2013-12-20

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.

2013-12-19

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.

2013-12-18

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

2013-12-17

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.

2013-12-16

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.

Zz
"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.

:P

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.
Monday:
Off day. Study math at cafe. And try to minimise kaypohing with the calibration.