Saturday, July 24, 2010

Coding and Development

When I was a kid in high school, I taught myself how to design websites using free editors and online tutorials. Eleven years, no classes, and four paying web design jobs later, I'm still cobbling together sites based on the little coding that I know. This summer though, I've decided to develop this enduring interest into something I can call my own.
Yesterday I bought six domains and unlimited web hosting for three purposes:

  1. Two friends and I are starting a web development company to pursue our common interest. We already have several clients: a couple not-for-profits, an individual or two, and two student group websites. We hope to be incorporated by the end of the summer and look forward to the future!
  2. A coffee blog. I love coffee, and between my love of coffee, writing, and web design, we figured we could make something awesome happen.
  3. Personal and family blogs. We're a story-telling family, what can I say?
With these things in mind, I'm spending solid time every day really learning what I'm doing from a design and usability point of view. My coding skills are decent and a good groundwork from which to build everything else. So here is to, Dreamweaver, Wordpress, and a few kind friends who are willing to help me grow!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Woke up in the morning feeling like... a cup of Terrior Kiamabara. I find that I have to alternate between continents to really parse out the nuances of a cup. Well, maybe I don't HAVE to, but it certainly makes it easier and more interesting. At any given time I usually have three different coffees in the house, sometimes as many as seven, but that is usually during finals. and therefore more than understandable. i think.

Anyway, the Kiamabara is a Kenyan from the Nyeri region, in the central highlands. Kenya is known for its high quality wet processing and generally superb coffee. It's a solid Arabica Bourbon of the SL 28 and SL 34 cultivars, beautiful to behold and intoxicating ground. During a particularly rough week last semester, I ground this beauty up and had it in a small glass jar next to my work station and in class so I could keep the aroma around... just lovely.

The usual Hario cone (I use it often, but also particularly for high altitude coffees because the high, bright fruit and flower notes don't benefit from coffee filings ala French press or gold filter Melitta) brought out the rich blackberries and currants. The fruit lacing mellowed as the cup cooled, but still remained as strong as blueberries to the last drop. Honestly, the only other cup I've had that had more fruit than this one (and it was an absurd amount of fruit... like fruit punch w/caffeine and blackness) was Great Barrington's Ethiopian Nekisse. Remarkable, but also a solid representative of Kenya, wet processing, and the Nyeri region.

I sipped the majority of it in a travel mug while waiting for the 86 bus in Harvard Square and reading The Four-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss. It was all the better for the setting :)

Rethinking Time and Actions

Probably stemming from my English-major mother of ten, I love reading books that help you focus your time and energies in better ways. Here's a few that I've really enjoyed, two very recently:

1. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
Sure, its old and the title sounds like you're desperate and/or a hypnotist, but this books has so many wonderful little ideas for maintain a better outlook on interpersonal interactions. So many of the little things in conversations, in meeting someone for the first time, in correcting someone gently get lost in our "must please everyone all the time or else my ratings will go down" world. There is so much value to be had in the space between Bitch and Pushover but we forget about it all the time. This book gives comprehensive advice for becoming a better friend and communicator, not through being fake, but through noticing the little things.
How can you lose with these as your roadmap:
1) become genuinely interested in other people,
2) smile,
3) remember that a person's name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language,
4) be a good listener, encourage others to talk about themselves,
5) talk in terms of the other person's interests,
6) make the other person feel important - and do it sincerely.
I still keep these in my head and work on them... they just make me a better person.

2. The Four Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss
A dear friend and mentor once told me that life can be divided into four boxes: the urgent important, the urgent unimportant, the not urgent important, and the not urgent unimportant. Tim has this down to a science. His mantra is DEAL. That is,
Definition: define what is important, what your goals are, and how what you're doing helps you in achieving those goals.
Elimination: get rid of everything that doesn't help in the achievement of those goals, including wasted time in the unimportant.
Automation: put everything that doesn't require intelligence on autopilot or delegate/outsource the details that you can. (I think he takes this one a bit far, but the lesson is still there)
Liberation: frees you to do the things you want to do.

I'm not done with the book, so I'll have to give you an update when I do, but so far it has blown my mind with its super de-stressing approach to "time-management." Tim makes the point that it is not so much that we have too many things to do, but that we let distractions, poor thinking, and indiscriminate action take up all our time. Little things like checking your email only twice a day, essentially screening calls, and forcing people to interact with you in a succinct and precise manner can make all the difference.

3. Guerrilla Networking by Jay Levinson and Monroe Mann
The first two books were, while practically oriented, more focused on the theory behind the practice. Guerrilla Networking has a mere twenty-five pages of "theory" and the rest of the book is solid, practical examples of how to implement and focus your efforts in their re-thought model. Having been to many "traditional" networking events, both in undergrad and grad school, I must say that their approach makes all kinds of sense.
Levinson and Mann note that the people you want to meet are already meet-able. What you need to work on is making yourself stand out to those you want to meet. Often people constrict themselves to a traditional mode of application and interview, hoping that they will be able to distinguish themselves via their single sheet of paper and twenty minutes. Guerrilla Networking throws this approach on its head. You make the meeting times and places, you contact the people you want to work for, you make yourself the one that they want to me. It's an interesting concept and one with a lot of value.
What this approach does is change you from the passive to the active mode. It fosters your creativity and instills energy in the process. It makes you more of an independent contractor, rather than a cog in the system.

All three of these books are well worth the read. Foster creativity, free yourself from the routines that just develop rather than the ones you choose, and remember that everyone puts on their pants one leg at a time, even those giants you want to work for.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

El Vergel

Terroir Coffee has done it again in their Guatemala offering: El Vergel sweeps the senses.

I picked up this coffee at Crema in Harvard Square, just a few days off the roaster and brewed a cup via the Hario cone method (cloth filter/H2O just below boiling) the next morning.
The first sip was like chocolate and nuts, but somehow just their pure flavors because none of the weight was there. Certainly El Vergel is full bodied, but in the same way that a Belgian quadrupel is full bodied: light, high, keen, razor-sharp. A sort of sweet acidity, boarding on the piquant lifted the dark chocolate, hazelnuts, and almonds to a sort of ethereal level.

As the coffee cooled, the nutty chocolate flavor moved out of the candy-like realm to a bright berry/citrus, only further accented by the Hario cone brew method. Pure delight. Angel food cake.

Highly recommend this one, from the Patsun region of Guatemala. Bourbon varietal (does this varietal know no bounds? it just keeps on delivering) grown at the impossible height of 6100' as @GeorgeHowell tells me. I am looking forward to learning more about the farm where this beauty hails as home.


Writing and Habit

Hello Friends, (aka, those brave souls who may still have me on their Google Reader)

Here's a bit of a catch up.

So, I finished 1L year:
  • It took vasty amounts of time, even more than that summer I worked 80 hours a week as a barista and coffee wholesaler and was a full time student at the same time, but it was totally worth it.
  • I learned to write in ways I didn't know were possible and loved the process, even though it knocked me down and repeatedly ran over me with a Hummer. Out of two sets of first drafts I set the bottom of the curve. Out of two sets of final drafts I set the top. Here's to learning and not grades right?
  • I made friends all over the place. Seriously, law school is like a concentration of diversity and awesomeness.
  • I'm stoked for the opportunities that law can open up. Going through the 2011 Summer Job Apps for firms in the Pacific Northwest has opened my eyes to the wide variety of amazing things a law degreed person can do. Stay tuned for updates.
That whole writing experience of 1L year (by far harder than finals) taught me that I love writing and will never give it up. What I'm good at though is letting things slide and be forgotten.
  • Like yoga.
  • Like pilates.
  • Like my running schedule.
  • Like taking my vitamins and drinking enough water.
  • Like reading instead of bouncing from link to link online.
  • Like really learning CSS and HTML5.
  • Like writing daily. fiction. articles. dreams. ideas. posts.
  • Like maintaining a conscious breath instead of letting the whims of the urgent unimportant rule.
  • Like meeting with friends.
  • Like responding to my pen pals.
habitus overtake me.