Posted by toadstar on 12:13 PM

The Highlight Of My Week So Far:

Posted by toadstar on 11:00 PM

11th Hour and Sustainable Living in Houston:
Today I went off to the Lone Star College to join Sustainable Living in Houston for a viewing of 11th hour. The movie was good. It had many interesting points some that I hadn't considered yet. For example the idea that we are living off of ancient sunlight, i.e. oil and coal are the remains of things that were alive a long time ago. Before the Industrial Revolution we were living off of current sunlight, meaning that we ate only the crops that we grew, the animals that we used for both transportation and food were fed off of current sunlight. It's a simple concept really, but something that I had never bothered to look at in that, pardon the pun, light.

I've always thought of it more in these terms. Nature has this amazing ability to restore itself, in fact I would say that nature is the master recycler, for instance when a rabbit dies in the forest it will decompose, before too long there will be no physical trace left of the rabbit (of course there will be nutrients left in the soil and some fat happy bacteria...). Oil and Coal are waste from the past, it's stuff that should have been decomposed, but for some reason the process was stopped or prevented and now we have oil and coal. The reason that we have these substances is sheer dumb luck, and it's stupid to base an entire economy on something unsustainable, especially leftover waste.

Another aspect that I found interesting was when (her name escapes me), but when they were discussing the strongest material we have, kevlar. The manufacturing of kevlar take an enormous amount of energy-a lot of that energy is wasted. In contrast one of the strongest natural materials is a spider silk. It was suggested that we need to find ways of manufacturing more like nature, when a spider makes its silk, energy is not wasted, and the spider does not need to warm up to extreme temperatures to make its silk. We need to find better ways of making textiles, or really anything at all, ones that do not waste so much heat and electricity, ones that are cleaner and safer for both the environment and the people that use them.

Here are some lines from the movie that I found interesting:
We Create our own environment.
Nature is a resource.
One hundred million environmental refugees.
We are facing a convergence of crises.
Seventy countries have no original forests.
You're either humans or property and nature is property.
Cradle to cradle design.
Things are the thief of time.
Love is the force that makes us fully human.

The Sustainable Living in Houston people are great, really passionate and caring and I think that they are doing great things. I'm pretty sure I'll be seeing more of them in the future, I'm thinking of volunteering. If you live in the Houston area and care about our environment, check out their website and help them out in any way possible.

Posted by toadstar on 1:44 PM

Happy Birthday Lucas!!!

It's been three years now, since my boy was born. And a lot has happened in those three years. A lot of events that have changed who I am forever, and made me a Daddy a word that still fills me with pride every time I hear him say it. I'm proud to be Luke's Daddy and I'm so glad that I get to show him around this planet for a while. There's nothing more exciting that teaching him new things and watching him understand and start to piece the world together.

I remember when he was born. I had just come to the realization that in a month, my son would be born. I still had so much to do to get ready. Aside from the physical preparations of cribs and strollers and all the baby paraphernalia, I still wasn't mentally ready. I look back now and think, how can you be. Fatherhood is a huge change and you don't know how strongly it will take hold of you. You can never be prepared for that. I remember the day after he was born I went to the store to get food and supplies, and in the car on the way there I was listening to the 80's channel and all those sappy old love songs had changed for me. They were no longer about the love of a man for a woman, they were about the love I have for my son. Realizing that everything kind of shifted and changed, I had a new outlook on life.

Luke's birth was hard, it left many scars on me and my wife. We went in for a routine exam only to be told that my wife had pre-eclampsia and they wanted to check us into the hospital for more tests. We were so scared. We had planned a homebirth. We didn't want a traumatic birth for our son and now we were faced with the fact that they may schedule us for and emergency c-section. I had only just realized that he was due in a month and now they are telling me that my son could be birthed today. I was so scared. My wife was too, this is not how we planned to start parenthood. We checked in on a Wednesday and they ran some tests. Friday they started to induce labor. I was grateful that they at least were going to let us try and deliver naturally, but they made sure that we knew, if my wife did not progress they would do a c-section.

Honestly I don't think that we could have gotten away with as much as we did if it wasn't for our midwife and one of the nurses that was to be our back up midwife. It was great having someone there to help up, to try and protect our wishes. Things started coming to a head late Saturday afternoon. My wife wasn't progressing fast enough and Lucas wasn't in position. The doctor was on his way to check on my wife. My midwife, our nurse and I all placed our hands on my wife's belly and the nurse placed one on my wife's cervix, she was trying to massage it open, while her other hand and our hands tried to push Lucas into position. They began to pray-please let this baby get into position... I'm not one that wears my religion on my sleeve and I'm not really one for spontaneous public prayer, but this was one of the most moving emotional moments in my life. All the power and love that was in that room all for my son. It was amazing. I don't think that this moment had as much impact on my wife as it did on me, but it was one of the most spiritual moments of my life. What ever happened there actually worked, we were aloud to carry on.

Lucas was finally born at 3:21 Sunday morning. I remember my wife and I were so happy, so excited, so relieved to finally have our son we didn't notice that his cord was wrapped around his neck. It took a moment longer to realized that he wasn't breathing at that point I don't think that anyone in the room was breathing. Finally he screamed and everything was right in the world we still had some battles to fight before we could bring him home. But we fought them and survived, we may have been wounded in the fight, but we made it and since we've had the joy of raising our Lucas our sweet, kind, loving boy.

So here we are three years later. You've learned to walk. You've learned to talk. You've become a big brother and taught me a lot about life. You may drive me crazy, but I love you more than anything and you're one of the greatest joys in my life. So Happy Birthday Lucas, I love you.

Good News For a Change (Now With Added Bonus Link Dumps):

So first the good news. At the end of September the Institute for the Future's Jane McGonigal and Jamais Cascio are going to be conducting the world's first massively multiplayer forecasting game Superstruct and I am going to be on their advisory board. It's a chance to have my work highlighted on the site and the weekly updates, so needless to say, I'm really excited about this and really want to thank Jane and Jamias and everyone at the IftF for the opportunity.

And now the links:

*An estimated 125,000 Western lowland gorillas are living in a swamp in equatorial Africa, researchers reported Tuesday, double the number of the endangered primates thought to survive worldwide.

I find this amazing. So what do the swamps have that the mountains didn't? Lack of poachers? Lack of disease? Six of one, half dozen of the other? Think of this in human terms. It's like refugees from a war torn country migrating to Europe or America. Picture this happening to other species. What if the polar bears just migrated further north or found an uncharted island? There are so many species supposedly endangered, but what if we're just looking in the wrong places for them and their thriving in hiding, safe from mankind.

*Nature Neuroscience article on neurological basis for magic, co-written by Teller of Penn and Teller.

*Gargantuan Scale Model of Shanghai in 2020 This is just awesome-When they finish building it, it look like something you'd see on Coruscant. Just get rid of all cars and replace them with hovercars or space ships and I think you have a dead ringer.

*Tokyo Fantasy: Images of the apocalypse Amazing pictures. But it reminds me of what Geoff Manaugh from the blog BLDGBLOG said in a recent post:
"This is obviously meant as a warning.
However, the main problem I have with using maps and scenarios like this to get people worked up about climate change is that these warnings often seem to have the opposite effect.
In other words, these things are actually so evocative, and so imaginatively stimulating, that it's hard not to get at least a tiny thrill at the idea that you might get to see these things happen."
Looking at these pictures you do tend to marvel at their beauty and wonder what it would be like to live there, to watch as nature wipes out mans footprint. How will we live, how will we survive?

*ETech's CFP has launched. The theme this year is Living, Reinvented: The Technology of Abundance and Constraints. I've been pondering these themes for the past six months, perhaps I'll have to write a paper. What's the worst that can happen?

*Italy Begins Military Effort to Quell Crime. This is scary.
"Soldiers were deployed throughout Italy on Monday to embassies, subway and railway stations, as part of broader government measures to fight violent crime here for which illegal immigrants are broadly blamed."
Superstruct is broken up into five scenarios the one that I'm working on will be Generation Exile. Basically with huge storms, and world economies falling there will be a massive worldwide migration. What will happen then? If we cannot currently deal with people migrating from poorer economies and war torn countries, what will happen when millions are coming over the border? That is one reason why I find this so scary. If countries are already using the military to suspend civil rights and shake down migrants for just walking down the street, what will happen in the future? What will happen in the United States when our military is stretched too far and we don't have enough troops to patrol our cities much less our borders? Will we resort to something like using Blackwater troops to protect our citizens? How do we manage this? How do we continue to treat people like human beings in all of this?

Jackson Pollock by Miltos Manetas