Green Tea + Coconut Water + Vodka

Next time you brew green tea, replace water with coconut water and cozy up to an electrolyte rich softly sweet dose of antioxidants.

Just in time to help you save the day after an excellent holiday party, coconut water combos work miracles on a hangover.  Prevention is the best cure:   mix an Ito En Sencha shot with 5 oz coconut water before bed and you will rise like a champion.

For a truly twisted tea, brew jasemine green tea in coconut water and add Belvedere.  10/10 (Vodka also compliments warm chai – say hello to the new cider)

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Data worth spreading: Why I joined Research Lifestreaming

I just signed up for Research Lifestreaming by Harris Interactive.

This multi-pronged approach to marketing data amalgamation invites intrigue, curiosity, resistance.. I have chosen to give a company the right to access my documented activity across Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIN and WordPress.  They gather information such as posts, my  interactions on facebook, my complete profile information, photos, videos..and no doubt much more.  This is used to trend character attributes and habits, which allows Harris Interactive to profile individuals into groups, such as leaders and followers, based on proprietary algorithms.

The capabilities of Research Lifestreaming are further explained here.  Collected data lends to the creation of surveys and two-way interactions that are tailored to the hundreds of categorizations into which an individual may fall.  Harris Interactive claims this leads to “comprehensive, three-dimensional knowledge of WHO the individual REALLY is.”  Ambitious. Fascinating.

For years I have wanted to see my webdata analyzed and integrated into a cohesive whole.  Now that the opportunity arises, I take it, but not without hesitation.  I wonder how much is recorded; am I signing away web privacy (do they see facebook messages? even, does it matter? etc); have I somehow agreed that my photos, recorded thoughts, ideas and opinions are also the property of this organization?  If you have answers, please share.

On an intellectual property note, read the following:

“By making Monitored Content [data I allow them to compile] available to Harris, you grant Harris, its partners, and clients… the unlimited, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, perpetual right to use, copy, display, perform, distribute, adapt, create derivative works, sublicense, and promote such Monitored Content in any medium and any manner whatsoever, as well as the right to transfer the rights of use to third parties without entitlement to compensation.”

Complete terms and conditions available here.  I understand this is a necessary preventative legal measure and I hope that the trust we participants give this organization to handle our valuable datasets compels Harris Interactive to act in an appropriate and honorable manner.

I overcame an initial hoarding of my online activities and decided that this is the TED thing to do.  “Data worth spreading.”  Have at it, Harris Interactive.  I look forward to learning what you learn about myself and the world.   The claimed scope of Research Lifestreaming raises the question:  does an integration of online activity really unveil who a person is?  I think not, but it is an important step in our deepened understanding of how groups and individuals “exist” in this increasingly digital world.

Please share your thoughts, ideas and opinions.  Would you join Research Lifestreaming?

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Subject Lines

Subject lines of emails.    Here are some I sent during July.

  • “newton, darwin, franklin, ted .. (rethinking)”
  • “no longer a futgitive”
  • “PS- the most exciting thing in the world”
  • “Remember to set up the future”
  • “Penn and Tesla”
  • “Beer, Alabama, Prologis”
  • “Mind blown yet?”
  • “Americans are a strange breed”
  • “when a little knowledge really is dangerous”
  • “the travel bug is the only sickness I welcome”

One of these was sent to me, the rest are sent from me.  Which would you guess?  (answer)

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The TEDy Awards

Chris Anderson on the TEDGlobal 2010 stage. afromusing Flickr

The future is a beautiful progression when seen through the lens of TED.  From cognitive neuroscience to middle eastern stand up comedy, the range of ideas worth spreading knows no bounds.   Nor does the way we audience members choose to convey our interpretation of the conference to the rest of the world.

It is my humble opinion that no description does justice to such human immensity as experienced at TEDGlobal.  How then to expresses the grandiose of thought..  Bright lights and a red (TED) carpet.

I give you The TEDys.

We start off with a bang.  The triumvirate.  Technology, Entertainment, and Design.

  • TECHNOLOGY.  Tan Le, Co-found of Emotiv‘s EPOC, a device that unfolds the cortical structure of the user’s brain to read what he or she is thinking.  Watch the jaw dropping demonstration.
  • ENTERTAINMENT.  Maz Jobrani.  This headliner in the former Axis of Evil Comedy Tour dazzles with jokes that unite the middle east with the rest of the world through the most connective medium of them all:  laughter.
  • DESIGN.  John Hardy.  Co-founder of Bali’s Green School, a soon to be off-the-grid holistic and sustainability education center featuring one of the world’s largest bamboo structures and one of only two hydro-vortex power turbines (that generates 8,000 watts of electricity daily).  Our future is in the minds of our offspring.
  • Runner Up.  Eben Bayer.  Co-inventor of Ecocradle and Greensulate: organic, compostable packaging and insulation, respectively, that is literally grown from agriwaste.
  • Runner Up.  Iain Hutchinson.  Founder of Saving Faces with the Facial Surgery Research Foundation, an organization that furthers the bounds of facial research and restores underprivelaged patients’ sense of well being through reconstructive surgery.  See the gallery here.
  • BEST SCREENPLAY.  David McCandless.  Leave it to David to incite oohs and ahhs with the statistics of health supplements (below) or a breakdown of multi-billion dollar expenditures.  Infographics are the wave of the future, making data not only more exciting, but easier to interpret by “combining the language of the eye with the language of the mind”.

  • MOST INSPIRING / MS CONGENIALITY.  Jessica Jackley.  Founder of Kiva, the microlending powerhouse that to date has linked entrepreneuers with lenders to the amount of $150 million (on loans averaging $200 each).  Check out Profounder, her newest venture.  Jessica’s passion to help her fellow man is nothing short of legendary; visible through the tears she shed on stage under her fervent declaration that “life is beautiful.”
  • PERSPECTIVE.  Chris Anderson.  Curator of TED.  Chris spreads the idea of “crowd accelerated innovation.”  The next global community is a matrix of teachers and students that is bounded only by its capacity to integrate great ideas into new discovery and creation.  Interesting.  See this post.
  • RETHINK.  Conrad Wolfram.  Remember those math courses where calculators were banned?  Conrad proposes an overhaul of mathematics, refining both the order and manner that schools impart information.  Scrap tradition and re-frame the future.
  • GREEN.  Johan Rockstrom.  Director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre, Johan informs and inspires us to make a difference in this crunch time for the climate.  The next decade is an exciting and challenging opportunity for great minds to create the solutions that will shape the future of our world.
  • GIANT.  Stephen Berlin Johnson.  An idea is an evolution.  The “eureka” represents a process, a collaboration and influx of thoughts and inputs over time.  “Chance favors the connected mind.”  Cheers.
  • Tom Chatfield.  Virtuality is Dazzling.
  • Sheena Iyengar.  Choice isn’t always the optimal option.  Watch the TEDtalk here.
  • Eric Berlow.  Ordered networks encourage us to look at the nature of our questions.
  • Sugata Mitra.  Children function as self-teaching systems.
  • Joseph Nye.  Multi-polar global challenges are best surmounted with soft power.

CLASS FAVORITES (a bit of fun)

  • Best Dressed.   David Rowan.  Editor of WIRED.  Sunny Bates.  Networker extraordinaire, social crème brulée.
  • Visual Delight.  Jamil Abu-Wardeh. Producer of middle eastern comedy, including Axis of Evil Tour.  Elif Safak.  Writer, global citizen. Watch her TEDtalk here.
  • Stage Presence.  Anne Lennox.  Recording artist, social and political activist.
  • Triple Latte Energy.  Rives.  Poet, host of TEDActive, energy bomb.  June Cohen. Executive producer of TED Media, host of TEDUniversity, wit and smiles galore.  Sunny Bates.
  • Best Dancer.  Peter Eigen.  Founder, Transparency International.  Exposer of international bribery and champion of anti-corruption; great at the Tango.

Who would you give a TEDy?

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Airfare Hack: One-Way v Round-Trip

Today I booked my flight to London for TEDGlobal 2010. After tedious searching I am pressed to share thoughts on plane tickets.

Fine Print

As of June 14th, flights from Hsv to London cost $1,499.00. Peak travel season..robbery is to be expected. What struck me almost as gently as the lightness of my pocketbook is that an economy one-way flight costs more than its round-trip counterpart ($1,538.00, I usually only bother searching round-trip fares, but I have a Delta standby ticket expiring soon that I intended to use to promote frugality. Ha ha.

Delta has two exquisite options for Business Class as well. The first flight entices you with not one but two 3.5 hr layovers, only to be outdone by the second choice that offers a grand 8.5 hr layover in Atlanta. $3,747 and $6,500, respectively. One-way. Bloody awful.

Upgrade to round-trip Business and release from your bank account an additional $800. At $4,500, this fare is effectively two thousand dollars less than the more expensive one-way flight. What gives?

Perhaps travelers in need of custom itineraries purchase more one-way tickets and such irregularities disrupt airline schedules. “One-way fliers might need specific times and flights in a way that makes their demand more inelastic,” says an economist of the Austrian School. Professor Horowitz of St. Lawrence University adds “My own thought is that it’s a matter of not wanting an empty seat coming back the other way given the low probability of a ‘double coincidence of one-way tickets.'” Well put.

“Tomatoes are .50 each or 3 for 1.00.” With one-way airfare, you pay a premium for 1. buying less than the standard share and 2. increasing the risk that some of the product will remain shelved.

I’d like to thank those dwellers in the land of the volcano-which-cannot-be-pronounced, because I found an outlying one-way ticket to London from NYC with Iceland Express for $360. I booked a cheap round-trip flight to NY and asked Delta what happens when I fly home standby and don’t use the second leg of my flight.

“We will credit you with a voucher for the portion of the fare you are unable to use.” Really..? I see a loophole.

Example. Given airfare costs $500 one-way or $600 round-trip, even if you don’t need the return, book round. Call the airline before your extra flight departs. You receive a $250 airline credit (after, say, $50 fee), which quintessentially knocks your fare down to $350.

Jay-Z might as well have been speaking about one-way airfare when he said “I kept feedin’ her money till her shit started to make sense.” Indeed.

If you are a traveler who frequently books one-way flights, especially in Business Class, give this a go. And let me know what you think. Half credit from a $600 ticket is convenient; that from a $4,500 ticket is the next order of magnitude. Do this twice and you net a first class round-trip flight across the Atlantic. Now that is something to write home about. Or at least accounting.

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Grilling over Rosemary Wood

I was jogging the other day and ran by a rosemary bush a meter tall thrown out with trash.

I replanted it and the bush is today pronounced deceased.  So now I have some Rosemary wood to grill with.  It is a perennial herb with 1 inch (2.5 cm) thick limbs .  And once it dries out a bit we are going to cook over it.  Hickory smoked food tastes good.  Rosemary smoked food..oh man sounds amazing.  I will let you know how it goes.

Side note related to life and the outdoors, I have been taking photos of a specific garden since early April. It is turning into somewhat of a masterpiece of photographic flow series.  First every two weeks and now it seems every couple of days new greenery bursts into vibrant bloom.  From barely broken winter ground to a four foot tall mesh of life.  Changing bright and soft colors and hues and depth of green. Green into POW! white, yellow, purple, burgundy.

What does life do to an area of Earth that it inhabits?  A hydrologic system (of organisms) mediates a bit of air and soil [look into that statement].  It changes the chemical composition of its environment, making complex molecules and a variety of by-products that themselves fuel an evolving, increasingly complex biosphere.

Periodic cycles of ebb and flow in energy availability drive a dynamic system to “produce” (that is, exist).  The structure of the affecting cycles effects the overall ecology, which itself incorporates the functions which affect its description.  I find this intriguing.  I think about this subject in many ways, striving for pure curiosity and inquisitiveness.

Along the way I end up with systems affecting (or as an effect of – or both -) my thought process.  Such is the case in my deciding to document the growth of a garden.  Here, it is so that I can look back and see, differently.  It’s a pseudo-experiment that tests the hypothesis that the end product will inspire something new.  Which could be just some photos.  Conversely, it might aid thoughts about evolving ecological systems.

As great books inspire ideas, thoughtful intrigue can incite literature recollections and research collaborations that happen to arise alongside the stimulus.  The stimulus of instantaneously re-seeing a garden grow from bare to bearing.  It falls under a nameless category of curiosity to which I ascribe the sentiment of “Hm, that’s interesting”.   I nurture many off-the-wall undertakings with this principle.  Now then, you have wasted minutes reading my eccentric labors and musings.  Go along and pursue your passion, no matter the obscurity. Remember that gravity was considered ridiculous when Galileo first thought of it.

Here is one photograph I have taken along the way.  Sharing enthusiasm for life’s subtle details.  -Amy

Aquilegia (also called Columbine) blooms in mid-April 2010
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“Welcome to Scholarpedia, the peer-reviewed open-access encyclopedia written by scholars from around the world.”

Well hello indeed! Scholarpedia, Dr . Eugene Izhikevich’s contribution on the MediaWiki platform, is a knowledge machine. Each article is curated by an expert in its respective field. For example, ‘Facial expression analysis’ is written and moderated by Paul Eckman. It’s still in early development (many articles remain to be written), yet is already a great step in the future of quality information distribution.

This thing is citeable, and a complete history of revisions is available. That in its own right will be an interesting view “into the living process of peer review and progress of ideas that is hidden behind the scenes in traditional publications.” Wiki goes on to say thast “some revisions may well become classics much like a fine vintage of wine.” Fascinating externality. A knowledge project produces more knowledge than anticipated, brilliant! Get on Scholarpedia and give it a try.

A note to my friends of academic prestige: get in while the project’s still young. Better yet, get a group of collaborators and form a couple pages together. Concise descriptions of the concepts comprising your discipline. These pages are a limited resource.



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Sleep Inspiration: Memory, Relaxation, Sex

I took a research web dive into dreamland today for psych class.  I liked how it came together, so here it is for you.

5 reasons why and how you should get some shut eye.

1.  “Short sleep duration was associated with weight gain and the development of obesity over 1 year in men, but not in women.”

Gents, do you see that this is a male-only butterball statistic?  This fact is a double whammy; other studies demonstrated relationships between work stresses and sleep quality, and unfortunately men’s professions tend to be much more stressful and run longer hours.  Don’t let that stress you more, though, I found a key to great sleep, so read on.

2.  “Only during deep, restful sleep, can human brain cells replenish the energy stores they deplete during a full day of thinking, sensing and reacting.”

As you think, your brain uses glycogen, its stored energy source.  This thought fuel is replaced during prolonged mental relaxation, which, according to Stanford University, happens to occur while you are sleeping.

3.  “Evidence supports a role for sleep in the consolidation of an array of learning and memory tasks.”

Newly learned items stored during the day in working memory evolve into long-term memories overnight.  You need sleep to solidify what you memorize into what you know.  It’s like storing a file on your hard drive from RAM.

4.  “Cell division and protein synthesis reach their maximum values during hours of sleep.  When tissues have been damaged, the rate of healing is greatest during sleep.”

Healing applies to everything:  replenishing energy stores, flushing out toxins, repairing damaged muscles.  When you work out, the way you gain muscle and burn calories is by tearing and subsequently rebuilding muscle tissue.  This elucidates partly why two-a-days are so brutal; there’s no sleep/repair interval in between.

5.  “Adults with moderate sleep complaints can improve self-rated sleep quality by initiating a regular moderate-intensity exercise program.”

Everyone knows it is important to get exercise.  Beyond improving the quality and duration of your sleep, it elevates confidence, energy level, happiness, and the other task to which your bed is predisposed.  If you have trouble sleeping, studies suggest using your bed exclusively for sleeping and sex (seriously); so get busy (exercise) and satisfy your body’s needs (for sleep).


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