TUESDAY TRIAGE #63 by Vadim Drobinin

Your weekly crème de la crème of the Internet is here!

28.09.2021 (read in browser)

  1. Intro
    Whatever is on my mind this week.

  2. Things I enjoyed reading
    Ten-ish articles I found worth reading.

  3. Things I didn't know last Tuesday
    Ten-ish facts I didn't know when I wrote the previous edition.

  4. Book of the week
    Some thoughts on the latest book I've read.

On taking breaks

This week’s edition is shorter than usual and is released later, as a few days ago I had my first flight in almost two years and went on a holiday to Italy.

My previous flight was in late 2019 from Turin, so I am closing off the loop in the best way possible, returning back to the world of food I adore so much we had to perfect it at home.

In that sense, eating it at its roots has some therapeutic effect: we don’t focus on pure flavours anymore and start comparing and making notes.

At one place a dish is served with black powder full of umami, and while it doesn’t taste like black pepper, it might be some dried mushroom or herb — in fact this is burnt semola, which is really smart. Burning is an extreme way to bring up the byproducts of Maillard’s reaction, which in turn brings lots of umami.

Another dish we had looks and tastes almost like a patè. And it was to some extent, but instead brought together fried and stewed local aubergines.

One other dish with aubergines was the local hand-made pasta, but here it had an unusual paring of fries on the side, which tasted surprisingly good.

I also didn’t expect Sicilian wine to be so good. Reds, yes, more or less, as volcanic soil does wonders to grapes, but not the whites. We had a few spontaneous wine tastings, and everything was spectacular.

Funny enough, the only time we went to a proper winery (actually walked on the roadside through an island), it was closed.

On that note, I leave you with this week’s short excuse of a newsletter so you can have your break from the screen too (and I don’t have to leave my wife to enjoy local landscapes alone for too long).

Please bear in mind that to put it in place without a laptop I had to involve ancient gods, iOS version of vim, an Alpine Linux in the cloud and some typing on a tiny keyboard. Next time it will be way easier, but for now please let me know if you spot any typos.

Things I enjoyed reading

1. In 1973, I invented a ‘girly drink’ called Baileys by David Gluckman

Baileys was one of the first liqueurs I’ve ever tried, and for a while I really enjoyed both its creaminess and sweetness.
Years later my palette pretty much shifted towards dryer spirits, but I still appreciate this odd mixture of milk and whiskey.
At the same time I never thought that its idea belongs to a living person, and the drink itself is so young.

We chatted aimlessly for a few minutes about the Irish brief and then I raised the issue of my previous Irish involvement. “Can we take anything from my Kerrygold butter experience?” I said. (I was in the team that created the Kerrygold brand in the early 1960s.) “Is there something in Ireland’s reputation for dairy produce that we can apply to an alcoholic drink – all those lush green, rain-sodden pastures and contented cows?”

Hugh looked at me with an almost earnest stare. “What would happen if we mixed Irish whiskey and cream?” he said. “That might be interesting.” He sat back and waited for a response.

So essentially this liqueur my parents used to make with vodka and condensed milk is a byproduct of demand for Irish produce and their love for butter.

2. A moment that changed me: my boss discovered my secret blog by Emma Beddington

One of the hills I stand on is that social networks within business environments can only be used to one’s benefit. Personal blogs and twitter accounts can’t be used to fire someone — only to promote or not used at all even if found.
I do avoid promoting my own channels at work, but they are very easy to find, as well as dozens of blogs I used to run in the past.
At the same time, when interviewing people I always look them up if they provide links in CVs.
It never made me to think less of someone, but sometimes it brought up a few ice-breakers at the start, and people love talking about projects they already mention out there.

A few months later I was back in the same office, being made redundant. I can’t be sure the two events were linked, but if you have to let someone go, the person who wrote about how boring her job was might not be the worst choice. “Why are you still here if you hate it?” the HR manager had hissed at me one day in passing. It was a fair question, and unhappy as I was, my redundancy felt like a fair cop.

Probably within other way more sensitive industries the decorum is different. It probably will never change: as the Internet becomes a bigger part of everyone’s lives, written words become more powerful too.

3. He Escaped the Dark Web's Biggest Bust. Now He's Back by Andy Greenberg

Reading about network security and cryptotech is often akin to a good detective series. Most of the stories rarely get a sequel for obvious reasons, but seems like this one got approved for the second season:

DeSnake credits his ongoing freedom to an operational security regimen that borders on the extreme. He says his work computers run an "amnesiac" operating system, like the security-focused Tails distribution of Linux , designed to store no data. He claims, in fact, not to store any incriminating data on hard drives or USB drives at all, encrypted or not, and declined to explain further how he pulls off this apparent magic trick. DeSnake also claims to have prepared a USB-based "kill switch" device designed to wipe his computers' memory and shut them off in seconds if they ever leave his control.

At the same time, being so proud of one’s precautions and yet giving an interview sounds unusual. I guess the time will show whether it’s striving for fame or some piece of an unknown plot.

4. An ultimate guide to memory palaces by @sergchr

I was mesmerised by memory palaces ever since I read about them at a tiny book picked in a small bookshop in my hometown. The author claimed he won worldwide tournaments and promised to teach readers all the techniques of successful memorisation.

I didn’t learn much but it helped me to memorise a few hundred patterns to solve Rubik’s cubes, which in turn saved my sanity of long subway rides to the university and back.

Memory palaces are suitable for you if you need to store raw data. They don't help you learn but memorize much information. The idea is to have a space where you can store the data in a form of visualizations. Along with spatial representation, visualizations are easy for the brain to memorize fast and remember. A good memory palace has 2 key features: organized space to "put" things and unique connections between the things. The space helps you to find the first element in the story. Unique connections help you to recall the other elements.

This post has a bunch of good advice on approaching the palaces properly: if I were to read it back then, I’d probably get a better grasp of it. It’s never too late though.

5. Building a Theban Lattice Stool by Paul Bouchard

Here is a great approach to pretty much anything in life: you see something, you fall in love with it, you make a copy if it’s not available.

I found this ancient Egyptian stool on the British Museum’s website in early 2020 and fell in love with it. A couple of things pushed me to make a copy – curiosity about the execution of its joinery and a desire to own it, sit on it, and see how it holds up over time.

Apparently lattice stools are very stable and doable at home (which makes sense given Egyptians used to make them back then.

Things I didn't know last Tuesday

1. London Bridge was moved to USA brick by brick

In the 20th century someone very rich bought the London bridge and then moved it to Arizon break by break.

When his business associate C.V. Wood told him about London Bridge, the two concluded that it was just the kind of eye-catching centerpiece Lake Havasu needed. McCulloch even hatched a plan to carve one of the lake’s peninsulas into an island so the bridge would have something to span. “I had this ridiculous idea of bringing it to the Arizona desert,” he later joked to the Chicago Tribune Magazine. “I needed the bridge, but even if I didn’t, I might have bought it anyway.”

You’d think British had to be very desperate to sell the bridge, but in fact they managed to do something almost impossible and convinced Americans it is worth buying due to it Roman history.

In fact it was falling apart and had to be replaced.

2. Plastic can rust

The title is eye catching and a lie (as rust is iron oxide so involves iron), but for all practical matters it is almost the same as rusting:

Plastic can oxidize as well, and when it does, it usually discolors, often turning yellow. It generally happens over a period of years or decades, and lighter colored plastics are more prone to it than dark colored plastics. We don’t notice it as much as we used to since electronics are usually made of black plastic now, and have been for more than a decade. But when they were off white or gray, they did discolor with age, usually due to exposure to certain types of light and heat.
It is possible for actual rust to end up on plastic as well, if a piece of metal is right up against it and rusts over time.

I’ve seen plastic items with this yellow tint, and never thought of it as oxidation but it makes lots of sense now.

3. Telling the bees

A lovely custom apparently not even long forgotten:

Telling the bees is a traditional custom of many European countries in which bees would be told of important events in their keeper's lives, such as births, marriages, or departures and returns in the household. If the custom was omitted or forgotten and the bees were not "put into mourning" then it was believed a penalty would be paid, such as the bees leaving their hive, stopping the production of honey, or dying.

Given that people talk about the weather anyway, casual small talks with bees don’t even surprise me anymore.

4. Sicilian Moorish heads

As we are traveling through Sicily it’s very hard to ignore the variety of crockery shaped as heads here and there.

Think of these two as the protectors of the island: locals love them, tourists love them, and for the South of Italy their story is more beautiful than the story of Romeo and Juliette.

I’d argue that it’s a bit more grim: a girl falls in love with a man, and eventually finds out that he has a wife and kids overseas. So to avoid the eventual separation she cuts his head off and uses it to plant basil.

As people would walk by her balcony, they began to become jealous of her thriving basil, and so they began creating colorful vases with clay heads. Today there are many different styles of ceramics heads, but the most traditional are a man of color and a beautiful girl.


5. Radioactive Camembert

It’s not a secret that in 20th century France was obsessed with radium and used to spike with it pretty much anything, from chocolate to cigarettes.

I never though it’d make its way into cheese too:

I couldn’t find an actual proof though, so take it with a grain of salt. Some sources mention that the word was used very liberally and sometimes purely for marketing purposes.

Book of the week

I rarely happen to onboard a flight long enough to finish a book.

I also never had enough patience to read on a beach. Sand and the sun, people around, buzzing wasps, crying kids — nothing ruins a good book more than a distraction.

And yet on a short trip to an island next to Sicily I managed to find enough time for a book, albeit different from my usual repertoire.

I was watching a video about note taking and the author was praising Mathew McConaughey’s memoirs, Greenlights:

Some people will never be more attractive than in that first impression, from a distance, in that light, at that time, in that way we saw them, when our hopes became highest and our wish fulfillment was fully leaded. They will never look better than in that initial, fuzzy-edged glimpse. The impression. The WIDE SHOT.
Some relationships are better in a wide shot. More impressive in the impression.
Like in-laws. Best to only see on holidays.
Like neighbors. It’s why we have walls and fences.

I didn’t know much about the author, besides watching a bunch of movies with him being the main character, and also thoroughly enjoying that one episode of Hot Ones, where he sweated through a bunch of spicy chicken wings and told lots of fun stories.

This books is quite different: it’s both more honest and gripping than his public persona, and despite reading very similar to quotes from Paulo Coelho’s Alchemist at times (which I actually enjoy), it has lots of wisdom to process.

Also plenty of jokes.

Also Mathew claims he mixes good cocktails. Who’d guess, right?

Thank you and see you in a week!

If you have any questions, or want to suggest a link for the next newsletter, please drop me a message on Twitter or reply to this email.

Cheers! 🍸