If baristas could talk, behold the stories they could tell

Friday, 5 July, 2013

When I’m able to sufficiently organise myself, I like to, now and again, go along to a cafe first thing in the morning. Not only am I able set up for the work day ahead, and bring myself up to speed with the latest news, there’s of course the opportunity to down a couple of coffees while also taking in a little people watching.

But sitting there behind my laptop, likely from the quietest corner I can find, I’m only ever seeing the pictures but not the sounds, as it were. That’s not the case for the baristas though, who in some cases, are almost fully versed in the happenings of their customers’ lives.

“Sometimes being a barista is like being an underpaid therapist,” says Roth. “I find what people will tell you just because you’re behind the counter to be strange. I know how many kids people have, what their grades are, where they go to school, I know about people getting divorced and people going on dates. People will pretty much tell you anything – especially if you ask.”

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Taking positives from the marriages that we’re opposed to

Thursday, 6 June, 2013

Time to put aside the often fervid opposition to, and protests against, same sex, or gay, marriages and discover how those in heterosexual unions could learn from them:

Although marriage is in many ways fairer and more pleasurable for both men and women than it once was, it hasn’t entirely thrown off old notions and habits. As a result, many men and women enter into it burdened with assumptions and stereotypes that create stress and resentment. Others, confronted with these increasingly anachronistic expectations – expectations at odds with the economic and practical realities of their own lives don’t enter into it at all.

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Not only do we shape our cities, they also shape us

Monday, 27 May, 2013

When more than half of the Earth’s population live in cities, that, by the way, occupy just three percent of the world’s land surface, changes, be they genetic or cultural, are bound to take place:

It is having an effect not just culturally, but biologically: urban melting pots are genetically altering humans. The spread of genetic diversity can be traced back to the invention of the bicycle, according to geneticist Steve Jones, which encouraged the intermarriage of people between villages and towns. But the urbanisation occurring now is generating unprecedented mixing. As a result, humans are now more genetically similar than at any time in the last 100,000 years, Jones says.

The genetic and cultural melange does a lot to erode the barriers between races, as well as leading to novel works of art, science and music that draw on many perspectives. And the tight concentration of people in a city also leads to other tolerances and practices, many of which are less common in other human habitats (like the village) or in other species. For example, people in a metropolis are generally freer to practice different religions or none, to be openly gay, for women to work and to voluntarily limit their family size despite – or indeed because of – access to greater resources.

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Moving to Japan, think I’m moving to Japan

Tuesday, 5 March, 2013

Unless you live in Japan, you may not have encountered a removal service as attentive as that offered by Japanese home moving companies. I expect you’d pay a premium for such treatment, but it would surely reduce – considerably – the stress and hassles associated with moving.

Via Kottke.

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Any difference between what is promised, and what is delivered?

Monday, 4 March, 2013

Intrigued by the various promises made by members of the Jehovah’s Witnesses religion, who would frequently call at her home – something many of us are probably familiar with – Corinna Nicolaou decided to take a closer look at the church:

The Jehovah Witnesses have been coming to my door for more than two years acting like they have the answers, so I’m finally taking them up on the offer to come to their Kingdom Hall. It’s just down the street from my house. Inside, people are milling about. Maybe what they say is true and here are some of the multitudes whom Jesus has made rise from their graves. Their happy expressions and business-casual attire carry the whiff of inauthenticity. It’s like they’re trying too hard to seem alive. The atmosphere in the building can only be described as funereal: fake plants, floral carpet, mauve wainscoting. No windows, the only light emanates from fluorescent tubes. Décor best appreciated by the dead. I keep expecting someone to turn and have an eyeball dangling from a socket.

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Cutting yourself off from the outside world, not as easy as it seems…

Thursday, 28 February, 2013

An amazing account of one person’s determination to isolate himself, as much as possible, from the rest of the world. It takes time though to go it alone:

The point is that you cant just up and quit the world. To leave the world completely one has to cut ties slowly and steadily. You have to tug, warp, twist and tear at your connections until they’re stressed enough to break. It takes systematic and conscious effort to leave the world. It takes a “special” type of person to be willing to be push everything and everyone away until nothing is left. To understand how I became such a “special” person, we have to start at my beginning. This is the story of how I faded from the world.

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Proper emergency planning is a one year plan

Monday, 26 November, 2012

Having some food, water, and a maybe few candles stashed away for some sort of emergency is one thing, but were some other out of the ordinary, and longer lasting, crisis to manifest itself, the great majority of us would likely be woefully under prepared:

If civilization breaks down, Douglas’s house is definitely where you want to be. In his home office – the de facto headquarters for Red Shed’s six shareholders and two independent contractors – he keeps not only his iPad and his MacBook but also a ham radio and a C.B. radio. In his basement, there is roughly a year’s supply of wheat, rice and other staples. And outside, he tries to keep a year’s supply of chopped wood and, in his garage, 375 gallons of water.

I also discovered a word I’d not seen before while reading the article… exurban, defined by the Collins Dictionary as meaning “the region outside the suburbs of a city, consisting of residential areas (exurbs) that are occupied predominantly by rich commuters (exurbanites)”.

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I could live forever and I’d still never be able to say I’ve seen it all

Monday, 3 September, 2012

The stories police officers could tell about the places they go, and the things that they see:

Everyone has a “hot button.” Calm and even-tempered as you might be, there is some topic that will set you off, especially if it’s referenced to you personally. It might be your height, your weight, your sexuality, your education, how much money you have, your mom, whatever. Rational people can become maniacs if someone pushes their buttons.

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Humans may soon start following the ants underground

Monday, 28 May, 2012

What do humans and ants have in common? In addition to warfare, something no other life form on Earth engages in, both are beginning to organise their societies in much the same way, allowing for, all things remaining equal, almost unlimited growth.

“As a result, modern humans have more in common with some ants than we do with our closest relatives the chimpanzees,” Mark Moffett, author of the study, told Discovery News. “With a maximum size of about 100, no chimpanzee group has to deal with issues of public health, infrastructure, distribution of goods and services, market economies, mass transit problems, assembly lines and complex teamwork, agriculture and animal domestication, warfare and slavery.” “Ants have developed behaviors addressing all of these problems,” added Moffett, a research associate at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History. He pointed out that only humans and ants have developed full-blown warfare.

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Homelessness is very much a global problem

Wednesday, 28 December, 2011

Photos of homeless people from across the globe… a reminder of just how fortunate most of us really are.

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