Rants and Raves

Reading Challenges & Some Links (bonus vid of Scoot Scofflaw)

As you may know, I use Goodreads.com to keep track of books I want to read. They have a handy feature where you can set how many books you’d like to read in a year. I’ve been able to use that to stay motivated and keep up with some good (and bad) titles. Do any of you do something similar – whether in Goodreads or just on a list somewhere? What are your goals?

One of the last books I read in 2017 was about the Basque country. There was a good section about Basque eating clubs. Actually, the whole book was good, but I keep dwelling on the clubs. There’s a good article about the same in last month’s Saveur magazine (link here – warning the site is slow as shit). I really want to set up a similar club, but I’m not sure how I’d be able to pull it off.

Maybe I should set up a monthly dinner group instead and rotate restaurants and brainstorm ideas? My girlfriend has a monthly girls’ dinner that she does with some friends so whenever she plans it I get reminded of this.

Do any of you have a regular standing dinner with groups of friends (or a networking group)?

Scoot – the company I like, but with the occasional rider I hate and make fun of- announced plans to add a network of e-bikes to their scooter fleet. That could be very big with a lot of potential. E-bikes are weird, but show a lot of potential to getting people in to bike commuting. I’m always pushing for more bikes.

Speaking of Scoot:



[originally posted Feb 9, 2014 – found via the Wayback Machine]


This one’s a rant.

Two years ago when I started at my current gig a coworker brought in some amazing doughnuts for the group. We devoured them and asked for more. We wanted to know where we had to go to get our own.

He told us that the person who made them had been making the doughnuts from home and various pop-up kitchens but didn’t have a shop yet- but that would be changing soon. He had been consulting with the biz owner (he does small business advice, consulting, etc.) and had helped find possible spots to move in to start the business and had everything else just about ready to start/grow the business- but they needed some capital. They had chosen to go the Kickstarter route to raise their funds.

We all thought this was pretty clever of him to hit us all up with catered doughnuts that morning because most of us signed up to help on Kickstarter by the end of that work day.

In case you’re not aware of how Kickstarter works you can basically find a project you like that is unfunded and read the proposal (they usually have well-made videos and demos of the product or art they’re working on). The creator has a very specific monetary goal to hit and they have a very specific set of events or products they will create/provide/purchase if said goal is reached.

There are also various levels of funds a backer of a project can provide. For example there were two projects I backed from authors for books they were getting published. They both had the books finished and were running Kickstarter projects to aid with publishing costs. One book offered PDF copies of the book at the $10 level, but I selected a hardbound/autographed copy at a higher level.  And I did the same thing for a comic book artist who was publishing a graphic novel. Hey- I like signed copies.

In the case of the Doughnut Dolly project, there were the same types of multiple levels of backing- eg if you backed $5 you would get a hug if the project were successful. Higher levels would mean doughnuts- and if you backed $100 you would get:

A punch card for a dozen doughnuts and three cups of coffee; a 12oz bag of LOLA beans from Catahoula Coffee Co; a Doughnut Dolly mug; a Doughnut Dolly magnet; my heartfelt thanks and a hug. A Doughnut Dolly Lunch Box. Perfect for hauling all those Naughty Doughnuts around!

Okay, by the fact that I’m publishing this you can probably guess what happened. But you’d be wrong.

The Doughnut Dolly did meet its Kickstarter funding goal. This meant the backers would be charged and get their rewards once the business was moved in– scheduled for MAY 2012. Also-

Everyone who contributes to this fundraiser will be invited to an exclusive party at Doughnut Dolly; to show my appreciation and to celebrate a successful group effort!

As most backers waited patiently for their emails for the reward news and just general update about the business some noticed that the store had a Facebook page up and was already open and operating. There had been no updates from the owner on the Kickstarter page and emails weren’t being replied to when sent either directly, through Facebook or via Kickstarter.

Two months later the owner finally started to reply to people on Kickstarter saying the rewards- mugs and magnets- had been ordered and apologized for some of us not getting our email updates.

Riiight- must have gotten caught in the spam filter. And according to her employees – mugs and magnets weren’t ordered – “those aren’t happening”.

It turned out that even our co-worker had been given the cold shoulder and he eventually cut ties with her. He had told her countless times to be sure to answer emails and get the rewards out. I think they had a falling out soon afterwards be cause I don’t think he speaks to her any more.

So eventually three of us just decided to drive over to the shop and pick up the doughnuts. The owner wasn’t there, but the employees treated us really well. They did provide us with doughnuts, and I was lucky enough to get their last bag of coffee beans.

But they apologized to us on behalf of the owner. And as I wrote above, they said the mugs and magnets weren’t happening (in not so many words). They both had the vibe that they had borne the brunt of other backers frustrations and it was obvious that we weren’t the only ones who had shown up to collect and didn’t get what they were owed. I felt bad that the owner would leave her employees in a lurch like that.

If you’ve read this far you’re probably wondering SO WHAT?! Kickstarter campaigns fail at various stages all the time. Why are you writing about this?

I’ll tell you why- all the projects I’ve backed have been successful, with this one exception.  Actually, there  was one that didn’t meet its Kickstarter goal, so it didn’t get started, so I don’t count it.

But you ask- well, according to Kickstarter, it’s successful right? It hit its pledge goal, it got funded, and the shop opened. And according to the page/owner some rewards went out. But obviously I disagree.

Another reason I’m ranting and venting is that one of the vendors in Temescal alley told us that Hannah is planning on using Kickstarter to help open a second location (one with her own kitchen). She couldn’t even use it the first time correctly and now she’s going to use it again?

And the main reason I’m ranting is one of her employees mentioned (before they knew we were there to collect our rewards) that Hannah was going to consult a bagel business on how to use Kickstarter so they could open or expand their own shop.

Ain’t that rich? I wonder if she’ll advise them on how not to answer emails and how to not do it properly?

At least I got my doughnuts (which were really good) and I got to hang out with Steve, his kids, Basile and Ash outside of the office. But no mas.

Steve D and his trooper sons waiting in the rain for Daddy’s Doughnuts. Pic by Basile


Links for Jan 23-Jan 31

Hey man, where’d you buy those empanadas?!?  I bought them from Venga Empanadas – go check them out on Valencia.

Hey man, where’d you get those co-co-co-things? They’re called COXINHAS and I bought them at – Cafe de Casa

Anything to read this week?

Sure- try:



Coffee Recommendations in México City (CDMX)

I should have posted this list earlier- but a lot of you have asked which spots you should try when they’re in México. I have my own short list here.

Before I give you the list, I’ll just say the easiest way to make your own list if you don’t know anyone in CDMX is to check sprudge.com and look up all of Ximena Rubio’s posts. She has a guide to cafes in Colonia Roma and a lot of other great posts.

my chicken scratch
my chicken scratch

Also- if you can read Spanish, you can look up her articles and reviews on TimeOutMexico too (or pick up a copy when you get to CDMX).

Something to remember for my list- I tend to stay in La Condesa or Reforma, or in Cuauhtémoc if I’m at a work hotel. CDMX is huge and there are a lot of great neighborhoods and a lot of great neighborhood cafes. I also can speak Spanish and forget that it’s easier for me to get recommendations and other tips from friends who live there. Your mileage may vary.

My personal faves:

Buna 42
Orizaba 42 Colonia Roma

Chiquitito Cafe
Rio Lerma 179 – Colonia Cua.
(near the Churro place- Churreria El Moro)
they have another location in La Condesa

Cardinal Casa de Cafe
Córdoba 132, Cuauhtémoc, Roma Nte., 06700 Ciudad de México, D.F., Mexico

One other thing- if you go to Buna, try the chilaquiles. And if you go to Chiquitito, sit down and get their open-faced avocado, feta and grain bread toast.

Toast at Chiquitito
Toast at Chiquitito

Have other recs? Leave them in the comments.

Why so salty?

I’m not sure why I didn’t do this sooner, but I finally went to the local home brew supply store and bought some Burton Salts (named after an English town that has a particular brew affected by its water supply – wiki). Home brewers use the salts to condition water to make ales in the style og Burton, but as a non-brewer you can dissolve the salts in water to make mineral water in your selzer bottle or sodastream.

Although I could have used the spreadsheet that the Khymos blog has (see this lengthy article) and made my own particular mix of salts and minerals, I decided to go the lazy route and just get Burton salts.

I may try the custom route later, but I was curious to see if the Burton salts would even work. They did. I can now make better mineral water and my hope is to convince someone to stop buying so many expensive bottles at the grocery store and to get a sodastream and salts instead. But we’ll see.

semi-interesting pics:

1 after putting in 1g of salts into 1L of cold water and

2 then after 5 mins of waiting (the water gets even more clear after carbonation)

salty-water salty-water2