Quick Read: Write Less

Fewer words are fine. Social-length posts are fine. Link blogs are fine. You get to keep your own output, where you want it, and the form it takes is entirely up to you.

You only need to give yourself permission.

Write Less, by Matt Gemmell

This makes so much sense to me!

This is what digital gardens and second brains are all about – quick notes that coalesce into something greater, because you keep going back to the tool over and over, thinking through it instead of on it, or outside of it.

Goes well with my post about how you shouldn’t Moleskin your blog.

via Colin Walker

Coffee Notes – Milk

Camel in desert

Well, this one isn’t about coffee. To be precise, it’s not about a specific coffee (pod), but all coffee.

Well, most coffee. I know some of you don’t put milk in your coffee. Some don’t even put sugar! Heck, some don’t even put water. But I do.

I put milk. Specifically, cool milk with foam. I don’t like it warm or hot or lukewarm. When I get a café latte from the local French coffee shop, I tend to wait for the coffee to cool down before I enjoy it.

The setting on my Nespresso for milk is – don’t change the temperature, but make it frothy AF.

I recently changed that. The seasons are a changing. I got influenced by that and decided to up the milk temperature to “normal”. I’ve also been experimenting with reducing the sugar I ingest with my coffee. It’s not a lot – one spoon. But I removed that too recently.

The result? Disaster. When my milk was fridge temperature, the coffee was good, tasty, sweet even!

But as soon as I set it to normal, the final result is kadwa! Sorry, bitter (kadwa is bitter in Hindi). It became so bitter!

So here’s my question for all you coffee drinkers – is your hot coffee bitter without sugar? Why?? This isn’t an acquired taste situation, which you must get used to in order to enjoy something. Alcohol, caviar, spicy food, blue cheese, natto come to mind. There are ways to mitigate their tastes too, but they’re largely enjoyed exactly as they’re meant to be, so it makes sense to acquire those tastes.

But coffee comes in so many forms! Why would you suffer through the bitterness if you’re having hot coffee?

End of rant. I’m now going to go change the temperature back to what’s normal for me.

Have a good hump day!

Request for some Photo Blogs

I love reading RSS feeds. But sometimes words get tiring. Today is one of those days.

Luckily, I have a folder with a few very nice photo blogs that I fall into when I’m in such a phase.

I’ve got the following blogs on there –

@muan’s photos – This has got to be one of my favorite photo blogs. The aesthetic is decidedly Instagrammy-personal. It’s a very direct peek into what Mu-An Chiou, a software engineer living in Taiwan, sees around her. She posts her pics as stories using the Open-Stories format and has an added layer of what is called the Open Heart protocol. It lets me hit the little heart button from within the RSS feed. That’s so cool! Of course, if you’re on her site, you can hit the little heart icon on her pics there. I love this setup much more than the horrible implementation by WordPress, so I hope someone takes the time to port this over so I can use it one day.

Manuel Moreale Instagram Style RSS Feed – Manuel is a software dev in Italy. I love that he calls his photo RSS feed “Instagram style”. I don’t know if he posts the same to Instagram, but it’s interesting to see how that social network has influenced the way we think about photography. I loved the recent trip Manuel made to Umbria. He posted a link to an iCloud album and it’s gorgeous! In his own words (via email to me) – “But that’s Italy for you. There’s just too much to see.”

There are a few others in the list who are MIA – Don’t Take Pictures, Licht Years. Would be cool if these blogs get revived at some point.

Through Mu-An, I recently discovered the Bring Back Blog directory and I’m slowly searching for and adding feeds that include photography (and some that don’t) to my feed reader.

But I’d love to hear from you, dear reader – any blogs you’d recommend that I follow? I hold dearest personal, “day in the life” photography. But I also love landscape photography that showcases the great outdoors and adventures of hiking and camping.

BTW, one of the things I miss the most is a short-lived project called bwrss by Giles Turnbull, which was black and white photography, delivered exclusively through the RSS feed and not visible anywhere else on the Internet. Giles, if you’re reading this, maybe bring it back? kthxbye.

Coffee Notes – Ispirazione Firenze

Ah, now this was real coffee! One shot of this in the afternoon and I was awake much later than I wanted to! 😀

After the previous Coffee Notes post, I got some really nice responses, mainly from the micro.blog community. There are a lot of discerning coffee drinkers out there and @Jean MacDonald, who is the Community manager at Micro.blog, linked me to a very nice table of the caffeine content in each of the Nespresso coffee pods. (future goal – try the Palermo Kazaar one evening and see what that does to my sleep cycle!)

The Nespresso Ispirazione Firenze

So now I know that the previous coffee I had, the Livanto, had sixty four mg of caffeine per shot, while this new one, the Firenze, has only sixty three mg. However, it’s much more intense, at a nine out of thirteen.

That means a lot more kick, for sure! I experienced as much when I sipped my first cup. This coffee makes a nice amount of crema on top of the coffee and sits in the just dark enough on the dark roast scale to be exceptional.
Plus, the look is so royal! I love the purple of the pods. It gave a nice shine when I went to stand at my coffee workstation and it was a joy to pick up just one pod for my afternoon coffee.

I suppose it’s a (good) consequence of it being that much darker, that I can consume less of it.

I would say that I was pleasantly surprised by the combination of good taste and nice looks, but I sort of expected that when I pulled these out of the pack. However, it’s not all perfection. One of the pods failed to pierce properly and that resulted in plain (though a little dirty from my machine’s internals) water pouring out to my cup. I already had two spoons of sugar down there and I could see them quickly dissolving into the hot water.

Did I toss that water out? Nah. It just made for some watered down coffee. I liked it!

I did “discover” something. When I usually make coffee, I take the milk directly from the fridge and set it to froth. One time however, my mother-in-law had already heated up milk for themselves and some extra was sitting in the saucepan. I took that and poured it out, taking with it some of the cream that settles on top when hot milk cools down.

That cream made for a really super frothy milk! It coated the insides of my glass and looked very nice. This will make for a beautiful coffee experience one day, when I pour super frothy milk into a glass cup instead of the usual ceramic ones I use. I double quotes “discover” up there, because I sorta knew this beforehand, but haven’t used creamed milk in a while.

Maybe at some point in the future I’ll make it a habit to either pre-warm and cool my milk, or add some whipping cream to my milk if I want that extra froth.

Anyways, final verdict on the coffee – don’t have it after 4 pm, unless you want to be awake till 2 am! 😀

Shoutout to @pratik and @hawaiiboy over on microblog for not calling me a coffee snob.

Coffee Notes – Nespresso Livanto

It almost feels wrong to begin Coffee Notes with Nespresso pods. After all, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of amazing coffee vendors all over the internet vying for our attention. They arguably even have better, cheaper product.

But I won’t belie Nespresso the quality of their products. After all, it’s their machine that I use to brew my coffee. So they’ve got to know what works best with it, right?

Besides, I recently ordered a box set of Nespresso pods. So the first five reviews (probably, unless I get bored and order something different) are going to be of Nespresso pods. Here goes.

The Nespresso Livanto

Ah, this coffee was smooth. Too smooth! Those ten pods vanished fast. Partly because it’s a six on thirteen medium roast (point of order – Nespresso’s rating system is out of thirteen.)

The taste was rich and smooth. I didn’t bother having it black, but I reckon it would have been creamy and absolutely drinkable. But throw in milk and sugar and it was quite glorious!

Since it was a medium roast, I ended up having it two at a time for my afternoon coffees. At three pods a day, I finished the box in about three days. I had to brew a Moka pot with my Indian coffee for the fourth day, to get through the afternoon.

At almost a dollar per pod (eighty cents, to be precise), these pods are at the expensive end of the range of OriginalLine pods I buy for my machine. Though, if I had a VertuoLine machine, I’d be averaging a dollar twenty five for similar pods. I seem to remember doing that research when considering which machine to buy. My Breville Nespresso Creatista won on that aspect.

I don’t have much else to say about this coffee. It was nice. It went fast. I’d definitely order more of it and keep it for light-coffee-drinking visitors. But usually, I end up serving them decaf or whatever other medium roast I have sitting around.

I will say – I love the aluminum pods Nespresso ships. The color, the shape, the solidity of the pod, are all plus points in experience. These ones have a beautiful caramel color and I’m all for it!

Read about my Coffee Notes series in the introductory blog post here.

Coffee Notes – Introduction

white ceramic coffee cup on white saucer

In the tradition of every techie ever, I drink coffee daily. My average is about three cups a day. It used to be two cups, but then I went ahead and had a kid. So now it’s three to four cups a day.

I do not drink my coffee black. I find that my taste buds haven’t been ruined enough to enjoy black coffee. Milk and sugar is standard, though I experiment with things like caramel syrup, taro root powder, chaga mushroom powder, etc.

I drink essentially three types of coffee at home –

  1. I own a Breville Nespresso Creatista machine and that’s my primary method of coffee intake. It takes Nespresso OriginalLine pods and spits out a coffee and steams the milk. Nespresso-compatible pods come with a rating system which seems out of 10, but the darker roast coffees are often 11 or 12. The rating system is supposed to be somewhat standardized, but I’ve noticed that there’s a lot of variance. It seems that vendors, specially fly-by-night vendors on Amazon, just do whatever suits them. I’m ok with that. I’m not looking for a consistent coffee experience. If I wanted more caffeine, I’ll just make another coffee. If I want less kick, I just add more milk and enjoy the coffee longer.
  2. I also use an IKEA Moka pot with this awesome South Indian coffee powder my friends gifted me. It has 40% chicory and that takes the taste in a whole different direction. I love that too! The Moka pot adds it’s own flavor profile. I don’t fill it up fully and the resulting coffee is somehow more bitter than if the pot were full. I love the darkness of the coffee on days when I want a real good jolt, and on days when I can’t run the machine as my kid’s sleeping.
  3. Lastly, I also enjoy Nestle Instant coffee, a holdover from my youth in India. This bottle is only available in Indian stores, though I’m sure grocery stores in the US carry their own type of instant coffee. The process is simple – heat up some milk, toss in some sugar, toss in some coffee powder, and mix! A variation of this is to first milk sugar and coffee powder with hot water and whip it into a fine lather. Adding milk to that reveals a whole new world of joy.

While I may talk about numbers 2 and 3 at some later point, I’m going to focus mostly on number 1 for the foreseeable future in this series. I love buying coffee pods from different vendors on Amazon and sourcing them from my local grocery store. I’ve had the machine for a while, so I’ve actually drank a lot of variety, but I’m going to start fresh, and review each pod as I’m done with a box of it.

These will not be rigorous reviews. I’m not going for critique. Rather, it’s an exploration of my own ideas around coffee. Plus, I’ve been aching to do a “series” on my blog and coffee being such a large part of our lives, it seems fitting to talk about it.

Let me know your thoughts on this in the comments section. I love to talk about coffee.

Random musing

It’s been proven that quite a few species of animals and birds have intelligence, speech, empathy, critical thinking, and analysis levels similar to those of humans. Dolphins, birds, parrots, dogs, monkeys to name a few.

What if this is true for all major eras in Earth’s history where what we define as animals/birds roamed the world? (As in, not lower celled life).

Could that mean that various eras of dinosaurs or early humans evolved intelligence levels appropriate to go beyond just their survival – problem solving, play, one-up-man-ship, etc.

But how can we figure this out? There would be some markers in the brains or bodies of current fauna to measure or perhaps only point to their intelligence. Would fossils allow us to find the same markers?

If I get a chance, I’ll google around to find out more on this topic. If you know something about this, dear reader, please let me know? In the comments or on socials would be great!

Ortho Roulette

For about a week, I’ve been suffering from an affliction. The ring finger of my write right hand has been hurting since Monday or Tuesday of last week. On Wednesday last, the pain became so much that I shuffled off to an Urgent Care center nearby to ask them to look at it. Before I did that though, I had to call to confirm that they have an X-ray machine. No point going to any kind of hospital facility if they just punt me to another location to get the definitive test to tell me if I’d fractured my finger. I also had to confirm that they’re in-network for my health insurance.

After the nurse had asked me a bunch of intake questions and the doctor had looked at it and ordered the X-ray, I was taken to a long, dark room with a focused X-ray machine aimed at where I would place the palm of my hand. The technician was Indian-origin and curious as to where in India I’m from. The doctor gave me a preliminary report that it doesn’t seem to be a fracture. He asked a nurse to set me up with a splint and send me off. I had a nice discussion where I learnt that instead of calling it crepe bandage, which is what it is, people in the US health industry refer to it by the brand name 3M gave to their product – Coban.

The doctor came back and prescribed a strong painkiller, to be taken thrice daily for five days. (Spoiler Alert – I didn’t take it thrice daily. I’m not that mad.) He also said that after a discussion with a radiologist, he’ll inform me if there’s something that’s concerning, but in the meanwhile he also gave me a referral to an Orthopedic Surgeon at the other end of the world (downtown Redmond) “in case the pain gets unbearable”.

Over the weekend, my parents insisted that I find the X-ray report and send it to them for analysis in India. I discovered that the X-ray slides themselves had not been uploaded (because, who actually needs patients to have the freedom to get a second opinion, right?) but a report had been uploaded that said that I have a “possible avulsed fracture” in the offended finger.

I started looking up Orthopedic doctors. One large facility in the area, which is apparently accepting new patients, told me that in truth they’re booked out till the end of February but will look to see if they can accommodate me. The other, a one-doctor outfit, told me on Monday to come over on Wednesday.

Today, in fear and anticipation, I landed at the Indian doctor’s offices (no, they were rented offices, one of three he operates out of. That business seems to be booming!) and was left waiting in the patient room (consultation room?) for a good fifteen minutes after the initial nurse intake. When the doctor came in, he tested my finger physically, then looked me in the eyes and said it’s a sprain.

I asked, “are you sure?”

He replied, his deadpan eyes not giving even a glimmer of doubt, “we looked at the X-ray for a good ten minutes before we came in. There’s nothing in there to suggest that it’s a fracture. You don’t have a magical painless fracture. The fact that your pain is reduced and there’s no swelling around it… Use your common sense.”

I… don’t want to use my common sense. That’s why I’m visiting a specialist. Whatever.

It’s not a fracture!

But I have a six week recovery ahead of me. I’ve been told to buddy tape my ring finger with my middle finger if I can’t be careful in not further hurting the point which I’ve sprained. I also have been downgraded from heavy painkillers to the Over the Counter stuff and “only if you need it”.

When I sat in the Lyft on the way back, I breathed a sigh of relief. The driver, in turn, told me that he’d just been to Hyderabad for two months for medical tourism for his father. He commented, “the people are so nice there! No one lies to you. They give you all your records in a nice file and let you know exactly what tests they performed and what the results are, in very simple language. I loved it there!”

Yeah. All common sense things to do in a good medical system.

Finished “Rousseau and Revolution: The Story of Civilization” audiobook

For the last six months, I’ve been on a journey. A journey through time. Specifically, from 1715 to 1789 AD. This journey has chiefly focused on one man – Jean-Jacques Rousseau and one country – France, as they both hurl towards the French revolution of 1789. However, surprisingly, the journey also touched almost everything else – it covered hundreds of artists, writers, essayists, satirists, scientists, inventors, enterprises, kings, queens, books, pamphlets, lies, then-hidden truths, and ideas. It talked primarily of France, but framed its history by talking about every force outside of it, including Russia, the Turks, the many travails of Poland, and so many other factors that ultimately led to the revolution which shook the foundations of the Western World.

It also revealed to me how amazingly France participated in the formation of the United States of America, if only to spite the UK in doing so, and in the process destroyed it’s own wealth and legacy. But the silver lining shines through – that revolution led to so much democracy and pushed the ideas of the Rights of people to the fore.

France, it’s history, and consequently, this book, are not without faults. The widespread support for slavery both within and without, the absurd conflict between Catholics and Protestants, which still boggles me, the constant wars with England, are all part of the history of France. The somewhat uneven-handed remarks and accolades to everything European being the “best” and the “greatest in the world”, the unnecessary descriptions of the visages of the persons described, and the somewhat abrupt ending, with only allusions to the excesses of the revolution, are all the faults of the book.

But I cannot thank the authors enough for giving me a springboard to leap off of. I have some semblance of an idea of where to start my next reading from, even though it’ll be a while before I come back to anything regarding history. For now, I’ve got quite a lineup of audiobooks to work through, from Andy Weir’s Project Hail Mary to a collection of short stories by amazing authors as Kate Chopin, Virginia Woolf, and Mary Shelley. I think I’ll stay in the fiction lane for some time, till the call of history, philosophy, and the story of our civilization rises again.

Regarding the titular man – Rousseau – well, first of all, this book taught me how to write his name! It also told me of how terrible the person was in his personal life – how cruel to his own children (none of whom he raised himself or welcomed into his home), how callous towards his long time lover and wife, how immature and suspicious of his friends. But also, how brilliant in his writing, how influential in thought, and how deeply rooted our current world is in his ideas. Apparently, he affected everything from both our major systems of early childhood education – kindergarten and montessori, to innumerable philosophers, writers (Tolstoy, Byron, Shelley, Keats, Thoreau, Kant, Schopenhauer), and the Romantic movement. He even made it fashionable to climb mountains and explore the great outdoors in Europe as well as to have gardens that look more natural than manicured perfections. In an upcoming blog post, I argue that the writings matter, not the writer. As much as I’ve come to despise the man, this is true for Rousseau – he was an influential writer and thinker, even though he was a horrible little man.

Book timeline – Jul 22nd 2022 -> Jan 24th 2023

Format – audiobook

Length – 57 hours 22 minutes

Tonight’s iPhone wallpaper is the Pale Blue Dot, where everyone ever has lived and died, mostly unnoticed by the rest of the solar system, let alone the galaxy or the universe.

The lack of Gutenberg editor support is irritating now

If you want to, you can use a Jetpack feature called Post by Email to send your WordPress posts via your favorite email client. There’s wide support for setting the title, tags, categories, as well as adding attachments and using shortcodes. But if you do…

the post arrives as a Classic Block

Source: Yes! Post by email lives (and finding hidden Jetpack modules) – CogDogBlog

Much as I enjoy using Jetpack with WordPress, I dislike that they’ve embraced the Gutenberg blocks editor completely, but not adapted to it. If you send a post to it via email or from other apps on iOS or through the Save as Draft feature, it’ll invariably get saved as a Classic Block and then must be edited to convert to individual blocks. This is not so problematic, as the end user sees a somewhat consistent output. But it sure is irritating UX.

I would love it if Jetpack could work on making this consistent and going all in on Gutenberg.