Salmon Leather Wallet

I find the upcycling of downstream waste into viable products incredibly compelling: here’s Tidal Vision, which takes salmon skin from the Northwest fishery and turns it into leather that is then made into wallets.

I remember also talking with a local architect about taking rice hulls and mixing it with concrete in order to produce a building material that was both rigid but also, thanks to the hulls, lighter than regular concrete and with air pockets to increase its insulation value. I believe he was also interested in rice straw bales as building materials, but I think the problem there is that farmers typically don’t bale that material, but rather combines return the chaff back to the fields to compost.

I grew up in the land of sugar cane, and I remember seeing bagasse turned into garden mulch, but I think now it is mostly burned to power the mills where the cane is processed.

What’s leftover these days that could be still useful in some fashion? That strikes me as an opportunity.

FreeCite

Useful: FreeCite: “FreeCite is an open-source application that parses document citations into fielded data. You can use it as a web application or a service. You can also download the source and run FreeCite on your own server. FreeCite is distributed under the MIT license.”

Why I Write Notes by Hand (And You Should, Too)

There are a number of articles available that make a variety of arguments for why students in classes and individuals in meetings should take notes by hand. Those arguments range from the pragmatic — it’s too easy to distract yourself, and others — to the cognitive — there is more/better brain activity when we write by hand. The arguments have appeared in prestigious publications like Scientific American, The New York Times, and the Chronicle of Higher Education. All of them, I think, make good sense both intuitively and rationally.

I would like to add another dimension to why I take notes by hand and why I think you should, too, and it comes down to this: don’t limit yourself to a single mode of thinking. I don’t know how your brain works, but only if you are the most linear of thinkers, and one narrowly confined — by some weird birthright (or curse) — to only ever thinking in words, are you going to be able to capture your thoughts strictly with, well, words. I find I sometimes need to diagram, and even if I don’t do much more than put words in weird text blocks connected by lines and arrows, I am still able to indicate more complex kinds of relationships — various forms of subordination (like multiple branches) or parallelism — quickly than I can if I only use words:

Notes with Additional Relationships

Notes with Additional Relationships

Consider, too, that sometimes all you have is a diagram or some other kind of image in your mind. You certainly could use words to describe it … eventually. But, perhaps, your first impulse is to “see” it in its totality.

Field Notes with Diagram

Field Notes with Diagram

And then there are the times that you can’t “find the right word” or the word is “on the tip of your tongue.” Why force yourself to find a word, especially in the middle of a class or a meeting where you may not have time to figure it out? Why not draw or doodle or whatever; allow yourself the opportunity to capture your thoughts in some other fashion, and then, later, when you are putting your notes away for the day, as I have advised elsewhere, you can find time to discover what it was you were trying to say to yourself — this works especially well if you use paper with wide left margins.

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