The HoseMaster’s Comprehensive Guide to Wine

And wood also breathes, though its breathing is rather labored because the barrels are smoky. Most of the barrels are made from French oak. The oak from France is preferable to, say, American oak because when it comes to nuance and flavor, as with everything else, France surrenders easily.

via HoseMaster of Wine™: The HoseMaster’s Comprehensive Guide to Wine 2.

I forgot to post this when the source article appeared—just found it in my drafts folder.


Another chuckle from the Jesus & Mo archive—the punchline is somewhat telegraphed, but I still laughed out loud.



Prague Old Town Square At Night

I like the way these came out.




Less Bullshit, More Conversation

The article, The Fine Art of Bullshit: Killed by Google, appeared in my inbox this morning from Medium. It has a quite amusing conceit and is a fun read for the 2–3 minutes it takes. The author tries to show the difference that smart phones and 24×7 Internet access makes to conversation. The “discussion”? Someone suggests that Steven Tyler and Mary Tyler Moore are brother and sister. In 1994, there is no conclusion. An argument rages; the protagonists try all kinds of ways to find out, but fail. And they spent quite some time doing this.

Contrast 1994 with 2014: someone offers the possibility of this sibling relationship. Everyone immediately goes online and, within seconds, confirms that it’s not true. That, as far as this author is concerned, is the end of it. In my opinion: not the case.

What happens these days is that disputes about fact can indeed be quickly resolved. However, that does not kill the conversation. It broadens into other areas; maybe about MTM’s best movies, or Aerosmith’s worst songs, or something entirely different. Today’s instant access to information may kill the bullshit, but it does not kill the conversation. It enriches it.


Prague Astronomical Clock

The Prague astronomical clock could be seen from the window of our hotel in Prague. It is, according to Wikipedia, the oldest working astronomical clock in the world. It attracts a crowd on the hour to watch The Walk of the Apostles as the clock chimes. The clock continues to chime through the night, though I cannot testify to the size of its audience at 4am.

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I’ve just started reading Hitch 22: A Memoir by Christopher Hitchens. I was very taken by the sentiment in this paragraph.

If there is anybody known to you who might benefit from a letter or a visit, do not on any account postpone the writing or the making of it. The difference made will almost certainly be more than you have calculated.

Freddie’s final

Freddie completes the single and shakes the hands of the umpire. For a man of his talent, it’s a modest bits-and-pieces game. And yet still, Freddie has almost won the game. He almost sucked the victory into his orbit. Just by being there. Freddie is a marvel, even when he isn’t. It was finals day, he wasn’t even supposed to play, and even on the losing side at the non-striker’s end, he is the story… … Freddie is still the hero. But it’s not his time.

via Freddie’s final | cricket with balls.

Another lovely piece of cricket writing by Jarrod Kimber about the final of the T20 Blast.

Road Trip: Prague – Vienna

Last Monday Gia and I fly to Prague to join Sharon—a long-time friend from Hong Kong—and three of her friends on a roadtrip from Prague to Vienna. We spent a couple of nights in Prague, then onto Český Krumlov for two nights and then on to Vienna, with a boatride between Melk and Dürnstein, for two more nights. Our guide and driver was Ari, who will be 75 next week, but still retains an enormous enthusiasm and passion for his work: “Ari’s Travel Club—traveling with passion” is his strap line. Ari has an aparently encyclopaedic about the places he took us: talking (lecturing) on history, art, culture, architecture… Ari’s patience was rather strained by the five Chinese women in the back of the bus who were much more interested in chatting about who-knows-what than listening to Ari.

We saw some beautiful scenery and architecture, and ate some good, and some not so good, meals. I have a few hundred photos to sort and process in the next few days, then maybe I’ll write some more about the places we visited.

Wine In The Bath

Then I came across this image and, having got myself soaked in summer rain, decided that drinking wine in a nice hot bath was a thing that needed investigating.

Nice post from Sediment.


PC Nostalgia

This article The IBM PC: Was it really only 33 years ago? popped up in Zite (a highly recommended app) yesterday. Like Colin Barker, the article’s author, I remember the announcement of the IBM PC. Unlike Colin, I didn’t find the announcement particularly exciting; the specs were uninspiring compared to personal computers that were already available. The research department in which I worked at the time used the ACT Sirius 1, which was a much better machine. Of course, despite our scepticism, the IBM PC was a success just because it was from IBM.

Around the time the IBM PC arrived in the UK, I had changed jobs. I was the Software and Training Manager, which sounds a lot grander than it actually was, in a high street retail operation. Part of my role was to support the sales team whenever they needed something more than a simple client demo. I recall one of the first sales in which I was involved was to a large insurance company in the area. One department was looking for a solution that their own IT people couldn’t provide. I don’t remember the client requirements, but I do remember that I had a few days to learn a new, integrated package—word processing, database and spreadsheet—and show the client how this would satisfy their main requirements, which was database-related. This I managed to do and we made the sale.

What I remember most is the cost of the PC. We sold the client an IBM PC XT that had 256 KB of RAM, a 10 MB hard disk and a CGA screen with 640×480 resolution… £4200—over half the annual average wage at the time! Today you can buy an iMac with a 27″ screen with 12 times the resolution, 8 gig memory and a 1 TB disk for £1599.