Stuart Blog 2: 2005

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Tracking wifi sites in Cleveland

Has anyone ever noticed the newspaper vending machine database that I have in my blog side bar? I'm afraid to click on it. I'm sure it stopped working months ago. It wasn't really easy to set up. It must have taken half an hour not including hours trying to find the necessary tools. Now with the explosion of google maps, creating a database of Cleveland Wifi locations should take about a minute.

Here's some data to get the ball rolling.

Here's a list of several tools many of which are appropriate to varying degress. Take a look. I went through the entire list and experimented with all of them. Tagzania was the first one that I tried and ultimately it was the easiest and most appropriate. Incorporating it into the CleveWiki Project will involve embeding the map on a CleveWiki page (as I did above) and providing a link to Tagzania. Embedding the map on Clevewiki isn't something that came be done by a peon wikier. The same as embedding events, it requires an iframe tag or a javascript tag. Both of these tags are prudently excluded from the wikiverse. An administrator will have create a special page for the map. Once that's done, people use the tagzania interface to add hotspot locations. The data will be automagically current at CleveWiki.

Of course, there's no reason to wait for CleveWiki admins to make the arrangements. Go straight to Tagzania and start adding hotspots now. Add them from the three lists linked above or, even better, add others that you know about. Your house, maybe? In order for them to show up on the map in this blog entry it's necessary that you tag your tagzania submissions with "cleveland" and "wifi".

tags: wifi, cleveland, clevewiki, map,googlemap

Friday, December 30, 2005

Local reviews II

Thinking about the CleveWiki project motivated me to articulate precisely what I'm looking for in a review aggregator.
  1. Open data. My data should be mine. I'll post it and you'll scrape it. That way several aggregators can have access to a combined and much larger pool of reviews. They'll compete for eyeballs based on how well they package the data.
  2. Open data. The data should come out as freely as it goes in. That way users, or some clever third party, can layer one aggregator's reviews on top of another. For instance movie reviews with restaurant reviews and then organize it all spatially on a map.
  3. Weighted rankings. I want to be able to see a list of restaurants rated highly by people who I feel have a record of discriminating taste that matches mine. This could be done automatically by a feature similar to Amazon's "Users who purchased this book..." technology or it could be done explicitly. Users could mark other users as trusted. However it's done, searches could be ordered by community rankings, trusted user rankings or personal rankings.
  4. Tags. I find tags useful. They are a great balance between flexibility and ease of use. No matter how well thought out a categorization scheme is, there are some users who will think differently and appreciate different categories.
When I system combines these simple things I think we'll see a wonderful complexity emerge. Imagine doing a search for local public theater events and then displaying the results on a map next to the locations of all the Italian or Puerto Rican restaurants in the neighborhood that have been highly rated by a trusted circle of reviewers.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

CleveWiki quickies

I mentioned in another post as a way to help keep track of the web presence of various Cleveland organizations. It may take some work to integrate into CleveWiki. In the mean time, there's plenty of valuable information there to be stolen.

Cleveland : I've got a somewhere between 400 and 500 web sites for galleries, libraries, theaters, dance troupes, singers, authors, etc... Feel free to copy this wholesale.

In particular, over 200 of those are restaurants, markets, bakeries, confectioners, etc... Whoever's in charge of the restaurant category may be interested in these.

Chef Moz should be a great resource for CleveWiki. It's data is available for free. It might also be a good way to contact more helpful volunteers. The Cleveland restaurant section is edited by Sadukie and ZiggyDaMoe.

ChefMoz is a part of the Open Directory Project. I'm not sure that ODP is still under active development but their outdated data is still a wonderful resource. There's a page for Ohio Colleges and Universities. There's a page for Cleveland news and media.

Plugged In Cleveland already has a restaurant database with over 2000 entries. They also have a well populated events database and classifieds and rental listings.

Here's one last item for the inspiration bank: the Chicago Learning Guide.


A concern about CleveWiki

Wow! is the best. (True dat!) is a well designed community portal. It looks inviting. The layout is intuitive. The information is well organized and accessable. It all seems very well thought out. I've only examined it for a short time but I've been impressed on occassion by attention to detail. It's all developed with a free and open source web framework called Django. For another example of a great site built with Django take a look at

NYWiki is really cool. It was hard to resist getting sucked in by very interesting article titles. But it doesn't have an events page. SeattleWiki has an events page. It's a (blank) flat text listing of events with no search or organization. A community portal is a very ambitious web project. Having the proper tools is a necessary prerequisite for success. Web frameworks like Django are built to make it easy to do exactly what CleveWiki is trying to do. When I look at and I see what I want to see in a community portal. The long term frustration of trying to bend and shape MediaWiki into the community portal that Cleveland deserves may make the short term frustration of taking a step back for perspective a very worthwhile price.

There's a lot of enthusiasm for CleveWiki. I'm very enthusiastic about the project myself. CleveWiki has a lot of very valuable momentum. That's why I think that in the short term CleveWiki should continue exactly as is. I think it's important to begin thinking about this issue but I also think it's important that time is taken to allow for indepth analysis and discussion. In the mean time, CleveWiki's wonderful volunteers will be creating great content for use in whatever system is eventually chosen.

Django just happens to be the first web framework that I saw. It looks very impressive but I plan to try and find out what other options may be available.



Local reviews

Another obvious component for a community portal will be a merchant database. I've been very determined to keep track of local restaurants online. Spatial organization and tagging were more important to me than rankings and reviews or other features so I moved from one mapping site to the next. I finally settled on something called Tagzania. Before Tagzania, I tried mygmaps, gmaptrack and I'm sure several that I'm forgetting. After I started using Tagzania, I tried CommunityWalk, JotSpot Tracker and Ning's Restaurant Reviews with Maps. I stuck with Tagzania mostly because it does what I need but partially because I felt locked in by the effort I'd already sunk into it. I currently have nearly 120 Cleveland area food businesses catalogued on Tagzania. (I do think about some things that don't fit in my mouth, by the way.)

But this isn't a reasonable long term solution for the problem of sharing restaurant reviews. For such a database to be really useful, reviews and rankings are necessary.

Kritx, Judy's Book, Yelp, DinnerBuzz, Zipingo and Lopico are all trying to aggregate user contributed reviews as the core of their business model. This is, of course, in addition, to Amazon's yellowpages and Yahoo's yellowpages which allow users to add reviews. These are just the ones that I found in a two minute search. I'm sure there are many more. And the best is yet to come. It is widely anticipated that Google is going to rollout search portals for cars, reviews, events, real estate, etc... Oodle is a newcomer to the so-called "vertical search space". Good luck to them avoiding being crushed between Google, Yahoo! and Amazon.

There were 12 user contributed reviews posted on Judy's book for the Cleveland area just today. I was very surprised to see that. Unfortunately, Judy's Book doesn't seem to accept the open philosophy that's required in CleveWiki but it does show that users are enthusiastic about sharing their information.

Kritx, Yelp and Dinnerbuzz all seem to "get" the open philosophy. One big advantage of Kritx is that it will collect your review from wherever you keep it. It relies on microformats. Users post reviews in their own web spaces in a format that a computer can uderstand but at the same time is easy for human's to generate and to read.

Kritx appears to be in a very early stage of development. Yelp and Dinnerbuzz both seem to be more developed. Yelp has the advantage of covering all categories of merchants in addition to restaurants. Yelp also appears to have ambitious plans for future growth. Dinnerbuzz frees your data up in an RSS feed and it's stored in the hReview microformat. Yelp also offers RSS feeds.

My recommendation would be a mix of kritx and dinnerbuzz. Working with kritx will be great for users who want complete control over their reviews. They can post reviews on their own blogs and they'll be perfectly prepared for web 3.0 when vertical search engines suck and aggregate all of their content. In the mean time, others can use Dinnerbuzz without worrying about a web space to store their reviews.

It's a lot more work than just setting up a wiki page called ClevelandRestaurants and letting everyone loose. That's okay with me because I don't really have the expertise to do that work anyway. But I hope that someone will decide that the work is really worth it to create a richer more useful experience at CleveWiki.


Some tools for the CleveWiki

One of the first components of the portal will be an events system. I recommend There's an API so events can be entered programmatically. There are RSS feeds and iCal feeds so events can be extracted and manipulated conveniently. has first-mover momentum and now that they're under the Yahoo! umbrella I think that we can count on them to be available and actively developed for the foreseeable future. Zvents doesn't really seem to be aware of Cleveland but they have a lot of nice features. Eventful has the advantage of being pre-populated with a large database of bigger events. There's no reason the CleveWiki couldn't use a combination of these services.

Craigslist offers RSS feeds. I think they permit use of the RSS feeds for non-profit purposes. is a great way to keep track of the web presence of different. I have several hundred web pages catalogued: museums, galleries, theaters and, of course, resaurants.

Rock Hall
Originally uploaded by Edge of Dementia.

Originally uploaded by sky_sailor.

Library Detail 2
Originally uploaded by Brian in Cleveland.

Originally uploaded by stu_spivack.

Flickr already has hundreds of great pictures of Cleveland. Flickr is an easy way to store and organize pictures and integrating them into CleveWiki from flickr would be simple. When you're using flickr for location specific pictures then the next natural thing to think of is geotagging. Geobloggers is taking a rest but you can get an idea of what I'm talking about at flyr.

Using existing resources on the web is crucial to the success of CleveWiki. It doesn't force users to duplicate their efforts to provide content. It generates rich content by letting users go about their regular web ways.


Cleveland Wiki

I've been seeing more Cleveland events pop up on recently. I hope the Cleveland Wiki people take advantage of existing resources rather than compete with them. The difficulty in creating a community portal isn't technological. It's social. The crucial element is to get a critical mass of participants. I'm concerned that if this new effort isn't undertaken intelligently, it's most significant effect will be to suck critical attention from other fragile, nascent online community loci. Hopefully, the CleveWiki project will move in exactly the opposite direction. The opportunity exists to leverage the existence of a wide variety of new and exciting tools to create something that could be very useful for the city.

I don't think that the goal of the CleveWiki should be to become the source of all Cleveland content. It's most valuable purpose could be as an aggregator. I don't want to add all of my event data to Upcoming and then have to add it again to CleveWiki. Then add all of my restaurant reviews to DinnerBuzz and then have to add it again to CleveWiki. I want to be come to CleveWiki and search for public theater productions. When I've chosen my entertainment for the evening, I want to see it on a map presented alongside all nearby and highly rated Italian restaurants.

Fully implementing my ideal portal probably isn't possible right now. But the tools to do it are currently being built. The design philosophy of the CleveWiki project should be to be prepared. The critical component of this philosophy will be openess. Allow users to create restaurant reviews on their own websites and suck them in to CleveWiki. Allow users to post their event data where they want it - at Upcoming, on their own blog, etc... Then suck it in and mash it up with the restaurant reviews and present it all on a pretty map.

Here are some example "almost there" implementations:
Yahoo! demo, Alkemis Local, Mashupcoming, Microsoft Local Live and MashMap.

The CleveWiki does have a carefully planned and precisely articulated philosophy, right? I think that before they move ahead they should. Openess and cooperation should be the project's foundation. Once this has been established, they should make an exhaustive search of what's already being done to organize Cleveland related information. Find all of the people working independently and organize them. Consider all the different tools and choose the ones that will help these people the most. Rushing ahead without doing that is more than a waste. I fear that it may be very harmful.

Unfortunately, it's far beyond my technical abilities to suggest large steps towards my ideal community portal but I think I can offer several useful suggestions. I've decided to break that up into two additional posts: one devoted to a merchant database and another devoted to an events database and several other miscellaneous items.


Tuesday, December 20, 2005

A study guide for my last post

As a companion to my cheese rant, I offer these links as context:
The New Yorker: The Talk of the Town:BLACKBERRY PICKING (James Surowiecki)
Last month, though, it became clear that a patent-infringement case
could force the BlackBerry’s manufacturers, a Canadian company called
Research in Motion, to kill the service in the United States by the end
of the year. Then the BlackBerry will become the quintessential symbol
of something else: a patent system that is out of control.
"The Creative Remix" is a fascinating one hour radio programming devoted to the issues of intellectual property and remixing in music, literature and the visual arts.

Hopefully, I'll dig up some more links soon

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Warp with a side of woof

All minds quote. Old and new make the warp and woof of every moment. There is no thread that is not a twist of these two strands. -Emerson
Warp and woof. I love those words. But it's not the imagery that makes this quote powerful. It's the message. No one owns ideas because no one's innovation is theirs alone and seperate from the entirity of the overarching human dialogue. Mozart was a genuis but he was reacting to his context and building on all of the generations that had come before him. The founding fathers understood this, too:
He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me. Jefferson
They gave exclusive rights to inventors not because the inventors had any "natural right" to their idea but for the "benefit of society." Innovators take risks to turn ideas into technology that may be of benefit to society. In recognition of this risk, society grants them temporary exclusive rights.

Anyway, somewhere along the line someone coined the phrase "intellectual property" and now everything is bent out of shape. Everyone thinks that every idea they have is completely independent of their interaction with society and is theirs in the same way as their hats. That's impossible. It's just not how human minds work. But that is how I came to be in a restaurant in Woodmere explaining to a friendly police officer that the owner of a restaurant named Taza had stolen my camera.
"And Taza said let there be coagulated milk protein. And there was coagulated milk protein. And Taza saw the protein, and that it was good. And Taza seperated the protein from the baked dough. And Taza called the protein Cheese and the dough Pita. And evening and morning were the first day."
Inventions then cannot, in nature, be a subject of property. Society may give an exclusive right to the profits arising from them, as an encouragement to men to pursue ideas which may produce utility, but this may or may not be done, according to the will and convenience of the society, without claim or complaint from anybody....

Considering the exclusive right to invention as given not of natural right, but for the benefit of society, I know well the difficulty of drawing a line between the things which are worth to the public the embarrassment of an exclusive patent, and those which are not. Jefferson
Society has decided that the pharmaceutical industry could not survive without "the embarrasment of an exclusive patent." That's reasonable. Pharmaceutical reseach is expensive and risky. By the same logic, society has never extended similar protection to chef's and their recipes. It's a well settled matter of law that recipes are not subject to the protections of our intellectual property regime. I think that's pretty reasonable, too.

They don't take risks the same way that inventors do. This isn't a subtle judgment. It's an obviously true fact: chefs don't need the protections of our intellectual property regime. How do I know? Because I just came home from having one of the best meals in my recent memory. Because I've eaten only a couple meals at home in the past two months. Because I've sampled food traditions carried here from across the entire globe and all of this was possible in an environment without these extra restrictions. (Of course, it's not just tinpot chefs pushing consumers around. From the pharmaceutical industry to the music and film industries, this is a huge and growing problem that isn't getting nearly the attention it's due. Maybe, I should have chosen something other than cheese to get quite this lathered up over?)

I was taking pictures. The proprietor came over and demanded that I stop. He was accusing me of stealing his ideas. He made it clear that I either stopped or that we would have to leave. Not only was his position insulting, but his demeanor was aggressive and bullying. His attitude made the decision easy. Unfortunately, that didn't satisfy him. He demanded that I erase the pictures that I had taken. When I protested he grabbed my camera and passed it to a coworker. When the police officer came, he immediately instructed the staff to get my camera. After they dawdled, he asked more assertively.

Imagine any other "creative worker" trying to enforce that kind of policy. Imagine if a fashion designer insisted that you get his permission to take photographs of his work. Now imagine two dozen guests at your Thanksgiving feast craning their necks, desperately trying to read the lable on their shirts lest they have to undress so that they can find contact information for their shirt's designer. I'm sure the designer would be happy to extend his permission to photograph your great-grandmother... for a small monetary consideration. Now imagine the fashion designer telling the police officer that he worked very had on these designs. (This is the legal principle of the first sale doctrine.)

(Obviously, these two situations are slightly different. The restaurant is a "quasi-public" space and the owner can refuse service and demand that I leave. On the other hand, there's no reasonable expectation of privacy for the staff or the patrons and certainly not for the food. Even in the face of this difference, I think my parable is instructive. Also the chef's behavior seems more reasonable because it's almost possible to think that the chef could successfully manage to protect his "trade secrets" this way. Of course, this security is an illusion.)

Enough public policy. How about some hard nosed business? What's the best case scenario for a restauranteur who imposes this silly policy? An overwhelming majority of his customers don't even notice. Then every once in a while he insults the very type of customer who would otherwise have been his biggest asset. This is, after all, a customer so interested in the food that he takes pictures of it. Then one day, a real industrial spy comes by but the proprietor doesn't even notice because, honestly, what kind of dumb ass industrial spy actually brings a regular camera? The spy gets all the information that he could ever have wanted and opens up what eventually becomes a very successful restaurant in another part of town. The original proprietor doesn't ever figure it out because most of the information that the industrial spy really needed was already available at the public library.

The worst case scenario is that the police end up coming and telling you fetch the camera you stole.

Millions of people watch Emeril and Rachael Ray but the food service industry has just as much to fear from the Food Network as the the home construction industry has to fear from Bob Villa and Norm Abrams. Restaurants don't make money off recipes. They couldn't because the same recipes, or better, are freely available anyway. Some make money by offering simple food conveniently. Others make money by getting to the restaurant at four in the morning to simmer stocks, bake fresh breads and argue with the fishmonger because the last delivery was almost imperceptibly better than the current delivery. And some succeed by setting their food in an environment of the finest art, the softest chairs, dazzling furnishings and elegant serviceware none of which you'll have to clean.

When I was eating at one of the best restaurants in Las Vegas, the staff wheeled the bread cart over so that I could take a better picture. They were curious about my photography but no one seemed worried that I was going to run Joel Robuchon out of business with my personal renditions of foods so complex I can't even spell them for you. Then when I came back home, one of the best chefs in Cleveland very generously gave me two recipes to help with my Thanksgiving preparations. Look out Moxie! I've got my sights set on you. Smart restauranteurs do this as part of treating their customers with respect and friendly chefs do it to share the joy of cooking.

I've always been tickled by the fact that McDonald's has a hamburger university. I'd love to take a look at the thousand page instruction manual that they have for their managers and franchiese but which is guarded like the President's nuclear codes from others. My point here isn't that restauranteurs should hold cooking classes for their competitors. I only hope that people would give more thought to when it's important to hide or share information and that we all understand that things are frequently better when we share. Also, I think we can all agree that yelling and grabbing are right out, no?

So the labneh was pretty good, but the pita was disappointing. The zatar spiced oil and the kalamata olives weren't worth eating at all. I have some pretty pictures of the jibneh. (That's the grilled cheese.) It really looked very good. I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to eat it. Fortunately, it's a traditional dish served at hundreds of restaurants in countries across the world so I'll probably find it somewhere soon.

Tagged: food, restaurant, dining, cooking, intellectualproperty

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Dine and Dish 5

I was delighted to see Dine and Dish back for episode five but I was a little skeptical about the theme. Don't get me wrong. I like the entire spectrum of Asian food but Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Malaysian, Filipino, Thai and Vietnamese food all in the same month? That's a lot of eating and I'm not sure how many fellow food bloggers will be up to it. However, never one to back away from a challenge I plan to give it my best shot.

I don't even have time to describe it all so for now I'll just concentrate on a recent Chinese food adventure. C&Y created a big splash in Cleveland when it debuted. It challenged the other authentic Chinese restaurants in Cleveland to strive for a higher standard. Their Chinese New Year celebration was one of the best meals I've had in a long time. And it exposed Northeast Ohioans to a lot of items they'd never seen before. After some mysterious and extended downtime, C&Y is back and Cleveland is eager to know if it will live up to its own reputation.

In two visits since they reopened, my favorite dish so far has been the chicken noodle soup. Flavorful broth, tender chicken and tasty noodles:
chicken noodle soup

A lot of the original interest in C&Y was generated by their soup dumplings:
soup dumpling

I also tried some of the dim sum items. Fried tofu with chicken, bbq pork dumplings and steamed pork dumplings:
tofu chicken thing pork dumpling bbq pork bun

Desserts at Chinese restaurants get an undeserved bad reputation. I like them. Especially after one-too-many too clever by half, yet mysteriously bland Western desserts. This is nicely eggy and mildly sweet:
egg tart

The attention that non-Chinese language speakers get at C&Y is far superior to that at Cleveland's other authentic Chinese restaurants. The staff was generally able to explain what I was eating and even offered suggestions. The menu on my previous visit was completely determined by the proprietor: beans, kidney and pork chops among other things.

After consuming dessert number one I realized that I'd promised to bring home something for my father. So I stopped at a Chinese bakery for his lunch and my dessert number two. And desserts numbers three, four, and five through ten. Superior bakery offers many savory items and I bought my father a chicken puff pastry and a curry beef bun. What's pictured here are only the desserts that I ate on the way home.

Cream puff:
cream puff

Winter melon paste cookie (someone kindly noted in my flickr photostream that these are called wife pastry?):
? cookie

Almond cookie:
almond cookie

Melon cake:
melon cake

and Fillipino rice cake:
filipino rice cake

The bread for the buns is all the same and various toppings or fillings are inserted or applied. The bun is chewy and delicious. It's a bread instead of a traditional Western style cake. Taro bun:taro bun

The delicious (very) butter cream bun:
cream bun

And the mocha cream bun:
mocha bun.

But my favorite was the simplest. A little (or a lot of )butter and some sugar. The sugar butter bun:
sugar butter bun

Anyway, thanks for visiting. I'm looking forward to reading all of your entries. And I'm definitely looking forward to Dine and Dish 6. Here's hoping that we don't have to wait as long for it as we did for episode five.

Finally, thanks to Sarah. It's a wonderful idea and I appreciate all the hard work you must put into it.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Saturday, November 05, 2005

One Laptop Per Child

One Laptop Per Child is an exciting project at MIT. The goal is to design a laptop suitable for distribution in the developing world and distribute it widely and at an affordable price. The project has accomplished a lot in terms of the design of the laptop. It's rugged. It has mesh wireless built in. The idea is that data will be primarily stored on the network so the laptop doesn't have a hard drive. They are powered by a handcrank. They use a special low-power display.

In the first year, the goal is to distribute between five and ten million at a per unit cost of $130-$150. They would be distributed largely in the developing world. In the second phase, the goal is to distribute over 100 million. Presumably, economies of scale would drive the cost down to $100. Distribution would be widened to include schools in the United States.

You can read more in depth review at WorldChanging.

It seems obvious that Case could offer a lot to MIT's One Laptop Per Child project. In turn, the experience would be great for Case's engineering and computer students. And when the project began distributing laptops domestically the collaboration would put Cleveland at the front of the line.

The value of this to Cleveland's public school students would be immense. Familiarity with technology is practically a shibolleth in our society. Students in our country are seperated by the oft-noted "digital divide". Students in the suburbs are prepared for college and high paying jobs that require familiarity with computers and students in the cities are left behind.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Roland Fryer at the City Club on November 2

Courtesy of Brewed Fresh Daily comes news of an interesting event at the Cleveland City Club. From
Roland Fryer, a 27-year-old assistant professor of economics at Harvard University, will speak about the racial student achievement gap and what to do about it.
I'm dusting off my neglected membership to attend. Here are the details. And more.

Before you go, you should read two things. The first is "Still Seperate, Still Unequal: America's Educational Apartheid" by Jonathan Kozel. It's in the September issue of Harper's.
A teacher at P.S. 65 in the South Bronx once pointed out to me one of the two white children I had ever seen there. His presence in her class was something of a wonderment to the teacher and to the other pupils. I asked how many white kids she had taught in the South Bronx in her career. "I've been at this school for eighteen years," she said. "This is the first white student I have ever taught."
The author travels across the country visiting schools whose demagraphics mirror this anecdote. His visits illuminate an America fundamentally indistinguishable from America at the time of Plessy v. Ferguson .
I had made repeated visits to a high school where a stream of water flowed down one of the main stairwells on a rainy afternoon and where green fungus molds were growing in the office where the students went for counseling. A large blue barrel was positioned to collect rain-water coming through the ceiling. In one makeshift elementary school housed in a former skating rink next to a funeral establishment in yet another nearly all-black-and-Hispanic section of the Bronx, class size rose to thirty-four and more; four kindergarten classes and a sixth-grade class were packed into a single room that had no windows. The air was stifling in many rooms, and the children had no place for recess because there was no outdoor playground and no indoor gym.

In another elementary school, which had been built to hold 1,000 children but was packed to bursting with some 1,500, the principal poured out his feelings to me in a room in which a plastic garbage hag had been attached somehow to cover part of the collapsing ceiling. "This," he told me, pointing to the garbage bag, then gesturing around him at the other indications of decay and disrepair one sees in ghetto schools much like it elsewhere, "would not happen to white children." Libraries, once one of the glories of the New York City school system, were either nonexistent or, at best, vestigial in large numbers of the elementary schools. Art and music programs had also for the most part disappeared. "When I began to teach in 1969," the principal of an elementary school in the South Bronx reported to me, "every school had a full-time licensed art and music teacher and librarian."
These stories expose as truly shameful the arguments of those who speak of "personal responsibility" as the solution the urban achievement gap. (The article gets worse by the way. Even more enraging and more depressing. You should find it.)

The second thing you should read is the profile of Fryer in the New York Times.
He [Fryer] entered graduate school at Penn State University, and it was there, early on, that he realized the power of economics to study race. ''We learned all these powerful math tools that were very deep, very insightful, and were being used to solve -- you know, silly problems, frankly,'' he says. ''At the same time, you'd look on TV and see people literally yelling at each other about affirmative action, bringing up anecdotal stories of one white guy who lost his house and his wife and his kids. The whole debate could be turned by bringing in some horrible travesty. And I thought, here's the exact way that these tools should be used.''
This is the one thing that I wish I could imprint on the mind of every person in this country. Our society has lost respect for facts. Facts have been replaced with perspectives. Everyone believes that economics, biology and sociology are all in the realm of opinion. "Blacks underachieve because of their environment" and "Blacks underachieve because of their nature" are no longer hypothesis to be analyzed and investigated. They're opinions so yours is as valid as mine is as valid as the professor's. And it's no wonder that no one bothers to go to the library to educate themselves before they decide on the validity of the various hypotheses.

There's a mountain of material in the library but I think that any "personaly responsibility" peddler should make their first fact finding expedition to the schools that are profiled in Kozol's article. He did mention one in Cleveland. It was a school named in honor of Martin Luther King and it was mentioned alongside schools named after Rosa Parks and Langston Hughes. *wretch* If you have faith in your neighbors you'll decide that this is the result of ignorance. And if you're more cynical you'll call this ignorance willful. Whichever, are there facts which can be marshalled in reponse? Is there an intellectually rigorous case that this country hasn't shamefully abandonded its responsibility to generations of children?

Kozol's article suggests strongly that a new and more earnest round of enforced integration is necessary. I'm not sure what Fryer's opinion is on this specific subject. The connection, as I see it, is more general. The Kozol article is just the most dramatic description of the problem that Fryer studies that I've read in a long time.

I've only touched on the Dubner article in the Times. It discusses both Fryer's work and his life both of which are more than interesting enough to make the article a must-read.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Wireless Nomad

Should I keep posting these? I mean really... Everyone reads BoingBoing, right?

Still, it's interesting and even a little exciting. The map to your left displays the coverage of a cooperative internet service provider in Toronto called Wireless Nomad. They provide a basic level of access for free and their paid residential program is $30.

Tags:, , , ,

Monday, October 24, 2005

Fixing the internets

Some time ago, I came across a blog called Hotel Bruce. It looked like it might have been interesting but I never found out. You see, it didn't have an RSS feed. Well, now it does:. Just don't tell Bruce.



My recent post on Fon, the Spanish peer-to-peer internet service provider, drew out a commenter who pointed out a similar project right here in Cleveland: Tremont Wifi. I've always wanted to know more about Tremont Wifi. How many homes have wifi access? What are their current plans? I couldn't get any of this information from the web site.

Prompted by that comment, I hunted done yet another similar project I'd seen a while back: Neighbornode. Neighbonode provides technical assistance to neighborhoods that want to provide community Wifi. Their website is unfortunately no more informative than the Tremont Wifi homepage. They seem to have established dozens of hotspots across the country but it's unclear whether they're currently growing or whether any of their neighborhoods consist of any more than a single hotspot.

Feature creep

Two more completely worthless features have been added to this blog. If you look to your right, you'll see that my sidebar now contains a record of the links that my visitors are following. Well, you might see it. You'll have to look carefully. It's small because I don't really have visitors.

The other feature is yet another testament to the popularity of Stuartblog2. Now posts show a record of how many other blogs are linking that specific item. If you're having trouble finding it, I recommend that you do a page search for "0".

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Share WIFI, build a WIFI Nation

Share WIFI, build a WIFI Nation :

There's a company in Spain that's creating a peer-to-peer internet service provider. To clarify, this is not P2P over existing internet service. Rather, it is an ISP whose bandwidth is partially provided by customers. This is a brilliant idea. I'm sure it's not original. I've been aware of it for some time and I can't believe that I came up with it on my own. Nonetheless, it's a brilliant idea and it makes you wonder if something is really going to come out of it. The entrepeneur in charge has a track record of success.

While this is a commercial venture, I wonder about the possibility of deploying this sort of service as a cooperative. Commercial or community, I'll tag this one "don't hold your breath." Verizon broadband costs $50/month. How much would this cost? A fraction, surely.


BBC NEWS | UK | Councils could seize empty homes

BBC NEWS | UK | Councils could seize empty homes: "He added: 'Poorly maintained empty properties are magnets for vandals, drug users, squatters and even arsonists.

'Bringing empty homes back into use reduces opportunities for low level anti-social behaviour.'"

That's a good enough reason but it's far from what I would consider the best reason. If you didn't like the recent supreme court decision regarding eminent domain then the thought of this happening in the United States may make your head explode. I think it deserves some real consideration.


Thursday, October 20, 2005

The Tangled Banks

I went to the Cleveland Blogger Meetup. Thanks, George, for organizing it. I enjoyed both the company and the food.

First, we briefly discussed the idea of tagging. I don't think anyone needs to wait for a standardized tagging system. Start using tags that mean something to you and organization will emerge. I don't think it will take very long for de facto standardization to emerge around the most useful tags. "Cleveland", for instance.

I think someone mentioned the idea of aggregating Cleveland blogs. I don't see the advantage of having one Cleveland feed. Subscribing to individual blogs in Bloglines is as easy as can be and gives me precise control over what gets my attention. For those who may still prefer a common feed, George added a feature to the sidebar of Brewed Fresh Daily: Recent NEO. Unfortunately, it's not subscribable and it only tells you who's updated but doesn't give a preview or even a title.

Since I'm using blogger I've got a limited selection of tools. Wordpress has a variety of plugins that make aggregating fairly easy but I've got to rely on the kindness of strangers who are willing to host a web service. With that in mind, here are some toys that I dug up over the past few days:

The Cleveland Zeitgeist is a tagcloud generated from about 20 Clevelandish feeds. Right now Cleveland (or, rather, the very small sample that I randomly chose) is interested in corned beef. And it wasn't even because of me. I created an aggregate feed of a different group of Clevelandish feeds: preview, rss. Here's another one with a different group of blogs: preview, rss. And here's a search that covers me, Brewed Fresh Daily, Callahan's Cleveland Diary, Democracy Guy, Cleveland Canvas and Tremonter:

I think the most interesting idea was the suggestion to have a roving review of the local blog community. (I'm still getting used to the word "blog". "Blogosphere" may take some time.)

I remember the original Carnival of the Vanities. It has no homepage but you can follow it at the founder's blog. And I wanted to follow the Tangled Bank but it slipped away. Now there are far too many to keep track of. There's an economics one that looks interesting.

Tags: ,

Saturday, October 08, 2005

A toy for the Civic Innovation Lab

Ning is a very promising new project from Gina Bianchini and Marc Andreesen. Mr. Andreesen is credited with inventing the web. This is from the faq:
What is Ning?
Ning is a free online service (or, as we like to call it, a Playground) for people to build and run social applications. Social "apps" are web applications that enable anyone to match, transact, and communicate with other people.

Our goal with Ning is to see what happens when you open things up and make it easy to create, share, and discover new social apps. These might include for any city, your own take on Craigslist...for any passion, your own take on any interest, your own take on Zagat...for any event, your own take on Flickr...for any school, your own take on the Facebook...for any topic, your own take on any mammal, your own take on Hot or Not or Kitten War.

You choose the app, decide for whom it's most relevant, create the categories, define the features, choose the language - or just clone an app that's already up and running on Ning - and be on your way.
I hope Ning lives up to its potential. It's going to depend on developing a community of competent programmers who develop clone-worthy apps. It's not going to grow based on a community of people like me whose computer skills are taxed by finding "your city" and replacing it with "Cleveland". I went to Ning because I wanted to do a very specific thing. I wanted to clone some existing app, sprinkle in a little Ning-salt and a little Ning-paprika and end up with a prediction market for Cleveland themed propositions. It turns out that to do that, I still really need a working knowledge of computer programming.

I did end up with something though. In fact, I ended up with something far more interesting than what I ever could have imagined before Ning. It wasn't a prediction market. I guess you could call it an idea exchange. This is Ning's reality. Ning's potential is that smarter programmers continually contribute apps closer and closer to what I need until I can clone my beautiful market.

Do you think that the right sort of user will embrace Ning? What does Ning offer them that they don't have programming PHP applications on their own servers? (It's times like these when I wish my blog actually had readers.)

Creating a prediction market was an idea that I hadn't really thought through. I'm not sure now why I thought it would be interesting to anyone but me in the first place. Maybe it's for the best that I ended up with the idea exchange. If it's publicized and widely adopted there's a possibility it might be genuinely useful. Please allow me to introduce the Cleveland Idea Bank Web Posterboard.

There are several idea exchange sites and I don't really have in-depth experience with any of them. I'd be very interested in hearing some success stories. Has a cyber idea bank ever cultivated an idea that grew into a meatspace implementation?
Since Sliced Bread
Why Not?

Now I'm off to see see if I can't kludge together an prediction market. Isn't it enough that I'll be entertained?

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Ingenuity for the other 361 days of the year

One of my primary disappointments with the Ingenuity Festival was that their was no organized way of discussing it. (Was there?) Art is more meaningful when we have an opportunity to see it from someone else's perspective. There needs to be a way for Ingenuity spectators to congregate and discuss the projects on display and more generally the topics of community, of art and of technology.

It would be relatively easy to create an ad hoc online community discussion.

I'm suggesting this de-centralized approach because it suits the way that I participate on the internet and I hope that it will be convenient for you, too. It's easy because it's just an extension of what I already do. I already store articles that I've read on furl. I already bookmark sites that I visit on I already post thoughts and ideas on my blog. Now when one of these activities is related to the Ingenuity Festival I can use a tag to associate the two and anyone can easily track and read everything. With coordinated tagging, you can have all of your thoughts, links and pictures automatically aggregated into the same pool and just as readily available to anyone who's interested. And just because I use blogspot,, furl and flickr doesn't mean that you can't participate with some other software. Let me know and we'll figure out how to integrate it.

I'll start by discussing some places where you might create your Ingenuity content and then I'll mention a couple easy ways to keep track of it - all of everyone's various sources in one place.

Cleveland bloggers should start tagging blog posts that discuss Ingenuity. Adding this snippet to your posts:
<a href="" rel="tag">ingenuityfestival</a>
will collect all blog posts that discuss the festival at this url:
More info about technorati tags.
and you can subscribe to it here:

If I see a project's web site that might be an inspiration for Ingeneers then I tag it with "ingenuitycleveland" on

If others tag likewise then the community's collection of links will be here:
And you can subscribe to it here:

I've also started an archive of documents that I think may provide some perspective on the Ingenuity Festival. These come in two distinct categories: 1)Blog posts that are explicitly related to the Cleveland Ingenuity Festival. (Incidentally, I hope the organizers know that the general reception for the festival was far less enthusiastic than the reviews in the local press.) 2)Articles about projects that may be inspirational.

My archive is here:

If you join furl and add your documents to the topic "ingenuitycleveland" all our saved items will be collected here:
And you can subscribe to it here:

If you took pictures at Ingenuity Festival 2005 hopefully you've already added them to the Ingenuity Cleveland pool on flickr. In any case, please consider tagging them with "ingenuitycleveland".
Subsription link:

Cyberspace is really convenient but the real world is fun. I know that there are Cleveland blogger meetups. This group would be a natural base for an Ingenuity meetup group. Next year we could have a meetup lunch or dinner on each day of festival. We could meet in one large or several small groups and share our insights into the meaning and significance of that days events. And all over a steaming bowl of noodle soup. I posted one very premature event announcement here just for the purpose of demonstration:

And now, as promised, an easy way to keep track of everything. I've created one blob rss feed of all these sources. Subscribe by clicking here:. If you're not into RSS yet, you can just bookmark that page and view the feed there.

This should be a good start to building a community that thinks about the Ingenuity Festival year-round. This de-centralized discussion might be augmented with a more traditional online community: a Yahoo! or Google group. I think a wiki might be a good idea.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Saturday, August 20, 2005

$40 a Day

Welcome fellow food bloggers. I'm sorry that there isn't more here for you to browse. Until now I've only used this space as a memory aid and web sandbox. The main repository for records of my food adventures is flickr. At least for the near future, that's probably how things will stay. Dine and Dish 4 was immensely fun and I have no doubt that I'll be back for Dine and Dish 5. In the mean time, I'm afraid all I can offer is my flickr stream. I have well over 1,000 pictures and I think I cover a broad range of interesting food.

My first meal was at Monica's Caribbean and Hungarian restaurant. Yes, Caribbean and Hungarian. Check out the menu if you don't believe me. The jerk chicken was spicy, tender and full of chicken-y deliciousness. The complimentary butterflap bread was warm, dense, sweet and equally delicious. ($9.50 + tax and tip = $12)

Uh, just ignore the pseudo-food spread that was served with the bread. Not everything is perfect at Monica's but I look forward to returning. Judging from my first experience there are certain to be many other excellent items. Guyanese chicken chow mein? Guyanese fish stew? This was a real find. I'll just have to learn to ignore partially-hydrogenated oil spreads and uninspired salads.

My visit to this restaurant was pleasant for more reasons than the food. East 185th is a charming, natural, warm, historic neighborhood right on the Great Lakes. Its relaxing atmosphere seems further from the hustle of Cleveland than its short distance would suggest.

Our next stop is a transplant from just down the shore. Clevelanders of a certain age look back with great fondness on food and fun at Euclid Beach Park. It was Cleveland's Coney Island.Fairways, coasters, rides, games and fair food. On this very day in 1964 the Beach Boys played at Euclid Beach Park. The Euclid Beach Park Nuts are trying to bring back some small bits of that era. They want to set up an original carousel and others are trying to save the Humphrey Mansion. (It doesn't look very grand right now.)

In the mean time, we'll have to settle for popcorn and frozen custard. East Coast Custard has a number of stores. Shaker Square is far from the shore but happily it's much closer to me. Shaker Square is another great place to enjoy a meal and walk around. The National Register of Historic Places recognized the beauty and charm of Shaker Square in 1976. There's a movie theater and nearby Larchmere has bookstores, antiques and more. There's fire, a favorite of mine since it opened five years ago and Boulevard Blue, a promising newcomer but neither are really appropriate for our theme.

East Coast Custard aims to evoke memories of long gone summer nights with delicious frozen custard.

They may be appealing to nostalgia but they aren't coasting on it. The custard is excellent. The toppings are excellent. I've been there a half dozen times and I've always been impressed. All you see is a big white (melt-y) glob but I can assure you that this turtle sundae was perfect: the custard, the fudge, the caramel and the pecans - all perfect.($4, including tip)Our next stop was right in my back yard. Hot Sauce Williams has been a favorite in our family for as long as I can remember. I don't know how long the restaurant has been there but I remember my father bringing delicious ribs and chicken wings home nearly 20 years ago. I don't think the restaurant has changed at all in that time. Thankfully. This food is made just they way it should be made and the result is every bit as good as the most expensive food I've ever eaten. ($9.85, including two wings)
Unfortunately, my last visit didn't live up to my expectations. I hope I'm not the only disher that decided to visit some new places along with familiar favorites. What can I say? I couldn't resist the chance to try some new stuff. So I'm sorry, but I'm going to make it up to you three times over! First, I'll give you a couple recommendations for better Cleveland breakfasts. I don't want to give the impressione that I couldn't find four decent meals in the entire city. Try a breakfast buritto at El Tengo Taqueria. Breakfast, lunch and dinner, everything at this place is amazing. He has authentic and delicious food from Mexico and Central and South America. Or for more standard American fare, try Yours Truly. They've got great burgers and the breakfast food is fantastic.Second, the picture turned out just fine. You can pretend that the french toast was delicious.($12, including tax, tip, pancakes, fresh OJ and sausage links)And third, since I have $2 left in my budget I'll add a fifth stop to our tour: Amish fry pie at the North Union Farmers Market. The market is back at beautiful Shaker Square. My favorite vendor sells mostly dairy but also pork, grains, breads and pies. Yesterday, I noticed something new and had a strawberry filled Amish fry pie for breakfast. It was glazed and just generally delicious. And it was actually less than $2. ($1.50?)

I think that brings my total to over $39. As I said it was wonderful fun. How do I know that I'm going to be back for Dine and Dish 5? Because, I can't walk away from the keyboard without mentioning dozens of other restaurants that should have appeared in my "$40 A Day" day. Tongue and goat tacos, curry beef buns, pho, burgers... And how could I have led you on a tour of Cleveland without pierogies. And that Puerto Rican restaurant would have let me work in pictures of some great historic churches. We need to do this again.

I've got lots more to eat and I'm looking forward to both sharing it with you and hearing about your culinary adventures. Thanks for stopping in.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Can't Wait for a Book? Paris Can Help - Yahoo! News

Can't Wait for a Book? Paris Can Help - Yahoo! News

Selling books in vending machines is a fantastic idea. I've had this idea for a long time. I'd fill it with a mix of liberal arts education style books and practical life guide books. One half literature and science and the other half nutrition, personal finance, etc... . I'd paint it yellow and black. I'm sure I'd hear from the Cliff Notes people but my intention is not to glom onto their brand but to evoke the image of caution tap. I'd call the chain of vending machines "Danger: Books". "The pen is mightier than the sword." Or something less trite... But certainly, the nutrition books would be dangerous to McD's and CocaCola and the finance books would be dangerous to Visa and Mastercard. And the literature and general science would be dangerous to any powerful group that would try to sustain its influence by perpetuating ignorance. Each book would be one small step for equality.

The internet is another weapon in this battle but it must be admitted that paper has always had and will continue to have advantages. Convenience is one, and an important one at that, but you can't overlook the simple power of the idea of a book. That idea has real substance. Libraries, of course, are another even older tool but when's the last time that you saw a library that was painted red and black. Maybe the vending machines should make some noise.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Walking with the camera

A walking tour of Churches in the Tremont area. There are 14 churches along the path. It's 2.46 miles. The area is divided into quadrants by 90/490 and 71. This route covers the churches in the Northeast quadrant.

The Southwest quadrant has four more churches. They're all on or just off a one mile stretch of Scranton. The Northeast quadrant contains only one which is at the corner of W 25th and Monroe. This map includes positions for all the churches.

Here's a 2.15 mile stretch that runs mostly along Fairmount and Coventry. I travel it every week by car on my way to the Coventry Farmers market.

I think that today I'll photograph the section that runs along Fairmount. Hopefully, tomorrow, I can photograph a significant portion of the churches.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005


Lots of stand-alone, adult targeted classes. For example, a hands-on tutorial on computer maintenance. Or better yet, a class that leads students through the construction of a computer. The instructor would design a system and explain the various component selections. The instructor could charge a nice fee for a multi-session class and make a killing selling the parts. Other related classes would be available: Making a home media server.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Things Cleveland needs
Done properly this could be amazing. Does such a thing already exist for Cleveland?

While we're on the subject of cool things in Chicago that Cleveland should copy, remember that community professional kitchen? It's a kitchen with professional tools and appliances and all the necessary certifications from the city required to produce and sell commercially. And it's available for rent by the hour. It's an incubator for small food businesses. It allows people to transition between cooking for lots of their friends and maintaining their own commercial kitchen.

Or this idea from SF? A mobile farmer's market. Farmer's markets are great but hardly anyone is aware of them. They'd be a lot more popular if they were loud, bright, shiny and stalked customers like prey.This is great for communities that are saturated by unhealthy food options. It would be a great opportunity for kids who could learn about healthy food as they worked on the truck.

Cleveland needs to use RSS and tags more. I can't go from site to site for all of Cleveland's cultural, civic, arts, food organizations looking for information. It's impossible to keep up. Some combination of rss and tags could make it easy to keep up with exactly what you wanted across the entire city. Blogs with automatic rss are nice but there was that website that provides rss feeds with or without an html presence. iCal, rsscalendar, technorati, That beta calendar site that created a buzz recently? It would be desirable to have a web site act as a central repository for feeds. It would be pretty and it would be a hook for people who aren't in the system yet but it would be easy for Clevelanders to keep up with feeds and news without it.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Newspaper vending machine

I need a reliable newspaper vending machine location database.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

More people need to start blogging.

And I need to be the one who decides. To begin with, DJs should all blog about local concerts.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Food forum idea

A Best-of page highlighting quality threads that have disappeared into the archives. I can think of the biographies that chefs offered as one I would be interested in digging up and dusting off.

Forum calendar, addition to

Forum ideas, yet more

I'm not sure how to implement a forum calendar. My first thought is to do this:

Another idea for forum events would be a local IMBB.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Food Forum ideas, more

I think that a communal food forum calendar would be a good idea.

I also think that a communal food book database would be useful.

Suggestions for Food Forum activities

1) Field trips to local producers and suppliers. We could get lessons on how to select, store and prepare their products. Good choices might be The West Side Market, North Union Farmer's Market, Coit Ave Market, or various local farms. After the lesson we could eat the visual aids.

2) Comparison tastings. Good choices might include hot chocolate, bacon, hot dogs, potato chips. Ketchup? Mustard? These could be mail ordered and tested in one location. Or we could caravan to local restaurants and taste test hamburgers, pizza, etc...

Resources for these events could include: Rosengarten Report,
Chowhound's Massive Potato Chip Rundown .

Good mailorder sources: The Grateful Palate

In some cases where it would be difficult to sample all of the candidates a sytem may be necessary to insure even distribution. Testers could predict how many samples they expect to taste and choose samples that they're specifically interested in trying. Remaining room for samples could be filled in randomly.

3) A continuation, or intensification, of the various restaurant events: C&Y, Lola's, etc... Any chef in the city would be happy to have a party of 30+ each willing to pay for a special, and specially priced, tasting menu. In addition to Chef Symon, it seems that Chef Brandt and Chef Bennett have an existing relationship with the forum. These would be natural choices but certainly not the only ones. There are plenty of restaurants outside of the continental/contemporary category. I hear magical tales of extravagant feasts at Bo Loong and Siam Cafe for wedding receptions. If they're really hung up on the marriage thing I am fully prepared to wear a veil and marry a pork bun. I'd be keen to try this at a sushi restaurant. For a large party of adventurous eaters the chef would be happy to reach beyond the range of traditional midwest sushi offerings.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Shared restaurant database

This a way for us to easily create and share a Food and Wine Forum restaurant database. In fact, there's nothing really to set up. And in order for you to participate all you have to do is register at a cool web site that you can use for a million other things. It will just take a few minutes and then once you've done that it will just take a few seconds to add a restaurant to the database. And the database will have a lot of cool features. You can look at a list of restaurants on the Cleveland Food & Wine Forum radar. Or you can get a list of mexican restaurants. Or you can get a list of restaurants for a specific user. Or a list of restaurants given a four-star rating. And you can easily mix and match all of these criteria: all fish restaurants that stuarts has rated four-star. The system could easily be extended to cover recipes for those of us who cook or wine for those of us who drink.

The core of my scheme is You'll need to register at to participate. is a new way to bookmark websites. lets you use tags to help organize the websites that you visit and want to remember. It sounds mundane but people have taken to it with religious zeal. That's partially because it does wonderful, amazing things for keeping track of web sites but also because people are imagining new things that it can do beyond simply keeping track of web sites. For instance, I'm soon going to start using it in place of my wishlist. The thing is, not only will I duplicate the functionality of wishlists, will instantly add wonderful, tag-magic functionality.

You have to use your imagination to really care about and tags. Or maybe you also really need to care about library and information science. Whatever. We care about restaurants and will help us keep track of restaurants that we're interested in and share them with our friends.

After you've registered, you can start bookmarking restaurants. Obviously you can't bookmark the restaurant literaly. Just bookmark the best stand-in that you can find. I'll illustrate the use of the database with some examples.

I'll start by adding El Tango Taqueria. I search for the restaurant on the restaurant database and I bookmark the results page with I tag it with clefoodforumrestaurant. If you're happy here then that's it. It can be that simple. It is now available for all of the other participants to see. This address is for the list of all of the restaurants in the database: . The address for a list of all of my contributions is: .

The full power of the database is available when you take a minute to add more tags. For this restaurant I added the tags: lakewood, westside, ****, mexican and latin. "****" is a rating. The tags ****, ***x, **xx, *xxx should have obvious meanings. I use xxxx to signify that I've never been to the restaurant. "lakewood", "westside", "latin" and "mexican" should also have obvious meanings. Use as many tags as you can think of. Some day you'll be willing to travel anywhere on the west side and some other day you'll think that lakewood is too far. Some day you'll be happy with any Latin American cuisine and some day you'll specifically want mexican.

Here's a list of my mexican, four-star restuarants:**** . Here's a list of everyone's mexican, four-star restaurants:**** .

Honestly, the strength of the system is much more related to the bookmark than to the site that you're bookmarking. You could bookmark completely random web pages and this would still work pretty well. But I think there can be an advantage to carefully selecting the page that you're going to bookmark. Bookmarking entries in the database has some advantages. The page has helpful information like hours, phone number, address, etc... Also the database is likely to have any restaurant the you would hope to add. One drawback of using the page is that uses the title of the page to populate the "description" field for the bookmark and the title of the results page is worthless. Please remember to change the "description" field to something helpful manually if you're using this method.

Obviously, another option for the web page choice would be the official web page of the restaurant. For instance, Moxie, fire and Lola all have web pages. I just added a Lolita to the database. I used the tag "comingsoon" and I bookmarked Chef Symon's post to the forum. Perhaps the best would be to link to an entry in your personal web space. You could create an entry in your blog and bookmark that page. That way you could share extended comments or pictures. Your blog entry could also include a link to the restaurant's website or a link to a review in the Free Times. Blogging is beyond the scope of this explanation but I would like to mention that there are many free and easy to use choices. All you have to do is register. In fact, if you'e unwilling even to register at a free site there are websites that will let you put up small snippets of free, permanent content without even bothering to register.

Here's one bonus. makes rss feeds available. If you have a personal web space you could take advantage of this to share the database or your portion of the database or whatever slice of your portion of the database with all of the visitors to your web site. It would look something like what you see on the right side of this page. The list only contains two restaurants right now so it might get lost in a jumble. The left sidebar also contains a list of movies and a list of books. On an unrelated note, if someone wants to fix my blog template so that this page looks slightly less horrible then that would be great. And if you don't have a personal webspace, rss is still the easiest way to keep track of the database.

This is my new system for keeping track of restaurants that I want to visit. I think if some of you joined in we could quickly compile something very useful and very interesting.

If you have any questions feel free to ask in the comments to this entry.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Sushi party

I'm going to go to Kimo's for a sushi lesson. I'll learn how to prepare rice, nigiri, sashimi, rolls, etc... That way I can help when a friend throws a sushi dinner party. I wonder if I'll learn anything about tamago. It would be nice to have some vegetarian rolls:Oshinko (radish pickles), Kampyo (gourd), mint leaf & plum paste, burdock.

There are some things that we could buy prepared to supplement our homemade sushi: Dashi from The Souper Market. Soba salad from Trader Joes.

Questions for Kimo:
More material in different classes?
Cooking for one?

Friday, January 14, 2005

I spy something beige. Superbowl party.

Is it a computer?

The whole point of this entry is to play with the new Technorati Tags feature. I guess the enry has to actually be about something then. Let's start again.

The Superbowl party planning is coming along quite well. I'm getting potato chips from Maui Potato Chips and Zerbe's Chips. I'm also excited about brisket and BBQ brisket from Mister Brisket. Also farfel, cole slaw, chicken breast and rolls. I have to remember to call Sokolowski's in a couple weeks to order the pierogi. If I have time, tomorrow I will call Archie's about the cake.

I tried to find something to link to "farfel". There is only very limited information. I guess it will be up to me to fill it out, if even just a little.

, , , , , ,

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Yakisoba Shop

Yakisoba Shop
Originally uploaded by Hideki+.
What's this button do?