“There is a teenage girl named Samantha who suffers from an Eosinophilic Gastrointestinal Disease (Eosinophilic Esophagitis). She is allergic to food. Samantha is fed formula through a tube in her stomach, her only safe food is white potatoes. Although Samantha can’t eat, her dream is to become a chef. She loves cooking for others, it helps her feel connected to meals which are such a central part of our lives. Think of how much of our lives revolve around food – imagine if you or your child was permanently isolated? Samantha had wanted one of the cooking shows like an “Iron Chef” or “Top Chef” to challenge their chefs to prepare food eliminating the Top 8 Allergens. I think it would be amazing for Samantha to get to see her dream become reality while spreading awareness for EGIDs. As an orphan illness we receive $0 in government funding unlike other gastrointestinal disorders. Many children have few if any safe foods and live on formula; no cake at birthdays, no eating in the lunchroom or family meals, repeated doctor visits, tests and hospital stays… it is truly heartbreaking… Samantha wants a cure so she can taste the food she cooks. I would love to at least see part of her dream come true by one of the cooking shows doing the Top 8 Elimination challenge, but how much greater if she could actually BE there and meet the chefs?! She is a brave girl who has done numerous YouTube videos to spread awareness, I would love to see her given an opportunity to spread awareness even further.”
WOW!!!! How could I not try to help this courageous and inspirational young lady?
There are a few ways I may be able to help and I will try every one of them.
- I have contacted Samantha’s family to let them know her efforts have not gone unnoticed and that people like Stacey and I are working alongside her. (I encourage you to do the same via her Facebook page.)
- I will try to promote Samantha’s cause via this blog and all the social media tools I have at my disposal.
- I am forwarding her request on to every contact I have in television, particularly those at Bravo, which airs Top Chef.
- Posting links to her cause wherever I think it may gain traction.
I have no idea if my efforts will make her dream a reality, but nothing would make me happier than seeing Samantha on TV.
Please add your name to Samantha’s Change.org petition. It only takes a second.
Make a tribute donation via CaringBridge.
Make a donation to CURED. Get this, 100% of your donation goes into researching a cure. 100%!!!
Visit her Facebook Page.
Watch her videos on YouTube
This week we attempted to learn how to vault over higher walls, about 5 feet high. I pulled off a Kong vault and even a few 180’s, walking on my hands in mid flight. The biggest accomplishment of the night was my first cartwheel and the beginnings of a handstand (always wanted to do those). I said in the previous Parkour blog entry that every week I’ve gone home with a different injury and my record still stands. This week I rip my big toe nail back on itself. Not to worry though. I wrapped it in some paper towel, taped it up and was good to continue. Enjoy the video.
Barb and I have been taking lessons with Cassia at Arthur Murray in Santa Barbara for 2 months now. We’ve settled into a 2-3 times per week schedule lately and really enjoying it. I’m beginning to understand what it means to lead on the dance floor a bit more, but it’s a process.
Couple of observations I’ve made, whether they are true or not, it’s at least accurate from my perspective. First, the ballroom is one of the few places left in this world where it’s ok to think of the male/female relationship in the traditional sense. It means the man calls the shots there and the woman takes her cue from him. He makes decisions and she simply follows. No discussions, no arguments. However, with power comes responsibility. I’ve come to understand that the man’s role is one of stability and determination. The woman’s role is that of the risk taker. She spins, she follows, she turns, etc. all at the man’s discretion. The man is effectively showing his woman off on the dance floor. His job is to make sure she actually looks good when the spotlight shines on her and then give her a safe, secure place to return to when the move is finished.
One other thing before you get to the video. I’ve discovered some great new music since beginning these lessons. One of my favorites, Dark Waltz by Hayley Westenra, can be heard beginning at 1:32 in the video when we are dancing the waltz. I play it every single day at home. The other favorite is a rhumba tune by Enrique Iglesias called Ring My Bells. I think it’s a pretty sexy tune and love dancing to it, but Enrique gets on Barb’s nerves so it’s a point of contention. Anyway, I play it all the time at home and occasionally we dance to it at the studio.
I know many of you have been dying to see video of our ballroom dancing experience, so here it is. I must warn you however, I’m not very graceful and it may be painful to watch at times. Tonight’s lesson was solely about learning a new move for use on the rhumba and waltz.
Jackson returned from UCLA Film School to rejoin the parkour class with Joel at the new Valhalla Elite Training Center. I had to rush over immediately following my third ballroom dancing class of the week. I’m really packing it in these days.
We focused mainly on what are essentially vaults over short walls. We started by reviewing the vaults each of us had learned in previous lessons. I warmed up with the Butterfly, then learned the Shoulder Roll (gotta tuck more at the end), Kong (loved this one) and then we really pushed it by attempting the Panther. The panther is similar to the Kong, but you build a lot more momentum by almost diving over the first barrier. Success at all of this essentially comes down to simply letting go of the fear and going for it. Although it may look easy when you’re watching these videos, I can tell you it’s much harder than it looks. I’m encouraged by the fact that I go home with a different sore part each time. I think that means I’m pushing myself in a new way every week. This week it’s my left shoulder.
I was out for dinner the other night with one of my hedge fund’s investors and the topic of Klout came up. I’d heard the word mentioned earlier in the week while on a business trip to NYC as well. Two unrelated mentions in one week perked my ears and piqued my interest, so I had to find out more.
First, both conversations focused on the fact that Justin Bieber has the most influence of anyone on the Internet and that companies are actually paying him to essentially do product placements on his Twitter, Facebook, et al accounts. How do they know he’s the most influential person in cyberspace? Well, he’s the only person in the world with a Klout score of 100 out of 100.
According to their website,
The Klout Score measures influence based on your ability to drive action. Every time you create content or engage you influence others.
The Klout Score uses data from social networks in order to measure:
- True Reach: How many people you influence
- Amplification: How much you influence them
- Network Impact: The influence of your network
I’m a pretty heavy user of the Internet, so when I first signed up and received a score of just 13, it was pretty shocking. It made me wonder how low my less Internet friendly friends must be and also what it takes to boost it up. Then I saw a friend who isn’t social media savvy with a score of 17! I had to understand the score better.
Again, according to Klout’s website, “influence is relative so it depends on your goal and peers. The average Klout Score is not 50; instead, it is around 20. The Score becomes exponentially harder to increase as you move up the scale. For instance, it is much harder to move from a 70 to a 75 than from a 20 to a 25.” Wow, 20 is average and I’m a 13?! I wondered what it would take to improve my score to a more respectable level. Klout says, “the best way to increase your Score is to consistently create great content that people want to share and respond to. For the most accurate Score, we also recommend connecting all of your social networks.”
Turns out, it takes a couple of days for your networks to update on Klout. The 13 represented just my Twitter account. Once it added my Facebook page my score jumped to 23. It still hasn’t fully registered all of my networks, like YouTube, Instagram, 12for2012.com, LinkedIn, FourSquare and Blogger, but my score is already a very respectable 51. Pinterest, ravelry and many others are not yet incorporated.
Why should my Klout score matter to me? Power and influence is a good thing to have, whether in the real world or cyberspace. If I am going to be successful at launching LPE, it will certainly come in handy. (LPE’s Klout score is 23, but for some reason it’s only registering the LPE’s Twitter account. Since it’s influence is much greater on Facebook, that score should be much higher when it does register.)
Besides, even as it affects this blog, it’s much more fun writing for an audience.
According to a recent study, just over 98% of the time “teaching” is mentioned in the news or online, it is with a negative connotation. The League of Professional Educators seeks to turn that around and it begins with campaigns like this one. Please share them via Facebook, Twitter and the LPE website to help spark that reversal.
Also, we added another image to the IF campaign.
Click here to share “If community…” on Facebook
Abs felt better at the beginning, but by the end I was really favoring my right side and was trying not to stretch out too far. That’s enough with the excuses, on with the show…
It’s been a few weeks since the yarn bomb was packed and shipped off to Warm Up America, but it continues to live on in the hearts and minds of those who witnessed it for themselves. This weekend, Will Wallin, who participated in every aspect of the installation, including mapping the tree, ladder lugging and tear-down, went for a hike to the tree. Along the way, a couple stopped him to tell him about this magical yarn bomb he missed, just weeks earlier. When he informed them that he’d been a part of its installation, the woman surprised him with an impromptu hug and they both thanked him for it.
Just yesterday, the Santa Barbara Independent included a blurb about it in their print edition, almost a month after it went up. I’ve received lots of pics via email from people who visited it and found many more that have been going viral thanks to being pinned and repinned on Pinterest, posted on Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr and more.
From Sharon… “I am the older Japanese woman you ran into on the trail yesterday (Friday). I was walking down, only having made it to the fire road on my hike to the yarn tree. I didn’t know you were the creator when we briefly spoke. I would have told you that I have been percolating a guerrilla knitting project for a couple years now. I wanted to touch your yarn tree and be there in person. Alas, I don’t think I’ll be able to make it before it disappears. I just want to thank you for your creative spirit, your energy, and your determination to make it happen. The group of kids who were coming down after me were still excited about it as they ran down the hill. (color me and my hiking poles jealous). You’ve done a beautiful thing, along with hundreds of knitting and crocheting fingers across the land and sea. I am happy knowing it is now and sad it won’t be after Sunday. Thank you.”
From a woman named Barbara… “Yesterday, two friends (Carol and Simone), my husband and I hiked up Cold Spring Trail to see your Yarn Bombed Tree. What an experience! I did take some photos which I will share later. I just had to initiate this communication. Your tree and your year of goals is amazing. Thank you for your inspiration, Barbara”
Here are some of the pics I received via email:
Then I discovered pictures posted, pinned, repined and stories being told about the yarn bomb all over the Internet…
A selection of some of the places I found pics, postings and conversations about the yarn bomb:
EdHat submission by Aquaholic (Fantastic pics!)
Jenn Kennedy wrote about it and posted this video too
In 2007, I decided I wanted to do more than simply run a successful business and enjoy my life in Santa Barbara. I wanted to see if I could apply what I do for a living, to solve a major social problem. After a year researching everything including poverty, crime, health, the environment rights issues, and so much more, I found that when I drilled deeper and deeper down, at the core of all of these issues, is education. Solve the education problem, and we solve so many other social ills.
I spent three years focused on the task of boiling the issue down to its essence and then developing a solution. The result is the League of Professional Educators (LPE).
Initially, the plan was to launch the LPE as a non-profit, but after fighting with the IRS for 501c3 status for a year, with the only beneficiary being our lawyers, we reorganized as a for-profit. No other aspect of the entity changed. It was always intended to be a commercially viable entity, for I believe that’s the only way you can ensure long term sustainability.
I will provide far more details as this resolution develops, but step one for GR6 is to ask my followers to vote for the LEAGUE OF PROFESSIONAL EDUCATORS to win a $250,000 grant in Chase’s Mission: Small Business program. Click here, log in via Facebook and enter League of Professional Educators in the box marked “business name”. Then spread the word….PLEASE! With this grant, the LPE can build out the operations necessary for triggering real improvement in America’s education system.
In this video, I describe the key issue facing our education system and how the LPE will solve it.
Although I’ve seen all the YouTube videos, including the fails, I really had no idea what to expect from a Parkour lesson. Rather than try to describe it, here is a brief video of everything we did over the course of 2.5 hours at the Valhalla Elite Training Center in Santa Barbara. (As an aside, what I got out of this video is a visual of just how much weight I’ve lost since going vegan and that I probably need to buy some new clothes.)
Also for your viewing pleasure, here is The Office’s take on the parkour phenomenon.
My son, Jackson, has brought to my attention that you can actually take classes in parkour, which is something I’ve been dying to learn for a long time. I’ll be joining him and his friends for an introductory lesson tomorrow.
For the uninitiated, here’s a video clip of some kids doing parkour at UC Santa Barbara.
I picked up drum sticks for the first time in my life just 83 days ago. It was incredibly foreign to me, focusing on how my two hands and two feet could come together to create beats that my brain has been replicating for decades. I set a goal to play AC/DC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long” in front of an audience at the next SB Drum Lab recital. Today, that goal and this resolution has been realized.
My son, Jackson, was my inspiration and his initial instruction got me going with the basics. Then I commandeered his weekly lesson with Craig Thatcher at the Santa Barbara Drum Lab, where we would discuss the philosophy of drumming and tricks of the trade. Craig pushed me to play through mistakes, to have fun with it and to challenge myself every time I pick up those sticks.
For 2 1/2 months I played the same song over and over again, practicing every day, except for the 2 weeks when I was in and out of the hospital, and I loved every second of it. I didn’t have to “drag” myself to the garage to practice, but I did have to force myself to step away from the set and take care of things like work, etc at times. I’ve gained a whole new appreciation for what a drummer can do and with the help of Jackson and Craig, I look forward to continuing to develop my skills.
Huge thanks to my wife, Barbara for volunteering to host the recital and my friends Peter, Jeanette and Pam for coming to watch.
Without further ado, for your viewing pleasure, I present me on the drums at my first recital.
Still just 1 lesson under my belt and hadn’t been able to practice for weeks due to the “Stones”, but really enjoying playing now. I just might keep going with this even after my June recital. (I put the music in after because I couldn’t figure out how to play it through my headphones and a speaker simultaneously, but wasn’t able to match it up perfectly. So it’s off by a split second or so.)
My recital is only a few weeks away and the progress to date has been less than stellar so it was time to kick it up a notch with a lesson at the Santa Barbara Drum Lab with Craig Thatcher. I learned 2 important lessons today. (1) I can do this and (2) I have a lot of work to do.
I’ve been watching Jackson play the drums since he was 8 years old. I’m in awe of how he can pick up a beat from his instructor and instantly bring the movement of 2 arms and 2 legs together to make that precise combination of sounds. I’ve tried before and couldn’t get simple snare and cymbal combos to work.
This time will be different though, right? Well, it better be because Jackson has not only volunteered to teach his old man a new trick, he’s signed me up to perform at a recital on April 15th in front of a group of seasoned young drummers from the Santa Barbara Drum Lab. I hope this doesn’t become one of those, “It sounded like a good idea at the time.”
Here is a collection of outtakes from my 1st lesson.
I’ve been confined to my driveway unless Jackson happened to be available to go with me when practicing on my jumping stilts. The impediment was my inability to get back up if I happened to fall. So long as something about waste high was available for me to lean on I was OK, but that usually isn’t the case. So today I was determined to do what it took to learn how to get up on them without any assistance whatsoever. With that accomplished I could move on to far more exciting uses for the stilts.
I watched several videos on YouTube, but as usual, most were less than helpful. Then I found Balthezar Arith’s video and within 5 minutes I was up and running.
Progress! Today I was able to turnaround on the slackline for the first time.
Unicycling is something I’ve always thought looked really cool. It’s the epitome of the quirky things people marvel at, but rarely attempt. That’s why it was just perfect for this resolution.
I had no idea where to begin and don’t know anyone who has any clue either. That led my son and I down to the local bike shop where we had seen unicycles for sale, and often contemplated purchasing one, but never pulled the trigger. We bought one suited for his size figuring we could share it. He’s about 5’4″ and I’m just a hair over 6′. We went for the 20″, which according to the kid behind the counter is the standard size for beginners.
My son spent a couple of hours following the suggestions of a single youtube tutorial for beginning unicyclists, cycling back and forth while holding on to the back of a bench. The next day I joined him, this time on our driveway using the garage door for balance. In his limited experience, he became convinced you can’t fall off a unicycle and get hurt so in our early attempts we went without helmets or pads. One trip to the floor convinced me otherwise and we quickly added helmets.
Over lunch we referred back to YouTube and watched several tutorials which offered far better advice than the original. Armed with this information we took to the local elementary school’s basketball court for a smoother, flatter surface. My son, Jackson’s skill level exploded. He was flying up the learning curve while I was singing his praises in soprano.
It quickly became apparent this unicycle was too small for me and I was torn between getting a more appropriate 24″ thereby improving my odds of success versus staying with the 20″ and maintaining my excuse. After much coaxing from Jackson, we made a second trip to the bike shop and acquired our second unicycle.
It made a big difference. Now instead of falling after just one rotation, I made it to four. Whoopee!
Day 2 we decided to change venues again. We spied the slick surface of the outdoor roller hockey rink at the local YMCA and inquired at the front desk whether we could utilize it for training. They were perplexed. No one had ever asked about unicycling there. The manager asked for some time to inquire with the higher ups, while the kid at the front desk asked, “Whats the difference between that and rollerblading?” We later got approval and an awesome venue for continuing our training.
Within minutes Jackson was learning to turn and riding at will, while I simply found a smoother surface on which to break my falls. For every effortless rotation he made while my progress sputtered my frustration level ticked a notch higher. I kept thinking, “maybe you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”
Day 3, we returned to the elementary school playground (the rink was being used) where kids were playing soccer and soccer moms were looking on. For the first time we enjoyed the benefits of an audience. Every time the cycle would snap back into my crotch or a pedal would smash into my shin, there was at least one other person whose expression would empathetically mimic my own. It was equal parts humiliating and encouraging. Jackson was now offroading and doing circles, while my great leap forward was getting from the basketball hoop to half court. It may not sound like much, but I gotta say, Im finally feeling as though Im making some progress. My muscles are beginning to understand their individual roles and working together to make this happen. I truly believe I am on the verge of “getting this”. So far the only injury would be sore knees.
Day 4, some real progress. I pulled my groin muscle early on and for some reason, from that moment on I was really starting to ride. Could it be whatever I started doing to compensate actually brought things in line? In any event, today I experienced for the first time what it feels like to truly ride a unicycle. For brief moments I was as relaxed as I am when riding a bike. Those moments still don’t last more than a few seconds, but the progress is tangible. I’m actually starting to enjoy it. Oh, and not to be outdone, Jackson cycled the entire length of a basketball court while carrying a basketball, and then put it in via a layup!!!
For those of you anxious to learn, I highly recommend Step 1 should be to watch the brief video on howtodorandomstuffnow