Posts tagged ‘coffee’


Cities are so full of human things

Today around lunchtime, having successfully backfilled a default value into a null field in upwards of (literally) six million records so that we could eventually remove the “if field is NULL, use the default” code from the runtime (something that frankly we wouldn’t have bothered with at the previous employer, but current employer takes code curation very seriously), I decided to go out for a little walk.

For Father’s Day the little daughter gave me this wonderful handmade set of cards (pictured here, along with the delicious truffles from M) describing various favorite and otherwise notable coffeehouses around The City. One of the favorites was CafĂ© Grumpy, which has a location in Chelsea, just a few minutes walk from here.

So I picked up a lovely ham half-sandwich from the Five Borough Bistro down the hall, took off my badge in the elevator (good opsec), and walked out into The Big City.

Between 111 8th Avenue and 224 West 20th Street, there are about five blocks, probably about four Starbuckses, the Joyce Theater, a modest number of portals (most of them Smurf Blue), and many many lovely complicated people, some on bicycles. I ate my sandwich while walking North among it all.

Sitting with my cappuccino, I wrote Profound Coffee Shop Words on the Insta-gram.

I get this feeling,
in cities,
that all the other people
are clued into some multifarious but shared thing
that I’m outside of.
Which is I think true
and false
and true.

True because being a really city-immersed and full-time city person is in fact a multifarious but shared thing that I’m outside of.

False because there are lots of different ones, even multifarious and shared; being a really city-immersed and full-time city person isn’t just one thing, any more than being any other kind of person is just one thing (not even a multifarious thing).

And true because everyone everywhere is clued into some multifarious but shared thing that virtually everyone else is outside of.

Speaking of love :) and social media, there is some amusement to be had today on the “March4Marriage” tag on the Twitter, which was started by the odious National Organization for Marriage (a small but mysteriously well-funded group devoted to preventing certain marriages), but which has attracted lots of variously heartwarming, funny, snarky, and otherwise pro-equality “tweets” that made me smile. (The “march” itself seems to have drawn maybe a couple hundred people; a fact that the Twitter has also enjoyed.)

And speaking of the more and less delightful mysteries of the human soul, there is this odd story. The story says that every time a child is born in the U. S. of A., a secret account with some large monetary value is created by the birth certificate, and that this account is used as collateral for large loans from foreign banks that keep the United States (which is secretly a Corporation) running. By filling out certain forms with certain punctuation, the story says, a citizen can get control of that account, and use it to pay one’s taxes, obtain cash, or whatever.

People who promote and/or believe this story are collectively called the Redemption Movement, which has a Wikipedia page and everything, as well as a long and painful (and sometimes funny) history of losses in court, criminal convictions, loony web pages and YouTube videos, and so on. This guy for instance seems schizomimetic on the order of the Time Cube guy:


whereas others are either just easily duped, or relatively ordinary con-persons.

But back to cities. :) It did not pour rain at all on my way out to Grumpy and back, just a very few sprinkles. People had umbrellas up, or were carrying them down, or had their hoods up or newspapers held over their heads, or were bareheaded and looking up dubiously at the sky now and then like I was, or were just walking along. Whereas this morning at the train station up in the ‘burbs, it was raining quite definitely, and I got thoroughly splashed on the legs by a car going too fast through a gutter puddle.

It is nice not to be wet anymore.



New adventures every day!

Here are a couple more observations that I think I can share without revealing any family secrets.


You’d think that a place full of coders would be basically powered by coffee.

That’s certainly what I was expecting.

I was picturing, like, huge wall-length banks of those shiny cylindrical coffee machines that are everywhere, constantly being emptied by jazzed young programmers, and filled by a steady stream of staff persons with new grounds.

But it’s not like that at all.

There are fancy digital coffee-making machines in the snack areas (“microkitchens”, whee!), which produce what I imagine is quite good coffee (I’m no judge), but do it slowly. And there aren’t very many of them.

There are a couple or three of the shiny cylindrical coffee machines in the main food-places, but they tend to be awkwardly placed, and there are many things that it’s easier to get to.

There are also espresso machines (cappuccino machines, whatever they’re called) in the microkitchens for general use, along with signs about the time and place where the “how to” classes are offered, and the intranet URL of the relevant informational page(s). Naturally.

All of which encourages slow and thoughtful and high-quality consumption of only finite amounts of coffee.

Which I find fascinating.

As I pointed out the other day, I’m drinking a lot less coffee than I did before the venue change. Maybe the work keeps one awake all by itself. :)


I poked around the intranet a bit my first couple of weeks, figuring that these young hip (haha, “hip”) persons might include some number into meditation (“meditation”) or sitting or even zazen, and while I found some interesting groups dedicated to thinking about the impact of digital technologies on our practices of attention, and about being sure to pause now and then and be in the moment, and like that, they seemed to be mostly based out in Mountain View.

I did one “Mindfulness at your Desk” thing at Noon Eastern, 9am Pacific, where someone out on the Left Coast led a small group of us in meditation over videoconferencing, and that was fine, but a little odd.

I was figuring I could bring in a zafu of my own, and maybe just remember to sit in a quiet place somewhere now and then, when while exploring one of the higher floors of the building I came across a sign saying that sits take place twice daily (!) in the little sort of exercise room / dance studio. And in exploring it I found a cabinet with a bunch of nice high-quality zafus and blankets to go under them.

And the next time one of the twice-daily things came up, I was there, and this smiling person came and talked quietly and asked who would like some guided meditation, and talked softly to them while the rest of us just sat (on the nice zafus and blankets, which it turns out are for general use), and then he rang a lovely Zen bell, and we all sat more, until he rang it again and we slowly got up and went out.

ZOMG, eh?

So I may have a little practice, and maybe even a vague sort of sangha (not that there’s any particular reason to think all or any of the people are Buddhist as such), right there at work.

Who woulda thought?

P.S. This is a very good recipe for Butternut Squash Soup!


The internet really is changing the world!

So it’s very hard to estimate, objectively, how much the world is actually changing. Except in the oddest of times, after all, the perceiver is changing at least as much as the world. Stairs get steeper, burdens heavier, music louder, children younger and their jargon less comprehensible (ikr?), the people who run the world more obviously incompetent, because of the shift of viewpoint, regardless of any other sort of change.

You can’t go down to the same river twice, that is to say, even if the river is the same.

Having said all that, though, the world sure has changed! :)

I went to The Mall today, to get my both pairs of glasses repaired (the world’s gotten blurrier, too, as it happens). My reading glasses have been held together with a little twist of wire for months, and yesterday I figured out that my driving glasses have been bothering my nose because although the lefthand nose-piece was still there, it was subtly torn enough that the metal bit was sticking through whenever I actually put them on.

There being no convenient way to get them repaired at home (or maybe just by force of habit, really; come to think of it I didn’t even look online for home glasses-repair kits), I went to The Mall. The Sterling Optical was having, or was involved in, some peculiar event involving a local radio station, balloons, a popcorn machine, and other arcana, but someone asked if they could help me, and when I said I needed some repairs they summoned The Guy Who Does The Repairs from the back room, and he came out and took my glasses and said it would be just a couple of minutes.

So I stood there reading news and books on my ‘Pad until he (or actually someone else, which was slightly confusing) returned with my glasses all fixed up, and then I was all done.

I strolled around The Mall a little, got a coffee, wandered through the Video Game Store, didn’t go into the book store (or even, come to think of it, notice if there is still a book store there), went upstairs and got some lunch from Asian Chao, thought I noticed a “Rounders” to open soon where the Burger King used to be, but then decided that it was actually a “Rounders” that had opened and closed again where the Burger King used to be, since the last time I was there.

There were Akoo screens on some of the columns in the Food Court, and cardboard ads for the Akoo app (which in some sense lets you control what Currently Popular Videos appear on the Akoo screens) sitting on the tables. I looked briefly at the Akoo app on my ‘Pad, but it looked kind of dumb so I didn’t get it. After I ate I bought some (really rather awful) chocolate from the all-candy-same-price candy stand, and wandered through F.Y.E. and didn’t buy anything there either.

The Mall is really a pretty impoverished environment in which to buy things. The F.Y.E. has some little devices that you can run the barcode of a CD under and possibly listen to the tracks and read about the artists on a little display; last time I was there a few of them mostly worked. This time I didn’t even bother trying; I was going to be home pretty soon anyway after all. The book store that I didn’t even go into has some random selection of books that someone (I would guess the Home Office of the bookstore chain) has decided to stock, but there’s no metadata, no reader reviews, no easy way to find other books by the same author or “readers who looked at this also looked at” lists.

Part of me says that it’s nice to be able to browse through the physical objects and decide what to buy one-to-one with the thing like that. But how much sense does that actually make? It means that I’m deciding whether to buy based on how compelling the cover design and the blurbs are, and the things I’m deciding between are limited to whatever someone (else) has decided to stock. How are those advantages?

So one thing that The Mall has is Sterling Optical where they will fix your glasses (and for free!). It also has a somewhat wider variety of coffees and ice-creams than home does, and Asian Chao and Desert Moon and fast-food chains like that. But that doesn’t seem like enough to support a whole Mall really, does it?

And then it has the persons. Quite many persons, each one interesting and lovely in a different way, with eyes and limbs and clothing of different colors and designs, and hair in various styles and lengths. Persons with voices and stories, and laughs and quiet whispers and sidelong looks.

I do like persons. :) And you don’t get to admire them when you buy books on Amazon or music on iTunes or furnace filters on Furnace Filters 4 You Now Dot Com.

But you do when, for instance, you go out to hear live music in Peekskill. (And to an interesting extent that we won’t consider further here right now you also do when you go out to hear live music while staying home.)

So the Internet gets us lots of great metadata from other persons while we shop, but keeps us from encountering the actual persons themselves, and their voices and hair and limbs.

Does this deprive us of the company of other persons, or does it just mean that we have more time to encounter other persons in non-consumer contexts? Both, of course. :) But which more, and which when, and which to whom? Them are the questions (some of them)…