Leaf Broth

March 18th, 2014 | daybook

Hello. I’ve been reading cookbooks.

There’s a certain kind of cookbook that you — or at least I — can read like it’s fiction. Science fiction, even. I was talking with Janice Wang, a researcher at MIT Media Lab, about this at South By the other day. (That was a really interesting visit, by the way.) She was trying to put together a thing about food in science fiction, and having a little trouble finding too much about food culture in sf. And all I could think of was the three cookbooks I’d gotten recently, written by chefs from NOMA. NOMA is a Nordic restaurant dedicated to reinventing hyperlocal, firmly seasonal foodstuffs with Science. And science is still the best poetic fiction there is.

The NOMA Leaf Broth requires fallen autumn leaves of two different vintages: the current year and the year before. They employ car parks full of dehydrators to smash plants down to a perfect powdered essence. Moss is a regular ingredient. Centrifuges and frozen gasses. All the foods are found within a certain radius around the NOMA location. It is near impossible to prepare many of the meals outside that area or without their lab. But that’s not the point.

These are books intended to make you think again about where you live. They serve the essential journalistic element of social fiction: this is where I think I am today and this is what I think it looks like. And then they apply technologies entirely unexpected in the culinary context — like their forebears, people like Heston Blumenthal and Ferran Adria — to try and make us reconsider the possibilities inherent in our current context. Cookbooks of the Science Fiction Condition. Take your eyes off the rear view mirror for a second and see people using Mad Scientist shit to make dinner.


(Taken from the top of my most recent newsletter post. Subscribe at http://www.orbitaloperations.com )

RIP Laptop

January 19th, 2014 | daybook

I appear to have killed another laptop.  I seem to beat them to death — and I’m using Lenovos, which are supposed to be road-warrior machines — every year or so.  This one lasted eighteen months before throwing a BSOD and refusing to start Windows, insisting that a patch was preventing the system from… well, doing anything, really.


I’m flying out to LA in a week, and I have three critical jobs to complete before I go.  Waiting until the Lenovo gets fixed – or, more likely, waiting for a new machine to arrive and then mounting the dead laptop’s hard drive as an XD so I can get some files off it — is not an option.


I’m writing this on the Chromebook Pixel I was given, which is a beautiful and highly productivity-oriented machine with a few key omissions by design.  Like, I can’t run Audacity on it.  So, there’ll be no more SPEKTRMODULE podcasts until I get to the X1 Carbon I keep at Undisclosed Rural Location, and I don’t arrive there until February.


I can write like the wind on this thing, though.  A few scripts are going to arrive somewhat odd-looking, because I’m writing in Google Drive without the formatting and macros I have access to in OpenOffice (which is still where I write my scripts, saving in RTF, which Drive also has a few issues with).  But, between Drive, Gmail, Dropbox and Jungle Disk, the only files I don’t have access to right now are decidedly non-critical.  (And I should be able to edit that one critical half-written RTF file on the iPad using Textilus.)


Also, of course, I’m not writing this post in Windows Live Writer like usual, so god knows how it’s going to look.  Not that I write here much any more.  But I wanted to mark the passing of [DEEPBLACK], the Lenovo Ideapad I beat to death in eighteen months.  You served me well, giant creaky plastic black thing.  If only you could have waited until I could more easily afford to replace your stupid dead ass.




December 6th, 2013 | daybook

At some point over the weekend, I will be sending out the first post from a new email newsletter system, replacing the old MACHINE VISION newsletter that was sponsored by my previous book publisher.  The onboarding page for ORBITAL OPERATIONS can be found, not unreasonably, at http://orbitaloperations.com/.  Yes, it’s very minimalist.  No need for anything fancier.  (The signup form will also eventually appear in the sidebar here.)


It is likely to pollute your inbox on at least a weekly basis, maybe a little more, depending on what’s going on.  It is likely to contain work updates, random incoherent thoughts and other mental rubbish guaranteed to improve your life and inoculate your brain against alien spores or god I don’t even know what I’m typing right now.  It’s a thing that’s happening.  Subscribe if you think you’d like that.  http://orbitaloperations.com/


Not Gone

June 19th, 2013 | daybook

Writing this post on the iPad, in the WordPress app, so god knows how it’ll format. It’s been a while. Also it’s a lovely sunny day out here, and the iPad screen is shiny. It’s got me thinking about getting a matte-screen ultrabook. Nothing’s ever easy, is it?

SCATTERLANDS resumes next week, for five days, before we move it to another site. I simply forgot to upload the last five, due to the madness of the last two weeks. I actually took yesterday off, and went to London to see Julianna Barwick, which was an experience more joyous than even I expected. (It was also wonderful to see digital wunderkind Matt Sheret and writer/filmmaker Anne Holiday there.)

Today I’m doing the new copyedit on DEAD PIG COLLECTOR for FSG. At some point after that, we’ll have a new release date — Sean’s working mightily to get things slotted into place. While he’s doing that, I’ll be moving on to take a look at where I am on the non-fiction book, with an eye to getting that wrapped in the next few weeks.

The AVENGERS: ENDLESS WARTIME graphic novel is in the can. My short story for Institute For The Future, THE LICH-HOUSE, should appear on BoingBoing sometime in the next few weeks. Ben keeps making muttering sounds about that issue of FELL he’s working on, but, frankly, the man’s barely alive from the workload he’s got, so I don’t press him on it.

I have a comics publisher who actually wants me to ask on Twitter for artists to work with, which makes me laugh every time I think about it.

I find I’m actually missing not having the newsletter, a little bit. Replacement services on the scale I’d need, though, are a little pricey. That said, on the whole, a lower digital profile suits me for the moment. Right now, I’m only active on Twitter and Instagram. And, I suppose, WhatsApp and Skype, insofar as I turn them on, and only later recall that nobody has my IDs for those services.

Right. More coffee, then setting up my iPhone 5, which I had to get because I’ve thrashed my 4S to death too far in advance of the release of the next iPhone. It’s a beautiful day here. I hope it’s nice there.


June 6th, 2013 | daybook


I think I may actually have briefly died in the night.

I’m using a Fitbit Flex to monitor my sleep patterns, as I’ve suspected for a while that they’re a bit fucked.  After the day I had yesterday (and that was only part of that day), I needed a decent night’s sleep, but that’s a bit much.

After Pic 050, SCATTERLANDS will be moving to a different site.  That takes the onus off me to update this site daily, and I’m availing myself of that opportunity.

I sent the last newsletter post last night: that system was paid for by my previous publisher, and therefore will now be switched off.  I have no plans to set up another one right now.

I may go into the field of competitive sleeping.