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mermaidcamp

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The Fine Line Between Culture and Cult

August 10, 2016 2 Comments

 

Originals by Adam Grant

Originals by Adam Grant

I am listening to the book Originals by Adam Grant.  This audio book is the second of my free treats in the 3 month Audible subscription I have initiated.  I am employing Alexa in the Echo to read the book to me at home.  When I go to the gym I switch to the iPod or iPad for a workout.  The system knows how to bookmark my last page and start in that spot without a hitch.  This is fun for now, but I don’t see myself keeping the membership for the extra $15 a month.  You still have to purchase the audio books beyond that basic dues payment.  I like it as a temporary novelty, but I still have some of my favorite books on audio CD, which is the only way I can listen in my car.

I love the theory as well as the writing in this book.  The way originality develops and makes change possible in the world is a subject this author has studied from many perspectives.  His many concrete examples of entrepreneurs who both fail and succeed to execute meaningful change help the reader understand how power and status quo operate.  The common beliefs that great risk and speed are the keys to cultural change are disproven with real stories.  Procrastination may well be the innovator’s best friend.  By waiting for the first line to fail in various ways, the second line is an a much better position to correct mistakes while proving the need for the same innovations.  “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and among his own relatives, and in his own household.” Mark 6:4

Birth order and other lifestyle factors are studied as possible catalysts for becoming a meaningful leader.  Groupthink is the enemy of originality.  When non-conformists are able to use influence to create a change in culture, in business or in politics, it is because the original has learned to open a cultural mentality, destroying the myth of the cult.  Even in our fast-changing world with innovation running  copiously toward individualization status quo is still the strongest force.

Bitters by Brad Thomas Parsons, an Adventure

May 16, 2014 4 Comments

 

Bitters

Bitters

I bought  a hard cover copy of Bitters by Brad Thomas Thompson after reading about the history of this elixir and the revival of its popularity today.  I have always enjoyed cooking with bitters and had only ventured out from Angostura to a couple of other flavors until recently.  I saw some sampler sets and bought chocolate, key lime  and lavender in small bottles to try.  I also bought a fancy one from Scotland that I adore.  Experimenting with these flavors in cocktails and in food (I always put some is soups) has piqued my interest in producing some of my own with ingredients from my garden.

The medicinal use of bitters has a very long history of curing headache, indigestion, stomach cramps and more.  The herbs and fruits used create both the flavor profile and the curative values.  Bitters and soda is the classic companion for rich foods and an abundance of alcohol.   There are two kinds, potable and cocktail bitters.  Potable are sipped straight up as a digestif, like Campari or Fernet Branca. Cocktail bitters are used to marry flavors in drinks or cooking.  They balance and enhance the other ingredients to create a complex synergy.

The book is very well written and researched.  The history, the prominent producers today, and opinions from bartenders are covered in the opening chapters.  The complete recipes and instructions to create 13 different kinds of homemade varieties follows.  Most contain gentian, others calamus root, hops and cinchona bark (the main taste in tonic water) as the bitter element.  Fruits and spices such as ginger, allspice and cardamom are used.  Since I have ripe calamondins on my tree I plan to follow the orange or the lemon recipe to make my first batch using the citrus I have.  The technique is simple, involves vodka and soaking for a month, and seems pretty foolproof.  The exciting part is that I have a new way to use my garden herbs and fruits that preserves their flavor and creates a unique product not available on the open market. Mr Parsons suggests a bitters exchange party at which friends gather, make the mixture, and return after a month to finish the process and bottle.  I am happy I have just met a neighbor how wants to be my bitters buddy.  We are going to make one that includes turmeric for inflammation.  I don’t think it will take very long to become expert bitters makers, and since a small amount is effective it will be great to share batches of new concoctions.

The greatest part of the book is dedicated to cocktail and cooking recipes.  Beautiful pictures, detailed instructions and a wide variety of new and old make this section of the book really fun to own in hardcover.  I have read more of the drinks than I have tried, but am fascinated with some of the non alcoholic drinks like smoked lemonade in which the lemons are smoked for up to an hour before the preparation.  There are some flavor ideas that will spark your imagination and creativity.  It is the complete guide to the adventure of making and using these curative combinations. Santé!

Exodus, a Novel by Geoff Livingston

August 13, 2013 4 Comments

I had the pleasure of interviewing Geoff about his process writing his new novel, Exodus.  My brand new Skype recording software may have been the reason our call was frozen a couple of times.  We then proceeded without the recording since the new software has not been tested and it seemed the likely culprit.

Geoff grew up with two journalist parents writing in different styles.  He said the only criticism he has heard so far on his novel came from his dad, who was the editor of the Philadelphia Enquirer.  I wanted to know how he came up with a drama set in Kansas, USA, starring  Jason of the Argonuat fame, in a post apocalyptic world dominated by fundamentalist religious persons.  It must be said that he is a sci fi fan as well as a justice freak.  His use of an historical character from Greek literature is part of a story that was in his head.  He studied European history as a minor in college, so his knowledge of the various forms of fundamentalism that swept through Europe (Inquisition, Crusades, etc) is extensive.  His story is not about race, but about religious fanaticism.  Setting it 300 years into the future makes it clear that the story is fiction.  Using themes that have filled human history with war and drama, Geoff examines how society could totally break bad if the intolerance is not contained.  I am not a fiction reader, but I like Geoff both in print and in person, so I might break the 30 year fiction fast to read Exodus when it comes out August 26 .  Those of you who like steampunk and fiction with a side of political ethics will probably love this book:

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