Archive for October, 2001


What’s Lost When a Language

What’s Lost When a Language Dies?


Oh, that’s too funny. Workopolis,

Oh, that’s too funny. Workopolis, a Canadian job site, has a link to a “boss panic button” in their menu bar.


Good article in New York

Good article in New York Times about Illy: Discovering La Dolce Vita in a Cup. Registration required, more than likely.

Illycaffe is one of Italy’s premier espresso roasters. I’ve tasted some of their stuff, it is indeed superb. It surprises me to read that they eschew robusta (dismissed as “truck-tire consommé”) in their blend. To my understanding, most Italian roasters prefer a little robusta in their cup, and I’m quite fond of the American roasters here who use a bit in their espressos (I’m convinced that Maravonda does, for instance, and they’re one of my favorite espresso roasters). It’s obviously quite possible to produce a wonderful espresso with only arabica, though.

I’d also like to emphasize that contrary to those who may claim otherwise, it’s perfectly possible to find exquisite espresso blends outside Italy. In fact, you’re often better off buying a locally roasted blend instead of a can of Italian espresso.


The 2001 Mars Odyssey has

The 2001 Mars Odyssey has entered orbit around Mars. I don’t spend nearly enough time on NASA web sites. They do some of the most amazing educational work.


Three professors and a student

Three professors and a student are suing St. Cloud State over treatment of Jews. Y’know, this doesn’t surprise me one bit. There are some truly excellent people working at SCSU who would never tolerate this sort of racist, anti-Semitic BS, but my experience with St. Cloud in general and stories I’ve heard from those excellent people do little to discourage me from believing the allegations in the lawsuit.


Tuesday night I went to

Tuesday night I went to a class at the TeaSource, our local tea shop. Gong fu is a Chinese way of preparing, drinking, enjoying, and experiencing tea. While discussing the aroma of one of the teas we were trying, I commented that I’d pretty much shot my nose when I was a coffee roaster. Spend several years inhaling hot smoke through your nose and you’ll do the same.

This led to the surprised question of how I got from coffee to tea. “It’s the natural evolution upwards,” the shop owner joked. This isn’t the first time I’ve had that question, though, and it exposes an attitude that usually surprises me. It also begs an explanation. So here goes.

When I drink tea, I drink it with the same mindfulness that is emphasized in gong fu. Carefully, attentively, I prepare the water, the tea, the infusion. Tea is an opportunity to pause and reflect. I focus on the tea, on friends around the table, on this moment in time. In some ways, when I’m in a mystical frame of mind, it’s an act of devotion, a prayer. This is one of the things that first drew me to tea: its subtle flavors and need for careful attention in preparation are an occasion to practice the mindfulness I seek in my daily life. When I’m being social (yes, this happens from time to time) tea’s relative ease of preparation facilitates rather than impedes conversation. When I’m facing a particularly stressful time, I look forward to its soothing warmth.

I feel the same way about coffee. I don’t drink coffee just for a caffeine fix — I have other ways of getting that. I like coffee for many of the same reasons I enjoy tea: it offers a withdrawal into a moment in time, an opportunity to savor its subtle flavors. Make no mistake: coffee may by and large taste a lot stronger than tea, but its flavors can be just as refined and elusive as tea’s. Especially once you move into the world of espresso, where coffee truly becomes a cuisine.

That’s something that surprises people who align themselves with one camp or another. Coffee people usually can’t handle the mild flavors of many teas, especially greens or whites. Tea people often can’t stand coffee’s strong flavor, so don’t take the time to delve into its subtleties. The thing is, though, that coffee and tea share a whole lot more than people usually think, and it’s what they share that I love about them both.


Practical Kabbalah.

Practical Kabbalah.


The Electronic Freedom Foundation’s comments

The Electronic Freedom Foundation’s comments on the SSSCA, including information about what you can do.

Ten years ago or so, I was really active on a local BBS called The Dark Knight’s Table. As I recall, Erik Jacobson, TDKT’s sysop had something to do with the Electronic Freedom Foundation — maybe something in his sigfile or on the BBS somewhere. Clueless me, I was intrigued but never dug too deep. Now it seems that every time I turn around I see the EFF in the news, fighting the good fight.

I see now that I should have paid more attention to what Erik had to teach me in his self-effacing way. Now that I think about it, he was the one who introduced me to UNIX.


SSSCA gets a hearing October 25.

SSSCA gets a hearing Oct. 25. This is a good, reasonably comprehensive and clear article covering the effects of the proposed Security Systems Standards and Certification bill. It is written from an ardently pro-open source position. I don’t think you have to be an open source fanatic to see the dangers this bill poses, though.


With Mozilla’s support for the

With Mozilla’s support for the link element, you might be wondering how to use it. Wonder no more.

Now, how can I reconfigure this blog to take advantage of link? Doesn’t take much to imagine flipping back and forth between entries or months. I might have to move away from GreyMatter, though, which I’ve been considering anyway.

One of the things that attracted me to GreyMatter was that it creates static HTML pages instead of making database queries, which made for much faster response times. Now that I’ve moved back to PHP, though, and added that news sidebar, that benefit’s pretty much shot. And since it’s too much of a pain to add my own HTML to entries and still produce valid code, and since I’ve been thinking about producing the same content in multiple versions, well it may be time to move on already.

So now I’m on the search again. Maybe I’ll turn to Blogger after all. Or just write my own. Or hack GreyMatter’s code, if the license lets me. There’s a whole lot that I like about GreyMatter to just throw it away. Time will tell. It’ll most likely come down to what I have the patience to work on.

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