A tryptophan-laced Quote-n-Meme-fest

According to some possibly-reliable source I just encountered on the internet, “tryptophan [the notorious turkey-derived soporific] is an essential amino acid needed for growth and development, producing niacin and creating serotonin in the body… Lots of other foods contain as much or more tryptophan as turkey, and do not cause drowsiness.”

This is especially good news given that I’m a longtime vegetarian and haven’t cracked into a T-Day turkey since high school. Conveniently, tryptophan-heavy pumpkin seeds, soybeans, and lentils are all staples of my everyday diet already. Niacin, here we come!

All this talk of chemically-induced healthy sleep and stable moods is leading up to something other than a series of funny turkey memes, though…

Hillary Clinton turkey gif

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Albeit there will be those, too.

Mostly, I wanted to leave you for the upcoming holiday weekend with three quotations I’ve read or heard in the past couple of weeks that have helped me envision the path forward after this upending presidential election.

First, from ioby, a revolutionary platform for starting and supporting neighborhood-based projects (and one of my favorite clients):

We believe that getting to know our neighbors, and working together to solve problems, is a transformative act of healing.

We need to remind ourselves that democracy is not just about voting and protesting; democracy is also giving, leading, doing, and inviting others to participate in building the social and physical fabric of our society. The neighbor-led change we support every day is civic engagement. If we work together, we can — and will — heal and shape the future of our communities.

Older man with turkey hat gif

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Next is the venerable Malcolm Gladwell, with his podcast Revisionist History. I listened to episode 10—”The Satire Paradox“—at the gym today and enjoyed its parting shot:

Nothing of consequence gets accomplished without courage.

[Speaking to the stories in the first 10 episodes of the series:] You can’t educate the poor without making difficult choices, without giving up some portion of your own privilege. You can’t be a great basketball player without being willing to look stupid. You can’t heal your church without sacrificing your own career. You can’t even drive a car properly unless you’re willing to acknowledge that you sometimes make mistakes: stupid, involuntary, dumb mistakes.

The path to a better world is hard. Is that depressing? I don’t think so. I think what’s depressing is when we ignore everything history is trying to tell us.

Psychedelic turkey gif

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And last, a quote -slash elegy for the late, great Leonard Cohen, who I learned over the years to revere, if not always like. This one came to me from my internet buddy Pooja at Life’s Fine Whine:

Leonard Cohen quote

Hope you enjoy the holiday, everyone. See you on the other side.

More trees, fewer cows = Our best shot at climate change survival

One of my beloved clients is throwing a wonderful conference next Thursday and Friday at the beautiful Bronx Zoo called Wood at Work: Elegant Strategies for Architecture, City-Building, and Forest Conservation. The two-day affair will gather together some of the best minds in architecture, forestry, policy, ecology, and urban planning to talk about how sustainable wood use in cities can actually protect global forests and rural economies and cultures.

2015 Wood at Work conference

In addition to many brilliant presentations and panels, there will be beaucoup de time for informal conversation (and networking) over breakfast, lunch, snacks, and drinks. Plus super fun-sounding workshops like “Japanese Sawing” and “Tree Music”!

I’m not getting paid to say that if you’ll be in New York City and care about a) design or architecture, b) climate change, c) trees and forests, d) native cultures, or e) being in a room packed with brilliant, hard-working, potentially world-saving people, I think you should consider coming. Tickets are pretty cheap, and if you email me, I’ll even send you a magic code for 50% off!

Nice, but what does all of this have to do with cows?, you ask (as you hastily go to the Wood at Work website to purchase a ticket). Perhaps surprisingly, a lot!

As the great Jeremy Radachowsky of the Wildlife Conservation Society explains in a story he just wrote for National Geographic:

Oregon forest by McD22 on Flickr

Flickr’s McD22 captures some Oregonian forest grandeur

There are two existing [climate change-related] technologies that are ready to be acted upon today, whose collective impact could be larger than any future technological breakthrough.

The first technology is a 400-million-year-old solar-powered device that extracts CO2 from the atmosphere and converts it into material useful for construction, essentially “printing” solid materials layer by layer like a 3D printer until a finished product up to 300 feet tall is achieved. Once deployed, the device requires no human input – just water, sunlight, and molecules found in most soils.

This technology is called the “tree.”

A more recent technology extracts tons of carbon already trapped in vegetation and converts it into a small amount of protein-rich food for human consumption. Along the way, large quantities of climate-damaging gasses are emitted. In the moist tropics, the process also requires the clearing of climate-friendly forests and is ten times less efficient than many other methods of food production.

This technology is called the “cow.”

Cows were domesticated by humans more than 10,000 years ago and made sense in the context of a small human population and abundant resources. However, in an era of high population density and climate change, cattle are now an antiquated and obsolete solution to today’s environmental and food security issues. Trees, on the other hand, remain vital to our continued existence.

Makes sense, right? Plus, now that vegan food has gotten so plentiful and delectable, our excuses for massive meat consumption have dwindled to all but nil.

Jeremy’s going to give a talk titled “Trees, Not Cows” on Friday, October 30 at Wood at Work. Come listen with me, then we can share our thoughts over something delicious that’s not beef.

Inking my summer vacation

Arthur and I are bound for Europe tomorrow, to enjoy two and a half weeks of burning hot Mediterranean sun; explaining our vegetarianism in broken Italian, Polish, Czech, and Hungarian; and attending the weddings of two lovely and sophisticated women we do not know well.

I’ve been nose to the grindstone for the past few weeks preparing to basically shut down my freelance biz for the better part of August. Woo! I also tasked myself with the related duty of finishing my last journal and buying a new one to start on the trip. Last Friday, I done did it!

Goodbye, old friend; hello, new... friend

Goodbye, old friend; hello, new… friend

I always feel way too smugly satisfied when I retire a finished journal (do you know how much genius is in there??), but then I’m always proportionately humbled when I realize how daunted I feel when faced with all those brand-new, blank pages.

I guess parts of Europe are at least marginally inspiring. So here’s to jump-starting the new spiral guy with quotes overheard at smoky outdoor cafes, stories about making out in the shadows of really old churches, and old-school overnight train tickets pressed between the pages.

When clients go to Mexico

My dear friend and longtime client Elena is leaving NYC on a pre-dawn flight to Mexico tomorrow to embark on the 10-day silent meditation retreat that will usher in a bold new “oh-my-god-what-is-happening??” chapter of her life. I would say congratulations and good luck, but I don’t want to trip up her whole not-speaking thing.

Since we met a decade ago, I’ve known Elena by turns as a diligent, fair-minded, and hardworking coworker, partner in shenanigans, and small business proprietor. She thinks about almost everything deeply. She makes sumptuous vegetarian meals on the fly. Over the years, she’s handed down a grip of her classy clothing to me, which I hope made beautiful space in her closet with the same proportions as it filled the ghastly gaps in mine.

Elena

Recently, Elena decided to take an indefinite break from her glamorous Upper West Side life: she parked her baby blue Piaggio scooter in storage, sold most of her other belongings, and put her successful nutrition coaching practice on hiatus. Tomorrow, she’ll touch down in Mexico, and after that, it’s off to work on a veganic farm in the southwest. After that? I’m pretty sure she’d say your guess is as good as hers.

The fact that I realized today that I should probably retire Elena’s testimonial from my website (for now) is the least important part of this story, but it did make me want to tell it, so that’s cool.

Godspeed, Elena! You’ve got chutzpah, and I love ya. Just remember: Wild Women Don’t Sing the Blues.