Obviously my first post will be about coffee and related neuroses


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Last week I promised myself that I’d blog once a week, every Sunday, unless I had a visitor. Not surprisingly, the week after returning from a conference was busy. But I’ll do it anyway! Besides, emacs says that my notes.org files (emacs tip — M-x occur) has 36 lines containing the word “blog”. So I must have some ideas.

One reason to blog is that I like obsessing about infinitesimal improvements to things, and I’d like to annoy someone other than my wife with this. (Also, having an audience, even imaginary, helps to organize my thoughts.) Here’s something I just started doing that particularly annoys Ms. ZB.

In the morning, if I put the coffee water on the same time as I start making breakfast, then I am done with breakfast a full 10-15 minutes before my coffee is at a drinkable temperature (experiments reveal that 125 degrees is about right for me).

A partial solution is that I turn the coffee water on, take a shower, then make coffee and start breakfast. This saves about 5 minutes. Plus if I want to exercise in the morning, I can’t take a shower right away.

An alternative — I use the tea kettle as a “final snooze” alarm in the morning — I get out of bed, start the water, and sleep on the couch until the water is ready.

Here’s a better alternative.

An awesome friend bought us The Modernist Cuisine for our wedding, winning the “off register gift” competition. (The full sized popcorn maker took second.) We haven’t made anything out of it yet (but will, starting with Aspec!). There is a pretty serious section (18 pages) on coffee. Actually, most of the book is about heat transfer. Not a surprise then that I discovered this trick:

Put the cream in after 5 minutes!

Here’s the point — if you put cream in right away, the temperature will initially drop, but since the coffee is closer to room temperature, it will cool less quickly. After 5 minutes the temperature is basically the same as the one without cream.

Does this really work? I’ve been doing this for weeks without breaking out a thermometer.

(From Dresden Codak)

(From Dresden Codak)

cream — 58 degrees
coffee — 160 at time of pour (after 4 min in a french press)
150 after 4 min (with cream, 135 after 4 min)
after 7 min, 140 for coffee with cream, 132 for w/o
add cream, 120.

So slightly too cool. In the morning I usually wait until the coffee is no longer furiously steaming (so still slightly steaming), then dump in the cream. Will take more data.

Also, lots of  awesome coffee links. (Again, brought to you by searching my notes.org file for coffee…)

ScienceOnline 2013 has convinced me to blog

On my way home from the 2013 ScienceOnline conference, where I gave a short talk about MathOverflow, spent a lot of time learning about open access (summary: its pretty dismal outside of mathematics), neat projects (figshare, academia.edu), met lots of awesome science journalists, and even another Emory prof (also a brewer) from my own neighborhood back in Atlanta.

I was also convinced to start a blog! (Or two.) And to tweet! More on why later.