Rebel with rather too many causes.
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Stuff I'm thankful for

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I'm thankful that the sewing machine was invented a long time ago, not today. If the sewing machine were invented today, most sewing tutorials would be twice as long, because all the thread would come in proprietary cartridges, and you would usually have to hack the cartridge to get the type of thread you need in a cartridge that works with your machine.

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mako
3 days ago
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mako
54 days ago
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everyday meals everywhere

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A subtitle emerges for the book, Meet Me at the Bamboo Table. (Photo by A.V. Crofts)

A subtitle emerges for the book, Meet Me at the Bamboo Table. (Photo by A.V. Crofts)

 

I took the photo above at the end of January, when it was crunch time on the subtitle. I’d batted around possibilities for months, but a survey to a small circle of friends sent me back to the drawing board. Out came the Post-It Notes, the trusty Sharpie, and just about every imaginable word related to food, travel, and memory I could muster. What surfaced stuck immediately: “Everyday Meals Everywhere.”

Meals shape and change me, no matter where I am. And they need not be five-star banquets to leave a lasting impression.

Today was bookended by two such everyday meals: a late breakfast atop a Berlin rooftop terrace, capped with a cozy pasta supper across town in the dining room of a 7th floor walk-up. Conversations easily swirl as drinks are poured, plates are served, and then eventually dishes are cleared. No one wanted to break the spell tonight, as we lingered over dessert well into the wee hours of the morning.

These meals are magic.

 

 

 

 

 

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mako
323 days ago
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Meals shape and change me, no matter where I am. And they need not be five-star banquets to leave a lasting impression.

Today was bookended by two such everyday meals: a late breakfast atop a Berlin rooftop terrace, capped with a cozy pasta supper across town in the dining room of a 7th floor walk-up. Conversations easily swirl as drinks are poured, plates are served, and then eventually dishes are cleared. No one wanted to break the spell tonight, as we lingered over dessert well into the wee hours of the morning.

These meals are magic.
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Scratch Community Manager Position Available

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A while back Mako introduced me to Mitchel Resnick, LEGO Papert Professor of Learning Research and head of the Lifelong Kindergarten group at the MIT Media Lab. Mitchel is a tremendous human being; warm, passionate, and terribly creative in solving interesting problems.

Mitchel introduced me to some members of his team and the conversation was focused on how they can find a good community manager for the Scratch learning environment. For the cave-dwellers among you, Scratch is a wonderful platform for teaching kids programming and the core principles involved.

So, we discussed the role and I helped to shape the role description somewhat.

It is a really awesome and important opportunity, particularly if you are passionate about kids and technology. It is a role that is calling for a creative thinker to take Scratch to the next level and impact a whole new generation of kids and how they can build interesting things with computers. While some community managers focus a lot on the outreach pieces (blogging, social media, and events), I encourage those of you interested in this role to also think of it from a deeper perspective of workflow, building different types of community, active collaboration, and more.

Check out the role description here and apply. If you and I know each other, feel free to let them know this and I am happy to share with them more about you. Good luck!

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mako
336 days ago
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meet me at the bamboo table

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MMATBT Cover

 

I’m thrilled to announce that this September, Chin Music Press will publish my first book, Meet Me At the Bamboo Table: Everyday Meals Everywhere. This is a book about meals that spans 15 countries and three decades. It highlights how food anchors my memories as well as builds and strengthens my communities.

Ann Handley, author of Everybody Writes, says that writing is like birthing a Volkswagen. I laughed when I read that but, having now been through the process, I think she has the model wrong. At least for me. Writing this book was more like birthing a Volkswagen bus.

What started in March of 2014 will be bound and in my hands in just a few months. Up until this point, my writing focused on the intersection of food and identity with me as observer (or documenter). This book places me smack dab into each essay.

Meet Me at the Bamboo Table also allowed me to dive back and swim deeper into stories that I first shared on this blog. Pieces about Wisconsin, or my love of pickles. I’ll be using this blog in the next few months to share parts of the publishing process and sneak peaks at the book itself.

I can’t wait.

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mako
341 days ago
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Maybe I should share some of my pickles with Anita.
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Don’t pave the paths used by the unhappy cows

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Today I had the line “lets not solve cultural problems with technology” attributed to me. That sounds like something I might say. (or more likely I’d say something like, “wheee! let’s solve those cultural problems with technology” and everyone would assume I was being sarcastic, but to the same effect)

The funny thing is interpreted in an unsubtle way this mantra runs exactly counter to one of my other philosophies of team, namely: Be a tool building culture.

I tried to tease out the nuance of these two ideas today, which is to say:

You can’t solve your cultural problems with technology, but you can support your culture with technology.

If your teams don’t respect each other and can’t communicate, a microservices architecture that decouples deploys isn’t going to solve your problem, it’s going to make it worse. Its going to entrench your dysfunction deep into your code where it is harder to fix.

On the flip side if you have a culture that already values transparency and inclusion, than building tools to make it easier for people with different styles, levels of seniority, and in different geographies to participate in conversations reifies that value. And given that culture isn’t a binary, making positive outcomes the easiest and default approach creates positive feedback loops.

Which was succinctly summarized by one of the people I was talking to as: “Pave the cowpaths, just don’t pave the paths used by the unhappy cows.”

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mako
341 days ago
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