Thursday, August 7, 2014

Life, Liberty and the pursuit of the Cocktail.

I remember my first real cocktail. There are plenty of cocktails I don't remember, plunged into the memory abyss of drunk. But my first, I remember. Fondly. It was 2009, in Seattle, WA. I was attending PAX with a handful of friends. For most of us, this had been their first time in the city (my second) and we really didn't know what to do in it. We happened to be staying in Capitol Hill, right at Roosevelt and 15th and as it turns out just a few blocks from the bar that started my obsession with quality drinks.

It was a Wednesday night, if I recall; we were in search of a bite and some booze. As we walked south on 15th we passed a bar that looked interesting enough. Liberty. With its full bar, plush couches and sushi we really didn't know what we were getting ourselves into. We were handed a small menu by our server. She asked if we had any questions. "None yet." She said she'd be back in a few minutes to take our order.

This was my first exposure to a real cocktail menu. I don't' recall what was on the menu at that time but I remember thinking that I had no idea what most of the items on it were. My friends did not know, either. Our server returned. She asked if we wre ready. We were all confused. So, she asked a sequence of questions I've since found myself reciting on endless occasions.

"Alright, is there any sort of spirit you prefer? Gin, Whisky, Vodka?"

"Would you prefer something sweeter? How about bitter, or herbal? What do you think about citrus?"

"Tall? On the rocks? Up?"

To each of these questions I had no real answer; at least for the spirit I had a guess. Gin sounded like a good thing. Even then I didn't like vodka, and my whiskey I preferred mixed with coke. Did I want my drink sweet or herbal or citrus or bitter? Could drinks have these properties? I thought the flavors were: "boozy" or "watered down." Being the fantastic server she was, we went across this sequence with the lot of us. Some chose Vodka, others perferred sweet or citrus. Bitter? Herbal? Nah, those sounded like dangerous territory.

A short while later, our server returned, a drink in each hand. A bright green substance filled a martini glass, floating in it, a small pinwheel of lime. This would be my drink. It looked... interesting. Booze came in two colors: Brown from the coke or clear from the tonic. Things that color were Midori or pucker; Even then I didn't like those artificial flavored jokes but I took my drink; this server, she knew what she was doing; I told myself. Plus, I didn't see those ingredients on the many shelves of the bar. This was something new. She offered a description of the drink and I listened.

"Its gin based and has lime for a citrus taste."

"There is also Maraschino Liqueur and Green Chartreuse."

I knew what gin and lime were, I asked for clarification on the other ingredients.

"You said you didn't really know what you wanted, so I had them make you a drink that was sweet, herbal and citrus. The Green Chartreuse is the herbal, the Maraschino (this is different than cocktail cherries) is for a bit of sweet and a bit of tang."

I took a sip.

"Its called the Last Word."

This was not the last, it was the first. It was a drink that told me that I was going to drink these drinks. And I was going to make these drinks. And I was going to show other people what a cocktail really was.

The Last word is still one of my favorite drinks. Its complex enough to be interesting, sweet enough to be approachable, herbal enough to keep things from getting boring and fresh and crisp enough to awaken taste buds the way it did mine.

I tried more drinks that night. I don't remember them, but I do remember this one. Every time I'm in Seattle, I stop in for a drink at Liberty. At Liberty I discovered cocktails and a hobby I pursue more strongly with each tip of the glass.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Summer Travel

On July 9th I flew upper class on Virgin Atlantic to London. I proceeded to get sick and spent the next week either a zombie at work or asleep at the hotel. I started feeling better a few days before I left so I had the chance to do some tourizing of London. I went to the Science Museum then I visited Hyde Park for a read and a drink. After, I walked around Camden Lock for a couple hours and finished up my day with some time in another park before making it back to the hotel for dinner with my friend Chris L.

On July 22nd I flew Lufthansa to Berlin where i met up with my friend Pascal H. We hung out for a bit and I got some work done on my latest foursquare mashup app. After a light dinner, we headed over to cbase where we drank super cheap Chezc beer and hung out with some cool geeks. cBase is definitely different than Noisebridge in that people are interesting and the projects are even more so.

The next day is when Josh and Liz got into town so that night we walked around for a while, ate dinner at Schwartz Cafe and had a few beers at some other nearby place. Josh and Liz without a cellphone was a fun game we played the rest of the weekend. "Okay, you meet us at this trains stop at 11:30am," "Okay meet us where we met yesterday at 1:30pm." I'm glad cell phones exist.

On Saturday, day three we tourized the city. We tried to visit a flea market that was closed. Then we had a tasty (but slow...) breakfast of meats and cheeses and fruits and sausage water.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Buzz by Joe LaPenna from Buzz

With some prodding from jgib, advice from Drew and some predictions (grrrr....) from Paul, this is what I got... I also bought SPD shoes and 1/2 and 1/2 pedals as well. Got me some locking skewers too. Its black and white which is as we all know a super cool color combination and the color of your bike really determines how good you are at riding.

Its got a 105 component set which I know I don't exactly need but when I saw that I would have spent $850 for the 2-steps-down sura/tiagra combo I felt more comfortable going with the bikes in the $1100 price range (I paid $1150). The fact that there was only one $700-1000 aluminum bike in that range also made me a little anxious.

The shoes are going to take some getting used to for sure. I already spent 20 minutes on a trainer thing trying to use them consistently. Click in. Click out. Click in. Click out.

Kait suggested I visit American Cyclery and I did. I am glad I went there. The dude who helped me, Jimbo; turns out he is a bit new to the sizing-a-bike-game but after trying several 56cm bikes one of his coworkers, Mark suggested, nee demanded, that I try a 54. I realized after trying the 54 that Mark was right.

They both told me that I'd a 55cm would be perfect but damned if I was going to go through any more hassle for a bike. The only pending issue on the fitting right now is that there is a little criss cross going on with my elbows and knees in the drops but they suggested that I ride for a few days and get a 110mm stem (up from 100mm) if it hangs me up.

They gave me 10% off my pedals, shoes and skewers and threw in a couple of spare tires too and said that if I wanted to get silly clothing I could come in sometime this week and nab a 15% discount as well.

Shoes: BG Sport MTB Shoes

Pedals: 1/2 spd 1/2 pedal

@Drew Muldowney @Paul Komarek @Jeff Gibson @Kevin Reedy @*** @Michael Huber @August Huber @Chris Lambert @Joey Freeland @Sean O'Brien @Kaitlyn Hanrahan

Comment via Buzz

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

This Addiction

Alkaline Trio released Agony and Irony two years ago to much disappointment and sadness amongst my group of friends. The music was too polished, to blatent and well... you can read what I had to say here:

Tts just been a year and a half later but I'm pretty happy with what they've put out. One thing that bothered me most at that time was the divergence between their music and my life; I think I'm OK with that divergence now and I feel like the music this time around is less redicuolus and can more generically apply to listener's lives.

Given the general theme people speak of when describing this album is its throwback to old material much of what I've written here is along those lines.

This Addiction -- The first single off the album feels like it would fit between From Here to Infirmary and Good Mourning. Simple lyrics and riffs but more melodic than their previous efforts.

Dine, Dine My Darling -- Hopeful sounding song typical of Dan's newer songs (like Blue Carolina). "But these drugs are lame..." what? Its really catchy and quick and I do like the word play.

Lead Posioning -- "We're bitter now but better friends." Another catch rhythm guitar and I would love to hear this one on Rock Band. WHAT THE FUCK THERE IS A HORN. I was trying to trace the sound in this song but can't place it. Then I heard the horns. Then I heard the opening riff from "Goodbye Forever." Pretty interesting!

Dead on the Floor -- I'm immediately thinking "Radio," here. "Like two ships in the night we're colliding and sinking into the black seas of our love." -- No vampires, zombies or blood references. See? A bit more subtle.  "I got off the plane with my heart soaring now its falling like snow."

The American Scream -- The last time Alk3 wrote a politically charged song, Warbrain I felt the song made little sense. This is a nice attempt but I don't associate politically motivated songs with alk3 but I still give this song a pass.

Off the Map -- "I'll lock it down and we'll make due." A song by Dan misunderstanding a situation and going so far off course everything looks peachy but he still can't tell if things are going to be OK. I'm cool with it.

Draculina -- I didn't like the opening verse but the chorus is pleasant enough but I especially dislike "I'm leaving for draculina, whoa oh oh oh." This is probably the worst track on the album. For poor language and over-harmonizing and whoa-oh-oh-ohs I'll delete it off my computer when I buy the album.

Eating me Alive -- Hi synth. You don't belong here. No thats not true; I like the psychadelic furs and that is who I'm going to have to say the music in this song comes from. I think I might actually like this song a lot. If John hughes were around we could have a cool movie with Alk3 on the soundtrack.

Piss and Vinegar -- "Feels like its raining all the time." I've heard that lyric before and I feel like I've heard this song before... uninteresting.

Dorothy -- Awesome opening riffs that immediately cut to a song that SHOULD have been on From here to Infirmary. So good.

Fine -- A really calm song to close out the albumn and while a song I'll listen to, I'll likely never put it on intentionally.

Overall, I'd say this album is not fast enough to say they've really gone back to their roots but has some really fun songs and they're doing some new things that don't suck which is quite a change from the last album. Then again, maybe I'm just wishing the album is better than it is.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Android Location APIs and why they anger me

The problem lies in the fact that as a end-developer I have to care about the various location inputs on a phone. I have to think about GPS vs Wifi vs Cell Tower LocationProviders in order to really take advantage of the phone's location capabilities. What basically happened was that my algorithm for picking a users location based on incoming location updates caused more accurate but out of date location updates to be preferred over slightly less accurate but much more recent updates.

I basically have to deal with the fact that I might get location-from-gps after I get location-from-wifi-tower OR i might  get location-from-wifi-tower after I get location-from-gps so that the Last Known location may in some cases return a more or less accurate location than what the phone is really capable of reporting just because I wanted to be able to get a quick-kind-of-accurate-lock while I was trying to accquire a accurate-as-possible sort of lock.

How would I make this better?

I could see an API where instead of registering with individual location providers, you would query the system for a set of location updates. You would define that you want FINE location, but will accept COARSE updates first. You would have a getBestKnownLocation instead of a getLastKnownLocation that would return a location based on heuristics you might define when registering your location provider.  Visually, the updates you'd receive would look something like the growing/shrinking circles you get in the gmaps app when honing in on a location. Maybe the developer would request a "HyperLocalWhileWalkingAround" strategy that could be swapped with "PassiveUpdatesWhenLocationIsSignificentlyChanged." both of which could have knobs for controlling specifics of the strategy.

In short, I want to abstract away the code I have shown as an example above. As a end-developer, I don't care where the location comes from, just that I get a location but I do care, what the data looks like.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Nine days of Nolstaga

I had a very special nine days in the Midwest. Probably some of the best nine days in the Midwest that I can remember. Things:

  1. Concert with Chris - We've been seeing shows together for almost 10 years, and its been 8 since we first saw The Lawrence Arms opening for Alkaline Trio at the 2001 Halloween show. Just wow.
  2. Zombie Crawl with Chris, Andy, Jared and others - All sorts of DSF/Chicago drinking memories coming back to life.
  3. Week at home with family - Good to see everyone. I got a night out with my brother, mom and dad. Would have been nice to spend some time with Deni, but she was sick and then back at school.
  4. Driving to Michigan with Chris and Football Master - I spent years making trips to Michigan with Chris and many others. Doing it again, despite the 6 hour drive there, was fun -- I can feel you breathing.
  5. Halloween Parties in Michigan - I hope that there are and that there are not photos of the hyjinx that ensued Friday Night to Sunday afternoon. Great times with great people.
I swear that every time I go to the midwest its going to be my last social visit. I don't know when that will ever really happen though. Every time I go, I leave hoping that the next trip will be as good as the trip just ending.

Monday, August 10, 2009