Kintsugi: Beautiful Repair

The legend goes like this: a Japanese shogun broke his favorite Chinese tea bowl, and sent it back to the same artisans who made it for repair. The bowl came back properly repaired with glue and metal staples. The shogun could not believe his eyes: ugly staples connecting delicate pieces of porcelain – surely that was not the right way to do it. In response Japanese artisans invented kintsugi: a technique of repairing broken pottery with special gold-containing laquer resin. Pieces repaired in that way became even more beautiful and valuable than when they were whole. After seeing a few repaired pieces in museums I have no doubdt that the story about wealthy Japanese breaking their favorite tea bowls on purpose just to have them repaired is true.

These two bowls were on display in a museum somewhere in Washington.

kintsugi-museum-1

kintsugi-museum-2

I recently purchased this Karatsu tea bowl. It was excavated from an old kiln and is estimated to be of the 1570-1620 vintage. It was repaired by a modern craftsman using a similar technique called doutsugi which uses a gold-copper alloy. It cost me about $180. Is it authentic? Probably – the dealer seems to be reasonably reputable. I’ll greatly enjoy drinking tea out of it.

This (as it’s often the case) made me think of my own craft. A huge part of my job is putting software Humpty Dumpties back together. Is any of my work this elegant? Of course not, but I can think of some examples. Apache – or “a patchy” comes to mind. It’s a beautiful piece of code glued together with other beautiful pieces of code. Then there’s Pressflow – a fork of Drupal that glued it back in many places where the original was cracking.

National Air And Space Visit

While in Washington, I visited the National Air and Space Museum. It is like some kind of Lovecraftian Costco warehouse filled with a mix of priceless artifacts encased in layers of plexiglas and cheezy recreations, carnival-like educational attractions, and disguasting food courts and kiosks.

Overhead, like beached whales or a giant boy’s toy models, hang famous air and space ships. They have just about everything you could think of – Spirit of St. Louis, Space Ship One, a Brietling Orbiter, even the original Wright Flyer. They all look lifeless and sad, especially the spacecraft.

I was a bit overwhelmed by the craft collection, but it’s the little things that I enjoyed seeing the most. They have, side by side, Nestler sliderules that used to belong to former z/k Korolev and former Sturmbannfuhrer Von Braun. Missing is the Nestler that used to belong to Albert Einstein. I also wonder who now owns the two two-copek coins that were Korolev’s lucky charm. I also wonder if Von Braun used to have a lucky charm.

The only remaining piece of the original Sputnik – an arming device that was removed prior to launch, an equivalent of little strips of paper you sometimes find in remote controls and other battery-powered gadgets.

It was interesting to notice how many aircraft were put together using slotted instead of philips screws, like these huge ones on the Soviet ICBM.

I don’t know why, but I stood for a good while admiring the hypnotic twists of a handmade screwdriver that used to belong to Charlie Taylor, Wright’s mechanic.

Soviet space kitch collection is vast: from magnetic Mir-flown chess (something of a 70s vintage space look to them)

to all kinds of space crappers (a low-tec suction bulb is probably safer where your privates and vaccuum are involved).

The nose cone from the Spirit of St. Louis is signed on the inside, but you have to cram yourself into an uncomfortable niche to see the swastika and signatures of well-wishers, including Wrong Way Corrigan. Apparently early aviators frequently used not yet befouled by Nazis swastikas as good luck charms.

One of the last things I saw, a crazy looking British pusher airplane had such an amazing Star Wars look that I maybe even gasped a little.

The Gospel According to Starbucks: Living with a Grande Passion

Introducing the life you’d gladly stand in line for

You don’t stand in line at Starbucks® just to buy a cup of coffee. You stop for the experience surrounding the cup of coffee.
Too many of us line up for God out of duty or guilt. We completely miss the warmth and richness of the experience of living with God. If we’d learn to see what God is doing on earth, we could participate fully in the irresistible life that he offers.
You can learn to pay attention like never before, to identify where God is already in business right in your neighborhood. The doors are open and the coffee is brewing. God is serving the refreshing antidote to the unsatisfying, arms-length spiritual life–and he won’t even make you stand in line.
Let Leonard Sweet show you how the passion that Starbucks® has for creating an irresistible experience can connect you with God’s stirring introduction to the experience of faith.

Pour Your Heart into It : How Starbucks Built a Company One Cup at a Time

Since 1987, Starbucks’s star has been on the rise, growing from 11 Seattle, WA-based stores to more than 1,000 worldwide. Its goals grew, too, from the more modest, albeit fundamental one of offering high-quality coffee beans roasted to perfection to, more recently, opening a new store somewhere every day. An exemplary success story, Starbucks is identified with innovative marketing strategies, employee-ownership programs, and a product that’s become a subculture. Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a manager, a marketer, or a curious Starbucks loyalist, Pour Your Heart into It will let you in on the revolutionary Starbucks venture. CEO Howard Schultz recounts the company’s rise in 24 chapters, each of which illustrates such core values as “Winning at the expense of employees is not victory at all.”

I Want a Skyhook in Brooklyn, Like Yesterday

Congratulations are due to Liftport for 1000ft skyhook crawl! (You can see a video and more pictures in their blog).

Notable quote: “This lifter is much smarter than our previous versions. It’s our 18th version,” he said, with the Mark VII robot named Sword Over Damocles or “Sword” for short. The belt-driven robot is battery-powered, featuring two motors and an expanded cargo area due to increased intelligence built into the device”

Ad:


A sci-fi book written like a sci-fi book should be written. A comic book written and drawn the way a comic book should be drawn. This is madness!

Still Round The Corner There May Wait A Restaurant or a Hidden Starbucks

Advertising might be the engine of commerce, but there is a surprising number of NYC businesses are hidden inside skyscrapers with almost no indication of them on the outside.

For instance, me and my co-workers often go to a Starbucks that is located in a lobby of a skyscraper. There is no sign outside, and inside you need to pass a security guy (who surprisingly lets you through) and turn a corner. I could not believe my eyes – you absolutely had to know where that Starbucks was.

There is nothing special about our hidden Starbucks, except it is the closest one to us and the lines are usually shorter. They do have an old style La Marzocco machine not yet replaced by the new superautomatics, but the barrista has no idea about how to grind the coffee and tamp it properly. I guess they don’t teach that anymore at Starbucks U.

There is a more interesting hidden place that we frequent. It’s a restaurant called Taam-Tov (46 West 47th Street, 4th floor 212-768-8001) which happens to be located on the fourth floor of a dumpy and decrepit art deco building in the middle of the Jewelry district on 47th street. To be fair I have to mention that there is a little sign on the step of a staircase that can be seen from outside. But you have to climb 8 flights of stairs, past dirty walls, an exposed phone comm. box and frequent full trash bags. There you will see an unmarked closed door and a small open order window.

Alternatively you can enter a jewelry store on the first floor and take a tiny little elevator, which will deposit you inside the restaurant. I strongly discourage you from using it.

Once me and three of my co-workers, one of whom is “portlier” than I am (and I am pretty “portly” myself), two have asthma and only one inhaler, despite my reluctance chose to take that tiny elevator. We let a bunch of people go up before us, waited for the elevator to come back and boarded it. Immediately what seemed to me like three shady looking Russian jewelers squeezed in after us. To my horror I noticed that in fact there was a fourth guy with them, just as sweaty and unshaven, but really short and skinny. Of course we got stuck between the floors and it took me and one of the jewelers few very uncomfortable minutes to figure out how to open the doors. Oh, and I forgot to mention – the co-worker who insisted the most on the elevator was not only slightly asthmatic, but a bit claustrophobic as well.

Anyway, the place is rather unique. The patrons are mostly jewelers – you might see them exchanging large sums of money and gold or diamonds, but there are a lot of programmers from surrounding offices who also found that place somewhere. Since the place was featured in the last issue of Time Out New York dedicated to cheapest restaurants, there the mix will be a bit more eclectic in the future.

The cuisine can be described as Middle Eastern/Russian, typical of the Baku region. Everything is cooked on site (in fact I’ve witnessed a small kitchen fire once that was quickly taken under control while everyone continued eating), kosher and very tasty. Shish kabobs are excellent (my favorite is rib kabob), so are soups. Just don’t ask for sour cream for your Borscht – and you can be sure that they don’t use Ukrainian pork fat. Other than that it’s very good. There are good salads, golubtsi, pelmeni, shawarma, etc. They even have kompot – Russian fruit punch and green tea served in small “piala” cups with sugar cubes (for drinking “vprikusku”).

Over the years I had lunch at Taam Tov with my boss, my boss’ bosses there, my co-workers, three different livejournal users and many other people. And until I’ve read Time Out New York article I did not know that one floor below Taam Tov there’s a second hole in the wall restaurant called Sabor Latino.

Wha-what’s happening? I’m losing the crowd. Down to 201 “friends”.

It could be the obscure Mat Groening references, or the photos, or maybe the cubicle monkey. I don’t know, but continuing posting junk as planned. Here, at Deadprogrammer Light Industries we stopped caring about the consumer a long time ago.

Anyway, here are two absolutely excellent commercials that completely stuck in my mind. They totally make me want to drink Starbucks® Double ShotTM drinks in Puma® running shoes despite my knowledge that these are indeed inferior products.

Ok, maybe I am not going to start purchasing Starbucks® and Puma® products, but I do drive my wife nuts singing “Mike, Mike, Miiike! … And he knows one day he just might become … a Director ” and saying “Stick! Stick! Stick! Go! Go! Go!”.

Lyrics to “Glenn! Glenn! Glenn!” are a bit hard to understand, but actually pretty funny:

Glenn
Glenn Glenn Glenn
Glenn Glenn Glenn
Glen Glen Gleeeeeeenn

Glen’s the man going to work
Got his tie
Got ambition

Middle management is right in his grasp
It’s a dream he will never let die
Glen’s the man of the hour
He’s the king of his cube
Status com reports’ve finally met their rival
Burning candle at both ends on his way to the top
He knows one day he just could become …
Supervisor

Interestingly enough “status com reports” is only once referenced by google – and even at that on the site discussing “Glenn!” lyrics.

I also wonder why they chose such a sterile and clean bathroom and kitchen to use in the commercial. I mean, have you ever met a “Glenn” who would clean his apartment that clean?

Number One, I Order You To Take Number Two

1 Broadway – where it all begins. According to this previously the site used to house Washington’s revolutionary headquarters. The nautical theme remains from previous tenants, a cruise ship company of some sorts. Still actual today – Mercury is for investment banking and Poseidon for underwater stock options.