Storytelling Made Simple

20140709_190258_957-EFFECTSLast year, Gary Vaynerchuk re-popularized the importance of storytelling in a social media-driven world. Lots of people scrambled to figure out how they could improve their storytelling skills, while Google went out and simplified the task.

This year has been my “No Staycation” year, and I’ve been incredibly lucky to get to travel for work to a number of locales. Everywhere I’ve gone I’ve brought along my Google Glass and shot photos and video with it. I was determined before I went that I would do some storytelling, but invariably I got home and those pictures sat in memory or in my auto-backup on Google+ waiting to be shared.

Now I’ve long said that Google Hangouts was the killer app for Google+ (and it’s been good to me – I’ve received 8500+ views on my Google Hangouts tutorial, which is woefully out of date). But right now I’m giving some serious love to its upstart cousin – Google Stories.

All those photos backed up from Glass or my Nexus 5 have started begging me to be heard. First I got an Auto-Awesome request to approve the movie on the right. Wow YES! No editing on my part, all I did was auto-backup my photos to Google+ (sharing set to private) and then change the privacy settings on this to take it live.

Then came full on Stories. The first one I published was Minnebar 2014 (a convention for developers, start ups, and tech enthusiasts). It was exciting and simple, so I also went through and published photos from a top agent networking event we had put on at Lambeau Field. All I had to do was add text and decide if Google was right about which images I should use (at least 80% accuracy – kudos to their deep learning system).

People asked me – could this be used by agents for listing presentations? My initial reply was hesitance given the timeliness that requires. When I went on a road trip through southern Minnesota and snapped pictures of the flooding, the story didn’t pop up until a week later.

Wednesday night I went out for a walk with my dog down by the Mississippi river. There are some really scenic views and the water is still up a little, so I brought along Glass and snapped some shots when Cerbie would remain still for a moment. The next morning I woke up and Google had compiled the story for me! I just added some captions and re-chose a couple of pictures, and voila. While not quite real time, this is becoming a very usable tool for purposes like listing presentations.

Of course, my stuff is mostly Google Glass, so if you want a real sense of what Google Stories can do, check out: French Polynesia from High Above {WARNING: there are sharks and crazy Red Bull Junkies}

Photoshop Phriday 6: Clean or Dirty Dishes?

dishwasher magnet - Miley Cyrus

Download printable image

Do you have a boring “Clean or Dirty” magnet on your dishwasher? Would you prefer something with some flair? Click on the designs to the right to download the printable versions of my latest creative endeavor.

For this Photoshop Phriday project I’m revisiting a design that my friend Anja had made circa 2005 after Christina Aguilera went through her “bad girl” transformation. Since Miley Cyrus has also decided to cast aside her adolescent mold, I thought it would make a good visual for this old meme.

Given that another child star has gone through his own metamorphosis, I’ve added him to the mix for those of you who might be squeamish about seeing that famous twerk every time you look at the dishwasher.

Dishwasher Magnet - Bieber

Download the printable version

» Download Cyrus graphic

» Download Bieber graphic

Feel free to share these with your friends – just let me know below or on Facebook which one you liked best and if you have some awesome ideas for future projects you would like to see.

State of the Blog

It’s been a couple months since my last post but I’m going to endeavor to be more consistent. I’m going to mix things up and start adding in some vlog entries.

Epic Meal Tim – Island Barbecue

Epic Meal Tim - Island Barbecue SandwichWhile shopping to replenish the fridge, I happened upon an awesome deal on sirloin tip roast. This made me ponder how great it would taste slow-cooked and shredded. Since I’d recently experienced a glut of viral videos as research including Epic Meal Time, I decided it was time to man up and make a serious meal. Hence “Epic Meal Tim” was born!

I picked up a loaf of take and bake ciabatta bread, grapefruit, bacon (because you have to have bacon in an epic meal), dark chocolate chips, broccoli slaw, red pepper, and pineapple. I also spent about 5 minutes in the barbecue sauce section reading labels because half of them started with high fructose corn syrup and I wanted something that would be smoky and spicy, leaving the sweetness for other layers.

The Meat Layers - Barbecue Sirloin Roast and BaconFor the main component, I trimmed the visible fat off the sirloin roast, seared it, and then slow-cooked it for 7 hours with onions, sweet potatoes, and a half a can of root beer (I was out of cider). When it was done, I shredded it with two forks and then marinated it in barbecue sauce

For the slaw, I mixed some honey mustard, freshly squeezed grapefruit, pineapple juice, Caribbean  Jerk seasoning, a couple dashes of key lime juice, and then added a couple tablespoons of chia seeds to the mixture to get it to gel a bit. Just before it was time to compile, I dumped the mixture into a large mixing bowl, added the broccoli slaw, and added a small can of crushed pineapple.

Bacon LayerI cooked 6 strips of maple bacon, then removed the excess oil with paper towels (just because I’m choosing to be epic, doesn’t mean I can’t be moderately healthy). In a ramekin I added about 1/2 teaspoon of maple syrup and sprinkled @1 tbsp of Ghiradelli 60% dark chocolate chips over it, then microwaved it for 30 seconds and stirred it briskly then dabbed it onto the bacon in strategic points (it tends to harden quickly).

For the bread, I cut a slit like a super-sized hot dog bun and cooked it for 12 minutes before layering the bacon on it and setting it in for 3 minutes more to re-heat the bacon.

After that, I layered over a pound of the barbecue mixture over the top of the bacon, then layered on the slaw mixture. The final layer was sliced red peppers to give it some additional crunch and flavor.

slaw layer added to the meatI then held it and my buddy Bryon sliced it up. I took the second-smallest third (we gave his girlfriend dibs) and was the only one to actually finish mine. Cerbie watched me like a hawk, p. I think I might regret that decision tomorrow, but I have plenty of barbecue and slaw left over for a few days of sammies.

(The photos should all be clickable if you want to see the meal in all its majesty)


Photoshop Phriday – Week 5 – Movember?

Ethan_HawkeDuring November, a lot of guys participate in a ritual of growing their facial hair out. I opt out because mine would look about as skanky as Ethan Hawke’s in “Reality Bites” (right). I feel it’s important to spare the world of such a travesty.

Since you won’t see any charming Movember photos of me in various stages of facial hair growth on Facebook, I thought I would spend this Photoshop Phriday (sorry for missing a week) showing you what you will be missing out on if I were as hirsute as say Robert Downey Jr.


Movember - Me with Robert Downey Jr's goatee

Photoshop Phriday – Week 4 – Super Tim

I’ve made no secret of the fact that when I was a kid I wanted to grow up to be just like Superman. After experimenting with various ways to gain superpowers, I gave up and set my sites on being the next Batman, then quarterback sensation (4th grade to 7th grade), lawyer (8th grade off/on until I found out Constitutional Law was only available as an 8am class at Luther), mild-mannered reporter, and eventually teacher.

This week I decided to spare my brothers embarrassment and picked one that featured only me (and part of my dad) which meant picking a birthday photo since we tended to be shot in group format at most other times of the year. In this one I had just woken up, thrown my clothes out into the hall for the wash, and was presented with my awesome new shirt which I wore as often as Mom would allow. Trying to find an appropriate modern picture to work from, I found the one inset from a recent Christmas where I was similarly sleepy.

Superman shirt for birthday

Photoshop Phriday – Week 3 – Iron Man 4

This week I wanted to take a break from family photos as I’m working on a large project for a cousin. I had spotted a Geeks Are Sexy post on Avengers as Star Wars characters and thought I should do something along those lines.

While I was always subscribed to the equation DC > Marvel, I thought I could take something from the DC playbook and apply it. I wanted to focus on Loki since he’s back, so I thought about Mordred’s mayhem and Mxyzptlk’s mischief. I then thought about all of the 80s movies that RDJ was in and knew I could probably lift a photo from there, the hard ones were to be Gwyneth and Tom Huddlestone.

Anyway, without further adieu…

Iron Man 4 - Loki's Revenge

Photoshop Phriday – Week 2.5 – Pimp My Crib

I can’t believe I forgot to post for Photoshop Phriday! I received a request today from one of my cousins for a more in depth composition,  so my week 2 version’s fairly simple – pimp my crib!

I liked the babies in sunglasses motif from Week 1 so I found a couple of them (albeit with Andrew’s sunglasses on his head) that I felt worked well with this scene. Yes, that’s a Raggedy Andy doll in the crib with us.

Photoshop Friday - Pimp My Crib

Easy Peasy Rosemary Potatoes


Today I am testing my ability to write a piece just with voice on my Galaxy Nexus using the WordPress app for Android. This is so much fun not having to type! It even does punctuation. [Post-transposition: It struggled with some words, but overall was above 90% accurate. I converted paragraphs to list format in full WordPress.]

I love Italian seasoned and rosemary potatoes and wanted to recreate them at home. Through trial and error (over the last 3-4 years) I’ve come up with this quick and simple recipe that works every time.

  1. Start out with 1 medium potato and slice it into chunks approximately the size you see in the picture.
  2. Put potatoes in a small container and rinse in cold water twice to get rid of the starch.
  3. Spray on some olive oil spray and toss.
  4. Place in microwave for 4 minutes.
  5. Get out a frying pan and coat with olive oil spray.
  6. Turn burner on 2 medium high heat and place pan on it.
  7. Add the following seasonings to taste: italian seasoning sea salt rosemary and pepper (optional).
  8. When microwave goes off, toss potatoes in frying pan, shaking well to coat with seasoning.
  9. Fry potatoes to desired brownness.
  10. Enjoy!

Pirate School

A Howard Pyle Pirate PaintingA friend of mine recently provided an anecdote about his son’s desire to go to “pirate school” (he misheard “private school”). My suggestion to him was that it was a great entrepreneurial opportunity for “a pirate themed charter school with an interdisciplinary approach based on nautical themes and a civilization’s need to create rules to mitigate conflict. You would still teach the three ‘Arrhs!’ but they would be approached more holistically.”

Overnight I had some further thoughts as my brain revisited my Interdisciplinary Curriculum and other educational theory courses. I wanted to get down those musing on how to structure this so I could move forward with my day. I figured it more towards a middle school (mainly considering the physical education components) than an elementary school, but adjustments could be made.

My big concern is that kids would take the practices of piracy too close to heart (bullying, stealing, etc.) so it would need to be stated early on that there is a code of conduct and that failure to follow “the captain’s orders” would mean being forced to “walk the plank” to another school (hence the conflict resolution course in social studies).

Language Pods: Traditional English, French Immersion, Spanish Immersion (doesn’t have to be Caribbean-centric, could be more global)

Science:  Underwater ecology, boat building (w/Art), navigation (w/Math), astronomy

Math: Units of measure, sailing math (winds, speed, tides, etc.), navigation (w/science), maritime economics (w/Social Studies), cargo planning

Social Studies: History of water travel, maritime cultures, maritime economics (w/Math), civilization’s role in conflict resolution

Physical Education: Rope climbing, aquarobics, fencing

Art & Crafts: Knot tying, pottery, art appreciation (pirate paintings), henna tattoos, boat building (w/Science), pirate hat making

Detention: Swabbing the deck

Feel free to suggest your own curriculum suggestions and point out problems with my suggestions.