quarantine Boogie (Loco)” (Youtube) Hopefully not the anthem of the summer, but certainly the quarantine anthem.
  • Article: “Yes, Even Introverts Can Be Lonely Right Now”(nytimes.com) YES

Monday Morning Mind Meld – 4/13/20

Aside from binging season 3 of Ozark on Netflix, here’s a few things that have been occupying my mind this past week.

  • Book: “The Rosie Project” (Amazon) Highly recommended by Bill Gates several years ago, I recently picked up this book and kept coming coming back to it as I identified parts of myself in “Don” the genetics professor. The first book of three in the Don Tillman series, I look forward to the checking out the rest of the series.
  • Podcast: The Tim Ferriss Show – Dr. Vivek Murthy (Tim.blog, Spotify) A timely conversation from former Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy on COVID-19 and the rise of loneliness as we physically and socially distance ourselves from the world around us.
  • Article: NY Times “Lessons in Constructive Solitude From Thoreau” (nytimes.com) Constructive Solitude as Thoreau referred to his time in a small cabin on Walden Pond became a time for reflection and creation. I wouldn’t call binge watching “Tiger King” a waste of time, but we should all weave in some self development in this time we are given.

“We must first succeed alone, that we may enjoy our success together.” -Henry David Thoreau

Airbnb Review: Blue Steel

Link: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/15928911

I have a thing for Tiny Houses. I’m currently on the hunt for my first home, albeit something less tiny, I set out to fully immerse myself in one of my potential new neighborhoods, The Cedars. The Cedars is an area in the midst of revitalization; just south of Downtown Dallas, The Cedars is transforming from dilapidated industrial buildings to modern homes and multi-unit housing all radiating from ground zero aka The Southside on Lamar.

Late Thursday night, I headed south past the lights of the Dallas Skyline to find Blue Steel. On Akard Street, tucked behind a small apartment building, surrounded by a once imposing barbed wire fence sits the converted shipping container. The outside of Blue Steel matches its surroundings, doors and windows covered with metal bars it goes unnoticed among the construction sites of apartments and town homes scattered throughout The Cedars.

View of the Dallas Skyline through the barbed wire fence

Once inside, I find a warm and expertly constructed tiny home. The wood and metal floors are all that remain to remind you that you are living inside of a shipping container. A stocked goody basket of ramen help complete this college flashback as I sit on the futon in the second bedroom/media room hovering over a bowl of chili ramen waiting for it to cool off enough to be devoured.

A concern with tiny house living is often the compromises that have to be made in the efforts to remain tiny and often mobile. Blue steel doesn’t have any of the RV type of equipment that is used in tiny homes, built with full residential fixtures and appliances and shelving made of threaded pipe help feed into the rustic industrial look of Blue Steel.

The mechanical side of the shipping container

There certainly are some quirks, hot water while plentiful is accompanied with the roaring to life of the propane powered water heater attached to the back of the shipping container that sounds like a lawn mower’s first start after a long winter. The split heat pump sufficient for heat and cooling the home also produces some noise while running but to a lesser degree. Living inside of a shipping container is like living inside a tin can so the sounds of the city reverberate though the steel exterior and penetrate the minimal insulation and multicolored wood paneling throughout Blue Steel.

Everything said, I enjoyed staying in Blue Steel for a few days and would certainly do it again if I was looking to spend a weekend in The Cedars and go to a concert; it is a good way to avoid the parking nightmare that can be finding a parking spot near South Side.

Bots in Boston

I headed to Boston last weekend for TechCrunch Sessions: Robotics at MIT and to take in the sights and seafood of Boston.

Boston has a great public transit system making getting around cheap and easy. Sunday I went museum hopping starting off at The Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston. The museum is right on the waterfront making it worth a trip just for the view. Sadly many of the galleries were closed during my visit while the museum is transitioning between shows but still had a selection from their permeant collection on display.

Stop 2 was the Museum of Science. Standouts for me were the Theater of Electricity with their 30 foot tall Van de Graaff Generators and the traveling Popnology exhibit with a bunch of “Back To The Future” props and my favorite a lego model of “The House of the Future” that used to stand in Disneyland.

Final stop for the day was the MIT Museum which is fairly small but a highlight for me because the whole trip was about robotics and the MIT Museum has a large selection of well known MIT built robots on display. Kismet is a robot I remember seeing on countless PBS specials growing up so it was neat to see it in person.

Monday came the whole reason that I was in Boston, TechCrunch’s Robotics Session, a day full of panels, workshops and demos of robot technology and the future of machine learning and artificial intelligence. It was interesting to see a wider array of robots where I have seen many tailored to warehousing and manufacturing earlier in the year at ProMat in Chicago. Personal highlight for me was seeing the Disney Imagineering session where they showed off their latest audio animatronic technology. Some of what they showed we weren’t allowed to photograph but they did have an animatronic head used in the Na’vi River Journey ride in Pandora that opened 2 months ago that drew a crowd every-time it came to life. It was also really cool to spend a day walking around the MIT campus which was a college that I dreamed of attending.

Music Monday for 1/25/16

Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images Entertainment / Getty Images

It has been a month since my last playlist so it is not as regular as I had hoped. This one has a kind of singer/songwriter theme though I veer away from it with the first song. Here is a link to the playlist on Spotify.

  • Blur “Coffee and TV” I haven’t heard this song in years but it come on KXT last weekend and has been in my head since.
  • Sarah Jaffe: If you live in Dallas and haven’t heard Sarah’s amazing voice you must be living under a rock. Last weekend she played back to back nights at Dan’s Silverleaf in Denton. These three songs are just a sampling of Sarah’s talent and range.
  • City and Colour: If you couldn’t guess from the spelling of Color, “City and Colour” is the solo project of Canadian Dallas Green. These are three of my favorites.
  • Gary Clark Jr.: 2015 was a breakout year for Gary Clark Jr. and the release of “The Story of Sonny Boy Slim” only helped fuel his rise in popularity. Gary is playing a sold out show at the House of Blues in Dallas on March 6. These are some of my favorites from the new album.

Why I Want to Run a 5K

Usually when I tell people about my plan to run my first 5k race, that statement is met with puzzled looks as the other person looks me up and down to access their rightful suspicion that a fat guy would normally not be anywhere near anything involving the word run. For most of my life I would have agreed when the mere utterance of phrases like “presidential fitness challenge” and “fun run” would instantly strike fear in my mind to the level of a pop quiz over last night’s reading assignment in a textbook that has never been cracked open.

I didn’t think that I could complete a 5K race. In 2008 my sister and I volunteered for a great local charity called “Captain Hope’s Kids” who’s mission is to meet the critical needs of homeless children by partnering with a network of homeless shelters and social service organizations to help more than 45,000 kids in DFW just in 2014.

One of Captain Hope’s Kids fundraising events was the Mardi Gras 5K Run that went through the West End and Victory Park. Here’s a couple pictures from that day after the race finished.

Summer and I showed up to help setup then took our spot at Ross and Houston street where we helped direct and cheer on runners as the sun began to set and the race was about to start. The smell of perfectly seasoned and seared meats permeated the streets in the West End as we waited for the heard of runners to turn the corner and head toward us like a stampede of cattle running toward their own slaughter at any one of the West End’s steak houses.

I had the impression that all the people running are “runners” you know the people that would look right at home on the cover of “Runner’s World” and that I wouldn’t see anyone that could even remotely look like me or have a body fat percentage even in the double digits. That world view was wrong as a tightly woven tapestry of humanity made their way past our little street corner. There wasn’t just the elite runners but people of every shape and age group blowing past my then confused face (kinda like the picture above) as the little voice that said I could never do this no longer had anything to say.

I no longer had an “excuse” of can’t but now had the challenge that I could, should and someday would complete a 5K race.  All this leads me to last November when I decided to stop saying someday and sign up for my first race. Enter “Run the Trinity”

I was hoping to run the same race that Summer and I once volunteered at but the Mardi Gras Run no longer runs through the same path through downtown Dallas and isn’t scheduled for 2016. I started to look elsewhere when I came across “Run the Trinity” that crosses the Margret Hunt Hill and Continental Avenue bridges providing great views of the Dallas skyline. That’s the story up to this point, I signed up, started training and have been counting down the days to March 6th when I will finally quiet that voice of doubt.