Archive for May, 2007

CGS, Climate

Panic! Don’t Panic! Panic!

I’ve been reading Kim Stanley Robinson’s trilogy on global climate change, which I heard about in an engaging interview on Tech Nation. It’s hard to be immersed in that world of sudden, violent storms and weather triggered by climate change and not imagine that every storm we have isn’t a harbinger of much, much worse things to come. But I remind myself that although much, much worse things are indeed on the way, a bit of wind and rain is normal.

Then I see things like the big melt in Antarctica, thank you very much Tim, and I snap back into the-sky-is-falling mode. Worrying about the coming global shitstorm.

So Tim. As part of your CGS news blackout, I suggest that you do not read these books. A pity, since they’re good.

Coffee, Podcast

Jeremy Raths on the First Crack Podcast

I overheard a coworker saying that he used to go to Dunn Bros. (a local coffee shop chain, known for roasting their coffee in-store), but he got tired of not knowing whether the same beans would be available. So now he goes to Caribou (a chain that’s local in the same sense that Starbucks is local to Seattle). Caribou always has what he wants.

The funny thing is that this guy appreciates limited release beers from local breweries like Surly. He understands that he can’t always get that beer he wants. Coffee, like wine and like the ingredients in beer, is an agricultural product, varying dramatically by region and season. Awareness of this fact is heightened when you work with someone who can specialize in truly specialty coffee, who can bring in just a bag or two of an amazing bean they’ve discovered.

People expect this with wine, some people understand it with beer (think globally, drink locally), but it’s still an unusual attitude toward coffee.

Enter people like local coffee roaster Jeremy Raths. Garrick van Buren talks with Jeremy in recent episodes of the First Crack Podcast. In episode 99, Garrick and Jeremy talk about how in his business he can focus on these small batches of excellent, limited availability coffees. And perhaps more to the heart of the matter, how the existence of a market for these fine coffees that can command a decent price improves the lives (or at least livelihood) of the farmers, who otherwise earn something close to dirt. Jeremy has volunteered with a group that helps farmers learn to judge the quality of their coffee, which leads to better coffee and ther ability to command a higher price.

The same is true in tea, by the way.

tea from Uva in sri lanka, 10% to the local community, tastes amazing. it could almost turn me into a tea man (James Governor on Twitter)

My introduction to specialty tea was a delightful Sri Lankan, as well. It’s one of the reasons I buy from TeaSource, as I trust the owner (Bill Waddington) to find those exceptional teas that blow me away. Single estate is very much the norm in the specialty tea world, and is having a similar effect on tea growers’ lives as we find in coffee.

Back to the First Crack. In episode 100, Jeremy and Garrick talk about cupping coffee, tasting it to judge its quality. That’s a fun episode as well, with little nuggets of wisdom:

You should never play golf, roast, or cup coffee, after having a fight with anybody… Just go somewhere and shut up.

Thanks for that, Jeremy.

Books, Personal

What I’m Reading

One of the things I liked most about being a student was all the required reading. I usually picked my classes based largely on their reading lists. But it’s not like I have any shortage even when I’m not in school. This is what’s in my reading queue right now, keeping me busy:

  • Tutorial and spec for Scala. At this point, this is mostly so I can work with the lift framework, but I am very interested in Scala, too, as a language.
  • I’ll be reading the Erlang book shortly after it’s published in July.
  • Java Concurrency in Practice. I’m almost afraid to dive into this in much detail, but I really do need to understand concurrency better. With multi-core machines becoming the norm, concurrency is going to be important. This is half of why I want to learn Erlang and most of what still interests me in Java. First, though, I need to review the relevant sections in Thinking in Java.
  • Java Generics and Collections. Because it’s just incumbent on me to understand these as well as I can. The book has come highly recommended.
  • Kiara‘s book. She’s made changes to the manuscript and I need to get caught up.
  • The Myths of Innovation, Scott Berkun‘s latest book. I very much enjoyed his book on project management so this was pretty much a no-brainer.
  • The Ruby Way. I certainly need to know Ruby better
  • Several papers from Burton Group, mostly around the topics of software development methodologies and digital identity.
  • Security Metrics. Gunnar recommended this, and I figure: hey, security? Metrics? I’m on board.
  • Cross-Site Scripting Attacks, a long-awaited book from the likes of Jeremiah Grossman and RSnake.
  • Speaking of Faith. I love the radio show and have been looking forward to the book. I’m listenting to this on CD, which you might think I’m doing because I like Krista Tippett’s voice, but the real reason is that the printed book wasn’t available at the library.
  • Kim Stanley Robinson’s trilogy on global climate change.
  • Ray Kurzweil, The Singularity is Near. Al Essa‘s been bringing this one up a lot lately and I thought it was about time I read it.
  • Garth Nix’s Keys to the Kingdom series. Have I mentioned before that I’m a sucker for pre-teen fiction? No? Oh. I think it’s because I never read it when I was a pre-teen.