Getting ready for pumpkin bread season

Pumpkin bread with choclate chips is probably my favorite seasonal food. Katja endorses the making of pumpkin bread. I took opertunity of Becky being out of town to make a double batch. 

Katja still has a little dificulty saying pumpkin but she manages and has known the word for about four months. Too boot, she has liked muffins since Nigeria when Blessing would make them for us.  So i got some silicone muffin cups to make muffins with Katja. As it happened this time she expired before i could make them and she woke up the next morning to a mountain of pumpkin bread. 

Miller Place Starbucks

Today I stop by a place where I used to work. The  Starbucks at Miller Place, New York. I Worked there for about three months in 2006. It was an interesting ride. I had lots of fun. The people I worked with were great. They made me feel accepted in ways that I had not known were important. A lot has changed since I was there. It took 2 min 6 seconds do me to get a venti ice water. My time working in a NY Starbucks would go on to shape my mind about food customer service and about the appropriate speed of service. Unfortunately, there was no one at the store that I recognized-of course, it's almost 8 years later (what should one expect?). Going back kind of makes me emotional. Not sure why. It was just a lot. I guess it was a good time in my life. 

I remember some of the regulars quite well, that is their drinks of course. There was the triple venti carmel macchiato guy that would come in three times a day.  And there was this guy who owned a pizza shop at the adjacent parking lot. He got an espresso sometimes, but mostly just a cup of joe.

The guy who owned a pizza shop once sold me the best pizza I have ever tasted. I thought I'd stop by and order a pie but there was a sign saying they were closed and selling the assets. Made me sad a disappointed.  I know that life goes on, but maybe that shop owner died.  I mean he might have been in his late 60's at the time.  I remember the love of his life was there in the shop as was his son. 

A Facebook position 

My Facebook Use

A Facebook position isn't easy. I have multiple positions on multiple different aspects of Facebook. I was in early adopter Facebook, I have been there from almost the beginning - I have a lot invested in my interactions via Facebook. I remember Facebook rolling out Facebook graph, the iOS phone app, messenger, the various redesigns, policy changes, and the announcement of the IPO. It has been an interesting journey through the development of the Facebook brand and product.

In short this post says: “Yes, I use Facebook, but please don't post photos of my kids, or of the inside of my house on Facebook, WhatsApp, or Instagram.”

A Facebook position is important, it helps us think about when and where it might be appropriate to use Facebook - weather as an individual, a business, or a large corporation. A Facebook position is going to be unique to every individual. In this post I will discuss it in three aspects. I run a small business, I run a personal blog, and I have kids (well an 11 month old daughter). In general, Facebook's terms of service is of some help to Facebook users in understanding some of Facebook's positions on what it wants to do with the data metadata and relationships between data that it gathers from its users.
I'm a big believer in personal privacy. Part of personal privacy I think is controlling for the connections between data points (the relationships between associated data), and also controlling for metadata.

In contrast to personal privacy and self revelation of personal data, Social privacy is a lot more difficult to control for, because other people make revelations about you that you may or may not appreciate. These revelations may be new data points or they may be new relationships between existing data points. For instance, in the Facebook world, a new data point might be a photo and a new relationship might be tagging someone in that photo and making that tag connect to that person’s profile.
One of Facebook's goals is to make it conducive and easy for people to share information about the other people that they know. So Facebook is engineered and designed to help create accurate metadata and relationships between data points among users. 
Truth is though even though I am a big personal privacy advocate, I do like to share information with others, but I like to do so on my own terms. That is why when Facebook pushed out a new version of their iOS app which required users to let Facebook to have unlimited access to your phone's microphone, I deleted the app and disabled functionality from Facebook to my phone.
Because I am a long-time Facebook user I have a quite a network of personal and professional contacts from various time depths of my life on Facebook. It is to my advantage to leverage these contacts in the various personal and business dealings I have. That's why Becky and I use a business oriented Facebook page for updates about our work in Nigeria. I also connect Facebook with various blog post of mine from my independently run WordPress site. This allows me to connect with new and existing audiences via Facebook.

Facebook and kids

Facebook requires that one be 13 or older to have their own account. You can see the policy guidelines here:

As far as I can tell that is because there are certain US federal regulations about privacy for children that Facebook would have to comply with if it aloud younger people to create accounts.

Some countries have a lower or higher age limit, Yet, other countries like Ireland have no specific age limit at all. There's an interesting discussion helping parents think through issues from an Irish national perspective here:

Because others have lengthy and detailed discussions about age appropriateness and issues for young users of social to consider when using these complex platforms, I am not going to directly discuss those issues here.
For me is more important to understand the Facebook business model, and to ask: “How do I want to engage with that business model and how do I want to engage my children with that business model.”
For me I want to let my children choose to engage with the Facebook business model when they are old enough to independently think about the consequences. It does not mean that I won't discuss it with them or help them think it through, but I would rather them enter the marketplace of their own accord, rather than me inducing them in from birth.
This means for my children that I want to give them the option to put their personal information into the hands of another company's structured information set.
It doesn't mean that I don't believe in sharing photos of my kids (I do share photos through this blog and another website here:, it means that I don't believe the medium best suited for sharing those photos is Facebook. For me owning the distribution and connectivity platform means that if I want to remove the source image from the web I can. In contrast to Facebook if I want to remove content from Facebook I am not guaranteed that Facebook will actually remove that content. Facebook even acknowledges that my data and data about me may persist even after I delete my account. There are several good articles which give a rundown about Facebook's Terms of Service (TOS). One from the Huffington Post is here: (Because we all know that even reading the TOS of a platform we love can be confusing.)

My opinions about use of Facebook with my kids and property apply to WhatsApp, Instagram (link to TOS), and Facebook, which are all owned by Facebook.

Photos of Kids

I may be off my rocker, but I really think that parents have a responsibility to protect their kids. Part of that may be from the encroachment of social media companies (data collectors) into the personal lives of our kids (not to mention other powerful marketing forces that parents need to protect their kids from). I would also like to think that parents should have the privilege of approving the use of photos of their kids in all cases, although I realize that in public places, permission to photograph children in the United States might be considered a first amendment right (this often includes school sports games). A short bit of googling shows that there is different jurisdictions with different laws (discussion for the UK context), and there are also different protocols for different types of photos (see discussion 1, and discussion 2 ), such as the intended use of the photo, like commercial marketing. The complexity with respect to social media (beyond the persistence of personal data) is that The social media platform may apply a license to the photos allowing for commercial use. For a general overview of the topic consider looking at the wikipedia article for Photography and the law.

Fruitless Wycliffe Headquarters

I'm here in Orlando, Florida at the WycliffeUSA headquarters. I took my daughter out for a stroll through the parking lot. The heat, humidity and the landscape got me thinking. In anthropology and documentary linguistics we often think about the relationship between people, their culture and social practices, and the land they live on or transverse through. For instance, there is the taxation of land in the Ottoman Empire according to how many trees are on a piece of property (which led to the deforestation of lots of land in the Middle East). In biblical accounts of the depopulation of the Palestinian region there are mentions of "barrenness" or deforestation as a result of the change in population activities.

Sidewalk at the WycliffeUSA headquarters.

Sidewalk at the WycliffeUSA headquarters.

More recently we can look at issues of urbanization around the world, be they accounts of roads in Australia or Mexico affecting traditional activities and the use of land by indigenous peoples, or of refugees needing wood fires for cooking in Africa. 
So if we take as truth this relationship between us and the land we steward, what then should  be our response? It is also equally striking that if we look back though history, that major architectural features are built and new designs are established based on the priorities of institutional management. For instance, consider The Roman emperors and the colosseum, Egypt and the pyramids, Noah and the ark, the Vatican and St. Peter's basilica, or the USA Vietnam war memorial with the names of the fallen soldiers written on it. Our architectural legacy (which is part of our land use) leaves a testament to our management priorities. 

When I was in Africa doing some linguistic field work, I was approached by a local fellow who does a bit of mentoring of local young men; teaching them life skills and stewardship practices. He asked me how many fruit trees I have on my property.  I told him "none" (as I had forgotten about the fig tree on my rental property in Texas and the house I was living in at the time in Oregon had no fruit trees at all). This Nigerian continued to tell me that fruit trees are really important because they not only affect the quality of the ground but they also provide income.  For him a fruit tree on his property means that he has shade in an air conditioner-less society, and fruit in season -- meaning: He does not have to pay for food and can send one of his kids to market to sell his excess fruit (income instead of expense). He also said, that one must plant fruit trees early in life (and it is therefore important for young men to know) because it takes time (years) for fruit trees to be productive. 

My response in the two and a half years since being asked if I have fruit trees on my property has been that I have planted four fruit trees, eleven fruiting shrubs, and two fruiting bramble patches. While I have chosen fruits that I like and grow in my region, my attention to planing fruit trees at all can be directly traced to my conversation with this Nigerian. And now that I am in my 30's it is my hope that my daughter will have fruit from my trees. 

I planted a plum tree and a row of blueberries.

I planted a plum tree and a row of blueberries.

I planted three  fig trees on the lower course.

I planted three fig trees on the lower course.

So as I walk with my daughter though the walking paths at the Wycliffe headquarters in the 9 AM morning sun and humidity of a Florida August in full swing, I appreciate the few shade trees in the landscaping around the buildings. But I wonder: "why no fruit trees?"  
A view over the east side of the Wycliffe headquarters.

A view over the east side of the Wycliffe headquarters.

In contrast to the trees on the east side of the buildings, the west side contains a rain/drainage pond (an important feature in Florida) and grassy fields. 

A view over the west side of the Wycliffe headquarters.

A view over the west side of the Wycliffe headquarters.

So as I walk the grounds of the Wycliffe headquarters I wonder what the architecture can tell us about the priorities of the organizational management. I wonder why there are (beautiful albeit fruitless) trees on the east side and plains on the west side.The author of the book Rich dad, poor dad talks about buying assets which make us money rather than buying assets which cost us money. Money is one easy way that American culture can quantify the propensity to be sustainable. That is, profitability and sustainability are not the same, but profitability metics can be used as an indicator for some sorts of sustainability. The principle can be expounded upon even for non-profit organizations. Assets which pay for themselves contribute to the organization's sustainability. I wonder how many NGOs (not just WycliffeUSA) treat their land as an asset which should pay for itself. I think it is particularly interesting to consider in WycliffeUSA's case because sustained use of it's products is one of its businesses goals. That is, how integrated into the corporation's activities is the ideas of stewardship and sustainability?

I am no expert on Floridian horticulture but I wonder what sort of analogies can be drawn between the state of the grounds and the organizational priorities as pursued by management.

I do know that oranges grow in Florida, I wonder if Wycliffe had a grove of oranges and had a you-pick (pay version) if that would add social value to the property in the eyes of local Floridians. Communities form around food and the food gathering process. Or if the orange grove was a free you-pick could Wycliffe organize an open house to coincide with orange season to meet both practical and spiritual needs of local Americans interested in holistic ministry to native and minority language speaking peoples?

In terms of architecture I'm no expert on facility maintenance or on Florida weather but it seems that solar power would also be a financially benefiting venture for an organization depending on fluctuating income streams.