Sunday, November 29, 2009

Biodegradable Packaging for McDonald’s?

If grad student Andrew Millar has his way, McDonald's will have biodegradable packaging he designed for the fast food chain. Packaging made from grass paper. This is a no-brainer because grass paper has grease-resistant properties.

Here are two pictures of Millar's packaging:


According to one of McDonald's most recent reports, just around 30% of its packaging comes from recycled sources. McDonald's has made incremental moves toward sustainability, and they can go farther. Let's hope they make even more impressive moves in the coming months. Getting Andrew Millar's biodegradable packaging would be a huge step in the right direction. Burger King, Wendy's and others would likely follow suit. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

So Much to be Thankful For


I love the Thanksgiving holiday. I love cooking great food, sharing tall tales with loved ones, and having nothing but big fun. I always use this day to reflect on where I am personally, even professionally. And once again, I have so much to be thankful for.

After being misdiagnosed four times at the beginning of this decade, my mom's health is as robust as ever. All of my siblings are gainfully employed, making this big brother very proud. One of my aunts beat back breast cancer this year, and the experience has given her a new perspective. And, quite humorously, my 77 year old grandmother brags about having more Facebook friends than I do. Can you believe that?

I've connected with some awesome people around the world. From Los Angeles to London, from New York to New Delhi, social media sites like Twitter and Snazl have enriched my view about the world. I am happy I have befriended bloggers who are respected not only for their perspective, but also for the sense of humanity they apply to their work. Bloggers like Jim Turner, Kristi Wooten, Yasmin Beitollahi, and Ramon Nuez Jr., and countless others.

How can you not be thankful for such wonderful, resilient, and awesome family members and friends?!

I am also thankful for the racial and ethnic diversity in our country, and, I am happy we have a president in The White House who believes that our diversity is to be embraced and valued, not feared and detested. Millions say "I want my America back", but millions more say, "I'm happy our America is moving forward". Yes, our, us, we...I love that.

And last, but certainly not least, I am immensely thankful for the Huffington Post's Impact Section. The awesome charities and nonprofits; the men and women performing heroically and selflessly to assist others; and, the people in need who have inspired Huffpost readers to give hundreds of thousands of dollars. It's been a smashing success. Impact editor Victoria Fine has done a marvelous job. I am thankful for her consistent and powerful declaration of love and community.

I urge everyone to use this Thanksgiving to not only reconnect with loved ones, but also to remember those whose lives are not what they should be. Every year I take food to homeless families under bridges and freeway underpasses. I will do the same this year. And I urge readers to get involved in their own way. Find a way...or make a way. As Howard Thurman insist in his classic, bestselling The Centering Moment:
We must remember those who are close to us by ties of blood and accommodation, whose needs have been exposed to us in the days that are behind; those who are sick and who are moving slowly into a terminal dimension of their illness; those who have fallen upon hard and difficult times, from whose hands have been snatched those symbols of security by which the tranquility of their lives have been measured... We remember those men and those women whose private lives are burdened by the responsibilities of others and who find, because of the problems which surround them, that their private lives are inadequate and they are lonely and frightened and dismayed. We remember all those who stand within the shadow of the radiance that belongs to the healthy mind and the vigorous spirit; those who are wrestling with inner tortures that pull the world out of balance, who find themselves retreating more deeply within in the hope that in the iron-bound security of their inmost privacy they may be protected from the things that overwhelm and prove unmanageable.
So remember our neighbors and our citizens whose lives deserve so much more. Remember that we can make a difference, and that our engagement could be the the very thing to keep them animated and motivated. So be hopeful, be safe, be involved, and yes, be thankful. Whether we know it or not, each of us has something to be incredibly thankful for.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The World's FIRST Eco-Friendly Surf Boards

I love surfing. And I believe in protecting our environment. So imagine my excitement about the first ever green surfboards. The New York Times has a great article on them. They're from the company Green Foam Blanks.


The conventional surfboard is 100% toxic. This is an irony because so many surfers - including myself - fight polluters for their disregard of our beaches and oceans. But now, the Surf Industry Manufacturing Association has been orchestrating a big push to make its $7.2 billion industry more green. This is hot. And long over due.

Over 315,000 surfboards were sold in the United States last year. Big business. As more surfers become aware of the need for greener boards, the co-owners of Green Foam Blanks will likely see a big boost in sales. Can't wait to get my hands on one.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Ameeda Chowdhury: The Newest Sensation in Social Media

When technology fans think about the movers and shakers of social media, they often cite Gina Bianchini of Ning, Evan Williams and Biz Stone of Twitter, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, Pete Townsend of Mashable, and Ashton Kutcher of Katalyst, among many others. As we close out another exciting year, it's natural to wonder what people and innovations will be among the most talked about in 2010 and beyond. One name buzzing in industry circles is Ameeda Chowdhury, the visionary and enterprising CEO of SnazL, the hot, new site for web 2.0 enthusiasts.


Ameeda is, quite simply, a revelation. She talks passionately about social media's proven ability to connect the world, and, to help promote awesome ideas for the greater good. SnazL, she believes, can take things to a new level. She started the company straight out of school with friend Bo Zhao, a fellow Williams College grad. In fact, it was conceived in the basement of their college chapel. While Bo runs operations in Beijing, China, Ameeda spearheads efforts in New York City, and does all of the company's outreach.

Thus far, her inspired efforts have paid off. A well-received, how-to video about SnazL has hit the web:

Additionally, SnazL is currently partnering with New York Entrepreneur Week, Nov. 16th to Nov. 20th. This is perfect because the marriage of social media and business has been nothing short of amazing. Also, SnazL has partnered on a deal with Singaporean filmmaker Tan Siok Siok, and executive producers Jeff Pulver and Geo Geller, the team behind the groundbreaking Twittamentary. This is huge. Make no mistake about it: Ameeda is a tremendous spirit whose enthusiasm for innovation and networking knows no limits. My Q&A with her is confirmation.


You are the creative force behind the social media site Snazl. There's been nothing but great buzz about it. What differentiates it, and sets it apart from sites?

What sets SnazL apart is its interactive media experience. It's much more human and simplifies your online life. User's don't just watch media on SnazL, they can connect interactively around rich media, sync up media across multiple sites, and update across them all. Each SnazL is like it's own video, a rich media video wiki, if you will, that you can embed anywhere. In fact, I was asked recently about Snazl's place in the real-time web movement. It's a great question. SnazL's magic is that it enhances our digital lifestyles from ever-flowing real-time web information streams to a more human stream of richly shared experiences. It unlocks the real-time web's potential further by allowing people to connect across locations based on having common ground/interest.


Snazl is very much apart of the launch of the Twittamentary. What does it aim to achieve and how will it be different from other documentaries on Twiter?

Twittamentary is a crowd-sourced documentary, so we wanted an easy way for the community to be a part of the story and live the experience. Community members can add their video, image, or audio story directly to the Twittermentary Snazl media stream, and pass it on to their friends to add it as well. The SnazL also enables supporters of the Twittermentary to come together and watch clips together in real-time from anywhere. Twittermentary aims to explore the human impact of Twitter. We want to see the lives of all kinds of people. The stories we're getting are tremendous. Some are web celebrities, some are homeless, some are cancer survivors. The cross section of participants is amazing.


2009 is ending on such a favorable note for you. What's next on your radar?

The heart of SnazL is its community, and we want to connect with more people who have the same desire for better connectivity on the web. We want to reach more people and help them discover how SnazL can improve their digital lifestyles, making them more interactive and streamlined. We are looking to grow. We want every human being, in ever corner of this great planet connected to Snazl.

To find out more about Ameeda Chowdhury and her exciting projects, connect with her through her SnazL profile, and, through her Twitter feed. To get more info on the Twitter documentary mentioned above, log on to Twittamentary.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Another Classic Colbert Clip

This past week, Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert interviewed Republican Representative Mike Castle for his occasional Better Know a District segment. So much was made of Colbert's now classic interview with former Democratic Representative Robert Wexler. Trust me, this clip below is even more classic than the Wexler one. You will laugh hysterically.

WATCH
The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Better Know a District - Delaware's Mike Castle
http://www.colbertnation.com/
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorU.S. Speedskating

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Justice Sonia Sotomayor Rocks Baby...Believe it!


Justice Sonia Sotomayor shines on the cover of upcoming issue of Latina Magazine, which hits newsstands November 17th.

I enthusiastically supported Justice Sotomayor's nomination to the Supreme Court. Not just because of her views, but because her story is a powerful reminder of America at its best. I relate to this woman in so many ways, and seeing her express her viewpoints, render judgements, and engage the nation (and the world) will be awesome.

Mark my words, she will be Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in the next decade. I can't wait!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The World’s Tallest "Green" Building?

According to Inhabit.com, Taipei 101, one of the world’s tallest buildings, is seeking eco-cred. It is making lots of upgrades in an effort to become the “World’s Tallest Green Building.” Located in Taiwan, the building is going through $1.8 million in energy efficiency upgrades (a move that will save it $20 million annually).

Skyscrapers here in The United States have made similar moves. The Empire State Building and the Sears Tower started making some well-needed eco-upgrades earlier this year. Hopefully this becomes a trend with skyscrapers on every continent. No matter what happens though, this is going to be a tremendous shot in the arm to the unstoppable, and necessary Green Economy.

Bravo to Taipei 101 for saving money, creating jobs, and doing something awesome for the environment.

Monday, November 9, 2009

MUSIC MONDAY

JUST GOT PAID

This was a monster hit for then newcomer Johnny Kemp. The problem was, he seemingly disappeared after his debut album, and never made the pop and R&B charts again. This song still rocks though.


VIRTUAL INSANITY

This is not only Jamiroquai's biggest hit, but it's also his best video. The moving objects and sliding floor made this an unmistakable breakthrough.


I WANT IT THAT WAY

I know my friends are going to have a fit, but I had to put this tune on today. It's one of the 1990's most enduring hit, and the reason the Backstreet Boys became an international phenomenon. Great tune.


GIVE IT TO ME

It's always good to hear great music from Timbaland. He made a great decision to include Justin Timberlake. But tell the truth, the best decision was to include Nelly Furtado. She's absolutely hot.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

300,000 Birds

Remember the brilliantly terrifying, Hitchcock classic The Birds? Recently, in Denmark 300,000 birds were caught on tape in a massive, shape-shifting cloud. The incredible video was first seen on the site Buzzfeed. It has Hitchcock written all over it.

WATCH:

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Delicious Creations of a Hot, Young Chef

Harriet Van Horne once wrote: "cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all." It's very easy to see the wisdom of this point when you understand the creative fire, enthusiasm, and passion of Yasamin Beitollahi, one of the hottest chefs to emerge in years.

This extraordinary woman is a world thinker, a world traveler, and a world connector. And it's clear that her experiences are very much apart of who she is, and what she creates. Her popular website, Pinch My Saffron, specializes in the very best of Persian and Mediterranean cuisine.

Yasamin's craft is nothing short of impressive. This woman knows her flavors, and, as they say, always brings the sizzle. You'll love her perspective and be more than taken with the culinary delights of this extraordinary food enthusiast.


It's been said, quite correctly, that dance is one of the true "universal languages". I think cooking would also qualify. Do you agree?

It is amazing to see that dance really is a universal language that unites the world, no matter what our differences are. Sharing a passion for cooking, much like sharing the art of dance doesn't require a common language. That's the beauty of how it's become a cultural ambassador. Cooking by its very nature needs no translation. It communicates directly with the senses; a universal language of bringing people together. Instead of using words, we pair our local vocabulary of ingredients with our familiarity with another culture to speak that other culture's language, which is then represented on the plate.

I enjoy listening to music when I'm cooking. And, dancing naturally follows. My kitchen is a great escape and music helps achieve that special nirvana. The music is the vehicle to get in touch with my ingredients, techniques and utensils. Rock on!


You have a great, culturally rich background. How has it informed your approach to cooking?

I grew up in a household where bookshelves, hobbies, conversations, and obsessions invariably centered on food. Coming from a Persian background food was the center of our existence, and a big part of my life even at a very young age. So, I was exposed to different flavors and dishes that I wanted to create myself. I call upon my rich cultural history and love of bold flavors to create authentic dishes that pay homage to my Persian roots, while keeping it as simple as possible. My passion for good food has allowed me to develop innovative combinations without diminishing centuries' old Persian authenticity. I have always had a love for all things Persian and Mediterranean cuisine, and they say you crave the food of your ancestors, I find myself wanting to put saffron or feta cheese on just about everything.


Your first cookbook, Nobody Puts Saffron in the Corner, is coming out in February 2010. What delicious tidbits can readers expect?

My cookbook offers recipes and tips to everyday cooks, many of whom are rushing home to prepare no-frill meals for their families. Part of the book is definitely seasonal, but people expect to see certain classics as well, such as Ghormeh Sabzi, a stew made with leek, parsley, and fenugreek, served over a bed of Saffron Rice. A myriad of kabob recipes and so on. We blend the cookbook in a way that you have an opportunity to have a Persian classic with something that is more modern in its approach or Mediterranean inspired.

As with many food enthusiasts, collecting cookbooks is a passion of mine. I have been collecting cookbooks for many years now, most I have purchased but some have been given to me by dear friends and some have been handed down to me by family members. One downside to collecting and owning so many cookbooks is where to put my ever-growing collection. My love of a tidy kitchen, is the driving force behind the decision to launch Nobody Puts Saffron in the Corner as an e-book. Instead of having books scattered around the counter while you're cooking or baking, with e-books you can print out just the recipe you will be working with. What a concept!

Perhaps the most exciting thing about my first book is that Pinch My Saffron will donate 20% of proceeds from sales of our cookbook, Nobody Puts Saffron in the Corner, to Livestrong, Susan G. Komen For The Cure, Alex's Lemonade, and Charity Water. I have supported these charities for a while now, but the book will enable me to support them at a scale that I otherwise would not be able to.

Thank you to our friends on Twitter, Facebook, and to fellow foodies that follow my blog. It's much appreciated. Look out for the tweet, "I've submitted the manuscript!"


Much success on your book. That's quite an accomplishment. What's next for you, and what are your long-term plans for your site Pinch My Saffron?

Thank you for your wishes. It's an exciting time for Pinch My Saffron. Ultimately, creating an insightful blog that captures the flavorful and vibrant spirit of Persian and Mediterranean cuisine is what we sought out to do. We want to guide Persian food lovers on a non-intimidating and flavorful foray into home-style Persian cooking.

An online cooking show with guest co-hosts is our next exciting adventure. Each week, viewers will be invited into our kitchen to celebrate delicious, everyday Persian & Mediterranean meals that can be made with minimal fuss; a place where viewers can join us for a love affair with all things Persian & Mediterranean cuisine. The show will be made as a labor of love with this motto: Don't hesitate to pursue a fling with Persian cuisine --it may turn into true love!

To read more about Yasamin Beitollahi's awesome culinary dishes, log on to her site PinchMySaffron. You can also connect with her through her Twitter feed and Facebook page. Her eagerly anticipated e-book, Nobody Puts Saffron in the Corner, is slated for a February 2010 release.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Why I am Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in 2-3 Years

I've always wanted to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. And now I've made a promise to myself to make the hike. It won't be for a few years, but its a journey I have to take. Why? Because it's snow may soon be gone. In today's Huffington Post Green Section, an article about Kilimanjaro's rapidly disappearing white peak:

Some 85 percent of the ice that made up the mountaintop glaciers in 1912 was gone by 2007, researchers led by paleoclimatologist Lonnie Thompson of Ohio State University report in Tuesday's edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. And more than a quarter of the ice present in 2000 was gone by 2007.

Don't believe it? Check out these two NASA images of Mt. Kilimanjaro - the top one is from 1993, and the bottom image on is in 2000:

But this is not unique to this great mountain. Other peaks around the world - Mt. Everest, Mt. McKinley, Mt. Hood, etc. - have witnessed a reduction in snow the last couple of decades. This means we desperately have to find a solution to the global problem of climate change.

I'm climbing Kilimanjaro in a few years because if I wait until the later part of the next decade, I fear there might not be any snow to see.

Monday, November 2, 2009

MUSIC MONDAY

TAKE ON ME (1985)

This is one of the great tunes of the early 80s. The video's use of rotoscoping (a combination of pencil-sketch animation and live-action) was groundbreaking for its day.


IT'S TRICKY (1987)

There was no hip hop group that ruled the 80s like Run DMC. They helped to define hip hop with songs like this one.


BOUNCIN' BACK (BUMPIN' ME AGAINST THE WALL) (2001)

This is one of the most underrated songs in hip hop history. It rocked. Listen closely, and you can hear references to the mood of the country just after 9/11.


HEAVEN (2004)

Awesome group. The Los Lonely Boys have a great sound. This is one of those songs you can play every Summer at a garden party.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The White House Welcomes 2,000 Kids for Trick-or-Treat Fun

President Obama and Michelle Obama played host to 2,000 kids on Halloween. The First Couple handed out M&Ms and other treats, and payed tribute to military families. When the Obamas said they were going to include the surrounding communities in the activities, and have more activities, they weren't fibbing. This has been one of the best 1st year a First Couple has ever had. Ever!

As you can see from the 6 photos below (courtesy of the AP), the Obamas are having a ball. The event looked like it was a lot of fun: