Geek Gift Ideas for Christmas 2013 – For the Geeky Home & Geeky Office

We Schipulites like to think of ourselves as a group of web geeks out to change the world one website at a time. And we think we know a thing or two about what other such geeks might want for Christmas (or any holiday gift giving occasion!). This is the first in a series of Geek Gift Ideas we’re eyeing this Christmas. With just under 2 weeks until Christmas, you still have some time to order these gifts for your favorite geek!

Note: Big thanks to the team for their ideas for this first post, especially Jennie Lane & Jordan Schipul!

Anything we left out? Leave your favorite Geek Gift ideas in the comments!

Geeky Office Gifts

Desk Toys

Pop Vinyls by Funko

I am obsessed with these little vinyl figures by Funko. They come in almost any licensed franchise you can think of – from super heroes to Power Rangers to NBA players to every Disney Character under the sun. No matter who you’re gifting for, you can find a character they like in this bunch.

Cost: $10

Find it online: On

Find it IRL: Local Houston shops Bedrock City Comics have huge selections of Pop Vinyl toys on any given day. For the ultra geeks in your life – Third Planet Comics has a great selection of some of the rarer characters, like San Diego Comic Con Exclusives that you won’t find anywhere else.

A Calendar for Your Cube/Office

The Bubble Wrap Calendar

What is an office cube without a wall calendar to remind you what day it is when you’re buried deep in the middle of a project? Check out the Bubble Wrap Calendar – with one bubble to pop each day!

Cost: $24

Find it online & IRL: At Urban Outfitters

Geeky Post Its

Floppy Disk Post Its

They may look like Floppy Disks, but don’t be deceived. Office supplies can be geeky too!

Cost: $10 for a pack of 3

Find it online: At


Funky Flash Drives

Mimobot  Flash Drives

Mimobot flash drives from Mimoco aren’t just adorable, they’re functional too! Collections include DC Heroes like Batman and Wonder Woman, Star Wars, Sanrio, and TokiDoki characters! Lots of fun designs for the geek in your life!

Cost: Varies, most are $20

Find it online: At

Pixel Mouse

It’s for Clicking, Get It?

Pixelated Mouse

You’ll feel like you’re inside your computer with this pixel mouse that looks just like a click icon!

Cost: $20

Find it online: At



Geeky Home Gifts

A Geeky Kitchen, You Will Have!

This Star Wars Cookbook has 30 recipes of Star Wars themed snacks – complete with Cookie Cutters. Use the Force to make sure you don’t burn anything!

Cost: $24

Find it online:  On Amazon


Geeky Holiday Decorations

Motherboard Ornaments

What better way to recycle circuit boards than to put them up on your tree? Bonus points if you make a version of these yourself!

Cost: $20 for a pack of 3

Find it Online: At ThinkGeek

More Christmas Fun!

8 Bit LED Christmas Wreath

You’ll feel like you’re living in a virtual world with this video game inspired wreath! This wreath flashes and glows in 8 Bit majesty.

Cost: $12

Find it Online: At ThinkGeek

Finally! The Outlet, Simplified.

Electrical Outlet with USBUSB Wall Outlet

It’s the little things in life that make you smile – like being able to plug your USB cable directly into the electrical wall outlet to charge your phone or favorite gadget. So cool.

Cost: $30

Find it Online: At ThinkGeek

Wrapping it Up!

Complete the experience by wrapping your gifts in this Geeky wrapping paper from ThinkGeek – including a cute pattern of flesh-eating Zombies and Christmas Robots.

Look for more Geeky Gift Guide coming soon!

What geeky gifts are you eyeing this holiday season? Leave your favorite Geek Gift ideas in the comments!

SXSW Eco Panel – Behind E-Waste – Recycling Electronics

E-Waste dumping - photo by Curtis PalmerThe success of SXSW’s March event each year has brought a year-round calendar of mind-expanding events like the 2nd annual SXSW Eco conference a few weeks ago. SXSW Eco brings participants together to focus on areas of Sustainability. The popular SXSW format, panel discussions and meetings over the three days, allowed experts to share their ideas, successes and challenges with audience participants. I was able to attend a variety of sessions including one important to both Schipul and our clients who use technology to support their business or non-profit.

The Good, Green & Shocking Truths

Panel Summary: Many factors such as planned obsolescence, consumer trends, and updated technology contribute to e-waste becoming one of the largest societal waste segments. Exactly how recyclable are our electronics, and what are the most responsible methods of disposal?


Maia Corbitt – Executive Director at State Of Texas Alliance For Recycling

Panel members speaking:
Clive Hess, President of  CompuCycle
Dag Adamson, CEO of LifeSpan Technology
Terry Levy, VP Sales for ARCOA

The panelists discussed the history of electronics recycling in Texas and the ways their organizations, alongside our state’s legislature, have gradually increased the ease of recycling for businesses.  The panel shared the different local electronics recycling programs and explained which programs were legitimately using state approved certifications and processes so that Houston business owners could confidently select a certified recycling center.

History of Electronics Recycling in Houston

15 years ago in Texas, most waste was being shipped overseas, and low grade metals were one of the main waste products.  Within the last ten years, we’ve seen this change as more businesses are seeing the value of sustainability programs.  Granted, some of this was instigated by policy change.  For example, Texas passed the 2008 Computer Take Back Law making computer manufacturers responsible for providing recycling to residents and small businesses.

In 2011, there was only one certified center in Houston and now there are 5 certified centers indicating a move towards easier and more responsible waste management.  The increase in facilities comes from businesses who provide recycling services moving towards end of life asset management for businesses, including refurbishing and re-use as much as possible, and encouraging recycling when re-use is not possible.  Combined with policy changes, taking out the hazardous materials and doing the right thing has become a profitable business focus. Recyclers also recover more value when possible for the business or consumer than they did in the past.

E-Waste Sustainability in Houston Today

Yesterday’s technology included much more solid metals waste and was larger (think old Desktops). Today’s recycling stream allows removal of metals and proper disposal. Current electronics are smaller and more efficient in their production. This already eliminates some of the bulk of recycling. Both of these are results of policy changes bringing a change in practices and new business opportunities.

Clive Hess, President of CompuCycle – Houston’s first R2 recycling center, brings success stories that share how CompuCycle has expanded their services to include data management and data sanitization, and provide better opportunities for Houston businesses to incorporate sustainability programs.  At CompuCycle, many recyclers now securely erase, sanitize and provide warranties on products they resell. No products are sold as-is, but only with a warranty and if it can’t be sold with a warranty, then it is recycled.

CompuCycle also participates in the unique recycling challenge called the WhatIf? campaign where you can donate your eWaste and they will hire and train individuals to recycle the components. This creates jobs and training for a local non-profit organization. The plan is to continue beyond the campaign as a sustainable endeavor, but they ‘need your junk’ to be successful.

Seek Out R2 Certified Recyclers

Most companies are not quite educated yet on R2 certification and the panel shed some light on how to evaluate and find the right certification options for your business. There’s still a long way to go for the recycling industry to be a recognized standards bearer and the EPA encourages companies to find out if the recycler you’re considering is certified by an accredited, independent certification auditor such as the ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board.

The panelists agreed that Education will become key for Chief Sustainability Officers in companies and for your Chief recycler in your home.  The people who fill these roles will want to seek updates and stay informed with both the changes within the recycling services corporate world as well as with Federal and State policy changes. Some rrecycling businesses are only registered and will include this as part of their marketing materials, but doesn’t mean they are certified for recycling responsibly.

Our future should include policies that put pressure on electronic manufacturers to build upgradeable devices and longer life cycle products to reduce waste. But, this will require individuals to let their lawmakers know how to write these policies. Lawmakers listen to their constituency and particularly parents.

Want to Help Improve E-Waste?

Manufacturer’s need collection goals and the public needs easy locations to drop-off.

  1. Require retailers to provide information about recycling to consumers.
  2. Require state agencies to recycle assets via certified vendors.
  3. Recommendations that state computer Take Back laws include ALL electronics including TV’s and other waste.
  4. Find local R2 Certified Recycling facilities in your area.

Concerned about the future of materials in your landfills near your children? Let your State Representative know your concerns.  The EPA’s website also has a list of Recycling Resources where you can go to stay up to date on changes in policies and find tools to help individuals and businesses develop and implement sustainability programs at home and in your office.

Silver Lining for Urban MiningUrban mining and rare earth metals can be found locally instead of offshoring with other countries. Opportunities exist for job creation and has even been part of the lawmakers focus in Colorado for underserved markets. A de-manufacturing site provides jobs for disabled or underserved markets, and a refurbishing site can provide high-tech jobs for engineers. Recycling E-waste is a reverse supply chain position taking one part and producing many parts from the whole. The recycling industry is a consumer driven market. Imagine what happens if everyone started sending all electronics to recycling? It would be an influx of materials. A typical middle-income household has four or more devices per person in their home. Game consoles, cell phones, old iPods, CRT screens, printer, etc.

Business is good for current recycling facilities. What happens when there is no longer a market for glass or other low grade materials? There are electronic parts that have value such as copper, gold and metals, but it is getting harder to handle materials such as glass, lead and plastic. Panelists were quick to suggest as invention increases, there is opportunity with the challenges. Glass is now used in aggregates for road construction to help the roads last longer with addition of silica to increase life span. Reground ABS plastics lower the cost of many manufactured items. There will be a greater need to find opportunities like these for our increased e-waste.

Take Action Recycling your Electronics

Find a certified recycler near you, and find your representative. Have eWaste? Let us know and we can help you find the means to recycle responsibly!

Installing Tendenci on the Rackspace OpenStack Cloud Hosting Platform

##### UPDATE: this post is partially outdated. Please go to for the most recent installation instructions. #####

Tendenci has been open source for about 8 months, and we’re really excited to announce new options for the pro-open source community.  We have been testing Tendenci installations in other hosting environments to give you more freedom to choose how you host and maintain your Tendenci association website.

Tendenci Open Source Hosting Anyone Can Setup

This past week, our programming team wrote some scripts that make it easier to deploy and install Tendenci on other hosting environments outside of our own in-house managed hosting. Now, you can install Tendenci on Cloud hosting platforms like Linode and Rackspace in minutes without needing to be super-technical.

You just need to have root access to your server and a host provider that has the option to run versions 11.10 or 12.04 of the Ubuntu  open source operating system on the server. You’ll find the full technical spec’s required in this Help File on Tendenci Open Source Hosting.

This blog post is the first in a series of posts we’ll be writing so that you can set-up a Tendenci website on a server, even if you don’t have a computer science degree.  Stay tuned for more Tendenci Hosting Guides and email me if you have a hosting company you think we should write a guide for.

How to Install Tendenci on Rackspace Cloud Hosting

I wanted to find out what was involved in installing a Tendenci site on Rackspace’s open source Cloud Hosting platform, OpenStack. I’ve never used Rackspace, and my experience in managing website hosting falls more in the blogger realm with hosting platforms for WordPress like Dreamhost and Bluehost.  I was surprised at how easy the entire process ended up being, and I had a live, functional Tendenci Community website on a Rackspace cloud server in less than two hours – without having to bug my programming team.

If I can do it, I bet anyone can! Here are the steps I took (along with some explanations to technical details I learned during the process) to install a Tendenci website on Rackspace’s open source Cloud Hosting…

 Step 1: Research Rackspace’s Cloud Hosting Options

I found Rackspace’s support documents to be really simple and straightforward.  However, I did get a little confused trying to figure out which hosting package to select. To save you some time, here’s my breakdown of your options with Rackspace cloud hosting and my recommendations.

Rackspace offers 3 different Cloud Hosting service levels (prices start at around $20/month):

  1. Regular Cloud Hosting
  2. Private Cloud Hosting
  3. Hybrid Cloud Hosting

You’ll want to take the time to read more about the different plans and their costs, and write down questions you have as you go and you can send those questions to Rackspace’s support team before you sign-up. Rackspace has a great “Hosting 101” Resource Library of Articles that explain the different pieces to hosting in the cloud to help answer any beginner questions.

For most of you, you’ll probably want to opt-in for the Regular Cloud Hosting, which is the option I selected to set-up my Tendenci site on Rackspace.  If you don’t have someone on your staff to manage your IT, then I recommend you consider adding the Managed Cloud Hosting package that Rackspace offers for $100 a month.  Rackspace will manage the technical daily tasks like server maintenance, nightly backups and more.  You can learn more about what’s included in a managed hosting solution in this chart:

We include these managed hosting services with our Tendenci’s Community Hosting plans to ensure your website environment is healthy and in top performance. If you’re hosting your website on your own, you’ll want to make sure someone (either your hosting provider or an in-house IT team) is providing ongoing maintenance and security updates.

Step 2: Create an Account

Once you’ve selected the cloud hosting package that’s right for you, the next step is to signup with Rackspace by creating your account.  To signup, just go to and start completing the fields.  You’ll need to have a credit card handy because Rackspace does request your billing information up front.

I didn’t have any trouble signing up and creating my account with Rackspace, and found the process to be really fast to complete.

After you sign-up, you’ll get an email and an on screen message stating that someone from Rackspace will be calling you in a few minutes at the phone number you provided to validate your new account. I received a phone call within 5 minutes of setting up my account and the process on the phone took about the same amount of time. After the phone call, I logged into my new Rackspace account and had full access to my Cloud Hosting Next Generation dashboard.

Step 3: Create a New Server

After you login, you’ll need to create your first server. You’ll need some information about the environment Tendenci needs to have:

  • minimum of 256MB RAM
  • Ubuntu 12.04 (or 11.10) operating system
  • recommended minimum of 1GB disk space for installing and this number will grow as you add more photos, graphics, and users to your website

Rackspace has a great help file on the full details behind creating a new server: that I followed and, in about 10 minutes, I had a message on my screen showing my server was being set-up and then I was given the login password and get started.

Here’s screenshots and the steps I took to create my first Rackspace server:

    1. Click the button to “Create Server”

    1. Name your server and select a data center location from the drop down menu

    1. Scroll through the list of operating system “Images” (an Image refers to the operating system you’d like Rackspace to install on your server) – in this case, you want to scroll down to find Ubuntu 12.04.

    1. Next, You’ll select the amount of RAM you want.  The minimum is 512MB and that will suffice for most small Tendenci websites.

  1. Then, push the “Create Server” button at the bottom of the page and Rackspace will set-up your server.  This process takes about 15-20 minutes, so go grab a cup of coffee or check your email and come back to the page in a few minutes.

Bonus Tips on Cloud Hosting Costs

Cloud hosting pricing can be somewhat confusing and here’s some tips to be aware of when you’re estimating your hosting costs:

  1. Different server configurations have different costs, and so adding things like additional RAM or storage space will increase your monthly costs.  Rackspace has a pricing chart online that shows the rates for servers depend for you to check out.
  2. Rackspace estimates its pricing by the hour and then estimates the monthly pricing based on 730 hours/month.  You’ll want your website up and running 24 hours a day/7 days a week/365 days/year and 366 days on leap years.  Your monthly pricing may be a little higher sometimes when months have 31 days and, therefore more than 730 hours.  For most websites, this will only be a few dollars difference from month to month.
  3. Basic Cloud Hosting with Rackspace doesn’t include things like your website Domain name registration fee, email accounts, or most server maintenance and backup services.

Step 4: Install Tendenci on Your Rackspace Server

Once your server is set-up, you can install Tendenci.  This is where you’d use the install scripts, and this is also the most technical step in the process.

Depending on if you’re using a MAC or a PC, you’ll need to use different tools to remotely login to your server and deploy the installation scripts that will upload  Tendenci’s software to run on your server. If you’re using a MAC, then you should have an application called “Terminal” that you can search for in spotlight.  You’ll open up terminal and remotely login to your Rackspace server using the IP address listed on your server’s control panel dashboard:

Rackspace recommends PuTTY for Windows PC users and you can download the tool for free on their website:

After you’ve logged in with SSH to your server, you can install Tendenci using the deployment scripts and this process takes about 20 minutes of waiting (ready for that second cup of coffee?) while the software packages are installed on your Rackspace Cloud server.

Once this is finished, you have just one more step and then you can login to your Tendenci website and start customizing your layout and theme.

Step 5: Set-Up Your DNS

After Tendenci is installed on your server, you can view your live website by going to the 9 digit IP4 Public address.  This number is listed on your server profile page, and will look something like  If you were to paste your IP4 address into your web browser, you’d be directed to your website.  However, most likely – you want to be able to type in your custom domain URL and visit your website instead of using a 9 digit string of numbers.

To do this, you’ll use the Rackspace Cloud Control Panel to add your website’s custom domain name to the DNS settings.  Rackspace has an excellent help file in their knowledge center that shows you the steps to creating and managing new DNS records:

I own the domain and I wasn’t using it for another site, so I followed Rackspace’s instructions on how to transfer a domain name and in about 5 minutes, I had setup the DNS settings.

After I installed Tendenci on the server, I then went back and created a new record in the DNS settings so that the url would direct visitors to my Tendenci website IP address.  It can take a few hours for your DNS settings to propagate and take effect, and so you may need to check back every couple of hours to see if the DNS transfer worked correctly.

Now, you should be all set-up and ready to go! We’re hard at work testing and documenting different hosting platforms with Tendenci to give you more choices – if you have questions about installing a site on Rackspace or another Cloud provider, let us know via a comment below or email me and we’ll find answers for you.

Hansel & Greatness – The ArCH Gingerbread Build Off is Saturday December 8!

This Saturday December 8th the Schipulites will once again participate in the annual Gingerbread Build Off put on by the Architecture Center of Houston (ArCH)!

Schipul Gingerbread Build off Team 2011

Schipul’s 2011 AIA Gingerbread Build Off Team: “Hansel and Greatness”

Event Details ~ Come Out and Vote for Your Favorite Gingerbread Creation!

The build off will take place at City Hall’s Hermann Square from 9 – 4 PM this Saturday December 8.

Over 20 teams will be competing – creating Gingerbread Masterpieces out of completely edible materials. Come out in the afternoon to see all of the completed pieces! Judging begins at 3 PM – this is also when you can vote for you favorite team. (We hope you’ll vote for us!)

Local food trucks It’s a Wrap, Ladybird, Monster PBJ, and Porch Swing Desserts will be on site selling food.

Full Event schedule:

9:00am Teams check-in
10:00am Competition begins
10:00am Kids Construction Zone Opens
12:00pm – 2:00pm Santa!
3:00pm Judging and public favorite voting
4:00pm Awards

Hansel and Greatness Competes Again!

Houston Alabama Theater Gingerbread

At last year’s Gingerbread Build Off we created a Gingerbread version of the historic Houston landmark the Alabama Theater, complete with vintage movie posters made of fondant and decorated with edible markers. This year we hope to top last year’s creation!

>> Check out photos from last year’s Gingerbread Build Off!

Follow Schipul on Twitter and Facebook!

We will be updating our Schipul Twitter and Facebook page from the event!

And you can check out all the action on Twitter by following the official hashtag #ArCHgbbo

We hope to see you there!

Tendenci Accounting and Billing Changes to Help Us Better Serve You

Dear clients – know that we love you and are proud to serve you. And I need your help. We have to make a few billing changes.

In 2013, we are making a few billing automation changes and adding fees for clients that pay late or require more paperwork so everyone else doesn’t have to pay more to cover that tiny subset. In short:

  1. If you know what the amount is going to be, like Tendenci Software Fees, or a monthly retainer, we need it set up recurring and automatic like your cell phone, water bill, car payment, etc… This is standard stuff for all of us.
  2. If it is something you would want to review, like variable charges for graphics, you will need to login to a portal and review your invoices for payment. We recommend putting a reminder on your calendar to simply check the portal once a month just in case Intuit’s monthly reminder emails don’t make it through.
  3. For the tiny fraction of clients who slow pay, to be fair to our other clients, we are implementing processing and late fees.

We are software developers, marketing consultants, designers, strategists, photographers and many other things. What we are not is accountants. We want to focus on improving your software and service. These minor changes make life more efficient for everyone.  And it is the ethical thing to do as only the ones who pay late will see any late fees.

How much do I appreciate y’all? A LOT! Without you there is no Schipul Company and no Tendenci software to support the non-profit (and sometimes for profit) communities. And I’m so proud of the team and grateful to our clients that we were able to publish Tendenci 5.0 fully open-source.  Obviously I was inspired by Matt and Dries’ business models at their talk at SchipulCon 2011. They both have great open source products and well run companies with fully automated billing. Schipul and Tendenci need to catch up and do the same thing to continue supporting our now open source product.

The email below is going out to our billing contacts today.  It’s the stuff our lawyers make us say to tell you about official changes in our billing and contracts.  We want you happy. If you would like to contact me directly my email is eschipul at the domain name “”


Ed Schipul, CEO


 Important Changes Coming to Schipul’s Billing Process in 2013

We’re Going Paperless!

In order to spend more time serving our clients – and less time on paperwork for us and for you – we are upgrading our current accounting system. In 2013, we are moving away from paper invoices and implementing automated billing procedures for all clients. This change will ensure that your account remains current by eliminating the unpredictability of the postal service in delivering mailed invoices and checks in a timely manner. We will be working hard over the next few weeks to get all of our clients converted to the new system.

Visit our blog to read more on these changes from our CEO Ed Schipul:

Automated Monthly Payments

Monthly software charges will be the first to convert to the new system. Instead of receiving a paper invoice each month, your credit card will be automatically charged for the standard amount of your retainer and software fees. An emailed receipt will be generated each time a payment is made to your account for your records.

Variable Support Charges

At this time, support charges outside of your retainer and software fees will still be invoiced monthly based on usage. You will receive an email with links to review your invoice and make an online payment.

ACH Debit Option

If your organization does not have a valid credit card, you have the option of setting up your monthly payment via ACH automatic debit.

Charges for December and January

Your November invoice covers the standard monthly charges for December. Please pay this invoice as usual to cover your December software charges. When you implement the automatic billing feature, your initial payment will cover your January invoice.

Processing and Late Fees

Starting in 2013, a 10% processing fee will be added to invoices that are not set up for automatic recurring payment. In addition, invoices over 30 days past due will be charged a late fee of 5%.

Getting Set Up with Automatic Billing

Our goal is to have all of our clients set up in the new system by January 1. Contact our accounting team today at or call us at (281) 497-6567 x 523 to get set up.

Please Read Everything

We recognize changes can be confusing. Please be sure you have read all of the information regarding the new billing procedures carefully. We are here to answer any questions you may have regarding your account. Please contact us at (281) 497-6567 with any questions and to get set up on the new system. We hope this change simplifies your life too!

The Schipul Team, Creators of Tendenci

30 Days of Thanks: The Power of Co-operation

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! This year we had a really big turkey (18 lbs) from HEB. While enjoying the roast Turkey, I’m grateful to all of those who made it possible – the poultry farmers, the transport workers, the grocery staffs… It’s the power of co-operation.

When thinking about what I’m thankful for, the list can be long. Besides my family, friends, those who helped me grow, who inspired me, who encouraged me, who made me laugh… one thing always pops into my head – it was an experience started with extremely dangerous situation, but ended with a miracle.

Our story occurred on the Christmas day (December 25) 2000. At dusk, we encountered the ice rain (freezing rain) when entering Little Rock, Arkansas. Our car lost control, sliding and spinning 360 degree on the highway. Fortunately, there was no vehicles around us at the moment. After we moved a little further, we saw ambulances and several cars lying in the ditch. So we decided to leave the highway and take the service road. Pretty soon, the road was all covered with ice. Cold, dark and slick. Our car could fall into to the ditch any time. To make things worse, the road became more and more steeper – there was a slope ahead of us! Since our car was heavily loaded, it refused to go any further after slowly moving a little while. (very unfortunately, I was sick that day and wasn’t able to do anything). Seeing some people were pushing their cars, my husband got out of the car and joined the (self organized) help team. Soon, they came to help us and pushed our car to the top of the slope. Finally, at that night, we were able to reach to the closest hotel (Holiday Inn), safe and sound. This is the time I witnessed how people co-operate and help each other to get out of the difficult situation. Without that, it’s hard to imagine what we would end up with at that night. It was a miracle. I’m so grateful.

Speaking of co-operation, long time ago, I heard this story. A priest asked God what is the difference between heaven and hell. God let him see two rooms. in one room, a group of people gathered around a hot pot of broth but starving and unhappy. Why? Each one held a long-handed spoon. The spoon’s handle was so long that they couldn’t feed themselves. In the second room, another group of people held the same long-handed spoon, gathering around the a hot pot of broth but laughing and singing. They were happy and well fed. God told the priest that the first is hell, while the second one is heaven. In hell, everybody is greedy, all they care about is themselves. In heaven, everybody co-operates with each other. They use the long-handed spoon to feed each other. The moral of the story is that we can choose to make our world either miserable or full of happyness.

“United we stand”. Co-operation and teamwork are essential to the success in the modern society. While we appreciate all the new technologies we’re possessing, we know that, in essence, they are the fruit of co-operation and teamwork.


Thankful for Things I do not Know

Burj Dubai
Burj Dubai by Leandro Neumann Ciuffo

In a time where we have elections that lead to a change in our laws and weather events that affect millions in unpredicted ways, we are again reminded of the importance of people. Without each other, we have nothing. With each other, though, we are capable of doing things that previous generations thought impossible.

I am thankful that we live in a world where we continue to push forward by developing new things.

“Things” here can have many definitions. Some things are tangible consumer devices that bring us joy. Things like iPad Minis and 50″ 3D televisions. Other tangible things include healthcare robotic devices used for advanced surgeries. Or they can include larger things like the Tesla S, Motor Trend’s car of the year.

Things can also be new services. Khan Academy is changing the ways students learn. Uber is changing how people get private transportation in cities. Even simple things like booking a night in another city are made cheaper and better with services like Airbnb.

Things can also be ideas. Some ideas are new, like Rolling Jubilee’s idea to abolish millions of $$$ of debt. Or an idea that currency can be decentralized with Bitcoin. Or even an older idea of One Laptop Per Child that aims to empower children through education.

I’m thankful that we have all these things. I’m very thankful that we didn’t have many of them 10 years ago. Why? Because we have innovated.

The last 10 years have not been easy. We (as a country and a planet) have had economic challenges, fought in wars, and yet we have continued to innovate.

I am most thankful about the things I can’t list here. The things that I don’t know about, that only live in the labs or minds of people around the world. Things that will become a big part of my life or of the life of someone 10,000 miles from here.

I am thankful that we have continued to move forward, and we will continue to move forward.

30 Days of Thanks: MMM bop

I am very thankful for my family for introducing me to good music at such an early age.  Although I can’t play any instruments, I have always loved all types of music.

When I was a kid my Dad used to play a Bob Dylan cassette (John Wesley Harding) in his truck when he would pick my sister and I up from daycare.

I’m sure to say that my love for Dylan came from my Dad, along with love for many other great bands such as the Clash, the New York Dolls and the Rolling Stones.

I am also pretty sure I can attribute most my redneckness now in life (besides going to Texas State) to him playing Texas Country. For example, as a kid I remember listening to Robert Earl Keen when we’d go to the beach. If not not the redneck part, he is certainly responsible for my smart-assness.

There has always been some what of a heated discussion between my parents when talking about music. Dad would always say, “I’ve been listening to so and so since…” but Mom would have to correct him to let him know that she in fact turned him on to the artist, such as Emmylou Harris, Jimmy Dale Gilmore, Willie and Waylon and Guy Clark.

They both introduced me to bands such as Doug Sahm and the Texas Tornadoes, Steve Earle and Joe Ely.

I’d also credit my sister Briana Purser for introducing me to great bands such as the Black Angel’s, Thee Oh Sees and the Night Beats as well as the classics like Neil Young and Donovan.

Without my family, who knows what I’d be listening too. But thanks to them I have discovered such bands as Reckless Kelly, Hayes Carll, Ryan Bingham, Ghostland Observatory, Battles, Four Tet.. I could go on forever. But for that, I am very thankful for having my family in my life and the music they have shared with me. Love you guys, Happy Thanksgiving!

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