Sips from the Firehose
A blog that seeks to filter the internet into a refreshing, easily-gulped beverage


Jun 09

Anthony Bourdain

Posted: under Amusing Nonsense, Digital Migration, Foodstuffs, Gulp With Enthusiasm, Sip With Assurance.

Like many journalists turned multimedia world travelers, I envied Anthony Bourdain.

It seemed like he had the greatest job in the world. Travel to amazing places, hang out with the smartest, most interesting people around, eat delicious, innovative food, and get paid basically to have adventure after adventure.

anthony bourdain on a train

Before I took off to Myanmar last summer, I made a point of watching the very first episode of parts unknown, just to see what Tony had done and said about that amazing country.

It was because of him that I was so daring all the time, wandering the streets in search of some new restaurant, food, flavor, or experience. It was because of him that I boarded the rickety ramshackle trains and set off into a country side of rice patties, monsoon rains, and amazing people.

dave lafontaine on a train in myanmar

I even connected with what Tony was talking about, because I spent my college years working in restaurant kitchens, learning how to cook, and seeing the other side of life. He had this amazing ability to connect to people, via the shared experience of preparing food, and then sitting down, Eating it, talking about what you’re eating, and thereby broadening the conversation to everything else that was going on around you.

street vendors in yangon

Little food stands like this one in Yangon had strange & crazy mixes of cuisine from all over the world. Super-spicy Vietnamese noodles and Indian samosas.

 

yangon food supermarket

I find that it really helps my understanding of a culture to not just eat their food – but to shop in their markets, to see the raw building blocks that the locals work with. For some reason, apples were really, really popular, despite (or perhaps because?) being impossible to grow in the steamy Myanmar climate.

Indian food at the Sony restaurant next to the American embassy in Yangon

Food and conversation are a natural pair.

Chocolate samosas in the Rangoon Tea House, paired with a Viennese espresso, and a spicy Burmese salad.

There’s something universal about sitting at a table and putting food into your mouth, talking and gesturing with a bite, gulping a beer to cool off the spicy burn …

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Feb 15

Tech Writing in the Voice of an Erudite 19th Century Gentleman

Posted: under Amusing Nonsense, Gulp With Enthusiasm, Mobile commerce, Sip With Assurance.
Tags: , , , ,

If we’re going to have to suffer through endless TOS statements, they might as well be fun to read

dave lafontaine as edwardian gentleman

A tip of the hat in an absurdist setting.

I seem to have struck some kind of nerve this week in responding to a whimsical Tweet referencing something that we are all guilty of – losing focus while slogging through an overflowing email inbox, and forgetting to respond.

Viz:

So this got me wondering: what if we started crafting elaborately gracious responses to common tech messages that we all get and grit our teeth over?

Such as the Terms Of Service that we all click to make go away, because reading it makes our eyes cross and causes our spleens to spasm & release huge amounts of red blood cells because clearly our very existence is in danger (read this in the voice of Doc Holliday in Tombstone for the full effect):

Updated Codicils That Shall Govern Henceforth Our Relationship (formerly known as “ToS”)

“Dearest User, please rest in utmost comfort and assurance that we take it as our most enduring, nay sacred duty, to vouchsafe the utter privacy and sanctity of the interactions that you shall have with this, your new iPhone. It shall be as though invisible guardians of legendary ferocity shall be stationed around the server racks housing all the data that is gleaned from these aforementioned actions; guardians that shall repel all efforts to winkle out even the tiniest details about the taps, swipes, shakes or gentle caresses that you bestow upon the humble & unworthy device you know hold in your shapely hand.

“However, we feel duty-bound to confess that from time to time, it does and shall become necessary for us to garner further revenues; and as much as we might wish it otherwise, we are not saints, and we, as all humans do, fall victim to the gross (some might unkindly say “bestial”) exigencies of maintaining hearty revenue streams to ensure our continued existence as a tech company in that most odious Darwinian battleground quaintly known as “Silicon Valley.” Thus, we shall regretfully and reluctantly engage in the auctioning of that data to businessmen, men of the world, men of a certain character … men with bulging wallets and the desire to Know Things About You…”

Dearest Wishes That Your Travails With Our Device Have Reached a Satisfactory Conclusion (formerly known as “Follow-up Customer Service Questionnaire”)

“Recently, you in your wrath & righteous anger, found it necessary to engage in an extended conversation with the cringing and unworthy peons we have designated as our Help Team. While we recognize that your fully justified frustration and impatience with our HomePod Speaker System was, at that moment, reaching Brobdingnagian levels, and that your fury at the white rings our wretched product left upon your Lårftnoörg end-table are ineradicable and permanent — still, our designated peon, when attempting to convey our sincerest regret, was alarmed by your stated intention to track down & locate the designer of the HomePod and insert this device into a cavity that shall not be named by polite people (but which is located in the fundament of even the most dignified being), and thence upon to use a sledgehammer to beat upon it until it shall be firmly embedded, yea unto the point where it shall sprout from the head of our designer, as though it were Athena springing whole from the skull of Zeus.

“We have since calmed our peon – never fear, for they are become accustomed to such flights of choler whilst being in our employ – and yet, we feel a compulsion upon us to inquire as to the level of satisfaction that you have garnered from your interactions with Haqib, so we may calculate the stiff thrashing that we must perform on him. If you would, please click upon the number below, being upon the scale of 1-10, that corresponds with the number of strokes from a rattan cane that we shall invoke upon him.”

Please Do Allow Us To Gently Yet Persistently Blandish You With Useful Information (formerly “Click Here to Subscribe”)

“As you have arrived here at our most humble & unworthy site, via the vast and trackless expanse of the digital ethereum, eschewing all other sites in this moment, and have perhaps found what we have collected here to be to your liking — may we importune upon you to signify your approval by clicking upon the button below, thence to trigger the appearance of a form that shall allow you to receive regular missives from us?

“It shall be the work of but a moment, and shall require only that you render unto us your name and the email address by which we may swiftly and securely transmit to you the dual-level opt-in form that diligent email newsletter registrars require of us as proof that we are not that sub-creature, the lowest of the low – the dire & deadly Spammer? For we are not, and never shall be, that we swear unto the very Heavens above.”

 

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