feature image Photo Credit: James McCullough

Writings

September 20, 2014

Blue Bottle Coffee Review


Blue-Bottle-Coffee


I have been subscribing to Tonx Coffee for several years now. Earlier in 2014, it was announced that Tonx would be joining Blue Bottle Coffee. The fortunate thing is the coffee subscription service wasn't going to be changing that much, only the branding.

The changes that are happening are going to make things even better. Below is more information about the subscription service, and a list of the coffees I am receiving to give you an idea of the flavours to be expected when signing up. The original list of coffees delivered by Tonx will remain on my site, as Blue Bottle Coffee is still continuing on their tradition of delivering coffees from around the world.

Blue Bottle Coffee

Blue Bottle Coffee is an independent operation based out of California. They have both coffee shops there, but also coffee subscription services that sends the best coffee or espresso from their roasters to your door for a low price. With the addition of the Tonx team, Blue Bottle Coffee truly the best damn coffee out there.

I live in southern British Columbia in Canada, which besides a lot of wineries and orchards, has several coffee roasters here. I have tried almost all of the various blends, on top of the national chains (Starbucks, Blenz, Second Cup, etc.) and have been unable to find something that really appealed to me day in, day out. I may find one blend I enjoy, but then end up sticking to it all the time. There was no variety.

Until I subscribed to Blue Bottle Coffee.

Blue Bottle Coffee gives you that variety if you desire it, or a certain bean type on a regular basis with consisten flavours.

Here are some links to learn more about the company:

Subscription Options

With Tonx, you only had two choices: a small bag of coffee, or a larger one. With Blue Bottle Coffee, you have endless possibilities.

  • Origins Subscription: A delicious new single origin offering from Latin America, East Africa, or the Pacific Islands.
  • Blend Subscription: A changing selection of our blends, each one with its own origin story and profile.
  • Espresso Subscription: A melange of our espresso offerings, including blends and single origins that we serve in our cafes.
  • a choice of 7 other coffee roasts on a regular basis.

With each subscription, you will eventually get to choose the frequency (every week, every other week, once a month, etc.) And like Tonx, you will get a few size options as well.

  • 6 oz is $13 for Origins Subscription ($12 for others)
  • 12 oz is $21 for Origins Subscription ($19 for others)

Once you have the option to have shipments arrive once a month, the 12 oz bag is going to clealry be the best option.

The Coffees

The other options available:

  • Hayes Valley Espresso: Cocoa, orange zest, smoky finish.
  • Decaf Noir: Nutty, chocolaty, dense.
  • Bella Donovan: Heavy, comforting, deeply fruited.
  • Three Africans: Fruity, radiant, creamy.
  • Giant Steps: Viscous, fudgy, substantial.
  • 17ft Ceiling: Effulgent, caramelly, enveloping, nutty.
  • Roman Espresso: Jammy, malted, medium-bodied

Subscription Coffees Received

To be updated as subscriptions are received

September 14, 2014

Naomi Klein - This Changes Everything


Then about three years ago, I started to notice that green energy programs - the strong ones that are needed to lower global emissions fast - were increasingly being challenged under international trade agreements, particularly the World Trade Organization's rules.

In 2010, for instance, the United States challenged one of China's wind power subsidy programs on the grounds that it contained supports for local industry that were considered protectionist. China, in turn, threatened to bring a dispute against renewables subsidies in five U.S states.

This is distinctly bizarre behaviour to exhibit in the midst of a climate emergency. Especially because these same governments can be counted upon to angrily denounce each other at United Nations climate summits for not doing enough to cut emissions, blaming their own failures on the other's lack of commitment. Yet rather than compete for the best, most effective supports for green energy, the biggest emitters in the world are rushing to the WTO to knock down each other's windmills.

Naomi Klein, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate

An excerpt from Naomi Klein's new book. Full excerpt is online at the Globe and Mail. Like her other books, Naomi Klein looks deep into the actions of corporations to discover a hidden, frightening truth. It looks like an another excellent read from her and will be published later this week.

Naomi Klein is the author of several excellent books and has been a favourite author of mine for a long time. The Shock Doctrine is about disaster capitalism and how corporations take advantage of horrible natural disasters. No Logo was cultural analysis about our branded world and a political manifesto for a new generation.

One of my favourite things she has done was a documentary with her husband, Avi Lewis, about the retaking and repurposing of factories in Argentina, titled The Take. It's both incredibly fascinating and inspirational for people looking to do more instead of following the orders of their superiors. It is embedded below, and be sure to have the subtitles turned on.

September 07, 2014

Quote - Tony Konecny


Sometimes to make the big leap, you've got to first find yourself clinging to the edge of the cliff.

Tony Konecny, co-Founder of Tonx Coffee

August 28, 2014

Matt Gemmell - Raw Materials


Everyone has their tales to tell, and the ones that resonate most tend to be the troubling ones... we need to share those experiences. We can perform a kind of exorcism by exposing them to the cold light of day where no deep shadows are cast, and to the hearts and minds of others.

Invariably, we find that the tales are a mirror, reflecting a common thread in the lives of both reader and writer. That's how the cleansing magic works, and it's a powerful realisation.

This is from the introduction from Matt Gemmell's collection of essays, Raw Materials. He has been one of my favourite writers on the web the past few years, writing about life, work, and technology. He is also one of the main influencers of getting me to write in Markdown and have a static website, instead of publishing on Wordpress.

His book is free for a limited time only (as of August 28th), and has a reasonable price of $3.00 normally. I encourage everyone to check it out and discover a new up-and-coming writer.

August 03, 2014

Encounters With Iceland At Mission Hill Winery


Mission Hill

Steinunn´s figurative work slowly but immediately draws one into the mood of the subject, in turn provoking reflection. The silent strength of her work impresses with a subtle yet strongly powerful emotional pull on the viewer. Subtle and silent, strong and soft, her work is sculptural poetry

DAVID HANDLEY, Director of "Sculpture by the Sea" in Australia

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Steinunn Thórarinsdóttir currently has on display 40 sculptures at Mission Hill Winery in Kelowna titled "Encounters with Iceland." Scattered across the grounds and within the buildings, I was drawn to how the sculptures echoed a lot of the physical stances the visitors to Mission Hill take. Quiet, grounded, taking in the views of the valley and vineyard.

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My works explore the human condition in all its variety and how man relates to the environment and to each other. The figures are mostly life size and the atmosphere is reflective and mediative. They are androgynous symbols of mankind. ... Each piece is firmly rooted in my Icelandic origin, reflecting the power and proximity of the elements.

Steinunn Thórarinsdóttir

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To me, the sculptures looked like they were designed to fit in their respective spots at the winery. Thórarinsdóttir was brought over to place each piece. Their positions feel like permanent homes for them, they belong at Mission Hill. This is more evident when you see how the statues were displayed in a different art show.


Some critics have noted that Thórarinsdóttir’s mostly asexual figures, be they whole or ‘broken’, seem to convey an eerie atmosphere of loneliness, isolation or even sadness; others have seen the same works as monuments to meditation, dignity and peace within an individual at ease with himself. However, such analysis only scratches the surface of her works, but that is exactly where all shared interpretation comes to a stop: we can share views on what we see, but the figures give nothing away of what rest within. They do not share their inner life with the audience; they maintain a very human privacy of emotion, that we both feel bound to honour and align ourselves with.

Eiríkur Thorláksson, art historian

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I wouldn't be surprised to read that a portion of the collection becomes a permanent part of Mission Hill. Encounters with Iceland is on display until October 2014.

July 12, 2014

Cromwell's Head


From one showman to another, Cromwell’s head passed through the eighteenth century, turning a profit each time. The only problem was wear and tear. At some point, perhaps as far back as the day at Tyburn, Cromwell had lost an ear and several teeth. His nose had been crushed, his hair was thinning, his flesh was desiccated, and his skin was yellow-brown. The incongruous appearance of this hard, dry object made it an effective memento mori. This was what death looked like. Cromwell, the great commander, was now nothing more than a lump of matter, subject to the whims of Mother Nature and dependent on the passions of the paying public.

Severed: A History of Heads Lost and Heads Found by Frances Larson

A lengthier excerpt is found in the August issue of Harpers.

Rather fascinating and grotesque to discover that they exhumed the body after his death (from illness) to perform a public beheading, and then proceeded to display the head for nearly three hundred years. It's an interesting story which makes me curious to read the full book when it's released in August.

June 06, 2014

Back to the Future


It's fascinating to watch the Back to the Future movies now not for their nostalgic depiction of the 1950s or jokey guesses at life in 2015, all hoverboards and flying cars, but as a vital document of the 1980s. After all, next year, we'll be as far removed from 1985 as the filmmakers were from 1955. The first film especially fixes that time's preoccupations and possibilities in amber.

Tim Carmody, Entire Back to the Future town to be created

Rather sobering thoughts, to say the least.

This is in reference to a whole town being created for a screening of the Back to the Future movies.

June 05, 2014

All the Changes


As I mentioned previously, things have been changing here for me the past few months. I have been a lot more focus on reading than I have writing, always on the look out for more inspiring ideas to maybe get the words flowing through my fingers once again. I've read more books, longform articles, and listened to more podcasts than in the past. I also solved a few major hurdles for me technology-wise that's allowed me to do much better work.

The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph

By Ryan Holiday

You will come across obstacles in life fair and unfair. And you will discover, time and time again, that what matters most is not what these obstacles are but how we see them, how we react to them, and whether we keep our composure. You will learn that this reaction determines how succesful we will be in overcoming- or possibly thriving because of- them.

Ryan Holiday is quite an interesting man, and his book, The Obstacle Is the Way has certainly opened up my eyes. It's impact on me has been equally impressive as F*ck It that I read last year. While the latter book helped me move on from things that ultimately don't matter to me, Obstacle has helped me tackle the things that do matter to me.

It is a book about stoicism and follows people through history, from Thomas Jefferson to Amelia Earhart to Theodore Roosevelt and more. All faced challenges, all tackled them head on instead of avoiding them. They didn't let the obstacles stop them in their pursuit of success. The book is broken into three general areas which can be taken as steps towards success when facing a challenge: perception, action, will.

What I thought about while reading the book was, "What's stopping me from writing more?"

The Obstacles

There were three general problems for me: 1. Hardware was failing 2. Blogging platform was insufficient 3. Ideas were all over the place

The first item was the most serious. My trusty MacBook from 2006(purchased for $1500, on sale on Amazon for $200) was starting to go on me. It was taking 15 minutes for it to start up and would pause in the middle of doing something. Was it worth while to try and get the logic board replaced, or move on?

I decided to move on and purchased a MacBook Pro with Retina Display. Instead of a 10-15 minute wait to start up, this machine logs in instantly from being powered off. I'm so impressed with how it functions, how it looks, and the latest Mavericks operating system, that I can hardly keep my hands off of it.

The blogging platform has been a cause of concern for me ever since my blog on Wordpress was a victim of constant attacks. I made the jump to Scriptogr.am first, quickly realized that development had been frozen, and made a jump to a new platform. Dropplets looked better than Scriptogr.am on a desktop computer, but looked horrible on mobile. Not a great solution at all.

I debated about returning to Wordpress, but I love being able to write in Markdown and publish easily. Getting some of the Markdown-supported blog engines operational can be a challenge. I discovered that Github Pages allowed you to publish a blog using Jekyll, I took on the challenge of converting my site over to it. It works, looks fantastic, and is dead simple to publish too. Couldn't be more impressed.

The last obstacle was a bit trickier to deal with. There are so many apps out there that allow you to capture ideas and organize everything, but I never stuck with one choice. I was having the same problem with my workflow for my consulting business. I'm a sucker for new web platforms or mobile apps, so was constantly checking out new ideas. The obvious problem was my ideas were getting spread out, and I was spending more time trying out new apps than actually creating from my ideas.

My solution was to purchase OmniFocus 2 for Mac (Canada App Store, US App Store. It's an investment, $40.00, but well worth it in my mind, because it forces me to be committed to it. I can't drop everything and switch to a free app, then switch to another.

Right now, I'm using it both for business, and as a capture device for my writing ideas. Any time I get an idea in my head about a writing piece, I hit Option+CTRL+Space and get a neat pop-up to input my idea. A few keystrokes, and Enter, and the idea is stashed away for the future. OmniFocus 2

So far, so good. I look forward to purchasing the mobile apps, as well, to continue my effort in capturing ideas more effectively and still remaining productive. With those three major obstacles out of the way, I am better prepared and committed to writing more regularly as was the case four years ago when I first started this blog.

Ryan Holiday Resources

June 05, 2014

A New Dawn


Incredibly, it's been four years since I started writing under the Four Sides name. This is also the seventh or eighth iteration of the site through different themes on Wordpress to different platforms. Each version had a slightly different character to it even though the voice behind it was the same.

Four Sides v7 (or 8) is coming to you from the GitHub platform. Normally used for sharing code, GitHub also allows you to host a blog on it for free using the Jekyll blogging system. It's taken some time to get the system functioning and modify all the posts so they display properly, but here it is.

One of the main reasons for the shift was how the site looked on mobile. It was horrendous. Not even worth trying to read. I've always been a firm supporter of sites that have put an emphasis on readability. The previous version of the site was mainly unreadable and I vowed not to make that mistake again with this one.

The main thing you'll notice on the site is the font is easy on the eyes. If you look at it on a mobile device, it's almost better.

I'm about 95% satisfied with what I have now and will finalize things in the coming days. But today, I'm comfortable showing it off and trying to rebuild my readers from the ground up. I've been reading several interesting books, changed minor habits and have improved my tech life immensely with getting my iPhone repaired and purchasing a MacBook Pro w/ Retina Display. Definitely some of the better purchases I've made in recent history.

I'm looking forward to getting back into the flow of writing and sharing here. As summer nears, it's time to start things anew and get going again.

March 06, 2014

Alan Adler - Inventor of Aerobie and Aeropress


Among coffee aficionados, the AeroPress is a revelation. A small, $30 plastic device that resembles a plunger makes what many consider to be the best cup of coffee in the world. Proponents of the device claim that drinks made with the AeroPress are more delicious than those made with thousand-dollar machines. Perhaps best of all, the AeroPress seems to magically clean itself during the extraction process.

There’s really nothing bad to say about the device other than the fact that it’s a funny-looking plastic thingy. Then again, its inventor, Stanford professor Alan Adler, is a world renowned inventor of funny-looking plastic thingies; while Adler’s Palo Alto based company Aerobie is best known today for its coffee makers, the firm rose to prominence in the 1980s for its world-record-setting flying discs.

This is the story of how Adler and Aerobie dispelled the notion of industry-specific limitations and found immense success in two disparate industries: toys and coffee.

-- The Invention of the Aeropress

A great read about the inventor of the Aerobie and the Aeropress - the best damn way to make coffee[1]. I have been using it for over two years now and love how easy it is to:

  1. Brew coffee with.
  2. Clean up the mess afterwards.

It's so simple, even my 4 year old daughter helps me with all the steps, from grinding and putting the beans in, brewing the coffee, and the clean up afterwards.


  1. Tonx Coffee of course.  ↩


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