Memorial Day Memphis Style

This is going to be a social media experiment. I want to share my experience as I cook ribs, and maybe get some feedback along the way. I’ll update this post along the way.

It’s Memorial Day weekend and I want to try a new rib rub, Meathead’s Memphis Dust Rub Recipe. I already made wet Memphis ribs back in February, but now it’s hot outside (95 F) and it’s a holiday weekend. Next to July 4th, I think Memorial Day is the best day to bbq. So, this time I’m going dry and rubbed; sauce will be on the table.

Ingredients

3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup paprika
1/4 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup garlic powder
2 tablespoons ground black pepper
2 tablespoons ground ginger powder
2 tablespoons onion powder
2 teaspoons rosemary powder

2 quarts apple juice

Sides

Now, what sides? On Friday, I asked my wife if she would make potato salad. She wanted to make a pasta salad recipe that she found online. I thought maybe a 3-bean salad or corn or baked beans would make a good side dish. That’s how our ‘chat’ online usually goes: we throw out a bunch of ideas and pick one. Well, this time we picked them all. Saturday we went to the store and bought beans for the salad, corn, pasta, fresh parsley, fresh rosemary and a bunch of other things to make all but the baked beans.

Oh yeah, I also bought a big disposable roasting pan. I suggest that you get a slab of ribs and put it in the pan to see if it fits. I made that mistake with the brisket last year. I also bought mesquite chips and a small disposable pan to put them in.

Preparation

Saturday night while I was preparing the ribs, she was busy making 3-bean salad and pasta salad – from scratch! She was cutting herbs, cooking pasta and beans and bacon, mixing, tasting – hum. That was so time consuming and exhausting that the potato salad would have to wait until Sunday.

My rib rub was a little different from the Memphis Dust ingredients. First, I couldn’t find ginger powder or rosemary powder and I didn’t feel like making them myself. I added about 1 tablespoon ground cumin instead. Second, 1/2 cup paprika is a lot! I ran out at 1/4 cup so that’s all I used. The final rub was plenty spicy so I left out cayenne.

I sprinkled the rub on the meat side of the ribs, wrapped them up in plastic-wrap, and put them in the refrigerator to marinate overnight.

Grill

I have a three-burner gas grill so indirect cooking isn’t too hard. I just turn on the left burner and place the pan on the right side of the grill. It is important to let the grill heat up and stabilize between 220 and 250 degrees Fahrenheit.

I poured about 1 quart of apple juice into the roasting pan, placed it on the right side of the grill, and heated the grill until it stabilized at about 220 degrees.

As you can see from the picture, the pan was a little too big for grill and I had to shape it a little to get it to fit.

Every few hours I would check the apple juice level and added more mesquite chips. You don’t want to open the lid too much because it lowers temperature and lets out all of the smokey, steamy, apple goodness. I think it took about 5 hours for my ribs to finish cooking.

Results

It was hot outside that day – at least 95 degrees. I tried to make a video, but I don’t like it too much.

All in all everything turned out pretty good. The ribs were tender, the potato salad was creamy, the bean salad was crisp, and the p

asta salad was still good (after more ranch dressing).

As for the social media part, well, there wasn’t any. I guess I don’t have a big enough following because no one tweeted any suggestions. No one posted on my facebook wall how long to cook ribs or what temperature. And my video only got about 70 views in 1 year, and I was probably half of those.

As for take aways I’d say if you want social media interaction for anything you need keep a lot of people interested. You also need to put out the word well in advance. I made a good rub. I cooked the ribs for enough time to make them tender. Next time I either need a bigger grill or smaller ribs and pan.


Memorial Day Memphis Style

Social Media In the Classroom [UPDATE]

Schools should educate kids about the world around them even if the kids get there first.

Instead of dismissing social media as distracting or destructive, schools should embrace it as an essential part of the curriculum. Not only does this limit the potential for students to abuse the technology, but it opens a new set of valuable educational tools. Source: 4 Tips for Integrating Social Media Into the Classroom | Mashable.com

Dangers in the virtual world like bullying, pornography, reputation, predators, or viruses,  are just as real out in the real world. I think teaching them how to play nice and be smart on all Internet activities should be integral to classroom curricula.

UPDATE:

On a more positive note, I kept my eyes peeled for other information about social media in the classroom and behold more stuff dropped on my desktop from the Twitterverse and beyond. I learned a new word, pedagogy, or method of teaching. I found stuff like a plethora of YouTube videos about Twitter in the classroom, tweets about videos that explain things in plain English, blogs about social media in higher education.

Source: The Twitter Experiment – UT Dallas | YouTube.com

I like what she says at the end, “It’s going to be messy, but messy doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s going to be bad.” I think that means, students might use bad grammar in Twitter, they might not like going from 1000 word papers to Twitter and back, but the important thing is that they communicate their thoughts. If their thoughts are closely related to the subject being thought, then mission accomplished. In other words, the important thing is the message not the delivery mechanism.

I think the reverse is true too. How you get the message to the students brain can be important. We know that students learn in different ways at different speeds. If a student can watch and remember a YouTube video about a school subject, and then tweet comments about it, then why not try that method; the school might even save money.

I re-found the blog, Social Media in Higher Education, which is one professor’s views about using social media in college classrooms. I won’t go into detailed description of his site, but suffice it to say he is trying to quantify what others are discovering by doing – that is using social media in a classroom has merit. There are caveats and benefits to this new mode of teaching.

Note-to-self: Likes are the new links. We can use facebook’s “Like” buttons on any content.

Gap Between Mainstream Media and the Social Web

Although blogs cover many of the same topics, the study found that bloggers tend to focus on more ideological and emotional stories — particularly those concerning human rights, like access to healthcare services or privacy on Facebook — and often with a personal or partisan angle. Bloggers also like to make a story out of “off-beat” or “buried” items in mainstream media coverage. Source: Huge Gap Remains Between Mainstream Media and the Social Web [REPORT] | Mashable.com.

You think… I’m one of the “off-beat” and “buried.” (Such violent metaphoric language.)

I just realized that I don’t have a “mainstream media” category. To me it’s all media: web and print and broadcast floods our world every day and we might consume 1% of it. If 99% of bloggers get their information from mainstream, and mainstream goes payware, what will happen to bloggers? I think they continue to seek free sources until there is none, at which time we’ll make up our own news from observation of our world. I think a lot of bloggers are already doing this. They add commentary on mainstream sources, but they also report what they observe; issues important to them. I also think if all mainstream media dried up behind the paywall then there would be fewer blogs. But so what. I blog to record my thoughts. I get news from broadcast, from the web and occasional from print. If I see or hear something that peeks my interest I blog about it.

It also suggests that if traditional news companies want to succeed online — that is, if they want to attract a large number of page views and be relevant to users on the web — they may need to alter their content to match readers’ interests.

Well, I for one, don’t what to read about RayWilliamJohnson on NYTimes.com or see what @justinbieber is doing on CNN TV. I think consumers keep the gap between mainstream media and social media for a reason: they fulfill different needs. I watch CNN TV  read NYTimes.com for world news. I watch YouTube videos because they’re funny or educational. I use Twitter to stay connected to people. At the end of the day I blog my thoughts about what these other media are saying.

History Repeats Itself: An intriguing glimpse into the past of an obscure philosopher

Like so many times before at the dinner table, my wife brings up an intriguing  subject, the quote, “Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.” I asked if she knew who is credited with saying it. We all struggled for an answer. I think I said that it was someone in the 20th century – Franklin Roosevelt or maybe Winston Churchill. One of the things I love about her are our intellectual conversations like that.

Well, the subject quickly faded when we finished dinner and went our separate ways to do whatever we do after dinner, but I held on to the thought, “who said that.”

The next morning, after doing my usual quick research on Wikipedia and Google, I found that George Santayana is credited with saying, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” on page 284 in his book Life of Reason, Reason in Common Sense, published by Scribner’s, 1905.

Reading for context, that sentence is the clearest one in the paragraph. I think he was giving a metaphor of sudden change is bad. He was talking about three stages of life: baby, manhood, seniority. But, he also seemed to be writing about changes in society or government or even economy. Anyway, I took away from this quote – and its context – that if change is too sudden we loose sight of what we used to know and blindly go through the present re-experiencing what we once knew.

In my research I was looking for more background information about Santayana and the political climate he knew or the social culture he experienced. I found a lot of interesting information, but none of it seemed to fit the context of this quote.

Google Doodle Celebrates Pac-Man 30th Anniversary

The Google Doodle for today is a fully functional Pac-Man game complete with 256 levels and a 2-player mode and everything. That is cool – it’s the first time they’ve done it – but the really cool thing is how the world reacted. News of the doodle raced through national media and social media sources like NYDailyNews, CBS, NPR, Twitter, and Facebook, at blazing fast speeds. Of course, since it’s related to the Internet, all of the web sites that cater to computer geeks spread the word even faster: CNET, geek.com, pcmag.com. It certainly caused a spike in Google Trends.

It seemed like the whole world – or at least America – was playing today. It was so bad some people were asking the question, “How much is this costing us (American companies) in lost productivity?” It also seemed like it wasn’t tied to the generation that played the original Pac-Man when it was release in 1980. Kids to seniors were on google.com playing the game.

It’s the Pac-Man 30th anniversary this weekend, and Google is celebrating as only Google can: with a free online game embedded in its homepage logo. Source: Pac-Man 30th anniversary: Google celebrates with free online Pac-Man game hidden in logo – go play! | NYDailyNews.com

Game Break Is A Bust

Well, it looks like Texas Game Break is a bust. Their Facebook was last updated on March 1 and today is supposed to be the second day of the Break – and nothing.

By contrast, ZFW Summer Sizzle has been going strong every other year since 2005. I made a video of the 2005 players.

So what’s the difference? We established a tight nit community before planning an event, then we planned an event with that community’s help.

A word to the wise: don’t start something you won’t finish and don’t ask people to help unless you follow through – no matter what. The first ZFW Summer Sizzle was a success because we all pitched in and helped. All of us were involved. Yes, it took money. But, those involved pitched in and did what was needed to make it happen. That is the moral of the story when it comes to events: everyone has to do something and something has to be done (by more than one person).

Oh well, maybe we will see something come of Texas Game Break next year.

Texas Reds Steak and Grape Festival 2010

It seems like each year about this time my mouth starts watering for steak and wine. Actually, I seem to yearn for them earlier and earlier each year. Last years’ Steak & Grape was good but very crowded.

This year, the Texas Steak and Grape Festival celebrates it 4th anniversary, June 18-19. They also have a spiffy new (WordPress) Web site, and I think the City of Bryan is sponsoring it; they’re hosting the site.

I may be out of town that week so I don’t know if I’ll make it to the festival. I’ll just have to have some steak and grapes in honor of the festival somewhere else.

Meaning of Malamanteau

If enough people use a fake word does that make it real? Today, this xkcd.com comic created an explosion of traffic (and controversy) on search engines and Wikipedia.

Malamanteau is a combination of two words malapropism and portmanteau. These two are real words that have real meanings and the meanings are easily available on Wikipedia. Source: Malamanteau : Meaning of Malamanteau

Wikipedia quickly deleted the word – citing that it’s under review.

The power of the web – or the people on the web – never ceases to amaze me. The lesson here kids, don’t believe everything you see on Wikipedia – or anywhere on the web for that matter – always verify or confirm a source before you go quoting it in your blog.

Students Sans (Social) Media – UPDATED

According to a new ICMPA study, most college students  are not just unwilling, but functionally unable to be without their media links to the world. Source: A Day Without Media | http://withoutmedia.wordpress.com.

Knowing this, should we, as programmers, promote this behavior by writing applications that enable easy-to-publish, multi-modal content? Currently, I’m under pressure to  (or let a CMS) produce content in at least 4 modes. All of these modes are easily available through browsers, phones or mobile devices. As a programmer of multi-modal content, sometimes I feel like I provide the path to a media-addicted future.

I suppose we could play devil’s advocate for a minute and say, “if that’s where their focus lies, that’s where we need to go.” I can agree with this because I think the battle is lost if you want to fight media and make kids read paper books and go to class rooms and write with wooden pencils. That is so 20th century to them – and most of them have no concept of the 20th century.

Now, on the other hand, what if social media is not only harmful (addictive), but it can actually lowers communications skills. Is it worth risking addiction to a mind-numbing medium to test, challenge or enlighten students?

“I defend to the highest possible level that today’s youth are not addicted to social media and networking, the Web, and online media,” Mr. Whittaker wrote. “We do spend far more time on Facebook and accessing the Web for leisure use and socializing, but that is part of the natural progression of tertiary, noncompulsory education socialization.” Source: Students Denied Social Media Go Through Withdrawal | The Chronicle of Higher Education

This last quote brings up another issue entirely, health of modern, media-addicted children. It is impossible to ‘facebook’ (a new verb) or watch TV or do any media related activity when you are outside riding your bike or skating or playing. Kids are getting obese and unhealthy at an alarming rate. They’ve taken the lifestyle of ‘couch potato’ to a whole new level. But that kiddies, is for another blog – go out and play, DVR your TV program, tell your Facebook fans you’ll out live them.