Green Tea Fine Tea Capsules        
Green Tea Fine Tea Capsules

Green Tea Fine Tea Capsules

Experience the deliciously smooth flavours and remarkable freshness of our pure Green Tea. Naturally rich in antioxidants, this light, clean-tasting tea has amazing elegance and clarity, enhanced by advanced capsule technology. High quality, young hand plucked and non-fermented leaves, single origin sourced from tea gardens in Kenya. Best enjoyed without milk. Compatibility Unique multi-patented machines: Espress-Auto 4 in 1, 4 in 1 Coffee Machine (also compatible with 3 in 1 models), Xpress and Espressivo. Dualit capsules are compatible with ALL domestic drop through Nespresso® machines excluding professional and ‘built in’ models. *Nespresso® trademark is owned by Société des Produits Nestlé Patented Capsule Technology Dualit's taste-boosting patented technology releases the finest flavour from the tea leaves in seconds, reducing brew time by up to 90%. Patented capsules with "soft close" action for ease of use in your machine. Key Features Premium grade tea capsules developed specially by tea experts. 15 capsules per box. Made in Great Britain. Ingredients 100% Green Tea


          Coffee Talk | VT & Cross Country Travel with Kids        
Coffee shop dates are some of my favorite and I wish I could sit and have a coffee with all of you. If we were sitting down to a cup of coffee it would likely be something single origin and African. I would also want a bagel with tofutti to go with it. While we ... [Read more...]
          Birchbox Home: Snow Day Box        
Birchbox does beauty so well, it's easy to forget the brand's home vertical is equally compelling. Their latest Home: Snow Day box is the best of both worlds. Retailing at $39 ($105 value!), this limited edition box is stocked with essentials to keep you occupied and pampered whether the weather is merely less than delightful or keeping you stuck inside indefinitely. Let's hope for more of the former; less of the latter this year. The box includes: 

  • Fireplace Matches | Jonathan Adler
  • Votive Candle | (Malin+Goetz)
  • Flower Infused Cleansing Milk | Chantecaille
  • Jasmine and Lily Healing Mask | Chantecaille
  • Shea Butter Hand Cream | L’OCCITANE
  • Matcha & Clementine Body Soak Bath Salts | Mox Botanicals
  • Organic Lip Balm | S.W. Basics
  • Combed Cotton Socks | Happy Socks
  • Single Origin Cocoa Powder – Davao, Philippines | Askinosie
  • Gourmet Marshmallows in Cinnamon | Three Tarts
  • Birchbox Limited Edition Travel Scrabble Game | Birchbox
Buy the Birchbox Home: Snow Day box here for $39. 

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          The Dark Gallery @ MyTOWN Shopping Centre        

The Dark Gallery - Discover The Origins Of Chocolate @ MyTOWN Shopping Centre, Cheras


If you love chocolates, and appreciate good artisanal dark chocolate desserts, look no further than The Dark Gallery @ MyTOWN Shopping Centre, Cheras. If you don't know where's MyTOWN Shopping Centre, just head to IKEA Cheras, because it's located just next to eat and is accessible from inside Ikea itself. The Dark Gallery is this really chic looking boutique cafe that promotes artisanal dark chocolate desserts as well as the art behind their making. We learnt lots, check out some of their offerings below. 

The Dark Gallery @ MyTOWN Shopping Centre
The Dark Gallery @ MyTOWN Shopping Centre

The Dark Gallery @ MyTOWN Shopping Centre

Address: Lot No L1-023A & L1-K007
No 6, Jalan Cochrane, 
Seksyen 90 55100
Kuala Lumpur
Operating Hours: Daily 11am - 10pm

The Dark Gallery - Discover The Origins Of Chocolate
The Dark Gallery - Discover The Origins Of Chocolate
All about chocolates and the appreciation of it
All about chocolates and the appreciation of it

Chocolate lovers rejoice! Through a series of tasting flights and an alluring array of confections, you will discover a newfound appreciation and even pick up a thing or two about the different single origin chocolates and chocolate blends like myself. Yes, I learnt so much from a short session at The Dark Gallery yesterday. 

Open your senses , discover the dark
Open your senses , discover the dark

The Dark Gallery, you may be forgiven to think it's an art gallery like what I did when I first heard of this place. It's named so for its specific focus on dark chocolate. Everybody loves dark chocolate, prized for its high cacao content and complex balance of bitter and sweet. 

Signature Hot Chocolate


Signature Hot Chocolate - RM15
Signature Hot Chocolate - RM15

Using couverture chocolate sourced from gourmet chocolate brands, such as Valrhona and Cacao Barry, as well as from other small-batch bean-to-bar chocolatiers, The Dark Gallery serves a rather wide selection of tempting indulgences from ice cream, tarts, macarons, cookies to hot and iced beverages. 

To start things off, I ordered my favourite beverage, the smooth and luscious Signature Hot Chocolate, which came served in a rather unassuming paper cup with The Dark Gallery's logo. Made with frothed fresh milk, topped with shavings of dark chocolate, this is indeed a comforting beverage, perfect for any mood or occasion. 

Single Origin Platters


Single Origin Dark Chocolate Ice Cream Platter - RM21
Single Origin Dark Chocolate Ice Cream Platter - RM21

Before I came to The Dark Gallery, all dark chocolate ice creams were the same to me. After savouring their delightful single origin platters, I could not differentiate between the different dark chocolates, in terms of its acidity, fruitiness, bitterness and intensity. This is so similar to how single origin coffees are appreciated! 

Madagascar, Dominican Republic, or Venezuela?
Madagascar, Dominican Republic, or Venezuela?
We had a choice of four curated tasting platters, where we get to embark on an exploration of single origin chocolate from various countries, such as Madagascar, Dominican Republic, Equador, and Venezeula. Each flight, platter, contains at least three single origin chocolate items of varying cacao content. If you don't understand, they even have these infographic print out that describes the flavour profile of each chocolate. Interesting and very informative! 

We tried their current cacao: a light and fruity 64% Madagascan, a floral and spicy 70% Dominican Republic and an intense bitter sweet 72% Venezuelan which I like! 

Single Origin Chocolate Pastries Platter


Single Origin Chocolate Pastries Platter - RM21
Single Origin Chocolate Pastries Platter - RM21

Pastries platter? Yes please! The Single Origin Chocolate Pastries Platter which we tried contained two fun sized 64% madagascan chocolate macarons, one 66% Ecuador dark chocolate ganache tartlet, a homemade molten 70% Dominican Republic dark chocolate on a torched marshmallow and graham cracker, and a mini trifle containing 72% Venezuelan dark chocolate mousse, caramelised bananas, brownie chunks and whipped cream. 

 64% madagascan chocolate macaron
My favourite: these 64% madagascan chocolate macaron

Signature Desserts from The Dark Gallery


Chocolate Rhapsody, just the name of this dessert got my drooling. Artfully plated, we had the Chocolate Rhapsody, a yummy assortment of textures, featuring three scoops of The Dark Gallery's signature dark, milk and white chocolate ice cream. All these are placed on a bed of crunchy chocolate "soil", with dollops of silky chocolate mousse, crispy chocolate meringue and cacao tuile. 


Chocolate Rhapsody - RM28
Chocolate Rhapsody - RM28

Brownie Mess & Banana Split


Up next, we had the Chocolate Brownie Mess, served warm with dark chocolate sauce, almond tuile and a scoop of customer's choice of ice cream. Perfect for any occasion, I did find the brownie a tad sweeter than expected though. The ice cream helps to balance it out. 


The Chocolate Brownie Mess - RM20
The Chocolate Brownie Mess - RM20

A banana split with a slight twist, more of an enhancement if you asked me. We had The Dark Gallery's New Banana Split next, a luxurious version of the timeless classic, composed of vanilla, strawberry. and 38% milk chocolate ice cream. I truly loved the caramelised bananas at the side, complete with shards of almond tuile and crumble. Truly yummy! 

The New Banana Split - RM24
The New Banana Split - RM24
Three of my favourite ice creams, with caramelised bananas
Three of my favourite ice creams, with caramelised bananas
I want it all for myself!
I want it all for myself!

The Ice Cream Waffle 


The Ice Cream Waffle - RM20
The Ice Cream Waffle - RM20

Waffles! My favourite dessert.  Pick any two flavours of ice cream and one topping to enjoy on The Ice Cream Waffle. Immaculately baked, the exterior of this delectable waffle has a light crisp while being soft and fluffy inside. I totally loved the caramelised almonds, hazelnut crumble, and marshmallows sprinkled on top. Made in house with propriety recipes, this is a must try when you're at The Dark Gallery. 

I find these to be delicious too!
I find these to be delicious too!
Janice loves these!
Janice loves these!
Pick one, two, three, or maybe, all nine!
Pick one, two, three, or maybe, all nine!

The Chocolate Affogato


Chocolate lovers in need of a caffeine boost will do well to order The Dark Gallery's Chocolate Affogato. An espresso shot served with 80% dark chocolate ice cream and handmade caramelised almonds, the act of pouring in the shot had me wanting for more 


The Chocolate Affogato - RM14
The Chocolate Affogato - RM14
Pouring in all the goodness
Pouring in all the goodness

Take home items such as the Bean to Bar Craft Chocolate (45g, RM18), Ice Cream Pints (450g, RM33 each), Artisanal Chocolate Sable (160g, RM20), and Artisanal Chocolate Granola (240g, RM20) can be purchased from The Dark Gallery itself or via their web-store at www.thedarkgallery.com. The Dark Gallery, discover the origins of chocolate yourself, do go over to MyTOWN Shopping Centre the next time you have a craving for artisanal dark chocolates or desserts. 





          Introducing: A New Game, Coffee, and a Giveaway        

Some things are just meant to be.

Some time back, the crazy and talented Mallory from The Salty Cod---writer, photographer, and baker extraordinaire--- whom I've befriended through countless back-and-forth emails and comments, had an idea. Of course, for she has always been the crazi-er one.

Mallory suggested a series of themed posts, for which we choose an ingredient and blog about it in our own style, based on our own experience and interpretation of said ingredient. Mallory from Seattle, and me from Melbourne. On top of that, there will be a series of questionnaire which context will more or less involve the chosen ingredient. Of course, since we are in many ways food bloggers, there will always be food involved. Oh, and we have thrown in a prize. Continue reading to find out how to be eligible.

To mark the first of many of such posts to come, we have decided on the ingredient coffee. Chances are, no matter where you live (save for maybe a handful of regions), you have heard of it. You may not like it, you may never have drunk it in your entire life, but you know it. And if you drink it, how many places make it exactly the way you like it?

I recently had an epiphany, involving a day at The Melbourne Food and Wine Festival and a flat white prepared by a local coffee supplier called 5 Senses. I knew they were really good, but before then, I really thought that I've tasted really good coffee. In less slurred terms, they were better than I expected. Way better. For the benefit of those who are not familiar with the term 'flat white', it is basically a shot of espresso with milk from the bottom of the milk frothing jug added to it. Flat white, unlike lattes and capuccino, has no froth, thus the term flat white.


Now back to the magical drink. The cup of flat white I had from 5 Senses was at the right temperature. Not too hot, and thus can be enjoyed right away. This is paramount, as the coffee changes in both texture and taste as it cools down.

So I sipped. The first taste took me by complete and utter surprise. My mouth wanted to say a word, any word, about how good the coffee is, but before that word could escape, I was taken over by another flavour, and another, and then another still. I was so overwhelmed by pleasant surprise that I did not register those different layers of flavours that preceded the smooth, rich core I was expecting. I just had to take another sip. This time, the words did came out. Wow, I said to J. WOW. He concurred.

So I came home feeling inspired, but at the same time dejected, because how in the hell am I supposed to enjoy a decent cup of coffee now that I know what a great cup taste like? I can already see myself holding back from a much-needed caffeine hit just because I couldn't stomach the taste of an awful cup (which to me meant just about any cafe down the block).


Then it hits. I'll make coffee marshmallows! I'll be able to eat them straight, or dunk them in a cup of hot chocolate to bring up the caffeine levels I desperately need! As you can see, a great cup of coffee hits twice.

Now for the fun bits! The following are the questions Mallory wanted to know about me and my relationship with coffee. Have fun reading through the answers!

Q. In a split second respond with either: coffee or tea?
A. Both. Hey, I didn't say I'll play by all of the rules!

Q. How many hits a week that you would say that you take?
A. I would say that I take about 15 hits, but in reality I probably take no more than 6. Why? Because I couldn't stomach bad coffee and would rather suffer slurred words and clumisness than drinking what is an insult to my palate.

Q. If there was to be a 'Christy' on the menu board at Starbucks, what would it be?
A. Probably a coffee drink with a mild and sweet introduction and very spicy, lingering aftertaste.

Q. What is the most pathetic cup of coffee in Australia? (Example, in the US we would say---oh that would be a three-way tie between Dunkin, Folgers or already chewed tobacco.)
A. Stale, bitter and lifeless. No, I'm not talking about angry old men and women. And the euphemism to that would be vending machine coffees, or Hungry Jack's coffees.

Q. What is the meaning of life and why is it so hard?
A. In the words of Wolfgang Puck: ' Food and sex...what else is there?' But seriously, if you want to come to Melbourne some time, we can have a cup of coffee and discuss it.

Q. Would you drink coffee when it's hot out? (Because I can't)
A. Well, my answer to that before this weekend would be a no. But seeing that I've just had the best iced coffee at a French Creperie called Le Treskiel, who also incidentally uses 5 Senses coffee, the answer to that is a resounding YES!

Q. How do you feel about Starbucks Frapuccinos?
A. Lukewarm. I was referring to my response, actually, and not to the temperature of the drinks.

Q. Where in the world would you most like to sit down (stand, lie, kneel, roll) and order a coffee?
A. Sit down: Parisian streetside cafes.
Stand: In front of the 5 Senses booth at Melbourne Food and Wine Festival. Or
at the Brother Baba Budan coffeeshop, where it is always standing
room only.
Lie: In my bed, when my dream of being served a fresh, hot cup of coffee by a hunky male finally comes true. (Note to J: If you are reading this, OF
COURSE I was referring to you!!)
Roll: See above.

Q. If someone was lucky enough to find the prize with an odds of one-to-ten-million, do you think they could ever get hit by lightning?
A. Okay, three things. Tell me what the prize is, let me win it, and I'll tell you.

Q. Were your parents heavy coffee drinkers?
A. NOOOOOO... My mother has practically NEVER drunk coffee in her entire life. She used to claim when I was young that caffeine damages your brain cells and stunts its growth. Well, that would account for me, wouldn't it? My father does drink black coffee or cappuccinos once in a while when we go out. Otherwise, it's instant cappuccino mix all the way, and I'm not sure that's coffee.

Q. Would you prefer coffee in a shop or at home? Remember, at home you can be naked, but in a shop you can pretend everyone else is naked.
A. So how many good looking people are there actually in said coffeeshop???

Q. Would you ever wear jewelry made out of coffee beans or earrings shaped in the likeness of coffee cups? Like teachers who wear apple earrings and pencil-shaped pins?
A. What's that again? I was still thinking about good looking naked people......

Q. What would be the first thing you would do on a trip to Seattle?
A. Go and meet you!!

Q. What is the absolute most perfect pastry or baked good to be taken alongside a coffee?
A. Depends on the flavour profile and the type of roast of the coffee, really. But a french canele is pretty close to perfection.


If you are still reading, chances are that you have not been offended by my writing. For this, I have saved the best part for last. Remember I mentioned somewhere in this very long post that I am giving away a prize? Can you guess what it is by now? Those of you who answered 'something from 5 Senses Coffee' got it right!!

As a parting note, the following is how the people from 5 Senses described the flavour profile of the Ethiopian Yirgacheffe beans:

'When you first meet the Yirgacheffe, you’re greeted by a deeply complex, enticing, mega floral aroma. It packs a pretty punch! This Ethiopian coffee rolls over your tongue leaving a sweet spicy scent, with hints of cinnamon and orange zest. The gentle, rounded, easy acidity matches the floral scent to perfection, and complements the smooth warming mouthfeel. Hints of fruit, currants and cinnamon spice flow over the taste buds, leaving complex flavours of fruit, wonderful floral notes and a tingly, spicy finish. Orange zest, blackcurrant and pepper mingle with hints of rich dark chocolate, leaving a soft, gentle and truly satisfying aftertaste.
Notes by: Luke'

What you have to do to stand a chance to win a 250g bag of single origin Ethiopian Yirgacheffe coffee beans from 5 Senses, is to leave a comment on both my blog and Mallory's blog, between the 22nd March to the 25th March at 11pm AEDT. A draw will be conducted, and the winner will be announced on the 26th March.

Now, go check out Mallory's post!

P.S. All right, I surrender. Here's the recipe for the coffee marshmallows I made. I did not post it because I did a lousy job measuring the additional ingredients (namely the coffee), so here are the approximates. Also, I noticed that the instructions on how to dissolve powdered gelatin varies. The one I used instructed me to simply dissolve the gelatin in hot water. The one in the book, however, asked me to sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water to soften first before dissolving it in hot syrup. Thus I've adapted this recipe to hopefully work well with both methods.


Coffee Marshmallows

1Tbspn+1tsp powdered gelatin

1/4cup+2Tbspn water

About 10g instant espresso coffee

11/4 cups +1 Tbspn caster sugar

3/4 cup glucose or corn syrup

3 large egg whites

Spray a rectangular baking pan with oil, then line the bottom and sides with baking paper. Dissolve the gelatin in water according to the manufacturer's instructions, taking the weight of the water required to dissolve it from the amount of water required by the recipe. Heat up the leftover water and dissolve the coffee. Strain, and place coffee in a saucepan, together with the glucose and sugar. Place on high heat and bring to 120 degree Celsius, or the soft ball stage. When it reaches about 115 degree C, whisk the egg whites at full speed in a stand mixer. Do not overbeat. Add the gelatin to the hot syrup, and whisk to combine. With the motor running, slowly and carefully add the hot syrup into the egg whites. Whisk at high speed until mixture is thick, glossy and starts to gather around the beater. Spray an offset metal spatula with oil, and spread the marshmallow evenly in the pan. Leave to set at room temperature. Cut up to desired size with a well-oiled knife, and coat in cornstarch. Sprinkle with ground coffee beans.


          Win a CHOC Chick Starter Kit         
Choc Chick starter kit

CHOC Chick Starter Kit is guilt free chocolate making kit. Have fun getting choc-creative and make delicious fine chocolates that are naturally high in antioxidants and are dairy, gluten, refined sugar, soya, egg, additive and guilt free!

The CHOC Chick starter kit is the ideal way to discover the joys of making your own raw chocolate creations. The starter kit is the most authentic way to make chocolate and contains 100% organic cacao ingredients, a low GL natural sweetener and pure goodness with absolutely no additives or preservatives, making this the perfect gift for chocolate lovers of all ages.

This beautifully packaged CHOC Kit has enough ingredients to make around 30 raw chocolates (using ice cube trays or moulds) or 3 bars (using simple plastic containers) and over 30 truffles or you can get a bit naughty and make delicious chocolate cocktails and guilt free hot chocolate.

CHOC Chick are an ethically aware company, their organic raw cacao ingredients are all ethically sourced from cooperatives in Ecuador and come from the single origin Nacional Arriba Fino de Aroma cocoa bean.

 

Competition closing date

Sunday, 13 November 2016 - 11:59pm

Competition prize

For your chance to win the CHOC Chick starter kit; simply answer the question below:-


          Daddy Bars – Choc-Full of Health Benefits        

This year, Jacques’ Father’s Day collection is made up of three chocolate bars—the Strong Daddy Bar, the Salty Daddy Bar, and the Gummy Daddy Bar—all of which feature 82% Dominican Republic single origin dark chocolate. They’re two pounds in weight and come with a mallet used to break and share (or not, it’s okay)! If […]

The post Daddy Bars – Choc-Full of Health Benefits appeared first on Jacques Torres Chocolate.


          Comment on Fastachi opening nuts shop in Wellesley this fall by Annie        
One other thing the Charles Street store specializes in :: bean-to-bar single origin and small batch chocolate bars. They tend to range $8-10 a bar, but take you on a trip no Hershey could with all sorts of complex flavors.
          Hotel Chocolat Rabot 1745 100% Chocolate Bars        

Single origin 100% bars from Hotel Chocolat. Continue reading

The post Hotel Chocolat Rabot 1745 100% Chocolate Bars appeared first on Chocablog.


          2013 International Chocolate awards        
International Chocolates Awards 2013 Winners Chocolopolis- Gold Medal America’s for their Lemon Lavender Truffle.  Their Star Anise Ganache Figs and Colombia Single Origin Truffles were Finalists. Lilliebelle– Silver Medalist World  for the Lavender Sea Salt Caramels Jcoco- Silver Medal America’s for the […]
          Sank My Foot in the Internet Marketing Quagmire        


I just lost my job last week. It didn't come as a surprise, but neither was I prepared for it. I had just updated my resume and was starting a job search when the axe came down.

I've held many different types of jobs in many different places over the years, and like so many others must be, I'm sick of the job-searching/resume tweaking/interviewing/hiring rigamarole. I'm tired of putting on my best face and pretending to be interested in playing the respective corporate politics to be underpaid for work I'm sick of doing.

And despite how much the government and media fudge the numbers, the economy is still the worst it's been since the Great Depression, so you really have to jump through hoops to find a job now.

And I'm not getting any younger.

So the missus gives me a call a couple days ago. One of her former co-workers and a Facebook friend posted a link to a video. The guy had health problems and lost his job recently, but thankfully he discovered this work from home opportunity that grew his business to the point that it was now paying his bills. That's the story I initially heard.

By-the-by, I've been wishing I could get a work-from-home job. If I HAVE to work for somebody else, that's how I'd prefer to do it. Bye-bye working in the Florida heat, sitting in Florida traffic and being at the mercy of out-of-order restrooms, etc. And the closer I am to my computer, the faster I can get back to writing when the work day is done. In theory, anyway.

So anyway, wifey watches the video, and says I should. If we didn't know somebody that vouched for this deal (let's just call him Dreamer Dude for short), the red flags would have trumped my curiosity, desperation and wishful thinking. I've been exposed to scam artists before, and would have assumed this was just another one without personally knowing somebody involved in it.

I watched the video. It's a new company that just started 20 months ago and has made billions for the folks involved and is going to get even bigger yada yada yada. But what really got my attention was the part about their blogging support program.

For those who don't remember the whole saga with Virtual Pulp Press, I got in over my head when I attempted to upgrade the website from 1994 technology. I used Wordpress, watched a ton of tutorials, took advice from different people "in the know,"bought themes and plugins...then pretty much pulled my hair out trying to make the software do what I wanted it to. I had a guy who agreed to help, but he flaked out. I knew what I wanted the site to do was not unreasonable, and experts told me it Wordpress could definitely do it.

In fact, what I wanted was fairly simple: An online store where I could advertise the stuff I sell as an affiliate, with something like this blog incorporated into it. But the plugins that sounded like they should help me accomplish this actually were designed to do something else. There was a language gap with a learning curve that was just taking forever while I was working a full-time job with lots of overtime, travelling a lot and dealing with more than my share of domestic drama.

Finally, while I was transferring my domain name from Go Daddy to Host Gator, calling Host Gator back-and-forth and it wasn't done, wasn't done, wasn't done... the domain name expired and somebody in the former USSR bought it. Not to use it--just because they realize somebody else wants to use it and they don't have the intelligence or imagination to come up with their own ideas, so they're hoping I'll pay them to get it back.

Not gonna happen. I cut my losses.

Well, the guy in this video says his company's marketing gurus and software developers have perfected a selling process that have made all these people all this money yada yada yada. And there's an affiliate program and this program and that program but I could concentrate on selling my own product if that's what I wanted.What got my imagination sparked was his claim that his staff of experts would walk me through setting up a blog custom-tweaked to sell my products, then if I followed their 8-step business plan my stuff would sell like flapjacks. After all, Hoodie Thunkitt and Joe Shit the Rag Man did that and were turning in record profits, blah, blah, blah. This staff of professionals were waiting to hold my hand through the process and I could be completely computer illiterate and still succeed because they were all about helping people as well as making money.

The cost of the program I wanted (the custom blog) was $25 a month (reduced from X amount because they're all about helping people, see). Well, I've blown more than that on advertising and other stuff, with absolutely no effect on book sales for me or anyone else. Not an unreasonable deal, if they delivered on their promises.

I have product to sell, and I've got more time on my hands right now than I have in many years. And this expert help getting my blog set up? That's exactly what I needed months ago when trying to build Virtual Pulp Press into a modern online store. I'd gladly pay $25 a month for the use of that expertise. After all, Dreamer Dude was using this system and his business was taking off, even though the product he's selling is far more specialized and niche, if not obscure.

So I signed up and paid.

This company has probably thousands of videos. Every new page that loaded had another video to watch. I watched a few of them because they all promised some kind of powerful marketing technique if I would only keep watching. I even watched an hour of a live webinar by them (later found out it went on for three hours) also promising some powerful new information. In the case of the webinar, the startling revelation is that people can blog and post video from their smart phones. I forget what the other powerful info was because cumulatively, it accounted for probably about 45 seconds amidst all the hours of video I sat through. Everything else was instructions from the company founders to upgrade to this package and that package for only $100, $500, $1,500, $3,500, etc., which are such bargains because you'd have to pay X more to get this important info anywhere else.

That's where the familiar old bad taste really began setting in. I already paid you, numb nuts, why are you still greasing me so hard? How do I start setting up the blog already?

Well, you need to start off with the 8-step path to success, see. And if you don't go there voluntarily, it will re-route you there when you click on the button to set up your awesome blog. Guess how the 8 steps are presented? More videos, of course.
The first step is to buy into their affiliate program for an additional $19.95 a month. I skipped Step One and started watching the other videos. By the third or fourth one I began skipping ahead to see if there actually was any useful information. Nope. I'll summarize the content of every video:

  • Our stuff is great, and cutting edge, and people are getting rich off it.
  • You're a wussy if you don't follow our instructions.
  • Your next step is to do X.
  • Buy this additional package and we'll tell you how to do X.
  • Go "all in." (Buy everything we ask for money for.)
  • Don't be a wussy.
  • Did we mention how great and cutting edge our system is?
So much for the 8-step path.

With the help of their "badass" customer service reps, I overcame a glitch and got to the blog dashboard, finally.

Hmm. Wordpress. Wordpress blogs are free for anybody. Well, after all, my $25 is for their badass team of experts that will help me customize my blog and maximize its selling psychology, handle SEO and all that, so hope is still alive. On a friggin' resperator and defibulator, with a priest standing in the corner mumbling its last rites, but still alive.

I take a look at the dashboard. Hmm. Looks bare-bones Wordpress to me. Where are all the widgets or whatever to advertise my products? I click on the link to see the blog as a customer would see it.

Well, the ads are already there. There are banners and stuff everywhere--so many that you couldn't squeeze more on the browser display if you wanted. I don't know if all the hype about the marketing psychology is true, but it does look slick. Problem is, every single ad is for THEIR stuff. You know--what I already paid for. Plus the affiliate deal, plus the increasingly expensive (tiered) packages they've been hard-selling me from the beginning.

This can't be right. I just know they don't expect me to pay them $25 a month, spend my time and effort, tapping into my imagination to create blog content... to sell their pyramid scheme. No doubt plenty of folks are content to do that, trying to make money by recruiting human building blocks to fill in the pyramid underneath them. Hey, whatever floats their boat, but that's not what I signed up for and not how the blog deal was pitched.



Where are the widgets to replace their ads with mine? Nowhere I can see. Where is the army of badass programmers and marketing experts who were able and willing to help me customize the blog to sell my product, even if I'm computer illiterate (because they like helping people so much) that I heard about in the first video? Nowhere obvious.

I called customer service. Already irritated with the whole experience so far, I asked the above questions as politely as I could. No problem, says the "badass" representative--she's sending me an email with instructions.

I follow the link in the email, and there is absolutely no information of value to me. Oh, I can change the theme so their blog selling their stuff (that I'm paying for) looks different. I can change the mugshot from the company founder's to mine on their blog selling their stuff. I can do other basic Wordpress stuff like add text and images in the blog section (create content to draw people to their blog to sell their stuff). But it's painfully obvious by now that they expect me to both pay them money and do all the work to pimp their packages to other suckers.

I'm wondering by now if anyone on the pyramid has made a dime of profit or sold a damn thing other than these "badass" packages that hard-sell ever more expensive packages.

BTW, at some point during this process I spoke with Dreamer Dude on the phone. Turns out he's not yet making enough to pay the bills, though he is buying more and more of their packages to get "all in." I took a look at "his" blog to see if he found something I missed. Nope. Looks exactly like "my" blog. He's been blogging faithfully, but even if I was looking for the specific product he's selling, and stumbled across the blog in question, I'd still have no idea I could purchase it through him. I don't want to call him a liar, but I'm extremely skeptical that any of the money he's allegedly made came from sales of his own merchandise.

The refund policy is three days. I called to get my refund the evening of the same day I bought in. Was told I'd get an email with a confirmation number. No such email came. I called back today and was told that they don't do confirmation numbers. By the time I hung up the "badass" sounded close to tears exclaiming, "Don't worry--you'll get your money back!" Makes me wonder how many other irate people have called him for refunds today.

What's the lesson in all this?



Well, first of all, nobody with a slick sales pitch on the web is trying to make an honest buck, or to help you to make one. I kind of knew this already, but hope is a persistent cuss that keeps coming back to life like the villain in a suspense thriller.

Second, the average internet business person will work much harder to scam you out of your money than they'd ever work to produce something worthy of your money.

Hundreds of thousands of gullible people around the world will flock to these kinds of swindlers, even though the swindlers don't have a single original thought and have absolutely nothing to offer the world. They produce nothing; they innovate nothing; they understand nothing but how to use others. Hmm. Sounds a lot like the politicians we're allowing to run our government, doesn't it?

There's a familiar old saying that goes, "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is."

Though certainly accurate, that adage also falls short of the whole truth. If it sounds like a reasonable deal; if it sounds better than the unethical SNAFU we've gotten used to; if it sounds like somebody put reasonable thought and imagination into a system that could feasibly benefit anyone besides the entity asking for your money...it is definitely too good to be true.

Sadly, these dirtbags must know that people are gonna see them for what they are. But as long as there are potentially more who will fall for it, they're gonna drive the hell on.
          Tesco finest Single Origin.        

Wybrałam dwie gorzkie Ecuadorian 74% i Uganda 78%. Wyprodukowane we Włoszech z ziaren pochodzących z określonego miejsca.

  Tesco Tesco


          Comment on Hysteria over Hyphens. by David Marjanović        
Thank you. Another common issue is complete confusion about hyphens and dashes. I've reviewed dozens of manuscripts and read plenty of published works where incorrect hyphens tripped me up-like that-see? <blockquote><i>What can she be thinking?</i></blockquote> There seems to be a widespread myth in English that you can't have more than one hyphen in a word. <blockquote><i>Incidentally why “origins” rather than “origin”? I prefer the singular but there was a clear majority for the plural.</i></blockquote> That's thoroughly bizarre unless they're talking about separate origins of life on different planets. It is plain obvious that all known life has a single origin – protracted as this origin must have been. <blockquote><i>calquing German</i></blockquote> Funnily enough, Mark Twain added the hyphens to let the reader wrap their mind around German box-in-box syntax. They're not there in the original: <i>die auf der anderen Seite des Flusses liegenden Berge</i>.
          By: Grove Under        
Thanks for the tip. I stopped by today (10/27/09) and am happy to report that they also sell the Black Cat espresso blend (whole beans), as well as a couple single origin beans. So Intelligentsia beans are finally available for retail sale in San Francisco! Only downside is that the roast date was 10/2, so this is probably from the first shipment they received prior to their re-opening. They said they'll have a new shipment of beans in a few days, so hopefully, they'll start getting better sales turnover which should result in fresher beans. I didn't get the price of the beans ($15/lb online for Black Cat), but even with a retail markup, I'd have to imagine that it'll cost less than the mail order price for a single bag, especially when Intelligentsia's higher than average shipping costs are factored in. Got a shot of their house blend espresso (it was not Black Cat), which at $2.30 ($2.52 including tax), seems a bit on the higher side compared to the other Specialty's locations where a shot is < $2 including tax. Blue Bottle is $2/shot. Maybe they need to help pay for the nicely designed coffee bar with the big lighted Intelligentsia sign (well done branding setup). If it wasn't for Doug's comment posted earlier, I would have thought this was a Intelligentsia run outpost in the middle of a Specialty's location. I'd also have to imagine this is probably a business experiment of some sorts for both companies. Nice relatively smooth and creamy chocolaty shot with a slightly sour bite (water temp a tad low?), so they might still be dialing in the parameters. Or maybe this is what the house blend espresso is all about. For those who are big Intelligentsia fans in the San Francisco area, this will become a regular stop.
          By: Doug Zell        
I wanted to clarify that the coffeebar inside of Specialty’s is not an Intelligentsia owned and operated coffeebar, but rather a Specialty’s owned coffeebar using our coffee and training and a commitment to higher level coffee execution than previously seen. They will have a traditional La Marzocco espresso machine, Mazzer espresso grinders and feature a pour over dripper bar with single origin choices (along side a Fetco extractor series). We wish them great success in their new endeavor. Doug Zell Founder/CEO Intelligentsia Coffee
          Navigating Southern Burgundy: Mâconnaise and Beaujolais        
Buying wine is like buying chocolate. They both have a world of flavors and attributes to consider. Do you want fruity or deeper earthy tastes? Belgian? Dark or milk? 85%? Then you navigate labels- Costa Rican, single origin, fair trade? You decide on a bar but see local producers as you head to check out. So many choices. The same... Read more »
          Paket Reseller I: 5 Liter dalam Jerigen        
  • Bentuk: Cairan/ Minyak
  • Komposisi: 100% Minyak Tawy
  • Kemasan: 1 Jerigen kapasitas 5 ML per jerigen atau 10 jerigen kapasitas 500ML per jerigen kecil.
  • Origin: Numbay Single Origin
  • Tujuan: Kebugaran
  • Cara Pakai: 2 sendok sehari, pagi sebelum makan/minum 1 senduk, malam sebelum tidur 1 senduk.

          Paket Reseller II: 10 Liter Numbay Single Origin        
  • Bentuk: Cairan/ Minyak
  • Komposisi: 100% Minyak Tawy
  • Kemasan: 2 Jerigen kapasitas 5 ML per jerigen
  • Origin: Numbay Single Origin
  • Tujuan: Kebugaran
  • Cara Pakai: 2 sendok sehari, pagi sebelum makan/minum 1 senduk, malam sebelum tidur 1 senduk.

          Paket Reseller III: 25 Liter Numbay Single Origin        
  • Bentuk: Cairan/ Minyak
  • Komposisi: 100% MInyak Tawy
  • Kemasan: 5 Jerigen kapasitas 5000 ML per jerigen
  • Origin: Numbay Single Origin
  • Tujuan: Kebugaran
  • Cara Pakai: 2 sendok sehari, pagi sebelum makan/minum 1 senduk, malam sebelum tidur 1 senduk.

          Review: Anthony Salame: Straight Up        
 He has his own commercial DVD out in the shops, but in his late-night slot at the comedy festival, Sydney comedian Anthony Salame can barely muster an audience of two dozen.

But then this 28-year-old is more of a club act than a festival act. In this show he tells of a booking for a rugby club Christmas party in New South Wales, and you can’t help feeling that might be more his audience.

Because listening to him for an hour is like being bashed around the head by Zoo magazine – a relentless tide of blokey pseudo-humour tinged with low-level misogyny, homophobia and racism. Women are manipulative, gay men are defined purely as dick-suckers, vegetarians are faggy, and when he starts chatting to the Indian man who’s the sole occupant of the front row, of course he puts on the comedy accent.

‘Leave your political correctness at the door,’ says the blurb, which is clearly code for ‘I’m a bit of a dick.’ But it’s not that Salame is hateful – just so very, very lazy.

He is not a man with a single original comedy thought in his head. This is a hour of jokes about air travel, masturbating, smoking weed, masturbating and masturbating. There’s more jizz in his show than… well, to complete that thought would be right on his level.

And still the clichés come, offering nothing new on tired subjects. How men think with their dick and can’t argue with women’s warped logic... hell, he even does a bit about the ravages of age making the ballsack droop. Really? At 28?

It all adds to the feeling that he’s regurgitating what he’s heard the older boys say. In the past year, he’s traveled to Lebanon, where his family is from, Syria, Paris, Dubai, London, Canada – yet his greatest observations are that the United Arab Emirates are strict on drugs and that English people are dour.
In his favour, his cocksure swagger gives him an attitude that works for stand-up, and his timing and delivery are sharp, even to this quiet, sparse audience. He must surely have put up a valiant fight in that raucous Christmas party, too.

On the way out, a fellow punter was overheard wishing Salame had done more ‘Lebo stuff’. Anything original would be a start.

** 
Steve Bennett

          Caffe Vita Supports Wolf Haven International, Oct 13-31        
Did you know that it is National Wolf Awareness Week? Here’s how you can help today through October 31: 1. Purchase one 12oz bag of the Mexico Sierra Sur de Oaxaca single origin coffee in-store or online and Caffe Vita will donate $2 … Continue reading
          3 single origin chocolates that you should try        
Most people don't know the difference between other types of chocolates and single origin chocolates.
          All that you need to know about single origin chocolates        
It's not surprising to hear individuals discussing wine regions, tastes of wine from specific wineries, and wine produced using distinctive sorts of grapes.
          "Pilots of the Caribbean" -- The Discovery Files        
Until recently, there's been little understanding of the evolutionary history of tropical frogs, but a discovery out of Penn State offers some light to this "black hole." The research team found that nearly all of the 162 Caribbean frog species originated from a single species that rafted on a sea voyage from South America 30 to 50 million years ago. Surprising news... never before had a single origin been identified and it's rare that close relatives dominate such a major geographic region. These researchers are really shaking some limbs in the strife to understand the "tree of life."
          Alien: Covenant        
(spoilers!)

We need to stop giving the benefit of a doubt to Ridley Scott.

While the man deserves respect for his two masterpieces - Alien and Blade Runner Scott has now taken the turn that makes it very clear his Alien prequels aren't a thing of passion and certainly not necessity. Why is Scott at 79 years of age set on damaging his masterpiece? (Alien is forever tainted by the existence of the Covenant now). I'm saying this because there is no way anyone can tell me this rehashed, mangled product is the intended movie. This is reactionary.

It's so very clear that after the less than enthusiastic reaction to Prometheus Scott abandoned whatever vision he had. I'm not even talking about the rewrites. There is an actual proof in the movie. And that is the appalling, disrespectful and shameful treatment of the character of Elizabeth Shaw.
What Scott has done here goes far beyond the treatment of Newt and Hicks in Alien 3. Fincher did that because the story required it. Ripley needed to be alone. It went perfectly with the nihilistic tone of the movie. Here the reasons for Scott's doing are unclear - it's for sure the tepid reaction to the character and movie but it is done in such a way, that given the behind the scenes events, comes off as highly spiteful and to be honest disturbing. That the filmmaker who has featured so many great female characters in his films did this is absolutely shameful.

Here is what happened - Noomi Rapace was on the set for 2 weeks. She is not in the movie. The only time we see her character, it's not an actress, it is a prop. We did see Noomi reprise her role...in a viral marketing video that wasn't a part of the film (it was part of the film during December test screenings). The protagonist of Prometheus and the story that - everything points to that - was set to be the actual content of the movie was treated as a snippet for fans who care enough about the series to find out about the existence of the viral (people pay for tickets. They should see the entire story in the movie not in some bullshit marketing). That is hugely disrespectful to the fans. And to Rapace.
What we essentially got here is a rehash of Aliens mixed with Prometheus. It's the worst thing Scott could have possibly done. The plot doesn't move the story that much forward. Scott could have easily have a completely different movie where a crash of some random ship with colonists happens near David and the outcome would be exactly the same within 5 minutes of screentime. But what is actually insulting to the audience and especially to the hardcore fans of the franchise is that Scott had far better story right there in front of him - that of David going mad with Shaw still being alive.

Imagine a two hour long movie with already established characters that would show us how David went mad and started his experiments. What is a cliff note, would not only made a far better story, it would serve the franchise a better purpose.
The black goo may turn out to be Alien's own midichlorians. I mean I should not be looking at this theory and actually going "shit, it's possible". We have fossilized SJ believed to be very very old in Alien - Scott gives us dumb as fuck way for fossilization to happen in the matter of seconds in Covenant. We have a mural in Prometheus that the fans who for some reason think Scott is still competent say proves the Aliens are old species. Are you people really going to tell me that the guy who doesn't give a fuck about the protagonist of his own movie cares about a two-second long Easter Egg?

I am the furthest anyone can be from Neil Blomkamp's fan - District 9 is a glorified (boring) footage from video game and there is no excuse for most of Chappie which couldn't have been saved even by amusing performance from Hugh Jackman and a very adorable robot - but at least he had a vision. At least he had a continuation in mind and not a rehash that goes nowhere new.
Other than the fact Alien is forever tainted by Covenant possibly being the beginning of the dumbest retcon ever, it's a mediocre, dumb movie. Unless you are a fan of the franchise and know all the stuff I wrote about above you will probably have fun but you will forget about the movie quickly. It doesn't have a single original thing in it. The film opens with a scene which establishes that Ridley Scott really only has eyes for his boo boo Michael Fassbender. No one can blame him, but when you have an actor like that you should have a material worthy of him. Scott doesn't. The film opens with David awaking after being created by Peter Weyland (yet again utterly wasted Guy Pearce) and then in a completely jarring transition the film switches to the crew of Covenant, colonization ship. There is an effort to give Daniels, the most recent Ripley knock off, some depth by killing off James Franco in a fiery capsule death but it doesn't work. The only distinctive thing about Daniels is her horrifying hair cut which apparently was Waterston's idea after she saw it on Ezra Miller in Fantastic Beasts. It's a maneuver as silly and pointless as most of the actual plot of the movie.

The crew has a moronic captain (completely wasted Billy Crudup) who in spite of being responsible for the lives of several thousands people thinks the distress call from shady as fuck planet is a sign from God. Ship lands, crew gets out, monsters appear, crew dies and Fassbender lurks in the background armed with his innuendo-loaded flute. And why is feral David's hair long? He is android. It's something so puzzling and then rendered completely pointless when few scenes after we are reintroduced to David he actually cuts his hair. What the hell were Ridley and the writers on? The only explanation for the hair thing I can think of is that when Scott closes his eyes he sees shirtless Fassbender, long hair blowing in the wind, sitting on a white horse. That would explain several things about Covenant.
I recognize the problems with logic in Prometheus but the crew there was genius comparing to this. Masks off on the suspicious planet, firing flamethrower indoors, not one but two hysterical scenes with person slipping on blood, sticking your face into alien eggs, following possibly insane robot through THE FIELD OF CORPSES to the CREEPY CITADEL only to give him info about your ship and ignoring his 'oh rly tell me more' expression.

There is more stuff here that is just embarrassing. The chestbuster scene almost works - retconning the incubation time and form of the creature aside - because of brilliant score by Jed Kurzel but the creature mimicking David is my early vote for the most embarrassing scene of the year. It's so on the nose it belongs in a parody, not in the actual Alien film. Especially not in the film made by the director of the original. It's utterly, humiliatingly embarrassing for Scott and embarrassing for a fan to witness. Remember how South Park parodied the recent Indiana Jones suggesting Spielberg and Lucas raped Indy? They could easily make that parody about Scott and his treatment of the Alien franchise now.
And of course I have to mention the instant classic in the so bad it's funny genre. The Android kung fu.

Covenant has several things going for it. The cinematography is good but then again even if everything else fails the cinematography in Scott's films is always good (unless it's The Counselor). The special effects are alright other than several annoying and too-much-of-CGI shots of Xenomorphs. The production design is good but it's not distinctive enough for Alien franchise (yet again). Every single one of the four first movies was filled with bizarre and disturbing stuff in set design, Prometheus could be excused for less creepy set since it focused on Engineers but there is no excuse here - David's laboratory of horrors is especially underwhelming and the only prop that looks awesome is infuriating for the reasons mentioned above.
The cast did a good job. Katherine Waterston is a great actress and her character strikes realistic balance of calm and heroic but again, we had good female protagonist in place and one who we get to know for entire movie last time in the franchise. There was no need for a new one. Danny McBride who is a great actor gets to show more range and delivers the best performance out of newcomers in the series. The problem is that no one there is given enough. Not one of those characters is developed enough for us to care when they die. Even the most annoying characters in Aliens were distinctive, this is just...forgettable in every way.

Scott has literally erased all traces of Prometheus but salvaged only David. Fassbender gets to play a double role here - of deranged David and of new robot, Walter. He is wonderful in the role(s) and technically the idea to make a prequel trilogy with villain as the protagonist and android set on destroying his creators is fascinating. The fact that it feels so derivative and so forgettable really shows you how terrible the script and execution is. None of this is on Fassbender - yet again Scott proves he is simply not worthy of Fassbender's talent. This could have been amazing but instead it's all so incredibly half-assed and it's awful watching Fassbender in yet another terrible movie.
Given the box office results Covenant is a massive flop. I am a huge fan of the Alien franchise. I love those movies. Hell, I even love the bizarre, grotesque Resurrection. But other than for Fassbender's work there is absolutely nothing rewatchable in this movie. I'm actually glad about the horrible box office results because maybe it means Scott won't get to another one. There is a misconception that Alien is Scott's and he can do with it as he pleases. This movie shows that this is not true at all. Alien is not great because it's Scott movie. It's great because of Giger's design. Because of Weaver's strong, amazing heroine. Because of great characters that don't act like idiots. Hopefully Scott's reign of terror on the Alien franchise is done and Fox is not gonna give him the chance to top this awfulness in whatever he has planned in third movie. Dozen Fassbenders braiding each other's puzzlingly long hair? Probably.

And Scott is also involved in Blade Runner sequel. Now that should worry all of us.

(Alien: Covenant, USA, 2017, 122 min)
Plot: The crew of a colony ship, bound for a remote planet, discover an uncharted paradise with a threat beyond their imagination, and must attempt a harrowing escape.
Director: Ridley Scott
Writers: Jack Paglen, Michael Green (story by) John Logan, Dante Harper (screenplay)
Stars: Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup
          I like my news like I like my coffee        
For a while I dated a guy who was a coffee snob. At first it was exciting. I learned about single origin, bean washing, organic blends, French presses, V-60 (not a venereal disease as originally suspected), espresso vs. expresso and why the water temperature has to be just so to extract the full flavor from every possible angle of a coffee ground.

Eventually his snobbery made it impossible to drink coffee from any shop EXCEPT those he deemed worthy, of which Starbucks was not on the list, and they were all at least 30 minutes from my house. So I stopped being excited.

Here’s the truth: I like my Mr. Coffee. I buy good beans, I grind enough for just one cup so it’s fresh and flavorful. But I’ll be damned if it takes me 20 minutes to get a cup of coffee ever again.
 
Lately I’ve noticed this is how I feel about my news.

Writers like to read and critique other writers. We gain immense satisfaction in pulling apart crappy reporting. Sadly, in the past 5 years, there has emerged a trend that crap wins. It’s all crappy reporting. It’s stupid, overdramatic, un-researched drivel.

I used to troll my favorite online sites, read magazines -- hell I even read the paper. And then I stopped. It was exciting for the first 15 years of my career. Now it just makes me sad.

I used to say, “When I was in journalism school, I learned how to research and fact check.” Now my expectations are that there is NO research or fact checking in the mainstream media. Any sign of a legitimate, fact-checked, well-researched article is like finding that whole bean that when ground and brewed has the perfect caramel/chocolate/nut taste with no bitterness, that when sipped makes you sigh and think, “damn that is good.”


This week I notice I read the way I like my coffee: I want a round story, a fluid tone with a hint of meaty reporting. NPR tells me stories. The Atlantic gives me that bold research. Gluten Free Girl steams with the best recipes. Bookslut delivers smart, tart book reviews. Rolling Stone grinds down the music. And there’s music. And music. And so much more music. 

My source for all of this, I’m not ashamed to say, is Twitter. As a writer, I should feel some contrition for using social media as a news feed. I should value my industry more and spend the time reading long articles about the failure of the Affordable Care Act website. But I don't. 

So I can sip, while I sip and Mr. Coffee percolates and my mornings are so much better now.

          Cafe Diary - Coffea Exlibris: Shimo-Kitazawa        
A charming cafe slightly off the main path in Shimokitazawa, Coffea Exlibris specializes in French press and is one of the best serious-coffee options in the area. The small interior is done up in a rustic-chic style with fresh-cut flowers at every table, and because it's quite popular you may end up sitting at a bench in front rather than at one of the tables.

Coffee drinkers can choose from Blend, Single Origin, and extra-fancy Grand Cru. The latter two options are accompanied by small postcards describing the farms that the beans come from, with photographs of the farmers, notes on the geography and growing conditions of the farms and evocative artwork.

The cafe features beans from farms in Costa Rica, Honduras, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Indonesia, Brazil, and Panama, with helpful English-language taste profiles for each option. The beans used in blend coffees can vary according to the season.

They also have reasonably sized and priced pastries to enjoy alongside your drink.

I ordered the excellent Guatemala Single Origin, described as having a smooth flavor with hints of chocolate and cocoa, and a Moka Roll with raisins. The coffee was superb, without any hint of sourness or unpleasant bitterness, and the pastry complemented it surprisingly well. Prices are on the higher end but not unreasonably so - coffee on its own will be around 650 yen, and around 1000 yen with a pastry.
          Star Wars The Clone Wars (Nintendo GameCube) Review #40        

clone warsReleased: October 28th, 2002

Rated T: Violence.

Let's take a look at another GameCube title shall we? Yes, I think we shall.

Star Wars The Clone Wars puts your right in control of several Republic vehicles throughout the early span of the war. Starting off with the climax of "Attack Of The Clones", the single player campaign spans 16 missions, each one offering a pretty good amount of variety. You'll go from aerial based dogfights to assaulting enemy potions in a walker of a fighter tank to even slugging it out with battle droids on foot as either Mace Windu, Obi-Wan Kenobi or Anakin Skywalker. You aren't just going at it in massive battles though, there is an actual plot: Count Dooku has discovered a lost Sith artifact of incredible destructive power, and if he isn't stopped the Republic will stand little chance of winning the war. It's a slim story, but if you're even a slight fan of Star Wars it's enough to make you want to know what happens next.

Like I said about the massive battles, Clone Wars does a very good job of making you feel a part of huge, planet wide conflicts. While it's not as good looking as, say, Rogue Squadron II, there are still a ton of objects on screen in the midst of fighting. In addition to the large scale areas you do combat in, there are often masses of clones and droids on the ground, laser blasts going around everywhere and aircraft flying about overhead all have an aura of chaos  to it. When I was a little kid and I used to play this game all the time I was completely sucked into this intensity. But now that I'm older and I actually examine a game as I play it, it does pain to me to say that one of my favorite titles on the GC isn't as polished as it could be. in order to support all the stuff going on, for one reason or another, the graphics take a hit. Now it's not a bad looking game by any means; it actually looks good. Not great kind you, but a solid looking game. Textures are good, even if they are stretched in some areas, and I didn't encounter any glitches, save a random tank which always flies off into the side of a hill and vanishes for some reason. But the constant use of distance fog, more so than Rogue Squadron II, make me think the developers were either a bit rushed or they weren't sure how to fit their massive levels in correctly. Thankfully the fog does give you a good amount of draw before you see said fog, but there's still a lot of it.I also saw just two cases of very mild screen tearing, but only on some of the more intense moments during combat. There were also instances of some very minor frame-rate drop throughout. By minor i mean by like two or three frames, nothing which really stutters your screen but you still notice it.

The control portion is split into two types: vehicle and on foot. All of the vehicles control very similar. The A button fires your primary weapon, B uses your secondary and Y utilizes a unique special ability for each type( i.e., a short lived shield for the walkers, a speed boost for the tanks and special offensive weapons for the others. Both vehicles and on foot can be played from either a third person or a first person view, although third person looks less awkward. Pressing Z will let you zoom in to target enemies a far distance away, and the two shoulder buttons allow you to drift, turn your walker's turret, or alter your flight speed. Controlling all the vehicles is very smooth and the only hiccup I have with it is how there is now secure lock on function. If you're fighting in a mass of enemies and they all crowd up on you, say you want to take out the weaker guys first so they don't just destroy you easily, well you can't just focus fire on one guy at a time. Instead, your lock on indicator will automatically fix onto whichever enemy is closest to you/directly within your line of sight. It's not game breaking but easily annoying at times. Sprinkled throughout the levels are little upgrades you can find, from simple health increases to super blasters and invincibility. Though these two only last a short duration it is nice to see some arcade-like items in an action game. One last part of the vehicle combat is the inclusion of squad orders via the D-pad. Pressing up will cause your squad mates to attack your current target, pressing right will make them hold their ground and other things. It's just a small touch of strategy will really doesn't amount to much, but it certainly doesn't harm the experience.

What's odd about the control scheme here is just how off balance the on foot sections are. While there aren't very many of these, controlling a Jedi is not graceful by any means. They turn with the speed of a dead tank and the running animations just look...weird. It doesn't help that you're limited to only two kinds of lightsaber attacks and just one force ability. Yeah, the Jedi sections of the game suck.

Yes, the story is fun with unlockables and three different difficulty settings which provide some replay-ability. But the best half of the game is the split-screen multi-player. Here there are four different modes: control zone pits up to four players in a small vehicle battle over a small zone to score points, duel pits up to four players in a vehicles based deathmatch, arena has up to four players on the same side as either Jedi or vehicles going up against waves of increasingly difficult enemies and the best mode, conquest, has up to four players spit into two teams (Republic or CIS) as they build up small armies of either walkers or AAT's and battle it out to destroy each others base. My two younger siblings, our friends and I spent many hours waging digital war against each other in theses modes and enjoyed every second of it. Yes, the same few problems carry over from the single player, but it's still a ton of fun. My only new complaint is how overpowered the AAT is in conquest. It's main cannon, while it does take a while to charge up, can nearly blow away everything in a single hit and my siblings and I would have to make agreements not to just spam long range hits against the other player's base for a cheap win. Keeping this in mind, the combat is still tons of fun and intense. I loved it then and I love it now.

Sound design is well...Star Wars. What more do i have to say? The main theme is here, the Imperial March is here, laser blasts have unique sounds to each unit and explosions sound different based on how big they are. It's great! But about the voice acting...it's...meh. I'm pretty sure not a single original actor returned, so they had to get impersonators. this works, but most of the lines sound off tone, especially Anakin. There are also unbalanced speaking/music levels during gameplay, which gets annoying. Oh, one more thing. Lip-syncing pretty much doesn't exist. They try to properly talk, but their mouths just sort of fumble around.

As a whole, Star Wars The Clone Wars is a ton of fun. Yes, it has a few graphical flaws and a few gameplay flaws. But it's biggest problem is one which I haven't mentioned yet. While the story is fun and you do have several difficulty levels and secondary objectives, but can be beaten in less than four hours. -insert Angry Joe reference here- So it's a game which relies on the action of the multi-player to sustain it due to to short single player mode. This I really can't forgive.

I still love this game. The action is great. Blowing stuff in massive battles is awesome and it's STAR WARS. I know I've been looking at Star Wars games a lot lately, but don't worry all 20(?) of you who read these things. I'm working on other titles as I type.

Final score: (7.3/10)


          Re: `Venus Flytrap evolved step-by-step from Sundews ... evidence against Creation'        

AN

Thanks for your reply. But as is my longstanding policy which is stated on each of my blogs' front page, if I receive a private message on a topic covered by one of my blogs, I will usually respond via that blog, after removing the sender's personal identifying information.

[Right (click to enlarge): Illustration of the Venus Flytrap (Dionaea muscipula) from Curtis's Botanical Magazine: Wikipedia]

Your words are bold to distinguish them from mine. Brief quotes are linked to full quotes near the end of the post.

----- Original Message -----
From: AN
To: Stephen E. Jones
Sent: Sunday, March 07, 2010 2:20 AM
Subject: Re: Venus' Flytrap

Thanks for your reply Stephen. I see from your website you seek explanation for carnivorous plant evolution.

Presumably you are referring to my 2007 post, "Re: Carnivorous plants as `Behe's mousetrap' #1" (there was no #2) and/or my 2006 web page "Problems of Evolution: 12. Plants: Carnivorous plants"? In each my request was for "a detailed, step-by-step, Darwinian explanation of how the natural selection of random micromutations produced the ... Venus flytrap":

"I would like to see a detailed, step-by-step, Darwinian explanation of how the natural selection of random micromutations produced the elaborate traps of carnivorous plants, like the pitcher plant and the Venus flytrap. But I suspect there are none, because if there were, the Darwinists would not waste there time on peppered moths and finch beaks! Like Behe's mousetrap, all these parts are needed to be working together simultaneously as a coordinated system to catch insects."

And as for "evolution," I am persuaded by the evidence, both scientific and Biblical, that "evolution," i.e. "the standard scientific theory that `human beings [and all other living things] have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God had no part in this process"(my emphasis):

"... perhaps we should not be surprised at the results of a 2001 Gallup poll confirming that 45 percent of Americans believe `God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so'; 37 percent prefer a blended belief that `human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God guided this process'; and a paltry 12 percent accept the standard scientific theory that `human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God had no part in this process.'" (Shermer, M.B., 2002, "The Gradual Illumination of the Mind," Scientific American, February. My emphasis)

is false and the true explanation of life's origin and development is my General Theory of Progressive Mediate Creation, i.e."that God created the raw materials of the universe immediately from out-of-nothing, and thereafter He created mediately by working (both naturally and supernaturally) through natural processes and existing materials."

This is my specialty. Venus' Flytrap evolved step-by-step from Sundews (Drosera sp.) as confirmed by gene sequencing.

You commit the fallacies of Equivocation and Begging the question by claiming that "Venus' Flytrap evolved ... from Sundews" when all "gene sequencing" can show is they shared a common ancestor, which is not necessarily evolution. As both Darwin and Dawkins admitted, God could have supernaturally intervened at links in the chains of common descent, in which case it would not be "evolution at all" (my emphasis):

"Darwin ... wrote in a letter to Sir Charles Lyell, the leading geologist of his day: `If I were convinced that I required such additions to the theory of natural selection, I would reject it as rubbish...I would give nothing for the theory of Natural selection, if it requires miraculous additions at any one stage of descent.' .... For Darwin, any evolution that had to be helped over the jumps by God was not evolution at all." (Dawkins, R., 1986, "The Blind Watchmaker, pp.248-249. My emphasis).

but a form of "divine creation" (my emphasis):

"... many theologians ... smuggle God in by the back door: they allow him some sort of supervisory role over the course that evolution has taken ... influencing key moments in evolutionary history ... In short, divine creation, whether instantaneous or in the form of guided evolution, joins the list of other theories we have considered in this chapter." (Dawkins, 1986, pp.316-317. My emphasis).

And since I accept Universal Common Ancestry (see my "Why I (a Creationist) Accept Common Ancestry (Not Evolution)" I have no problem if Venus Flytrap shared a common ancestor with Sundews (Drosera sp.). Nevertheless, according to Wikipedia, "Scientists are currently unsure about the evolutionary history of the Venus flytrap" and have only "made hypotheses that the flytrap evolved from Drosera (sundews)":

"The edges of the lobes are fringed by stiff hair-like protrusions or cilia, which mesh together and prevent large prey from escaping. (These protrusions, and the trigger hairs, also known as sensitive hairs, are probably homologous with the tentacles found in this plant's close relatives, the sundews.) Scientists are currently unsure about the evolutionary history of the Venus flytrap; however scientists have made hypotheses that the flytrap evolved from Drosera (sundews)." ("Venus Flytrap: Description," Wikipedia, 3 March 2010 ).

There is certainly no sudden appearance of irreducible complexity here.

You are (as is typical with evolutionists in my experience), confusing common ancestry with "irreducible complexity." But the founder of the modern Theory of Irreducible Complexity, Prof. Michael Behe, accepts "the idea of common descent (that all organisms share a common ancestor)":

"For the record, I have no reason to doubt that the universe is the billions of years old that physicists say it is. Further, I find the idea of common descent (that all organisms share a common ancestor) fairly convincing, and have no particular reason to doubt it." (Behe, M.J., 2006, "Darwin's Black Box," pp.5-6).

and has pointed out (as the did the then world's leading Darwinist, the late Ernst Mayr) that the relationship of common ancestry is not the same as Darwinism mechanism of the natural selection of random mutations:

"Discrimination among his various theories has not been helped by the fact that Darwin ... in ... the Origin and that he ascribed many phenomena ... to natural selection when they were really the consequences of common descent. ... I have partitioned Darwin's evolutionary paradigm into five theories ... . (2) Common descent. This is the theory that every group of organisms descended from a common ancestor ... (5) Natural selection. According to this theory .... The relatively few individuals who survive, owing to a particularly well-adapted combination of inheritable characters, give rise to the next generation. ... someone might claim that indeed these five theories are a logically inseparable package and that Darwin was quite correct in treating them as such. This claim, however, is refuted by the fact ... that most evolutionists in the immediate post-1859 period-that is, authors who had accepted the first theory- rejected one or several of Darwin's other four theories. This shows that the five theories are not one indivisible whole." (Mayr, E.W , 1991, "One Long Argument," pp.36-37).

Therefore, "evidence of common descent is not evidence of natural selection" and so "knowledge of the sequence ... of relevant proteins [and DNA]... is by itself insufficient to justify a claim that evolution of a particular complex system occurred by natural selection":

"... EVIDENCE OF COMMON DESCENT IS NOT EVIDENCE OF NATURAL SELECTION. Homologies among proteins (or organisms) are the evidence for descent with modification ... Natural selection, however, is a ... mechanism - and so must be supported by other evidence if the question is not to be begged. This, of course, is a well-known distinction (Mayr 1991). Yet ... the distinction is often overlooked. ... knowledge of the sequence, structure, and function of relevant proteins is by itself insufficient to justify a claim that evolution of a particular complex system occurred by natural selection. Gene duplication is not a Darwinian explanation because duplication points only to common descent, not to the mechanism of evolution." (Behe M.J., 2000, "In Defense of the Irreducibility of the Blood Clotting Cascade," July 31. Emphasis original.)

which is all that the Theory of Irreducible Complexity challenges:

"Darwin knew that his theory of gradual evolution by natural selection carried a heavy burden: `If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.' It is safe to say that most of the scientific skepticism about Darwinism in the past century has centered on this requirement. ... critics of Darwin have suspected that his criterion of failure had been met. But how can we be confident? What type of biological system could not be formed by `numerous, successive, slight modifications'? Well, for starters, a system that is irreducibly complex. By irreducibly complex, I mean a single system composed of several well-matched, interacting parts that contribute to the basic function, wherein the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning. An irreducibly complex system cannot be produced directly (that is, by continuously improving the initial function, which continues to work by the same mechanism) by slight, successive modifications of a precursor system, because any precursor to an irreducibly complex system that is missing a part is by definition nonfunctional. An irreducibly complex biological system, if there is such a thing, would be a powerful challenge to Darwinian evolution." (Behe, 2006, "Darwin's Black Box," p.39. Emphasis original).

The trap of VFT is actually less complex than that of Drosera.

That only means it has less parts. But having less parts, is actually supportive of Irreducible Complexity, as Behe's mousetrap example illustrates:

"An irreducibly complex object will be composed of several parts, all of which contribute to the function. To avoid the problems encountered with extremely complex objects ... I will begin with a simple mechanical example: the humble mousetrap. ... [which] consist of a number of parts ... (1) a flat wooden platform to act as a base; (2) a metal hammer, which does the actual job of crushing the little mouse; (3) a spring with extended ends to press against the platform and the hammer when the trap is charged; (4) a sensitive catch that releases when slight pressure is applied, and (5) a metal bar that connects to the catch and holds the hammer back when the trap is charged. (There are also assorted staples to hold the system together.) The second step in determining if a system is irreducibly complex is to ask if all the components are required for the function. In this example, the answer is clearly yes. .... If the wooden base were gone, there would be no platform for attaching the other components. If the hammer were gone, the mouse could dance all night on the platform without becoming pinned to the wooden base. If there were no spring, the hammer and platform would jangle loosely, and again the rodent would be unimpeded. If there were no catch or metal holding bar, then the spring would snap the hammer shut as soon as you let go of it; in order to use a trap like that you would have to chase the mouse around while holding the trap open."(Behe, 2006, "Darwin's Black Box," p.42).

So, this case is actually more evidence against Creation.

Thanks for showing by your "against Creation" that like Darwin your primary motivation is not scientific but religious, i.e. anti-religious

"I may be permitted to say, as some excuse, that I had two distinct objects in view; firstly, to shew that species had not been separately created, and secondly, that natural selection had been the chief agent of change ... ... hence if I have erred in giving to natural selection great power ... or in having exaggerated its power, which is in itself probable, I have at least, as I hope, done good service in aiding to overthrow the dogma of separate creations." (Darwin, C.R., 1874, "The Descent of Man," p.92. My emphasis).

Also you are also committing the fallacy of Circular Reasoning. That is, you assumed "evolution" in the premises of your argument that "Venus' Flytrap evolved step-by-step from Sundews" and then you concluded that this is "evidence against Creation."

Hope that helps. Please ask if you have any further questions. ~AN

Thanks, but it did not help, except to give me something to blog about! Yours is just the same old Darwinist anti-Christian, "deceiving and being deceived" (2Tim 3:13), "powerful delusion" (2Th 2:11), due to your mind having been taken "captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on ... the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ" (Col 2:8), namely "Naturalism ... the metaphysical position that `nature is all there is ...'," that I experienced in my ~11 years of debating evolutionists between 1993-2005.

Only when you can actually cite in a peer-reviewed scientific journal a fully documented and detailed explanation of how exactly "Venus' Flytrap evolved step-by-step from Sundews (Drosera sp.)" by the natural selection of random micromutations would you have shown that the Venus Flytrap is not irreducibly complex.

Stephen E. Jones, BSc. (Biology).
My other blogs: The Shroud of Turin & Jesus is Jehovah!


"The predicament is easily resolved when a critical point is recalled: EVIDENCE OF COMMON DESCENT IS NOT EVIDENCE OF NATURAL SELECTION. Homologies among proteins (or organisms) are the evidence for descent with modification - that is, for evolution. Natural selection, however, is a proposed explanation for how evolution might take place - its mechanism - and so must be supported by other evidence if the question is not to be begged. This, of course, is a well-known distinction (Mayr 1991). Yet, from reviewers' responses to my book, the distinction is often overlooked. Knowledge of homology is certainly very useful, can give us a good idea of the path of descent, and can constrain our hypotheses. Nonetheless, knowledge of the sequence, structure, and function of relevant proteins is by itself insufficient to justify a claim that evolution of a particular complex system occurred by natural selection. Gene duplication is not a Darwinian explanation because duplication points only to common descent, not to the mechanism of evolution." (Behe M.J., 2000, "In Defense of the Irreducibility of the Blood Clotting Cascade: Response to Russell Doolittle, Ken Miller and Keith Robison," Discovery Institute, July 31. Emphasis original.)

"Evolution is a controversial topic, so it is necessary to address a few basic questions at the beginning of the book. Many people think that questioning Darwinian evolution must be equivalent to espousing creationism. As commonly understood, creationism involves belief in an earth formed only about ten thousand years ago, an interpretation of the Bible that is still very popular. For the record, I have no reason to doubt that the universe is the billions of years old that physicists say it is. Further, I find the idea of common descent (that all organisms share a common ancestor) fairly convincing, and have no particular reason to doubt it. I greatly respect the work of my colleagues who study the development and behavior of organisms within an evolutionary framework, and I think that evolutionary biologists have contributed enormously to our understanding of the world. Although Darwin's mechanism-natural selection working on variation-might explain many things, however, I do not believe it explains molecular life. I also do not think it surprising that the new science of the very small might change the way we view the less small." (Behe, M.J., 2006, "Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution," [1996], Free Press: New York NY, 10th Anniversary Edition, pp.5-6).

"," Darwin knew that his theory of gradual evolution by natural selection carried a heavy burden: `If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.' [Darwin, C., 1872, "Origin of Species", 6th ed., New York University Press: New York, 1988, p.154]. It is safe to say that most of the scientific skepticism about Darwinism in the past century has centered on this requirement. From Mivart's concern over the incipient stages of new structures to Margulis's dismissal of gradual evolution, critics of Darwin have suspected that his criterion of failure had been met. But how can we be confident? What type of biological system could not be formed by `numerous, successive, slight modifications'? Well, for starters, a system that is irreducibly complex. By irreducibly complex, I mean a single system composed of several well-matched, interacting parts that contribute to the basic function, wherein the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning. An irreducibly complex system cannot be produced directly (that is, by continuously improving the initial function, which continues to work by the same mechanism) by slight, successive modifications of a precursor system, because any precursor to an irreducibly complex system that is missing a part is by definition nonfunctional. An irreducibly complex biological system, if there is such a thing, would be a powerful challenge to Darwinian evolution. Since natural selection can only choose systems that are already working then if a biological system cannot be produced gradually it would have to arise as an integrated unit, in one fell swoop, for natural selection to have anything to act on." (Behe, M.J., 2006, "Darwin's Black Box, p.39. Emphasis original).

"The first step in determining irreducible complexity is to specify both the function of the system and all system components. An irreducibly complex object will be composed of several parts, all of which contribute to the function. To avoid the problems encountered with extremely complex objects (such as eyes, beetles, or other multicellular biological systems) I will begin with a simple mechanical example: the humble mousetrap. The function of a mousetrap is to immobilize a mouse so that it can't perform such unfriendly acts as chewing through sacks of flour or electrical cords, or leaving little reminders of its presence in unswept comers. The mousetraps that my family uses consist of a number of parts (Figure 2-2): (1) a flat wooden platform to act as a base; (2) a metal hammer, which does the actual job of crushing the little mouse; (3) a spring with extended ends to press against the platform and the hammer when the trap is charged; (4) a sensitive catch that releases when slight pressure is applied, and (5) a metal bar that connects to the catch and holds the hammer back when the trap is charged. (There are also assorted staples to hold the system together.) The second step in determining if a system is irreducibly complex is to ask if all the components are required for the function. In this example, the answer is clearly yes. Suppose that while reading one evening, you hear the patter of little feet in the pantry, and you go to the utility drawer to get a mousetrap. Unfortunately, due to faulty manufacture, the trap is missing one of the parts listed above. Which part could be missing and still allow you to catch a mouse? If the wooden base were gone, there would be no platform for attaching the other components. If the hammer were gone, the mouse could dance all night on the platform without becoming pinned to the wooden base. If there were no spring, the hammer and platform would jangle loosely, and again the rodent would be unimpeded. If there were no catch or metal holding bar, then the spring would snap the hammer shut as soon as you let go of it; in order to use a trap like that you would have to chase the mouse around while holding the trap open." (Behe, M.J., 2006, "Darwin's Black Box," p.42).

"I may be permitted to say, as some excuse, that I had two distinct objects in view; firstly, to shew that species had not been separately created, and secondly, that natural selection had been the chief agent of change, though largely aided by the inherited effects of habit, and slightly by the direct action of the surrounding conditions. I was not, however, able to annul the influence of my former belief, then almost universal, that each species had been purposely created; and this led to my tacit assumption that every detail of structure, excepting rudiments, was of some special, though unrecognised, service. Any one with this assumption in his mind would naturally extend too far the action of natural selection, either during past or present times. Some of those who admit the principle of evolution, but reject natural selection, seem to forget, when criticizing my book [The Origin of Species], that I had the above two objects in view; hence if I have erred in giving to natural selection great power, which I am very far from admitting, or in having exaggerated its power, which is in itself probable, I have at least, as I hope, done good service in aiding to overthrow the dogma of separate creations." (Darwin, C.R., 1874., "The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex," [1871], John Murray: London, Second edition, Reprinted, 1922, p.92).

"Darwin ... wrote in a letter to Sir Charles Lyell, the leading geologist of his day: `If I were convinced that I required such additions to the theory of natural selection, I would reject it as rubbish...I would give nothing for the theory of Natural selection, if it requires miraculous additions at any one stage of descent.' [Darwin, C.R., Letter to C. Lyell, October 11, 1859, in Darwin, F., ed., "The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin," [1898], Basic Books: New York NY, Vol. II., 1959, reprint, pp.6-7]. This is no petty matter. In Darwin's view, the whole point of the theory of evolution by natural selection was that it provided a non- miraculous account of the existence of complex adaptations. For what it is worth, it is also the whole point of this book. For Darwin, any evolution that had to be helped over the jumps by God was not evolution at all." (Dawkins, R., 1986, "The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design," W.W. Norton & Co: New York NY, pp.248-249).

"At first sight there is an important distinction to be made between what might be called 'instantaneous creation' and 'guided evolution'. Modern theologians of any sophistication have given up believing in instantaneous creation. ... many theologians ... smuggle God in by the back door: they allow him some sort of supervisory role over the course that evolution has taken, either influencing key moments in evolutionary history (especially, of course, human evolutionary history), or even meddling more comprehensively in the day-to-day events that add up to evolutionary change. ... In short, divine creation, whether instantaneous or in the form of guided evolution, joins the list of other theories we have considered in this chapter." (Dawkins, 1986, pp.316-317).

"Discrimination among his various theories has not been helped by the fact that Darwin treated speciation under natural selection in ... the Origin and that he ascribed many phenomena, particularly those of geographic distribution, to natural selection when they were really the consequences of common descent. Under the circumstances I consider it necessary to dissect Darwin's conceptual framework of evolution into a number of major theories that formed the basis of his evolutionary thinking. For the sake of convenience I have partitioned Darwin's evolutionary paradigm into five theories, but of course others might prefer a different division. The selected theories are by no means all of Darwin's evolutionary theories; others were, for instance, sexual selection, pangenesis, effect of use and disuse, and character divergence. However, when later authors referred to Darwin's theory they invariably had a combination of some of the following five theories in mind: (1) Evolution as such. This is the theory that the world is not constant nor recently created nor perpetually cycling but rather is steadily changing and that organisms are transformed in time. (2) Common descent. This is the theory that every group of organisms descended from a common ancestor and that all groups of organisms, including animals, plants, and microorganisms, ultimately go back to a single origin of life on earth. (3) Multiplication of species. This theory explains the origin of the enormous organic diversity. It postulates that species multiply, either by splitting into daughter species or by "budding," that is, by the establishment of geographically isolated founder populations that evolve into new species. (4) Gradualism. According to this theory, evolutionary change takes place through the gradual change of populations and not by the sudden (saltational) production of new individuals that represent a new type. (5) Natural selection. According to this theory, evolutionary change comes about through the abundant production of genetic variation in every generation. The relatively few individuals who survive, owing to a particularly well-adapted combination of inheritable characters, give rise to the next generation. For Darwin himself these five theories were apparently a unity, and someone might claim that indeed these five theories are a logically inseparable package and that Darwin was quite correct in treating them as such. This claim, however, is refuted by the fact ... that most evolutionists in the immediate post-1859 period-that is, authors who had accepted the first theory- rejected one or several of Darwin's other four theories. This shows that the five theories are not one indivisible whole." (Mayr, E.W , 1991, "One Long Argument: Charles Darwin and the Genesis of Modern Evolutionary Thought," Harvard University Press: Cambridge, MA, pp.36-37).

"In one of the most existentially penetrating statements ever made by a scientist, Richard Dawkins concluded that `the universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.' Facing such a reality, perhaps we should not be surprised at the results of a 2001 Gallup poll confirming that 45 percent of Americans believe `God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so'; 37 percent prefer a blended belief that `human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God guided this process'; and a paltry 12 percent accept the standard scientific theory that `human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God had no part in this process.'" (Shermer, M.B., "The Gradual Illumination of the Mind," Scientific American, February 2002. My emphasis)


          Rancilio Silvia - The Top 5 Tips to Get the Most From Miss Silvia        

Owner will agree that no matter which machine you use, is inevitably a "get to know each other," I think every machine, espresso coffee at home, during the trial and error is only part of the process. Each engine works differently and spend some time to find the right settings and operating procedures to enjoy an espresso pays in the long run. The Rancilio Silvia is no exception.

Although the Rancilio Silvia is aincredibly popular home machine, it relies heavily on its operator to produce outstanding espresso. This is certainly part of the beauty of its simplicity, but it can be a bit frustrating if it's your first home espresso machine.

After owning my Silvia for three years, let me save you some time and energy here. These are the top 5 tips that I've found help me to get the most (and best tasting espresso) out of my Rancilio Silvia.

Use a timer

I've been using a timer since I purchased my machine, and it works wonders. The durable construction of the Rancilio Silvia includes quite a bit of steel and a heavy duty boiler. Even the group head on this machine is incredibly solid. Ideally, the Silvia should warm up for 30 to 60 minutes. I use my machine at 5:30 or 6:00am, and I'm certainly not waking up early to turn the machine on. Using a simple Brinks outlet timer, I'm able to set the outlet in which Silvia is plugged into to turn on about half an hour before I wake up. By the time I'm, ready to make coffee, she's all warmed up.

Temperature surfing

There are many theories on how best to regulate the brewing temperature of the Rancilio Silvia, with many owners going so far as to install aftermarket industrial control modules (known as PID's) to micro-regulate the boiler temperature. It's a technique that's more complicated than most of us need in order to produce espresso, so I find "temperature surfing" to be the next best thing. After letting the machine warm up completely, simply run water through the portafilter until the orange "heating" light comes on. Turn off the pump and let the machine warm to the point where the orange light shuts off. Wait about 30 seconds and then pull your shot. That's easy, right?

Use freshly roasted beans

Alright, so this is good advice for any machine, but it is always worth repeating. If at all possible, use an espresso blend or the single origin bean of your choice that has been roasted within the last 5 to 10 days for optimal espresso extraction.

Use the right grinder

Everyone has a favorite grinder in addition to their espresso machine, however, many low end burr grinders really will not grind finely enough for the Rancilio Silvia. You'll especially notice this as The grains to move past the roast date. Espresso machine if you plan to spend $ 600 to $ 700 a side, first make sure you do not go for investments, most of this unless you plan to spend about $ 300 right on a mill. The classic combination is the pairing with Silvia Rancilio Rocky. I'm with its combination of two years and it works great.

Pulling a shot calibration

Every time you start a new round of roastbeans, you should be pulling a "throw away" calibration shot. Each batch of beans will require a slightly different grinder setting and tamping pressure and the odds of you getting this right on your first shot are slim to none. Just take a step back, consider that you're always going to waste a few grams of your beans in getting the grind and tamp dialed in, and see what setting work best for that batch of beans.

I hope these tips are helpful in enhancing your Silvia experience. Follow 5 of these guidelines and you'll get the time, all expressed a high degree by this machine.

Visit : Jura-Capresso 13339


          Coffee Lovers Thread        
Hi, i didn't see any thread on coffee making method. Hence i would like to start one here. Been a addicted to Melbourne coffee since i am back from there. They seriosly having a stong coffee culture there. Love love love their latte. The creama is perfectly there. Espresso in the other hand are an eye opener there. To cut the crap, here to share my method of brewing my own cup of coffee.. Btw, i am using I using the following bean. Proud Mary Angel Wing (Hse blend), Seven seeds single origin ...
          æœ¬å½“に美味しい世界の有名な紅茶の人気ブランドまとめ・一覧 〜上品な味と香りをもつ評判の高い高級茶葉を扱う銘柄〜        
以前の記事で様々な紅茶の種類と等級(グレード)について紹介しました。 参考記事:紅茶の種類・等級(グレード)まとめ・一覧 – 生産地、茶葉、香りづけ、ブレンド、グレード・等級による紅茶選び 〜ストレート(Straight)・シングルオリジン(Single Origin)、フレーバーティー(Flavored Tea)、ブレンドティー(Blend Tea)、紅茶のグレード・等級(Grades of Tea)〜 参考記事:紅茶の等級・グレード(Grades of Tea)の意味・読み方まとめ・一覧 〜茶葉の部位、特徴の形容、加工方法(カット加工)による分類と代表例〜 このように紅茶の茶葉には多くの種類や等級(グレード)がありますが、これらの様々な紅茶の茶葉を扱うブランドにもそれぞれの歴史と個性的な特徴や茶葉に対するこだわりがあります。 今回はそんな数ある紅茶のブランドから歴史ある老舗から最先端の新店まで特に人気のある紅茶の銘柄を紹介します。 本当に美味しい世界の有名な紅茶の人気ブランドまとめ・一覧 〜上品な味と香りをもつ評判の高い高級茶葉を扱う銘柄〜 イギリス(英国)の高級紅茶有名ブランド AHMAD TEA(アーマッド ティー) 1953年にアーマッド・アフシャーが創業 「高品質・良心価格」の基本理念を掲げている 1980年代に大衆向け缶入りアーマッドティーブランドを発売 2014年には世界約80か国以上で愛飲されている 自然界の二酸化炭素を利用してカフェインを取り除いた「デカフェアールグレイ」が人気 AHMAD TEA(アーマッド ティー)商品一覧 AHMAD TEA(アーマッド ティー) 取扱店一覧 AHMAD TEA デカフェアールグレイ (2g×100pc) 200g Fortnum & Mason(フォートナム&メイソン) 1707年にウィリアム・フォートナムとヒュー・メイソンが創業 国際的に認知度が高く、150年以上イギリス王室から王室御用達として認定されている 食料雑貨店を源流にもつ総合百貨店であるが紅茶が特に有名 アッサムティーである「ブレックファスト」が有名 Fortnum & Mason(フォートナム&メイソン)商品一覧 Fortnum & Mason(フォートナム&メイソン)取扱店一覧 フォートナム&メイソン ブレックファスト ブレンド リーフ 1缶(250g) Harrods(ハロッズ) 1834年にチャールズ・ヘンリー・ハロッドが創業 創業当初の食品雑貨店から紅茶を中心に取り扱っている 現在ではロンドンの最大級の高級百貨店となっている 様々な菓子と相性の良い「ハロッズブレンドNo.14」が有名 Harrods(ハロッズ)商品一覧 Harrods(ハロッズ)取扱店一覧 英国 Harrods (ハロッズ) No.14 イングリッシュ・ブレックファスト 紅茶...
          Tall, Dark, and VEGAN Nib Brownies Recipe        
These Tall, Dark, and VEGAN Nib Brownies are dense and full of rich authentic chocolate flavor with the satisfying crunch of nutty cacao nibs. And that beautiful dark color? It's complimented by a texture that is a fine line between chewy and gooey!

Momma Told Me: Like a tall cup of coffee.

If you've ever heard the flirty phrase, "Tall, Dark, and Strong" in reference to coffee and men, then you'll know exactly where I'm going with today's recipe. Chocolate, much like coffee, actually has a lot in common. In fact, there are many cultures where cacao beans have long been roasted and served as beverages at times of festival and to guests of great honor. And Cacao Nibs, the coffee bean of chocolate is are widely regarded as nature's chocolate chip.

Nibs, dried and fermented cacao beans are rich in bitter cacao flavor and have a wonderful nutty crunch that is extremely addictive to an elevated palette. You can't call yourself a true chocolate lover without having tried Cacao Nibs at some point.
For baking, sweet nibs are sold lightly coated in coconut sugar. For snacking you'll find some of the world's more exclusive bean-to-bar chocolate bars with nibs nestled inside, or simply chocolate coated nibs. And, if you're simply a fan of raw chocolate, you can enjoy whole cacao beans sourced from the rarest single origin growers, sold in the pod, as fresh as the flavor experience gets.

But Cacao Nibs aren't for everyone. They truly have a much more Earthy, 'raw cocoa' flavor that is quite reminiscent of coffee with nutty notes and textures. They're playful crunch and snap makes them a wonderful addition to any recipe when seeking texture.Since they are typically bitter you will often want to use a Sweet Nib product when baking, or consider replacing nuts in a recipe for plain raw nibs. Personally, I enjoy sprinkling sweetened nibs directly onto a scoop of Vanilla Bean ice cream!
These Tall, Dark, and VEGAN Nib Brownies are dense and full of rich authentic chocolate flavor with the satisfying crunch of nutty cacao nibs. And that beautiful dark color? It's complimented by a texture that is a fine line between chewy and gooey!
Of course Nibs are the heart of chocolate, their origin, so I've chosen to share a delicious Vegan brownie recipe that is perhaps more indulgent, and more brownie, than any non Vegan recipe I've ever tried. Don't worry, if you're not Vegan, there are no expensive or fancy replacement ingredients outside of the Nibs and a high quality Cocoa Powder. The more you invest in your Cacao ingredients on this one the richer the flavor experience will be. These are NOT intended to be your typical Hershey's brownies.
These Tall, Dark, and VEGAN Nib Brownies are dense and full of rich authentic chocolate flavor with the satisfying crunch of nutty cacao nibs. And that beautiful dark color? It's complimented by a texture that is a fine line between chewy and gooey!
Expect these brownie to be dense, but not gooey or sticky. The photos showcase the wonderful texture of these brownies beautifully but I promise they are not under-cooked, or even messy to enjoy. There's even a bit of chew to compliment the crunch of the nibs- like a great brownie should have. And the color? Well, that's all cacao baby. Best of all, because of the high focus on traditional flavors, instead of sweetened or processed ingredients, these brownies aren't over-indulgent by any means. You will want to enjoy them with a tall glass of Coconut Milk, but your palette won't be feeling weighed down by the shock of sickly sweet. Just take my word- these are definitely worth the try!

What Daughter Says: True chocolate flavor is intense, rich, and full of origin flavors. Nibs are the flavor chocolate is steeped in.



These Tall, Dark, and VEGAN Nib Brownies are dense and full of rich authentic chocolate flavor with the satisfying crunch of nutty cacao nibs. And that beautiful dark color? It's complimented by a texture that is a fine line between chewy and gooey!
Tall, Dark, and VEGAN Nib Brownies
****Click here for the printable Vegan Nib Brownies recipe
Ingredients:

1/2 C Earth Balance Vegan Butter
1 C Granulated Sugar
1/3 C Unsweetened Dark Cocoa Powder
4oz Dairy Free Dark Baking Chocolate (**See our best Vegan suggestions at the bottom)
1/4 TSP Salt
1/2 TSP Vanilla Extract
2 TBS White Vinegar + 2 TSP Baking Soda (2 Egg Substitute)
1/2 C All Purpose Flour
1/2 C Sweetened Cacao Nibs ***

Directions:
Preheat Oven to 325F

1. Line an 8" x 8" baking dish with parchment paper.

2. In a small saucepan over medium heat combine Vegan butter, sugar, cocoa, chocolate and salt. Stir constantly to ensure everything melts evenly. When well combined remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Allow to cool for 5 MINS.

3. Pour the egg substitute mixture into the chocolate mixture and beat by hand  to combine well. Stir in flour just to mix. Gently stir in cacao nibs. Pour into prepared baking dish, gently smoothing to edges with a spatula. The mixture will be thick, wet, and sticky.

4. Bake for 30-35 MINS, until a toothpick inserted comes out dry. Do not overcook- some crumbs are fine so long as the toothpick is dry. Allow to cool in pan 10 MINS then lift to remove and cool on wire rack for another 10-15 MINS. Cut, serve, and enjoy.


**Lindt Excellence Dark Chocolate in 90% or 99%, Ghirardelli Chocolate Intense 72% Dark Chocolate Bar, or Trader Joe's Pound Plus Bars in 72% Dark Chocolate

***For a little extra sweetness try Sweetriot's 70% Dark Chocolate Covered Cacao Nibs
          Dr. Michael T. Murray        
About Dr. Michael T. Murray:

Dr. Murray is one of the world's leading authorities on natural medicine. He has published over 30 books on health-related topics, and his research into the health benefits of proper nutrition is the foundation for a best-selling line of vitamins and supplements at Natural Factors, where he is Director of Product Development. He is a graduate, faculty member, and serves on the Board of Regents of Bastyr University in Seattle, Washington.


About Good Cacao®:

Good Cacao® is the world's first Organic Superfood Chocolate®. Our bars are hand-made and sealed in a plant-based biodegradable film, then wrapped in recycled, FSC Certified envelope. Our Good Cacao® line has been carefully developed using well-known, whole-food organic ingredients from around the world such as: Raw Ecuadorian Cacao, Peruvian Lucuma and Maca, Brazilian Cupuacu, African Baobab, Madagascar Vanilla Beans, and more. We begin our process with USDA Organic, Rainforest Alliance Certified, and Single Origin Ecuadorian 70% Cacao. Our chocolatiers temper the rich dark chocolate - heating and cooling it until we are ready to blend over 16 superfoods into our chocolate base. We then add our evidence-based and patented nutraceuticals such as CocoaNOURISH®, Fuji AstaREAL®, Martek life'sDHA®, Biothera Wellmune®, DSM FruitFlow®, and Ganeden BC30® Pro-Biotic - the result is a deliciously complex and socially responsible Functional Chocolate®.

Dr. Murray's Cacao bar is one of the best's on the market.  It's one of the best gift giving items that I have.  Who doesn't need their chocolate.  

InvestingInHealth.com - KimMarie Spacy


          Dr. Michael T. Murray on GOOD Cacao (Best)        
About Dr. Michael T. Murray:

Dr. Murray is one of the world's leading authorities on natural medicine. He has published over 30 books on health-related topics, and his research into the health benefits of proper nutrition is the foundation for a best-selling line of vitamins and supplements at Natural Factors, where he is Director of Product Development. He is a graduate, faculty member, and serves on the Board of Regents of Bastyr University in Seattle, Washington.


About Good Cacao®: 

Good Cacao® is the world's first Organic Superfood Chocolate®. Our bars are hand-made and sealed in a plant-based biodegradable film, then wrapped in recycled, FSC Certified envelope. Our Good Cacao® line has been carefully developed using well-known, whole-food organic ingredients from around the world such as: Raw Ecuadorian Cacao, Peruvian Lucuma and Maca, Brazilian Cupuacu, African Baobab, Madagascar Vanilla Beans, and more. We begin our process with USDA Organic, Rainforest Alliance Certified, and Single Origin Ecuadorian 70% Cacao. Our chocolatiers temper the rich dark chocolate - heating and cooling it until we are ready to blend over 16 superfoods into our chocolate base. We then add our evidence-based and patented nutraceuticals such as CocoaNOURISH®, Fuji AstaREAL®, Martek life'sDHA®, Biothera Wellmune®, DSM FruitFlow®, and Ganeden BC30® Pro-Biotic - the result is a deliciously complex and socially responsible Functional Chocolate®.

Dr. Murray's Cacao bar is one of the best's on the market.  It's one of the best gift giving items that I have.  Who doesn't need their chocolate.  
Contact me,
 KimMarie for information: 


          Memphis to Dallas Road Trip        
For many years, I’ve had a goal to visit every state. It began when I was nine. I started collecting thimbles. When visiting Boston, I was in a store that sold a thimble for each state. I bought about eight from states I had never set foot in. At the register, the guy told me I had to promise to visit each state; I replied that I would. Sure, I'm the kind of person who accepts a challenge from a stranger, at the age of nine.

Since then I had been to all but five states. There was a cluster of states in the middle/south that I wasn’t sure how I was going to visit. Thus, I came up with a road trip from Memphis to Dallas, with a dip into Mississippi and Nebraska, that would allow me to visit four of my five remaining states. My mother, also on this fifty-state mission, but a few behind me, joined the bizarre road trip.

We started the trip with a flight to Memphis. I’ve been to Nashville and drove the entire state 
Clinton Library
east, through the Great Smoky Mountains to Asheville, on another road trip. I wanted to see Memphis; my mother wanted to go to Graceland. We went to Graceland, the Civil Rights Museum and the hotel where MLK was assassinated, ate some not great BBQ, found good coffee at City & State, and then drove to Little Rock. 

Memphis is a small city, “dark, dark in the daytime.” It’s tiny compared to Nashville and felt deserted. We drove a short fifteen minutes into Mississippi, so I could say I’ve been to Mississippi. I’ll revisit properly, at some point.

We spent one night in Little Rock. In the morning, I went out for coffee to an awesome spot: Mylo Coffee Co. They bake fantastic pastries in house. Then we went to the Clinton Library. My mother wanted to go and I wanted to see the building. Given the current political climate, I ended up feeling sad and dismayed that someone so accomplished and successful had run the country, and now, we are where we are. After the library, we went to a coffee shop for lunch and drove to Tulsa.

Tulsa is known for art deco buildings. It’s a gorgeous tiny city. I wanted to go to the Tulsa Art Deco Museum in the lobby of a building. To call it a museum is an exaggeration, but I took some pictures I can use in my history lectures. 

Then we drove north to Bartlesville to see Frank Lloyd Wright’s Price Tower, his only extant “skyscraper.” At nineteen floors, it’s a beautiful, odd FLLY building. My favorite part of being in his buildings is wandering around. He built tiny closets that often aren’t locked. I like to see how subsequent owners changed things to build modern bathrooms and AC systems. I like to see the light fixtures and the corners and the details. 

We took a tiny elevator to the top floor where there is a restaurant; the building is now a hotel. We had a drink at sunset on the top floor. There’s something about the energy of a FLLY structure. I feel better in them. I feel at ease. I think it’s the feeling of being inside something so intentionally built. Something that makes architectural and aesthetic sense. There’s a reason I based my first tattoo on a FLLY stained-glass window. Good design is good design. A rarity these days.

After the skyscraper, we drove twenty-minutes north to crossover into Nebraska. Again, I will make a real visit to Nebraska (no hurry), one day. We drove back to Tulsa to have dinner in a building we happened to find while walking around. The Vault Restaurant is an old bank that’s a mid-century modern heaven. Dinner wasn’t bad. I had a very Murakami-like conversation with a bartender, smoking a cigarette on the roof. It was something.

Crystal Bridges
Since Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is closed on Tuesdays, we had to backtrack from Oklahoma to Northeast Arkansas, Bentonville, to go to the museum the next day. The Museum is free and owned by Walmart. I have mixed feelings about Walmart owning so much art (so much of it not on display), but at least the museum is free. The architecture of the museum is unique. It’s built over a river, designed by Moshe Safdie. The way the water reflects onto the art, in the outside hallways around the galleries is very cool. Having viewed so much art, at this point, it has almost become about the surroundings and the architecture of the building in which the art is presented. There’s nothing like the old factory buildings of MASS MoCA, or the Campbell’s factory of DIA: Beacon, or basically, all of Marfa.

Before the museum we had breakfast at The Hive (very good) and I went to Onyx Coffee Lab for coffee. I grabbed a macchiato, a drip coffee, and two single origins. 

After the museum we had a long, long drive down to Dallas. I’d never been to Dallas/Fort 
Velvet Taco, Dallas
Worth. I’ve been to Austin, El Paso, Marfa, and Nacogdoches. DFW is a beast. An absolute beast of a sprawling city. Immediately, we went for tacos. I always joke that I only eat tacos in Texas and California; pretty much every taco outside of those states is a waste of time (save South Philly Barbacoa). I enjoyed the tacos at Velvet Taco; my mom, not so much. But fancy, carefully curated, Texas tacos are something a northerner might not necessarily enjoy.

The Kimbell, Louis Kahn
With a whole day in DFW, we over did it on the art. We went to The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, the Kimbell Art Museum next door, the Nasher Sculpture Center, and the Dallas Museum of Art. I love seeing art in cities that aren’t NYC. The museums aren’t busy, during the week at least, and the art is always unexpectedly fantastic. 

Again, the architecture of the FW Modern and Kimbell made it for me. Intentional concrete buildings. One of the Kimbell buildings was designed by Louis Kahn; it’s hard not to be in awe of it. The Nasher was very cool; being inside a sculpture garden in the downtown of a city is a stellar juxtaposition. I could have stayed there all day.

After overdosing on art, we went for BBQ. Lockhart Smokehouse. Years ago, I waited in line for five hours for Franklin BBQ in Austin. Yes, it remains the best BBQ I’ve ever had. I’d say, for only waiting five minutes, Lockhart was very, very good. My mother had never done the whole, here’s a bunch of meat wrapped in butcher paper, goodluck(!), thing. It was worth doing.

The road trip ended in Dallas. I added Mississippi, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Arkansas to my list of states. All that’s left is North Dakota. I’ll end up in Minneapolis, one of the last larger cities in the US I need to explore, and drive over to North Dakota. Then, I guess, I’ll have to move on to countries.

Graceland
Lorraine Motel, Memphis
Otherlands Coffee Bar, Memphis
City & State, Memphis
"I Am a Man," Lovelace, Marcellous (with BLK75), 2014, Memphis


Turrell, "The Way of Color," 2009, Crystal Bridges
FLLY, Price Tower, Bartlesville
Onyx Coffee Lab, Bentonville
Sol LeWitt, Crystal Bridges, Bentonville
Roxy Paine, "Conjoined," 2007, The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth
Flavin in the distance, The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth
KAWS, "CLEAN SLATE," 2014, The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth
Martin Puryear, "Ladder for Booker T. Washington," 1996, The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth
The Kimbell, Louis Kahn, Fort Worth
The Kimbell, Louis Kahn, Fort Worth
Nasher Sculpture Center, Richard Serra, Dallas
Dallas Museum of Art, Ellsworth Kelly
Lockhart Smokehouse, Dallas


          Comment on Peru bar renamed to San Martín by christopher carlson        
The San Martin is exceptional ! A huge berry pop and a dusty, rosy linger ...i am so happy you are providing Gryphon Cafe - now i don't have to drive to the Meadows in NYC ! Potomac just leaps over so many of the single origin bars ...
          H.L. Mencken: A Voice for Our Times        

H. L. Mencken
H.L Mencken
Lately, I have been rereading the writings of Henry Louis Mencken (1880-1956) and continue to find him as complex and infuriating as I did when I taught him in my American/Canadian Literature classes. We could do with his wit and wisdom today.


Mencken was a major American voice of the 20‘s as an newspaperman, man of letters, social philosopher, and arts critic. Teachers might know his annoying quip: “Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.” 
Make no mistake: Mencken was full of contradictions, with disturbing episodes of misanthropy, anti-semitism, and racism. But biographer, Dr. Fred C. Hobson,  demonstrates that he clearly redeemed these postures in his life and writings. You might want to download his writings (in the public domain) at Project Gutenberg for some challenging summer reading.
The Wikipedia article on Mencken is useful and lists of his quotations and aphorism are readily available
Mencken on Education
His work yields perennial insights on education that challenge current clichés about teaching and learning. Significantly, Mencken never separated good learning from deep living. He took an iconoclastic view of schooling as something too often  compromised by social conformity and second-rate thinking . Here are some of my favorite Mencken quotations:
The best teacher is not the one who knows most but the one who is most capable of reducing knowledge to that simple compound of the obvious and wonderful. 
The plain fact is that education is itself a form of propaganda - a deliberate scheme to outfit the pupil, not with the capacity to weigh ideas, but with a simple appetite for gulping ideas ready-made. The aim is to make 'good' citizens, which is to say, docile and uninquisitive citizens.  
School days, I believe, are the unhappiest in the whole span of human existence. They are full of dull, unintelligible tasks, new and unpleasant ordinances, brutal violations of common sense and common decency. It doesn't take a reasonably bright boy long to discover that most of what is rammed into him is nonsense, and that no one really cares very much whether he learns it or not. 
The average man does not want to be free. He simply wants to be safe. 
To die for an idea; it is unquestionably noble. But how much nobler it would be if men died for ideas that were true! 
The average man never really thinks from end to end of his life. The mental activity of such people is only a mouthing of clichés. What they mistake for thought is simply a repetition of what they have heard. My guess is that well over 80 percent of the human race goes through life without having a single original thought. 
When somebody says it’s not about the money, it’s about the money. 
It is impossible to imagine Goethe or Beethoven being good at billiards or golf. 
Genius: the ability to prolong one's childhood. 
I believe in only one thing: liberty; but I do not believe in liberty enough to want to force it upon anyone.
A Mencken Checklist
From such writings, I have created a checklist of the qualities which might be touchstones of enlightened teaching, learning, and living:
  1. clarity
  2. wonder
  3. skepticism
  4. tolerance
  5. doubt
  6. inquiry
  7. excitement
  8. pleasure
  9. common sense
  10. decency
  11. truth
  12. liberty
  13. enlightenment
  14. originality
  15. diversity
Last Thoughts
As the summer unfolds, we will watch with concern the Syrian crisis, the American election, the European debt, the London Olympics, and world leaders' neglect of the environment. Here are two last Mencken quotations that might offer perspective on the months ahead:
All human progress, even in morals, has been the work of men who have doubted the current moral values, not of men who have whooped them up and tried to enforce them. The truly civilized man is always skeptical and tolerant.   
An enchanted life has many moments when the heart is overwhelmed with beauty and the imagination is electrified by some haunting quality in the world or by a spirit or voice speaking from deep within a thing, a place, or a person.  
This bi-weekly blog appears usually on a Monday. 
All content is for free and public use. As the author, Tim Gauntley retains full intellectual property rights to the content.
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          Sampling Fresh Roasted Coffee LLC        
I recently sampled some coffee from Fresh Roasted Coffee, LLC., an online coffee distribution
company based in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania.  Since 2011, fresh and eco-friendly roasted coffee has been delivered to coffee-lovers across america. Initially, the company started with a selection of single origin coffees and custom artisan blends, but now they have expanded and have purchased rare and exotic coffees, grinding and
packing equipment and branching off into loose leaf tea. 
I had the pleasure of sampling some of their medium roasts coffees.  I found the Dominican Republic to be a delightful cup with crisp hints of apples and vanilla.  A perfect cup to wake up to each morning.    I found the Ethiopian Yirgacheffe to be a straightforward well balanced cup of coffee that can take on some cream and sugar if that is to your likening.  And I am currently drinking my way through the Guatemala Huehuetenango which has subtle hints of chocolate and orange.


Overall I was impressed with the wide variety and selection of coffee that Fresh Roasted Coffee LLC had to offer.  Be sure to visit their website to check them out for yourself and order a bag or set up a subscription service.
Please note FreshRoastedCoffee.com did send me samples of their coffee in exchange for this blog post, but all photos and opinions are my own.


          Foodie Gift Guide        
I'm guessing their might be a "foodie" on your gift giving list this year.  And if you are scratching your head about what to give them, let me give you a couple of unique ideas.  I get several food related products to try throughout the year, so I can tell you what will wow your/their tastebuds and what to steer clear of.  So for Christmas 2016 here are 5 gift ideas for people who like food.

First up Hope Foods hummus is the perfect snack to enjoy, take to a party and share or give as a hostess gift. With a huge array of flavors (Siracha, Lemon Peppercorn and Kale Pesto to name a few), there will be something to please your palette and this is a healthy alternative compared to other dips.  Their hummus is organic, gluten free, dairy free and they use the art High Pressure Processing (HPP) technique. Instead of using heat pasteurization, which can fill hummus with tons of unwanted preservatives.  And, back to their flavors I love that they offer a few Chocolate options which are perfect served with graham cracker sticks, vanilla wafers and more.  Or round up some pita chips, vegetables or fruit to serve with their Spicy Avocado or Thai Coconut Curry.  Your bound to have more than one favorite flavor!
Second, try locally roasted coffee.  I always say once you have fresh roasted coffee you'll never go back.  So if there is a coffee drinker on your list, they will definitely appreciate this.  One example is Javaroma a coffee roaster from Mitchell, Indiana offering single origin, blends and decaf coffee beans.

Thirdly, and another option for coffee enthusiast is the Kuissential Versa, a reverse travel french press brewing system and travel mug.  The Versa gives consumers the option of french press, but instead of pressing the grounds out, it pulls them out leaving you with perfectly brewed cup to enjoy on the go. No more grounds or bitter tasting coffee while you are on the road.
cid:E5AF3220-DC98-4965-AB11-A1AD0F0536F3
And fourth, a gift card from Bens Soft Pretzels.  I am not kidding when I tell you I eat these pretzels the entire duration of the state fair... and thats 17 days!!!  They are that good.  Bens Soft Pretzels has franchises all over the midwest and there are even a couple down south.  They offer 11 amazing dip flavors.  Run (don't walk) and buy up some gift cards for stocking stuffers.
Fifth and last is the Oak Bottle. This oak vessel accelerates the traditional oak aging process and allows anyone to customize their favorite wine, spirits, beer or cocktails by infusing extravagant oak aged flavors and aroma in a matter of hours.
Please note I was sent samples of these products to blog about for this gift guide.

          Sometimes we knit retro, too        
Here are two 1950s patterns I’ve knitted up this year: the droplet bolero and the bias-knit sweater. The bolero was knitted using a re-issued version of the original pattern which had been graded into multiple sizes: normally I would just have knitted the single original size, but here I actually had the luxury of taking […]
          December 2015 Newsletter: Bragging on two stellar member-owners        

Last week, the Co-op's Board of Directors hunkered down with cups of warm apple cider (thanks, Anna S.!) and got down to business: We discussed the status of our committees' work as we do during every meeting, watched a crazy-impressive 25-slide PowerPoint presentation on our potential financial models (thanks, Anna K.!) and shared data we've learned so far from our Member Product Preferences Survey. These 12 folks I meet up with every month are ridiculously smart and dedicated, so I'm really humbled that they put so much of their time into the work of building our Co-op. 

Of course, the commitment and expertise brought to the Co-op doesn't stop with the Board. Two of the Co-op's long-long-time member-owners are moving on from their current volunteer roles, and because they aren’t the kind of people to brag about themselves, I’m taking this space to do it for them. Take that! 

Molly Peterman has been our incredible bookkeeper basically since the beginning. She set us up in Quickbooks, reconciled every member equity check, and made a weekly trip to our P.O. box. She's done all this, plus hosting potlucks and buying beer for member events, while holding down a job that’s now taking her out of state for a little while. We'll miss Molly, and I hope we’ll have a site to show her when she gets back!

Martin Brown has been sitting on our Outreach Committee since I joined the table. While building his own inspiring local food business, Martin has donated treats to our events, called upon his business connections to take our annual Garden Tour to the next level, and always offered to pick something up in his car. (Side note: I really hope we get to sell pints of his crazy ice cream at our store.)

Because you’re reading this, I bet you have an interest in seeing our Co-op dreams become a reality. And I also bet you have expertise, time or willingness to join us in making it happen. Just reply to this email and I’ll help find the right place for you to help, by volunteering or joining one of our committees. 

Till then, read on, visit our blog and follow us on Facebook to find out lots of ways you can get involved with our community right now.

Have a wonderful holiday season,
Leigh Goldenberg, South Philly Food Co-op Board of Directors

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Survey: What's on the shelves? You decide.

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Here’s another thing you can do to help and have your voice heard!
 Please take 20 minutes to complete our Member Product Preferences Survey, which is helping shape the vision of our store. Here's a sample question from the survey:

It’s time to restock the pantry. Which olive oil do you choose?
  •  Store brand olive oil, $6.99/750 ml
  •  Organic store brand olive oil, $12.99/750 ml
  •  Single origin artisan olive oil, $14.99/750 ml
Which would you choose? Let us know!

On Deck: New Member Orientation

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"Do I have to do volunteer hours?" 
"How do I answer my friends' questions about the Co-op?" 
"What do the committees do?" 
"When do I vote for stuff?"

If you've recently joined the Co-op and want to know more about what it's all about, our New Member Orientations are for you. Come meet fellow members and hear from people on our Membership and Marketing/Communications Committee about what the Co-op can do for you -- and what you can do for the Co-op.

And because it'll probably be cold ... hot chocolate for all!

Join us Monday, December 14 at 7 p.m. Click here to RSVP!

Reminder: Shop South Philly this holiday season

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Something to keep in mind as you're tackling that gift-shopping list: 
Shop South Philly offers exclusive discounts and specials to South Philly Food Co-op member-owners when they shop at dozens of participating boutiques (like Occasionette, pictured), restaurants and other shops. Just show your member card or member ID number at these local businesses to receive your discount.

So go ahead — get your discount on, and don’t forget to thank them for supporting your Co-op!

Signing off,

South Philly Food Co-op
http://www.southphillyfoodcoop.org/


          On This Day in Math - July 18        


Math is the only place where truth and beauty mean the same thing.

-Danica McKellar

(I can't believe I'm doing math quotes by "Winnie" from Wonder Years)
The 199th day of the year; 199 is prime (in fact, all three permutations of the number are prime) and is the sum of three consecutive primes: 61 + 67 + 71, and of five consecutive primes: 31 + 37 + 41 + 43 + 47. (Suddenly struck me I don't know what is the smallest prime that is the sum of consecutive primes in more than one way!)

199 is the smallest number with an additive persistence of 3. (iterate the sum of the digits. The number of additions required to obtain a single digit from a number n is called the additive persistence of n, and the digit obtained is called the digital root of n. ) 1+9+9 =19, 1+9=10, 1+0 = 1. so the additive persistence is 3 and the digital root is 1.

I like "almost constants". For the 199th day, \( ( \frac{\sqrt{5} +1}{2})^{11}= 199.0050249987406414902082… \)


EVENTS
1860 July 18, 1860 First wet plate photographs of an eclipse; they require 1/30 of the exposure time of a daguerreotype. *NSEC

1872 Weierstrass, in a lecture to the Berlin Academy, gave his classical example of a continuous nowhere differentiable function. See Big Kline, p. 956.*VFR

1898 Marie and Pierre Curie discover the previously unknown element Polonium which she named for her home country, Poland. *Brody & Brody, The Science Class You Wished You Had

1979 Great Britain issued a stamp honoring Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. *VFR

1962 Hearings on Mercury 13 Women suspended. The first potential US women in space, often called the Mercury 13 in comparison to the original Mercury 7 astronauts, had a hearing in congress beginning July 17th. The house convened public hearings before a special Subcommittee on Science and Astronautics. Significantly, the hearings investigated the possibility of gender discrimination two full years before the Civil Rights Act of 1964 made that illegal, making these hearings a marker of how ideas about women's rights permeated political discourse even before they were enshrined in law. The hearings would abruptly be terminated at lunch on the 18th. In less than a year, Soviet cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman in space on June 16, 1963. In response, Clare Boothe Luce published an article in Life criticizing NASA and American decision makers. By including photographs of all thirteen Lovelace finalists, she made the names of all thirteen women public for the first time. (The Time issue is available at Google Books here. Astronaut Sally Ride became the first American woman in space in 1983 on STS-7. *Wik



2014 first "Sun-spotless day" on the Earthward side of sun since 2011, *David Dickinson ‏@Astroguyz

BIRTHS

1013 Hermann of Reichenau (July 18, 1013 – September 24, 1054), was a German mathematician who was important for the transmission of Arabic mathematics, astronomy and scientific instruments into central Europe.*SAU

1635 Robert Hooke ( 18 July[NS 28 July] 1635 – 3 March 1703) born.English natural philosopher, architect and polymath. His adult life comprised three distinct periods: as a scientific inquirer lacking money; achieving great wealth and standing through his reputation for hard work and scrupulous honesty following the great fire of 1666, but eventually becoming ill and party to jealous intellectual disputes. These issues may have contributed to his relative historical obscurity.
He was at one time simultaneously the curator of experiments of the Royal Society and a member of its council, Gresham Professor of Geometry and a Surveyor to the City of London after the Great Fire of London , in which capacity he appears to have performed more than half of all the surveys after the fire. He was also an important architect of his time, though few of his buildings now survive and some of those are generally misattributed, and was instrumental in devising a set of planning controls for London whose influence remains today. Allan Chapman has characterised him as "England's Leonardo" *wik
He was born in Freshwater, Isle of Wight, and discovered the law of elasticity, known as Hooke's law, and invented the balance spring for clocks. He was a virtuoso scientist whose scope of research ranged widely, including physics, astronomy, chemistry, biology, geology, architecture and naval technology. On 5 Nov 1662, Hooke was appointed the Curator of Experiments at the Royal Society, London. After the Great Fire of London (1666), he served as Chief Surveyor and helped rebuild the city. He also invented or improved meteorological instruments such as the barometer, anemometer, and hygrometer. Hooke authored the influential Micrographia (1665)*TIS

1689 Samuel Molyneux (16 July 1689 – 13 April 1728), British astronomer (Royal Observatory at Kew) and politician. Together with assistant James Bradley, he made measurements of abberation - the diversion of light from stars. They made observations of the star  Draconis with a vertical telescope. Starting in 1725 they had the proof of the movement of the earth giving support to the Copernican model of the earth revolving around the sun. The star oscillated with an excursion of 39 arcsecs between its lowest declination in May and its the highest point of its oscillation in September. He was unfortunate to fall ill in 1728 and into the care of the Anatomist to the Royal Family, Dr Nathaniel St Andre, whose qualifications were as a dancing master. Molyneux died shortly thereafter.*TIS

1768 Jean Robert Argand born (July 18, 1768 – August 13, 1822). His single original contribution to mathematics was the invention and elaboration of a geometric representation of complex numbers and operations on them. In this he was preceded by Wessel and followed by Gauss.*VFR Swiss mathematician who was one of the earliest to use complex numbers, which he applied to show that all algebraic equations have roots. He invented the Argand diagram - a geometrical representation of complex numbers as a point with the real portion of the number on the x axis and the imaginary part on the y axis.*Wik

1813 Pierre Laurent (July 18, 1813 – September 2, 1854) was a French mathematician best-known for his study of the so-called Laurent Series in Complex analysis. *SAU

1853 Antoon Lorentz (18 July 1853 – 4 February 1928) was a Dutch physicist who shared the 1902 Nobel Prize in Physics with Pieter Zeeman for the discovery and theoretical explanation of the Zeeman effect. He also derived the transformation equations subsequently used by Albert Einstein to describe space and time. *Wik
Lorentz is best known for his work on electromagnetic radiation and the FitzGerald-Lorentz contraction. He developed the mathematical theory of the electron.*SAU

1856 Giacinto Morera (Novara, 18 July 1856 – Turin, 8 February 1909), was an Italian engineer and mathematician. He is remembered for Morera's theorem in the theory of functions of a complex variables and for his work in the theory of linear elasticity. *Wik

1899 Robert Schlapp (18 July 1899 in Edinburgh, Scotland - 31 May 1991 in Ashford, Kent, England)studied at Edinburgh and Cambridge universities. He spent his whole career at Edinburgh University teaching mathematics and Physics. He was also interested in the History of Mathematics. He became President of the EMS in 1942 and 1943. *SAU

1922 Thomas S(amuel) Kuhn (July 18, 1922 – June 17, 1996) was an American historian of science, MIT professor, noted for The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962), one of the most influential works of history and philosophy written in the 20th century. His thesis was that science was not a steady, cumulative acquisition of knowledge, but it is "a series of peaceful interludes punctuated by intellectually violent revolutions." Then appears a Lavoisier or an Einstein, often a young scientist not indoctrinated in the accepted theories, to sweep the old paradigm away. Such revolutions, he said, came only after long periods of tradition-bound normal science. "Frameworks must be lived with and explored before they can be broken," *TIS This was the first modern use of the term "paradigm" in this way.


DEATHS

1650 Christoph Scheiner SJ (25 July 1573 (or 1575) – 18 July 1650) was a Jesuit priest, physicist and astronomer in Ingolstadt. In 1603, Scheiner invented the pantograph, an instrument which could duplicate plans and drawings to an adjustable scale. Later in life he would invent a sunspot viewing appartus. In 1611, Scheiner observed sunspots; in 1612 he published the "Apelles letters" in Augsburg. Marcus Welser had the first three Apelles letters printed in Augsburg on January 5, 1612. They provided one of many reasons for the subsequent unpleasant argument between Scheiner and Galileo Galilei. *Wik Thus, in 1614, Galileo found himself in an unresoved dispute over priority with a mean and determined Jesuit. The fight was to grow meaner in subsequent years. It would play a major role in Galileo's Inquisitional trial eighteen years later. *James Reston, Jr., Galileo: A Life

1742 Abraham Sharp (1653– 18 July 1742) was an English mathematician who worked with Flamsteed. He calculated π to 72 places (using an arcsine sequence, briefly holding the record until John Machin calculated 100 digits in 1706).*SAU

1807 Thomas Jones (23 June 1756 – 18 July 1807) was Head Tutor at Trinity College, Cambridge for twenty years and an outstanding teacher of mathematics. He is notable as a mentor of Adam Sedgwick.
He was born at Berriew, Montgomeryshire, in Wales. On completing his studies at Shrewsbury School, Jones was admitted to St John's College, Cambridge on 28 May 1774, as a 'pensioner' (i.e. a fee-paying student, as opposed to a scholar or sizar). He was believed to be an illegitimate son of Mr Owen Owen, of Tyncoed, and his housekeeper, who afterwards married a Mr Jones, of Traffin, County Kerry, Thomas then being brought up as his son.
On 27 June 1776, Jones migrated from St John's College to Trinity College. He became a scholar in 1777 and obtained his BA in 1779, winning the First Smith's Prize and becoming Senior Wrangler. In 1782, he obtained his MA and became a Fellow of Trinity College in 1781. He became a Junior Dean, 1787–1789 and a Tutor, 1787-1807. He was ordained a deacon at the Peterborough parish on 18 June 1780. Then he was ordained priest, at the Ely parish on 6 June 1784, canon of Fen Ditton, Cambridgeshire, in 1784, and then canon of Swaffham Prior, also 1784. On 11 December 1791, he preached before the University, at Great St Mary's, a sermon against duelling (from Exodus XX. 13), which was prompted by a duel that had lately taken place near Newmarket between Henry Applewhaite and Richard Ryecroft, undergraduates of Pembroke, in which the latter was fatally wounded. Jones died on 18 July 1807, in lodgings in Edgware Road, London. He is buried in the cemetery of Dulwich College. A bust and a memorial tablet are in the ante-chapel of Trinity College. *Wik

1930 Karl Emmanuel Robert Fricke (September 24, 1861 in Helmstedt, Germany ; July 18, 1930 in Bad Harzburg, Germany) was a German mathematician, known for his work in function theory, especially on elliptic, modular and automorphic functions. He was one of the main collaborators of Felix Klein, with whom he produced two classic two volume monographs on elliptic modular functions and automorphic functions.*Wik



Credits :
*CHM=Computer History Museum
*FFF=Kane, Famous First Facts
*NSEC= NASA Solar Eclipse Calendar
*RMAT= The Renaissance Mathematicus, Thony Christie
*SAU=St Andrews Univ. Math History
*TIA = Today in Astronomy
*TIS= Today in Science History
*VFR = V Frederick Rickey, USMA
*Wik = Wikipedia
*WM = Women of Mathematics, Grinstein & Campbell
          #Filtered: Creative Coffee Drawings By Ben Blake        
Coffee enthusiast Ben Blake proves that Instagram is not a filter’s single origin. On his charming website, Blake uses cone filters–the humble backbones behind your morning brew–as palettes for spirited illustrations celebrating coffee culture. Each illustration is a pen-and-ink ode to a specific roaster, brew, coffeehouse, or speciality coffee experience, many finishing with smooth flourishes ...
          Second Circuit Holds Auto Collisions Caused by Multiple Occurrences        

In its recent decision in Nat’l Liab. & Fire Ins. Co. v. Itzkowitz, 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 16763, [subscribers can access an enhanced version of this opinion: lexis.com | Lexis Advance] the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, applying New York law, had occasion to revisit the “unfortunate events” test for the purpose of determining number of occurrences or accidents.

Itzkowitz concerned coverage under a commercial auto policy, with a limit of liability of $1 million per occurrence. In terms of aggregating accidents, the policy stated that:

Regardless of the number of covered “autos”, “insureds”, premiums paid, claims made or vehicles involved in the “accident”, the most we will pay for the total of all damages . . . resulting from any one “accident” is the Limit of Insurance for Liability Coverage shown in the Declarations. All “bodily injury” [and] “property damage” . . . resulting from continuous or repeated exposure to substantially the same conditions will be considered as resulting from one “accident.”

The policy defined “accident” as “continuous or repeated exposure to the same conditions resulting in ‘bodily injury’ or ‘property damage.’”

The coverage dispute presented to the court arose out of a series of collisions involving a dump truck insured under the commercial auto policy. While being operated on a highway, the box on the truck struck an overpass, causing it to separate from the truck and fall onto the highway. Shortly thereafter, an oncoming vehicle struck the dump box, causing injury to each of the passengers. After another brief interval of time, another car struck the dump truck, again causing injury to the vehicle’s passengers. Thus, there were three separate collisions. While the parties disputed the period of time that elapsed between the collusions, the court assumed for the purpose of its decision that there was a thirty second interval between the time the box struck the underpass and the first car struck the box, and that only a few seconds elapsed between the time the first car and the second car struck the dump box. The question for the court was whether these collisions should be considered three separate accidents, or a single accident.

In considering this issue, the court relief on the “unfortunate events” test, which is commonly applied by New York courts in the context of determining number of occurrences under general liability policies. The Second Circuit considered this test appropriate to the auto policy at issue given the similarity between the auto policy’s definition of “accident” and the standard general liability definition of “occurrence.”

Under the unfortunate events test, explained the court, a two-part test is applied. First, the court is required to determine the “operative incident” giving rise to the insured’s liability, which is not necessarily the same as the “cause.” Second, the court is required to consider “whether there is a close temporal and spatial relationship between the incidents giving rise to injury or loss, and whether the incidents can be viewed as part of the same causal continuum, without intervening agents or factors.”

In applying this test, the court concluded that the operative incident was each individual collision. The court further concluded that these collusions were not properly viewed as being part of the same causal continuum. In considering the temporal element, the court found that the relative timing of any of the collisions did not impact the others. As the court explained:

We believe the New York Court of Appeals would find it arbitrary to draw a hard line at any particular number of seconds or minutes that must elapse before two incidents are distinct accidents. Instead, we consider whether the relative timing of the various incidents played a role in causing any of the incidents. Here, no evidence in the record supports a reasonable inference that the relative timing of any of the incidents played a role in causing the events to unfold as they did. No evidence in the record suggests that the short timespan between the dump box’s collision with the overpass and the Itzkowitz vehicle’s collision with the dump box played any role in the Itzkowitz vehicle’s collision with the dump box. As for the temporal gap of at least “a few seconds” between the Itzkowitz and Compton-Hershkowitz vehicles’ collisions with the dump box, there is also no indication in the record that timing played a role in the two incidents. For example, there is no indication that the Itzkowitz vehicle’s collision in any way distracted or limited the reaction time of Yosef Compton, the Compton-Hershkowitz vehicle’s driver. Even a few seconds on the highway provides ample opportunity for a vehicle to avoid a collision, and National presents no evidence suggesting that timing might have played a role in causing any of the collisions. In sum, although the incidents occurred close in time, nothing suggests that the narrow timespan between each incident played a role in causing any of the other incidents.

The court conceded that a harder issue was presented with respect to the concept of spatial relationship, since two car collisions with the dump box happened at the same geographical location. The court nevertheless discounted this factor, concluding that no one aspect of the “relationship” part of the unfortunate events test is necessarily dispositive.

More important to the court was whether the incidents could be viewed as part of the same causal continuum. While the court agreed that the three collisions could be traced to a single origin; namely, the collusion of the dump box with the overpass, the unfortunate events test requires a more exacting analysis into whether there is an unbroken continuum among each of the incidents. The court found this continuum lacking since each individual collision did not cause the subsequent collision. As the court explained:

Here, the first incident involved the elevated dump box striking the overpass, separating from the dump truck, and landing in the road. That incident was not responsible for the second and third incidents. For example, no one suggests that the first incident weakened the overpass’s structure in a way that caused further injury. Furthermore, even though the collision with the overpass caused the dump box to fall off the truck, the dump box did not immediately cause further damage, unlike the chain-reaction accident that occurred in Wesolowski. Rather, the dump box fell off the truck, slid down the road, and then came to a rest in the right lane. Then, after thirty seconds passed, the Itzkowitz vehicle struck the dump box. When the Itzkowitz vehicle collided with the dump box, a second causal chain started, and this chain was distinct from the one that caused the damage to the overpass. Then, the Compton-Hershkowitz vehicle struck the dump box, and this collision was unrelated to the preceding collision involving the Itzkowitz vehicle. We would be facing a different set of facts if the third incident involving the Compton-Hershkowitz claimants occurred because of the Itzkowitz collision; if, for example, the Itzkowitz vehicle had ricocheted off the dump box before hitting the Compton-Hershkowitz vehicle. There might then have been an unbroken chain between the second and third collisions. But that is not what the record indicates. The second and third incidents were therefore not part of the same unbroken continuum.

Thus, the court concluded that there were three separate accidents, each subject to a separate limit of liability.

    Brian Margolies, Partner, Traub Lieberman Straus & Shrewsberry LLP

Read more at the Traub Lieberman Insurance Law Blog, Edited by Brian Margolies.

For more information about LexisNexis products and solutions, connect with us through our corporate site


          By: gregory        
have passed through SF six times in twelve months. drank most of them many times. in august, at their ferry building single origin window, had THE BEST gibralter on earth. yes, on earth! the folks at their gough shop impress as well. i wuold q up for an hour for a repeat. zachary over at the four barrel slow bar made a mind blowing v60 kangunu. hadn't heard about it as I had been in bako for four months. i have NEVER had drip like this before. EVER. two days in a row. two very different cups, two equally impressive experiences. walking the deserted streets of valencia 7am new years days. order up a french from the push pot, at the now uninspiring ritual, and whammo! the best "mug" of coffee to date! unexpected, very immpressed. what a way to start the new year. fantastic ginger scones btw. my point is simply this. as much a part the gear, beans and ambience come into play, it's the barista that makes it all happen. i just love those moments when the "stars align" and i am present. i am blessed.
          NEW - Ethiopia, Kayon Mountain        
We are excited to share our newest offering, a delicious new single origin coffee from the Kayon Mountain farm in Ethiopia.Kayon Mountain coffee farm is a 500 hectare farm in the Shakiso, Oromia region of Ethiopia, located at over 1900m above sea level.This naturally processed coffee has notes of blueberries and sweet dates. It is medium bodied, and has a delicious, juicy finish.We’re particularly excited about this coffee because of the passion and story behind its farmers. The Kayon Mountain
          Some Estonian Songbooks (1860-1900)        

I.

I have just written a little treatise about the collection and publication of Volkslieder - national songs - of the Estonians and Latvians from circa 1770 until the late 19th century (see the previous blogpost). Texts were published in considerable numbers, first by Baltic-German scholars and then by the first generation of Estonian intellectuals. But tunes only played a minor role. Very few were made available until the 1860s. Only since then - during the era of what is called the national awakening - they began to appear, not in academic anthologies but in songbooks for choral singing. 

The first one to publish two rahwawiis was Carl Robert Jakobson in 1869 in a small anthology with the title Wanemuine Kandle Healed (at digar). The first collection of Estonian Volkslieder only appeared in 1890: Karl August Hermann's Eesti rahwalaulud (at the Internet Archive). This was very late. For example in Finland - also a nation trying to find its own voice - the very first anthology of national songs was already made available in 1831 and more would follow soon (see in this blog: The Collection and Publication of National Airs in Finland 1795-1900).

Even the neighbouring Latvians were a little bit faster in this respect. Some original Latvian traditional tunes had already been published in 1859 by the pastor Juris CaunÄ«tis and the teacher Jānis Kaktiņš in their songbook 100 dseesmas un singes ar nohtem (see Karnes, p. 205, p. 219, n. 64, see Das Inland 25, 1860, p. 151). In 1869 a conference of Latvian teachers called for a more systematic collection of traditional tunes (Apkalns, pp. 151). The key figure here was Jānis Cimze (1814-1881; see Wikipedia) from the teacher seminary in Valka who in 1872 published the very first anthology of Latvian Volkslieder arranged for choirs: Dseesmu rohta jaunekļeem un wihreem (see Karnes 2015; Apkalns, pp. 148-53). 

Here I will attempt a select bibliography of Estonian songbooks published since 1860. I am foremost interested in the publication of rahwalaulud. Why did traditional tunes play a comparatively small role? How many were published? Why took it so long until the first anthology appeared? But it is equally important to see the wider context: the development of a national repertoire for choral singing. This was what Estonian teachers and musicians were interested in. At first this repertoire consisted nearly solely of translated German songs and only slowly Estonian songs - both new works and rahwalaulud - were added. 

Today - in the digital era - a bibliography is not only list of books. Thankfully most of the publications needed here have been digitized and are therefore quick at hand. This is a great progress. These are all rare books that are available in only a very few libraries. Back in the old days it would have been necessary to travel to these libraries to see them. Now they can be checked online and the reader has also direct access to these primary sources. 

In Estonia the digital libraries are well-organized. For a systematic approach we should start with Eesti rahvusbibliograafia (erb), the Estonian National Bibliography that is available online. A look for example at the entry for Jakobson's Wanemuine kandle healed (erb) shows that one can find here all relevant bibliographical data as well as other helpful information. Usually both the number of copies printed, the price and the content - here a list of the songs in this book - are included. It is also possible to get a chronological list of all the publications a particular writer - in this case Jakobson - was involved in (erb). 

Thankfully there is also a link to a digital copy if one exists as well as a link to a book's record in ester, the National Library Catalogue that also offers the link to the digital copy. The most important digital libraries are digar - Estonian National Library - , etera - University of Tallinn - and the one of the University of Tartu. Jakobson's songbook is available at digar. The online readers of etera and digar - here only for a part of the books - are usable but not as flexible as I would wish. But all digitized books can also be downloaded as pdf-files and I have taken the liberty to upload some of those I needed to the the Internet Archive where they are much easier to use. 

The number of books already digitized by the Estonian libraries is impressive but there are of course still some that haven't been scanned yet. Thankfully it is also possible to order the digitization of a book, but only if it is available at one of the libraries in Tallinn and - apparently - if it was printed before 1900. In this case there is a link in ester that leads to EOD, the well-known network of libraries. Therefore digital copies of five more relevant songbooks can now be accessed online.

Most of the editors, composers and writers mentioned here are not exactly household names outside of Estonia. Therefore some basic information is needed and here the German wikipedia proved to be very helpful. Links to the relevant articles are added but they can only serve as a short introduction. For some of the more obscure names I found only Estonian sources, either Wikipedia or another encyclopedia. 

Otherwise I can recommend some books. Estonian music history in the second half of the 19th century is more or less identical to the history of the national singing movement, therefore I found Arro's Geschichte der estnischen Musik (1933) very helpful. He is good at describing the context and also discusses nearly everyone mentioned here. But it is better to ignore his stern judgments about most Estonian song composers. Nearly all of these editors were also busy in other fields, as writers, poets, teachers, journalists and cultural activists. For that reason a good history of Estonian literature is also useful. Hasselblatt's (2006) is the best so far. 


II. 

The new choral singing movement from Germany and Switzerland (good overview: Klenke 1998) was quickly adopted by the Baltic-Germans (see Loos, p. 226). They had their own choirs: in 1833 the first Liedertafel was founded in Riga, in 1849 a choral society in Reval and the year 1857 saw the the first great German song festival. They also had their own songbooks where we can find the popular German repertoire: 
  • Baltisches Liederbuch, Plates, Riga, 1861, at UofTartu & the Internet Archive 
  • Vierundzwanzig Volkslieder mit ihren Singweisen für Sopran und Alt 1. Heft, Laakmann, Dorpat, 1871, at digar 
  • Liederbuch für Knaben- und Mädchenschulen, von A. W. Schönberg, Gesanglehrer am Gymnasium zu Arensburg, 1876 [erb], at digar 
  • Joh. Reinfeldt, Baltischer Liederkranz. Ausgewälte Lieder zum Gebrauch für den Gesangsunterricht, 2. vermehrte und verbesserte Auflage, 1. & 2. Teil, Kluge, Reval, 1886 [erb], at digar & the Internet Archive 
  • Joh. Reinfeldt, Baltischer Liederkranz. Ausgewälte Lieder zum Gebrauch für den Gesangsunterricht, 3. vermehrte und verbesserte Auflage, 1. Teil, Kluge, Reval, 1898 [erb], at digar & the Internet Archive 

The Estonians - just freed from the shackles of serfdom - also started singing in choirs and at first they were of course taught by their German pastors. What should they sing? For centuries they had been treated to imported hymns translated into Estonian and these religious songs made up the greatest part of their repertoire. More collections appeared during these years, for example: 
  • [Johann August Hagen], Choralbuch zum Gebrauche für die Orgel und das Pianoforte. Enthaltend Kirchen-Melodien für Deutsche und Ehstnische Kirchen-Gesangbücher, so wie auch für Dr. K. C. Ulmanns geistliche Liedersammlung. Tallinna ja Tarto lauloramatute täis wisi ramat Reval, n. d. [1844] [erb], at digar  
  • Tallinna- ja Tarto-ma Kirriko laulo ramato laulo wisid, Jacoby & Co., Pärnu & Viljandi, n. d. [1860] [erb], at digar 
What was missing were secular songs. The pastors didn't like the Estonians' traditional song culture which was under perpetual cultural pressure. Instead some of them also promoted modern German songs that were translated into Estonian. An early pioneer was Emil Hörschelmann (1810-1854, see Arro 1933, pp. 28-51) who - besides writing and publishing hymns - also put out a small collection of German songs, Mönned armsad laulud (1847, erb, at digar). It seems this booklet was quite popular. New editions appeared in 1852 and 1862. 

During these years the first generation of Estonian writers and teachers came to the fore and they would single-handedly begin to create what they regarded as their national culture. But most of them still preferred the adoption of German singing culture. The key figure here was Johann Voldemar Jannsen (1819-1890; see Wikipedia; Hasselblatt, pp. 175-7, 184-8, 203; Arro, pp. 89-97; see erb), teacher, writer, journalist, translator, choirmaster and activist. In 1850 he was "barred from full membership in a German choir because of his ethnicity" (Ŝmidchens, p. 70) and felt it necessary to start his own. 

He at first translated religious songs, for example Krummacher's Zionsharfe (here f. ex. 1827, at Google Books). The first part of the Estonian version appeared in 1845 with the title Sioni-Laulo-Kannel ehk 333 uut waimolikko laulo (erb). More parts would follow as well as other similar collections. But he also tried to take care of the secular repertoire and in 1860 he published an anthology with the title Eesti laulik - "The Estonian Singer" - with 125 texts. 
  • [Johann Voldemar Jannsen], Eesti Laulik. 125 uut lauo neile, kes hea melega laulwad ehk laulo kuulwad. Esiminne jaggo, Laakmann, Tartu, 1860 [erb], at digar; at BSB [= Google Books]; at the Internet Archive [= GB-Oxford]
    -, 2. Trük, Laakmann, Tartu, 1865 [erb], at Google Books [= BL] 
Jannsen was no Herderian and no friend of Estonian rahwalaulud (see Arro 1933, pp. 90-1; Ŝmidchens, pp. 77-8). In fact he didn't like them and preferred German songs. All texts in this songster were translations from the German and he completely avoided any original Estonian pieces. But nonetheless his anthology became very popular and was reprinted several times. He also compiled a tune-book with only the melodies because he couldn't afford to publish complete arrangements for choirs: 
  • [Johann Voldemar Jannsen], Eesti Lauliko wisi-ramat. 120 uut laulo-wisi , Laakmann, Tartu, 1862 [erb], at the Internet Archive 

Other early pioneers also relied completely on German songs. Martin Körber (1817-1893; see Arro, pp. 112-9; Wikipedia), a German pastor in a little village on the isle of Saremaa did a lot for the musical culture of his flock, not at least because he didn't want them to sing their traditional drinking songs. He himself wrote new songs and taught them the people, he had them sing in choirs and also organized the earliest local song festivals. One collection of his songs was published with music: 
  • Laulud Sörwemaalt, mitme healaga. Lieder aus der Schworbe, mehrstimmig, Laakmann, Tartu, 1864 & 1867, 2 Vols. [erb: Vol. 1 & Vol. 2], at Uof Tartu 
Friedrich Brandt (1830-1890; Wikipedia), teacher and writer, also put together a songster with the title Eestima öpik (1864, erb at digar) - "The Estonian Nightingale" - that included both translations from the German as well as his own works. This collection was reprinted several times and apparently sold in great numbers. He for example included the popular German ballad "Es waren zwei Königskinder" ("Kuningatte lapsed", p. 28). Folklorist Walter Anderson (1932, pp. 23-48) has shown that nearly all variants collected from oral tradition are derived - directly or indirectly - from this anthology. Brandt also published a little songbook with music, Pisukene laulu- ja mängimees (1869, erb, at digar). Just like Jannsen he avoided all references to his sources. But it seems that these songs were mostly his own. 

Friedrich Kuhlbars (1841-1924; see Wikipedia; Hasselblatt, p. 267), teacher, writer and poet, compiled the first songbook for schools and he only used songs imported from Germany: 
  • Laulik koolis ja kodus. Ued laulud ühe, kahe, kolme ja nelja healega ja kaanonid. Noorele ja wanale, iseäranis Eesti koolidelle wäljaanud Friedrich Kuhlbars, Gläser, Tartu, 1868 [erb], at digar 
Here we can find pieces by Schulz, Silcher, Gersbach and Julius Mayer as well as many that are only described as "Deutsche Volksweise". Interestingly there is also an version of Thomas Moore's "Last Rose of Summer" ("Õue viimne roosikene", No. 15, pp. 13-4). But he didn't feel it necessary to include even a single original Estonian song. 

In the meantime Jannsen had launched Wanemuine, a society for choral singing and other convivial activities (see Arro, pp. 98-101). It was named after a mythological character in Kreutzwaldt's Kalevipoeg, the god of music with the harp ("Laena mulle kannelt, Vanemuine!"). This society played a major role during the next decades and Wanemuine himself appeared on the covers of some songbooks. Jannsen also organized the first Grand Song Festival in 1869 in Tartu (see Arro, pp. 102-8). This was of course modeled after the German song festivals but it set the start of a long-running tradition (see Wikipedia). The repertoire performed at these festivals shows the development of the national Estonian singing culture: 
  • [Johann Voldemar Jannsen], Eestirahwa 50-aastase Jubelipiddo-Laulud. Tartu Wanemuine seltsit wäljaantud, Laakmann, Tartu, 1869 [erb]; at digar & the Internet Archive 

This is the songbook for the first festival. Here we can find for the most part religious songs - that's what the local choirs sang at home - and only a few of secular character. Nearly all of them were by German composers, for example Beethoven, Mozart, Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Abt and Kreutzer. Finland was the other major source. There is one song by Finnish composer Karl Collan (No. 22, p. 71) and Jannsen himself wrote a new text for the tune Frederik Pacius had composed for Runeberg's "VÃ¥rt land", the future Finnish national anthem. His "Mu isamaa, mu õnn ja rõõm" (No. 21, p. 70) would then become - after independence in 1918 - the Estonian anthem. 

Then there were two more Estonian patriotic songs: "Mo isama on minno arm" and "Sind surmani" (No. 25-6, pp. 76-9). These are poems by Jannsen's daughter Lydia Koidula (1843-1886; see Wikipedia; see Hasselblatt, pp. 249-59) that were set to music by Alexander Kunileid (-Säbelmann; 1845-1875, see Wikipedia; see Arro, pp. 115-20), a graduate of Cimze's teacher seminary and an aspiring young composer. These two pieces may count as the first published original Estonian songs but - as musicologist Arro has shown - Kunileid had borrowed the tunes from a Finnish songbook.

The first one who took efforts to promote a more original Estonian repertoire was Carl Robert Jakobson (1841-1882; see Wikipedia; Arro, pp. 109-115; Hasselblatt, pp. 261-4), a teacher - also a graduate of Cimze's seminary -, journalist and a very productive writer, particularly of school-books (see erb). He criticized the predominance of the German songs at the festival and published a little booklet with five Estonian songs, all arranged for male choir. The title translates as "The Sounds of Wanemuine's Harp" and the god of music himself appeared on the cover:
  • Wanemuine Kandle Healed. Neljähealega meeste koorid. Eesti Laulupühaks 1869. Wälja annud C. R. Jakobson, Transchel, St. Petersburg, 1869 [erb], at digar 
The words of all five songs were by Lydia Koidula. Three of them - including the two published in the songbook for the festival - were set to music by Kunileid. But the melodies for the other two are described as "Eesti rahwawiis" (Estonian popular tunes): "Miks sa nuttad" & "Meil aia äärne tänawas". The source of these two is not clear but - as mentioned above - it was the first time that Estonian "folk-tunes" were used in a songbook for choirs. Unlike Jannsen Jakobson - who was very critical of the German cultural and economic dominance - had no problems with traditional songs and he saw them as a source for a future national repertoire. Two more anthologies appeared only shortly later and here he showed again that he had different ideas than Jannsen of what the Estonians should sing: 
  • Wanemuine Kandle Healed. Nelja healega meeste koorid. Wälja annud C. R. Jakobson. Toine jagu, W. Gläser, Tartu, 1871 [erb], at the Internet Archive 
  • Rõõmus Laulja. Kooli lugemise raamatu Wiisid. Wälja annud C. R. Jakobson. Esimene jagu: Kahe, kolme ja nelja healega laulud, laste ja segatud kooridele, Laakmann, Tartu, 1872 [erb], at digar & the Internet Archive 
In the second volume of Wanemuine Kandle Healed the tunes of four of the 15 songs were described as "Eesti rahwawiis", collected by Jakobson himself or by Johannes Eglon (1836-1908; see Eesti Entsüklopeedia), another graduate of Cimze's seminary. Jakobson - C. R. Linnutaja was his pseudonym - also wrote new words for three of them and the fourth was combined with a text by Kreutzwald. Besides these there were also some pieces with tunes by Kunileid as well as songs from Finland and Hungary, two linguistically related peoples. 


Rõõmus Laulja was a songbook for schools and it looks a little bit different from Kuhlbars' earlier anthology. Of course Jakobson couldn't avoid at least some German songs. But there were five original Estonian pieces, four with "Eesti rahwawiis" and one written by Kunileid. He also again included a considerable amount of Finnish songs. All in all this looked like a deliberate attempt to push back the German repertoire and to promote his videas for the future development of Estonian national music. 

But one may say that Jakobson was at that time some steps ahead of what was possible. Other anthologies published at that time were still much more conservative in this respect: 
  • Friedrich Kuhlbars, Wanemuine ehk Neljakordne Laulu-Lõng. Laulud meestekoorile, Laakmann, Tartu, 1870 [erb], at the Internet Archive 
  • Adelbert Hugo Willigerode, Laulo-salgokenne. Korilaulud Jummala nimmel Keisrile auuks rahwale roömuks soprano, alto, tenore ning basso heältest laulda. Essimenne jaggo, 24 kolilaste-pühha laulu, Laakmann, Tartu, 1870 [erb], at digar
    Adelbert Hugo Willigerode, Laulo-salgokenne. Korilaulud Jummala nimmel Keisrile auuks rahwale roömuks soprano, alto, tenore ning basso heältest laulda. Tölne jaggo: 24 kewwade aea laulo, Laakmann, Tartu, 1870 [erb; not yet digitized] 
  • Jaan Nebokat, Ilmalikud meestekoorid. Seminaride, kihelkonnakoolide ja lauluseltside tarwis wäljaantud. Saksakeelest ümberpandud, Laakmann, Tartu, 1870 [erb; not yet digitized] 
  • [Jaan Jung], Laulud kolme heälega. Keige laulu armastajatele, isseärranis Eesti kolidele ja lastele wäljawallitsetud, seatud ja üllespantud J. Jung, Laakmann, Tartu, 1871 [erb], at digar, at UofTartu
    [Jaan Jung] Laulud kahe ja kolme häälega ja kaanonid. Kõigile laulu armastajatele wälja annud J. Jung, 2. jagu, Laakmann, Tartu, 1876 [erb], at digar; at Uof Tartu 
All these collections offered a germanized repertoire and only very few or none Estonian songs. This was no wonder with Willigerode (1818-1893; see Wikipedia; Arro, pp. 79-80), a German clergyman with a lot of sympathy for the Estonian singing movement. He even was a honorary member of Wanemuine and Jannsen had asked him to be the chairman of the committee for the first song festival. But even younger Estonian teachers like Nebokat (1844-1908; see Wikipedia) and Jung (1835-1900; see Wikipedia) followed in Jannsen's footsteps and preferred songs from Germany. 

This decade also saw the first publications of Karl August Hermann who would become the most important and influential promoter of Estonian choral singing. Hermann (1851-1909; see Wikipedia; see Arro, pp. 155-83), born in a poor family, was at first trained as a teacher and then went to the university of Leipzig to study Mongolian and Slavic languages. There he received his doctorate. Back home in Tartu he made himself a name as a writer and scholar of astonishing productivity (see erb). He was busy as linguist, translator from German, author of books for children and instruction books for Russian, editor and journalist, he wrote a history of Estonian literature (1898, erb) and later even started an encyclopedia. 

But he also was a trained musician and became known as composer, songwriter, arranger, choirmaster, folklorist and popular music writer. Musicologist Arro is not fond of Hermann's abilities as composer but that is not the point. He took great efforts to create a repertoire for mostly rural choirs and singers and what was needed were simple songs in the popular style. That's exactly what he did. 
  • Eesti kannel. Neljä Häälega laulud segakoorile. Komponeerinud ja wälja annud K. A. Hermann, 1. wihk. Laakmann, Tartu, 1875 (= Eesti Kirjameeste Seltsi Toimetused 5) [erb], at etera & the Internet Archive 
  • Koori ja kooli kannel. Walja Walitud mitme häälega segakoorilelaulud, kõigile lauluarmastajatele iseäranis aga Eesti kihelkonna- ja külakoolidele iseäranis aga Eesti kihelkonna- ja külaskoodile on kosku pannud K. A. Hermann. 1. anne, Laakmann, Tartu, 1875 [erb], at digar & the Internet Archive 
  • Karl August Hermann, Kodumaa Laulja. Waimulikud ja ilmulikud neljä häälega laulud meestekoorile. Esimene kogu Komponeerinud ja wälja annud K. A. Hermann, Laakmann, Tartu, 1877 (= Eesti Kirjameeste Seltsi toimetused 7) [erb], at etera 
Both Eesti Kannel and Kodumaa Laulja included his own tunes with words - both religious and secular - written by himself and others. In fact at that time these two books presented the greatest number of new original Estonian songs. Nothing comparable had been published before and one may say that Hermann single-handedly created a national repertoire. It seems that at first he was not particularly interested in Estonian Volkslieder. In Eesti Kannel there is only one described as "Eesti rahwawiis" (No. 23, pp. 74-5). Koori ja kooli kannel was - as the title says - intended for schools and choirs and included nearly exclusively German songs. 

Another anthology for schools appeared in 1878. Ado Grenzstein (-Piirikivi; 1849-1916; see Wikipedia), also a teacher trained in Cimze's seminary, compiled this very interesting collection in six parts that was built mostly on European Volkslieder, not only from Germany but also from other countries from Italy to Latvia. 
  • Kooli laulmise raamat. Kuues jaos kirja pannud A. Grenzstein, I.-VI. jagu, Schnakenburg, Tartu, 1878 (= Eesti Lirjameste Seltsi toimetused 15) [erb], at etera (in 1 Vol.) & the Internet Archive; at digar 

Here we can even find an Estonian version of "Robin Adair/Eileen Aroon", interestingly not based on any of the popular German versions but instead on the variant used by Boildieu in his La Dame Blanche (VI, No. 14, pp. 17-8). Grenzstein kept the share of German pieces to a minimum and included a considerable number of Estonian songs, both rahwalaulud and new works. This was the closest the school-children came to learn an Estonian national repertoire in an European context.

Grenzstein's collection was way ahead of its time. We can look into the songbooks for the Grand Song Festivals in 1879 and 1880 and see that - even though there is a little more diversity than a decade ago - the German songs still made up the greatest part of the songs performed:
  • Karl August Hermann, Eestirahwa teise Üleüldise Laulu-Pidu Meestekoorid. Tartu Wanemuine Seltsi wälja antud, Laakmann, Tartu, 1877 [erb], at digar & the Internet Archive 
  • Eesti tänu-laulu-pidu laulud. Kaiserliku Majestedi Alekasandri II. 25-aastase walitsuse juubeli-püha mälestuseks wälja annud pidu toimekond, Laakmann, Tartu, 1880 [erb], at digar & the Internet Archive 
  • Laulu-kogu. 1880-ma jubeli aasta mälestuseks. Wälja annud P. Abel ja Dr. M. Weske, J. Erlemanni, F. Säbelmanni ja teiste abiga, Schnakenburg, Tartu, 1880 [erb], at the Internet Archive 
Another anthology from this time is a little bit different. Linde (1851-1908; see Wikipedia), also a graduate of Cimze's seminary, offered here mostly Latvian songs with Estonian texts: 
  • Adolf Linde, Lõbus Lõuke. Meeste healtele, Schnakenburg, Tartu, 1881 [erb], at the Internet Archive 
During the 1880s Dr. Hermann was even more busy than before: 
  • Koori ja kooli kannel. Walja Walitud mitme häälega segakoorilelaulud, kõigile lauluarmastajatele iseäranis aga Eesti kihelkonna- ja külakoolidele iseäranis aga Eesti kihelkonna- ja külaskoodile on kosku pannud K. A. Hermann. 2. anne, Laakmann, 1882 [erb], at digar & the Internet Archive; at etera 
  • Eesti kannel. Waimulikud ja ilmalikud segakoorilelaulud kirkus, koolis ja kodus laulda. Wälja annud K. A. Hermann. 2. wihk, Schnakenburg, Tartu, 1883 [erb], at etera & the Internet Archive; at digar 
  • Eesti kannel. Neljä Häälega laulud segakoorile koolioas ja kodus laulda. 3. wihk. Trükki andnud K. A. Hermann, Laakmann, Tartu, 1884 [erb], at digar & the Internet Archive 
The second volume of Koori ja kooli kannel included mostly German songs as well as a few by Estonian and Finnish composers. In the two volumes of Eesti kannel he was able to add works by some more Estonian composers and songwriters like Grenzstein-Piirikivi, Jung and young Miina Hermann (1864-1941, see Wikipedia) - not related but one of his pupils - who would later become the most important female composer in Estonia. 

Hermann also started a monthly musical periodical that was then published for more than a decade:
  • Laulu ja mängu leht. Kuukiri Eesti muusika edendamiseks. Wastuwaw toimentaja ja wääljandja Dr. K. A. Hermann, 1885-1897, 1908, at digar, at etera;
    Vol. 2, 1886; Vol. 3, 1887; Vol. 4, 1888, also at the Internet Archive  
Here the interested reader could find for example informative articles about composers, musicians, singers. The first four numbers of the second volume included texts about Beethoven, Liszt, Rubinstein, Wagner. And in No. 12 in Volume 4 there was even an article about Dr. Hermann by Dr. Hermann himself. This magazine was a major contribution to the musical education of the Estonians.


He also added a supplement with songs, mostly arranged for choirs. Of course Hermann was plugging his own works but otherwise he selected an interesting national and international repertoire. For example the fourth volume included translated German songs by Bach, Abt, Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Gluck, Silcher and others, some pieces by Swedish composer August söderman as well as Russian, Finnish, Estonian and Latvian Volkslieder. He also offered young composers like Miina Hermann the opportunity to make their works available to a wider public. 

At around this time Hermann became more interested in Estonian rahwalaulud. He wrote some articles for the Laulu- ja mänguleht (for ex. in Vol. 3, 1887, pp. 9-10) and then in 1890 published the very first anthology of Estonian Volkslieder
  • Karl August Hermann, Eesti rahwalaulud. Segakoorile. Esimene wihk, Hermann, Tartu, 1890 (Eesti Kirjameeste seltsi tolmetused 89) [erb], at etera & the Internet Archive 


Here we can find a short introduction with some musical examples as well as 40 songs, all arranged for mixed choirs. Most of these tunes had been collected by Hermann himself, the rest by colleagues like Aleksander Thomsen (1845-1917, see Wikipedia), a teacher and composer, also a graduate of Cimze's seminary. The texts of most of these songs were also taken "from the mouth of the people" - "rahwa suust" - but some were combined with new lyrics by Hermann or others. All in all this was a very interesting anthology and also an attempt to reanimate traditional songs and make them usable for modern rural and urban choirs. 

Hermann announced this as the first volume but it took a while for the next booklets of this series to appear. Vols. 2 (see erb) and 3 (see erb; at the Internet Archive) only came out in 1905 respectively 1908. Instead he wrote a little treatise in German about Estonian Volkslieder that was published shortly later. Here he included 27 original melodies, mostly collected by himself: 
  • Karl August Hermann, Ueber estnische Volksweisen. Separat-Abdruck aus den Verhandlungen der gelehrten estnischen Gesellschaft zu Dorpat, Hermann, Dorpat, 1892, at UofTartu,
    -, in: Verhandlungen der gelehrten Estnischen Gesellschaft zu Dorpat 16, 1896, pp. 54-72, at the Internet Archive 
He complained that nobody had yet been interested in the songs of the Estonian people. The few printed in songbooks since 1869 had "vanished among the art songs". Volksmelodien weren't known "weil man das Volk zu wenig kannte". They only sang their songs in family circles but not when strangers, particularly Germans, were present. In recent years the traditional tunes were replaced by modern songs and only "old Estonian women in remote areas" still sing them.

This sounds reasonable and it should be recalled once again that generations of German pastors fought against their flock's traditional music and also a considerable part of the first generation of Estonian intellectuals and teacher weren't fond of the songs sung by the people. Hermann noted that during his youth 30 years ago he had heard many original folk tunes and he had been busy collecting them for a while. This booklet as well as his anthology were the results of his researches. What he tried was to bring "back" the old rural songs and make them usable for modern choral singing. 

His little treatise is still worth reading, not only because it was the very first attempt at discussing this genre. He tried a description of the different styles, from the eldest to the modern tunes. and also pointed out European influences on the more recent melodies. There are also some fancy speculations about a possible relationship to Greek, Egyptian and Sumerian music but such theories were not uncommon at that time. He simply tried to postulate a connection to the ancient civilizations to place the formerly so often derided music of the Estonians in a wider cultural context: "Es ist jedenfalls ein interessanter Gedanke, dass die alten Aegypter und die klassischen Griechen ebenso gesungen haben, wie die Esten bis auf die gegenwärtige Zeit" (p. 65). 

Later Hermann also tried to expand his operations to Germany. 150 songs from his Laulu- ja mängu leht translated into German were published in a massive anthology in 1893:
  • Karl August Hermann, Völkerlieder für vierstimmige gemischte Chöre. Eine Sammlung von 150 geistlichen und weltlichen volkstümlichen Kompositionen und Volksliedern der Italiener, Franzosen, Spanier; Russen, Tschechen, Serben, Letten; Niederländer, Engländer, Walliser, Schotten, Iren, Amerikaner, Schweden, Dänen, Norwegeer; Armenier; Inder; Esten, Finnen, Lappen, Tscheremissen, Magyaren; Türken; Chinesen; Japaner; Javaner. Für den Chorgebrauch gesammelt, bearbeitet und herausgegeben von Dr. K. H. Hermann, Klinkhardt, Leipzig, 1893, at BBF 
This was a very worthwhile collection of international Volkslieder, and it is clear that Hermann - someone from the European periphery - had a different outlook than those from the cultural centers in Germany or England. His selection was much more varied than what his German or English colleagues at that time had managed to put together. Unfortunately the Estonian part was somewhat disappointing because he preferred to promote his own songs instead of rahwalaulud

Meanwhile in Estonia other songbooks appeared and we can see that repertoire became more diverse. Estonian songs now made up a greater part than before. A good example is this collection for schools. Around a third of the 30 songs included are described as "Eesti rahwawiis" while the share of German songs was brought to a minimum. Instead the pupils get some more modern Estonian songs by Piirikivi and Hermann as well as some European Volkslieder, for example from Scotland and Sicily:
The anthologies produced for the song festivals in the 90s also show a more varied repertoire even though they remained more conservative than for example songbooks for schools. Nonetheless the greater number of Estonian songs - both modern pieces and rahwalaulud - is notable (see also Arro, p. 153): 
  • Neljanda üleüldise ja teise tänu-laulupidu segakoori laulud, Hermann, Tartu, 1891 (Eesti Kirjameeste Seltsi toimetused 91) [erb], at digar & etera 
  • Neljanda üleüldise ja teise tänu-laulupidu meestekori laulud, Hermann, Tartu, 1891 (Eesti Kirjameeste Seltsi toimetused 92) [erb], at digar 
  • Eesti Rahwa Wabastuse Seitsme-kümne-wiie Aasta Juubeli Tänulaulupidu laulud. Segakoorid, Laulupidu toimetawad seltsid, Jurjewis [Tartu], 1894 [erb], at digar 
  • Eesti Rahwa Wabastuse Seitsme-kümne-wiie Aasta Juubeli Tänulaulupidu laulud. Meestekoorid, Laulupidu toimetawad seltsid, Jurjewis [Tartu], 1894 [erb], at digar 
  • VI. Eesti üleüldise laulupidu meestekoorid. Trükki toimetanud K. Türnpu, Lootuse ja Estonia Selts, Tallin, 1896 [erb], at digar 
  • VI. Eesti üleüldise laulupidu segakoorid. Trükki toimetanud K. Türnpu, Lootuse ja Estonia Selts, Tallin, 1896 [erb], at digar 
I will close this little history of Estonian songbooks with another of Hermann's productions, a comprehensive anthology for all purposes and occasions: for schools, home, concerts and festivals. Here we can find a very diverse repertoire - both religious and secular - that shows how much had changed in this respect since the 1860s. There is still an emphasis on German songs but all in all what is offered here is much more balanced. The original Estonian repertoire consists mostly of Hermann's own songs but a few pieces by others as well as some rahwawiis are also included: 
  • Laulude raamat. Ilu-hääled kooli, kiriku, kodu, konzerdi ja pidu tarwituseks. Kokku seadnud ja wälja andund Dr. K. A. Hermann, Hermann, Jurjewis [Tartu], 1897 [erb], at digar & the Internet Archive; at UofTartu 
We can see how a small group of teachers, writers and activists managed to create a kind of national repertoire. Music played a particularly important role for the development of Estonian culture. This was of course a slow process but all the more impressive. The Estonians were stuck between the dominant German culture on one side and the the Czarist government with their attempts at Russification on the other side. All publications were still subjected to censorship. Nonetheless they created a cultural space and used it as good as possible. 

Noteworthy was the lack of interest in traditional Estonian tunes. Here we can see that the longstanding prejudices against the musical culture of the Estonians were even shared by some important protagonists of the first generation of national activists, especially Jannsen. Over the years only a few tunes found its way into popular songbooks. Compared for example to the situation among the Latvians this was somewhat disappointing. And it is also interesting to see that most of the early collectors and popularizers of rahwalaulud - Jakobson, Kunileid, Thomsen, Grenzstein - had been trained in Cimze's seminary. They were clearly influenced by their Latvian colleagues. A more systematic collection of Estonian "folk tunes" only started after the turn of the century and in an European perspective this was really very late. 

Literature 
  • Walter Anderson: Das Lied von den zwei Königskindern in der estnischen Volksüberlieferung, in: Verhandlungen der Gelehrten Estnischen Gesellschaft 26, 1932, pp. 1-130, at UofTartu 
  • Longins Apkalns, Lettische Musik, Wiebaden, 1977 
  • Elmar Arro, Geschichte der Estnischen Musik. Band I, Tartu, 1933 
  • Cornelius Hasselblatt, Geschichte der estnischen Literatur. Von den Anfängen bis zur Gegenwart, Berlin & New York, 2006 
  • Kevin C. Karnes, A Garland of Songs for a Nation of Singers: An Episode in the History of Russia, the Herderian Tradition and the Rise of Baltic Nationalism, in: Journal of the Royal Musical Association 130, 2005, pp. 197-235 (dx.doi.org/10.1093/jrma/fki003
  • Dietmar Klenke: Der singende „deutsche Mann“. Gesangvereine und deutsches Nationalbewußtsein von Napoleon bis Hitler, Münster, 1998 
  • Helmut Loos, Deutsche Männergesangvereine im Ostseeraum und der Anfang der lettischen Singbewegung, in: Martin Loeser & Walter Werbeck, Musikfeste im Ostseeraum im späten 19. und frühen 20. Jahrhundert, Berlin, 2014, pp. 221-36 
  • Heinrich Rosenthal, Kulturbestrebungen des estnischen Volkes während eines Menschenalters (1869-1900). Erinnerungen, Cordes & Schenk, Reval, 1912, at the Internet Archive 
  • Guntis Å midchens, The Power of Song. Nonviolent National Culture in the Baltic Singing Revolution, Seattle, London & Copenhagen, 2014

          Thank you        

Dear  Ken, 

It all finally came to fruition the board of Liverpool Univesity, online program has finally awarded  me with Masters  degree in software engineering  with merit . I have included below the front page of the research paper, the title and part of  the acknowledgement page.

I am very grateful for all your help in my research. I want to also like to express my deepest gratitude to the ORM group especially Professor Terry Halpin.  The research would not have been possible with out your guidance and patient correction when I lost direction.

I will never forget how much it meant to me  and how encouraging it was that you could sacrifice your time to consider looking at my emails, and models . Your consideration was like a beacon of hope, as I was at the lowest point of my life because I was  confronted with series of health issues.  

 

Thank you so much again!!!,

 

Yours truly,

Berhanu Seyoum

                                                  ABSTRACT

               Towards Ambiguity- Free Conceptual Data Modeling

                                                               By 

                                                        Berhanu Seyoum

Many research has been done with regards to ambiguity in natural language   specification in requirement documents. Based on the description as the basis of data modeling several solutions had been recommended and applied starting from automating the natural language in which the document itself  is written in. This problem is context dependent ambiguity, which occurs less frequently than context independent ambiguity, which requires knowledge of the domain of discourse. Again the solution using description approach has not taken into consideration the requirement documents written in high context cultures and languages. Little attention has also been given to software engineering ambiguity that may arise as a result of this context independent ambiguity. The study shows that using the design paradigm and with the use  of Object Role Modeling (ORM) which has a design procedure based on the first order logic can be used as a better alternative  to design schemas. This method is recommended to circumvent the problem software engineering ambiguity rather than Unified Modeling Language (UML). The study also recommends that UML can be used to be the next step in designing the software for the conceptual schema designed in ORM.  A coffee case has been studied and modeled for a real time automation of the craft of coffee roasting to show that a consistent global schema is possible using this method by incorporating schema integration of three models,

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS 

I would like to give many thanks to Professor Kathleen, my DA whose wisdom and patience has made this paper possible. My gratitude also goes to the many wonderful teachers and support group of Liverpool University online. I would like to thank the ORM foundation group, especially Ken Evans for his guidance. My deepest gratitude also goes to Professor Terry Halpin for his comments and correction of the single origin coffee model, and above all his humble and kind heart, in taking the time from his busy schedule to answer my questions...


          Molecular evidence for allopolyploid speciation and a single origin of the western Mediterranean orchid Dactylorhiza insularis (Orchidaceae)        
Bullini, Luciano and Cianchi, Rossella and Arduino, Paola and De Bonis, Lino and Mosco, Maria Cristina and Verardi, Andrea and Porretta, Daniele and Corrias, Bruno and Rossi, Walter (2001) Molecular evidence for allopolyploid speciation and a single origin of the western Mediterranean orchid Dactylorhiza insularis (Orchidaceae). Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, Vol. 72 (2), p. 193-201. eISSN 1095-8312. Article.
          I could try to do these dishes, time to decide...        
 Life is better today. The sun is out. The equinox approaches. T is back, and we have just planned the Best Night Ever - we are going to get drunk and fill out our census form. Wine and ticky boxes, what's not to love?*

Also, in 6 weeks I'll be on a plane to Australia, and in 7 weeks, I'll be on one to San Francisco, and both of these thoughts are heartening. I will play my ukulele while drinking single origin siphon coffee and unleash my inner hipster as I cycle off into the sunset on a fixie cycle. Fuck yes.

* I suggested we should fight to see who gets to be person 1, but he said I could be. You might mine to be a hollow victory, but only if you misunderestimate my ability to see any positive step as #winning.



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          Stockwell Café + Lounge: Coffee and Meal Hangout Place (Tomas Morato Quezon City)        
My life has become busier.  But, I have found a way to work with comfort by hanging out at coffee shops.  I'm amazed that a change in environment can be a huge difference.  My recent discovery is Stockwell Café + Lounge conveniently tucked at the ground floor of Cocoon Boutique Hotel in Tomas Morato.

Food

Appetizers
nachos
Stockwell Signature Nachos (210 php)
For appetizers, there's the Stockwell Signature Nachos.  Get this if you're yearning to munch something quick.  This is also great for sharing.

sausage platter
♥ Sausage Platter (230 php)
My choice among the appetizers is the Sausage Platter .  I'll have this sharing or no sharing.

stockwell cafe
Stockwell Chicken Tenders (195 php) and Garlic Parmesan Fries (150 php)
Pasta
truffle mushroom linguine
♥ Truffle Mushroom Linguine (250 php)
How can you resist this
Truffle Mushroom Linguine?  I know I can't  

creamy carbonara
Creamy Carbonara (195 php)

Those preferring a classic pasta won't be disappointed with their Creamy Carbonara.

Today's Special
sausage sandwich
Sausage Sandwich (250 php)
If you want a heavier meal, they have them too.

bulgogi rice
♥ Bulgogi Rice (220 php)
The Bulgogi Rice is really good!  Sauce on rice is already a winner.

tapsilog
Stockwell’s Beef Tapa (PHP 200)
Look at the generous portion they have for their Stockwell’s Beef Tapa.   And, the egg is perfectly runny too.
 
cordon bleu
Chicken Cordon Bleu (220 php)

Probably a dish that didn't gain much attention is the Chicken Cordon Bleu because the chicken meat was a bit dry.


chicken longganisa
Chicken Longganisa (220 php)

While I'm not a fan of usual pork longganisa, I really enjoyed the Chicken Longganisa because it wasn't fatty nor too sweet.
 
braised pork belly
Braised Pork Belly (220 php)

A bit of a guilt food is the Braised Pork Belly.  But, some may forget about that and indulge in its fatty goodness.

Coffee
Needless to say, a must order in every visit to Stockwell Café + Lounge is a cup of coffee.

They have really skilled and well-trained baristas who can make you the best cup and make you smile with their amazing latte art. 

♥ Guatamela Cold Brew (120 php)
I highly suggest that you go beyond the ordinary coffee blends and try their Alternative Brews such as Cold Brew and Cold Drip. Since they have Single Origin Coffee Beans, you can describe what you are looking for in a coffee and their barista can help you figure out what coffee beans to use.

Tsinoy Foodies Verdict
As a coffee affecionado, I was really impressed with Stockwell Café + Lounge's coffee selections.  On top of that, I also loved their Matcha and Bulgogi Rice.  Did I mention that the interiors is rustic and comfortable too?  Surely, a possible visit is at hand.  If only this isn't far from home, I'd come here often.

Tsinoy Foodies Review Rating Stockwell Café + Lounge Menu
Ambiance ★★★★ N/A
Taste ★★★★
Service ★★★
Price ★★★
♥=Favorites or Recommended 
Stockwell Café + Lounge
Business Address Ground Floor Cocoon Boutique Hotel, 61 Scout Tobias Corner Scout Rallos Street, Tomas Morato, Quezon City, Metro Manila
Business Hours 9 am-10pm
Payment Options   Cash
Service Charge

Budget/Person 150-400
Free WiFi No
Contact (0949) 6710687
Other 
Stockwell Café + Lounge Map  Like This Post? Subscribe here                            

          Episode 127: Chocolate: From Pre        
Its Valentines Day, and theres no better way to celebrate than by indulging with some luxurious chocolate! This week on A Taste of the Past, Linda Pelaccio is joined in the studio by Clay Gordon. Clay authored the book Discover Chocolate, is the moderator of The Chocolate Life, and host of HRNs Straight From the Source. Learn about the origins of chocolate south of the equator, and learn some chocolate terminology. How does one define a single origin chocolate bar? How did the Industrial Revolution and mechanized production shape the chocolate tastes of the world? Hear Clay talk about his recent trip to Peru, and explains how different types of cacao beans ferment. What distinguishes good chocolate from bad chocolate? Tune into this special Valentines Day edition of A Taste of the Past! This program has been brought to you by The International Culinary Center. The closer you get to more genetic diversity, the closer you get to the place of origin. [6:10] Every part of the human condition you can connect to chocolate in a meaningful way. [20:40] -- Clay Gordon on A Taste of the Past
          Coleccionistas #25: Miguel Lozano        

¿Cuál fue el primer disco que compraste y a qué edad?
A los once años mi madre, como regalo de cumpleaños, me llevó a la tienda de electrodomésticos de mi barrio y me compró un pick-up marca Cosmos amarillo, a la vez me dijo que eligiera el disco que quisiera de la tienda (en aquellos años, finales de los 70, aún vendían discos en las tiendas de electromésticos). Elegí, sabe Dios porqué, el single de Rocky Sharpe & the Replays "Rama Lama Ding Dong", que lamentablemente ya no conservo; era, eso luego lo supe después, del mítico label Chiswick, del que luego recopilé multitud de discos, aunque no desde luego de este grupo, y supuso el comienzo de una obsesión y, porqué no decirlo, una adicción que dura hasta ahora y que me ha quitado muchísimo tiempo y dinero, pero que a su vez me ha proporcionado infinitas satisfacciones. Nunca me he arrepentido de ello, y considero que es una de las ocupaciones más nobles a las que se puede dedicar un ser humano; a este respecto sigo religiosamente los consejos que un día dejó escritos el señor Ewart, obrero metalúrgico del norte de Inglaterra para su hijo recién nacido, como una especie de código de conducta de clase, y en el que figuraba, además de cosas tan obvias y recomendables como nunca pegar a una mujer, no hablar con la policía, ni atravesar jamás la linea de un piquete, el invertir semanalmente una parte de tu sueldo en vinilos.

¿Cuál ha sido el último?
En las tiendas virtuales, léase Ebay, un single de northern, "I Didn't Take Much" de Percy Wiggins y uno de un grupo de ska blanco de principios de los 80, Serious Drinking, que luego fueron The Farm, "Love in the Terraces" (no lo conocía, lo pillé por el título, ya que tengo una minicolección de discos futboleros, a la que me dedico esporádicamente aunque no con mucha obsesión). En las tiendas reales: el último de un grupo actual, Spinto Band, y un recopilatorio de lovers de la Studio One

¿Qué estás coleccionando en estos momentos?
Singles sobretodo, originales de punk y Northern Soul. La única "colección" real que hago es de singles de punk inglés del 77 al 81, realmente estoy orgulloso de todos los que he logrado reunir a lo largo de muchos años. De los demás estilos simplemente voy comprando lo que me gusta, sin ningún afán completista.

¿Cuál es tu hallazgo más precioso? ¿Qué disco consideras la joya de tu colección?
El hallazgo más precioso, por lo extraño del contexto donde lo hallé y lo raro del mismo, es un single con portada portuguesa del clásico ender de northern "Goodbay, Nothing to Say" de Nosmo King & the Jawels, que encontré de casualidad en una tienda de barrio de Oporto donde vendían todo tipo de cosas, tipo ropavejero, y a la que llegué al perderme buscando la casa de un contacto que tenía allí, imagínate la sorpresa al encontrarlo en un cajón entre todo tipo de mierda, y que sólo miré por pura deformación profesional (pues pará mí buscar discos es una especie de profesión, eso sí, no remunerada, más bien al contrario). Joyas creo que tengo bastantes, aunque nunca miro catálogos para saber el precio al que se cotizan, me da bastante lo mismo, no juego en esa liga, pero les tengo bastante aprecio al LP original del Small Faces de la Immediate, por el que pagué el precio más alto en mi vida por un disco, diez mil pesetas de bellón (Diez mil pesetas del año 87, ¿eh? Era un disco que en esa época no estaba ni reeditado; aunque al poco lo hicieron, imaginaros qué rabia) en una tienda de ladrones y especuladores vinilicos de esas que afortunadamente, con el tema de internet, se están yendo al garete. También el single original con portada a ciclostil del "Where is Bill Grundy Now?/Part Time Punks" editado por la revista Sounds, de Television Personalities, o el primer LP de la Banda Trapera que canjeé por cupones en una de las primeras tiendas de discos de discos que hubo en Gijón, una tienda en la que podías escuchar los discos en puestos con auriculares (¡maravillosa experiencia juvenil!, me dedicaba a ella todos los sábados por la mañana antes de ir a las máquinas recreativas). Como curiosidad, tengo un disco, yo lo llamaría mini-single, de los Squezee que debe ser un cinco pulgadas, o algo así.

¿Artwork y portadas favoritas?
Siento ser tan poco original, pero creo que en este aspecto, los LPs clásicos de jazz de la Blue Note no tienen parangón; me atraen en general las portadas con fotos brillantes de negros bien vestidos en escenarios atractivos o en situaciones curiosas (ej. el Crazy Baby de Jimmy Smith, el Black Monks de Thelonius Monk o ese de Bo Diddley en que sale subido a una scooter); también las de grupos ingleses de los 60 en formación en la calle; las de punk del 77 influnciadas por el D.I.Y. situacionista al estilo de las de Jamie Reid para los Pistols y las de grupos de new wave con imágenes de cómic, como el "War Stories" de los Starjets, el "Germ Free Adolescents" de X-Ray Spex o el "Teenarama". Me gustan especialmente las portadas de los discos de la primera etapa de Belle & Sebastian, con un concepto estético muy preciso, fotos, sobretodo de chicas, en blanco y negro con un filtro de color, tengo predilección sobre ese en que sale una muchacha sentada en el suelo con una bandera extendida con una hoz y un martillo (sorry, no me acuerdo del título y no voy a levantarme a mirarlo) -Se refiere al EP en 12" de "This is just a modern rock song"- Los que tienen pijadas como troqueles y cosas así (p.ej. el "Sound of the Suburbs" de los Members o el 10" de Klark Kent) también tienen su punto... Por contra, les tengo bastante manía las portadas psicodélicas, aunque sean de buenos discos como el de Caetano Veloso o el de los Zombies, y presumo de poseer el disco con la portada más fea de la historia: uno de un grupo mod madrileño llamado Pánico Speed, que conservo sólo por eso. Tampoco me gustan las cajas, aunque tengo alguna, sobretodo de singles, ni las ediciones especiales. Tampoco que me firmen los discos.

¿Cómo tienes ordenada tu colección?
Por estilos, décadas y países, y dentro de ellos, simplemente empiezo por los grupos que más me gustan: un criterio igual de absurdo y arbitrario que otro cualquiera; probé con muchos (excepto el alfabético, que no me preguntéis porqué, pero siempre le tuve aversión) y al final era el que más me convencía. El problema está en los grupos con discos en varias décadas y estilos y los que son difíciles de clasificar; hay una serie de discos que estoy continuamente cambiando de estantería. Los LPs los tengo en la clásica Expedit de Ikea, que lleva camino de convertirse en un objeto de culto para coleccionistas de discos, y con la abertura para afuera por comodidad, para no tener que sacar el disco al ponerlo y para que no se arrugue la funda de plástico al meterlo, aunque sólo uso fundas que se ajustan al disco, y las que no, las arreglo recortádolas y pegándolas con celo. Los singles en un mueble hecho ex-profeso a medida, en la que coloqué en cada compartimento una caja de plástico de esas que vendían antes en las ferreterías para ordenar tornillos y en las que curiosamente (pasa mucho, es una especie de medida arquetípica) encajan perfectamente los 7", aquí con las portadas mirando para adelante, que es más estético y operativo.

¿Sabes cuántos discos tienes?
Joder, no.....voy a contarlos ahora así a grosso modo, un momento... Pues así por encima, unos 2.000 LPs, unos 1.200 singles y unos treinta 10 pulgadas. Podría tener muchos, muchísimos más, pero estos son el fruto definitivo de varias purgas que ríete tú de las de Stalin o Beria. He llegado a poner un puesto en el rastro para venderlos, pero no me salía a cuenta, pues acababa gastándome todo el dinero que sacaba en chorradas. Nunca he vendido en Ebay, pues me da pereza.

¿Cuentas CDs?
No tengo reproductor de CDs ni CDs, bueno, sí tengo algunos, regalados por grupos y gente de sellos, nunca comprados, pero obviamente no los considero discos ni los tengo en cuenta de ninguna manera.

¿Cuál es/era tu tienda de discos favorita?
Paradiso en Gijón, y no porque la lleve mi suegro, sino por la extremadamente cuidada selección de material en todos los estilos (os reto a que encontréis un disco malo en ella), por la tradición (ininterrumpida desde los años 70) y porque auna dos de mis grandes pasiones, música y libros (y casi tres, pues de la tercera, el fútbol, tienen en la pared un banderín original de la final de la Copa del 80 entre el Sporting y el Barça que cualquier día caerá en mis manos cuando su legítimo dueño flaquee). También Beltza Records, de Donosti, creo siempre es mejor dejarle el dinero a un amigo, además de considerar a los dueños de la mayoría de tiendas de discos de España (sí, esas en las que todos estáis pensando) unos auténticos ladrones y especuladores. De las de fuera, aunque lejos de los tiempos dorados de los 80, las de Londres, Honest Jon's, Reckless, Vinyl Solution o todas las de la cadena Music and Video Exchange. Cuando viajo a una ciudad nueva, lo primero que hago es enterarme de donde están las tiendas de discos, sobretodo las de segunda mano, y nunca perdono las consiguientes visitas, y nunca llego a casa sin una bolsa con nuevas adquisiciones.

Cuéntanos el episodio más memorable de tus días de cazador de discos (un timo, un error, un triunfo, un encuentro, un robo, una conversación...)
No suelo dejarme timar, y sólo algunas veces he sido víctima del timo aceptado, el más normal, cuando sabes que el precio de un disco es desproporcionado, pero tu adicción y las ganas de tenerlo te hace caer en el engaño, aunque casi siempre procuro resistir a la tentación. La popularización de las tarjetas de crédito hizo mucho daño en este caso a los compradores de vinilo; antes de ellas, cuando manejabas dinero contante y sonante, medías mucho más lo que gastabas. Triunfos, muchísimos: los del rastro hace más de veinte años, cuando no estaba aun trillado y encontrabas verdaderas joyas a cincuenta pesetas, así pillé infinidad de singles de soul y 60s, los de los rastrillos benéficos (en uno de una parroquia llegué a encontrar uno de Slaughter & the Dogs que no volví a ver en ningún sitio) o los de las compras a domicilio, cuando de repente alguien ponía un anuncio en el periódico o en una revista en el que vendía toda una colección de algún familiar muerto o porque decidía que ya era muy mayor para andar con esas cosas o por la razón que fuera, y te tocaba negociar, pues sólo querías una parte de los que vendían, y ellos se querían deshacer de toda la colección. Uno de los mayores triunfos, por la calidad y cantidad de lo adquirido, fue al hermano de unos de los míticos primeros mods de Madrid, cuando vivía allí, le pillé una colección de la hostia de punk 77 y revival, casi todos singles originales; lo curioso es que tenían todos una etiqueta con su nombre el las galletas, que no tuve que quitar....¡pues se llamaba igual que yo! En Ebay recuerdo que por ejemplo llegué a comprar dos LPs originales (de hecho, los dos mejores) de Laura Nyro por dolar y medio, y en un centro Reto una carpeta llena de singles españoles (incluído el "Ramones" de los Pistones, bastante cotizado entonces) por el precio de la carpeta sólo. Y casualidades, muchas, por ejemplo conseguir el single de los Cigarettes "Can't Sleep at Night" en Perpignan a un precio increíble justo antes de pedirlo por correo a Inglaterra por un precio infinitamente mayor. Al contrario me pasó muchas veces de ver un disco tirado de precio justo después de apoquinar por él una considerable cantidad. Errores no muchos, yo casi siempre voy a tiro fijo, lo único algún LP comprado sólo por que te gustaba una canción de un grupo y no traerla por ser un single, o ser una versión peor que la de éste, pero nada reseñable. Y experiencias penosas, pero que te ayudan a ser más cuidadoso, recuerdo comprar bastante caro un LP original de Major Lance y nada más sacarlo de la bolsa en el hotel para verlo, caerse el vinilo y cascarse: desde entonces siempre coloco la funda interior de manera que impida salirse al disco. El tema de las adquisiciones a precio cero es un poco delicado; yo por principios nunca robo en tiendas pequeñas en las que su dueño sea honrado y tenga los discos a un precio justo, pero estaréis todos de acuerdo conmigo en que esto esto no fue muy común en el panorama disquero español en los últimos veinticinco años, por lo que he de confesar que una parte bastante considerable de mi discografía ha sido adquirida de esta manera; como ejemplo diré que me hice a ese justiprecio la colección entera de series medias de la Motown en unos grandes almacenes de esos que anuncian que llega la primavera, y que nunca tuve remordimientos por salir de las ferias del disco con más discos en las bolsas de los que se correspondían con el dinero invertido. Una de las cosas más curiosas que me pasaron en mi peregrinar por las tiendas de discos del mundo, me ocurrió en una de Bilbao, y más de una vez, el encargado de la tienda, de la que omitiré el nombre por razones obvias, ponía contentos a los clientes con un poco de espabilina, y así, claro, acababan (acabábamos) comprando con la euforia más de lo que en una situación normal hubieses hecho. Y una de las distorsiones más curiosas de la realidad que produce el estado alterado de conciencia del momento de la búsqueda vinílica es que la alegría de encontrar a alguien conocido enseguida se solapa con la preocupación de que te pueda birlar un disco sobre el que tú consideras que tienes un derecho adquirido.

¿Ha cambiado tu perspectiva del coleccionismo de discos desde la aparición de Ebay y la compra por Internet?
Yo, como todas las personas de cultura analógica, tengo una relación ambivalente con las compras por Internet: por una parte recelo de todo lo que no puedas ver y tocar, pero por otra, considero que ha democratizado mucho el tema del coleccionismo y ha contribuido a acabar con la especulación; el tema de las pujas ha puesto el precio de los discos (de la mayoría) en su valor real, aunque se ha perdido con ello un poco la cultura del esfuerzo y la dedicación a la hora de la búsqueda del material. He pasado, como casi todo el mundo, por esa fase de enganche en Ebay y la semi-ruina económica que ello conllevaba, y la he superado afortunadamente; ahora lo visito de muy tarde en tarde. Pero en lineas generales me parece positivo, ya te digo, por haber acabado con la especulación, que me parece una de las cosas más execrables que existen, y no sólo en el tema de los discos. Eso sí, la emoción de conseguir un disco en la red, incluso ganado una puja disputada, está a años luz de la que se experimenta cuando de pronto, en una tienda de segunda mano, de forma inesperada das con esa joya que llevabas tiempo rastreando y encima a un buen precio, ese nerviosismo que te entra, ese mirar a todos los lados agarrando fuertemente el hallazgo y comprobando que no hay ningún buitre al acecho, pues probablemente habrá mas sorpresas en las cajas, y ese llegar a pagarlo sin que se note que el disco está tasado muy por debajo de su precio real, el elegir el taco adecuado en esa especie de competición que es el inicio de una feria del disco o el comprobar que esa portada que sólo habías visto en un catálogo o en una revista de música es mucho más bonita al natural y a tamaño real buf, esas sensaciones son increíbles...

¿Aireas tu colección? Es decir: ¿Pinchas discos o realizas una actividad didáctica similar?
Claro, no soy uno de esos coleccionistas maniáticos a quienes no les puedes casi ni tocar los discos, y que los limpian cada vez que los ponen, o que casi ni los ponen para no estropearlos... Más bien peco de todo lo contrario, ya se me ha extraviado alguno después de una pinchada y roto también algun otro, además de llegar a casa la mayor parte de las veces pringosos de cerveza, y por supuesto confundidos de funda y muchos sueltos por la maleta; después de pinchar he de dedicar toda una tarde a labores de orden y limpieza. Suelo pinchar en bares del barrio, sobretodo en La Folixa, sitio que adoro y considero mi segunda casa, y único bar del mundo que conozco que SÓLO tiene platos; antes pinchaba también con LPs, ahora sólo pincho con singles por dos razones: comodidad de traslado y comodidad de pinchaje (cuando estás borracho -y suele pasar ya a mitad de sesión- lo que menos te apetece es ponerte los cascos y andar contando surcos). Cuando pincho en bares de amigos, que suele ser desinteresadamente, pongo punk y soul sobretodo; cuando me contratan en otros sitios pincho a la carta lo que me pidan; también participo en un club periódico de soul itinerante. Respeto todas las opiniones, pero creo que los discos están hechos fundamentalmente para ser escuchados, y si es en comunidad, mucho mejor, por tanto hay que compartirlos cuando surja la más mínima oportunidad, eso sí, dentro de un orden...

(Miguel Lozano, alias Lozano, es un decano ex-mod gijonés de Generación similar a la nuestra y viejo buen amigo de esta casa. Nos gusta Lozano, por su incorruptible posición de extrema izquierda guillotinadora -no le pregunten sobre la revolución francesa, insensatos- por su donkey jacket, por su afición al libado social, por su porte hierático y sosegado, por su conciencia de clase y su amor militante y comunitario al deporte aquel de la pelota redonda y las porterías. Desde los 70's, de lo mejor de Asturias)


          Maglia Rosa        
Maglia Rosa is an espresso kiosk located inside West End Bikes.  The kiosk's name is Italian for the "pink jersey," which is awarded to the rider with the lowest aggregate time in Italy's premier bike race, the Giro d'Italia.  West End Bikes is in downtown Portland, and is an excellent place to go if you feel the need to spend $6,000 on a bike.  Maglia Rosa's pleasures are similarly stratospheric in quality, but much more affordable.


Using a fully tricked out LaMarzocco, the barista pulls exquisite shots.  Single origin only, from Stumptown Roasters.  The attention to detail is remarkable.  I commented on the perfection, and the barista's reaction implied that this was a matter of course and nothing else would be acceptable or even possible.  She generously shared her knowledge and I loved her intensity.  I later discovered that Maglia Rosa is owned by United States Barista Champion, Phuong Tran.


In a town where the quest for the very best coffee can seem close to blood sport, Maglia Rosa is a contender.





          Ristretto Roasters on North Williams        
I was at Ristretto Roasters yesterday and noticed the barista really putting her body weight into tamping an espresso shot.  Among coffee geeks, this kind of thing is controversial.  Some insist that the coffee should be no more than lightly tamped.  The "consensus" is that one should tamp with about 25 to 30 pounds of downward pressure (you can even buy a tamper that has a built in device for measuring exactly 30 pounds of pressure).  So one might see a nerdy eyebrow or two raised about the Ristretto barista's tamping gusto. But any critics would be silenced by the resulting shot: nutty aroma and big caramel malt flavors with impressive mouthfeel.

They do not actually roast at this particular Ristretto Roasters; that is done at another of their handful of locations.  Like many small roasters in Portland, Ristretto's focus is on medium roasts, while apparently eschewing the black-oily french and italians that once seemed to define gourmet coffee.  Their Beaumont Blend is a good choice when making espresso at home, but they also have an ever changing selection of single origin beans.

This store is a personal favorite.  The staff is knowledgeable and infectiously enthusiastic about coffee minutia.  The space may be a little too clean, and every customer  (I mean every single one!) seems to be on a Mac Powerbook.  That's balanced, though, by the ragged voices of  Bob Dylan and Tom Waits on the stereo.   The store also has an impressively huge four head espresso machines with naked portafilters.  And who can resist that?




          Heart Roasters        
Is it possible to be too serious about coffee?  The first time I visited this roastery and cafe located at 2211 East Burnside, I observed one of the staff doing a pour-over.  She had a look on her face not unlike a lab technician extracting a newly discovered cancer cure from a DNA helix.  She spent what seemed like an eternity oh-so-slowly pouring hot water over perfectly ground and measured coffee.  When the pour-over was finished, she deeply inhaled the resulting coffee's aroma.  Then she walked away and came back a minute later to once again inhale with zen-like focus.  Another minute passed, and she inhaled again.  I never saw her take a drink.  Maybe she never did.

All that seriousness apparently pays off, because Heart makes really good coffee.  And the space they offer for drinking it will appeal to those who favor a clean retro-modern aesthetic.  It's a bit hard to describe, but their custom colored (and gorgeous) espresso machine offers some clues:


The baristas take their time getting the best out of this machine, which features gauges and paddles for each group to precisely control pressure and water flow.

Not all of the machines make coffee at Heart.  They also have a 1970's stereo with real speakers playing interesting music at listening (rather than background) volume.  There's even a turntable, but it seems to be used mostly as a place to rest iPods.
  
If you order an espresso, you will have your choice of a couple single origin beans.  The Kenyan I had on a recent visit was deep and raisiny.  A double shot is $3, which seems at the north end of reasonable, and looks something like this:


It will be delicious, and the perfect thing to sweep the cobwebs from a foggy brain on a rainy afternoon. 

          Belmont Stumptown        
I may as well start out with one of the granddaddies of the craft coffee movement: Stumptown.  A decade or so ago, just when the mergers and acquisitions of the coffee giants seemed on the verge of swallowing the last small coffee purveyor, Stumptown emerged to lead the way to the next level of coffee obsession.  This was, to a large extent, because of a counterintuitive strategy: unlike the big guys, Stumptown offered coffees that were medium roasted, instead of the dark and oily french roasts that were (and are) so popular.  For espresso, that means Stumptown's signature Hairbender blend, which is complex, sweet and without the big bitter hit that tends to mark darker roasts.

On one of the very last gorgeous days of a remarkable Portland summer that stretched into mid-October, I rode over to the the Stumptown at the corner of 33rd and Southeast Belmont.  This was one of the first locations of the company's small empire (it recently added outposts on Manhattan and in Seattle).  As you can see in the photo, the shop's design is minimalist and timeless.
 

The staff was friendly and helpful.  One of them noticed me staring at a wall of 12 ounce bags of single origin coffee beans, and asked me if I needed help deciding what I wanted.  Actually, I was looking for one that cost less than twenty bucks.

They use a La Marzocco Strada to make espresso, which has a saturated grouphead that stabilizes temperatures and allows for consistent controllable results.  The shot was pulled with great care and some ritual (the shop wasn't busy, allowing the barista some leisure).  The resulting setup is shown in the accompanying photo.  The shot, made with Hairbender, was just as delicious as I'd come to expect, with dark thick crema and a final sip that was intensely sweet.
          Blog Post: New Super Mario Bros. 2: All Coins, No Creativity        

 

With the 2012 Olympics having recently come to an end, you would think we could all put our “go for the gold” attitudes to the side for a while. But just as we all attempt to quell our gold lust, New Super Mario Bros. 2 tempts us into relapse.  As the sequel to 2006’s New Super Mario Bros. for the DS, New Super Mario Bros. 2 continues the series’ 2.5d side scrolling gameplay, but with a twist.  As you travel through the game’s six worlds in pursuit of Bowser you will also be collecting as many gold medals… err coins as you can, in an attempt to eventually amass 1,000,000 coins (take that Michael Phelps). While this quest for gold certainly adds something new to the gameplay and level design, it isn’t enough to set the game apart from the other games in the series.

 

The story revolves around Mario’s journey to rescue Princess Peach from the clutches of Bowser and the Koopa Kids. Yes, this is the same story presented in nearly every Mario game, but Mario games have never been known for their stories. Mario is all about the gameplay, and New Super Mario Bros. 2 delivers it masterfully. As always, controlling Mario is a dream. By keeping the controls simple (Run, Jump, Move left and right) the game retains that “simple to learn, harder to master” gameplay. The game is easy to pick up and play, and it is unlikely you will ever feel that a death wasn’t your fault.

 

As usual, the level design is top notch, and even though the world themes are all retreads (Desert, Swamp, Snow) the coin collecting manages to keep the levels feeling fresh. You will rarely find yourself on a screen devoid of at least a few coins, and there are usually hidden coins just waiting to be unveiled. Enemies drop coins when killed, and there are three special star coins to find in every level. If all of that isn't enough, new coin related power ups have been added to facilitate your new found addiction. Coin blocks can now turn into coin block hats, which award you coins for moving at a fast click, and golden rings scattered through the levels will turn all enemies golden for a short while, awarding you extra coins for defeating them and sometimes making them leave coins in their wake. There is even a new Golden Fire Flower that turns your fireballs golden, and causes them to turn blocks and enemies into more gold coins. These are only a few of the many new ways to collect coins, so be sure to tinker with the new mechanics and figure out what works best to maximize your gold count.

 

The Coin Block Hat is definitely the most satisfying new item


However, despite the new features, upgrades are one area where New Super Mario Bros. 2 falls short. Your arsenal consists of three main power ups: The Mushroom, The Fire Flower, and The Super Leaf. Having been recently resurrected in Super Mario 3D Land, fans will enoy finally be able to use The Super Leaf in a 2D Mario game again, but it isn’t enough to carry the game through six worlds. Where are the Penguin Suits and Propeller Caps from New Super Mario Bros. Wii? Or the Frog and Hammer Bros. Suits from Super Mario Bros. 3? The Mini and Mega Mushrooms make a comeback, but they are rarely used. The game sorely needs more item variety, even if it is only five to six hours long.

 

In an attempt to keep you playing past those five or six hours, the game also features three secret worlds, two player co-op, and a new gameplay mode called Coin Rush. The three secret worlds are welcome additions, as they can add a few more hours to the painfully short game. They also inject a dose of difficulty that the main game rarely provides. You can connect wirelessly to a friend locally (sorry no online) for two player co-op, but it is plagued by many of the same problems as New Super Mario Bros. Wii. Mario and Luigi Bump into each other, and bounce off each other’s heads when they collide, which makes precision platforming nearly impossible. This is a problem that could be easily solved by allowing the characters to pass through each other. Also, for some reason the second player must always stay on the same screen as player one, despite the fact they are playing on different screens. This bizarre decision makes co-op a mess, and it is unlikely you will want to play through with a friend. Then there is Coin Rush mode, which is the best reason of the three to keep playing. In Coin Rush, you are tasked to complete three randomly selected levels with a single life, all while collecting as many coins as possible. You are also only given about one half the regular time to complete each level. You are given coin multipliers for completing levels, which allows you collect an insane amount of coins in a short time. This mode is very stressful, but also a lot of fun. High Scores can be traded through Street Pass, allowing you to challenge others.

 

Luckily the game looks and sounds great, even if none of it is new. The game’s graphics are comparable to those of its Wii counterpart. Very colorful and very detailed, you will feel right at home if you are a veteran fan of the series. If you are especially attentive, you will notice the small details such as Mario turning his head to look at bosses, enemies dancing to the music, and platforms that wobble when you walk on them. The biggest issue is with the 3D effect. When the 3D is on the graphics attempt to give a sense of depth by creating distance blur in the background. However all this does is make the background art look muddy and it hurt my eyes. I recommend playing the entire game in 2D, except for the final boss encounter, which actually looks pretty cool. As far as the soundtrack goes, expect a lot of remixes of classic Mario songs. I don’t think there is a single original song in the entire game, from the level music to the boss themes, and if there was one it didn’t catch my attention. This isn’t really a complaint since the Mario series has amazing music, but I must admit I have grown tired of a couple of these songs.

 

Co-op is a nice addition, but it still needs some work


To be honest, those last few complaints can be applied to the game as a whole. It just isn’t original. Every single Super Mario game has dared to be different, dared to try something new, whether it was full 3D levels in Super Mario 64 or four player co-op in New Super Mario Bros. Wii. New Super Mario Bros. 2 seems to be content with being nothing more than a level pack for the New Super Mario Bros. series. That being said, even a middling Mario game is better than most other platformers, and New Super Mario Bros. 2 is still a lot of fun. The coin collecting doesn’t really change up the gameplay enough to make it feel like something different, but it is a fun distraction, and isn’t that all you want out of a video game anyway?


          Idulgashinna Ceylon Green Organic from Single Origin Teas        
A very neat tea! I admittedly drink more Chinese and Japanese greens, so I was excited to try this fair trade, organic Sri Lanka tea out. I didn't get the leather notes others described, but I got some fantastic lychee and floral flavors! Especially in the resteep, the lychee flavor tasted like all the milk out of a lychee was extracted into this tea. This tea is backed up with a stern grassy flavor that add some strength, as well as some bitterness to this tea. Full review on my blog, The Oolong Owl http://oolongowl.com/idulgashinna-ceylon-green-tea-single-origin-teas-oolong-owl-tea-review/
          Ginseng Oolong from Single Origin Teas        
So, this is the second time I've tried ginseng oolong, the first one from Teavivre. I figured it wasn't for me as Teavivre is pretty solid. When I saw Single Origin Tea sent me some to review and I was like "Doh! Not this tea again!" So, I decided to break up the black tea blend train I've been on today and give ginseng oolong another go. Maybe this one is different? The look of ginseng oolong is really cool and I like the concept of it being sweet and healthy like. As I sip it, it tastes good - a nice light floral oolong vibe. I felt hopeful. Then it hit me end of sip - that sweet, lingering licorice tongue coating flavor that makes me want to sandpaper my tongue so I can't taste it anymore. Nope, 2nd time and still ginseng oolong isn't for me. I'll try it one more time (someother time) to fully try out ginseng oolong. It's totally personal taste why I dislike this type of tea. Though, if you do like licorice teas you should really try this tea out.
          Dong Ding Oolong from Single Origin Teas        
Last tea for Oolong Week! This one is a nice medium roast Dong Ding. This Dong Ding has really nice roasty flavor, nutty sunflower notes, savory elements with a sweetness that shows up in later infusions. Very crisp, clean and fresh tasting tea. Later steepings has a bit of bitterness, similar to nut shells, and a hint of astringency. Full review on my blog, The Oolong Owl http://oolongowl.com/dong-ding-oolong-single-origin-teas-oolong-owl-tea-review/
          Four Seasons Oolong from Single Origin Teas        
An elegant, buttery sweet milk, liliac and lilies and snap pea vegetal oolong! I personally prefer a more oxidized or roasted oolong, but this green oolong was pretty good. I love the thick flavor and the high volume of steeps I got with gongfu short infusions (9!). Four Seasons oolong was pretty sweet - I think this would be a great dessert tea for the tea drinker that prefers unflavored teas. Full review on my blog, The Oolong Owl http://oolongowl.com/four-seasons-oolong-single-origin-teas-oolong-owl-tea-review/
          Singbulli Oolong Darjeeling from Single Origin Teas        
A different kind of oolong! I love the delicate grape and nutty flavor notes, with some floral and woodsy musty. It is like a dong ding oolong and a Darjeeling black had a baby! The tea has a moderate amount of astringency, which gets really strong for the second infusion. The second infusion tasted sweeter and more fruity, but was way too dry for my tastes. Full review on the blog The Oolong Owl http://oolongowl.com/singbulli-oolong-darjeeling/
          Coonoor Estate Nilgiri from Single Origin Teas        
From the unflavored TTB Mmm, this is good! I had a hard time reading the handwriting on Single Origin Tea packages, so I thought this was an milgiri oolong, then whatever coonoon is.. a raccoon? Turns out Coonoor is the tea estate! Anyways, pretty tasty tea! Sweet, little light for a black, bready, fruity grapey, dry, and a little caramelly. I'm not a fan of the dryness, but the flavor is pretty good.
          Orange Blossom Oolong from Single Origin Teas        
This flavored oolong is all about the orange flavor! It has a navel orange kind of taste, with a bit of a woodsy toasty oolong background. The blend is fresh, sweet and clean without any tart dryness. I'm thinking Orange Blossom Oolong would be best iced or cold brew. Full review at Oolong Owl http://oolongowl.com/single-origin-teas-flavored-tea-review/
          Blue Lady from Single Origin Teas        
This was a fun black tea - a perfect afternoon tea with a tropical twist. The dry leaf has a dainty accent of blue, yellow and red teeny flowers and flavored with passionfruit. I tasted a malty black with a tropical vibe and dry finish. Full review at Oolong Owl http://oolongowl.com/single-origin-teas-flavored-tea-review/
          Candied Chestnut from Single Origin Teas        
Super tasty! Though I am biased as I love chestnut teas! The flavor is pretty natural roasted chestnuts without being too sweet. The black base, though light and pretty close to a high oxidized oolong (which this is actually a chinese oolong fully oxidized) with roasty caramel flavor. The base goes well with the chestnut flavor. I got a really good second infusion too! Full review at Oolong Owl http://oolongowl.com/single-origin-teas-flavored-tea-review/
          DOCTORS OF MADNESS: An EXCLUSIVE Q&A with RICHARD STRANGE!        

The 
Doctors Of Madness 
Will See You Now:

An EXCLUSIVE Q&A 
with 
Richard Strange

     Doctors Of Madness was a British outfit that defied categorization. They were Punk in attitude of not style. They were Art Rock in attitude AND style. They were a classic British Rock band before it was cool to be a classic British Rock band. They were forthright. They were gentle. They were loud. They were electric. They had smashing tunes. Etc.  Basically, the Docs were everything you needed in a band. While they became an influence to so many that followed in their wake, the Docs did not reap their just rewards –fame and fortune - during their existence (1974-78).
     But fear not, dear reader!  Cherry Red Records has just issued the amazing PERFECT PAST – THE COMPLETE DOCTORS OF MADNESS box set, a three CD set containing their trio of albums - - featuring plenty of unreleased bonus tracks including an unreleased track with The Damned’s Dave Vanian on vocals! This set is the ultimate DOM collection and is perhaps the final word on a band that really deserves to be labeled as ‘seminal,’ ‘iconic,’ ‘legendary’ and ‘quite good, actually!’
     Stephen SPAZ Schnee gathered together a set of questions that band leader Richard Strange was kind enough to answer…



STEPHEN SPAZ SCHNEE: PERFECT PAST: THE COMPLETE DOCTORS OF MADNESS is just about to be released.  How are you feeling about this project coming together and the way it turned out?
RICHARD STRANGE: To be honest, it has given me a chance to revisit my back catalogue and reevaluate the work I was doing 40 plus years ago, and while inevitably there are some thiNgs I would have done differently - some lyrics I would have rewritten, refined - these are mainly with the benefit of hindsight and experience.  I am proud of the work, and I think it sounds as relevant and pertinent today as it did in the mid/late ‘70s.  Maybe even more so.


SPAZ: Doctors Of Madness was unlike any band before or since. Some have lumped you into the Punk genre because of the timing of the release of your albums yet I’ve always seen you as more of an Art Rock band closer to Bowie, Roxy Music or even Sparks. In the end, the band was –and remains – completely unique.  In hindsight, where do you feel the band fits in in the overall scheme of things?
RICHARD: We were ABSOLUTELY an art rock band.. I never wrote about, never sang about MUSIC. I was interested in all the other stuff - books, films, theatre, fine art, poetry.

SPAZ: When you formed the band, did you feel that you were doing something different than the bands around you? Some bands follow their instincts and don’t realize until later that they are, in fact, forging their own path…
RICHARD: The Doctors of Madness was my first band.  Peter di Lemma, our drummer, and I set the ball rolling in 1974. We had been at school together, but I had only been playing guitar for a couple of years.  I’d never really thought of myself as a musician before. I loved words and I loved contemporary art.  I discovered the US writer William Burroughs (NAKED LUNCH, SOFT MACHINE, JUNKIE etc) and the other  Beat writers, principally Kerouac and Ginsberg, alongside discovering Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg and the Pop Artists, and I wanted to form a bad that was like a mash up between the two.  I was in love with the Velvet Underground since the release of their first album in 1967 - Brian Eno once said that everybody who bought that first album went on to form a band - I know I did and I know he did! I met Urban Blitz (violins and guitars) through the Melody Makersmall ads, and Colin Stoner (bass) had been a friend for years. In those early days (1974/75), no one would touch the Doctors of Madness…we were too weird, too out there!  Remember, this was the fag end of Prog Rock, where everyone wanted to show their parents that these long-haired kids in flares could play to the same standard as conservatoire musicians - that never interested me.  I always believed that Rock music’s role was to piss your parents off, not to impress them!  We looked like we had just landed from a charity shop on Mars!  Blue Hair, make up, weird names, songs about mind control, paranoia, neurosis and urban breakdown, with a cast of characters like Dollar Deal Dave, The Reversal Boys, Pigface and The Shiny Gang, The Weird Scenes addicts, etc.


SPAZ: In regards to the band’s influences, who do you feel were the most important artists that inspired the band members?
RICHARD: Burroughs, Bowie, Jacques Brel, Warhol, Velvets, Roxy and, lyrically, Dylan and Cohen.

SPAZ: Were there any then-contemporary bands that you felt a kinship with at the time?  I always put you in the same category as Doll By Doll: great songs played by a super group from a different time continuum.
RICHARD: Always loved Doll by Doll. Jackie Leven was a friend who, like us , was for a long time on the receiving end of a Music Media who didn’t “get” what they were trying to do.  It didn’t fit into any category. That’s always a problem for lazy journalists.

SPAZ: When you first formed the band, did they end results sound like what you had imagined at the beginning?  Or did the band head off in a different direction than originally envisioned?
RICHARD: Here’s what I wrote in my memoir, STRANGE- PUNKS AND DRUNKS AND FLICKS AND KICKS. (2004): “The unique sound of the Doctors really came jointly from the musicianship Stoner and Urban Blitz. Peter and I were just about competent and adequate musicians, but the racket that those two guys made was what made our sound. As a vocalist I knew I was no great shakes, my range is too limited, but as a performer who could put over those songs I’m pretty good. I work within my limitations, but always try to push myself to expand them.
(In the studio, recording our first album….) With the early technical problems overcome, we set about our task of recording a great first album with a genuine relish and a manic intensity. I wanted to make an album that would contain, reflect and mutate everything I had ever felt, ever experienced in my 24 years. I wanted it to reflect every joy, every disappointment, every grudge, and every resentment. I wanted it to be full of bitterness, desolation, alienation, bile and fury. Such tenderness as there was would be tempered with cynicism and distance. Such romance as there was would be doomed to painful breakdown. I wanted the record to be dark, cinematic and colossal. My subject matter was urban decay, neurosis and corruption. I had the anarchist’s loathing for all systems of control. Lyrically my roots were in the singer/songwriter tradition of Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Jacques Brel and David Bowie, but my songs were seasoned with a sour edge and a rotten middle, courtesy of William Burroughs. Musically I loved the energy, directness and gonzo avant gardism of the Velvet Underground at their most uncompromising. Walls of white noise and feedback laid over speed-fuelled, dumb-ass rhythm. The harmonic equivalent of bare-knuckle fighting. Sonic porn. We set ourselves into a circle in the studio, turned down the lights and attempted to blow each other off the face of the earth. We recorded several versions of each song, changing our performances each time. All the tracks were recorded live in the studio, with any overdubs and corrections done later. It meant that the album was hell to mix, because there was so much sound spillage. For instance, the drum microphones were picking up the sounds of the guitar, the violin and the bass, so it was impossible to alter the sound of the drums without also altering the sound of the other instruments. But what the songs lost in clarity and definition of sound, we felt they gained in spirit and atmosphere.”

SPAZ: Do you feel the band was better live or in the studio? Do the albums reveal a deeper, more comprehensive look into the band’s creativity?
RICHARD: We had two sides to us- we were a great, raw, exciting live band, engaging, dangerous and inconsistent. In the studio, we had huge visons and small budgets, and that was sometimes very frustrating, sometimes very inspiring.  Making the most of what you have, and using whatever it is that you have is sometimes the key to creativity.


SPAZ: LATE NIGHT MOVIES, ALL NIGHT BRAINSTORMS was a stunning debut.  The album takes the listener through so many highs and lows. The frenetic “Waiting” gives way to the wonder that is “Afterglow”… and the ride just keeps going from that point. Was the album a proper representation of your live set at the time?
RICHARD: Yes, it showcased every facet, from furious to bitter to tender to amorous to visionary.



SPAZ: Any particular memories of recording the debut album? Did you become comfortable in the studio fairly quickly?
RICHARD: We were just so excited be doing it…we were suddenly a real professional rock band, with our heads full of ideas.  Sometimes it was confrontational, a battle of wills between us individually, but generally we were all pulling in the same direction and we all knew what that direction was. “Cathedrals of sound”, we kept saying…”We are building cathedrals of sound”!

SPAZ: From a musical standpoint, did you feel that critics and fans truly understood where you were coming from? And do you think they/we understand it now?
RICHARD: Many did, most didn’t. We had great fans, dedicated, loyal and supportive…and they came from other bands too… The Damned, Joy Division, Simple Minds, The Skids, The Adverts, Spiritualized, Julian Cope, Joe Elliott of Def Leppard.  People write lovely things about us now - how we inspired their own work, how we were such a part of their formative years, the soundtrack of their lives, etc. And with digital media and social networks, all these lovely testimonials keep on arriving – it’s so much easier to speak directly to your heroes these days.


SPAZ: FIGMENTS OF EMANCIPATION was made up of songs that were ‘dedicated’ to various folks.  Was this an afterthought when putting the album together? Or did you have a clear concept for that particular album when you began to write and record?
RICHARD: Half and half. Once I had dedicated half the songs, it seemed fitting that I should dedicate the rest!

SPAZ: For most bands, the first album is normally made up of songs that the band had years to write.  Was the second album made up of newly-penned material or were there holdovers from before the debut?
RICHARD: Nearly all the songs on the second album had been written before we recorded the first and had featured in our live show.  I think only “In Camera” and “Out” were brand new

SPAZ: The album seemed more focused, mixing the aggression with the beauty. Did you purposely take a different approach to the album?  There is a lot more ‘Soul’ on the album, literally and figuratively.
RICHARD: Yes, we had learned a lot doing the first album, and had improved musically by some distance by the time we started FIGMENTS. Also we were working at Abbey Road with the great John Leckie producing- He is a much more meticulous, complex producer than John Punter, who produced LATE NIGHT MOVIES…, and suited us well at the exact moment of our development. It was great working with female backing singers on “Suicide City” and “Perfect Past”,  and trying out sound effects, backwards tape effects, the protean new technologies of the mid-‘70s.


SPAZ: Do you have any particular memories about making the album?
RICHARD: My son was born right in the middle of recording “Suicide City.” My manager was in bits- it was costing a fortune and the session ground to a halt. He kept asking the midwife “How much longer will this take…It’s costing me £120 an hour watching this!”  Remember listening to Stoner’s bass solo on “Marie” and Joe and breaking into tears- it’s so poignant, so melancholy, so right. I remember hearing the first playback of “Suicide City” and being so proud that I had written THAT! And I remember a big fall-out with Urban Blitz over “Perfect Past,” because we “don’t record that sort of song”!!


SPAZ: SONS OF SURVIVAL is the perfect mix of the edginess of the first album mixed with the ‘sophistication’ of the second. Did you have any grand plans for the album when you started preparing for it? Did you see it as a big move forward or were you content to just follow your instincts and see where that took you?
RICHARD: I knew it was going to be our last album, and I wanted it to have an elegiac feel to it…hence “Network” especially, “Sons Of Survival” and “Triple Vision”… I think I am especially proud of those three songs.  “Cool” was an orgy of noise as a farewell, “Back from the Dead” I wrote with TV Smith from The Adverts. “Kiss Goodbye Tomorrow” was me saying goodbye…without having a clue what I would do next. Punk Rock was the only game in town. I was 27 and washed up! All the other bands were 23/24…a lifetime away!

SPAZ: You still had the intensity of a Punk band but on songs like “No Limits,” you were firmly rooted in classic British Rock.  Were genres important to you at all?  And do you think that since people couldn’t put the Docs in a box (figuratively) that you may have lost some potential sales?
RICHARD: We lost massive sales due to our inability to get put into a box and packaged so it was easier to give the 10 word executive summary of what we did! That hasn’t changed much, from what I see of the music business these days. Everyone loves a genre!


SPAZ: Any particular memories about the recording of this album?
RICHARD: It was quite a tough album to make…we knew we would be breaking up within a year. Urban more or less left while we were recording it… It was done on a shoestring, we co-produced with our sound guy Dave Hilsden, in the same studio we did LATE NIGHT MOVIES… Gered Mankowicz took the sleeve photos—we look like refugees or aliens… probably alien refugees! “Network” sounds like The Long Goodbye…and that album WAS a long goodbye to our fans and to each other.



SPAZ:
The band split after the third album.  Do you feel that the band had gone as far as it could go or do you think the split was premature? Was there material written for a fourth album?
RICHARD: I think we had done it. And “it” had done us. I was already starting to think about a solo project, which became THE PHENOMENAL RISE OF RICHARD STRANGE.


SPAZ: The box contains some really strong bonus tracks including the demos on the FIGMENTS album and elsewhere. Are there any unreleased studio gems still hidden in the archives?
RICHARD: One or two!! Watch this space.  Also some blistering live recording from the mid-‘70s have started to emerge…!

SPAZ: “Don’t Panic England” is an amazing track featuring The Damned’s Dave Vanian? How did you get involved with him?
RICHARD: He had always been a Doctors fan- he followed us everywhere before the Damned even started. We became great friends. I was his Best Man at his wedding…and as our respective bands started to implode, he joined us (He often made impromptu invasions of the stage to join us on songs in live concerts…much to the delight of the crowd!  He was a “star” by then.) and I joined The Damned! (for a day!) I wrote the song with TV Smith from The Adverts, so it was a real Holy Trinity!



SPAZ: Looking back, would you have done anything differently with DOM? You left behind one hell of a musical legacy…
RICHARD: I’ll settle for the musical legacy.  There are a thousand bands who were more “successful”… but who remembers a single original thought they had?

SPAZ: The Fabulous Poodles seemed to pick up the ‘rock band with fiddler’ mantle around the time the Docs split.  Did you ever recognize the influence there? Or was it a coincidence?
RICHARD: Forget The Fabulous Poodles…listen to Pulp!


SPAZ: What is next? Reunion shows or recordings?
RICHARD: So busy! The Doctors did a reunion one-off as part of a William Burroughs tribute evening I created at London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall… we played six songs. I wrote an opera with Gavin Bryars for the same event, which featured musicians, writers, dancers, poets and artists, and I am currently editing the feature film of the event.  It won Best Art Film Prize at the Portobello Film Festival last year. Stoner died sadly two weeks later - it was like he had been waiting 40 years to play those songs again. Urban and I toured Japan last year with two wonderful Japanese musicians, Susumu (bass) and Mackii (drums). They are coming to Europe to tour with us through May and June and we return to Japan in September to tour again.  I still run my multi-media club Cabaret Futura in London, I teach, I curate events, I do festivals and I have a one-man show, AN ACCENT WAITING TO HAPPEN, in which I tell stories about my career, sing songs, show films clips, read from the memoir.  Very portable show  (would LOVE to perform it in the USA!). Oh,  and I act in films and onstage… I was in Tom Waits/William Burroughs/ Robert Wilson’s production of The Black Rider for three years, in London, LA, San Francisco and Sydney.  I keep busy!!  Would love to return to the States soon and meet old fans and new – either with or without the Doctors of Madness!  With would be great though- we never toured the States and you guys missed a treat!

SPAZ:  Thank you for your time and the music that we still enjoy today, some four decades on. 
RICHARD: My mom always taught me to say “Thank you for having me!”  I’ve enjoyed it.

Thanks to Richard Strange
Special thanks to Matthew Ingham 



 PERFECT PAST:
THE COMPLETE DOCTORS OF MADNESS
(3CD)

5.5.17

          About Vietnamese Coffee        

The short story:

What defines Vietnamese coffee as unique is a number of elements, including:

1) Rich history of development since the 1700s.
2) Heirloom varieties that deliver more original, broader coffee taste.
3) Multi-species and multi-source bean blending for broader, richer taste.
4) Unique climate and microclimates for growing the widest variety of coffees in the world.
5) Lower-temperature, longer roasting for dark color without burning.
6) Unique brewing and serving methods such as the Phin filter and the French Press (Vietnamese coffee works well in drip brewers with cone filters and percolators also)

More detail:

Historically, Vietnam is one of the most important countries involved in coffee cultivation, and today is the world's second largest producer of coffee (second to Brazil), a fact that comes as a surprise to most coffee consumers.

The history of coffee throughout Southeast Asia dates back to Dutch and French colonialism in the 18th and 19th centuries. Around 1890 the French established a thriving coffee industry in several locations of the Annam Region, a mountainous plateau that extends through several countries.

Vietnam and Southeast Asia have a fascinating topography. The location of the mountainous regions traverse the area in roughly the same direction as the prevailing winds. There are north-facing slopes that are entirely different in climate than south-facing slopes, and wide regions with altitudes that are right for different species of coffee. Because of this, almost any species of coffee can be grown in what would be considered its ideal, or "native" climate, up to about 3600 feet in altitude. The Vietnamese coffee landscape brews half-a-dozen unique species and varieties, among them Arabica (and an "indigenous" Sparrow, or Se, Arabica), Robusta, Excelsa (sometimes called Chari), Liberica, Catimor and others.

What defines Vietnamese coffee and makes it unique?

First, the topography of the Annamite Plateau is very complex and creates regional microclimates, which were observed over a hundred years ago and exploited for maximum diversity of bean species and varieties. There are two basic approaches to coffee -- single origin versus multi-origin blends. In Southeast Asia, with such diversity of beans available, a multi-origin, blended coffee approach seems natural. Blending bean species and varieties is inherently superior in achieving a broad flavor range, persistance of aftertaste, sophisticated nose, ice coffee performance, and overall mouthfeel and sense of satisfaction for the palate.

The move in South America and other coffee-producing regions to single-source, 100% Arabica in the last decade has narrowed the flavor range and appeal of modern coffee to only those consumers with palates who prefer hybrid Arabicas. Our own public taste tests indicate that 70% of consumers respond better to mixed-species blends of coffee, and tastes run about equal for preference or Robusta versus Arabica. Vietnamese blended coffee thus has a wider appeal among the general populace than single-source, 100% Arabicas. Comments among consumers are often along the lines of "This is how coffee used to taste!" and "I didn't know coffee could taste like this!".

Secondly, roasting preferences establish decades ago favored a lower-temperature, longer roasting process. The dark "French" roast that we refer to today probably originated not as a high-temperature roast, but a slow and long roast that results in beans that have consistent color through the whole bean, and a dark color but no bubbling or burning. This distinction is VERY important, since many Americans today associate French roast with the all-too-common burning of coffee that takes place at certain coffee house chains. Burning coffee results in the breakdown of sugars and oils and fast oxidation and fermenting of coffee once exposed to the air. These drawbacks do not occur in the Southeast Asian dark roast, which is more stable.

Thirdly, beans are generally roasted in what is referred to as "butter oil", which may or may not be actual clarified butter oil. Occasionally vegetable oils are used, and historically, traditional "home-grown" coffee roasting style involves creating almost a caramel-like coating effect with the use of a small amount of sugar, oil, and generally a touch of vanilla or cocoa. This coating blackens in the roast and the beans wind up with almost a thin, hard shell. Why is this done? Robusta beans are uniquely slow to ripen on the bush, and often pickers pick unripe beans along with ripe beans. The traditional coating gives all the beans a similar color. The presence of a few unripe beans does not hurt the overall taste effect of the blend. However, modern growers pick only ripe beans despite the extra labor, and do not feature this coating in their roasting, opting simple for a little oil to keep the beans easy to turn in the slow roasting process.

It's also in the grind and brewing techniques:

Vietnamese coffee style is not unique to Vietnam. It is popular in Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and other regions. The brewing style is low-tech, using a simple metal filter called a Phin (most likely originated in Cambodia in the 1800s) that is essentially a single-serving brewer and filter (just add hot water!). In Vietnam, coffee is not consumed on the run. People sit in cafés or at home and brew the coffee at their table leisurely in single servings. The Phin filter also works beautifully for making a tall glass of iced coffee.

The proper grind for the Phin filter brewing happens to be similar to what is needed in a French Press. The French, or Coffee Press, typically brews 3-6 cups of coffee and results in a slightly different taste from the Phin filter, but captures the essence of the coffee better than an electric drip brewer.

American electric drip brewers can do a good job with Vietnamese coffee simply by cutting back slightly on the amount of the grinds and using a cone-shaped filter, preferably. The resulting taste is nowhere near as intense as the Phin or Coffee Press, but still creates a superior coffee brew.


          Comment on ACA 12 Steps – Agnostic/Secular by Joe Chisholm        
In the continuum of trauma suffered at the hands of those whom once hold power over me, the idea of having to conform to anyone else's beliefs or having to deny my own could not be called, "recovery" for me. ACA, of course is based on both freedom and the personal responsibility that comes with freedom. The 12-Steps were not invented. There was never a single original idea; rather the entire process was borrowed from other sources readily available at the time from both religious and psychological approaches to recovery. Some of the language expresses our experience and some of our words are a narrative that explain our experience. For me, as an example "Were entirely ready" in Step Six describes an experience; "to have God remove all these defects of character" is an explanation more than an experience. Years into recovery this was not my experience. A freethinkers version of the Steps invites me - or anyone - to consider the principles behind the Steps and articulate them in words that are as close to 100% authentic for me as I can muster. It's not chronic-uniqueness, it's finding my own authentic voice and expressing unabashedly what is true for me. "Sought through meditation to improve our conscious contact with our highest selves and to find integrity in all areas of our lives," for example, can be the experience of someone with a supernatural view to recovery or it can be as concrete and practical as someone with a natural worldview would or may express themselves. These Steps work for me, inviting me to participate without conforming.
          Chambers Cafe        

A café by day, and a wine bar by night for Rhodes

Rhodes’ newest eatery, Chambers Café, is a hip new destination for anyone craving a local café with an inner city vibe.

Owned by husband and wife Shawn Ren and Louise Fen, the café features a soaring 4.7 metre ceiling making the area feel airy and spacious.

“We wanted to create an urban, industrial feel and so we’ve left many of the building’s raw elements on show,” said Shawn. “You can see the builder’s pencil marks on the walls, and we’ve matched some of our paint colours to the concrete walls.”

A choice of seating options is on offer including outdoor tables, and a lounge area, banquette seating and booths inside.

“We designed the different seating styles to appeal to residents as well as the many business people who work in the area,” said Shawn. “That’s why we’ve included a wine bar as part of our offering so people are welcome to pop in for a drink after work or with dinner.”

Rhodes is located in Sydney’s inner west. The suburb has undergone a massive transformation in recent years, and today is populated with many apartments, office buildings and a large shopping centre. Chambers Café is located at the base of Pinnacle Apartments, a 25 storey apartment building that was completed in November 2013.

“We were keen to establish our café in Rhodes after getting to know the area through our friends who live here,” said Shawn. “It’s a growing area and we saw a gap in the market for a venue that combines a café and wine bar.”

Shawn has an extensive background in running cafés, and Chambers Café is the first of his own. Louise’s background as a graphic designer is clearly on show in the café’s stylish logo and the many inspired visual touches on display.

Chambers Café wine list is sourced from vineyards throughout Australia and New Zealand. The house white is Hartogs Plate Sauvignon Blanc from Western Australia and the house red is from Penfolds Koonunga Hill Vintage Style. Local and imported beers include Crown Lager and Peroni.

Skillco completed the carpentry and joinery required in the fitout. This included wall shelving, benches around pillars, banquette seating and the booths.

Shawn also drew on Caféideas to supply a range of furniture and equipment for Chambers Café. This included stools, table tops, table bases, a glasswasher, undercounter fridge, bench chillers, counter top fryer, blender, food display cabinet, ice machine, hot plate, contact grills, microwave oven and induction cooker.

“I first heard of Caféideas at a tradeshow I went to about six years ago,” said Shawn. “In the years since, I’ve used Caféideas quite frequently, and so I approached Damien when it came time for me to buy for Chambers Café.”

Shawn appreciated Damien’s insights into kitchen floorplans when he was designing his café.

“Damien made several suggestions that improved how efficiently we are able to use our kitchen and saved us space,” he said. “Damien knows what he’s doing and whenever I ask for anything, he always gets onto it quickly and also keeps me well informed.”

Chambers Café has developed its own range of single origin, house blend and decaffeinated roasted coffee beans. Tea drinking is a real experience with its range of handcrafted ‘blooming teas’.

“Our blooming teas from iTea in Wollongong are a real talking point,” said Shawn. “They start as tea buds that gently bloom into ‘flowers’ when placed in hot water, and they look fantastic in our glass tea pots. They reflect an ancient Chinese art of hand-sewing premium tea leaves, and you get to enjoy the delicate taste of white tea infused with herbs.”

Chambers Café is located below Pinnacle Apartments at Shop 10, 7 Rider Boulevard, Rhodes.   It is licensed and opens 7 days, from 6.30am to 10.30pm.


          Introducing KWF's Costa Rican        






My son Mike and I were cupping a few versions of this when suddenly he said, "Golden Honey Nut Coffee." So true. The high grown Costa Rican beans are well known for their sweetness, and we've roasted it medium light to take full advantage of its natural flavor.



This single origin offering is from the Cooperativa de Caficultores de Dota R.L. At current count, there are 769 member farms. Their recent community projects have centered on compost, recycling, and waste management.

If you don't have translation features on your browser, try this link to view an English language video from their website. I particularly enjoyed watching the pulping and processing details, and there is a nice overview of their social objectives.


This coffee carries the Rainforest Alliance certification. From their website: "The Rainforest Alliance works to conserve biodiversity and ensure sustainable livelihoods by transforming land-use practices, business practices and consumer behavior." As a roaster, I strongly support certifications based on a range of factors: sustainability, fair treatment, and a forward looking mission.


Costa Rica, Heaven on Earth:


          Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea        
Location: 1331 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice

Reviewed: June 13, 2009

Espresso: Intelligentsia serves their famous Black Cat in addition to a seasonally-rotating succession of single origins. Shots are ground-to-order, and poured on Synessos. Temperature is adjusted periodically along with grind. My shot (I selected Black Cat), was poured to about 1.75oz. in a white ceramic demi. It had a thick dark brown crema, along with a chocolate-milk-like sweetness.

Atmosphere: The concept of the Venice location of Intelligentsia is a rather unusal departure for a coffeebar. It features a few benches along the walls, giving limited seating, and no tables whatsoever. There are no fewer than five separate barista workstations at which customers may be served. When a customer is not being served, they are held at the front desk. Apparently the point is to better facilitate barista-customer interaction, but I don't know how well it will work for anyone other than the afficionados, who probably manage to have a high level of interaction with their barista anyway.

Verdict: Strange concept, but excellent espresso.