Three Pool Rhumba – Now Available

three_pool rhumba coverFor some, the technologies to bioengineer skateboards exist today. But when biohacked boards and living wheels ride the sentient pools will new issues arise? What if you believe, fundamentally, that synthetic biology goes against the laws of nature? Three Pool Rhumba provides six brief glimpses of a world inhabited by skateboarders and biohackers. Enjoy your time in this world before it passes you by.

That’s the back cover blurb of my ebook, THREE POOL RHUMBA.

It’s now available. Published by Wet Biologics, it is available on Amazon. I’ll soon post a link here so that you can also download for free. I’m super happy with the book and hope you enjoy it.

On the F-Train

She’s carrying her new eyeballs in a Styrofoam box on the crowded uptown F train, is jostled, drops the box and it opens, eyeballs rolling zig-zag across the floor, hitting heels and sandal-clad feet, eliciting loud “Ohmigods” and “What the?” as she screams “My eyes!”

Things that influenced me this week – March 21, 2014 edition

This was a busy week of completing projects, starting new ones, trying out new tools, and being exposed to a lot of information. In particular:


This week I made the trek to New York’s Javits Center for the annual Interphex show. Interphex (the International Pharmaceutical Expo) brings together the manufacturers that make the biopharmaceutical industry happen. As you walk through the cavernous Javits, you’ll see manufacturers of equipment, instrumentation, and services all under one roof. I went on Thursday, the last day of the show, so the floor was unusually quiet. But I enjoyed catching up with friends who sell used equipment (a booming business), learning about the progress being made in bio-processing and water treatment, and seeing the equipment most people never think about like labelers, pill presses, and solutions mixers. Yes, Karl is a nerd.

I’ve been enjoying several podcasts for the past few weeks. This week, I listened to James Altucher‘s interview with Hugh Howey, the self-published author of the science fiction best seller, Wool, and Bulletproof Exec Dave Asprey’s interview with psychologist and medical anthropologist, Alberto Villolo. The Howey interview was revealing about the state of self-publishing; the Villolo about shamanic bio-hacking (it comes back to food). I recommend both podcasts.

Speaking of podcasts, I’m a huge fan of Steve Blank‘s The Startup Owners Manual (link to Amazon, not an affiliate link), which I believe is one of the best step-by-step ways of rapidly building a company. Over the years, I’ve used a number of Steve’s techniques to focus myself and the companies I’ve worked for. With the Kauffman Foundation, Steve and a number of startup luminaries recently launched Startup School, an online video entrepreneurship program. I’ve been watching Steve Wortman‘s video on entrepreneurial selling, which should tell you where my mind is at.

otmdc_001But it wasn’t all work this week. I’ve been rereading Donald Bartheleme’s Overnight to Distant Cities and enjoying the hell out of it. Most of the stories in this book are short, even flash-fiction short. It’s a collage of Bartheleme’s work (but isn’t all of his work collage-like?). I’m looking forward to digging back into the Barthleme cannon.


I also attended a party for the launch of David Grand’s Mount Terminus. David is an old friend and I’m psyched to start reading his latest book. I enjoyed his first two a bunch and have been waiting for this one more than ten years. Congrats David. I’ll let you know how I like it.

Finally, Tim invited me to see a band tonight at the Rock Shop. When I asked him what kind of band, he joked “Panamanian German.” I said, I like that, then sent him the Rabanes Bam Bam video. He answered by sending back Señorita Mi Me Gusta Tu Style. Both are from Money Pa’ Que, Rabanes best work, IMHO. Here’s both of those. Enjoy.

Speaking of Bam Bam, Tomás has been singing Daddy Yankee lately. In particular, he’s been learning Lovumba. Felix, on the other hand, has been singing El Chevo’s Metelo Sacalo. (Sometimes I’m not the greatest influence, I admit it.)

On the other hand, Kristen has regained interest in Telenovelas and has been watching either Que Ricos Tan Pobres (which is hilariously chaotic) or En Otra Piel. Go Kristen.

The Pool at 4 PM (excerpt)

My father’s pool is, was, and always will be –– all skaters agree –– absurd. The pale blue surface is very hard, durable, very fast, and sentient. The coping is a great grindable bullnose. The shape is a perfect kidney, just under nine-feet deep. To ride the pool from one lip to the other across the deep end, a skater must roll no more than four seconds (I know, I’ve timed it) but to measure this distance in time is folly. It should be measured in neurochemicals released, synpases fired, genes unwinding from histones and proteins synthesized while calculating your next move, the one you’ll make when you hit that coping.

Things That Influenced Me This Week – March

Genetic Engineering News – I am a subscriber to a couple of dead-tree magazines: Biotechniques Billboard, The Redbulletin, Response, and Genetic Engineering News. I typically devour every issue the same way I used to devour Skateboarder when I was 13 or 14. I’ve re-read the article on CRISPRs a new way of editing genes at least three times and have started a list of possible applications.

The Frank Kern CONVERT and Benny Lewis FLUENT IN 3 MONTHS product launches. I love online product launches. I’ve been a student of these launches and love watching my email box fill with emails from lists I’ve subscribed and everyone is hawking the same products hoping to make their affiliate (marketing) dollars. Last week, it was the Mike Filsame Webinar Jam launch; this week it’s Kern and Lewis. Makes me think there a product launch mafia. The life sciences industry could learn a thing or two from the techniques and efficiencies gained by these marketers.

Used without permission.
Lance Mountain – Lake Havasu- Blue Tile Obsession’s typical fare.

BlueTileObsession – My friend Tab turned me on to this one. Though it’s been a couple of years since I’ve dropped into a bowl, I do miss it. Once a pool skater, always a pool skater.

The One Minute Manager – I recently took two interns onboard and am working on getting better at outsourcing (I’m busy). The One Minute Manager is one of those classic management books that (supposedly) everyone reads. It was a best seller for God’s sake.

Faz Um, Claudia Leite’s single for the World Cup in Rio. I’ve been told it’s a very bad piece of Brazilian pop music. I don’t care. I love it right now.

The Pharrell Happy video. Are you sick of it yet? I’m not but ask me in a week or two.

Unintended Consequences

You may know the Viagra story. The one where Pfizer scientists synthesized Sildenafil to treat hypertension but during the first clinical trials found it didn’t work. Instead, they observed the compound an interesting side effect. The story continues with Pfizer essentially creating a new disease and marketing the first oral treatment for that disease – erectile dysfunction. At their peak annual sales of Viagra were nearly $2 billion.

Interesting story, right? But what if the scientists insisted on staying focused on hypertension? Or had just ignored the side effect?

Pharmaceutical companies probably thousands of compounds that didn’t make it to the market because they failed at some point during the clinical trials process. It doesn’t mean those products won’t work for something. It’s likely that at some point in the future, as we better understand individuals genomically, understand how individuals metabolize specific drugs, there will be some real treasures that help sick people. It may take a little while but this is one of the promises of personalized medicine.

Fast-forward a few decades when you have thousands of newly engineered organisms that don’t do what they were supposed to. Engineered Leptospirillum ferrooxidans that doesn’t quite leach copper from the soil efficiently. Modified yeasts that didn’t quite flavor beer the right way. Synthetic endothelial cells that assemble incorrectly and can’t function as blood vessels. This is where things get really interesting.

Google “unintended consequences” and you’ll learn that people actually study unintended consequences.

I say new opportunities are visible by those who seek them and they are often found in unexpected places. That’s one of the things I plan to focus on in this blog.

My (Not So) Modest 2013 Reading List

UPDATE 01.06.2014: If you want to see what I actually did read in 2013, click here to see my Pinterest Page of Books and Media Consumed in 2013.

Fiction I Want to Read

Artemis Fowl: The Last Guardian, Eoin Colfer. I’ve been a huge Artemis fan from way back (Artic Incident review, The Eternity Code review) but haven’t been able to find the time to read the last book in the series.

Chaos Walking

Harum Scarum, Keith Abbott. Keith, one of my writing mentors, teaches at The Naropa Institute. He is brilliant and influenced me greatly. I reread The First Thing Coming and wanted to read the book in which the characters of that book from were first introduced.

Forever War, Joe Haldeman. Been meaning to read this for a while.

The Windup Bird Chronicles, Haruki Murakami. Started once but never finished because of distractions. I plan to read this year.

Saga, Brian K. Vaughn. I’ve been a huge Brian Vaughn fan since he wrote Y! The Last Man series. I recently read Runaways, which I enjoyed. So, now I’d like to see his take on the space opera.

The Snarkout Boys & the Avocado of Death, Daniel Pinkwater

Watchmen, Alan Moore

Young Avengers

Red Mars (Mars Trilogy), Kim Stanley Robinson

Books I’m Going to Re-Read

Abundance, Peter Diamandis

The Brief & Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Diaz

Chronicle of a Death Foretold, Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Cover of "The Crying of Lot 49"
Cover of The Crying of Lot 49

The Crying of Lot 49, Thomas Pynchon

The Emigrants, William Seabold

Island of the Blue Dolphins, Scott O’Dell

Pedro Paramo, Juan Rulfo

Story of the Eye, George Bataille

Welcome to the Monkey House, Kurt Vonnegut

Historical Books I’m Reading for Research

I’m working on the next novel in my Circle of Time series. I once had the bad habit of using research as an excuse for not writing. To avoid that, I’m going to keep these books on my desk, but will only refer to them to get a better sense of what Hernan Cortés and life were like during the conquest of Mexico.

Conquistador: Hernan Cortes, King Montezuma, and the Last Stand of the Aztecs, Buddy Levy

The Conquest of New Spain, Bernal Diaz

Letters from Mexico, Hernan Cortes.

Business-Related Books

$1oo Startup, Chris Guillebeau

Advanced Consulting, Dan Kennedy

How to Make Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie

The Education of Millionaires, Michael Ellsberg


Biopunk, Marcus Wohlsen

Creating Life in the Lab, Fazale Rana

The Creative Disruption of Medicine, Eric Topol

Regenesis: How Synthetic Biology Will Reinvent Nature and Ourselves, George Church

Wetware: A Computer in Every Living Cell, Dennis Bray

Books to Inspire Spirituality

A New Earth, Eckhart Tolle

The Places that Scare You, Pema Chodron

Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living, Pema Chodron. Here’s Pema’s Advice For Embracing Change.

Review: Across the Event Horizon

Across The Event HorizonMercurio D. Rivera’s stories punch you in the stomach with a great idea, toy with your emotions, then leave you gasping for more.

In this first collection of short stories, Across the Event Horizon, Rivera’s ideas will initially surprise you. They’ll stay with you for days after you read them.

Rivera understands there are infinite possibilities and realities when it comes to alien encounters – even when the alien is a situation. He writes about the chasms that we will need to cross when those encounters happen. And happen they will.

In this collection, you’ll read about aliens that communicate via the sense of smell (“The Scent of Their Arrival”), humans traveling far from Earth to find salvation on the other side of the universe (“Missionaries”), and how the pain inflicted on an enemy can keep a neighborhood safe (“Tu Sufrimiento Shall Protect Us”).

Communication and miscommunication are constant themes.

These stories will remind you of Ray Bradbury’s serious storytelling, Philip K. Dick’s sense of humor, and J.G. Ballard’s surreal and visceral imagery.  They’ve been widely anthologized for a reason — they’ll leave you wanting more.