Monday, October 31, 2011

Am I famous yet?

Context is everything. Check out the implications of this quote from the bbc's tech news:

"Intel's Tomorrow Project draws on the work of writers such as Corey Doctorow, Sonia Orin Lyris and Charles Walbridge to create visions for the future that can inspire the public, and act as goals for engineers."

Feelin' smug over here. Just a tad. Yeah.

(Okay, for those of you who have replied to me with "huh?" about this, I'll explain. Doctorow is a big name in SF&F and future tech and the co-editor of Boing Boing. He's famous, he's a fine writer, and to be listed after him in this BBC article says a lot about my name recognition value and makes me feel all yummy.  Now, it might be a mistake -- maybe they just like my name (I do) -- but let's assume the best.)

As for the anthology itself, the pdf is still available  here, and still free.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Educated Tongue

Last weekend I went to the Northwest Chocolate Festival. I figured I'd have some chocolate and maybe even get some entertainment. Instead I was stunned. In a good way.

With table after table of high quality ("fine") dark chocolate, it's hard -- nay, for some of us, impossible -- to pass up the opportunity to educate our tongues. Educate I did. Until I was nearly sick.

Yes, it is possible to consume too much superb chocolate. You just have to work hard at it.

I also learned a tremendous amount about chocolate. I had no idea it was so complicated to make or that the difference between the wealth of the cacao farmers and us consumers was so great that most farmers never even taste the chocolate that results from their work because they can't afford it.

I also understand that making us consumers feel bad for eating chocolate does the farmers no good at all. The key is to gently educate us about what it takes to make really good chocolate, get our tongues involved, and then -- as happened with coffee -- we will gladly pay for the quality we will come to demand. Everyone benefits. Even the farmers.

A little simplistic?  Sure. But Big Chocolate (Hershey, Nestle, etc.) are not interested in creating educated consumers. They know how to fill out their few percentages of actual chocolate with sugar and emulsifiers and artificial ingredients to make it taste sort of like chocolate to the uneducated. It's cheaper that way. Never mind the farmers. It's business.

Cacao fruit

And that's pretty simple. Unpleasant, but simple. That's the corporate entity for you.

While I'm at it, don't bother to choose your chocolate based on the "fair trade" certifications. Farmers get maybe a percent at best for your buck-fifty extra. It's the certification company that's raking in the bucks. I know: I wanted it to be that simple, too. It will get simpler, but for now it's just messy.

I predict chocolate will change in the upcoming years and for the better. Remember when you used to drink instant coffee every morning and now you drink fresh-brewed lattes? Keep watching chocolate. Keep educating your tongue.

And if you didn't go to the festival this year, don't miss next year's. It was seriously fun and decadently wonderful. And oh-so educational.

Friday, October 21, 2011

"How are you?"

"gumballs!" is how I am.
How to answer? It depends. Who is asking? What is the context of that particular relationship? Did we just meet or have we been friends for years? Do we have an audience?  It depends on what aspects of my life -- the "you" in the question -- this person is actually asking about.

Aside from the part to do with me, I am faced with the need to quickly build a complex mental model of the asker, who I may have only just met. There's rarely time to do the person or the question justice before they follow up with the inevitable: "something wrong?"


It's hard to explain all this on the fly. I do try sometimes, especially with the cashiers at Trader Joe's, who seem very nice but I don't think quite follow my reasoning.

XKCD to the rescue! Now all I have to do is whip out my phone and point to this page, which explains everything.   Surely with this tool at my disposal there will be no more less confusion.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Flow Chart Much?

Need a laugh? I do. XKCD delivers with this guide to understanding flow charts. So is it just geeky me, or did you laugh, too?

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Days Like Years

Each day, minute and minute, sipping slow to make it last. Days like years, minutes like hours; we sit outside together in bits of sun and breeze, sipping. His eyes close just a bit, soaking up, soaking in, every inch of him solar-powered.  His lanky, emaciated form stretches out across cement with startling ease. Finest-kind feline. He looks at me, cat-content, as if to say, "you know, this is not so bad."