Planet Iron Blogger SF

May 22, 2017

Certainly Strange

Sworn Duty

OK so for once I decided not to do a Morrowind comic. I’ve started working on an Oblivion comic instead! Let’s just say, the tutorial portion of Oblivion left me feeling… unenthusiastic about everything. Not to mention everybody was just … Continue reading

by Steen at May 22, 2017 04:14 AM

May 21, 2017

a digital life

Tower Bridge, 10 Years

In 2007, I made a picture of Tower Bridge. Last week, I made a similar picture. It is amazing how much the skyline has changed in 10 years.


by jeremybrooks at May 21, 2017 08:57 PM

Diegetic Games

Second BART Larp Playtest

Earlier today, Albert Kong and I ran the second playtest of our BART Larp. You can read an earlier post about the larp and first playtest.

BART Larp Map v2

This playtest went really well and we were able to fix some of the issues with the first iteration. We game many of the characters stronger motivations and created some preexisting relationships among characters. We also played with the flow of information so that players had enough time to confront a crisis before it was too late.

That said, we learned plenty about things to fix for the next iteration. We’re still figuring out the optimal mix of character goals, weaknesses, and network structure to keep all the players motivated and active throughout the game. Larp design is definitely more challenging than designing RPGs or tabletop storytelling games!

Next Steps

We’re going to do another playtest in the next few months based on what we learned during this run. After that we’ll likely share a doc so that anyone can run it in their own city. We also want to try a variant where many (100s?) of people can play it the same day with dedicated NPCs at each stop. Stay tuned!

If you want to get updates about new games and drafts, sign up for the Diegetic Games Newsletter!

May 21, 2017 08:18 PM

The New Vivek

The word of the day: Arbor

Today’s word of the day might remind you of trees, foliage, or one of those things that’s neither a pergola or a gazebo. But for me, Arbor unlocks a cavalcade of sense data: the sound of mismatched chairs at a dozen mismatched tables squeaking on a worn wood floor, the glow of small white lightbulbs spelling Oakland on the wall, and the smell and taste of freshly brewed coffee.

Arbor Cafe is a coffee shop in Temescal. This is an excerpt from their Employee Handbook.

Employee Handbook, Chapter 4: The Customer

This chapter will teach you about our unique approach to The Customer. Even if you have experience working at other cafés or restaurants, please read this carefully because at Arbor, we do things a bit differently.

Follow Five Simple Guidelines to make sure any customer who walks through our doors gets the true Arbor Experience.

1. Indirect your attention

Contrary to your instincts, customers are not be approached in a way that is direct, helpful, or courteous. This is what they expect and at Arbor we consistently Challenge Expectations.

The way to approach customers is — not at all! Treat an incoming patron the way a birder does an endangered sparrow: with trepidation, distance, and quiet. Use small, subtle movements, don’t walk up to them, and never try to to feed them.

2. Out of sight, out of mind

Exercise caution when a customer walks through the door. These people probably want coffee, snacks, or a meal; if a customer sees you before you see them, they might want you do something. Remain out of sight for as long as you can.

Pro-tip! Position your body so that it is invisible to anyone who enters. If you are not sure where exactly to stand, practice with a coworker or manager before your shift. Everybody who walks into Arbor should see that the front counter is perpetually unmanned, or think that the employees have been zapped with a shrink ray.

3. Get busy with busy work

Sometimes our newest Arbor team members — especially those with prior hospitality experience — are confused by our Unique Approach to Customer Service. Many of them instinctively walk up to the counter, say hello, and take a customer’s order. This often results in a customer ordering something from the menu and paying for it.

Instead, find a Behind Counter Activity to occupy your attention. Sort Tupperware containers. Stand behind the espresso machine and produce steam. Sit on a milk crate and complain about politics. And if you do happen to get stuck fulfilling a customer request, see if you can increase the length of time required to do it. There’s no law that says a bagel must be prepared in under 10 minutes.

This can be challenging for newcomers, but you’ll get better over time. One of our earliest employees once spent four minutes “facing” the bottles in the fridge while ignoring a queue five customers deep that started to form behind him. He is now a manager!

4. You cannot help the customer

After an appropriate amount of dithering, usually 80–110 seconds, find your way to the counter where the cash register is. You will almost always find a customer waiting there. But remember, you don’t know her life story, her journey, or her expectations. You really can’t help them.

For example, if a customer asks for a coffee, “for here”, with no room for cream, that is not what he wants, nor can he ever know. Treat all patrons the way a jaded social worker might regard a hopeless case or in the way one patronizes an elderly relative with dementia. But with 1000x more pity and loathing. There is nothing you can do to make these miserable lives better.

5. Always act like you’re jonesing for a smoke break even if you just had one

Self explanatory.

Don’t forget to have fun!

Remember: Arbor isn’t just a business that exchanges goods and services for money, it’s a way of transmogrifying the theoretical concept of “surly” into a temporal and physical experience for our local community. By following the five guidelines above, you can help our customers understand that the best response to their needs is no response at all.

We’ve hired you because we know you can do it. By working together, you and the rest of the Arbor family can help us put the “nay” back in in “neighborhood café.”

by Vivek S at May 21, 2017 04:53 PM

I Like Turtles

Liesl's baccalaureate service

/2017/05/21/liesls-baccalaureate-service.html

May 21, 2017 04:00 AM

May 20, 2017

onomatomania

ATOPIA

by Sandra Simonds

I am a terrible American
I am so suicidal
I am a terrible suicidal American
who throws herself into your desiccated bank vaults
Yet I do not want America to kill me before I kill myself
I can’t stand my positive acquisitions
I throw them to the dogs like marrowless bones
I can’t stand my drinking
I’m sorry that I destroyed you by the fires of money
I feel no nationalism
I feel no nationalism in my heart, my hands, my brain or my pussy
I myself am worse than a rogue state
I feel peeled away from society
I will never leave the bed
I will never enter the cold winds of money
I want to die in my bed with the covers over my head
The books I have written for other people sicken me like plague
The books I have written for so little money like a ghost tripping on the pavement
I will be forced out of my enemy’s hands like ghosts in the wavy grasses
America, I am the moors you lack
My voice crosses you like some bleak financial awareness
I crash like a bombed out calamity
I am no good for anyone
The vines of my thoughts are the cries of your abandoned people and animals
I am the home of the birds and that’s all I will ever be
Inside my heart is a boat of Noahs
I am the town washed away by starvation and flooding
I am the downed power lines of your literature
I spark up from the pavement like the jolting of a corpse
I am that corpse who jolts up and goes on a long walk
America, I am the long walk of your lost wilderness

May 20, 2017 11:34 PM

Doctor Popular

Analog:Glitch, double exposed images of glitch and street photography

I keep coming back to the intersection of digital and analog. A few years back I had a photo exhibit at Photobooth SF called “Analog:Glitch” which explored this idea with glitched images on Polaroid film. Since then, I’ve been messing around with other ways to combine these two worlds.

In this batch of double exposed photos, I started by creating a large set of digital glitch images then photographed each one with my SLR film camera (by just photographing my computer screen). I then reloaded the film and shot various images from around San Francisco. The resulting images were unplanned, but often lined up in interesting ways. (you can see the full album on Flickr)

Analog Glitch

Analog Glitch

Analog Glitch

Analog Glitch

Analog Glitch

Analog Glitch

Analog Glitch

Analog Glitch

Analog Glitch

Analog Glitch

Analog Glitch

Analog Glitch

Analog Glitch

Analog Glitch

Analog Glitch

Analog Glitch

Analog Glitch

The post Analog:Glitch, double exposed images of glitch and street photography appeared first on Doc Pop's Blog.

by doc at May 20, 2017 07:45 PM

How to upload photos to Instagram via the web

Instagram still doesn’t allow you to upload photos via your web browser, but they have recently enabled users who don’t have the Instagram to upload via the mobile web. So here’s how you can upload to instagram via the web using Google Chrome or Safari by spoofing a mobile web browser.

Google Chrome to Instagram:

If you are are using Google Chrome, you’ll need to use an extension like User Agent Switcher (aka “UA Spoofer”) to spoof a mobile device. Once this extension is installed, click the UA Switcher icon to a mobile device setting (like iPhone 6). Then the upload button will appear as a camera icon on the bottom of your screen. Click it to upload your photos from your laptop.

Safari to Instagram:

The Device Emulator is built in to Safari. To get to it, simply go to the Safari menu bar Develop > User Agent > Safari iOS 7 – iPhone.

And that’s how to upload photos to instagram from web without using the mobile app. Have you tried the technique out yet? Let me know how it works for you.

The post How to upload photos to Instagram via the web appeared first on Doc Pop's Blog.

by doc at May 20, 2017 05:52 PM

Grumkin

Desert Ash (in progress)

On the airplane from San Diego to Tucson, Dad’s 10 pounds of ashes weighing down her suitcase in the overhead bin above us, Kendall and I made a playlist for Mom. We put on Willie Nelson, Wings, Joni Mitchell, the Grateful Dead, Bonnie Raitt, Cat Stevens, and other songs that reminded me of our long afternoons playing cards in the sun on on the old parquet floors, while Mom smoked pot on the upstairs porch and Dad, in the kitchen, made himself a peanut-butter, pickle, and mayonnaise sandwich, whistling along to Ram On. Kendall, chick in a black cashmere sweater she claimed to have acquired from Dad’s closet and then purposely shrunk in the laundry to fit her perfectly, shrugged at me. “I don’t know Tom Waits that well. But apparently Mom loves him.” She added Ice Cream Man. I chose Joni MItchell’s Free Man In Paris, remembering Mom singing along with her fluty tones. 

Dillon and Mom met us at the Tucson airport, Dillon at the wheel and Mom smiling out the window from behind mirrored sunglasses. “We’re going to have lunch!” Mom exclaimed. Kendall and I piled into the rental, and Dillon zoomed away from the curb. We held a brief referendum on windows or a/c; split evenly down the middle for and against. Dad would have been the tie-breaker. Or maybe he would just decide. Kendall discarded her purposely-shrunk cashmere on the floor of the back seat, where she would leave it behind when she flew back to Oakland. 

At the Congress Hotel, we filed past the framed newspaper headlines about John Dillinger, who was apprehended by the FBI in this very old hotel, back when the west was wild. The floor was composed entirely of shellacked pennies. I wandered into the ballroom, elegant swags of dusty red velvet providing privacy, and used my phone to record myself doing a minute of plank on the gritty floorboards. I sent it to my girlfriend. I had done one minute already in the San Diego airport; this was minute two. My goal was ten minutes a day. I was killing it. 

Dillon and Mom, now at the bar, ordered bloody marys for everyone. I had been on a no-booze kick, but folded immediately when the surly bartender presented me with the skewer of olives and green beans. “This is a healthy drink!” Mom announced. Right. Dad liked to drink in the daytime too. 

Lunch was another referendum, this time on peoples choice of food. Dillon chose the meal with the highest caloric content; Kendall chose the meal with the most vegan protein; I chose the meal that was unhealthy-disguised-as-healthy; and Mom chose the salad. Dillon had recently sent a few vials of his saliva into a company that analyzed his DNA and sequenced his genome, remitting results about his genetics. He announced that he had “more Neanderthal DNA than sixty-seven percent of the population.”* Dillon (and Kendall and I) got his Neanderthal DNA from Daddy; Mom’s two x’s only went as far back as fifty thousand years, to Hibernia. Dillon caressed his heavy orbital bones, which did look fairly Neanderthal. Come to think of it. Dillon does look like an extremely handsome, tall, blond caveman. 

Back in the car, Mom complained about the air bnb. Apparently she and Dillon ahd been locked out for two hours the night before and the owner was less-than-helpful. I gazed out the window at the fast-moving, alien shrubbery and the terra-cotta landscape, thinking about negativity bias, how people will remember the negative things twenty time better than they will remember the positive things. Negativity bias; my brain makes me think my dead father was more of an asshole than he maybe actually was. 

At the house, Kendall and I fell sound asleep in the master bedroom, on a mattress that held permanent impressions of its owners’ bodies, the fan going on high above us. When we woke, it was time to get dressed. Mom was having a party. 

May 20, 2017 04:08 PM

Rumblings

A new side project

I've been working with Thomas on a pretty neat side project—I've been helping him design the assets around an alternate reality game he's developing for a campout next month. I don't have time now to go into detail but here's a sneak peek. 

Between traveling, work, and being sick, I've been a bit of a non-human lately—but looking forward to having some time to think and breathe soon. 

by Jenna at May 20, 2017 12:52 AM

May 17, 2017

Selena Ross

me listening to some dude talk about how his start-up is gonna...



me listening to some dude talk about how his start-up is gonna ‘disrupt the system’

May 17, 2017 06:43 AM

May 16, 2017

Doctor Popular

American Analog: California State Yo-Yo Contest

I went out to the California State Yo-Yo Contest in Oakland, CA last month. I don’t enter contests anymore, I just like to show up and hang out. I met some new folks and traded tricks with old friends. These were all shot on my Lomography LC-A+, my go to camera, with some of this wonderfully aged 35mm film.

California State Yo-Yo Contest

California State Yo-Yo Contest

California State Yo-Yo Contest

Bonus videos:

The post American Analog: California State Yo-Yo Contest appeared first on Doc Pop's Blog.

by doc at May 16, 2017 02:40 AM

May 15, 2017

I before E except Gleitzman

Poultry Slaughterhouse Comedy Club Nerds

These Greenpoint hipsters might be getting a little too real with their fusion businesses.

May 15, 2017 11:02 AM

Randy Lubin

Leaving Plethora

I’ve just left Plethora after a great 15 months with the company. I’ll miss the team but I’m excited to watch them continue to grow and succeed at their mission. 

My Time at Plethora

During my time there, I played a generalist role, tackling the biggest problems / opportunities the company faced.

As Interim Head of Marketing, I wrote and executed the marketing strategy and built a team of  7 employees and contractors working across myriad channels..  I started growth efforts in SEO, SEM, Email Campaigns, Blog Content, Social Media, Events, and PR, and also managed our website redesign.

As a member of the leadership team, I helped guide company strategy and culture; I interviewed key hires and advised on crucial company decisions. I also worked closely with Nick (the CEO) to hire and train the initial sales team.

Since I started, we more than doubled the company size and hired many key leaders and managers. With the white space disappearing, Nick and I have struggled to find the next project for me. Ultimately it made sense for me to leave.

What’s Next?

I’m going to take my time, looking for startups to join and exploring my own ideas. I love playing the generalist at an early stage company and would gladly do it again. I’m also happy doing some advising / consulting and helping teams that aren’t ready for a full time business hire.

Beyond startups, I’ll be busy designing more games you can follow the updates at my studio Diegetic Games.

Avital and I are getting married at the end of the summer and planning is sure to take up some time.

I’m also hoping to pick up some new skills. Drawing, digital audio, and fiction writing are all current candidates. I’ll update any progress here on the blog.

May 15, 2017 12:18 AM

May 14, 2017

Certainly Strange

Pac Man Peysa Progress

I’ve finally finished the lower torso on my husband’s Pac Man Peysa, so at last I’ve been able to start the sleeves! So far, so good. I like the strawberry 🙂 The lower torso is always the longest, most boringest … Continue reading

by Steen at May 14, 2017 07:04 AM

I Like Turtles

Wedding at the Pinnacles

/2017/05/14/wedding-at-the-pinnacles.html

May 14, 2017 04:00 AM

May 13, 2017

a digital life

May 11, 2017

Doctor Popular

Half-frame advance on a Lomo LC-Wide camera

The LC-Wide is a wide angle version of Lomography’s famous LC-A+ camera. I love it’s wide angle lens, but my favorite feature of the LC-Wide is it’s half-frame advance. This feature is usually intended to be used with a plastic template that helps keep images from bleeding onto each other, but if you leave that template out and use the half-frame advance, you’ll get surreal montages of images bleeding into each other.

It’s best to only do 3 images at a time, or else you’ll get a really wide and short image… like this:

Half frame double exposures

Here are some other examples the half-frame images bleeding into each other. Keep in mind, these are all shot in camera, with no editing afterwards.

wide climbing

Waterfront Dusk

Leap

Double Snap

wide

Tell a friend

Pal's Takeaway

Twitch.TV offices

Indie Mart

The post Half-frame advance on a Lomo LC-Wide camera appeared first on Doc Pop's Blog.

by doc at May 11, 2017 09:49 PM

Selena Ross

essences

~part of a forgotten project with Marcus–I wrote about a couple herbs and then he was to distill a gin with those flavors. It never came to be because we’re both Cancers and my visa ran out just as soon we finished, but these poems were born out of it~

May 11, 2017 05:55 AM

A good one for narrowly dodging panic attacks and...



A good one for narrowly dodging panic attacks and replacing “Holy-fck-what-am-I-doing-where-am-I-going-why-did-I-ever-leave-Berlin” with “Okay, yeah, mmhmm”

Homies of mine hosting the dude himself: https://www.residentadvisor.net/event.aspx?959841

May 11, 2017 05:38 AM

May 10, 2017

The New Vivek

The word of the day: Responsive

1. adj. Answering or replying; responding.
2. adj. Readily reacting to suggestions, influences, appeals, or efforts: a responsive student.
3. adj. Containing or using responses: responsive reading; responsive liturgy.

There is a generation of witless imbeciles who believe that being fast is more important than being useful. These people, and today’s word of the day, are Responsive. To identify one, send out an email and keep an eye on the second hand of your watch. Responsive People will fire back a note at reflex speed with a sentence-long email that contains zero usable information:

Got it. Will address right away.
Thanks. I’m on it.
Can’t read right now — will check it out in 5 hours.

Once upon a time in the 90s, some prophet of doom (like Marc Cuban or equivalent) proclaimed that ’tis better to have responded to an email within 30 seconds than to never have lov’d at all — and Responsive People are true believers. They’re the people who cut their teeth on Blackberrys and uttered troubling phrases like “I can’t live without BBM” out loud and in earnest. Members of this always-on and eminently reachable cohort have crafted their mobile signatures to say things like:

Sent from mobile please forgive any typos

This curt apologia is a cop-out. If the purpose of a fast response is to make the recipient feel heard, it doesn’t work. Your pathological hair-trigger stimulus response does not equal (or even approach) understanding. This may be subtle, but remember that Pavlov’s dog didn’t drool because he was hungry. He got hungry because someone rang a bell.

I don’t hate Responsive People and want each one to enjoy their life away from the office. If you’re between mouthfuls of a home-cooked meal right now, keep chewing. If you’re “on the move,” then keep both hands on the steering wheel. If you’re straining to grip the edge of a rocky crevasse with your fingernails, then you should attend to that. I don’t need you clogging my life with your abominable micro-updates.

And no, I do not forgive the typos. This is a Faustian bargain for knowledge workers at best. I can even hear the Lumberghian drawl in which it might be offered:

“Yeah, hi… if you wanna go ahead and work when you’re not actually at work… that would be great.”

In exchange, we don’t have to spell correctly? Yay.

(Aside to the did-you-get-my-email people who regularly walk over to other human beings’ desks to ask if they, in fact and reality, have received the email you sent them from your computer just moments ago: you should be rotisseried. I still suffer trauma from the thought of a skull hovering 12–18" from my shoulder, gaping at my screen and whispering “did you get my email?”)

Now now now. Some of you will say, “Look, I work in enterprise sales.” And say no more Brett, you are saving lives and I commend you on crushing it today, but for the rest of the knowledge worker class just about everything can wait. Every. Single. Thing. Can. Wait.

(Even the animated GIFs for the email newsletter? Even the animated GIFs for the email newsletter.)

The benefit of asynchronous conversation is found in that telling adjective, “asynchronous.” If sent you something, I want you to read it. Even better, I want you to understand it. Because think about what email is. In the Platonic workplace, we’d transfer Perfect Knowledge by touching our foreheads, and then go do the thing that our individual skills and talents allow us do better than our coworkers can.

Instead, we mortals must use email—our 8-bit substitute for telepathy. The result will always be imperfect and in progress. This is communication; something very different from work. Communication is not something to be “done.” Building understanding is a process, not a task. Talk is a verb, not a noun. Get it? Now let’s touch foreheads.

Spare me the scraps of non-versation that only deaden true understanding, and only serve to make you feel like you’re being productive. If it takes you 24 hours to respond to an email, no big deal. Just afford me the same courtesy.

Sent from a laptop computer plugged into the wall.

by Vivek S at May 10, 2017 04:42 PM

May 09, 2017

Selena Ross

~I like the way life looks through Brennan’s lens.All credit to...









~I like the way life looks through Brennan’s lens.

All credit to dear Brennan, aka DJ yesmaybes.

May 09, 2017 05:35 AM

May 08, 2017

Doctor Popular

Oddly satisfying mix of chiptune and melting candy

My buddy Greg Cohen recently published this video from his candy shop, Lofty Pursuits, in Tallahassee, Florida. This video shows a montage of melting candy mixed with one or two of my own chiptune songs. The results are oddly satisfying.

The song, Four Million Lines of Basic, originally appeared on Destroy All Presets.

Destroy All Presets by Doctor Popular

The post Oddly satisfying mix of chiptune and melting candy appeared first on Doc Pop's Blog.

by doc at May 08, 2017 11:37 PM

Certainly Strange

What Does Aryon Know About the Siege of Odirniran?

I’m still surprised at how effectively Master Aryon managed to forge me into a weapon which only he can yield. I’ve only just recently realized, for example, how much dialog Gothren has for stalling over his decision on naming you … Continue reading

by Steen at May 08, 2017 06:41 AM

I before E except Gleitzman

West of the Sun

I’ve been working my way through a number of Murakami novels that slipped through the cracks in my earlier reading. The latest is South of the Border, West of the Sun which was short, sweet, and satisfyingly strange.

For those headed to Japan, my friend recently penned a travel guide to Murakami novels that includes the real-life locations from every book. It was quite exciting to discover physical locations featured in the fictional tales.

May 08, 2017 06:37 AM

Grumkin

May 07, 2017

Selena Ross

onomatomania

I Like Turtles

Derby Day

/2017/05/07/derby-day.html

May 07, 2017 04:00 AM

May 06, 2017

Doctor Popular

Recycled pocket books, The Heckadeck, and more from More Lies Publishing

I had a chance to meet up with Travis Nichols, a local artist and game designer, and chat about some of his newest projects. Travis’s Heckadeck is a crazy new twist on a deck of cards, with extra suits and cards added to inspire new games or creative versions of existing games. His newest project is a series of pocket books created with mismatched recycled papers. The hardest part of starting a new sketch book for me is being intimidated by a bunch of clean white pages. I often feel like I’m about to ruin something. That’s why I love using sketch books that already have images or marks in them.

Watch my interview with Travis about the Heckadeck and More Lies Pocket Books:

Heckadeck

The post Recycled pocket books, The Heckadeck, and more from More Lies Publishing appeared first on Doc Pop's Blog.

by doc at May 06, 2017 05:40 PM

May 05, 2017

a digital life

May 01, 2017

The New Vivek

The word of the day is: Coffee

I love coffee more than life itself. I would probably trade my human existence for an eternity of coffee, and I would certainly trade yours. Perhaps I could be reincarnated as the Platonic form of coffee. Stripped of this mortal coil, I could be both the container and the contained. A duality of drink and drank. Or maybe it’s more of a holy trinity: The father, the son, and the medium roast.

Like many of life’s most hallowed institutions, the creation of coffee involved a series of improbable acts. An account from the Islamic world:

Omar chewed berries from nearby shrubbery, but found them to be bitter. He tried roasting the beans to improve the flavor, but they became hard. He then tried boiling them to soften the bean, which resulted in a fragrant brown liquid. Upon drinking the liquid Omar was revitalized and sustained for days. As stories of this “miracle drug” reached Mocha, Omar was asked to return and was made a saint.

Like a morning yawn interrupted by bird droppings, that first cup must have been jarringly potent. Coffee has since transcended its African origins to become a global phenomenon. Every culture has their own spin on the beverage. In southeast Asia they brew it strong and blanket it with condensed milk. In Turkey they grind it to powder. In America, it comes in plastic drums, fire engine red. Irish coffee is about as Irish as street crime, that is, kinda Irish but mostly a thing in a America. And then there are the Italians.

Look, the espresso is a respectable concoction. It’s a dynamic drink that undulates in gentle cascading layers in front of you, proving the effects of steam extraction. The drink is as fast to produce as it is to consume. It’s a delightful shot.

But what we have done to the espresso, with layers of steamed milk, sugar, flavored syrups, and other filagree, is a modern tragedy. I don’t hate Starbucks, nor would I dismiss the efforts of an entire organization. They make passable coffee on an international scale, and that’s worth something. But their innovations in espresso are the antithesis of coffee.

The history of Starbucks’ cup sizes provide a tidy analogy of decline. In the beginning, there were two sizes: short and tall. An easy-to-parse CPG emulation of the long and short styles of espresso that inspired Howard Schultz 30 years ago. But tall wasn’t tall enough for American tastes, and the company introduced Grande. And “grande” isn’t a bad solution to a naming problem. It means large in more than a few Romantic languages, including Italian, and is an evocative choice of nomenclature for Starbucks’ then-largest drink.

But then came Venti. And Trenta. And toffee drizzle. Milks and mylks. Requests for “extra-pumps,” and Frappucinos, and the PSL, and a litany of easy targets that I won’t even bother complaining about here.

Because frankly, anything that’s not a simple shot of espresso is stupid. Lattes, cappuccinos, macchiatos, and Americanos are straight up coffee hate crimes. I don’t think I have to explain why Americanos are dumb, and people who drink these daily wouldn’t understand anyway. But lattes and cappuccinos are pointless too. Just because we can turn milk into foam, that doesn’t mean we should. Why is this impressive or desirable? If I spooned milk foam into your mouth at 8am, you’d rightly declare me a psychopath. But it’s OK to destroy an espresso this way?

In liberal cities, the laptop class will talk of Cortados, macchiatos, Gibraltars like they are different things. These hipsters just want a shot of espresso. Why add a thimble’s worth of steamed milk on top? My disgust is summed up by the words of a Four Barrel barista named Josh:

I like cream and sugar. Cream and sugar make ice cream. And I say, if you want an ice cream: go get an ice cream!

The kid was nicer about it than I am. He’ll make you a latte; I don’t think it should be on the menu. A latte is bullshit. It’s mostly milk, and some milk foam, with a single shot of espresso crying for help at the bottom like a cat crawling through trash in a hoarder’s apartment. Shame on you for ordering this drink.

I’ve heard the French expression, “chacun son gout” but fuck that. That’s how Dockers happened and Franco rose to power. Don’t add milk or cream to coffee. It’s a pathetic display of human weakness. You’re complaining that your cappuccino isn’t dry enough? It’s not supposed to be “dry.” If you want foam, go take a bubble bath. Coffee is a drug and a spiritual elixir. In its purest form, it’s a work of art. Please show it some respect.

Do you like reading fake news? Do you wear a helmet when you cross the street? Do you slap our nation’s educators across the face? Do you burn books? If not, then please heed the wise words of the CEO of Kaiser Permanente. He drinks his coffee black because it “puts the fear of God” into people. The man or woman who takes their coffee black rides with me when Rome falls and the bombs come down. In the rear-view mirror is someone who’s fussing with two creams and a Splenda.

And frankly, you’re just missing out. Coffee tastes great. When you plunk in any form of ooze that comes from cows (yeah, you heard me Big Dairy, your product is bad and you should feel bad), you are chemically changing the composition of a drink that has worked for centuries.

Coffee is made by brewing the beans (seeds really) of coffee plants in water. The beans themselves are very bitter, but the roasting process helps with a few things. It incites chemical reactions inside the beans (like the Brouillard transformation) that help unlock complex flavors. You know what’s not a complex flavor? Simple sugars like lactose. You know what interferes with your body’s ability to taste? Huge globs of fat suspended in cream.

There are so many ways to brew delicious coffee, but I think the drip method, or any of its persnickety variations, is best. I like espresso, but it’s a lot of work and energy for a few seconds of beverage. A dripped cup of coffee gives you more time with the liquid and makes it easier to taste a range of flavors.

Depending on the fineness of grind and the length of pour, there is a tremendous range of things you can taste. Drip coffee lets you pull out acidic flavors, toffee flavors, bitter, smoky, sweet, plum, cherry, and more. This is the world you gain access to when you don’t assault your coffee with milk, or cream, or almond milk (which isn’t milk) or soy milk (again not milk) or coconut milk (Jesus Christ, why are we doing this) or non-dairy creamer (like seriously why) or flavored non-dairy creamer (you have a problem).

(And I don’t want to make this about race, but can’t we enjoy something black for once without having to co-opt it, redefine it, or otherwise “whiten” it to make it palatable? ‘Headline: Why lattes are racist and you are too.’)

But, I think I hear you saying, “Coffee tastes bad and I’m not used to it, waaaah!” Let me ask you this: Do you have stage 1,000,000 cancer? Are you on death row? Are you 140 years old? If not, there is still time. Everything worth tasting takes a little getting used to. Most of us started our drinking careers with beverages like Smirnoff Ice or Mike’s Hard Lemonade, and I think you’d agree that anyone still drinking those in their 30s should be taken to a vet and euthanized immediately. There is always time to redefine your relationship with flavors you’re not used to.

Finally, let’s address the elephant in the room: coffee is a vehicle for a drug called caffeine. It’s a stimulant that every government has miraculously decided is legal; it would never be approved by the FDA today. It would be like if your office installed an Adderall dispenser in the breakroom. I mean it’s neat, but a fucked up message.

Well, coffee is that fucked up message. It’s the drink that simultaneously says “wake up” and keeps us in the lockstep of capitalism. It’s free at car dealerships for Chrisssake. It’s stimulant and Soma all in one. We are all sipping from the same gourd, originating from the cradle of civilization, and passed through hands covered with blood, trembling slightly. Coffee is our history. Coffee is the way forward. It is the drink of the human condition—and that is why it must be consumed in darkness.

by Vivek S at May 01, 2017 04:54 PM

The word of the day is: Blasé

I’m a sucker for a shiny adjective, and today’s word of the day reminds me of a stiletto heeled pump, covered in glue, rescued with two fingers from a oil drum full of sparkles. Entrez: Blasé.

1. adj. Uninterested because of frequent exposure or indulgence.
2. adj. Unconcerned; nonchalant: had a blasé attitude about housecleaning.
3. adj. Very sophisticated.

The word has a tinge of oxymoron to it, since it describes the emotional imperviousness of she who is fully permeated. The French verb blaser means “to blunt” or “to dull,” presumably from overuse and exposure. It comes from the Middle Dutch blasen which means “to blow”—in every sense of that word (including that one).

Taking this path, it reminds me of an often misused word, decadent. Decadent literally means “affected by moral decay” but you’ll sooner hear it used to describe fudge. Delving into the origins of blasé, I now understand that it was never merely a sophisticated sneer at proletarian pastimes. It’s the well-traveled nostril rejecting a rail at midnight. It’s the knowing pause before declining drink number two. Of political protest, it’s the the voice that originates in the belly, not the heart; less passionate perhaps, but less afraid, less sibilant, and more likely to be chain-smoking Camels.

I thought blasé was salty like caviar, but it’s actually bitter, like experience.

by Vivek S at May 01, 2017 04:53 PM

Randy Lubin

Exploring Iceland: Part Two

Avital and I just got back from Iceland. This post covers the second half of the trip, you can read about the first half in Exploring Iceland: Part One.

We had an ambitions schedule for Thursday: driving a few hours to Jokulsarlon, the glacier lagoon, and hiking in Skaftafell, the famed national park. This was one of the days we were a bit burned by traveling off-season; the ice caves had mostly melted but there was too much ice in the lagoon to get up close on a boat. It was still a great day and we got to see glaciers up close!

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The icebergs in Jokolsarlon were huge and beautiful. This photo has a fiancée for scale:

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We spent a while walking around the lagoon and then walked down to the beach where the icebergs enter the ocean.

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We also checked out the nearby Fjallsárlón lagoon which was smaller but had a cool looking glacier.

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On the way to Skaftafell we stopped by an old church with a turf roof. The roof helps keep the building warm and dry in the winter.

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It was rainy / windy when we got to Skaftafell so we decided to do a shorter hike that went to the foot of the glacier. It was a great walk and the Icelandic landscape was gorgeous and alien.

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On our way back there were some great views and we saw some ponies up close.

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We ended the day with a visit to the black sand beach at the southern edge of Vik. There, we were lucky enough to find a Puffin colony and get some great views. Puffins!


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There were plenty of other birds flying around – it was very cool.


The next day we drove back to Reykjavik but had a few good stops along the way. First we toured the settlement museum in Skogar where we learned about how Icelanders used to live.

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We also stopped by the geothermal power plant that harnesses heat from the volcanic fissures to generate tons of energy and 50% of Reykjavik’s hot water. It was a cool tour and it’s always fun to see huge infrastructure up close.

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That night we had a phenomenal meal at Dill – an innovative Icelandic restaurant.

Guillemot (sea bird) and beet:

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Lamb and parsley root:

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Beet sorbet, brown cheese, and meringue:

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We had plenty of other interesting dishes with sea truffles and a variety of fish – such a good meal!

Saturday was our last day in town. Our lunch plans and trip to the Saga museum were stymied by a power outage but we had fun walking around downtown Reykjavik.

On our way to the airport we detoured through Reykjanesfólkvangur (a national park) and saw the Seltun hot springs up close.

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The landscape felt otherworldly.

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It was a great way to end the trip!

The entire trip was a lot of fun and I highly recommend traveling to Iceland.


May 01, 2017 02:50 PM

onomatomania

Selena Ross

Certainly Strange

We Got to Play with Bugs

Doc and I went to the World’s Largest Nachos event put on by Chirps cricket chips, and we got to play with bugs in a “bug zoo.” It was so fun, and the bugs were soooo cute!

by Steen at May 01, 2017 04:30 AM

Doctor Popular

Last week was fun!

Last week, I wrote an exhaustive list of weird things to do in San Francisco. We ended up going to most of things on that list and I wanted to share some highlights here.

Bug Zoo:
Chirps Chips touts eating bugs as a sustainable alternative to meat. To promote their brand, they put together an event called The World’s Largest Nachos and invited bug-eating enthusiasts to partake. They also had a bug petting zoo, which was easily the highlight of our day. The zoo was filled with hissing cockroaches, stink beetles, scarabs, and other bugs that you could handle and interact with. It was awesome!

Bug Zoo



Audio Garden:
Some friends put together this fantastic interactive art event called Audio Garden. Christine liked the bear costume that triggered music events, but my favorite piece was a mailbox that triggered different sounds for each door you opened.

I also had fun popping some long exposure images at Audio Garden using the Pablo App and an old camera flash.

Long exposure

Long exposure

Long exposure

Long exposure

Ask Dr Hal:
We checked out the 4/20 show of the Ask Dr. Hal show and had a blast. I didn’t take any photos, but we had a great time and I’m so glad we went.

The post Last week was fun! appeared first on Doc Pop's Blog.

by doc at May 01, 2017 04:24 AM

I Like Turtles

Tummy time

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May 01, 2017 04:00 AM