Weekend reads: Amazon Reunion, Writer’s Block and more

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Amazing Amazon reunion
It’s easy to forget that many things we think are facts, are actually culturally determined. And with that culture, also come preconceptions and prejudices. Especially when other cultures think about topics differently. The notion of right and wrong, good and bad is an integral part of that. So, no surprise that those of us with multiple heritages can struggle in finding their identity. Just like the main characters in this story of a son searching for his Amazonian mother.

Overcome that writer’s block
The summer vacation season is almost over in the Northern Hemisphere, and that means we all need to get back into the work routine. For some that means turning back to a writing routine. That can be difficult, so Ana Canhoto looked for some tips to restart writing, which resulted in a blog post that is a great start in itself.

Who’s that in the shadow?
Startups often have one founder that gets all the attention. But, she’s never alone. VC Jeff Bussgang shares why it’s so important to also focus on the co-founder who is not always in the spotlights.

Self-promotion: new Dad-to-be blog
In a small act of shameless self promotion, I wanted to share about my new blog. Yes, I’m going to be a dad, and that’s exciting. A whole new world opens itself up to me, and I’m sharing that on a new blog called The Neverending Miracle. It will have general thoughts, poetry and of course I’m sharing experiences and tips on all things a Dad-to-be gets confronted with. Like picking a name, and which design principles we followed for that. The post also contains a practical tool to help you pick your baby’s name.

Don’t let your new blog topic run into a dead end: spin it off

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As you may have noticed, I started blogging about being a Dad-to-be recently. After a few posts posted on this blog, I felt I had so much more to share about it, that I spun off the Dad-to-be blog to a dedicated site: The Neverending Miracle. Last year, when I was working on my poetry project A Poem Each Day, I did the same. Here are my three reasons for spinning off blogs.

Focus!
On this blog here, which I’ve been keeping since 2007 after having had several other blogs before that, I try to focus on a few topics. Some posts are inspired by our expat-life: discovering things in the place we live, other by work-related interests such as innovation. Then there are the things I feel are worth sharing: interesting reads, music, observations. So, maybe you could conclude that this blog has a lack of focus. But that’s a way of keeping it on-topic just the same. Just as with the poems, I felt that my Dad-to-be posts were going to be so numerous, that they would drown out the other posts here. Plus: it is such a specific subject, that a dedicating a site to it, seems the best thing to do.

Potential direction
This blog is really my personal blog, and I intend to keep it that way. I share my thoughts here on the topics mentioned above. The poetry blog, as well as the Dad-to-be project are of a slightly different nature. And even though I am running them alone, with only my content on them, they both have/had the potential of growing out to be something else. The best way to facilitate that, is to separate that specific content from the content on this website.

Audience
While the first two point are very much ‘sender-oriented’, the main point of posting your thoughts to a blog is that people read it. The third point has much to do with the first, however, more from an ‘receiver’ point of view. The poems I published last year were aimed at and attracting a specific type of audience: those who like to read poetry online. The Dad-to-be blog also has an audience in mind: relatives/friends and those who are also Dads-to-be, or maybe recently became dads, and want to read about how another guy is experiencing all this. In both cases, the audiences are likely to also have a focus, and might be chased away if the blog is to wide-ranging.

So, there you have it: my three reasons for operating several blogs. Do you work in a similar manner? Or the opposite? Let me know in the comments.

Where can I find an Omni-Sack?

Which bag can hold all this, and a bit more?

Which bag can hold all this, and a bit more?

Right, discussing bags might not be the manliest thing to do, but for this Dad-to-be it has become an issue worth thinking about. Most changing bags look, well, cute. Cool even, maybe, if you are a new mom in your early twenties. Both Mom-to-be and I are generally not really impressed by their outside looks. The insides, however are a different story. Well organised and with all the accessories needed to take good care of Baby: changing mat, isolated bottle holder, deaignated pockets for diapers, the works. Fortunately for Mom-to-be, there are also some changing bags available that are more stylish and lady-like. And she’s checking out those. That, of course, is good news. And even though I’m comfortably in touch with my feminine side, I don’t intend to walk around with a lady-like bag myself. There it is: the reason I am talking bags now.

Mind you, it’s not that I don’t carry bags, or like to have a beautiful and stylish – maybe even a hip – changing bag. Now, I often carry a mesenger bag from The North Face around. It’s actually a great bag: weather proof, strong and relatively stylish; with enough space to stash the things I need to bring for a day out and about with our dog B. But not enough to also carry around Baby’s stuff. So I have to find a proper bag for when I’m going on adventures with Baby and B.
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Cooking for Mom-to-be: a nutrient bomb with trout

A nutrient bomb with trout

A nutrient bomb with trout

This Dad-to-be likes to cook. So, I’m already looking forward to making wonderful meals for baby when the time for eating from a spoon has come. One of the pleasures of that, is that I’m looking around for a good food processor. I need a new one anyway, and this is a good moment to invest a bit in a great kitchen tool. If there’s someone who has some advice, that would be welcome.

In the mean time, Mom-to-be is the one I’m preparing extra healthy and tasty dishes for. And that took a bit getting used to. What are safe foods during pregnancy, which are also giving the best nutrients for baby and are tasty, too? Fortunately, there’s a lot of great information out there on the web. Such as which fatty fish are good. You can not just serve Mom-to-be any sort of fish. You have to be careful with those that are high up there in the food chain. Such as my favorite fish: tuna. Too much mercury in that one, so a no go for Mom-to-be.

Anyway, one fish I found on the list was trout. I only made a dish with that once (not a big success), and I thought it would be nice to give the fish a second chance. From a wonderful looking recipe I found online, I created this super healthy good nutrient bomb of a dish. Almost every element in it, maybe apart from the regular potatoes, contains nutrients that are good for Mom-to-be and for baby in this sauteed trout on a mash of potatoes and sweet potatoes, assorted beans with a bit of carrot, topped off with roasted almond shavings and crispy coppa.

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Weekend reads: rapid transport, collaborative economy and much more

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In this conversation disguised as an interview, Jermiah Owyang and Lora Cecere discuss the impact of the collaborative economy on supply chains. Not only is the ‘social’ element having an impact on product development and marketing, but changing consumer demands are also having their impact on design principles. One very positive point emerging is the principle to ‘build to last’.

Elon Musk likes the future to be better than the past. So, when big expensive infrastructure plans like the ‘high speed’ rail connection proposed in California, are not really an improvement, he gets a bit annoyed. And he’s right. The proposal lacks ambition and is over-expensive. Thus, he proposed his own solution: the Hyperloop, which he himself billed as a “cross between the Concorde, a railgun and an air hockey table.”

A while ago, my friend Ana Canhoto suggested the speech young Pakistani girl Malala made at the UN. And she’s right: it’s an inspiring speech from someone who had an attempt on her life for simply being a girl and wanting to go to school. Read the full text of her speech.

One of the things that comes on the path of parents-to-be is to think about how to monitor a baby during sleep. It seems cool to have a camera which you can access from laptops and tablets wherever you are. But… you need to make sure it safe. Especially when it allows you to talk to your baby. Security issues can allow hackers to not only see what’s happening, but also to communicate with your baby. So, please, be sure it’s hacker-proof!

Heralding spring, and more…

A crocus announcing spring this year, and...

A crocus announcing spring this year, and…

Spring is always an easy season to write poetry about. The days are getting longer and new life seems to wake up everywhere you look. So, when this last spring I saw the croci starting to bloom in our garden, I did what any (wannabe) poet should do: I wrote a poem about it. I titled it Spring heralds:

Heralding new life,

announcing spring’s arrival,

croci are blooming.

But, the croci in our garden were, for once in my poeting career, not just a beautiful spring image caught in a haiku, they were also, yes, a metaphor. Normally my poetry is rather direct, light footed and I mostly do not put extra layers of meaning into them. For me, one of the beautiful things about poetry, is that you can add dimensions and layers of meaning to them, according to your interpretation as a reader. The combination of my observations, my words, with your mood, life experience and ideas are what give meaning to the poems.

This time, I intentionally added that methaporic layer. Because the corci were not just heralding spring, and new life in the garden and the nearby woods. This year they were also heralding another form of new life. One much closer to home. Closer than the garden even. One that will be actually inside of our home. Not yet, because the croci really perfectly timed their announcement. But soon enough, we will welcome a new family member into our arms. And yes, you’ve read that right: we’re expecting a baby.

It’s still hard to fathom.

But I will be a dad soon.

A dad.

How cool is that?

Sounds of summer: my Summer Madness playlist

Summer evening view over a bay

Summer evening view over a bay

Summer is having a bit of a dip here in Germany. To keep the sunny spirit of those super warm summer days from the past weeks going a bit, here’s my Summer Madness playlist to bring back some sunshine.
Listen, enjoy and let me know which summer smash hits you’d like to add!



PS: if the embedded playlist doesn’t show for whatever reason, you can click here and open it in Spotify.