Recently Eeenteresting Musings

A grab bag of things this week.

  • Douglas Hofstadter lectures and books. Sometimes overly intellectual, but often a real delight to read if you think about them. Sadly, I bet my GEB is lost at in my dad’s house (which means: lost forever). HT to someone on Planet Apache.
  • OK GO’s This Too Shall Pass is teh awesum! Nice letter by an artist explaining their issues with labels – and one of the biggest Rube Goldberg machines ever set to music (seems even bigger than The Cog).
  • Cat humor escaped – better than lol – and was obvious to me, at least, although I can understand that the majority of humans might not get it.
  • Unfortunately Storrow Drive is still messed up. No, Virginia, the lane drop outbound at Fenway definitely feels more dangerous to me than it was before – even accounting for incoming Fenway traffic now having a free ride. Yuck.
  • MW2 players only: You know you’ve been playing too much when you catch a glimpse of a low flying plane at a certain angle, and immediately think it’s an AC130.
  • Engineering Paradise can be true – although it’s often not as kitchy as this most excellent video. Requires a wide mix of geekery to recognize all the jokes and equipment used.
  • Note: If anyone has a discount they can pass on to FiOS service to me, that’d be great; we’re planning to switch (but only for phone and internet, not TV). #RCN #Fail too many times. LOL quoted from support: “It’s not unusual for a cable modem to need a reboot every couple of weeks.”
  • The best stretch for a tie-in goes to Bret’s Food Writer’s Diary use of Sara Palin merely as a hook to get more readers. If you like that trick and do open source or technology, however, you should really #followfriday @joesuf, because we’re trying to get him more followers than @shanecurcuru this year.

Leading letters go out to The One I Love. 😎

Little Ironies

Kind of like: “you park on a driveway, but drive on a parkway”.

  • Tazo tea bags – a very earthy crunchy brand – use tiny stapes to affix the paper tag to the bag, making it much more difficult to compost them. Most Twinings teas – another premium but very corporate brand – use nifty little string ties, meaning the whole bag & tie is compostable.
  • The automatic sprinklers at a local business were on in the rain this morning. Not necessary; there was plenty of rain overnight.
  • When I asked for slices of toast at a great local bakery/cafe this morning, the hostess mis-heard me and thought I wanted a whole loaf, sliced. Instead of complaining, I decided to make toast (they have a toaster for customer use). Yum, whole wheat sourdough.
  • Arrow Street in Cambridge is one way, the wrong way (i.e., towards Bow Street – which it crosses, of course).
  • Yesterday, while writing my blog post about Starbucks Via(tm), I was actually drinking tea. Tazo Awake, actually; I had to cut the tags with the staples off before tossing in the compost.

You know, “Time flies like an arrow; Fruit flies like a banana.”

The croissant-shaped brioche

It’s been that kind of week. I stopped at a cafe I’ve always liked but rarely pass by, because it was a special week. Café-au-lait because I want something different, and a croissant because they look good. Get to work, laptop refreshes for dual monitors, and dive into some work and my tasty second breakfast.
But it’s not. Tasty, that is. The café is blah, the au-lait I could have poured myself from a carton, and the croissant isn’t. It’s tasty, but it’s no croissant. I may not be French, but I’ve learned more than enough from Julia Child to know that this is actually a very trickily disguised brioche, shaped to look like a croissant. Nice, but not what I had gone out of my way for. I was actually doing the fancy second breakfasts several days this week because it was my birthday – a way of treating myself.
See, Amy was actually away on a trip on my actual birthday. When I woke up with Roxanne, I talked about it being a special day, it was my birthday. With the perfect clarity and sense that only a 3 year old has, she said no, it wasn’t – it couldn’t be my birthday without mom home. We’d just have to hold that thought until later in the week when the whole family could be here.
Hence, I sort of stretched my definition of birthday for a while, and had quite a lot of second breakfasts. Peet’s is my favorite, both for coffee and bar drinks, plus the excellent service locally (Lexington). They get snobby bakery croissants, which aren’t bad, but I usually go for their scones which are just about right on the slightly dry/crumbly side.
Today I did Au Bon Pain since I was passing by there. I opted for a croissant, since I’ve long ago bored myself of their mass-made scones. What the heck happened to Au Bon Pain’s croissants? It wasn’t even brioche, it was just vaguely buttery cooked dough shaped in a wrapped horn! Geez, I’ve had more layers in a Pillsbury Crescent roll before! Was it just me, and nostalgia for days past, or did Boston area Au Bon Pains actually used to have decent croissant? Not actual French croissants – no American chain could pull that off – but still, I recall watching The Chessmaster noshing on a nicely flaky ABP croissant in years past.
This is turning into more of a nostalgia trip than a riff on disguised bakery products, but I do remember The Chessmaster, and was glad to see he’s still there one second breakfast earlier this week. The used book shelves at the Harvard Book Store are still there, although the science fiction section is disappointingly short from the pre-Amazon days. And so many of the stores in HSq have changed! The past 6 or so years has seen a huge gentrification of the area, which is a real shame. I mean, Cardullo’s Wursthaus may not have been the healthiest place around for your wurst-mit-kraut, but it sure had an infinity more style than the stupid sunglasses and trends store they’ve got in there now. There really isn’t that much benefit to the new HSq, and there’s a lot less class and culture there now. I suppose a fair number of places are a little cleaner, though.

Now I really want some decent coffee – and a brioche-shaped brioche. Hmmm. That’ll have to wait for morning, I suppose.

I miss the web

Not so much that I miss using the web, which I do every single darn day. More that I miss working on all the cool web- and user- facing technologies that my many ASF friends talk about over on PlanetApache. My current job is both internally-focused (hence I don’t talk about it much) and mostly business process improvement and based on somewhat legacy technologies. So while it’s comfortable, and has plenty of great co-workers, it’s not quite as exciting as what I read about most days on the web.

But that’s not what I came to tell you about.

Came to talk about the draft.

Well, no, really, came to talk about my morning. Had to get the mail, so I stopped at Au Bon Pain for coffee since I really needed some. Got to my garage and stopped my car, where my coffee got knocked down, got imploded, got fallen over, got smashed up, got spilled all over. Havin’ a bad day, I was, feelin’ hung down, brung down, and all kinds of tired and blahy things.
So I walked on over to the mall about 100 yards away, and I headed into the one big chain coffee shop right next door, you know the one, with the big green lady in the circle on the 8 by 10 colored glossy sign over the shop.

I walked on in, stood on in the line, waited on up ’till I got to the counter, and I said: “Barista, I wanna wake up. I mean, I wanna be really awake. I wanna be flyin’ off the ground and bouncin’ off the walls, and pound out that work all day long. I want a triple large vendi-grande latte drink with extra this and some of that with a big old shot and more of everything else. I want it so much I want to THRILL, THRILL, THRILL.”

And the barista smilled at me, and said “You’ll get a THRILL THRILL THRILL!”

Then he said: “That’ll be $4.04 please.”

And I stopped. $4.04. 404. No wonder I’m having such a bad day today. I’m missing. Part of me is not found. Something’s gone; not sure what, can’t be that important, but it’s messin’ me all up anyway. Sigh.

So I paid the man, four singles and a nickel, and I got myself my one penny for change, and got my drink, and came on over to work to post this blog entry.

So here I am, just waitin’ for whatever it is I’ve lost to come around on the keyboard again, gettin’ ready to write my reports and build my websites and dream my little AJAXy dreams.

And I hope you have a better morning than I did today.