It’s Monday. Do you dream of labor? Not if you are this group or Beyoncé

Chances are, if you are a young person, you do not. At least according to this: Gen Z’s war on modern-day work – Vox

I was skeptical when I first started reading it. I thought: Gen Z are just another generation dealing with their first few years of work. And that’s true, but there’s much more at play than just that. Things like the number of recessions that they’ve been through, a pandemic, the high/impossible cost of home ownership, and more.

It’s worth a read. Especially if you are in a position of employing young people.

With that, I give you Beyoncé and her big summer hit about….work. And more:

For more on that, see how Beyonce’s Break My Soul Inspires People To Quit Jobs. Very relevant to the above piece.

P.S. Relatedly, here’s a list of the Top 10 books about terrible jobs over at The Guardian. That might not seem appealing, but it is a list of very good books. It might appeal to those of you, Gen Z or not, who also do not dream of labor.

It’s time to retire the “Sunday Routine” (at least the one at the New York Times)

Each weekend in the New York Times, there is a story in the section called Sunday Routine, part of “a weekly series that profiles newsworthy New Yorkers and how they spend their down time”. Sounds good. I even liked this one: How a Couple Who Started a Food Bank Spend Their Sundays. Mostly I hate read them, though. Like pieces that ask people what’s on their bedside table and they list out 20 really hard books they are reading, these Sunday routines seem so performative and superior. It’s rare now, it seems, to see people having “down time”.

So if you are someone who tries to be productive during your Sundays and hates down time, then read this series. Otherwise, give it a pass. Don’t be dumb like me and hate read it.

P.S. Ok, this week’s piece on Alice Feiring is also good. I’ll be glad to rescind this if the Times keeps this up. 🙂

This “cloud” shredder will make you want to shred paper!

Seriously, how cute is this??

The paper looks like rain! It’s awesome! Thank you, Muji!

For more on it, see: Muji cloud is a fun tool to condense paper into small pile of shreds – Yanko Design

On the great Billy Munnelly and what he can still teach us about buying wine at the LCBO in 2022


Since the 1980s I’ve been getting expert advice from Billy on how to buy wine at the LCBO. So I was shocked to see he had moved away and he won’t be offering LCBO wine buying tips anymore. It’s great for him, but not so great for folks looking to know what to buy and what to avoid at the LCBO.

But here’s a tip. Go to his blog Billy’s Best Bottles, and with a pen and paper take notes on what wines he likes and what he likes about them. Do you feel like a good summer wine? He has posts on them. Do you feel like a good bistro red to go with your steak frites? He has a wine for that! It doesn’t matter too much about the year (most of the time). Go and seek out those wines he recommends. The prices will have gone up, but most times the quality will be consistent year over year.

There are wines from the 80s he recommended that are still good and recommended today. (I know because I’ve been drinking them all this time.) There are many newer and better ones since then: the LCBO has improved considerably in the last few decades. There is still lots of not so great wine, though, and Billy can help you avoid those.

There are a great many people writing about wine at the LCBO these days. But back in the 1980s such info was rare. Billy had put out a small comic book back then on how to buy wine at the LCBO, and it was my mainstay for many years whenever I needed something for dinner or a special occasion. He eventually moved to the web like the rest of us, but the spirit of that little comic book lives on at Billy’s Best Bottles, Go check it out, then go get some wine.

 

There are three good suits you can wear in the summer, and linen is the best (ignore The Guardian)

There are three good suits you can wear in the summer: cotton, linen and seersucker.

Seersucker is lightweight and doesn’t wrinkle easily, but it tends to be limited in terms of colour options. (The one on the left in the photo above looks good though). If you have to wear suits in the hotter months, having a seersucker suit will help you get through them.

Cotton is also lightweight and can come in a wider range of colours than seerksucker.  However cotton wrinkles. Alot. Really it is a dry cleaners dream. It looks great well pressed, but after a few minutes it looks wrinkled and disheveled.

That’s why I like linen: it looks great pressed, and it looks great wrinkled. Plus it comes in lots of colours and cuts. Hands down it is the best looking of the three types of summer suits and it has been for some time. I had a black linen suit from Hugo Boss and even in the heat I could wear it and feel comfortable.

That’s why you should ignore the Guardian when it talks about how the loose linen suit became retirement wear. They use Boris Johnson wearing linen as an example of why (younger) men should not. I mean, please. The other comparison point is Brad Pitt who wisely decided to promote his new film in the hotter months by suiting up in linen. A smart choice. (Also note the style of Pitt: draw string pants, loose necklines, casual shoes….all good looks to steal.)

It would be a shame if men, especially young men, gave up wearing linen suits. They are extremely versatile in terms of cuts, colours and styles. They are supremely comfortable. You can wear them to a wedding and you can wear them to a show. You can wear them in the city and you can wear them in the country.

Need more convincing? See the site Man of Many, which has good tips on wearing a linen suit. Stay cool, stay stylish, get linen.

Italy is a reminder not to be cheap if you want to tackle climate change


To tackle climate change, Italy provided what is considered by some a superbonus to homeowners to make specific renovations. That’s right, Italy reimbursed home owners 110% to upgrade their homes in a way that helps the environment. That prompted some to ask: ‘Why so generous?’. One reason? It resulted in a “surge of green home renovations” which is great for Italians and great for the climate.

Look, people know that something has to be done about climate change. People are also motivated mainly by their own self interests. Take advantage of that by offering generous benefits for people to change. We need to use every tool at our disposal, from alternate energy to alternative uses of energy, and more. Now is not the time to quibble about the price: that time is past. Now is the time to hurry things up. Throwing money at a problem can often do that. Italy showed it.

One way to be an artist is to add extra to the the ordinary

There is no particular way to be an artist and to make art. There are many ways. One of those ways is to add extra to the the ordinary to make it extraordinary. (See what I did there? :))

I thought of it when I came across this post on Cup of Jo called Four Fun Things. Among other things was a feature on an Instagram account:

The Instagram account Subway Hands by Hannah La Follette Ryan is surprisingly moving, don’t you think? (This one looks like a Michelangelo sculpture.)

I agree: the photo on the bottom left does look like sculpture! But all the images are good. What Ryan does, by paying extra attention to the ordinary (“hands on the subway”) is make something extraordinary. That is her art, and it is fine art indeed. She pays extra attention to something common and gets us to pay attention and think more about it. If you can do that too, you will be making fine art, indeed.

As Austin Kleon wrote: “The ordinary + extra attention = the extraordinary”.  (He writes about the concept in a few posts.)

P.S. Now, this is a formula, but if you just use a formula without putting much of your heart and head into it, then you will get art that is formulaic. And that ain’t good. So keep that in mind.

The seasons of the quiet house

There are seasons of the year when the temperature outside is somewhat close to room temperature. Neither my furnace nor my air conditioning comes on for long periods of time. Without them on, the house can be totally quiet. So quiet you can only hear the occasional noise outside or you can hear a mechanical clock. Maybe you can hear the wires in the wall humming. It’s the season of the quiet house.

I love those times of year. Nothing is more relaxing to me than sitting in a quiet house.

Right now it’s one of those seasons. I treasure it.

On the good and bad aspects of Dark Brandon

There have been lots of pieces explaining Dark Brandon. (Too many!) If you want to read what I thought was the best one, I think it was this: Dark Brandon, explained – by Matthew Yglesias.

As for my two cents….part of me likes the Dark Brandon meme. It a political jiu-jitsu move, taking the use of memes and shitposting that comes from trolls, the alt-right, and basic straight up Nazis, and using it effectively against them. That part I am good with.

But I think the warning that comes from this piece is worth considering:

… experts warn there are risks to embracing this type of political iconography. “You don’t want to take a trend that is precipitated by fascists and Nazis and then sort that into your arsenal. That’s just not great,” says extremist researcher Daniel Grober, who co-authored with Hampton Stall a definitive report on the Dark MAGA trend in far-right online networks. “What it does is it normalises the aesthetic, and it gives kind of a platform for it to be solidified into the general media.”

I agree with that. Essentially the use of memes like Dark Brandon risks getting into the mud with the worst of the Internet and wrestling with them. As G.B. Shaw(?) once warned:

“Never wrestle with pigs. You both get dirty and the pig likes it.”

As an example of this, one of the Democrats grabbed a Dark Brandon meme that contained some Dark Knight/Batman imagery and tweeted it, only to have to pull it when someone pointed out the Nazi Eagle in the background.  See? The mud gets on you even as you fling it.

No, not everyone is not winging it all the time, even if that gives you comfort


A statement said so often it is assumed to be true is this: Everyone is totally just winging it, all the time. So says Oliver Burkeman. He even backs it up with examples.

I can see why it is so appealing. If you feel that you are always winging it, then thinking everyone else is doing the same makes you feel less alone. It’s also comforting if you have imposter syndrome.

But there’s two facts and a lie:

  • some people wing it all of the time (Fact)
  • all people wing it some of the time (Fact)
  • all people wing it all of the time (Lie)

In fact, most adults have expertise in fields and wing it none of the time. Surgeons, bankers, bus drivers, grocery staff…you name it, they know what they are doing most if not all the time. We expect that of them and they deliver. Even young parents go from winging it to being confident and capable most of the time. As humans, being in control makes us feel more comfortable and confident and makes those around us feel that way too.

It’s fine to wing it from time to time. It’s how we learn and grow. But don’t kid yourself: all people are not winging it all the time. Chances are, you aren’t either.

(Picture is of someone definitely not winging it.)

(Sunday) Night Music (one of the best music shows you never saw)

In the late 80s, Lorne Michaels (of SNL fame) produced this show called “Night Music” that was seen in Canada as well as elsewhere. For a show that only ran from 1988-1990, it featured a wealth of musicians. (You can see the list here.)

One of my favorite episodes was #208 which featured Sting and Mary Margaret O’Hara as well as many other fine musicians. If you have 40 minutes, you can see it here:

What I like about that episode, like most episodes, is that you get a wide range of musicians, old and new, all doing challenging or interesting music. You didn’t just see the latest artists performing their hits. You didn’t just see one style of music. You never knew what to expect, other than it would be good.

So check out that video while you can. I’ve posted Night Music videos before and they get pulled sooner or later. See it while you can, and see why it was so good.

In defence of the 80s against current day philistines

I try not to write too much here on my love of the 1980s, but sometimes the world forces me to do otherwise.

It started recently when in this piece on John Lurie and his Downtown Confessional book, the reviewer compared him to Pete Davidson. I mean, I’m sorry, but that is an egregious comparison, even in the slightest of ways. John Lurie is cool in a way Davidson could never be.  Comparison aside, that’s a good review and I recommend it and anything to do with Lurie, including his book and his work with Jim Jarmusch.

Meanwhile there are people who are in the fight to save New York’s Extravagantly ’80s Subway Entrance. (shown above) Thank god. Someone wants to replace it with some banal all glass neutral atrium or something like thousands of other places. No way. Let’s hope they save this.  It’s a small sliver of 80s goodness.

Finally, here’s a piece on Devo who were truly ahead of their time.

(Lnk to the image of Gabby Jones for The New York Times)

On the Basquiat work at the AGO in 2022

The AGO had a good show called “I AM HERE” packed with a great many works, including the one above. There were some other works like these…

There were even some drawings of food

For a Basquiat fan such as myself, it was all very exciting to see so much of his work here in Ontario.

It wasn’t until sometime later that I noticed the fine print besides the work:

That doesn’t mean to say that these are forgeries. It just says his family doesn’t vouch for them.

I can’t say one way or another. Basquiat was known to draw on all sorts of things, which made the food drawings seem real enough. To me only the head / portrait painting seemed a bit off. Not his typical pallet. But I think it seems like him in many other ways.

Given how much his work goes for and how much he produced, I think we might see more potential issues with works of Basquait on display. something to keep in mind the next time his work is on display.

How to find more joy in your life

If you want to find more joy for your life, you can go about it in two ways. One way is to read the work of Ingrid Fetell Lee. She has a book and a web site that can help you do just that. I like her and recommend her.

So that’s one way. Another way is simpler and almost too obvious. List all the things you enjoy…those are the things that bring you joy! They are people, places and things. They are activities. They are inactivities! They are free things, and not so free things. They are rare things, and they are common things.

Here’s the main thing though: when you enjoy them, take the time to really enjoy them. I often find I partake in things I enjoy, but I allow myself to get distracted. Don’t be like me. If you are enjoying a sunrise, or a trip to someplace new, or a conversation with a friend, or a new outfit, really enjoy it.

On the wonder of Big Glace Bay Lake


There’s plenty to see and do in Nova Scotia and Cape Breton, including exploring the coast. One of the best parts of that coast is Big Glace Bay Lake and the area around it. When I was younger I’d walk down to that beach and swim or or skip rocks or just sit and watch the ocean. It’s still one of my favorite things in life.

One of my favorites is now getting greater recognition. The government of Canada has designated Big Glace Bay Lake its newest National Wildlife Area. That’s great news! To see why they did, read this on canada.ca.

If you are thinking of paying a visit but need tourist help, TripAdvisor has some good information.

I love Glace Bay, but it’s not for everyone. But anyone and everyone should love Glace Bay Lake. It’s a wonder.

(Image from canada.ca)

 

The badness of America


America is great in many ways, but when it’s bad, it’s terrible. Much of this has to do with the Republican party and the people who support it. That support means that people in Republican Counties Have Higher Death Rates Than Those in Democratic Counties.  People are stupid, but it doesn’t help when those that lead them are evil or incompetent.  Speaking of evil, here’s a piece on  Tucker Carlson and why it is pointless to interview him. It’s not all evil though, some of it is just incompetent, like the Texas power grid. Also dumb are Republicans thinking they should have the right to spam people. Back to evil, this piece on Citizen Bopp, explains how much toxic legislation gets drafted. Now back to freedumb and how Americans will sooner metaphorically shoot themselves in the foot for freedom than to act reasonably.

Besides the GOP, much of the badness of the US rises out of political Christians, which has lead to the rise of Christian nationalism . Evil. As for dumb? What Happens To Christian Influencers When They Get Married?

All that helps explain why the American right falls over terrible world leaders like the bigot Victor Orban from Hungary. (Not that we Canadians should be smug: our ex PM Harper is apparently a fan.)

America still reserves the right go assassinate people around the world, and because the weapons are getting better and the targets are awful, no one blinks an eye at stories like this:  Little-known modified Hellfire missiles likely killed al Qaeda’s Zawahiri.

Anyway, those are just some of the links I’ve saved over the last while on the badness of America. Never mind their Supreme Court and how evil and incompetent they are.  It’s one thing to be right wing, but they had a chance to limit Roe v Wade in a way that would be less damaging and they refused to take it.

Maybe next week I’ll be in a better mood and I will write about why American is great.  Often times they are great because of their enemies and the challenges they pose. Some of those enemies are foreign, but many of them are domestic.

Issey Miyake was more than a designer of turtlenecks for Steve Jobs

An outfit of Miyake

I’ve been a fan of the late great Issey Miyake since the 1980s. No one at the time was doing anything as wonderful with fabric as was. Perhaps Armani, but Armani’s cuts seemed conservative in comparison.

It’s an odd thing, but this week when he died, many of the news articles kept mentioning how Miyake designed the classic turtlenecks that Steve Jobs wore all the time. And it’s true, he did make those black tops of Jobs. However, those were among the least interesting thing he designed. To get a sense of just how beautiful his clothing designs could really be, see this: Issey Miyake’s best celebrity fashion moments at the Daily Mail. As well, Vogue has some highlights. (This piece in the Guardian is the best by far in recognizing his greatness.)

It’s quite a legacy. And right up until the end, he was making beautiful clothes.

Besides the clothes, he has always been associated with great fragrances. Next time you can, pay your local fragrance shop a visit and see if you can get some. You may not be able to wear his garments, but you can wear his scents.

(Image: link to image in Daily Mail piece)

On art and artists being bad. From Gormley, to Hirst and more


So Antony Gormley is in the news for his  “phallic” statue which students are worried about. This is not the first time he’s made statues associated with sex, as this piece shows: Sex on the beach? This could be made into a story about artist freedom and prudishness, but I think the easier case could be made for communities being forced to deal with ridiculous sculptures of oversexed middle aged artists. It’s like the artist is an exhibitionist and what he flashes his stuff, tries to make it about you being a prude. Anyway, stuff like this makes me grumpy. Stick the goddamn stuff in a garden or something. Sculptures like Gormley and Serra who subject the public to their difficult work are jerks.

That’s Sex. Moving on to Death, Damien Hirst recently got into trouble for a work that consisted of killing flies. He really should avoid dead things and stick to what he is good at: money. Here he is burning his art to show art as currency. When it comes to money, that’s where his true talent lies. Stick to that, Damien.

Speaking of money and greed, you can read about how a company is trying to trademark a colour. Just what we need. We can thank Anish Kapoor for fostering that bad idea. Thanks, Anish.

How about some art and racism? Here’s a story of how art critics perpetuated racism with their reviews. And here’s a piece on a white artist stealing the work of a black photographer. Not surprising; still awful.

Then there is sexism, such as this: The female body under the female gaze poses a monster problem

Finally there is ridiculousness: artist asks $10,000 for McDonald’s burger ingredient flung to the ceiling.

Art can do many good things for us. But not everything about art is good, as these pieces show.

On Counting

Too often I seem to spend my days counting. Counting the hours in the day until the work day is done. Counting the hours in the evening until the day is done. There is little joy in such hours: I am just passing through them. Some hours are boring: others are painful. At night I often think: ok, that day is over. Thank god.

Before I get up in the morning, I find my brain anticipating the hours ahead and trying to deal with them. Some mornings I can convince my brain to think about something else until I get up; some mornings that enough to let me get back to sleep.

For a long time I did not want to be here anymore. I had converted it from not wanting  “to be” to “not want to be here”.  Other people want me to be and want me to be here, and so not wanting to make things worse, I remain. A remainder of a divided life. I try my best to be responsible for those who want that dividend.

Lately people have taken to treating my heart. They are worried about the literal one, but the metaphorical one is troublesome too. Hearts are too often troublesome.

People make recommendations to improve, as if I don’t know. As if I have not tried. I know enough. Enough to keep counting. Counting the days, the hours, the beats. Counting things that don’t count. Counting on things that matter will go on after me.

Counting down. Counting off. Counting.

 

 

Homelessness and how it is being dealt with in some places

I believe in the future we will no longer have homelessness problems. We are not there yet. Some cities, like Houston are making progress, as this piece explains: How Houston Moved 25 000 People From the Streets Into Homes of Their Own. Other cities, like San Diego, are taking initiative. Much has to do with the city. NYC, for example. This is a piece discussing their failure:  City targeted same homeless New Yorkers over and over in encampment sweeps. But at least some people are looking into new ideas, as this shows: What Would It Take to Move Street Homeless New Yorkers into Housing?

Meanwhile in Canada, there are small scale initiatives being tried, as this piece,   Shower project, and this piece, Man forced to stop building tiny homes for Toronto’s homeless now has a new project, illustrate. The solution is proper housing. Stop gap measures are just that: stop gaps.

If you want to deal with homelessness, you need to know roughly how many  people are homeless. This explains how many there in Toronto.

Finally, here are some pieces that are related to the issue:  Is Our Homelessness Crisis Really a Drug Problem?, and “Maid” author Stephanie Land on what it feels like to be shamed for being poor, and teen transitions to sobriety and higher education.

I think about homelessness all the time. Hence these links and these pieces.

 

It’s Monday. Let’s look at how work is changing in the summer of 2022


Work has changed alot since the pandemic. People are somewhat returning to the office, though I have seen reports of it being less than 50%. As a result, you have pieces like this, talking about places trying to get people to come to the office three days a week. Should one of those days be Friday? Fuggitaboutit. As WaPo explains, nobody wants to be in the office on Fridays. Finally this piece argues you should come in for your own benefit. Ummm, maybe.

So we will still work from home for the next while. That’s fine by me. If staying on mute is a problem, you might need this Mute Me Button.

Maybe you should quit your job. The BBC makes the case for job hopping. That’s not always an option for people. How about this: Could the quiet quitting trend be the answer to burnout? What you need to know. Hopefully you have good bosses and will recognize that you need support. More likely they are too busy and you are own your own.

Good luck with things. You will need it.

And how should we live our days?


One day at a time, surely. Intentionally, also. Reflective, of course.

For a good guide on that, see: How to Make the Most of Your 24 Hours at zen habits.

P.S. I haven’t posted anything from zen habits in some time, but I recommend that after you read that, you explore other posts on his blog. Worthwhile, I recall.

P.S.S. Happy Birthday, Ma, wherever you are.

 

 

 

The Marvel Juggernaut

It’s hard to believe that Marvel Studios were once far from a sure thing. (I wrote recently about that, here.) Now that they are a part of Disney, they are a Juggernaut, with rollout plans going on well into the future, as you can see, here: Marvel outlines Phase 6 with Fantastic Four and two new Avengers movies – The Verge.

In some ways the journey is not unlike Apple’s. Apple is such a dominating player now, but back in the 90s it was hanging on by a thread.

It’s possible that both companies could falter, but I suspect we will be getting our fill of Apple Devices and Marvel Entertainment for the rest of this decade. I’ll be curious to visit this post in 5 or 6 years and see if this prediction held.

Friday Night Music with the Psychedelic Furs and….Maroon 5?

I find it fascinating when ideas reoccur in music videos. Take these two. First up is “Heaven” by the Psychedelic Furs.

Next up, “Girl Like You” by Maroon 5, some years – decades – later.

Both use a similar style, where the camera seems to revolve around the singer, allowing for lots of motion even while the singer remains in one place. It’s effective in giving the video life. It’s also interesting to see it revisited after all this time in the latter video.

Of course, there are other things that give the video action. In “Heaven”, there is literally a downpour of water! While in “Girl Like You’, there is the effect of many women appearing behind Levine as he sings.

Anyway, both effective videos. I am loathe to post music videos these days: so many times the music companies will yank the videos and leave my blog posts looking poorly. Perhaps these ones, because they have been there for some time, won’t be removed.

P.S. It’s an impressive pantheon of women appearing in the Maroon 5 video, ranging from performers to athletes to activists. You can get the details on who they are, here.

P.S.S. Here’s a different version of “Girl Like You” which I like even more.

A very fine travel guide to Charleston, SC…


Can be found here: Out of Office: Charleston at Uncrate.

I’ve been to Charleston a few times recently and all those places are very nice indeed. You should go.

 

Ian Brown catches COVID again and why that’s good

It’s good not because I want him to be ill! Not at all. Rather, it’s good because what came out of that is this fine essay: I caught COVID, again – this time, nobody cares (The Globe and Mail). It nicely catches where we are in this ongoing pandemic. Not just by writing about the disease and what we are doing or not doing about it, but also what else is competing for our attention. I highly recommend it.

I hope by the time you read this Ian is well and none the worse for having suffered through another bout of COVID.

 

Some advice on visiting Toronto, from the New York Times and me

So the Times has done a recent piece on Toronto: What to See Eat and Do in Toronto. It’s nice to see. It has lots of good ideas on where to dine, where to stay, and what to do.

While it’s easy to go to the places everyone recommends, if you want to bypass that and go to some very old school restaurants, here are five classic places that have been around forever and are still great, including Swatow and Country Style. For bistro fans, here is a list of fine French restaurants that should appeal to fans of that cuisine, as I am. There’s lots of great places to dine in Toronto.

While the airport is a mess these days , there are other ways to get here. For instance, you can get catch a train from NYC to Toronto. Or you can drive. Or fly into Billy Bishop and skip Pearson.

If you get here, you can even go to some museums like the ROM for free.

All in all Toronto is having a good year for recognition: Toronto is on of the world’s most liveable cities for 2022, according to CNN Travel. Come visit if you can.

You should be writing better emails. Here’s how

You – yes you – can write better emails. To do so, first read this:  How to Write Persuasive Emails: 4 Simple Tips to Turn Blah Into Crisp Writing

Second, write down those goals.

Third, practice with the next emails you send.

Maybe you – yes you – already write emails like this. In that case, try this as an exercise: look at the emails in your inbox and see how many of them meet these criteria. I’ll bet most don’t.

A word to younger people: you might think, I don’t write emails…I use Slack or Teams or some other form of instant communication. If that’s true, then you definitely need to read that and practice it. You cannot avoid email (yet) and when it comes to key communication, you need to write good email. So get going on that.

Good luck! Was this clear? I hope so.

On the late great Claes Oldenburg

The great sculpture artist Claes Oldenburg died recently. He was a fine artist, and I was always pleased to see his Floor Burger sculpture when I went to the AGO in Toronto.  His work seems so pleasant and carefree now, but back in the day it provoked controversy.

For more on him, the Times has a good write up here, Claes Oldenburg Captured a Carefree (and Consumerist) America.

For a good review of some of his sculptures, check out this in the Guardian, Claes Oldenburg’s most incredible sculptures.

(Image is of Binoculars Building, a collaboration between him and Frank Gehry and taken by Bobak Ha’Eri)

On modular walls, indoor and out

As a result of the pandemic and CafeTO, many restaurants have put up these GRIPBlock reusable walls outside their establishments in the warmer months to draw in customers. It’s a good thing. Here’s one nearby in my neighborhood:

A good idea like that works indoors too. This Blokaloks modular system lets you build walls or even rooms inside, like this:

Smart. You can click on the link to see more designs. Would be perfect for lofts and other open concept spaces that need better definition.

Friday Night Cocktail: forget (Dirty) Shirley, go with Tom (Collins)

Sure sure, the Dirty Shirley is the cocktail du jour, and everyone seems to have dumped their espresso martinis and gone on to chug these instead. My attitude is the same as The Washington Post…so here’s their recipe for a Dirty Shirley cocktail — if you just have to try one.

That out of the way, let’s go with a classic. As the Manual says,

For a drink that has its own glass, you’d think the Tom Collins would be even more popular. It’s a classic, without a shadow of a doubt, but many imbibers don’t exactly know how to whip one up, let alone perfect it.

Sounds just right. If you agree, head on over to the Manual for their guide on How to Make the Finest Tom Collins Cocktail. You’ll be glad you did.

(Image via The Manual)

On the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square in London

I am fascinated by the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square in London. While there has been many a fine artist and their work displayed there, I am especially glad to see the work Antelope by Samson Kambalu going up next. To see why I think so highly of it, read this: Anticolonial hero statue to occupy Trafalgar Square fourth plinth from September in The Guardian.

The Guardian has been covering the work that has been placed on that plinth for some time. You can read about that, here: Fourth plinth in the Art and Design section of The Guardian. I was recently in London and saw The End by Heather Phillipson and that was good, but I’d love to see this work by Kambulu.

To learn more about The Fourth Plinth, go here. It started off empty due to lack of funds for a sculpture of William IV to fill it. I’m glad that happened. Londoners and tourists have benefitted ever since. (No offense to William IV.)

My belief is that a statue of Elizabeth II will go there once she dies. We shall see. Meanwhile check out the various artists who have had pieces there.

 

Two more signs of the ongoing crypto winter, from Minecraft and Tesla


Actions speak louder than think pieces. So these recent actions by Tesla and Mojang are just  one of many signs of the great implosion of crypto/NFTs/Web3/etc.

First off, Minecraft developer Mojang won’t allow NFTs in the game and second, Tesla just did a big crypto sell-off.

I especially liked what Mojang had to say. Essentially NFTs are anathema to the experience that they try and provide with Minecraft. They put their finger on what is wrong with all of that technology. Good for them.

As for Tesla, they were huge proponents for cryptocurrency until recently. For them to dump most of their holdings is a sign — among many signs out there — that crypto winter has set in and will likely stay that way for some time to come.

Thanks to The Verge for both of those pieces.

The New York Times says you should replace your baseball hat with a bucket hat. They are wrong :)


The New York Times thinks men should replace their baseball cap with a bucket hat. I say, No.

First off, a baseball cap can look stylish if worn the right way, even with a nice summer suit. But if you insist on switching it up, you CAN go with a bucket hat, sure. I mean, they are very trendy right now. In his latest film, even Brad Pitt’s character wears one.

And that’s one of the problems with them. For young men, bucket hats look great. But as you start pushing into your late 20s or more, you look like an old guy trying to look like a young guy. That’s never a good thing.

The other problem with bucket hats is a practical one: the brim is often too narrow. It doesn’t provide any shade for your eyes or protection of the sun. Other than hiding a bald spot, all it does is make your head hot. Who needs that?

What you do need is a good straw hat. A straw hat works in any situation. You can wear it to the beach, you can wear it to a fancy restaurant. It provides coverage from the sun. It’s lightweight. It breathes. It comes in all shapes and sizes. It never goes out of style.

So toss the baseball cap, skip the bucket hat, and get a good straw hat. Or several. They don’t even cost much. This Straw Hat from H&M costs 12 bucks. And looks great.

 

On the recent Rogers outage, some modest thoughts

With regards to the recent Rogers outage, I have to say I have great sympathy for the IT staff who had to deal with it, and unlike many, I don’t have any great solution to it. I have even greater sympathy for the millions of users like myself who were taken offline that day.

In the short term, the mandate given by Minister Champagne for the telcos to produce clear resiliency plan in 60 days is a good start. At a minimum, certain services like 911 should never be allowed to fail for anyone. As for other services, that is up to the telcos to make proposals. Perhaps failproof low bandwidth services like telephony could be taken up as well. We will see. As always, there will be cost/benefit tradeoffs.

Some people were saying that the problem is with concentration of services with only a few providers. In fact there are other provides besides Bell and Rogers, as BlogTO pointed out. I use one of them: Teksavvy. Despite good price points and good service, they hold only a small fraction of the market. If people want to vote for more diversity, they can do it with their dollars. I suspect they won’t.

In the end, people want low cost, easy of use, simple telco services. Rogers and Bell offer that. That said, I would advise people at a minimum to have their phone service and their internet service on two different providers. Heck if it is really important, get a landline. But at a minimum, split your cell phone service and your internet service. If your cell phone provider goes down, you can still contact people using the internet. You can even get a service like Fongo that will let you make phone calls. And if your Internet service goes down, you can use your phone as a hotspot to access the Internet. Will it cost more? Of course. Higher availability always costs more.

We are going to have these outages every few years, I suspect. Most companies, the telcos included, have a few big and complex network devices at the heart of their network. Those devices depend on specific software to run, and sometimes upgrading that software will fail. When it does, it may cause these outages. Just like it did to these companies in 2018.

Telecommunications is different than other utilities. In order to offer new services regularly (e.g. 5G, high speed Internet), they need to continually upgrade their technology. Electricity, water, and gas are all commodities: telecommunication services are not. The need telcos have to make improvements will always put them and us at risk.

This is not to absolve them: I think Rogers and the other telcos need to follow up on this outage with better plans to be more reliable, and the Government needs to oversee this both from a technology and regulatory viewpoint. This in the end will benefit everyone, in my humble opinion.

(All opinions expressed here are mine, not my employers. I have no inside knowledge of the services or technology provided by Rogers, other than what I read in the media, like everyone else. My opinions are based on working in IT networking since the early 1990s.)

Four more on McCartney, who is 80 this year

Paul is 80 this year, and a good year he’s been having. People are writing pieces filled with praise. He had a big show at Glastonbury with his buds. Not bad for an octogenarian.

It’s been a long and winding road from the early days of the Beatles to now. Some argue that serendipity had a big part to play in Paul and the Beatles’ Success. I’ll let you read that and be the judge. I think it had a small part.

Finally, think of your favorite McCartney song. Then dive into this and see what others famous and less famous picked as theirs: People’s favorite McCartney song. I was surprised by the frequency of Martha My Dear and Temporary Secretary. I was also surprised that Band on the Run was only picked by one person. Read it and be surprised in your own way.

 

 

On restaurants loved and lost: Mike’s Lunch in Glace Bay

It doesn’t look like much. Only that Teem sign on the right tells you that this is the location of the famous Mike’s Lunch of Glace Bay. It had a good run of 109 years in various locations in my hometown before closing in 2019.  It was one of my favorite restaurants in the whole world, and it was the first place I went and dined by myself as a young man.

Back when I was young, it was located on Commercial Street in a little galley type restaurant. It had a counter in the middle where you ate, while pinball machines lined the walls behind you and the cooking was done in front of you. In the summer I would sit next to the open door and look out at the beautiful house across the street (the only house left on Commercial Street). I can remember the sunshine and the warmth and the joy of sitting there while I waited for my food. While many diners had the famous fish and chips, my meal of choice was the Club Sandwich. Toasty bread and toothpicks held together chunks of turkey, crispy bacon, lettuce and mayo. Mine was completed with hot french fries coated with gravy and ketchup and accompanied by an ice cold Coca-Cola. To this day it is still one of the best meals I ever had.

Years later Mike’s Lunch moved to a nicer space in the Sterling. The pinball machines never made the transition, but it still had a counter. It also had nice tables and booths and friendly waitresses. I never failed to go any time I visited Glace Bay, often more than once a visit. I don’t know how, but no matter how long I had been away, when I returned they always remembered me. And the club sandwiches were as good when I was 50 as they were when I was 15. No wonder we all loved it.

I miss Glace Bay for many reasons: the Chip Wagon, Venice Pizzeria, and Colette’s, to name a few great places. But of all the places I miss, I miss Mike’s Lunch the most. Thank you Mike’s Lunch for all the great meals and great times I’ve had there. I have been to many great restaurants over the years, but if I could walk through the doors of any one of them one last time, it would be yours.

Bonus: footage of Commercial St in 1988. The town changed over time, but this is how I remember it growing up. By this point Mike’s Lunch had already moved to the Sterling. Teddy’s (or as this video called it, The Greasy Spoon, and a similar restaurant to Mike’s) was still there.

Want to be more organized next week? Start with your desk

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If you are like me, your desk gets cluttered and disorganized at times. We all could use some help. To aid you, here are some nifty desk organizers to create the most efficient desk space for you from the good people at Yanko Design. Some of them are very practical, and some of them are very cool, like this:

All are worth a look.

The best way to organize your desk is to clear it off. The next best way is to get organizers that keep it tidy.

Friday Night Cocktail: the Paloma

Why the paloma? Well, as Food52 explains, it’s a great drink to welcome the weekend with, especially their version, which is a

… fresh ‘n’ fruity riff on the classic Paloma: fragrant basil syrup, watermelon and lime juice, and Patrón Reposado (it’s sponsored  -b :)). Finish the cocktail with a pour of grapefruit soda, and don’t forget the fresh basil garnish (an optional, but delightful detail).

Sound good? If you want the traditional version, here’s Bon Appétit’s take on that: Paloma.

Last but never least, Liquor.com has lots of versions of the drink, as you can see by that link.

(Image: liquor.com)

Now you too can own your very own Vampire Slaying Kit

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I thought these things only existed in movies: I was wrong. Over at Uncrate, they have great photos of this actual Vampire Slaying Kit that you could own (or could have owned if you had been there to snap it up).

For those who fear the undead — or those that just like cool stuff — go take a look. It’s amazing.