Week ending 11/7/2021

Chrome Tabs : 63 → 63

Gmail Inbox : 45 → 58 Unread, 50 → 63 Total

Woah, this one turned out to be long, so I’m trying out headers and a table of contents. :joy: Let me know if this is weird or totally a good idea.

New Frond?

:slightly_smiling_face: I made a friendly connection with someone via their food popup over the last few months, and she invited me for a walk this past weekend, which is something we’d been loosely planning to do for a while. It has been unsurprisingly difficult to meet new people during the pandemic, so this was a refreshing change. And despite the mask and my glasses fogging up more than I expected, it was nice just to be talking to someone new, learning about their life, and sharing a bit about mine in-person.

Yard Work

:man_farmer: I have a bit of a mixed relationship with gardening and yard maintenance. I absolutely love plants, and especially edible plants, having access to them, enjoying their smells and tastes, and making use of them for food and drink. It’s also very satisfying indeed to harvest something that I’ve grown. But I find it hard to get myself out to do some of the routine maintenance of gardening - fertilizing, pruning, transplanting, etc. But finally I did a solid chunk of all that, weed-eating my front yard (with a new, electric trimmer I got, which works great), pruning a bunch of bushes and trees, and more. It looks noticeably better, and it really only took me some 30 minutes to do it. I had been putting it off so long… Now when I look out my window I’m constantly reminded of how much nicer it is, which is pretty great. And hopefully motivation to get out there sooner next time. :wink:

Passion Fruit Harvest

:mango: Speaking of gardening and the harvest, the passion vine I planted a few years ago finally had a good crop of fruit on it (some 20-30 I estimate), and this past week some were finally ripe! I was pleasantly surprised to find that these are some of the better passion fruits I’ve ever had, leaning a bit more sweet than your typical very tart common variety passion fruit (the purple, leathery, firm ones). So I’ve made a few cocktails with them now, gave a few away, and I’m hoping to keep doing more of both, and perhaps find some other fun things to do (I’ve have a passion fruit coffee cake variation in mind for many months in fact…).

A Totally OK Halloween

:ghost: I had a mellow Halloween with some friends at their place. Plenty of snacks, some silly movies, and one or two trick-or-treaters. But no costume for me this year. In the past I’ve had some pretty fun costume years, but I always do better when someone else makes the costume. :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes: Awfully lazy of me, I know. I should get better at this, because I really do enjoy being dressed-up. My best mostly-self-made effort was the year I went as a Theramin, inside a big, cardboard box. I wonder if there are any photos of that floating around…

My 30 Second Review of The Expanse Season 5

:tv: :rocket: I finished Finished Season 5 of The Expanse. Overall another great season, but it felt like it had more cliffhangers between episodes than the show used to have, and that was a bit frustrating. It even ended on that sort of note, though I know several past seasons have as well. I did feel like this was a more challenging season emotionally, as well. Rougher on the characters, some really demoralizing situations for some, and an overall story arc that had the villain essentially winning overall, despite some ups and downs throughout. Like I said, a rough season.

The Keeper of Memory

:camera: One of my favorite things is digging back in my long archive of photos (I’ve been at it nearly 20 years now!) and posting fun/funny pictures of people from years past. Pure shots of nostalgia. It makes me feel like the “keeper of memory”, in a sense, and the good feelings I get when thinking back to some of these moments can be heightened by seeing people’s own reactions when I share them. I had a couple of good shares this past week, in particular a big update to an album of shots from Burning Man 2005. For some reason I had originally only posted some 30 photos, and going back through I found at least another 100 that were well worth sharing. It was also more poignant because one of our friends who showed up frequently in this set has since (and fairly recently) passed away, and these were photos that few other people had ever seen of him. Bittersweet to be sure.

Ice Cream to Put in Your Face

:icecream: As a PSA, here is your official notice that Salt and Straw’s probably best flavors of the year are in their shops now: Thanksgiving! Of course this is just my personal opinion, but I’ve been watching their menu changes for a few years now, and they have a pattern. Having sampled almost every flavor from every menu in that time, my personal favorite is usually Halloween and Thanksgiving. They’re where you often see the most innovation, as well as some of the most purely delicious flavors.

Last year their “Caramelized Turkey” kind of blew my mind. This year they’ve combined it with cranberry, and I haven’t tried it but I hope it hasn’t lost the bizarrely delicious sweet-savory character of the prior iteration of the flavor. I did, however, try both their Sweet Potato Pie (fantastic!) and their “Parker House Rolls” (:exploding_head:) flavors, both are great, and the Parker House Roll flavor in particular is really unique. Yes, it actually tastes like lightly sweet, buttered rolls, with a bit of salt too. Oh and some pieces of actual roll in it. :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes: It won’t be everyone’s thing, but it’s this kind of innovation that keeps me returning every menu, every year (still waiting for “Black olive brittle and goat cheese” to return!).

The Joy of Shared Nerdery and a Momentary Return to “Normal”

:cocktail::shallow_pan_of_food: I also did a bit more indoor dining this week, at The Beehive in SF - vaccination required! (which made me feel a bit better about it, and yes, they actually checked) I mainly mention it, though, because it was pretty much the first time I’ve had the chance to actually chat a bit with a bartender at-work since the pandemic began. Pre-pandemic this was one of my favorite activities when eating out, and I would preferentially sit at the bar and often dine solo to create those opportunities. But with masking, physical barriers, or simply closed-off bar seating, it hasn’t really been possible until recently. Emilio Salehi, one of the co-owners of the bar, happened to be working that night, and experimenting with something for their upcoming menu change, so it all just fell into place. It felt like old times, and I really missed this chance to talk to someone equally passionate and far more knowledgeable than I on cocktails and ingredients. Nothing will be back to “normal” for a long time, if ever again, but it’s nice to have these little returns to the things that made us feel good before all this…

Hacking My Clothing (and triumphing over procrastination)

:sparkles: One of the DIY things I tried to do some years back was re-dye some of my dark clothes back to black or dark grey. It was semi-successful, but because I tried to dye a few too many items at once, several ended up with some lighter patches which just did not look good. It took me at least a year to get back to re-dying them, in part because the first time around was a bit of a hassle and rather messy (I used a bucket and boiling water on the stove, thinking it’d be the most effective and not mess up my washer). It turns out that doing it in the washing machine is way easier and plenty effective, and doesn’t cause any issues for subsequent loads, if you are just a bit careful with it. So I finally got this project checked off the list, and now have several items of clothing back in my wardrobe rotation. Woo!

Solo Tide Pooling

:ocean: One of the more unique activities we have access to here on the California coast is tide pooling. And in the SF Bay Area we have a particularly great spot in Fitzgerald Marine Reserve, just south of SF 20-30 mins. There are some other good areas too, but this one is most reliably good for seeing critters, as well as having frequent access to rangers or docents who can actually identify many of the things you’re seeing. I usually go with friends, but you avoid a lot of crowds if you go weekdays, and anyway the timing with sunset can be tricky during the winter, so I went out solo this time, and while it wasn’t the most spectacular or varied visit, I did get a couple of decent shots of some interesting marine life. There were a number of these beautiful nudibranchs in particular, and they are one of the things I most look forward to here (I’ve seen as many as 4 species in a day before!).

Time Lapses and Web Optimization for BigRigTravels

:truck: As I’ve mentioned before, this past year I’ve found a real interest in trying to help people, often small businesses, with their little tech challenges. During the pandemic I also started watching this trucker named Steve who live streams basically all of his driving on his BigRigTravels YouTube channel (with 50k+ subscribers!). He’s been doing it for some 13 years, and has figured out some pretty impressive ways of sharing a lot of info on what he’s doing, where he’s at, where he’s going, etc. He’s got the weather of his location, his current speed, altitude, and nearest city, etc.

Anyway, despite the great things he’s got going, he also has a lot of challenges maintaining and improving his website, and a limited time in which to learn how to do so. I’ve wanted to help him out with this for a long time. He also had some time lapse videos of some of his trips, sped up to 10x or so, but he hadn’t made any for a while. So I started making some of my own and shared with him, which he’d eventually post to his YouTube channel. It was nice that he liked them enough to do that, but a very inefficient process. This past week I finally got direct access to upload the videos myself, as well as back-end access to his website so I can hopefully help him tune some things up. This website and his YouTube channel mean a lot to him, so it feels like a real sign of respect that he is trusting me with this, and I’m excited to be able to work more directly on all of this now. I have some interesting ideas for improving his web presence even more…

Food + Crypto?

:bulb: Finally, I had an interesting idea for a new food app focused on popups and small food producers. Helping people find new ones in their area, helping creators find customers and sell their creations, etc. Most people in this area are currently doing this through Instagram, and while the visual focus has some major benefits for many creators, the actual tools available for any kind of commerce are pretty terrible, or at the least not well tuned for the particular needs of popup businesses like these. So most of them end up with a hodge-podge of Instagram menu posting, DM or email or Square/SquareSpace ordering, etc. It’s cumbersome, expensive, and limited. And for some creators I know it’s a bit toxic to have to interact so much with Instagram, too.

Well, I have an idea for something that might keep the good aspects of Instagram, while improving on everything else. Not only that, but I think there could be an interesting element to help both creators and food fans increase their return-on-investment (so to speak), using some crypto-wizardry in the back end, but making it transparent and easy to use, while hopefully avoiding any legal hassles or major financial oversight. I haven’t vetted the idea with any crypto-savvy folks yet (if that’s you, get in touch!), but I’ll be sharing more details soon regardless. This is not something I’d be able to develop myself, and even if I could I’m not sure I have the time to dedicate to it, but I’d still seriously consider it if someone wanted to partner… (and yes, I think it has enough potential upside to be worth it, if the crypto angle pans out).