book: ideas

Ideas: A History of Thought and Invention, from Fire to Freud

It’s taken me over three years to read this book, but it was well worth the effort. Not that it’s hard to read (it’s a heavily referenced non-fiction work), just that there’s a lot to take in. Written from an atheist perspective, we start in ancient times before the discovery of fire, and move all the way through to the close of the 19th century.

Often when you read something, it’s in an area where you’re already familiar with the basics. With this work, Watson has synthesised a great many disciplines. Different threads of ideas are charted across the relevant sections of history and geography. Reading the book will make you feel smarter, but its real strength is in showing you how little you know.

It will reward your attention.

80 Bay – Ultimo

80 bay - ultimo
Toby’s Estate Coffee. 80 Bay St, Ultimo. In a shared foyer space there’s a lot of exposed timber, fresh flowers, and an abundance of natural life. Take a couple of steps in, and you’ll see some serious coffee-making gear. Not just the espresso machine (there are two, only one in use) and the grinders, but the feeling is of a coffee-making laboratory.

a beautiful place to drink coffee - 80 bay - ultimo

Take a seat further inside on on the sofa-style seating that runs against one wall, or on a wooden chair, and just soak in the light and the wood panelling. This is a place where you can sit and enjoy your surroundings – and only a 2 minute walk from the Broadway shopping complex.

where the magic happens - 80 bay - ultimo

There are a lot of sweet treats on offer, a somewhat adventurous breakfast menu and an expensive but well made set of sandwich options, but it’s really the coffee that sings here.

decaf latte - 80 bay - ultimo

Decaf latte is very good – one of the best Toby’s coffees I’ve had in a long while. They take their decaf seriously here, with the kind of grinder that a lesser cafe would be using as its main one.

If you’ve been looking for a reason to get back to drinking Toby’s Estate coffee, then this place will get you across the line.


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Window’s Coffee, Bankstown

window's coffee, bankstown

Primo Coffee. 256 Chapel Road Sth, Bankstown. I’d driven past this place any number of times in search of Vietnamese cuisine, and its confused use of an apostrophe, and the face that it looks like a franchise store made me want to explore. It sufficiently piqued my curiosity that I was prepared to overlook the “Primo” banners that surround the cafe, and venture inside, with my kids, no less. As such, please excuse the blurriness of some of these photos – they were taken one-handed with a cameraphone while I nursed a baby with the other hand.

But I digress. The Window part of the name refers to how much glass there is surrounding the cafe – it’s floor to ceiling, it’s the gelato bar, even the fish tank. To keep everything looking tidy, there’s a feature display of window cleaning products:
window cleaner - window's coffee, bankstown

This place has a strong vietnamese heritage in its menu, and in some of the signage: there are a range of vietnamese coffee drinks on offer, in addition to the traditional western beverages. And they have two grinders – I’m told one is for caffeinated and one for decaf.

where the magic happens, window's coffee, bankstown

The coffee is better than I’m expecting – not amazing, but certainly drinkable. Where this place really shines, though, is the gelato – an impressive range of flavours (I try the sticky rice), each served in a large glass on a bed of diced watermelon, with a cocktail umbrella. If you’re in the neighbourhood looking for a gelato fix, then look no further.

a sense of the gelato selection and main counter, window's coffee, bankstown

Open 8am-10pm, every day.


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Glinelli, Newtown

Glinelli, Newtown

Glinelli coffee. 67 King St, Newtown. Completely refurbished since its days as Lite Bite, this is now the retail showroom for Glinelli coffee. It’s an elegant, beautifully lit space where the coffee machine and the three grinders are the centrepiece.

Also on sale are a range of fine chocolates – eat-in customers get a free chocolate with every coffee.

The coffee is a Colombian Mountain water decaf and it’s a highly enjoyable cup, good until the last drop. If you’re looking for an enjoyable coffee experience, you’ll want to try this place.

time is short

steve and apple Steve Jobs – 1955-2011 (Apple computer, Pixar, Mac, iPod, iPhone, iPad)

A few quotes, and a summary of the things I’ve been reading around the web.

“What’s really great is to be open when [the work] is not great. My best contribution is not settling for anything but really good stuff, in all the details. That’s my job — to make sure everything is great.”

“No one wants to die, even people who want to go to Heaven don’t want to die to get there,” he told the Stanford graduates. “And yet, death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because death is very likely the single best invention of life. It’s life’s change agent; it clears out the old to make way for the new … Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.”

From Wired Magazine’s profile of Steve Jobs.

Other reactions: Scott Rhodie, Ryan Tate (some swearing), Josh Harris, A post on Steve Jobs’ worldview, Nathan Bingham, Nathan Campbell, a screen capture on the Daily Telegraph going too far with their headline by dave miers, the Westborough Baptists announcing their plans to picket Steve’s funeral (from an iPhone).

Many people are referencing this video: Transcript of Steve Jobs’ 2005 Stanford commencement speech (6M views at time of posting).

And this ad, voiced by Steve, about the people who changed the world.

Update: lots more videos on this blog post.

It was an odd feeling today, watching the news of Steve Jobs’ death break on TweetDeck on my MacBook Air, not really wanting to shout it out to other people in the office, not really wanting to watch twitter as it was immediately overrun by pithy quotes, the inevitable black jokes. Has it really been ten years since the iPod first launched? What have I been doing with my life (married, one and a half masters degrees, a mortgage, having two kids, four or five different jobs)?

I’m hoping to take away from today a sense of making the most of the time that is given. Time is short, and it’s too easy to be wrapped up in the urgent while neglecting the important. I’m spending a lot of time learning about theology, and precious little time talking to people (and listening to them) about their take on Jesus. Am I working on the things that are the best use of my time? Am I even managing to spend enough time reflecting on my life so I know how to answer that question?

love grub cafe sushi bar

cafe japas bar, alexandria

Gravity 6 degrees coffee. 38 Mitchell Rd, Alexandria. If you’ve ever driven Mitchell Rd, to and from Sydney Park Rd, you will have noticed the Japanese lanterns outside this place, and wondered what kind of place it was.

cafe japas bar, alexandria

Oddly situated next to what looks like a reserve, there’s a community garden along one wall, and plenty of outdoor seating. If you’re looking for the bathroom, the door to the bathroom is in the alley behind the cafe.

At night, this place is transformed into a japas bar where you can order individual Japanese dishes, and drink a range of different beers. I’ll leave the evening program to someone else to review.

The food menu is a mix of Japanese food and standard cafe fare. Here are a few samples:

cafe japas bar, alexandria

Chicken Teriyaki box, $14

cafe japas bar, alexandria

Salmon Teriyaki box, $14

cafe japas bar, alexandria

Pancakes with fruit salad and maple syrup, $14.5.

where the magic happens - cafe japas bar, alexandria

Coffee is quite good – there’s no dedicated decaf grinder that I can see, but the millwork is top-notch, and there are some earthy tones in the decaf that you don’t get in the Sydney-roasted coffees I’ve tried lately.


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