Mike Beversluis

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Espresso Beans

Yo, I've been experimenting widely with espresso beans - always whole bean, ground at the time of brewing, with grind adjusted to produce 20-30 second extraction time with a 20-30 lb tamp at ~95 C water temp. We go through 1lb of beans in a week, and the beans are stored in the air-tight hopper of my Macap grinder, so freshness shouldn't be an issue.

Starbucks Espresso Roast in 1lb bag ($10 at your local Starbucks, or perhaps at the one across the street from that one...) is the baseline, since it's widely available: Dark, slightly bitter, greasy espresso, with some - but not a lot of - crema. Crema is finicky, with average persistence. Passable with tweaked brewing. People like to harsh on Starbucks, and the contrarian in me therefore roots for them.

Peet's Italian Roast in 1lb bag (here for $12) Slightly better than the Starbucks, similar finicky crema, slightly mellow flavors. Basically okay, but the Peet's Berkeley cachet costs you.

Coffee Ammi (2kg for ~$35, you have to get in touch with them here - they're oriented towards commercial accounts) This is the standard bean we used up in Rochester with the la Cimbali Jr. Espresso machine. Their beans can produce very good espresso with that machine, but I had less success with the Elektra.

Zabar's French Italian Roast 1lb bag (@ Zabar's for $6) Get your upper-West side crunk on with Zabar's French Italian roast. More bitter than I prefer, so perhaps their Vienna roast would suit me better. Average Crema. The price is okay, but the flat S&H ($9) sort of necessitates a larger purchase than I prefer.

Paradise Roasters Brazil Yellow Bourbon 14 oz (@ Paradise Roasters for $10) The crema came pouring out in deluge quantities. Seriously - we're talking copious amounts of creama. It was like a cup of gravy. A very different flavor too - not unlike bourbon, but I would call it more like cinnamon. Not a traditional espresso flavor at all, but everyone liked it too. Oddly, the beans had a very dried out appearance, and weren't oily at all, but they claim they only roast after you order. My inquiry email to them bounced, so I'm not sure if this is normal or what. But I'd get it again.

Paradise Roasters Classico Espresso 14 oz (@ Paradise Roasters for $9) Crazy mad crema again, more traditional espresso flavor, leaning towards the dark side (it is your destiny). The crema will fizz out after awhile, but I might need to do a better job of pre-heating my espresso cups. The beans had the same dried out appearance as the Brazil Yellow Bourbon, but they likewise produced Play-It-Again-Sam quality.

Illy Espresso 8.8 oz can (2 for $24) Illy is the bling-bling of espresso, but do they live up to their price tag? It's good, and better than the Starbucks, but not $24/lb better. Decent crema, traditional espresso flavors. Plus you have 2 fancy cans afterwards to turn into piggy banks, and that's worth $3 right there, right?

Whole Food's Espresso 1lb (~$10) Basically okay, crema dissipates, but the body is decent. Passable Starbucks alternative.

That's all for now - I will keep you informed of new coffees when they come in. I think I will explore a few more of Paradise Roasters varieties, look into Intelligentisia's Black Cat, and whatnot, as the mood strikes me. Plus, a new acquaintance has promised me espresso roasted beans from Cape Verdi, which is supposed to be similar to Blue Mountain.


Home coffee maker

I am an espresso-freak, what with my Elektra Micro Casa, but so far, I've confined the mania to the work place only. I think that this will come to an end. Meet my soon-to-be home coffee brewer: The Cafetino Balance Brewer.


Tuesday, November 29, 2005

That's a spicy meatball

I made a curry last week, but all I had were serranos and not the thai bird peppers I wanted. I doubled the number of peppers I normally put in, but this hot pepper guide explains why my curry was only 2/5's as hot as I had intended.

5000 is not enough

This is off Gizmodo, so no doubt you've seen it, but the last time he checked, this guy had 5000 channels plugged into his tv.

Monday, November 28, 2005

No soup for flickr

Limited access to llustration-centric flickr accounts? Doh!

Sunday, November 27, 2005

IVR Cheat Sheet by Paul English [1]

Here is a cheat sheet [2] of numbers and buttons to break out of automated customer service answering loops. (using a speak'n'spell to communicate with the resulting human representative would be, I think, counter productive.) (h/t sg)

1. Alternate title = Press 1 three times, then say "Open Sesame"

2. Wrong link to random book on Japanonomics replaced with new and improved correct link.

Random AC/DC thought

So, AC/DC is pretty much what you get when you remake Black Sabbath with hobbits.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

No (!) Respek for Kazakhstan

Sue that Jew! Booyakasha! [h/t sg]

pop vs soda

From The Pop vs. Soda Page.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Pong clock

Pong clock.

Richard Scary Redux

Call me old fashioned, but I want the old version.


Seasonal topic for Myth Busters

National Geographic (actually, Simon Young, a neurochemist (chemist?) at McGill University) says ixnay on the tryptophan makes you sleepy story (It only works on an empty stomach).

So you say your Segwey is no longer ridiculous enough?

Good caption.


As a PSA, coming to my office desk soon:

Tuesday, November 22, 2005


It may be a little late to start planning a turducken, but perhaps next year... Although I think I could pull off a chicken breast inside a duck breast inside a turkey breast. It's that or I'll butterfly it again.

Science funding

It is my opinion that science funding is currently broken. I won't elaborate, but really, peer-review of funding needs a major overhaul. I've mentioned it before, but my suggestion is to create professional reviewers - people who controll the money, but have no stake in it's disbursement. This would partially decouple merit from cronyism. Obviously there would still be problems.

On a related note, I like this idea of a scientific betting pool. Research mostly fails, and it's also my opinion that funding should be directed towards projects that will succeed. A better system than we have now might consist of using such gambling-markets to pick topics for investment funds were allocated by the review panel. It would also make better use of the puplication literature, as a lot of money could be made just by mining obscure articles for unrecognized breakthroughs.


Note to myself

How to control a stepping motor via USB interface. Generally speaking, I'm a fan of buying things instead of making them, but sometimes everything that's available is unsatisfactory.

Monday, November 21, 2005


I like Abu Jesus W. Chimplerstein myself.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Physics Flash Animations

Fun with physics animations.


Modern dog house architecture. It's the culmination of blue state pets instead of children lifestyle convergence.

Ring flash

Before you die, you'll see a ring - and now you can make a ring flash on the cheap.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


Excellent site, even though it's slow to load. Very Edward Tufte.

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Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Dr Mike

So it's been a busy few days. Thanks M&D for treking on out to see me hop around in my monkey suit. I hope a good time was had by all. The final spit and polish will go on the thesis this week and I will try to get that out of my hair asap.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

[HORROR] The night of the living dead

I do not know if it is proper to start the era of Mike's post-graduation with a post on a horror movie.
In any case I can assure the readers that Mike's thesis has nothing to do with horror.

This said, I have seen just a few horror movies in my life and I do not anticipate seeing many more; but this one is a classic in the genre and I want to say a couple of words about it. There are in fact some interesting points.

First of all the horror atmosphere is created without using too many splatter scenes.
Second, horror has in this movie a public dimension: the protagonists, sieged inside a house, follow on TV what is happening; the living dead which they are defending from are attacking people in a large area of the USA.
In this way there is an interesting game between the real and the unreal: in fact horror loses the secret dimension that it has in other movies(that it has when it is represented as a hallucination for example); in this way it becomes more real. At the same time it loses the atmosphere of suspicion that makes the spectactor enjoy the doubt whether horror is real or not, because there is a possibility of verifying the facts (I guess this makes it less real, I would not want to be wrong ...).

I have heard it is possible to read in this film a political argument, but my ignorance does not allow me to enter this debate.

I add that the ending is splendid, essential and original.

Thursday, November 10, 2005


From Quote of the Day:

"In science one tries to tell people, in such a way as to be understood by everyone, something that no one ever knew before. But in poetry, it's the exact opposite."

-Paul Dirac, he of the Dirac Delta function, of course. Wonder what he meant by that?


"Acquaintance, n.: A person whom we know well enough to borrow from, but not well enough to lend to."

-Ambrose Brice

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Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Why yes, I do realize that no one cares, but...

I love how I get way more traffic during the weeks when I post nothing than I do when I update, like, every five minutes. I know, it's navel gazing in the extreme, but I suspect that not posting lends the blog a certain air of mystery or something, ie, the stink of desperation reeks less.

I'm getting ready for my final dissertation defense, and I couldn't sleep last night because of that stress (mostly). My slides still need a lot of "polishing." If you want to come, it's this Friday, somewhere in the University's Computer Science building, sometime around 3pm. At this point, I just want to take my dissertation out back behind the barn and shoot it.

Finally, on the long and wearifying drive up to Rochester from DC, there was a lot - and I mean a lot - of lightning. Wrath of God lightning. Sound promising to you?

PS, under the category of way too much information that I am not comfortable with and need to outlet, I am sitting in the foyer of my cheapo hotel here using their WiFi, but some woman is having a very, very good time on the other side of a completely not soundproof door. I'd tell them to get a room, but they already did. Dammit.

But they're done now, so there goes that 2:20 episode of bliss.


Monday, November 07, 2005

Mathematical Sculptures

From a guy with an interesting first name: Klingon Snowflakes (aka Christmas at Vin Diesel's house)

Bathsheba Grossman Sculptures

(via The Corner)

Christmas Present Wishlist, just so you know

The thing is, I don't really need much. I can already afford all the candy and model cars I want, which is all I really wanted when I was 8.

ThinkGeek RSS


Saturday, November 05, 2005

My fascination with secret bookshelf doorways continues

Please "enter" hiddendoors.com. If it is humanly possible, I will have one someday. This is my promise to you, anonymous reader.

For some reason, my childhood plan to own a house with a moat and drawbridge, doesn't appeal to me as much as it used to... I mean, do you want to end up on some learning channel show as the person who lives in a treehouse? Next thing you know, you're getting married and your vows are written in Klingon.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Thomas Hawk's Photos

Just as advertised: Thomas Hawk's Photos.

Metro Life 27


Thursday, November 03, 2005

Google vs Copyright

Google Print is out of the bag (along with something similar but different ($) from Amazon), and that's just adding heat to the near boiling copyright smack down.

The upshot is this - available content should be maximized. To those who would public domain everything (warez), consider why anyone would then invest more than $1 Million into creating anything? There is no free lunch, and those who steal online do so on the backs of those who pay. On the other hand, old media gatekeepers have their own interests at heart (naturally) instead of either the author's and audience's. To the extent which they warp law to their ends, they subvert the same creative processes. I believe most publishing industries end up doing so, but I am only cursorily informed.


Nash Metropolitan Snow Mobile. Awesome, if you happen to have $10k (Canadian?) lying around. That's like $400 US, right? Besides, what are you going to do with money in Saskatchewan?

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Today's Texas BBQ link (Entry 1 in a Series of 1)


Wednesday, November 02, 2005


On the extremely minute probability that you've come across this blog looking for a good way to insert LaTeX into PowerPoint, TexPoint freakin' rules. Ha ha, take that "Insert Equation" dialog box.

On the much larger probability that none of this means anything to you, inserting LaTeX into PowerPoint likely doesn't mean what you suspect it might.

Doyle vs Holmes

It's not totally overwhelming until the end of this essay, but when Darylmpe writes:
The fact that, at the end of The Sign of Four, Holmes quotes lines from Goethe in German seems to belie his total ignorance of literature. (Only Baring-Gould points out that Watson omits a comma in his transcription of the lines.) Yet this is not quite conclusive evidence in favor of the argument that Holmes was stringing Watson along and merely pretending to be ignorant...
[emphasis mine] I cannot help but conclude that Sherlock Holmes aficionados are, oh, batshit insane.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005


DIY $1 Microscope

Excellent write-up on how to make a simple microscope. (via Make) This would be perfect for a grade-school science project, although explaining the optics might be a little out of their ken.

If you want higher quality optics, generic microscope objectives are easy to find on eBay for a few dollars plus shipping.

NB: Magnification is not the same as resolution. A low resolution image can be made large without increasing the fine detail that can be seen. The resolution of an objective is spec'd by the numerical aperture (NA).

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Case Mod = Cool????

How is this possible? I don't know, but gaze upon the following pictures and judge for yourself:

See Gizmodo for link, more pictures, and etc.