Saturday morning hike at Clark State Forest.

A snowy day at Waterfront Park.

Tablets: A look back.

Since tablets will be dead in five years (at least, that’s what Blackberry CEO Thorsten Heins thinks), I thought that I’d look back at the tablets that I have had over their short existence.

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1. Palm TouchPad

When HP announced that they were discontinuing the TouchPad and selling off all remaining stock, I picked up a 32 gig for $149. I was already sold on Android at that point, but really liked the user interface of WebOS, and the TouchPad was a fun toy to play with. After about 6 weeks, it was collecting dust on my desk, and seeing that they were selling for $300 on ebay, I sold it.

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2. Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0

I later decided to give the tablet another try, and picked up the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0. The size worked well for reading books, but felt too small for browsing the web and watching videos - I found myself reaching for my laptop when I wanted to spend more than 5 minutes browsing the web. The tablet was slow, but I could have been ok with that, if I didn’t have to put up with TouchWiz. I was used to stock Android (from using a T-Mobile G2), and the user-interface enhancements, and custom programs replacing Google stock programs, just made it slower, ugly, and not what I wanted. Again, this sat on my desk for weeks at a time, not getting used, so it ended up on ebay.

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3. Apple iPad 3rd Generation

Since the only tablet I would see around the coffee shop was the iPad, and it seemed like people were actually being productive with it, I decided to go ahead and give it a chance. This was my first experience really with iOS, and, well, it wasn’t that bad. The iPad had a great screen, it was really comfortable to use, and had plenty of apps for productivity and play. My only real complaint about it at the time was it’s integration with Google stuff - I use Gmail, depend on my Google Calendar, use Google Docs/Drive for almost everything - and I just didn’t think that they worked well together. Luckily, the price they were selling for on ebay was about the same price that I paid for it, so off it went.

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4. Asus Transformer Pad Infinity TF700

Asus had a hit with their Transformer series (at least as much of a hit as possible with Android tablets at the time), and the specs on this one were great, so I picked it up, along with the keyboard accessory. This really was the ultimate tablet - fast, almost-stock Android, and really usable. With the keyboard attachment, I could do almost everything that I could do on my laptop,  but in a smaller package. The screen looked great, it was light, but sturdy - everything you should want in a tablet. After about 3 weeks, I noticed that, although I was using it more at home than I was my laptop, that it cost as much as a mid-range laptop, but Android didn’t have all of the functionality of Windows or Mac, so it was returned.

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5. Apple iPad 3rd generation (again)

For some reason (maybe an 18-months no interest credit card helped), I decided to give the iPad another try. It was just as good as it was before, but had the same limitations as before as well. I just didn’t love it, and to add another form factor & operating system to what I was used to using (Android phone + Windows PC), I really wanted to love it. So, probably within a week, it was returned.

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5. Nexus 10

Now I have the Nexus 10 from Google. There is a lot to like about it: stock Android, perfect size, fast, amazing screen - in fact the only complaint I have about it is that it doesn’t (yet) have a Smartcover-inspired screen protector/keyboard, like what has been made for the iPad or what Microsoft has with the Surface. It’ll probably never come, but it would be convenient. Android 4.1 (for tablets anyway) allows for multiple user accounts, which makes this perfect for work - I can have one account with all of my personal stuff logged in, and another account with all of my work stuff logged in, and which makes it great to use for both. Samsung’s build quality on this threw me off - lots of plastic, but feels very durable. It is the only tablet that I’ve stuck with for over 2 months, and I really don’t see a reason to change to anything new.

Travel - San Cristobal, Chiapas, Mexico

In September 2011 I was given the opportunity to travel to San Cristobal, Chiapas, Mexico, to meet with the coffee cooperative Maya Vinic and give advice and guidance in the opening of their cafe. This was my first visit to Mexico, and San Cristobal is a wonderful town, full of culture and beauty.
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Most of the time was spent in the offices of Maya Vinic, working with the coop on the opening of their cafe. We took a day trip to their production facility, as well as Acteal. In Acteal, we not only got to see a clean water project being worked on, but got to see the vivid details of the Acteal Massacre.


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Places visited: San Cristobal de las CasasMaya VinicActealOrquídeas MoxviquilMuseo del Ambar.

Special thanks to: the Cooperative Coffees crew (Tomas, Janet, Matt, Chris), Mike Mays & Heine Brothers’ Coffee, everyone at Maya Vinic, Alex, the people of Acteal, and everyone else we talked with, shared coffee with, and laughed with.
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more photos on Flickr

Louisville International Airport

The TSA recommends getting to the airport 2 hours before scheduled departure, and I have always stuck to this rule. Airfare is expensive, and the last thing that I want to do is miss a flight because I didn’t get to the airport with enough time to get my boarding pass and get through security.

I have finally come to the conclusion that, at the Louisville International Airport (that officially has no international flights), this is indeed not necessary. Getting your boarding pass (if you don’t check in and print it at home) has never me taken more than 5 minutes. Because this airport is a TSA training airport, there are usually multiple security lanes open, fully staffed, taking less than 20 minutes to get through, even when they have to inspect your bag. There are only 2 terminals, each with about 15 gates, and half of do not seem to be in use (high prices? Airline consolidation?) Even after stopping to get coffee and chat with the baristas, you get to the gate and still have 45 minutes before boarding even starts.

Of course, I have that constant fear of missing my flight, so I am sure that I will always be at the airport 2 hours early.

Seattle 2011

While in WA for Twin Peaks Fest 2011 we stayed in Seattle for a couple of nights, and spent a day checking out the city.

  • Grunge is not dead.
  • Seattle (and Washington in general) is beautiful. Lots of trees, mountains, ocean…
  • The weather was awesome. We left the 95 degree Louisville for 75 degree Washington. It barely rained, and was never too hot.
  • There were a lot of vegan restaurants, that were all really great. Special mention goes to Chaco Canyon Organic Cafe - luckily this is not in Louisville, because I’d be totally broke.
  • Parks - it felt like there were just as many parks as Louisville has, and they ones we visited were all actively used. With their weather, I’d bet that people are enjoying the parks daily.

More photos are on Flickr.

Twin Peaks Fest 2011

I’m still having a hard time believing that we went all the way to the west coast for a festival for a television show. This is not the kind of person I see myself as. That being said, it was awesome!

Twin Peaks aired on ABC from 1990-1991, when it was cancelled due to low ratings. David Lynch brought his insane personality in to his first television attempt, and nothing has come close to the quirky, campy, dark mystery since. Lynch really understands small-town America, and the dark under-belly in it. The show opens with the wrapped body of Laura Palmer washing up to the shore, and after the first few episodes there are numerous people that could have been the killer.

While the show has always had a cult following, the last few years have brought a new generation of viewers who appreciate everything it is. It is currently available for streaming on Netflix, which has helped the younger generation find it. The fest had a wide age range - there were people there from the ages of 20 to 50 years old. It was also international - there were several attendees from Europe and Canada, as well as Australia.

The festival took place in and around North Bend WA and included a movie night (watching Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me), Q and A with several of the series stars (Sherilyn Fenn, Sheryl Lee, Ray Wise, Lenny von Dohlen, Phoebe Augustine, and Jan D’arcy), a dinner, trivia contest, media library, shooting location tour, and picnic. There are already plans for us to return for 2012 - the 20th anniversary of the festival.

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More images are available on Flickr.

Javatrekker - a book review

I picked up a copy of Javatrekker after being asked to represent Heine Brothers’ Coffee in the Just Creations International Book Club. Author Dean Cycon is the owner of Dean’s Beans, another founding member (including HBC) of Cooperative Coffees. Things didn’t work out with the book club, but since I am interested in travel, the lives of coffee farmers, and fair-trade, I sent ahead and read the book.

Dean Cycon has traveled the world, visiting coffee farmers, and has a great story to tell. He is also a great story-teller, and does an excellent job keeping the reader entertained in the various antics that go on during his travels, but also reminds the readers that coffee farmers are some of the poorest people in the world, and deserve a lot more for the coffee the produce for their customers.

Africa, the Americas, Asia - he has been to them all, and has adventures that really make me want to hop on a plane and visit some of these farmers. Fair-trade coffee is a great step in helping these farmers - if you are looking for a local fair-trade roaster, check out Cooperative Coffees member list.

Finding the perfect soy milk for espresso drinks

I manage a fair-trade / organic coffee shop, and part of the job is making sure that every drink that goes to a customer is the best drink possible. With our quality espresso and trained baristas, that usually isn’t a problem. One thing that I (as well as several of the baristas I work with) am not happy with is our soy drinks. We currently use Silk Vanilla. It has an ok taste, but it doesn’t foam well - and who wants just a cup of hot soy milk with espresso added? The texture of the milk is a main part of espresso drinks, and its something that I would like to see improved with our soy drinks.

Because of this, we decided to try out some other soy milks. I went to 2 local natural food stores, and bought a variety of soy milk products. The only requirement when selecting them was that it had to be organic (our current, Silk Vanilla, is “natural”, not “organic”, which they changed somewhat recently).

We had 6 people rating the drinks. We rated them all on a 1 (bad) to 5 (amazing) scale, both in taste and in foaminess. The results were not too surprising, there are definitely some better soy milks out there for foaminess, and some worse soy milks out there for taste. We did find one that we all agreed was best on both ratings, and we are hopefully going to be able to switch to it in the near future.

Child’s Play 1988/2011

My grandfather went by “Charles”, my father goes by “Charlie”, so when I was born and my parents gave me the same first name as them, they decided to call me “Chuckie”. As a child of the 1980’s I was there for some of the best horror movies ever made - A Nightmare on Elm StreetFriday the 13thSleepaway Camp, and of course, Child’s Play.

The doll/killer in Child’s Play was a “My Buddy” (rumors are it was a “That Kid” doll, whatever that was) doll named… Chucky. Of course I had one of those dolls when it came out in 1985. I was a fan of horror movies as a child (I still am), so I was excited about Child’s Play. I won’t go on about the movie, I assume most people have seen it and it’s greatness.

Sequels have followed - Child’s Play 2Child’s Play 3Bride of ChuckySeed of Chucky - and now the writer/director of the series has decided to, instead of doing yet another sequel, reboot the series. Great idea, or a complete disaster? Most will agree that the modern reboots of 80’s horror movies that have come out lately have been disasters, but if you have the same writer/director, maybe it’ll work out? I guess nothing can be worse then Seed of Chucky…

Crowns for Kings and Queens of Coffee Bars

Last month during our routine health department inspection (btw, we got a 98%), our inspector told me that starting in 2011, they will be taking off more than the usual 1 point for us not wearing a hair restraint. Working in coffee, we normally don’t think of ourselves as preparing food in a kitchen or anything, and wearing a hair-net is definitely not an option. That being said, I can see the reasons that a hair-restraint is required - who wants to bite in to something (or take a sip of something) and get a long hair in their mouth? I’m not a hat person, but maybe I could learn to live with it (if the health department here was fining people/establishments for it).

Crowns for Kings and Queens of Coffee Bars —> The New York Times

Kickstand Coffee Now Serving Coffee By Bicycle | ShotZombies

This sounds pretty awesome. Kickstand Coffee (of Brooklyn, not to be confused with Kickstand Espresso, of Chicago) has a bike-pulled coffee cart, serving only pour-over (they heat the water using a propane camping stove) and cold-brew.

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Pitchfork Music Fest 2010

Thumbs Up:

  • Pavement! I never thought that I’d be seeing them live.
  • Big Boi - probably the most entertaining of the fest.
  • Comedy Stage on Friday - seeing comics perform at a music festival was great.
  • Cheap water, vegan corn dogs, Arnold Palmers.
  • Real Estate, Best Coast, Sleigh Bells, St. Vincent, Liars, Lightening Bolt, etc.
  • Recycling bins right by every single trash can

Thumbs Down:

  • Small park, lots of people.
  • Knowing several people that were going, but not seeing any of them
  • Heinekin beng the only beer available. How about some local brewers?
  • No coffee vendor - I could have used iced coffee after being there all day

Forecastle Fest 2010

Thumbs Up:

  • Working at the HBC booth means that I got in free all weekend
  • Cap’n Jazz’s first full set in 15 years! They were awesome - played everything I wanted to hear, and they all looked like they were having a lot of fun.
  • Devo - Costume changes, great use of the video screen on-stage, highly entertaining
  • Cake was surprisingly good for a band that I haven’t paid attention to in 12 years. I’m going to check out some of their newer stuff, it was really good.
  • Cirque Berzerk was beautiful. They had multiple performances every day - I wish I would have been able to check them out more than once.
  • Mucca Pazza was definitely fun.
  • Had too much iced yerba mate, and felt like I was cracked out for the weekend.

Thumbs Down:

  • Only 1 water fountain, bottled water costing $3 each, no way to refill them.
  • Heat. I guess it could have been worse, but it was HOT.
  • 4 stages, most bands that I wanted to see were playing at the same time as another band I wanted to see.

Meow

My parents took in a stray cat that had been hanging around their house for about a month, after my mom decided to give it a flea bath and felt a kick. Less than a week later, she had kittens. I went over there yesterday to see them (they are 6 days old here). Dustin and I are going to take one (I mean - taking care of two cats won’t be much more than one cat, right?)