Monthly Archives: June 2010

Why I don’t cook my food anymore (mostly)

VEGGIES!Back on January 1 of this year (as arbitrary a date as one can pick), I switched to a more or less raw diet. [For an interesting post about my interesting New Year’s Day mountain climb, check this out]. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, this simply means that I no longer prepare food by cooking it. Raw foodists believe that heating food above 104 degrees (or 110, or 114, depending) destroys valuable enzymes and nutrients. Nutrition science seems to back up most raw food claims, but I’m more in the It-tastes-and-looks-good-and-makes-me-feel-dope Camp.

Breakfast has me downing about a pound of fruit (usually bananas, strawberries, blueberries, etc.) along with some peanut butter. That’s where the system breaks down – and it’s not even the afternoon! I don’t have the gumption or equipment to grind up my own peanut butter so I use the bulk stuff from Whole Foods. It’s super-cheap and tasty.

I snack throughout the day, usually on bananas, apples, and peppers. Lunch is a crazy sprout salad – courtesy of my home sprout lab, of course. Dinner is generally a BIG salad. Like two pounds big. Avocados, chard, spinach, cumin, tomatoes, BEETS (lots of beets), more apples and such. This stuff keeps me going.

Do I get even more guff than ever for being a raw vegan? Sure, but it’s not a big deal. I’ll be the first to admit, it’s an odd way to eat – like a caveperson without fire. Still, I’ve never been one to eat to the satisfaction of others. I eat the way I do because it tastes great and makes me feel awesome. Which begs the question – why do you eat what you eat?

Climbing Black Mountain

Black MountainI needed some interesting way to start 2010 so I decided to hike up Black Mountain down here in the South Bay. It’s only 2800 feet tall, but it’s a fun little hike. I got started around 7 AM and was back home well before lunch. I made a video, too. Before you watch it, I will warn you: I was NOT under the influence of drugs when I made it.

Quantum science and poetic expression

quantum ripples in chaosI sent a friend an article by Deepak Chopra earlier today with the note “Read this – it’s a window into what is running through my mind all the time!” Chopra’s article was about the Higgs boson and its implications for billions of religious people the world over. Or at least, that’s what it started out being about. He goes on to talk about different view of quantum mechanics. You know, waves versus discrete states and superposition and all that good stuff that makes blood shoot from your nose if you think about it for too long. At one point, he talks a bit about how consciousness itself is capable (due to the relatively high gravity of the brainpan once you leave Planck space) of collapsing waveforms into observable pieces of reality. Whew.

Instead of the conventional view that consciousness emerges from complex computation among brain neurons, they [the scientists in question] propose that consciousness involves sequences of quantum computations in microtubules inside brain neurons, not between them in the dendrites and synapses. The quantum computations in the brain are also ripples in fundamental spacetime geometry, the most basic level of the universe.
It would appear that the world is what we make of it. While all the theorizing about quantum capability and observer hypotheses and what these things mean for a panentheism rooted in science is nice, but I’m also a fan of poetic expression of such ideas, like the offering from Poetry Chaikhana a few days back. The poem is called “Creation’s Witness”, and was written by Abdul-Qader Bedil looooooong before we even knew that there could be something smaller than the atom.
At time’s beginning
that beauty
which polished creation’s mirror
caressed every atom
with a hundred thousand suns.

But this glory
was never witnessed.

When the human eye emerged,
only then was he known.
No matter how deeply we stare at the observable and unobservable universe around us, no matter how many “Eurekas!” we hear from the laboratories of the world, no physical equation will equal the capacity of the human tongue to express the larger-than-life ideas and loves that drive us. Science can only tell us so much about our world. We need the language of the heart for the rest.

Sweet ripples in East Africa by Flickr user Kalense Kid

Mountain biking

I’ve been a road biker, albeit on a little hybrid bike, for some years now. Earlier today I took the plunge with Jackie and went mountain biking. I have to say, I can understand the attraction. I’ve always been a fan of great speed while on two wheels – combining that with amazing deep-nature trails and avoiding big rocks makes for an excellent afternoon. Even with an increasingly bothersome right knee, I found myself getting uncomfortably excited about zooming around the Lower Lower Loop and Upper Lower Loop Trails in the Paradise Divide outside Crested Butte.

Unfortunately, I now have a mountain biking bug. :) Check below the picture of me being extreme for a video of the extreme adventure.

Mountain biking champ

Bridging Babel: New Social Media and Interreligious and Intercultural Understanding

My friends over at Georgetown University’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs have put together a sweet project called Bridging Babel: New Social Media and Interreligious and Intercultural Understanding.

I got hooked up with the project at the Interfaith Youth Core‘s conference last October. I was presenting a workshop on social web tools and the interfaith movement. I met Melody Fox Ahmed, Director of Programs and Operations at the Berkley Center, and we’ve kept up correspondence since then. The report is really cool, quite in-depth, and very useful for looking at the ways in which dialogue and action will happen online.
It’s also totally dope because they quoted me a few times in the report. :) Here’s a video with the undergraduate researchers talking about the highlights. I recommend checking out Bridging Babel – it’s worth the read.

*** This post is part of the “Blog Every Day Challenge“, which I have undertaken in homage to John Haydon, a captain of social media and inbound marketing for non-profits. A few months back he did the same thing. Granted, all of his posts imparted some kind of value to his readers (and he has many). I’m blogging about the same old stuff. Don’t call it “general interest”, because I think that it goes without saying that humans should generally be interested in what I’m doing. :) ***

Deep thinking about telephone poles

I penned the following poem during my sophomore year at Aurora University. Who knows what I was thinking?

A lotta goddamn telephone poles
Stuck in their goddamn telephone holes
Straight up at goddamn ninety degrees
Swaying not much in the goddamn breeze.
-pine trees

Oh that’s right! I was driving around one day in the delivery van for the printing press where I worked and had a moment of blinding clarity. All the telephone poles around me (and there were many) were each a former pine tree, maybe a lodgepole or Douglas fir. I thought about all the streets in all the cities in all the states across the country and realized that we had cut down a LOT of trees to carry our wires.

I was so blown away, I was forced to write that poem. That’s all.

And I know what you’re thinking. “Tim, they’re actually called ‘utility poles’ because they don’t only hold telephone lines.” You know what? You’re right. Shut up.

Play-Doh shows us how to be the Torchbearers of humanity

The Souls of people, on their way to Earth-life, pass through a room full of Lights; Each takes a Taper (candle), often only a spark, to guide it in the dim country of this world. But some souls of rare fortune, are detained longer and have time to grab a handful of candles, which they weave into a Torch. These are the Torch-Bearers of humanity, its Poets, Seers, and Saints, who lead and lift the race out of darkness, towards the Light. They are the Lawgivers and the Saviors, the Light-bringers, Way-showers and Truth-tellers, and without them, Humanity would Lose its way in the Dark…

Candle rowThis quotation is attributed to Plato, the namesake of our favorite non-toxic modeling compound and one of the fathers of western philosophy. I’m not going to research the likelihood of whether or not he actually said it, of course, but it’s a fantastic meditation on why some people come into the world to change it, rather than be changed by it.

Maybe this is why Play-Doh, Legos, K’Nex, Lincoln Logs, Erector Sets, and all sorts of other toys are so wildly appealing to young children. They live in a world created for them by adults and others. Toys that allow us to create allow us to create our own reality, and even if what little kids create doesn’t look like…anything, it’s still an expression of inherent creativity and the desire to make the world in our own image.

These days, it’s not practical for us to build with children’s toys – toys can’t (necessarily) save the world. Instead, we create dazzling print and video campaigns that stir the heart. We develop and distribute inexpensive medications to treat preventable diseases. We write amazing speeches and stories that change the ways people see their world. We construct green technologies that give as much back to the earth as they take from it. And in so doing, we help humanity find its way in the dark.

Faiths Act Fellowship draws to a close

Milling around at the Interfaith Youth CoreI spent the last week of May in Chicago with the Faiths Act Fellows. For many, it was the first sight of each other since we parted ways back in September. Unfortunately, only 29 of the 30 Fellows were able to attend. Bilal Hassam, who was based in Leicester, UK, was detained in Montreal on his way into the US, a casualty of America’s homeland security theatre. Luckily, we were able to Skype him in for a few of our sessions!

We spent three jam-packed days at the offices of the Interfaith Youth Core, talking over the last eight months. Each pair of Fellows gave a short presentation – basically a highlight reel – of their work, and we talked very candidly about successes and failures. As a whole, the Fellowship raised around USD $140,000, which former Prime Minister Tony Blair will personally match. The money is going to Project Muso, Spread the Net, and Malaria No More US and UK. We had around 10,000 people come to our events and reached out to around 40,000 in total. We had 350 media pieces and trained dozens of new interfaith leaders.

Tony Blair himself interrupted a series of toasts we were giving each other to say how proud and excited he felt about us. We are his Fellows, really, and he’s always very eager to talk us up. He told us that what we did was new and trend-setting and most of all important.

It was a bittersweet three days in Chicago, though. The US Fellows are spread all over this huge country of ours, to say nothing of the distance to the UK. The Canadians are also widely dispersed.  I might not see some of these people for a very long time, or ever again.

One of the unexpected byproducts of the last ten months of training and action has been the “gelling” of the Fellowship into more than a group of people brought together for a common purpose. We’ve shared trials, tribulations, and laughter, collaborated on national and international initiatives, and changed the map of interfaith work in just a few short months. These activists are my dear friends and allies.

Someday years from now, I will be asked to assemble a Dream Team of world-savers. The alumni of the Faiths Act Fellowship will be first on my phone tree. Thank you all for everything.

We are Catholic and Muslim and often very much alike

There was a car accident in the southbound lane of Highway 880 near Fremont the other day. Thankfully, no one seemed to be seriously hurt. My site-partner Hafsa and I were headed back to the office after a long day of wrap-up meetings for our Faiths Act work here in the Bay Area. As we drove around the accident site, already clogged with emergency vehicles and police, I drew my right hand slowly to my forehead. After resting there for a moment, I touched the space below my sternum, then surreptitiously brought my hand to my left and then right shoulders. I completed this motion by bringing my hand to my lips and lightly kissing my fingertips as I mouthed the words ‘Protect them’, all the while trying to look like I was simply scratching invisible itches.

Hafsa wasn’t so easily tricked. “Did you just make the sign of the cross?” she asked. I was caught! I’m not sure when the habit arose, but for years I’ve crossed myself when passing traffic accidents or seeing an ambulance with its lights flashing. It’s easy as a Catholic; I cross myself about one thousand times during a regular Mass. I sheepishly replied, “Yeah. I guess you saw that, huh?” I expected her to ask me all sorts of questions about why I would do such a thing, but that didn’t happen.

Instead, she said, “Right as I noticed you crossing yourself, I was saying ‘Bismillah ar rahman ar rahim (in the name of God, the Beneficent, the Merciful)’ under my breath!”

Well how about that? Even though she and I come from different religions, we still share some traditions. Saying a quick prayer for the health and well-being of others is one of them.