Got passion? Good. Worry about content, not production value

Check out this video from strength coach Zach Even Esh. It's him holding a camera, pointing it at himself and his stuff. He's half-in, half-out of the frame much of the time. If you get motion sickness, it probably hurts worse than The Blair Witch Project did.

You know what, though? It's about Zach's passion, not about his camera skills. That's what I want to hear about. I don't need flashy editing, I need Zach's take on things.

On the blog post in which he used that video, there's a second video of a BMX race through Manhattan, much of it shot with a helmet cam. It's not winning any production awards, but it provides an energetic kick in the butt for the morning. Or your afternoon lull, whatever.

Check out Zach's post on not letting your passions slide. Go do something you're passionate about. Worry about the content of it, not the production value.

Self-reflection via Strawberry Jam

Strawberry Jam is a new app from Hettema & Bergsten, currently in private beta. It pulls together links from your friends' Twitter accounts to cull popular trends so that you can just get down to it and see what multiple friends are talking about.

» Follow @strawberryapp

It also allows you to search on a term, such as "Syracuse," and get popular links about Syracuse, not necessarily from your friends.

It appears they're also going to try to work with the Facebook API to do roughly the same, though I'm guessing they're going to have to come out of private beta before they'll be able to do that.

What I've discovered after two days of using Strawberry Jam is something that's probably obvious if you're an outside observer of my Twitter account: I don't like redundancy.

I follow about 125 Twitter users, and I'm followed by a little over 1100 right now (though by mentioning the follower number, I'll likely lose a few; weird how that works). When I run a couple of searches on Strawberry Jam with tweets in the last 24 hours, here is what I get:

• Syracuse: 2 links with 9 mentions and 2 with 6 mentions
• Red Sox: 1 link with 6 mentions, 1 with 4 mentions and a bunch with 3 mentions
• Obama: 1 link with 23 mentions, 1 with 12 mentions and a bunch more with more than 5 mentions.
My friends: No links with more than 1 mention

What that says to me about my own habits:

(1) I follow a few people with a lot of variety in what they like and decide to share, with no redundancy (I don't follow two accounts that are tweeting the same stuff).
(2) My friends don't retweet each other's links. Maybe that's a reflection of my own selfishness – I don't follow people who flood their timelines retweeting other people. They are, instead, creative and independent minded.

I think this app has a future; I can think of a few ways I'd like to be able to integrate it into my reading (particularly in partnership with other API-based apps), but I'll need to flush those ideas out before I share them with the folks who make the magic happen.

The Saucy Swan

Next to the Swan Pond in the center of the village of Manlius, you'll find The Saucy Swan, a cozy family-owned restaurant with an Italian-ish flavor, heavy on the seafood options.

I won't discuss the service, since a friend waited on us, but the place is definitely worth a go. The Utica greens are really good; the calamari was just OK, and our dinners (a seafood goulash sort of thing – a special the night we were there – and a white clam sauce over linguini) were excellent, as was the creme brulee.

The Swan, though, is apparently known for its cotton candy. We had a sour apple cotton candy to share as we took a post-dinner walk around the pond.

Definitely recommend – and we'll be back, as there are more menu items we wanted to try.

Lew’s Sports Bar

It's been a while since we've done some restaurant reviews, but I owe a couple of restaurants some shouts.

Lew's is a new place on Church Street in North Syracuse. Last summer, the town turned Church Street into a dead-end, and Lew's recently opened on the cul-de-sac.

It's a small, friendly place, with TVs in the appropriate places, billiards, darts, foosball and cheap beer. Their wings are passable (not in my top five, for sure), their burgers are exceptional, and their staff is friendly in a neighborhood bar sort of way.

Plenty of parking in back and on the cul-de-sac. Definitely give them a try.

Jason’s homemade brocolli calzones

This is a recipe by Jason, a Syracuse attorney known on Twitter as @jaseface1. I'm not usually a recipe kinda guy, but I'll mix it up and give it a shot when I get back into the starches in a few weeks.

1 package active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup fresh broccoli
1 tablespoon dried basil leaves (optional, i have a plant so i use some)
1 egg (also optional)

Dough: In a bowl, dissolve the yeast in water. Add the oil and salt; mix in 1 cup of the flour until smooth. Gradually stir in the rest of the flour, until dough is smooth and workable. Knead dough on a lightly floured surface for about 5 minutes, or until it is elastic. Lay dough in a bowl containing 1 teaspoon olive oil, then flip the dough, cover and let rise for 40 minutes, or until almost doubled.

Filling: While dough is rising, combine the ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, broccoli and basil leaves in a large bowl. Mix well, cover bowl and refrigerate to chill.

Preheat oven to 350-375 degrees.

When dough is ready, punch it down and separate it into 2 equal parts. Roll parts out into thin circles on a lightly floured surface. Fill each circle with 1/2 of the cheese/filling.. fold over, securing edges by folding in and pressing. Brush the top of each calzone with egg (or olive oil) and place on a lightly greased cookie sheet.

Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 25-30 minutes. Serve hot.

American Diabetes Association’s Tour de Cure

Yesterday, a few of us from Civic Engagement volunteered at the American Diabetes Association's Tour de Cure. Diabetes isn't one of my primary causes, but my employer is a national sponsor, so I had easy access to the organizers.

This is a really great event. Rather than a "simple" run or walk or ride, it's five rides – a 100-miler, a 62.5-miler, a 40-miler, a 25-miler and a 15-miler. It requires volunteers at many stages and a whole lot of planning.

From our perspective, it went as smoothly as we could imagine. We got bad directions to the rest stop we were supposed to run, but got there and set up before the first riders came in. We were missing some supplies, but our radio operator (yes, they have someone operating short-wave radios at each stop, in trail vehicles and at the home base) managed to get in touch with home base to get us the stuff we needed in time.

I didn't look up the numbers (the amount raised or the number of people involved), but it was impressive. If you're looking for a way to get involved, I highly recommend the event.

Assault City Roller Derby Announces June Double Header

On Saturday, June 11th, Assault City Roller Derby will once again bring the excitement and action of women’s flat-track roller derby back to the Greater Baldwinsville Ice Arena. In a double-header against Central New York Roller Derby, ACRD’s Assault Squad will take on the CNY All-Stars, and ACRD’s Battery Brigade will face off against the Rome Wreckers. Doors will open at 4:30 PM, and the Assault Squad bout will begin at 5 PM, with the Battery Brigade bout to follow. Both ACRD teams won their bouts last month, and the teams are looking to repeat their success in this double header.

» ACRD wins double header (photos), plus Derby 101

The bout features live halftime entertainment by Born Again Rebels, and $1 of every ticket sold will benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Central New York. Presale general admission tickets are $10 each and presale front line tickets are $20 each. Reduced price children’s tickets are also available. Tickets can be purchased at or at Black Mamba Skate Park in Shoppingtown Mall. Tickets will also be available at the door the day of the event for $12 for general admission and $22 for front line. After the bout, fans can join the derby girls for food and drinks at Sharkey's Eclectic Sports Lounge in Liverpool, NY.

ACRD is an all-women’s flat track roller derby league consisting of working mothers, professionals, wives, and students, ranging in age from 21 to 45. Their goal is to help local communities and promote women’s empowerment. Since its inception in late 2007, Assault City has competed on the road in Connecticut, Vermont, New Jersey, and Ohio as well as throughout Upstate New York. For additional information about ACRD, please visit

Crowdsourcing news coverage: Springfield, MA tornado

This video has an AP logo on it, but that's primarily because it was shot from a camera that happens to overlook the Connecticut River in a television newsroom. I don't think it's significantly different in quality than this one (other than the NSFW audio):

We've heard a lot about the Joplin, MO, tornado over the past month. Even with video, it's tough to understand until you know the places you're seeing, and you hear voices you know describe people you know and neighborhoods you know. When all the traffic lights are down, it takes three hours to get a cell phone call out, and the highway through town isn't accessible.

This is when even a privately held, monopoly newspaper in town can open up and say, "We can't be everywhere. Help us out." And people did.

Videos from the tornado | More on YouTube
Newspaper photos | Reader photos
Full story »

I'm sure there will be more photos and videos today, both from people venturing out for the first time, and from news outlets getting out into the neighborhoods in daylight. Wow.