Finally Tipped

The Tipping Point by Malcolm Galdwell

I know I’m pretty much the last person on earth to read Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point, but I just finished it on Saturday—and I loved it.

I’m sure the reasons I liked it are similar to why others like it: It illustrates the extraordinary things that can happen in ordinary circumstances. The stories it recounts show great success based on the little things. And Gladwell is an excellent storyteller.

It’s inspirational and motivational, expecially to someone like me who is trying to figure out the ways of the sales and word-of-mouth worlds.

But somehow I can’t help but feel that it falls just short of being highly important. And maybe it’s not meant to be—maybe it has been the success of the book that has elevated it to something more significant socially than it was intended.

Either way it’s a great tip to the iceburg. And anyone who really engages with the subject matter will be driven to find out more. And I have to say I love Sesame Street and Blue’s Clues even more now. Now I’m really looking forward to Blink and especially to Outliers. More Malcolm, here I come!

A beautiful shot of men playing backgammon in a coffeeshop in Greece. Photo by Klearchos Kapoutsis

A beautiful shot of men playing backgammon in a coffeeshop in Greece. Photo by Klearchos Kapoutsis.

It was a cold, nasty, raining Saturday in Asheville/Black Mountain yesterday. But the fiance and myself made the most of it, spending a good chunk of the day at the brand new Dynamite Roasting Co., right outside of downtown. We enjoyed a half decaf/half Columbian blend of coffee from the french press, and he kicked my butt at some backgammon. The coffee bar/roastery is housed in an old home that was once gutted to make a fireplace showroom. Today the modest old furniture and undorned counter are arranged around a beautiful black and red roasting drum. There is a turntable inthe corner, on top of a couple of crates full of old records. It’s fantastic.

After coffee, we walked across the street to Philly’s, the Hungarian-American sandwich shop adjacent to the Mobile Medic, and ordered one cheesesteak (with banana peppers) to split. Let’s just say it put the sunshine in my rainy day.

So go check out Dynamite. It’s well worth parking in a muddy pothole.

Buster Keaton, one of the iconic comics of olde brought into new life in Vanity Fairs shoot. In the Aprill 2009 issue, a similar portrait is shot wit Jason Segel.

Buster Keaton, one of the iconic comics of "olde" brought into new life in Vanity Fair's shoot. In the Aprill 2009 issue, a similar portrait is shot with Jason Segel.

I’m not normally that big of a Vanity Fair person. I don’t have anything against it in particular, it’s just not my glossy of choice. Nevertheless, when my fiance emailed me this Huffington Post article about the new Vanity Fair Legends of Comedy, I responded with, “Can we PLEASE buy this and FRAME IT?!”

Needless to say, it’s pretty awesome. I think the folks over at VF do have the edge when it comes to creative photography. And I really love the guys they’re spotlighting in this feature too.

During the past couple of months I have become hooked on CBS’s “How I Met Your Mother,” which was almost directly preceded by my unexpected enjoyment of Forgetting Sarah Marshall. I will even admit to liking Superbad at least a little.

And although it’s outside of the Judd Apatow arsenal, I have to say I am REALLY excited about the upcoming I Love You, Man, featuring my two favorite VF funny men.

So check out the awesome video about the photo shoot, and if you want to hear a great story about Judd Apatow and how he’s sticking around for a while, check out this bit from NPR’s All Things Considered last April. Enjoy.

And I wanted to run an image from Vanity Fair’s April photo shoot highlighting today’s great comics in yesterday’s awesome poses. But clearly I don’t want to take anyone’s work and call it my own, so just check out the totally kickass slideshow on VF.com.

Rainbows and Meatballs

Right now there is about three inches of snow on my porch. It’s the first decent sticking snow we’ve had all winter, and it’s beautiful. It kinda makes me want to go to bed and wish for Christmas.

The new experience of the day today was my attendance at the local Rotary Club. I went as a guest of my coworker, who attends regularly on behalf of our organization. The first thing that struck me was the homogeneity of the group. The overwhelming majority was of one race, one gender, and on generation. It really makes me wonder what is going to happen to groups like Rotary and to all the good work they do when this generation ages out — maybe something to worry about sooner rather than later. Nevertheless the food was delicious (Swedish meatballs are one of my favorites), the student-of-the-month presentation was heartwarming and the program was interesting. One of the Rotarians had recently spent some time in Tanzania, visiting churches and a brand new hospital.

What I liked most about his presentation was the photo slideshow. After many study abroad and mission trip spiels, it never fails to amaze me how colorful and bright and clean these people’s clothes are. First off it makes me think that if we all still used the sun instead of dryers, that products like Clorox2 would not be necessary. Second, it makes me kinda jealous of this whole form of expression that they have that we do not. I know that people in the Global North use fashion to express themselves, often to a fault, but it doesn’t match the colors and the symbolism and the importance that cloth and pattern has for people in poorer parts of the world.

Of course this isn’t the only message I got from Rotary today, but it was the part that stuck with me. In other news, my friend Anoop Desai made it to the next round of American Idol. Normally I am not a fan, but it’s pretty exciting when you’re watching every montage for a familiar face. Rock on, Anoop Dog. Peace.

Canvas Bagging It

Just an intro note to start with: Normally I get my images from the Creative Commons search on Flickr, and I post the username of the photog and a link to the CCLicense. I generally post these very small. But this time I really wanted to point out the image and the great project behind it. So click on the link about and then click back through all the previous posts. I thing it’s a wonderful idea, and her little playing card paintings are so adorable!

Other than the Lunchbox Project, what I really wanted to highlight is the concept of the waste-free lunch. I know it’s definitely not a new idea (I have vivid memories of an American Girl accessory set that involved a red gingham napkin in a lunch pail… but after a short search I’m either crazy or they’ve stopped making it). But for some reason I’m taken in by it anyway.

All our ziploc bags seem ridiculous. Even the paper sacks seem ridiculous. Even the most irresponsible youngster manages to bring his lunchbox home more often than not (I would think), but for some reason we still pack in containers that we easily can toss afterwards.

The two companies I have seen do this well (and the things I really want to buy and use every week) are these: Laptop Lunches makes a sort of Americanized version of the bento box. They include the outer box and four smaller inside containers, plus a tiny little container for salad dressing, etc. The whole kit comes with some silverware and a book about packing healthy lunches. Unfortunately all the lunchbox books out there are for parents trying to pack lunches for their picky children. This is frustrating as I am neither a child nor a picky eater, at all. But the Laptop Lunch book also has some good grocery-buying tips, etc.

The second thing I think is awesome are these fabric alternatives to ziplocs. I came across some in a store downtown this weekend that carried some with a water-resistant lining and a snapping flap, but I kinda like these velcro ones from Plum Creek Mercantile. Plum Creek also carries these cool bulk bags that you can take with you to the store. I’m really trying to buy certain foods in bulk this time. Between the wasted packaging and all the wasted or simply stale food and spices, it just doesn’t make sense to buy conventionally packaged foods. Lucky for me we have a great natural foods store that has an excellent bulk section. I even got my soy sauce in bulk, and I think I paid like 97 cents for it.

So just a bit of an eye-opener/cool trend that I wanted to share. Developing my wish list and my shopping list. Healthy food, healthy planet. Peace.

Renewal of Curiosity

“Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends — hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism– these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths.”— Obama

The strange looking animals pictured above are Highland Cattle, also know as Hairy Coos. Don’t ask me why, I have no idea. But they’re kinda cute. I don’t know how they see where they’re going.

I wanted to write something after the inauguration. Something about how real it felt to me and how good. And about how I love Michelle’s comfortable glamor and Barack’s humble wait in the hallway. I’m excited to see what will happen and hopeful because I might actually have the chance/inclination to become involved this time around.

My parents gave me a subscription to Newsweek for Christmas, and this week I’ve read the issue nearly cover-to-cover, which has been a real treat. I’m for staying connected and informed without being pulled down into international pessimism. I’m hoping that reading well-written news will do better for this than too much TV or even radio.

Which all kinda leads me (in a very weird, indirect way) to what I am considering to be my New Years Resolution. Yea, yea… I know it’s been a month already so I’m a little late, but these things need to be considered. And in my defense I did come up with this at the beginning of the month. I’m just getting to posting it now, which you will come to see is the slightest bit ironic.

The word of the year is “intentional.” I want to live with my with more intention. Do what I say I am going to do, in a way that encourages curiosity and productivity. It’s not that I want to get more done, I want to do more with the full awareness of what and how I am doing.

So there. That is the big picture for 2009. A little late, maybe a little hairy. But hopefully a lot curious.