My new business idea

A coffee shop where the employees all wear platform shoes, glitter make-up, orange spiked hair, feathers, and silver spaceman pants.

It’s name:


My friend Michael Krider made the following suggestions:

Drink names:

  • The Cafe Young Americano
  • Caffeine Genie
  • Sumatra-jet City

When employees hand your money back after a sale, they say, “Here’s your ch-ch-ch-change.”

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Sneaky advertising

I bought a mug that has no handles on it at all. I noticed that the accompanying slip of paper said, “Most Copco travel mugs are intended for right or left hand use.” Well, yes, if there are no handles, that would make sense. It goes on, “If your mug is handled, the lid is designed to fit securely in two positions, allowing for right or left hand use.” What fantastic advertising copy, creating something out of nothing! It’s like saying, “Our handles can be used by people who are right- OR left-handed! Amazing!”

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The late great Hungry Buddha

This was written 15 January 2002, & the Hungry Buddha is gone now, but this is still an interesting description.

The late great Hungry BuddhaJust got back from lunch at the Hungry Buddha. Man, that was good. It’s a small place on Washington Street in downtown St. Louis. There are signs all along the walls: “Buddha would bus his own table”. “Buddha would tip”. “Overfilling your bowl is bad karma”. A stereo played a mix of tunes, everything from Smashing Pumpkins to other stuff — and at a reasonable volume that made conversation easy.

The food was really great. Basically, you grab a bowl and go through a vegetable buffet — probably the best vegetable buffet I’ve ever seen, with peppers, sprouts, carrots, celery, shitake mushrooms (!), and more! — filling your bowl, then go to the counter and answer a few questions:

“Rice, noodles, or broth?”
“One bowl or all you can eat?”
“Water, tea, or soda?”
“What kind of sauce?”

They take your bowl into the kitchen and cook it up to your specifications. 10 minutes later, a hot, steaming bowl of yummy goodness is delivered to your table. Cost? $6.50 for a bowl, or $7.50 for all you can eat.

I got the Sichuan sauce with rice & tofu the first time, and then I went back for Black Bean Garlic sauce with rice & tofu. Both were excellent. However, next time I go, I think I’ll just get one bowl — I ate both, but I think I accumulated some gluttony points with the hereafter.

If you’re downtown and feeling hungry, check out the Hungry Buddha — you won’t be disappointed!

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You always remember your first time

I remember the first day I ever got on the Internet. I was an English teacher working at a camp for gifted high school students, and a technologist was there talking about this thing called “the Internet” and how it was going to change everything. It sounded fascinating, so when I returned home a few weeks later, I scrimped together some money and purchased 2 more megs of RAM for my Mac LC, bringing the total up to a whopping 4 MB, and a screamin’ fast 14.4 modem. Then I got online using a dialup account I purchased, and stayed on for 12 hours straight. That technologist was right, and it was blindingly obvious to me that day: the Internet was going to change everything. 

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The network is central

The centrality of the network in modern life, thought, & technology is apparent in that both ends of the use stack – users & developers – now think of the network as a given. A developer doesn’t graft networking on to software later in the process; instead, software is built assuming the network. Users expect networking in their apps as a matter of course, even if they don’t realize they’re relying on a network.

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Memory memories

Some gathered thoughts on memory:

Wanting to remember & forgetting, or knowing you’ll forget 

My father’s memories, & a chosen few passed along to me – of those chosen (or random) few, how many do I pass along?

Emotion recollected not in tranquility, but sometimes in seething emotion, in inner turmoil or pain

Flow of memories, inspired by surroundings & other memories

"I remember deciding to remember the moment"

Linear vs. thematic storytelling

Ways to jog the memory: string on the finger – notes to self – phone calls – emails – Art of Memory – Simonides

Alzheimer’s – loss of memory

Mistaken memories – false memories – brainwashing


Collective memory

Old movies & videos for the family – photos passed down

The attachment of new memories, & new meanings, to family objects

Sensory memory: auditory, visual, textual, smell, taste

Deja vu

Proust’s Madeleine

Fune the Memorious – the importance of forgetting

How will we be remembered? How can we be remembered? What can we do to insure our memory lives on? 

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My high concept Hollywood movie

In Hollywood there’s a meme known as “high concept”, the idea being that you can explain all there is to know about a movie in just a few words, ideally relating to another movie. So, for instance, you might describe a movie you’re looking to get a greenlight for as “Die Hard on a chicken farm” or “Fatal Attraction in a high school”.

So here’s my high concept: “Vampire hackers”.

That’s all you gotta know. You can write the movie in your head just from that.

Is that not awesome or what?!

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A walkway of the dead

I was walking around on Wash U’s campus a while back – I don’t remember where, exactly – when I looked down and noticed that I was walking over bricks that had been “donated” by folks who had given money to WU. This is standard practice a lot of places: donate $$$, get a brick with a message on it written by you.

As I walked, I was struck by the idea that many of the bricks were dedicated to people who had died. Further, one day all of the people listed on those bricks would be dead. Although it was a macabre thought, I realized that this was a walkway of the dead.

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