10 years ago – waiting in Zurich for our visas

10 years ago we had surrendered our Swiss visas in order to move to France. We went to the French consulate in Zurich, and, with stunning efficiency decided we needed to wait several days to get our French visas. The kicker…

  1. We had already closed up our apartment so we needed a hotel

  2. We were essentially stuck in Zurich for days without being able to leave*. Sure, we could wander the surrounding area but we had no formal proof we were okay to be in Switzerland as our passports were at the French consulate.

Needless to say when the person behind the glass window said “well it is August, maybe you get them back in two weeks” I considered a repeat of the attack on the Maginot line. Thankfully I realized that unlike the French Army the French Bureaucracy would never surrender and I better back down, make Bambi eyes, maybe get a kid or two crying (they were great), and just beg.

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  • I know, first world problems. I was a refugee of sorts, an illegal alien. But I knew at any moment I could head to the embassy and take my family out of there. While it was a weird feeling and not a lot of fun to be in Zurich when we wanted to move to Paris already… but not all that dramatic.

Colorado drivers

I like Colorado. I haven’t been all over the state yet but I sure like it. I like Denver, love Boulder, love the mountains… but let’s have a quick chat about the driving here (full disclosure – the Northwest has the worst drivers in the country, I speak from authority).

For the most part the drivers are the same as everywhere – on their phones, not paying attention, etc. That’s America.

But two things have really stood out for me:

Everyone runs red lights. Spend time driving in Colorado from Ft. Collins to Colorado Springs anyway and you will see that, unlike other places, yellow does not mean hurry up. It means continue doing what you are doing and if the light changes to red, well, too bad, gonna keep on going. I’ve never seen anything like this. I get gridlocked frustration and running a red light, but this constant.

Green does not mean go. Maybe this comes from the above but when a light turns green you are clearly expected to wait 10-20 seconds and then gently meander like an old river forward. Then of course the car behind the first waits… and then “accelerates”. Then the third, well, since the light is now red, slowly advances through the intersection (see point above). And now the light is red. Trust me – 100% of Colorado’s traffic issues could be solved simply by teaching drivers that green = go.

Like I said, I like Colorado a lot. Overall I enjoy driving here (fewer left lane bandits for one).

The Elkay Water Dispenser

In these troubled and harried times can I just say thank you for the Elkay water dispensers that are popping up all over? It seems like such a simple idea – carry a water bottle of some sort and just refill it.

  1. If you are watching your diet nothing is as good as a little extra water.
  2. If you are worried about plastics in the ocean (you should be) then you can use a re-usable water bottle. And even if you need to carry a dolphin-killing plastic water bottle ( 🙂 ) you can still refill it and reduce plastic use that way.

I love when it’s this easy to get a big win for me and for the environment. Sure, you could do this with a normal water dispenser but these suckers are made for water bottles.

Cooking steak – ignore the whole “room temperature” thing

Today’s awesome guest post and video is offered by Head Chef Yankel of ButcherBox. If you’ve been around Mark’s Daily Apple for a while, you’ve likely heard of ButcherBox, a company close to the core Primal values of clean eating, great flavor and healthy sustainability. I’ve been a happy customer and proud affiliate since their…

via 5 Steps To the Perfect Steak—and a 4-Recipe Video — Mark’s Daily Apple

I’m a big fan of Mark Sisson and the work he’s done with Primal Eating. But this article simply repeats an old cooking myth i.e. needing to bring steak to room temperature before grilling. It just doesn’t matter. If the steak is cold it will take a little longer to cook. That’s it. You need to pay attention to the internal temperature and maybe flip the steak a time or two more. But that is truly it.

People do weird things because it’s grill-lore (don’t get me started with people who smoosh the burgers down on the grill and lose all that juice) but it’s time to rise up and ignore what makes no sense and just cook the damned thing.

Drinkfinity is one of the dumbest ideas ever


There are a lot of bad ideas out there. I also understand that Pepsi is in trouble because, who knew, sugar drinks are just bad for you. And now that people are cutting back, uh oh, the money is drying up.

So here comes Drinkfinity. An expensive water bottle, made of plastic no less, with expensive “flavor pods”. Worse is they tacitly admit it’s a bad idea at the outset by saying this is all about “lifestyle”. Uh huh. The best consolation is knowing that millennials tend to see through this kind of nonsense.

Walled garden and comments

My friend Sameer and I are having a conversation on Facebook. The conversation started with Sameer thanking me for writing content on the unwalled garden i.e. the open internet. We are chatting about that, WordPress, Automattic, and a few other things.

And it hits me – why are we chatting about the unwalled garden in the walled garden? The reason of course is that Facebook and the like have brought many if not most of my community into a single place. They see what I write, I see what they write, we talk about it (or like it or whatever).

Over the past two decades I’ve written on many forums. I spent years on Posterous before it died – unfortunately the export function wasn’t 100% successful and I lost photos. I lost more information when Path went away. I blogged on Tumblr for years and then it hit me that really, I needed to control my own content. As an early WordPress user I decided I could self host (did that for years) or do the easy piece and use Automattic. The key though is that I own the content and can move it around.

But comments and social interactions just don’t work correctly on this distributed system. There needs to be a common, simple aggregation much like the Facebook Feed. It pulls from everyone I know, it follows simple permission rules, and the app that goes with it would support all of this. WordPress could do this but just hasn’t yet. I’ve seen WordPress Reader but that isn’t quite right – that is more about long form reading and not short form content.

Brisket #2 (electric boogaloo)

The forecast for today was torrential rain with the snow level dropping to 4000′ so no hiking (as I write this I am warming my feet in the sunshine). I decided to take advantage of the weather and try another brisket.

I picked up 17.5 pounds of USDA Prime brisket at Costco. I started the Big Green Egg at 4:30 this morning and got the brisket trimmed (ineptly) and on the coals at 5:01. This time rather than use tiny wood chips, Ian brought over a bunch of post oak and I put 3 or 4 sticks (it was pre-coffee) on the bed of coals. I damped things down to 300° and have monitored ever since. If anything I’m worried about this brisket as the Egg has been a bit over 300° more often than not. Chewy and tough? We shall see.

At this point I have another hour or two and then will remove and rest the meat. I would have liked more time – but 17+ pounds of meat simply doesn’t cook quickly.