[Three by Five].12 Blue Tile Obsession

Vertical skateboarding was borne of drought and creativity.

In 1976 and 1977, Southern California suffered an extreme drought.

The water shortages were so extreme that agricultural activities in some parts of the Central Valley were ceased.

Reservoirs ran dry.

Homeowners drained their swimming pools.

Fires raged. Homes were abandoned.

At the time, skateboarders had just started riding wooden boards with urethane wheels.

Those wheels were more forgiving on rough surfaces and allowed the flow-y carving turns that mimicked the motions that surfers make when riding waves.

Somewhere in Southern California, a group of kids looked at those pools and saw possibility.

C.R. Stecyk III, founder of Zephyr Surfboards and Skateboards, co-author of Dogtown and Z-boys, said:

“Two hundred years of American technology has unwittingly created a massive cement playground of unlimited potential. but it was the minds of 11 year olds that could see that potential.”

 

When I want to look at skateboarders riding empty pools right now, I head over to Ozzie Ausband’s Blue Tile Obsession.

Ausband and his band of Southern California skateboarders (including legend, Tony Alva, one of the original pool riders) detail their exploits in words and high-resolution images.

Sometimes, they drive hours to find pools that were bulldozed.

Sometimes, they invest hours draining a pool, shoveling debris, sweeping and preparing the pool for riding.

The reward is the bowl, the experience, and the vicarious excitement you, as a visitor gets.

 

Three by Five by Eleven. 3

I’m a story nerd.

I enjoy re-reading books, re-watching movies. I like figuring out how the authors or film makers put the story together. What hints did they place at the beginning of the story, and resolve at the end?

I’ve read plenty of books on writing screenplays, plotting, and character development.

Last year, I enjoyed The Story Grid, which is Shawn Coyne’s master work on story analysis.
Right now, I’m reading Larry Brooks Story Engineering. Only half way through but I’d recommend it.

Pedro Paramo is the one book I’ve given away the most.

Mexican Juan Rulfo’s thin, 1955 novel launched magical realism. It’s a story about a son looking for his father, and a father longing for his son. The book drips death on every single page.

The novel is a fragmented, post-modern masterpiece that is highly relevant today.

Paramo influenced Nobel-prize winner, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, author of One Hundred Years of Solitude. It’s said Marquez had memorized long passages of the book. I can’t recommend it enough.

Three by Five by Eleven.1

I’m starting a new weekly feature. Not to clutter your life –  you can opt out if you’d like – but to document and share the things that influence me during a week.

To keep myself focused and brief, I promise to only share what fits on one side of a 3×5 filecard.

Why?

The file card. The notecard. A small piece of lined paper. Blank white, or colored.

Three inches by five inches. They’re typically printed with eleven lines.

Highly useful. I consider them an essential tool for a writer.

Easy enough to carry anywhere, they’re old school. Like a pencil.  They can be anti-technology. Turn off your phone, your computer, and focus your effort on the little card in front of you.

I usually carry around a stack but if I’m pressed for time or room, I’ll fold a couple, put them in my pocket, grab a pencil or pen.

Here’s this week’s file card:

Christopher Payne takes pictures of General Pencil, in New Jersey.

Inside One of America’s Last Pencil Factories – A New York Times Magazine photo essay on General Pencil Company. “Pencils eschew digital jujitsu. They are pure analog, absolute presence. They help to rescue us from oblivion.”

Genemapper – This near-future novel follows a “leaf and flower color” designer as he solves the mysterious collapse of a crop he designed. Full of ideas, especially around from-scratch genetic design.

The Chaco Quarterly because “one must distinguish between Information, knowledge, and wisdom.” Wisdom distilled into 90 seconds because there’s not enough wisdom in the world.

That wraps this first issue. What do you think?

 

2017 Media Consumed: Highlights

Here’s a link to my Pinterest board of media consumed during 2017.

It’s always fun to go back and review what I read, listened to and watched.

In many ways, it was a year for cyberpunk because I was anticipating Blade Runner 2049 and I wanted to reread Snowcrash. But overall, I didn’t read as much as I usually do because I was working on What’s Your Bio Strategy?

Rereading William Gibson’s Sprawl Trilogy was definitely a highlight. I realized how much those books influenced my own writing and how I approach telling biotech company stories.

William Gibson’s Sprawl Trilogy is credited with launching cyberpunk

Annalee Newitz’ Autonomous might not be cyberpunk but was my favorite book of the year. I’ll write about it later.

Watching-wise, I really enjoyed seeing It Follows again – that’s a brilliant horror movie.

The last season of Black Mirror was as disturbing as previous seasons though there was one uplifting episodes that even had a happy ending.

I enjoyed the second season of Stranger Things (though will admit I loved the first better), and A Series of Unfortunate Events was brilliant.

I did enjoy Blade Runner 2049 but found it long. It’s hard to write a sequel to a great movie, but I appreciated the nods to synthetic biology: especially around the creation of the replicants.

My all-time favorite movie of the year was Dope. I watched it more than a couple of times to figure out what director Rick Famuyiwa was doing. It was super smart. I can’t recommend it enough.

What’s Your Bio Strategy? First Review from Life Science Leader

Life Science Leader reviews What's Your Bio Strategy

Life Science Leader’s editor Rob Wright posted a very positive review of What’s Your Bio Strategy?

Says Rob:

Today we stand on the precipice overlooking a new frontier — the century of biology, and businesses of all kinds need to be prepared to not only embrace what is coming, but have a strategy for how to leverage biology for the betterment of their businesses and the good of the planet.

He continues:

When I finally had the opportunity to sit down and read it, my … mind … was … blown. Because though the authors interview 25 innovators about how biology is presently impacting a variety of industries, as well as what they think could happen in the very near future, it is even more telling to ponder what they haven’t thought of as being possible, which I found myself doing while reading. As I came across company names (pay attention to highlights) I pondered which might soon rival one of the three “As” of internet commerce (i.e., Alibaba, Alphabet [formerly Google], and Amazon) which have a combined value of about $1.6 trillion. The book discusses concepts such as using DNA for data storage or how the future of fashion may reside in garments being grown in vats (i.e., biofabrication) not woven on looms.

To read the full review, click here.

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