Buying 96 Verismo Pods

Over the last month, I have been very happy with my Starbucks Verismo 600 Brewer. It makes perfectly acceptable espresso. I recently committed to drinking espresso from this machine by purchasing 96 espresso roast pods. That is a pretty sizeable commitment. My espresso pod trials so far have included 3 different types of coffee. Both the Ethiopia Yirgacheff and the Guatemala Antigua espresso pods were decent, but I still prefer the traditional espresso roast pods.

My Verismo espresso pod ratings:

  1. Starbucks Espresso Roast pods
  2. Guatemala Antigua espresso pods
  3. Ethiopia Yirgacheff espresso pods

On Exceeding Potential

Potential means different things to different people. The potential an individual possess matters. Potential is something you should spend some time thinking about. Every person has a certain amount of potential. Some days we live up to it and some days we do not. We make choices about what we are going to do with our time every day. We make those choices related to every moment. Every moment is an opportunity. The choices we make define out path forward. Some choices end up defining us. Our potential alone is rarely the thing that defines us or our place within society. That is why living up to your potential might seem straightforward. It might seem like something that is setup to be either passing or failing. That is not always the case. Things are rarely straightforward. Maybe living up to your potential is something that only you can figure out or judge. We all have limits. Most of them are related to persistence, time, and money.

My journey over the last few years has been less about potential and more about being a part of the journey. I have endeavored to live in the moment and to be present in the things that I am doing. Now may be the time to figure out the edge of my capabilities. Now may be the time to challenge myself to figure out the best possible path forward. It might be the time to figure out the most complex tasking I am capable of completing. That could be a good path forward. It could be the best path forward.

Over a decade ago I started working with cryptography and fractals. Picking up that hobby may be my best path forward. It is certainly a good way to challenge myself intellectually. It may be a good path to start walking down until a new direction presents itself. Over the last couple of years, I have spent time working with data mining and other automated survey collection methods. That type of work did not truly test my knowledge, skills, and abilities. That is something that can be fixed.

ASUS Flip Design Considerations

The NFL Pro Bowl was on this weekend yesterday. We had some leftover pizza from John Paul’s birthday party and watched a number of Kansas City Chiefs playing in the game. It has been nice to see the progression of the Kansas City Chiefs throughout the season. Things got better. Overall the organization has been getting better. Kansas City has been enjoying some recent sporting success.

My ASUS Flip Chromebook was my primary computing device during my trip to Chicago. Using the Chrome operating system basically feels like using the Google Chrome web browser. I have been working out of a few different tabs without any real problems or issues. The Microsoft team has done a great job of converting the MS Word application to run online. For the most part Chrome provides access to the basic productivity things I need to write on a daily basis.

My major criticism of the ASUS Flip Chromebook is entirely based on power supply related design choices. It would have been easy for the ASUS team to utilize either a basic micro USB or USB type C to charge the device. It would have been easier to charge during my travels via USB. The screen works well enough and the keyboard feels pretty good. The aluminum body has held up pretty well and does not quickly show fingerprints.

Verismo Espresso Revisited

It was a solid purchase. My new Verismo 600 Brewer makes perfectly acceptable espresso. I even went out and purchased a tiny little espresso cup with the Starbucks brand on the front. It all started with an online sale. The reason for the sale is not entirely clear, but it worked out in my favor. The Starbucks online store has been reducing the price of the Verismo 600 Brewer. That device is fully capable of making espresso from tiny little coffee pods.

I have watched a few online videos showing how to make refills for the system, but that has not happened yet. For the most part, I have been very happy with the espresso making capabilities of the system. Honestly, and without hesitation I can say unequivocally — I will never buy any of the Verismo coffee cup pods for the device again. The espresso pods seem to be worth it. One pod makes strong enough espresso with two runs at the one shot setting.

I needed a few shots of espresso yesterday. John Paul’s fourth birthday party was a little intense. This was the first year that we had invited the entire class over to celebrate. Around 20 four-year-old wildlings descended on our formerly clean household. We had various activity stations setup. We had soccer outside, Avenger mask making, cupcake decoration, and a coloring table. For late January in Denver, Colorado the weather turned out to be highly cooperative. Outside activities were possible. It did not snow until after the sun set. Everything turned out ok during the birthday party event. John Paul had a great time. People generally seemed happy. Four year olds still take naps so you have to walk a fine line as nap time approaches.

Friday Traveling Revisited

Routines happen. You can start, change, or reject them. I’m sure other options exist, but those are the ones that come to mind. In my case, I made a change. Switching to writing out of a single Microsoft Word document for the entire year was pretty easy to accomplish. Throughout the last decade I have simply opened a blank page and started to write each day. That strategy has been replaced with a strategy that involves opening the same document each day and appending my thoughts. This might not seem like a significant change, but it impacted a routine that dates back for over a decade.

Today started off with a few minutes of the Mike & Mike ESPN2 television show on in the background. The hotel did not seem to have any real breakfast options. I ended up making a cup of coffee in the room and pondering the nature of life, the universe, and some things. It should be a very interesting traveling day. The ride to Midway Airport this morning was uneventful. My Southwest Airlines flight back to Denver is pretty full. Only a handful of seats are open. Nobody wanted to sit next to me today. That happens from time to time.

Southwest Airlines personal provided lightly salted peanuts and some blueberry Belvita breakfast crackers during the flight. The Belvita crackers were rather interesting. They really do have a blueberry flavor.

A Chicago Workday

At 4:00 AM the drive to the Denver Airport is rather peaceful. Only now as we approach 5:00 AM are people starting to show signs of life. People all seem to be waking up. Economic activity is about to happen. Nothing in this part of the airport terminal is open for business. Nobody is about to get coffee or breakfast. I have already started to think about writing during the flight. My plan is to start writing about modernity, economics, workplace skills, and learning a trade. That combination of things seems to be at the forefront of my thoughts this morning. Maybe writing about them throughout a two hour flight will produce something useful. It is also possible that the inquiry will be devoid of inspiration. That happens from time to time. A solid false start can build the foundation to better prose down the road. Stranger things have happened.

My flight was only about half full. Getting connected to the Southwest Airlines WiFi with my ASUS Flip Chromebook was easy. My Chrome web browser redirected to the Southwest website and things worked normally. Flying to Chicago should be an exciting time. However, my attention is mostly focused on other matters. Work has been full of an avalanche of escalations. Most people who know enough to know better fear the tyranny of tiny tasks in the workplace. My problem remains a little bit different. If every single issue is an escalation, then defining normal becomes problematic. I make every effort to work with people in a positive and proactive way.

Economic theories are easier to read about than to build on your own. However, over the next couple of months we are about to build our own bottom up economic model to explain our place in the economy. This is not about building a budget or anything like that. It is a basic exercise to figure out within a rolling 30 day period what type of economic transactions do you participate in and how do you aggregate a ton of these scenarios to build a model of economic participation. I’m sure that sounds simple enough. It is very possible. We will build it together. I have also written some basic web crawlers to grab advertisements to see what people are trying to sell during the same window.

Within the last 30 days I did engage in a variety of economic activity from refueling my car to getting a haircut. Like a number of Americans I have a certain number of household related activities: electricity, water, gas, mortgage, cable, phone, and cleaning. Those types of things are easier to model. We should be able to model out what types of interactions commonly occur and for what percentage of the population. The other things that happen define the parts of the economy that are more complex to model. People engage in producing things and people engage in providing services. The complex mixes of those things define the current state of the economy. Over time the models we are building can help illustrate shifts or changes in the economy. This bottom up method of evaluating the economy will provide a more accurate method to forecast short term economic change. The items that become a part of the model and the items that fall off the model are incredibly important to modeling change in the short term.

The intersection of technology and modernity is changing the social fabric of America. It is changing the way we think about careers and about engaging in the workplace. Technological advances have been changing the economy. New companies have risen and fallen. Some blue chip companies of the past have adapted some of them did not. Automation will change everything. It will change things in ways it has only started to influence. We need to understand and describe the economy of the future to ensure we as the workforce are ready and able to adapt. The next generation of scholars to attend colleges and universities may very well face a radical shift in employment opportunities based on economic forces.

Outside of building economic models I often try to explain the value of higher education to people. Plenty of benefit models exist. Some of them even show interesting returns on investment from higher education. My explanation serves a slightly different purpose. I want to help people understand how to maximize the opportunities college provides before the journey is over. For most people the college experience really is about the overall experience. It is a time to learn and grow. It is a time to meet new people and to learn about new things. I frequently tell people that the experience part is great and it is important and ultimately relationship and life skills you learn are valuable. My journey after college has been about being a practitioner vs. a pure academic. That view of the world has helped me focus the guidance I give others on two key concepts that anyone in higher education should understand and be able to explain.

First, learning specific skills in college that translate to the workplace is important. Jobs are often won or lost based on the skills you bring to the table. When I look at a resume and conduct interviews I am evaluating what knowledge, skills, and abilities the candidate brings to the job. Second, learning a trade might narrow your career path, but it helps define that career path as well. Medical doctors, dentists, lawyers, and accountants all attend institutions of higher education to learn a trade. That trade directly translates to a specific career path. Both workplace skills and trades are important in marketplace. Some trade specialize based on skills or other factors, but certain skills are not part of a trade they translate to a variety of different careers.

Opportunities exist. Modeling out those opportunities is a worthwhile exercise. It is something that we will continue to explore throughout 2016.