Pay Day

Got my 50bucks/day for December!

Injection, surjection, bijection... revised FWIW, time for enforced sleep.
Make some money. No pity for fools, happy and sad alike. Roll out!
Looks around. Sees a quiet night.

Stays calm and deletes more distractions.

Back to the office to study tomorrow, presuming a decent waking hour.

Information systems: too much math? No problem... intersperse with the history of human writing systems.

NYD: "deploy deploy deploy!"

Late. For studies. At least not too late.
Tired. But I guess it was a late night last night, a normal waking today, and a very early waking tomorrow.

Shutting down. Shutting down. Shutting down.


Wine Market

Some reading on the wine market (roughly sorted by date FWIW):

2013, and a great survey of price vs. perception issues:


Older, random data:




So there I was, washing dishes.

"All units: is that a girl crying in the corner?"


Colleague said, "was it you?"

I said, "it's always me."



D-Wave: Had to watch it just to keep abreast of fads. But...

...that was one vomit inducing promotional video omg. Reminds me of those job ads for programmers that look like someone scraped the front-page of Tiobe for "top ten fads in technology" - but this was physics.

Sunday: Late. Off the the pleblands. Where we turn our meat to the business of feeding itself. :)


Sleep Tweaks

0400: Circadian moving later as expected, due to recent assignments. May skip sleep and get up at first alarm (0615) to run an errand..This one is a year in the making - a thankless commitment -I need to return some keys. Then probably off to the office to study and nap.

1230: Circadian not so bad. Got in before 5am, and out by noon. Need to crank it back 3-4 hours, but we're doing ok. Time to feed, and hit the road! Whee!

Got in 90 minutes before shift. Had time to reqd and nap a little.

Aleph-null, the cardinality of the continuum (C), C^C, (C^C)^(C^C)... etc.

Code-switch to grindsize and other extraction parameters, pushing buttons on foodie brains in 40 minutes.

The next day: Late. Off the the pleblands. Where we turn our meat to the business of feeding itself.

Muses and Non-muses

One girl, whose name I don't know, we have seen each other now, at least twice. I like her smile, and raised eyebrows. I raised my eyebrows, back.

One girl, has amused me, for some fifteen years.

One girl, has amused me, for a year.

One girl, whom I apparently have not amused, for a year.

One girl, whom amuses an acquaintance.

One girl, whom has not amused any acquaintance.

[I could go on, I suppose, but this is just a notepad.]


Slow Year

Time to shirk more meaningless responsibilities. These keys are taking up too much space in my mind. These keys are going home. Near zero return on investment right there. Just a black hole. Zzz.
It seems like I can get through an entire day at work code-switching between channelling: T-1000, Tim Gunn, and Joan Rivers... lol.
Reduce, reduce, reduce, before the next big distraction.

30 minutes past target. Enforcing bedtime.

Why Study?

"Why do you study?"

"Fun. The same reason that bunch over there smokes up, and drinks, and pats each other on the back in a dark room over computer screens; the same reason that other bunch over there got hitched, and bred kids, and made themselves mad so that they could feel that they were finally stepping into their parents shoes; the same reason we all fuck around, and poo, and eat, and sleep. It's a life. You do it because you like it."
And if you don't like it, you fix it, or you get out. Hehehe.


Relationships are Work

SERIOUSLY. Woken up by the milk man's phone call - this is why I stopped bothering to help with management. :P

No time to fret about it. Spent the rest of the time while waking up thinking about how I wrap all human relationships under the umbrella project of "work", and so how that makes it nearly impossible for me to date anyone who thinks of "life" as "after work".

Back to work. Going for that RM50!
Evening studies fall around the concept of a Cartesian product.
Spent too much time on the monkey bar. Latte art wobbly at the coffee bar. Despite weakened state, managed not to get mugged, jacked, or raped, so I guess it was a decent day.

Wage work delivered. Back to studies. For a while.


Offline HTML LaTex Notebook

Well that didn't take more than a few minutes to figure out:
1. Download MathJax.

2. Unzip the files.

3. The MathJax directory contains a file at ./test/sample-dynamic-2.html which renders LaTeX as you type it.
I forked MathJax on GitHub, modified this file, and committed it, to make offline-draughting easier. LaTeX script on left, rendered LaTeX on right.


Season's Greetings

Merry Christmas, may Christ be with you, and a Happy New Year!

I don't celebrate much, myself, but I'll wish many people well this season, as I know it'll make them feel better.

Late. I'm always tired after a little work - I tend to give myself the excuse that it's the sort of work I do. Anyway, off to make some money... mostly, I don't expect to get more than an hour's work done today, before my shift starts.

Xmas eve:
Got pestered by boss to close shop early. Drove 13 miles home on wet roads. Lifted weights. Did laundry. Evaluated resources. Good day. Same shit, different day. :)
Back to work. God, I need to figure out how to use MathJax or equivalent, offline.
Late. Plan: shower, spring clean, feed, go earn my 50 bucks/day - worry about studying later. :)


Interesting day. Perhaps I should continue working out before work, and studying after, instead of the other way around.

Got scalded by 90+ Celcius water, but managed not to drop a brewing vessel. Met a chap from Koppi, where they roast very nice coffee. Got to brew my first two Stumptown Coffee Roasters pour-overs thanks to [colleague]'s sister. Learnt that we are underextracting the espresso blend via uber-long preinfusion (and I want to jack up the temperature some more tomorrow). Overall, a moderately busy day. We almost sold out of cake.

1:30am. Study time!
Boxing day:
Spent too much time on the monkey bar. Latte art wobbly at the coffee bar. Despite weakened state, managed not to get mugged, jacked, or raped, so I guess it was a decent day.

Wage work delivered. Back to studies. For a while.


Remedial Study of Proofs


Disproportionately proud of myself. This is very, very late homework. Like 10 years late. (I think I got it right - let me know where the mistakes are, if you see any.)

\(\forall x: (\frac{x}{2} \in \mathbb{Z}) \implies (\frac{x^2}{2} \in \mathbb{Z}) \)

"The square of an even integer, is always an even integer."
  1. axiom \(A\):
    \(\frac{x}{2} \in \mathbb{Z}\)

    "x is an even integer."
  2. axiom \(B\):
    \(\times\) (multiplication), an operation, is closed over the set of integers.
  3. lemma \(C\) \(\Longleftarrow B\):
    \(\forall y: (\frac{y}{2}\in\mathbb{Z})\Longrightarrow\left((\frac{y}{2} \times 2) = y\right)\in\mathbb{Z})\)

    "If y/2 is an integer, then y is an integer."
  4. lemma \(D\) \(\Longleftarrow B\):
    \(\forall z: (z\in \mathbb{Z})\implies(z^2 \in \mathbb{Z})\)

    "If z is an integer, then z squared is an integer."
  5. lemma \(E\) \(\Longleftarrow (A \wedge D)\):
    \(\left((\frac{x}{2})^2 = (\frac{x^2}{4}) = \frac{(\frac{x^2}{2})}{2}\right) \in \mathbb{Z}\)

    "(x^2)/4 is an integer."
  6. Theorem \(\Longleftarrow (C \wedge E)\):
    \( \left(\frac{(\frac{x^2}{2})}{2} \in \mathbb{Z}\right) \implies \left(\frac{x^2}{2} \in \mathbb{Z}\right) \)

If Implementation Includes Innovation

By definition, good implementation will turn-around a bad idea, into a good operation. Bad implementation will deliver nothing from any idea.


Coffee Shots

Mahlkonig published some base-line parameters. We tried them out. The parameters work. 5.625 is the new 7. That's a cost-of-goods reduction of 20% just waiting to be reaped by the industry.

Meanwhile I had to inform the boss that the annoying specks of dirt that he was digging out of his apple vanilla soda were... the vanilla.
DAP tv covers UMNO-publisher's civil social forum; former's activists on latter's payroll; on crony biz premises. Political maturity. Lol.


Coffee, Boredom, & Not Much In Betweeen

Woo hoo. This just got published (sans infographics). A friend of mine, Joe (FB), had asked me to write something about coffee, for a magazine he was helping another friend, Han, with. The version of the essay below is what Joe and I produced, before it was submitted to Han for final editing.

To be quite frank, my own motivation for writing this were (a) attempting to temporarily avert boredom, and (b) to push out more content on Third-wave coffee in order to raise chatter, prior to the launch of the client's coffee shop - guerilla marcomms whatnot (who reads lit magazines, anyway? Well probably, hipsters do...)

The publication ended up being THREE MONTHS late, due to editorial limitations, and I had long give up on its usefulness as a marketing gimmick. Then again, perhaps, better late than never.
How Long… oi?

August 27, 2013. My current role is helping to set up a Third-wave coffee company in Malaysia. Now, the seventh month of my assignment is ending. And it continues, by the way…

The first three months were filled with fairly reasonable activities: the formalisation of intuited business plans (“writing things down, for communication to third-parties”), the raising of capital (“asking third-parties for money”), and the initiation of partnerships (“choosing strategic allies”). This is stuff that makes sense, the sort of stuff that one can forget about when one goes home from the office daily, even if one’s temporary office is a hipster coffee shop a city away from one’s own residence. During the first three months on this project, to kill time, I had the headspace to read a dozen books and some three thousand blog posts on the development of the global coffee industry – and started writing a web-development framework for the Haskell programming language, within the realm of personal studies unrelated to coffee.

The four months since then have been filled, however, with non-terminated transactions, unguaranteed investments, dangling deals, and management by artists who have no concern for timelines – fortunately, investors around here are not particularly concerned about rates of return on their investment. It seems like everyone is having a good old time – except myself, I’m bored.

Boredom, science says, has a tendency to lead to a higher appetite for risk. Which helps to explain why just after the three-month mark on this project, after a late night’s haggling over legal wordings, I rushed an amber light on a wet street, briefly lost control of my car, and almost rammed into six workers replacing a truck battery at a junction.

The broad swath between courage and stupidity

I signed up for this project mainly because it contributes information to my plan-Z, of someday being able to pay the bills by running a quiet coffee shop of my own. Running a coffee shop is something that I should be able to do with minimal overlap to my nerdier research interests, ad infinitum. So it’s a sort of retirement plan, and getting started on this was part of the study plan that I wrote for myself five years ago.

At the current rate of cost, I’m beginning to ponder the efficiency of this investment of my time. The saving grace of this period is being delegated certain quanta of manual labour – which I prefer almost infinitely over desk-based work. If ever so redundantly, moving stuff about and sweeping a construction site, cleaning drains, and scooping cat-shit out of rain gutters, have been the most entertaining bits of the last four months.

The coffee bits of this story end here. Only boredom remains. Boredom has no plot, or plan, or character. Boredom is a she-cat’s moans while lodged on the spines of the he-cat’s cock. There is nowhere to run. One could wax lyrical over the varied experiences of human intercourse. Speech is an infinite combination of infinite symbols. Touches and timbres of voice are analogous and never reliably represented. Yet humans, like places, to a patterner, are simply the same (or dasein; sorry, bad pun). I have a tendency to indulge relationships only when work is boring. But these days, I’ve taken to writing ‘emo’ stories, seemingly relevant to the quarter-life-in-crisis crowd which we might be serving in the client’s coffee shop. But I often find myself lacking in material – so I have been farming for it. The obvious places from which to source inspiration for this sort of thing seemed to be online dating services, and conversations with people about their sex and dating lives. I’ve spoken to individuals and groups, at supper-clubs, with cute baristas, with old acquaintances, and others – and then I’ve channelled them as best I can. Perhaps, beyond my exercise of these social tropes, I may actually become a more normal person. But don’t harbour much hope that I will ever become less, boring.

Can you see things in your head? I can flip through entire buildings in mine – through the layers of floors, from any perspective – between the colours of paint (not so good at that), and the spacing of object (better). Of course, I can see people in pornos too – just another droning infinity. Some may have considered the mechanisms between memory, creativity, sensations from the eyes, and mind’s selective recognition of what it is that is being looked at by the person. If one gets into the nitty-gritty of what thought and emotion are, they may eventually become as clear to one as the nitty-gritty of what marks of a pen on paper are. The mystery of souls becomes transparent. The apprehension of such is a curse. So seeing, I seek to reproduce minds in machines, and over the past few years, I have studied their related languages. On this particular project, being frustrated by the lack of concrete drafts in our internal communications on design issues, I started looking into the use of 3D visualisation software, the more scriptable, highly adopted, and functional out-of-the-box, the better (I settled on Blender). Boredom is the beginning, and the end. The reason we search for answers, and the stock of the answers themselves. It is a plight that many deny, which others are oblivious to, and that which some cannot escape.

And what of war? Despite platitudes regarding the fight for peace, the paradox remains that activism in any form, is war in some form. In the absence of opportunity, often, I worry that my intuitions for warfare will entirely fade away, and so I study a game. You must have heard of DoTA. For those of you who haven’t played it, you should be warned that it’s like studying for the Pendidikan Moral exam – one memorises lots of recipes, which combine to form various tactics/strategies, and their specific counter-tactics/strategies. As the only complex non-commercial game that I’ve studied in these years, I’ve devoted a minimal effort to learning its nuances through frequent exposure. Games are inherently boring. As models of unreflective natural conflict, they give us a realm within which to play at war. It is a horrible thing to watch – civil people, playing games, on those days when they do not realise where games come from, or where they lead. To fights and flights, to foods and fucks… ultimately, boring.

Life as I know it, though called real, is much a game as the games that I play are really life itself. I’ve been for many job interviews over the past few years, and rejection due to misaligned interests has become quite the norm. Now that game is one where one’s chances are typically slim. One’s chance of being interviewed for a job at these firms is much higher with a personal recommendation, but despite multiple opportunities, I’ve generally opted to avoid those –I simply prefer the harder game. Generally, in love, life, and jobs, I’ve never really made it a point to get what I want, because wanting is not a very important category to me – rather, I tend to focus on finding out what it is I can get, within specific parameters. I find that my application of scientific methods to most aspects of my consciousness is a good way to go about understanding the world I live in. I suppose.

Boredom is the relevant point between my story and what the reader wants. I chose to lead with my dominant emotion, instead of coffee. Boredom, always wins.


Dating Profile Update

OkCupid now reads:
The paradox of looking for people who like work, and abhor vacations, is that you'll rarely have time to meet new ones for dates.

Love and sex. Hmm. I relate to both as matters of practical convenience, which must add value to the overall operation of our lives.

I enjoy kinesthesia, and studying/optimising the supply chain between food, sleep, and human performance in general. Compatibility of our physical habits is probably most important to me - we need to enjoy eating, sleeping, and working out together. Beyond that, having anything else in common - e.g. conceptual interests ("stuff to talk about"), cultural preferences ("fashion", etc.), social circles - while nice to have, are relatively unimportant to me.

I'm not into escapist fantasies, emotional dependency, or undefined relationships for the most part. I have an active, diverse, and stable emotional life. Some company, however, would be pleasant.

MBTI type: INTP (often playing ISTP because it's easier to communicate, and ESTJ at work when I have to pick something more marketable...). I agree with: http://markmanson.net/6-toxic-habits TMI: http://about.me/jerng


Heads, Hunted, Laughing

Reminding myself that I'm probably a bit hard on headhunters, but you never know what's out there.
1. [recruiter] looks like a lobby/PR/consulting firm that takes fees for the delivery of client agendas. It will be interesting to see if they are really into data driven research, or if they selectively read data in order to deliver on mandated agendas. If it is the latter, then it is likely that even if I joined the company, I would be a huge pain in the ass to some people - hence not a good fit from the beginning.

2. As far as being a data analyst or programmer is concerned - I'm probably underqualified in formal terms. I'm probably over-qualified in the generalist aspect of the job, since I both know how to influence people with verbal communications, as well as read code and process data with machines. We'll see if there is any mutual interest between them and myself.

3. I'm afraid we don't have any professional history of work together, so if they do ask, I will inform them that we once lived in a flat together, and that's about it. :)
Up, fool, up. Ignorance is waiting to consume you.
Hate talking to startups about work. Always get asked to lower my prices. Never sure why anyone would want to pay me enough to join them anyway.

Ok. Escapism. Sleep.


Notes at Work

... and ensuing conversations.
0. Pay 70% of daily sales to buy a plate of breakfast? fergettit.

1. Heard ex-client had some good news. That made me happy.

2. Social media professionals really need to know how to articulate their value-add to top/bottom lines - or to quit calling themselves professionals.

3. It's amusing when two acquaintances who seem to have similar interests and physical conduct, seem to get along with each other.

4. It's past my bed time, and I need to get to the office ASAP to resume studies.

"physical conduct"
The only way to talk about people without pretending to understand them speech patterns, posture, reactions to stimulus etc.

Brings to mind a funny story:

- I once went out with someone, and after a week was asked what I saw in her, and I said "the clothes you wear, the house you have, the car you drive," and she cried. And then I was more in love with her.
It's sad when people put so much effort into their expressions of preference, and when you point it out, they go ballistic. Come on!

- Definitely not the answer she was looking for. But I avoid patronising people by pretending to understand their data.

- Which makes it really funny when people think that the problem is me being patronising. Hahah. That just happened at work recently.
The definition of patronising is to give a nice answer instead of the answer that you know will be painful. The opposite of patronising is to give direct answers. It is strange when folks define it otherwise.
Day off on Wednesday, means aiming to get up as early as possible and go to the office to get lots of studying done. I love my life. Come by and hang out. And maybe drink some coffee.


The following Friday:
Late again. Ignorance wins today. Then again, I think I can squeeze in 60 minutes of study before my shift begins. Fire it up.

Update: scratch that - business meeting just got scheduled 60 minutes before my shift starts. LOL. It's a good thing that my studies mostly involve pattern recognition skills that can be thought about in the absence of reading. The rest is just hammering the brain with the writing style of mathematicians, I suppose. If history behaves like the future, then it's a matter of weeks/months/years before I get really good at this.
Saturday - doing math proofs in the Mira; rainy wait for the noodles at the Teng shop on Tengkat Tung Shin, during meal break at work. Achievement unlocked. Sunday:
Late. Haul ass. Squeeze in an hour of study, maybe. Breakfast first. Nasi kandar as usual.
Off day. Study math at cafe. And try to minimise kaypohing with the calibration.


Talking about Sleep

Til: hibernating animals need to unhibernate to sleep. Meanwhile I'm just trying to enter REM-state at will. http://en.wikipedia.org/Sleep

Vitamin B supplements and adding servings of protein throughout the day seem to improve sleep quality, reducing the need for quantity. More testing required. And plant foods too.



To-date I haven't figured out if I'm permanently depressed, and fine with it, or not. Which means, I'm probably not. I guess that makes me cynical, as someone pointed out when we all first met in 1999. Little time for losers.
Three rules for competitive success: work more, whine less, and don't hang around with people who don't follow the first two rules.

But none of this matters, if you don't really care for competition.

0615 first alarm of the day;
0900 actually get up;
1030 arrive office; study;
1500 shift starts;
0015 last customer leaves;
0100 leave office;
0130 arrive home;
0149 need to shower and hit target bedtime of 0200... rinse and repeat! :)

This is the good life.
Curating low emotional volatility is good and healthy, but on the down-side, you have little context with which to empathise with folks who have high emo-vol.

One way to go about almost never having a bad day is to set low expectations. But that doesn't get you any fans from the crowd with high expectations. I suppose the hack-around is to give as much face as you can afford to, and then to just give up.

Perhaps I need to have more of my days ruined. More math required.



Teething Problems

My day-off from work. I run some errands, including a visit to the dentist for a check up - the last one was perhaps, more than a year ago. This dentist tells me that there are things all over that need to be fixed - either she's doing her job in a way that the other dentists I've visited over 12 years haven't, or my life's just been bad to my teeth this year. Chlorhexidine and hyaluronic acid for me.

Dentures, one day. Nothing to worry about, but worry itself. In any event, one tries to reduce empathy with the horrors experienced by others all around. One day, they shall overtake me too. Hehehe.



0645 is the latest to leave home on weekdays.

0100 is the latest to leave work on weekends.

All shifts/changes occur within these limits.

Long-term abstraction demands a routine of sleeping 0200-0615, supported by scattered napping.

Let's try this out.
Bodies. The trivial meat that moves our minds from place to place in a space defined in common. Some people only see their bodies. Today I find myself removing inhibitions on imagination, so that recently read texts are cycled through the conscious portion of my mind, in aural and visual modalities, quicker - the right way to study new topics.
Friends: delete.
Family: delete.
Focus on ops.

1am. An hour from scheduled bed time. But I think I'll grab the extra sleep while I can!


The FOC Limit of Philosophical Advice

a: What do you recommend as an introduction to topic X?
b: Wikipedia.
a: It's too general. Can you give me a detailed text?
b: Detailed in what way? What are you looking for exactly?
a: I don't know.
b: If you can't find it on Google, you don't know what you're looking for. QED.
a: This is a dead end.
b: Indeed.


Bored of Espresso?

Boss posted this in FB's Barista Club of Malaysia. My response, sans communal bickering/Q&A.
1. Question: [redacted]

2. Assertion: we don't know if the baristas were technically proficient and analytically sensitised to "third-wave" coffee, or not.

On the specific "coffee vs. tea example" in the original post: I'm going to go out on a limb and say... that I'd like to know if the cafe being written about was anything like the cafe where I work, where there's a "third-wave" aspiration to coffee, and a "second-wave equivalent" aspiration to tea. For example, we just considered [redacted] tea, which is like a [redacted] version of [redacted], e.g.. sold by product line, not by details of processing and terroir, at best broken tea (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tea_leaf_grading#Broken_leaf_grades), pushed in a sales format that includes plastic tea pots.

If that cafe being written about is like this, then the behaviour of a random hire to the coffees and teas is as believable as the behaviour of most people I know who drink alcohol, who go to bars and discuss the difference in flavour between BRANDS of beer or single-malts, instead of the difference between particular bottles of wine. Consider the language quoted by the author:
"Wow, can you taste that rich butter?" "That honeysuckle?" "Do you notice that flavor that reminds you of the way earth smells after the first rain?"
- nuff said. This is non-artisanal analysis, i.e. pseudo/noob-foodie talk at its best. :)

3. IMHO: Most of the thread is apeshit bickering. For analytical talk, please skip straight to this one:


Then skip to this one, and follow the responses:


4. Bigger picture assertion: A lot of artistic fields get masked by people who "talk the talk" and make a business out of it. This is common in any field, and "third-wave coffee" is of course not immune to it. (As usual, I will remind folks that "third-wave" refers to a phase of coffee evolution in the USA, even if that has influence beyond US borders.)

Consider this essay on how math is often completely misunderstood despite everyone being taught "math" in school - the author uses stories to illustrate what it would be like if music and painting were taught the way "math" is typically taught: http://www.maa.org/sites/default/files/pdf/devlin/LockhartsLament.pdf

5. Whimsy: if I stay in this industry long enough, I'm probably going to wade into those forums at some point. LOL. But not yet. Meanwhile, feel free to quote me if you're up for posting there.

6. [redacted]
Have you tried dosing coffee grinds over a bit of spice (seed of cumin, or a clove bud) in the basket, and pulling the shot? Loads to discover.


Lovely Noises

If you really love someone, you stay the fuck out of their way.

Too bad for me my folks never understood that.

I guess I have friends in two realms - people I produce things with ("work") and people I'm fucking ("love") - outside of that, I don't see why people bother...


Business Everything

It's my weekly day off from work, and I am driving to meet my housing loan officers while thinking about life.

It's kinda cool to have reached a point in life where every meeting with someone else is a business meeting. It makes me feel all grown up.

I gave up dawdling with friends over casual conversations many years ago. Nevertheless the opportunity cost of neglecting random interactions with other people is considerable, so recently I switched myself into a job where social interactions are part of the role's responsibilities. Now outside of my job, I am either trading something, or discussing prospects for trade, everytime I meet another person.

Dating. Do you know what you're looking for? Yes? Can we determine a mutual match? Ok, let's try that. You don't know what you're looking for, or it's a feeling that you can't control? I'm sorry, it doesn't seem that you know yourself well enough for us to be able to strike a deal.

Moving on. And always moving. I don't suppose it's the life for everyone. Then again most informal chats are information trades. Hehe.
Eight years out of college and people think I'm an ideas guy. Which is strange, given that I mostly work on the implementation of other people's ideas (and spend my free time implementing my own ideas).

I suppose it is because I tend to work in companies which are branded as having a competitive advantage due to the quality of their ideators - professional services, new business models in old markets, old business models in new markets, etc.

Oh well, whatever. You dream, you pay me, I get it done. LOL.

Sense of Time

Sometimes, but not often enough, I wonder if the mental conditioning and learnings that I acquire are worth the time that I spend on acquiring them.

Having worked on my current personal projects exclusively for some 13 years, setting out timeframes of 10 to 20 years for projects no longer seems intimidating.

Setting aside 25 to 30 years remains on the boundary of scary. :) But that still doesn't tell me if any of it is worth the opportunity cost. But that's life, I suppose.
Circadian kinda off due to shift changes :P

Thinking of hitting the office at 7am to study.

Update: the following week's math leads me to non-Euclidian geometries. Geometry geometry geometry o_o ; how about some sanity instead? Ah, coffee... something actually sensible. :p

Cooking, and Entropy

Ok - so totally in over my head at this point.

I've been trying to (leakily) abstract the espresso brewing model, by reducing the number of its input variables. I thought of "increasing temperature" and "increasing pressure" as increases in input "entropy", but that was just a sentence that came to mind, and I am not sure if it makes any sense once you plug in the referents of those physical units. After all, if pressure goes up, entropy should go down within the system... but that's really, really, abstract, since it doesn't tell us much about how pressure changes affect the extraction rates of different chemicals from espresso grinds, to espresso infusion.

All cooking is, to some degree, the control of energy that is being applied to a mass of chemicals. Much more reading required, as some point in the future.


Hygiene in Food Services

Here's an incomplete laundry list for further discussion (at your next friendly neighbourhood meetup with other food services folksies):
(1) Levels of hygiene: what activities are preferred, and what're not, and why? What's the scientific basis for this (if any)?

(2) Regardless of what's "really" clean or unclean, what sorts of activities are un/preferred because customers un/prefer them? Customers may believe anything they want, so to what extent do those beliefs affect your behaviour in food services?

(3) Regardless of what customers "really" believe - your first customer is your manager or boss, who may have preferred behaviours for staff. To what extent do you give your boss what she wants, regardless of (1) and (2)?
Meanwhile, it remains comical to me that blue nitrile (and just about any other rubber) gloves have been banned in front-of-house where I work, due to management assumptions about customers' probable assumptions about what staff have been doing, while wearing such gloves.


Month 1

Month 1, Day 30. I wonder how much remedial calculus I can get done before my shift starts. But first I'm going to jack a milk carton for storing my books in the car. Locker's running out of space.
No more Alam Damai detours. 14 km of death by traffic lights ain't much better than a jam on the highway.

The algebra of gossip: "we used to be best friends, then something happened, then something else happened, and now we don't talk anymore."

Late night laundry cycle. Need to grab some some shuteye before an 11am meeting with the subway killers and then the 3pm shift. Bring it, Sunday. #onlyHappyWhenItSlams

I look at holes in the wall. It's safer than looking at holes in your skull, and watching them look back at me. Evading captivity. #emoStory
I go to work six days a week. I leave every day after dozens of commercial interactions with other human beings, some prettier, some kinder, some familiar, some none of the above. My days are fairly predictable. My incentives to make violent changes are negligible. I have time for my hobbies. I get to feel like a normal person almost every day. Life is really good, for a little while. I feel blessed.

Wake up. Housekeeping. Go to work. Go home. Sleep like baby. I wonder how long I will tolerate this mindless luxury. :)

Mixed rice lady is kind to me. Gives freebies. I'm a RM1/day account. On the supply side, I get good value for 2% of daily wages.


Giving Thanks

Life's easier when you don't love the work you do, or the people that you spend your time on.


Happy Thanksgiving!
To an open mind, anyone is potentially a spook, a tortured soul needing comfort, an enemy in disguise, or an opportunity. Ignore everything.

(The 140 is strong in one who cannot sleep due to being flipped back and forth between night and day shifts. LOL)


Job Ads and Copy

In response to the following:
Any extremely smart people who believe they can do anything, and work hard to prove it, looking for an interesting job?
I variously commented:
Sounds like a gross abstraction. I know a lot of people like that, but why would they respond to this post?
I've thought a lot about the verbal patterns of business people who are vocal about talent, since I started studying the commercial sector in 2005.

It seems that narratives like this attract folks at the intersection of (i) has high self-esteem (ii) has a strong need for external affirmation. These are of course, qualities which are only moderately correlated with actual cognitive advantages (on average, really smart people tend to think that they are dumber than they are, and really dumb people tend to think that they are smarter than they are - there is data on this).

So what the copy of the ad really achieves, is to attract the sort of person who's enthusiastic about performing in a social context, and these are of course the best people for middle management. All well and good - but it's interesting how means and ends rarely show everyone on each side of a deal what's really going on.


Day Off

Done with industry networking. Mid-afternoon. Back to books in the absence of social life. Or computers, as the world these days would have it. Getting into linguistics. In order to understand programming languages. In order to test models of cognition. In order to be entertained.

All day, tactical decisions revolve around the following balance.
Choose: stress, or boredom?
Work week begins in six hours, one shift early. Scheduling volatility - new company, business as usual.
Top mandates to address at work:
(i) increase contrast between brown and white regions (latte art)
(ii) increase symmetry (latte art)
(iii) reduce complexity of drawings to increase photogenic distance range of (i) and (ii)

Top mandates to fix at play: thoroughly revise Haskell's monadic types and type system usage.
Ops discipline is failing. There is a plan. Back to the plan. To bed, to bed.

Heroes and Anti-Heroes

If you want to be followed, save the world and tell people that you did it because you cared about them.

If you want to be ignored, save the world and tell people that they should have done it themselves.
Or perhaps do the Dark Knight thing, and get yourself framed for causing the problem. :)

More reflections on work in the world:
Pay attention to your work. Be compassionate and kind. Be humble, be brave, and kick ass. :p

Some may be a mensches, doing the best work. But maybe they giggle, and giggly people get you down. Evade. Life's too short for toxicity.

Avoid the slings and arrows of unreasonable people. Dirt begets dirt. Too many generations between rocks and computers. Yet, the same thing.

Always fun to watch disgustingly managed work - and to be able to sigh in relief when it's not yet my problem. :)


Effort in Relationships

Sometimes I wonder why I try so hard, when the other party tries so little. I suppose it's just my choice of positioning - the hardest that I'm willing to try usually isn't hard enough for many counterparties. Hmm. I should perhaps, remind myself to try even less.



Today I observed in spro calibration (on a peanutty Lagoa, during service): 

All other variables being fairly stable on a particular grinder+espresso machine setup, [i.e. (i) water temperature, (ii) pressure vs. time curve, (iii) beans of the same roast batch, etc.], observable loss of a flavour profile that is positively correlated with an observable change of flow rate (e.g. due to changes in humidity of espresso grounds), may sometimes be fixed by reversing the change in the observed flow-rate.

That can be achieved by modfying (iv) dose mass, (v) grinder burr distance, and (vi) tamping style & pressure, in tandem. Which makes sense, I suppose.

(Later on the drive home, I am plagued by doubt about whether I had or had not changed any other variables, and forgotten about those changes amidst the excitement of hitting the final tweak that restored the flavour profile.)


Another Good Day

Days start at 0630 hours, in theory.

Following an ordinary day at the cafe (ornamented by a tea tasting session, thanks to a prospective supplier), I had dinner chat and coffee with a former classmate, and her former classmate.

It was fun to just hang out, and talk about life for a bit, with a stranger and an acquaintance. This month I actually have some sort of a life routine that I can point at and talk about. All present had spent some time in Malaysia, and some outside.

I had the opportunity to show them a new pop-up third-wave espresso place near our meeting place, and then ended up telling them much about the industry as I have experienced it over the past 10 months. I knew some of the baristas at the pop-up, and had seen some of the customers before, so I felt as if I was in an industry community where I had something useful to say. (This is rare.)

Later I got called to play DoTA, and thought about how I have made that too a part of my social life, despite lacking special affection for the game otherwise; just as I have little special love for coffee. Both local communities have been kind to me, and to that extent, from my nerd point of view, as a guy whose main preoccupations are studying, I am grateful for what they have thrown my way.

Now I write in my car. I will nap until the DoTA folks announce quorem, or the lack thereof, for tonight's game. Later I will drive home, rest, and return to the cafe for an 8am opening shift.

Life is good. For a little while.

Also today I came to the epiphany that a guy who can feel at home everywhere should not date a girl who cannot feel at home anywhere. A reflection on a past relationship.

0224 hours. On the drive home.

Hit me again.

0354 hours. Just before bed. My study documentation is in a bit of a mess. Cutting corners, I need to link these for tomorrow's post-shift study:


A Good Day

All consulting job applications bounced. Phew. Due-D done, options further reduced. Till next time!

Freedom is a curse upon the living.

Recently changed my CV copy to demand balance sheet responsibility. Makes me even harder to hire, but I get more study time. :p

Reflections on someone saying that I sometimes give too much credit: Give credit when none is due. Under promise, over deliver. Do work for free. Customise lessons to the student. Be professional. Be kind.

Excursion to LowYat: Galaxy Note (III) 8.0 rm1200. Touchscreen notebooks. And other shit I don't need. Good job world. We've come a long way, baby.

On buying food for the colleagues: Happiness is a warm tummy. Heheh.

I need to print more study material before bed: Falling asleep at desk reading about financial statements. Switching to Haskell-MongoDb and realising that I want the monad tutorial. >_< Haskell typesystem. We meet again. Turning into that guy who studies a database driver for a summer to remember how to use the language that the driver is written for.

Life is good. For a little while.

I miss her but I've got nothing she needs. So I stay away. #emoStory

Gotta open shop in a few hours. First, much driving and sleep. So time to hit the road again... Home. Great day, working to this point of exhaustion, but it is dangerous. I have almost lost fingers and killed people by accident before.


All consulting job applications bounced. Phew. Due-D done, options further reduced. Till next time!


Latte Art Calibrations

So (over a span of several weeks) during the training for latte art, I have asked the folks whom I report to if we can have specific targets of art styles to emulate. The answer has been no, and that instead we should deliver what is considered "pretty to the customer," which eventually led me to think of how we should design a survey with minimum bias to determine what latte art customers would find "pretty."

Should it be like Facemash, where we structure a primarily binary choice between two milk drawings selected to isolate a particular parameter? Or should we simply throw random sets of images at customers and as for a "prettiness rating," from 1-5. Perhaps in the latter case, customers should be first asked to identify their "prettiest," and "least pretty," image from the given set of images, so that we can normalise the distribution of their ratings.

Just a few thoughts which I really shouldn't be bothering with on my day off from work. I'll try to avoid thinking about this, and to come back to it when I am on shift.
Conversation continue, none the less, and since it is a on a narrowband medium (Whatsapp), I offer that "pretty latte art," on Google is probably a safe mean, less then etching and hard foam. Also, a couple of popular tutorials published by other cafes was brought up, so I will be emulating those directly.

Statigram searches by hashtag, sorted by likes, also works. This was insight from a colleague.

Day 20 on the job purely as a trainee barista. Things look swell, albeit a little mundane. But that is where the rest of my hobbies come in, I suppose. Here's to a simple life. For now.

Espresso Calibration

Shared this with some friends:
So this is the kind of pre-scientific stuff that I get to think about at work, these days.

This example is a slide prepared to lay out my thoughts to my colleagues (based on data, etc.) regarding two shots of espresso, and what we should do next. We go through DOZENS of such iterations in a day. Each iteration takes a competent operator 1-3 minutes to tweak a variable and test it, and costs $1-3 of raw material, on a setup costing about $21,000.

Often, we don't talk about every dimension of available data. I hope that in the future, a more rigorous framework can be designed by which people in the industry do more consideration of all available data.
Someone asked what the end goal was.
The process? Espresso tastes like shit unless you fix it up every few hours or so... so you have to keep re-calibrating it. Yes, the aficionados who are actually excited about coffee look for the "god shots".

My own goals? This job pays my bills and doesn't require me to sit down. The rest is stuff I'm told to do. Not shooting for any rockstar barista WTF here. I have too many other things to focus on... :(


Moved financial statements analysis textbook and MongoDB-Haskell notes to cafe locker. Will study those at the cafe. Perhaps then, math can be done at home and on the road.


Reacquiring Study Forms

After work at my day job, I find that my subconscious is still too active from being on-guard against social aggression - too active to focus fully on the study of computer programming. More efforts must be put on allowing the subconscious to switch contexts - I suppose this is a subset of what some people refer to as meditation. I just think of it as studying the subconscious, by studying the changes in conscious data fields, and assuming that inputs are either from immediate sensation, or from the subconscious (or non-conscious) information systems of the mind.

Some cannot stand loneliness. For others, loneliness is a way of life - it helps us get things done with fewer distractions. Do good work. Walk carefully, and die alone. If one pays attention, it is easy to overachieve.


Exit Facebook...

Co-incidences can be relieving.

I was just shutting down Instagram access to reduce distractions today, when my boss informed me that one of my responses on the company Facebook page, to a message from a private individual, was deemed unnecessarily patronising. I was asked to contain myself, and I did by removing my administrative privileges. So having no further occupational use for Facebook at the moment, I am taking the opportunity to stop logging in for the time being. I will retain access on the mobile messaging app, just in case there are direct messages.

Back to Twitter, for now!
Following which a chat on the company channel at 0200 keeps me up till 0330 doing documentation. Whatever needed to be done by the business owner was done, basically a public yelling down, and a public stonewalling on my part. Ah well, it is good that I am accustomed to this pattern of communication... having been brought up in such an environment.

Stonewalling is very important when avoiding antagonism/offense/tearing-into of the counterparty, while preserving your position on a field.

0441 hours, and I am up studying. Feedly. News. Reading up on Android tablets, and trying to figure out what phone/tablet/development-platform I can move to next. Learning Java/Scala may be inevitable.

0453 hours, having some comfort form readings in months-ignored genres, discipline is enforced, and I return to bed. Much work remains to be done, and all I can manage for now is to try and ignore the noise of local problems. Surely, I can do better than this lackadaisical attitude, soon enough. But it is only 15 days since the last project, and I sluggishly feel that it is a holiday. Now to convince myself, that I am mistaken...

Rant: New Media Agencies Should Own Developers

The next day: of course, there is demand for the case of outsourcing.
...this is a bunch of related reactionary thoughts, in a minimally structured fashion, which I'm noting down before I rush off for work.

'communications-service-provider': CSP
'technology-service-providers': TSP

If a CSP views itself as being content-focused, rather than media-development-focused, then sales teams need to communicate clearly with customers as to whose head is on the line if the medium goes down (website offline; other tech bugs; etc.). All is well as long as the customer understands that the risk of new media is the risk of having to manage/development new content (creative campaigns/CS communications/ etc.) on media that are young, changing extremely fast, and high-risk. Unfortunately, end customers of creative campaigns are often software illiterate, and if they have the misfortune of meeting CSPs who pitch new-media solutions without underscoring the technological risk involved in doing so... then the customers are ultimately screwed.

If a CSP-TSP puts its ass on the contract, to handle up-time of media, and if it fails to do so in the following ways (there may be other ways), then the agency deserves to be slaughtered.


It's the CSP-TSP's responsibility to build and maintain a development team that survives "bus error" - or "the errors that occur when X staff are hit by a bus" ('bus numbers' being the number of staff that the team can lose before it starts to lose its capability to deliver on mandates).

As for the role of the HR department, agencies that are trying to develop new media, upon which to develop content, can't simply delegate hiring to HR, unless HR knows how to test the competency of potential recruits in terms of their artisanal capabilities as software developers. So the ideal hire for the in-sourcing of a robust technology team is language/platform agnostic CTO: who knows how to hire other developers, who can manually involve herself in troubleshooting unknown systems (the term "alien systems" might communicate more to the average reader), who has the capability to manage and buffer financial, time, and human resources for the development team, and who also can communicate well with the downstream creatives and account managers.


Otherwise, a separate TSP is engaged. CSPs typically have technology headcount to maintain outsourcing relationships with (a) in the best case scenario, a long-term relationship with a mature TSP that is able to guarantee continuous availability of platforms upon which the CSP is deploying content, (b) in the worst case scenario, a myriad of ad hoc relationships with tool-specific freelances, which is the management of band-aids, really, and (c) something in between (a) and (b).

But it seems that CSP like to cut corners and try to outsource technology work to TSP without hedging contract (read: encashable) guarantees from the TSPs about penalties for failing to guarantee a particular metric of stability in the media that the TSPs are supposed to build and maintain.

Example: CSP trusts the TSP and officially the job has been handed over to "a trusted partner" without any documentation that elucidates the audit of that "trust". What is the TSP's bus number for the current solution? What processes does the TSP have to deal with bus errors? Etc.


Love? Omg, Wtf, and Haha...

Not sure which is funnier:

1. ETP paid someone to write this (and I'm in it).

2. I got my ex-client mentioned, as part of anti-marketing efforts. Also wrote a piece for a lit magazine which may or may not get published, since it was deferred, and I told the editor not to bother.

3. It's a completely off-brand depiction of me - I don't love jobs - I love getting jobs done. :p So that I can get paid.
Love? Unlikely. I work as a bartender for the physical exercise. It’s a tactical optimisation, since my hobbies are rather deskbound.
And don't for a second think that I'm in love with my hobbies - they just my hobbies because they're deemed the hardest problems I can get my hands on at the moment...



Deep exhalation.

Two new business meetings and some social stuff over the next coupla days.

Outstanding response to request for proposal from a philanthropic F&B financier who wants to help people who want to change their lives by owning a business - the mismatch I feel, is that I will never lose sleep over not-owning a business.

Software development studies all up in the air - latest work on esoteric language study, implementing some very basic web infrastructural tools just kinda sitting on a shelf since May.

Math & stats studies all down in the doldrums - having strategically focused first on the software toolkit for the past few years (see above).

Social life virtually non-existent outside of work, cybersports, and one not-for-profit project for the past coupla years (this is somewhat intentional).

Deep exhalation. Sometimes it feels like I deserve all the negative criticism that I put up with.



Two days later.

Long day, but three meetings with good contrast. First was to open up a new business development channel for general consulting work. Second was to visit a friend in the industry, and to sample his wares. Third was a social meeting over Ender's Game.

Then the long drive home. If I didn't have a day job, I'd be staying up to write code, but given that I need to get used to leaving home by 7am, I'm just going to do some reading, then go to bed.
Reducing social distractions which were required to keep me from quitting the last project. Since I've already quit the last project. :)


Noob Guide to Ordering Espresso-based Drinks

[...] espresso coffee goes out of whack really easily, and the process of getting it back into whack is called "calibration". On the other hand, it can cost RM2-40 and 2-20 minutes to execute a recalibration, so if you're going to demand that the barista at your fav[ourite] espresso shop does that... you'd better have a good reason to do so.

Please do specify what's wrong with the drink: "is it too sour or bitter?" is probably a good place to start. If the house doesn't agree with your taste, at least they can try to pull you a shot that you'd prefer - if they're that sort of house.

You can go study common vocab for third-wave coffee flavours at your next er... break... or something. Haha.

Geeking Out

Until I fall asleep: financial modelling for a restaurant/retail operation.

I don't need the money, but if I get the investor's mandate, with proper performance targets, we are GAMEON, baby...
Figuring out what it'll cost me if I hire everyone in the executive office on an hourly basis:

- marketing executives (product & positioning : choices & communications)
- spreadsheet analysts
- logistics executives
- janitors

I don't think we actually need anything else on a regular basis except for the FTE ops crew, and outsourced SMEs like plumbers.


Spro Ops

Sketching out a spreadsheet to do Monte Carlo simulations on customer orders, to estimate coffee grind costs. Taking into account various ways in which waste occurs, and modelling those... hmm.
Chilling an espresso without diluting it - cold stones, cold mug, or liquid n2. Hmm.


Actually I just thought of another way - get the group-head handle with the largest surface area - probably a double-spout handle... and dunk it in freezing water for 15 seconds before attaching an already-tamped basket of coffee grounds to it, then pulling the shot immediately. This should be interesting... we'll find out one day...

Modified group-head handle. Where did I put my sintering 3D printer...

Getting Sorted

Money work: I meddled with my colleague's coffee calibration right before we got six orders, and regretted it. So, my hypothesis that it's inefficient to mess with other people's calibration unless it has been lost due to bean-environment-interaction is, so far, upheld. Need to do less of that in the future. Even if encouraged to do so. Aside, cursory benefits of working in F&B include having your upstream vendor's CEO drop by to see what your ops are doing with his stuff, then have him start to argue that what is being tasted is not like grass... but like hay.

Pitching work: Didn't put anything on paper, but at least I readied the XLSX files for modelling the kopitiam2.0's finances. Also tried to rope in a local content specialist for a newsstand2.0 annexe to the kopitiam2.0. We'll see where that goes. I.e. today, grandstanding > financial planning.

Hobby work: reviewed the Haskell-MongoDB software pairing that I was working on a few months ago before taking time off from that to focus on the coffee shop client. Seems like not much has changed in the programming languages world, in six months, except that Scala's popularity seems to have popped - probably due to the TWTR's IPO... up 80% now, good for y'all who bought some. Things I should read, which I don't immediately have time to (perhaps time to get a tablet again):
(1) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Static_single_assignment_form
(2) http://info.10gen.com/rs/10gen/images/MongoDB-Performance-Considerations_2.4.pdf

Reflection: time for !@#$%^&* bed... got an opening shift in the AM.

Realestate: I really need to get an update from my lawyer. :(

The next day:
9 hours at the farm.
Clock out on the dot.
See colleagues - delete.
See hot bod in pumps - delete.
Going home.
Pursuing open opportunities.
Fighting traffic.
Going home.
Relearning Vim, Ubuntu, Haskell, Cabal, GitHub, MongoDB after 6-7 months of inactivity. Sigh. And Markdown.


Life: Good, Bad, Ugly

Ok, so after work today I had enough energy to clean my flat. Finally. Now I can sleep on the floor by the glass balcony door again - it's beautiful. I wanted to go straight onto Kaggle and have some fun relearning the Haskell-MongoDB stack that I was studying nine months ago. But something more straightforward is needling me to get it done - I need to hack out the financial model for a Kopitiam 2.0 idea now that an experienced F&B investor has actually asked me to produce one. Sigh. I guess I should do what's good for me, and get the latter done first...


Third-wave pet peeve #1: they reinvented the definition of acidity to point to anything other than the fundamental cause of sourness. Unlike in wine and culinary practice where acidity refers to all forms of sourness, back of throat, tip of tongue, etc. But I could be mistaken in this belief.

I like that this article doesn't take the view "acidity = brightness, but acidity =/= sourness". So the article author uses more standardised language than many third-wave aficionados I've read-up/spoken-to.

Also, yay, QUINIC acid, the name of a common stinger. A pointer that I need to remember. I'm a bit more sensitive to stingy sensations, given that I don't drink booze much, it seems. But how about other acids in coffee?

Feely Thoughts

As far as feelings are concerned, I sure wish life didn't feel like a continuous paddle through an ocean of tribbles.

Feelings aside, I find it reasonable to believe that I sufficiently contain my feelings, in order to preserve the happiness of organisations around me.


Coffee Cupping & Double-dipping

Someone needs to popularise a cupping protocol that doesn't allow double dipping.
it's considered "normal" for cuppings to involve the following (in a less orderly fashion):

Cycle 1.
1.1. Everyone has a spoon (or a few spoons).
1.2. Everyone's spoon goes into a cup for the first time, let's call it cup A.
1.3. Everyone's spoon touches their respective lips during sipping/slurping/sucking.
1.4. Everyone rinses their spoon in a common bowl of clear water.

Cycle 2.
2.1. Everyone's spoon goes into the next cup, let's call it cup B.
(continues until everyone has tasted all the coffee)

At step 1.3., each spoon has been in direct contain with thousands of bacteria, virii, etc.

At step 1.4., the common bowl's water now potentially contains the sum of all the germs above.

At step 2.1., we actually introduce trace particles of flavour from 1.4. along with all the above germs into cup B.

By the time we've reached step 2.4. everyone effectively has been exposed to everyone else's germs.

It's not rocket science. It's just normal in the coffee cupping community...

... anyway, if I were to stay in this industry, someday I'd like to be able to afford a cupping setup with zero double-contact situations for transmission of germs and/or particles. I suppose the short-term solution is just to have hundreds of spoons. LOL
Autoclaves. That is all. But my boss would laugh at me. Haha.

Off Day

OFF DAY. But I'll probably be back at ye'olde coffee shop leeching on the wi-fi. Math studies begin again!
Unit repaired. Nothing like 12 hours sleep after a good three day workout.

Ubuntu & miscellaneous software stacks updated. Miscellaneous charity work for ex-client completed - looking forward to final removal from DropBox tomorrow. Spending the rest of the evening consolidating thoughts on position and how to fit studies around the bartending routine.


Thoughts in traffic

With ap's out to McKs, BCG, GOOG, and AAPL, I think I need to reduce my potential for rejection and do some math instead.

HOLD THE PLEBEIAN ASPIRATIONS. Let's, get, nerdy... back to studying! And no more applications until I collect this round of rejection notices. Or something like that.
Let's see... really long day, closed at 11:40pm (we were late), opened at 9:00am (I was late), trucked through Fed traffic from KL to Subang to buy food supplements, watched a movie, played Dota with the social gamers, trucked home to Kajang, and will be supposedly on site for work in KL at 8:00am in less than four hours.

But it's the first time since March 2009 that I'm not either (i) helping someone launch a business, (ii) in a relationship that requires constant maintenance, or (iii) inundated with studies and infrastructural concerns. Life is good, for a while. My responsibilities are trivial. Let's see how long I can keep this up.

Probably not too long since, if I start studying again tomorrow, I'll be chasing a syllabus, and that just puts an end to the carefree life... oh well, it's been a fun four days of "leave".


The next day, we had a nice two hour rush and broke sales records with 110-120 orders. After my shift, I hung out and talked to friends, old and new.
Having the freedom to recreate to the point of exhaustion, such that uncommon weaknesses show themselves, is a luxury I currently enjoy. Whee. How long.



There are days when I love her, while it's uncivil to tell her so. She's every pretty face on a body, and no one that needs to feel special.

Chinese Copywriting

So today I told the 24-hour-beef-noodle-stall guy that the (third-wave coffee) place where I work at is...
"美国咖啡店... 比 Starbucks 更有行..."
1. I'm not sure that's the best way to translate our value proposition to this audience.

2. Someone might shoot me in the face for this.


Meanwhile I'm proposing that they look into dealing with what seems to be the only company owning farms in Indonesia and a roaster in the Klang Valley. At least for greens. We can curate our roasters. It's totally in line with out branding and operations requirements.

I'm only happy when it slams. Come on weekend crowd. Show yourself. Zzzz.



Haven't seen the insides of a woman in months. But work is predictable, paying for the bills, and more. Feels just like the first year at college.

At some point, I'll get back to studying. But first, relax.
Some say the leopard hunts in darkness. But it seems to me that surrounding yourself with excited, screaming, yelling people is a good way to ensure that you're never the easiest target of attack. Then again, the latter is a defensive strategy, whereas the former is offensive, I suppose.

Google "apps"

Such a pleasant day. Nothing to worry about. No crashing web applications. No weird new languages. No crises at work. No operations falling over. No responsibility. Just wash dishes, follow house rules, and go home. I wonder how long this will last.
All my application letters read like this. :-S But honesty is still the best policy, I find.


While there seems to be just one job offered by X in Y that both interests me, and does not disqualify me based on minimum requirements, there seem to be a plethora of jobs available in Z.

However, I am still not exactly sure how how my diverse experience and generalist interest are best suited to serving X operations. So I must again, state that it would be nice if we could have a chat about where I might best fit in.

The five jobs I have included in this job cart are merely the first five which interested me at the Z office, which did not disqualify me based on minimum requirements. I remain open-minded and curious to know where YOU would see me delivering the best value for money, to X.

I have ten to twenty years to commit to a project, and would be willing to consider a career at X, should one be available.

And now that PWC has dragged Booz's branding down to its level... I guess we're going to see a massive pop in the supply of consultant job applicants over the next few months...

... not that I would know how any of this really works.


Green Architecture

Following a discussion on LEDs vs other lighting options, and energy efficiency.
Two things I'm designing into my next F&B outlet:

1. dry/ventilated space for drying cloths/other stuff; maybe by putting the air-conditioning compressors indoors

2. natural air-flow to aid cooling, and to minimise air-conditioning usage; always hated those machines - worst thing on earth; so much more efficient to have air-cooled spaces with iced drinks



TIL about mini-HDMI and MHL ports on phones. Bye bye desktops - I don't think I need you much anymore...


Selling Out (By Accident)

Day 20 of operations - granted, it was due to supply-chain mismanagement, and not primarily cost cutting. Sigh.

Job Shopping Checklist

Cursory prep for meetings to discuss potential employment.

1. The outcome does not matter.
2. Determine deliverables and timelines.
3. Determine price.
4. Shoot the shit.
5. Have fun, and learn something about the target organisation.



Chucked out job apps for McKinsey & BCG for the first time since 2008. Will be very surprised if they take me seriously. Meanwhile, #occupyBed.

Following this, I sleep in till past noon for the first time since time immemorable - okay, just a matter of weeks, I suppose. I wake up looking forward to a predictable day. So shift over at 11pm, truck home, two hours of hobby time, sleep, wake, shift begins at 2pm. It starting to feel like a normal life.

Meanwhile at job applications I think: I don't need work life balance - I just need more work.

Update: The mastery of mediocre aesthetics, enables the political mastery of massive profit. Be a pleb. Do the right thing. 


First Encounters with SHB Rio Azul

How we (start to) do stack traces in coffee...

2:00pm: "Salty."
2:30pm: "Fish."
3:00pm: "Salt fish."
4:00pm: "Berry aftertaste. Still salt fish."
8:00pm: "Pourover is also salty."
8:30pm: "HOLY MOLY - look at the %-size variance in bean size. AND THEY LEFT THE PEABERRIES IN THE ROAST... D:"
SCAA coffee grading error rate classification.

Spend enough time doing flavour (dependent variable) profiling of espresso, with water pressure (up to 10 bar; independent variable), and you start to worry about the vapour pressure of every !@#$%^ chemical in your coffee...

... it seems however, that for the most part, pressure simply determines the flow-rate of water through the puck, and that is what we're really trying to control when we pressure-profile.



If you have a bad memory and temperamental personality issues... and you drink alcohol regularly, I can only wonder if you care how that stuff works. :P


Koptiam 2.0

Time to reinvent the kopitiam. I need financing. Who's looking for investment vehicles in F&B? Ping me.

Let me know what you think: Kopitiam 2.0.
We run the drinks and own/long-lease the premises, and we rent space out to other chefs.
Drinks level = specialty espresso + mocktails/cocktails.
So you can see where this is going. But I'm going to need a shit ton of capital for it.
Also, it's a long-play - genre-breaking, so let's say 5-year exit.
And I'm positioning myself as the ideal curator - so I don't mind spilling the model as it's hard to do.

How much I need, depends on how much you want back, of course.

I think it's reasonable (pre-modelling) to expect that this will take at least 500 up front. Given that it would probably be unruly to have more than 3 executive partners, everyone else will have to be a passive investor (with some provision for voting to sell/liquidate the company). I'd propose all the small fry pool-up into holding companies, and we have a total of 2 blocks + myself = 3 executive directors on board, or something like that. Trying to make it easy for everyone.

So let's just guess that you'll need to rustle up a pool of some 150k to make it both easy + viable?

"Action breeds interest."
"I'm not hard-up for interest."
Because nothing is interesting, if it is easy. And so the world turns.



Was in the shower, graphing in my head the sizes of previous job billings by industry/sector. It seems that in total I've made most of my money programming computers, and obtained the highest hourly rate doing recovery/feasibility analyses of software projects, but probably added the most value to shareholders in non-technology pre-revenue startups.



Someone should just troll Louboutin with a range of solid bright soles like the rainbow. Red is so over. Later they can ios7 it...
Most boring nine months in recent memory, but definitely not the most painful, or even remotely the hardest to execute. Just a lot of patience required. I wonder what's next.


A Coupla Days Ago...

Not exactly sure where to get analytics for Instagram hashtags, but I think we just went hockey-stick... #vcr, #vcrcafe, #karyaxvcr


Iced Latte "Indonesia"

Got a handful of positive reviews of this drink. You should try it too! Use GreenFields Fresh Milk - very specifically. The estate was Kuda Mas, and we guessed the doneness of the roast as we didn't have direct access to the roast profile. Flavour profile: chocolate surprise.

Espresso (Sumatra Mandheling, full city roast), 27s (6,3,14,4s at 3.8,7,9,7bar), 92.9C), over fresh milk from East Java, on the rocks. #win



Well, today we actually started charging customers. Not bad. 11am-8pm, officially, but we stayed later as most people in this company are social dawdlers. I had dinner with a girl who's been dropping in, and also managed to close up the shop after almost figuring out the "heart" latte-kata. Then there was this insane (no seriously, the alternatives are just seriously boring) job-ad I put up on our page.
[PROJECT] at [ADDRESS] is hiring "baristas". Prior experience is NOT required. Feel free to drop-in for an informal chat.

Should you join the team at [PROJECT], you will have access to good equipment (pressure-profiled individualised pump+boiler espresso machine, conical burr grinders, Sproline Vortex+Foam Knife, superb water filters, temperature-on-demand boiler...), unfettered access to in-house knowledge-base, (currently) unlimited latte-art practice ingredients, a fast-track to Malaysian coffee industry networks, mentoring in multiple aspects of the coffee business, opportunities to move up the supply-chain into roasting and direct trade, etc. etc. etc. as our business grows. Do not view this as a dead-end job.

We look forward to meeting you!

* * * * * *

Our REQUIREMENTS, in descending order of priority:

1. You feel that cooperating with other people is more important than changing their opinion/s. (COMPULSORY!)

2. You are interested in a data-driven approach to creating "good" coffee. (You like being "systematic".)

3. You're familiar with the "third-wave" coffee movement, its culture, stories, technology, and stories. (Do some homework.)

4. Your acceptable salary range in Kuala Lumpur, for an 8 hour x 6 day week (manual labour) is RM 900 - RM 2,500 per month.

If you think you can deliver our requirements, then begin by emailing your resume to [EMAIL]. You can expect up to three interviews, by phone or on-site. At on-site interviews, your ability to brew coffee using espresso and pour-over methods may be tested. You may also be tested on your approach to customer service, and your knowledge of Malaysian law regarding the operation of food and beverage retail businesses.
This eventually led to interesting comments about the lowness of pay. Some of my comments:
you don't need to be educated to know what "data-driven" means - you just need to be born smart enough to have figure out what "data-driven" means by whatever age it is that your eyes met the post.

RM900 is minimum wage in Malaysia - which isn't even enforced, so people often get less than that.

Too bad about salaries in Malaysia isn't it? I refuse to be a salary snob, and it costs me a lot of relationships - simply makes it impossible to date women who prefer to spend more, for example. I've lived in Malaysia for 25 years, and I still think it's a pretty crap country, with a pretty crap economy, but that doesn't stop me from getting on with life...


it's a matter of expectations isn't it? First of all, I do like to underscore that I'm not passionate about coffee at all - coffee could drop off the face of this planet tomorrow and I wouldn't give it a second thought. I just make sure that I deliver what my job entails, whatever my job happens to be at any point in time. Maybe I'm just passionate about definitions.

As for figuring out "under" or "over" payment - I guess that's what the free market is for! My client can see all these conversations, and based on the feedback that they receive over the next few weeks, I'm sure they'll be able to calibrate their expectations.

I have zero expectations. I like to wait and see what happens. That, is science, to me.


I personally don't expect any responses. (Neither do I expect an absence of responses.) But the requirements describe the requirements outlined by the client - whether those are rational or not is beyond my concern - since I am not (edited:) responsible for most decisions around here.


we had a chat about the comments that certain people (SICSICSIC :P) put on our post - we figure that there's a certain target market that'll take to third-wave coffee in the future. I personally think that the client'd prefer folks who can tahan long-form reading, but don't really know much about coffee yet...

... simply because it's quite likely that our target audience is fairly well-heeled, or well-traveled, or well-read... so our baristas will need to be conversant with that crowd...
Existential crisis? We're just bored. Screw crisis, buat kopi je...


"Passion" and Implementation

Passion is useful to a few types of people
(a) people who love things
(b) people who who need to admire (a)
(c) people who need to market to (b), by deploying (a).
The construction of a pipeline that delivers (a), and then (b), to (c), is what good business people do. I suppose.
Tour of Duty. Month 9. 120 hours on the job, then back home, an hour of grooming, and two hours of laundry. It'll be over soon. Whee.


Calibration (Unseasoned Burrs)

My rather sloppy dataset from the first day that they let me mess with the grinder. To think that I avoided being a natural scientist mainly because I found wet-lab work boring.
notch ~ 2.9
time 4.95
: stuck

n ~ 3.3
: stuck
: stuck

time 3.95
: dripping

time 3.5
: cone 9s still slow

time 3, notch 3.3
: j0, cone 8s, stop 30s, 30g extraction,

time 3, notch 3.3
: j1, 15g dose, cone 7, stop 30, 43g extraction

time 3, notch 3.3
: j0, 16g dose, cone 6, stop 30, 54g ext

time 3.25, notch 3.3
:j0, cone 6, stop 30, 43g ext, bitter
:j0, cone 7, stop 30, 47g ext
:j0, cone 7, stop 30, 43g ext
:j0, cone 6, stop 22, more sour, less bitter, less offensive

time 3.25, notch 3.2
:j0, cone 6, stop 24, less sour, more bitter, more balanced
:j0, cone 6, stop 23, 33g ext, more bitter
:j0, stop 23, 38g ext, a bit flatter
: purge
: purge
:j0, cone 6

time 3.25, notch 2.7
: purge
: purge
: j0, cone 6, stop 24, 43g ext, slightly more acidity (weird)
: j0, cone 6, stop 22, 25g ext, much more acidic
: j0, cone 6, stop 22, 23g ext, acidic, hint of fruit
: j0, cone 6, stop 24, 23g ext,
: j0, cone 6, stop 28, 25g ext,

(I think we should go coarser)

time 3.25, notch 2.9
: purge
: purge
: purge
: purge
: j0, cone 7, stop 22, 14g dose, 22g ext, bitter, but tastes weak in latte (probably underdosage being obvious)

grind 3.25s, notch ~3.5
: 16g dose
: 17g dose
: 16g dose, 7s cone, 23s stop, 29g ext, sour and bitter

dose 3.50s, notch ~3.5 (the day eventually ended around here, so I almost had it, but then...)
: 18g dose, 7s cone, 27g ext, sour and bitter
: 20g dose
: 18g dose

(switched scale to Hario)

: 18.8g, 7s cone, 22s stop, 35.5g ext
: 17.8g, 7s cone, 23s stop, 35.0g ext

dose 3.5s, notch ~4.0 (...this was a mistake, I went coarser, but had meant to go finer)
: purge
: 20.5g dose
: 20.7g dose

dose 3.5s, notch ~3
: 19.4g
: 17.4g
: 18.4g
: 18.0g, 7s cone, 22s stop, 47.7g ext
: 18.9g, 7s cone, 20s stop, 37g ext (this was the mistake beginning to reverse itself, perhaps, but I mistakenly thought that we weren't getting anywhere, and fussed with the input variables; ridiculous - it seems we needed to purge 90-100g before the output variable (extraction mass) started heading where I wanted it to go)

dose 3.5s, notch ~2.4
: 17.3g
: 16.5g
: 15.6g
: 15.0g
: 15.4g, 7s cone, 25s stop, 15.2g ext
: 15.4g, 29s stop, 18.5g ext

dose 3.5s, notch ~2.7
: purge
: 15.8g
: 16.2g
: 16.0g, very slow flow
: 15.5g, very slow flor
: 15.7g

dose 3.5s, notch ~2.8
: 15.5g, slow
: 15.4g, slow
: 15.4g, slow
: 15.8g,

dose 3.5s, notch ~3
: 16.7g, slow
: 16.8g, slow
: 17.0g
: 16.8g slow
: 17.0g

10:00pm Thursday - dose 3.5s, notch ~3.4
: 17.6g, slow
: 18.0g, slow
: 17.7g, a wee bit faster
: 18.2g, as fast as the last shot
: 18.3g, cut at 27s, stop at 30s, 29.9g ext
This was after the client had demoed his testing process of how confusing new gear can be. In any event, Roburs need 30+g purges between grind-size-setting changes, per empirical evidence and forum advice.


Moving On

No more construction work, and no process in sight yet. Looks like we're back in girl scout mode for a few weeks. Yawn.
I think my job is done. Switching to to a $340/month ops role at the end of the month. Good times. Then I can think more clearly about the future. Too often, one does a bunch of stuff and then thinks, "that's it? I must find something harder."
Napping at non-work. A well-deserved rest if I do say so myself.
Good reminders: "It's more important to do work that's important, than work that's pretty." And, part 2: Q&A.Next month's bartender/barback job probably won't require social media, so this may be the last month on Facebook for a while. Other media, then.

There go the last of my savings. Hopefully this property can finally transact. Hooray for Malaysian infrastructure.

Synesso really needs to up their game in UI/UX. The Hydra's controller makes me feel like I'm driving a sports car via GameBoy :(


Milk Art Training

After I learn how to do traditional clean-line latte art I am going to have so much fun telling people how much I prefer dirty marble.
Latte bandung, anyone?

Replacing espresso with a coloured liquid works - food colouring is ideal, but coloured syrups led to the discovery of gimmicky coloured art drinks that could actually be served at a milk bar. I can't wait to drop three colours into a pot of foamed milk, then do a drawing on espresso, someday. It'll never sell at this client's cafe though. ;)

Detergent instead of milk?

After an hour of testing, a few days ago, I learnt that detergent has a lower surface tension than the ideal milk foam. Means big bubbles are harder to break via stomping the jug on the table. More testing required.


Water Activity

A standardised way to measure green coffee bean moisture content. More to come on this - it seems it's generally for foods of any kind.


Review of Relationships

Today was a fairly reflective day. After doing a milk run for the cafe project, I was interviewed by a reporter on site about the motivations behind my "career decisions." Interestingly enough, the reporter said she would not be querying me on my "existential crises," - I wasn't aware that I had existential crises, as my existence seems rather ho-hum to me.

My current job is pursued mostly for its educational potential, as there is limited remuneration of any other sort at the moment. It was initially a viable investment opportunity, but that has not been the case for several months now. It has been almost eight months since I began full-time assignment to this project, most of which have been spent killing time while waiting for other parties to make their decisions.

My social life ex-job during this period has been otherwise mostly confined to computer gaming rituals on weekends, where I socialise with folks whom otherwise have not much in terms of common interest with myself. I have, with a similarly lackadaisical attitude, pursued a brief study of Internet dating applications - with scattered results. My financial position is not highly liquid at this point, and that has shaped my schedule accordingly.

Throughout this period, I have not successfully curated any deeply personal relationships with colleagues or acquaintances. My last lover and close friend stopped enjoying my company about a year ago, and since then I have spent most of my time on my own. I suppose that when one's social relationships are of a low priority, one can only afford to keep few "close," friends. I have usually reserved close friendships for lovers, and therefore whenever I lose a lover, I typically lose my "only friend."

While it bothers me deeply within the realm of social considerations, as a whole the realm of social considerations does not bother me deeply. For example, I do not maintain deeply personal relationships with my parents or siblings - for example, my mother happened to drop by my place of work during the interview this morning, and I welcomed her to look around, but also told her that I was busy and would not be free to speak with her at this time.

Nevertheless, in the interest of being social, all this is good to think about every now and again.



Espresso Online

After 8.7 months, we're finally at the part of the business that I don't know how to do. Making coffee. Yay!
Update 2013-10-01: with the gracious support of industry enthusiasts, we hosted a B2B event (grinder technology seminar) for our beta debut of the premises. So far so good. We're keeping our messaging where we want it to be - we're concerned about delivering a satisfactory customer experience, and so we're media shy for the time being. Meanwhile, I'm busying myself by reaching out to upstream folks to find the right partners for future JVs. ISTP by day, INTP by night. This is how we roll. :P One of these days, I'll find a good medium within which to whip out the E--J...


Trollable Consulting

About this article: 'Non-expert' paid RM20mil to draft Education Blueprint
I don't think there's anything that McK or any other consulting firm is doing wrong here. They're providing a service in the market for services, in the function of providing machinated credibility to governments who outsource their content generation. A lot of "consulting," work, including such organisations as PEMANDU, functions as highly-intellectualised public relations copywriting. That's just what the business is about - you help CEOs, goverments, and other managers to defend their actions about their management of stakeholder resources. Whether there is embezzlement or irresponsibility on the part of the client ("organisational leader") is besides the point - clients often pay for advice, frame the advice, hang it on the wall, and never implement it. Consultants are paid to advise, not to implement. If you want a more effective use of money, fire the government.#trollability
If you're wondering why I'm raising this point, it's in response to a number of comments that others post under articles like this. I'm reacting against those comments because it's job application season again, and I'm trying to talk myself into taking the management consulting industry seriously. 7 years on, I still find it a hard sell... but the money is good!



EVERY TIME someone asks me for an emergency contact number:
I would prefer any illness or my passing to be remain a private matter. Is that ok?

I Live in Kuala Lumpur

Due to unforeseen circumstances, I am now a resident of inner-city Kuala Lumpur.

Boring-ish day at work. Cleaned some drains, cleaned some floors, painted some pipes, entertained some visitors, and watched boss debug customised pieces of furniture. Otherwise has superficial but lengthy conversations with two women on a dating site, and I'm just glad that the likes of them still talk to me, or at least, some digital representation of me... whee. Overnighting at the construction site again. Legal training in twelve hours. Trying to update my installation of Haskell Platform and get some old software working, meanwhile.

Fuck. Code still works. It seems I have simply forgotten how to use the Haskell programming environment. :P Damn niche platforms...
Once, I was partially motivated to rent/buy my own place because a girlfriend was uncomfortable visiting a shared residence. 2.5 years later, I'm still waiting for the transaction to go through - EPF financing depends on application for a Facilities Agreement, and application for a Facilities Agreement depends on cash deposit to the tune of whatever I need financed by EPF (ho ho ho)... life truly provides just enough entertainment to make it worth living...
The fun part: mozzies and a roach as bedfellows. The not-so-fun part: waiting for project to get on the road. Zzz.



Sometimes, it feels like I'm paying just to find out how bad the service can be. Ew ew ew. But that is the life of one who is curious.


I Like Company

I don't know why people think I don't like corporate work. Maybe I just complain too much about people who are bad at what they do.
since before joining the corporate workforce in 2006, I've professed an interest in corporate dynamics, but basically at the board level of setting objectives that are mapped to motivations and resource constraints. I think readings on the business and culture of management consultants in 2006 increased my appreciation and preference for operational design and implementation also. But I have generally been explicitly disdainful of employees, middle managers, and even CEOs who don't seem to know why they are doing what they are doing - and how it fits into a rational narrative.

Typically when I interact with any new entity (individual or organisation), I start looking for 1) who's in charge - whether its people or thought patterns and 2) why they disagree with me - because disagreement is definitively more informative than agreement.

This tends to lead me to behave in a fashion that says to people, you're not interesting if 1) you're not in charge of what I'm interested in modifying 2) if you agree with me.

This, they find abrasive. Hehehe. But i love people, and companies, really, I do
Now here's what really irks me. Most people who work in corporate roles do it because they fear death, or hunger, or the loss of their social-economic lifestyle practice, not because they like corporate roles.

I like corporations as corporations, studying and doing what corporations are meant to do - serve shareholder interests. And often enough, these people are the ones asking me if I really like corporate work. Yes i do. It's these distracted people whom i can't stomach...

Now of course we could broaden the teleology of a corporation to include employee-etc-stakeholder interests as means to the end of shareholder service; or even as a means in itself, if all contributors of capital are viewed equally whether they provide financial or human capital to operations. Butthat'd be a DBA / Philosophy of Commerce thesis, not a FB post hehe
"Shareholder value," doesn't refer to next-quarter's profits over the firm's profits 5, 10, or 20 years down the road.
[...] no, that's short-term shareholder value. There are more sustainable approaches that can be employed while still putting shareholder value at the top of a corporation's list of priorities.

But saying that "shareholders matter more than other stakeholders, e.g. employees, neighbours, people affected by the corporation's supply chain," is the old-fashioned approach that I meant to refer to. It's a property-rights approach: an "I bought your time, so I own your time," approach to management.

A more altruistic alternative to that is to look at corporations as "projects," which involve capital contributions in terms of cash, human time, and willing counterparties in a supply-chain. So, "shareholders," would not be prioritised higher than "employees," or "our suppliers," or something like that. Fun stuff to think about if you're into designing and running companies...