Archive for the ‘irishblogs’ Category

Interview with Val Robus

Thursday, February 6th, 2020

I was delighted Val agreed to answer some questions.

I’m not sure how long we know each other online now but it’s been a
good while. How long have you been blogging now and why did you start?

I’ve been blogging since 2009 and I think I got to know you around that time, I also joined Twitter then too. I started blogging because there was a lot going on in my life, my parents being ill etc. I found that when I got the thoughts out into cyberspace my mind quietened a bit.

I suppose it’s different strokes for different folks. I’ve always loved blogging and can’t see me giving it up. Although it has changed a lot over the years, there was no such thing as an influencer back in the day.
I think if people want to blog they should go for it.

As for any tips, I’d say:

  • Be yourself.
  • Don’t expect anything from it. I’ve had a lot of people asking me how much money I’ve made from it which is hilarious.
  • If you are going to post photos try to take decent ones.
  • Don’t use photos that you’ve grabbed from the Internet (unless you’ve asked). It’s probably a good idea to stick to one topic, although I don’t. I just blog about whatever I feel like writing.
  • I liked your post about putting things into boxes, which is a nice
    mindfulness technique.

    Thank you.

    Are there techniques or things you turn to so you can reduce stress
    that you encounter?

    I went through a really bad time with depression, anxiety and panic attacks and strangely enough blogging about that really helped. A lot of my readers felt the same and they were able to offer advice and suggestions.
    I used to go to the opening of an envelope and now I don’t really go to very many places, I found it all quite stressful. If I need to rest I do and I’m certainly a lot kinder to myself. Of course there’s the painting.

    Val Robus
    You’ve been doing paintings the past while and they’re lovely, have
    you always had an artistic calling. What does painting mean to you?

    The painting has really been a life saver. I was photographing various art workshops and always amazed at how people of all ages produced great work. I thought I’d like to try it so a couple of years ago I bought some paint brushes and paint and off I went. It’s so therapeutic and is really my form of mindfulness, when I have a paint brush in my hand I’m not thinking of anything else.

    You write about your family and personal life and your fight to get Jono the healthcare he should have gotten years ago. What has been the result of your writing and fighting for this, have other people contacted you to share their stories?

    I don’t tend to write so much about my family these days. With Jono I firmly believe that the blog helped him get the surgery he needed. He still needs treatment and it’s an ongoing battle but not one I tend to write about now. I’m conscious that he’s getting older and if I do write about the family I always check with them first. We have had a lot of people contacting us in a similar situation and it’s heartbreaking knowing that ten years on things haven’t got any better for people.

    You also have covered grief on your site and on Twitter. I’ve seen other people interact with you about how they grieve too. Grief is unique thing to every person and probably still a taboo to talk about it. Has writing helped you with grief, did you have any supports? has feedback from others who read your site helped you too?

    The blog again really helped me deal with grief. In a strange way it helps me get my thoughts together and that’s a form of therapy it itself. The feedback from blog readers and Twitter users really helped, it made me realise that I wasn’t alone. Just to know there were people who cared was a huge help. I remember walking around in a daze after mum died, it was like being in a bubble of grief but there were many people who understood how I felt and that was a huge support. The online community, on the whole, are very supportive.

    What has been the best moment or moments for you in the past few years
    as a result of writing and sharing online?

    There have been many fantastic moments including being invited to Dublin Zoo for breakfast years ago – I loved this experience. I also did a lot of adventures around the North West Wild Atlantic Way which was just epic, I think being 45 as I was at the time and jumping off cliffs into the ocean was just amazing.

    My dream job that I’m in now is also resulted indirectly from the blog. I’ve had a lot of people tell me that I’ve inspired them and that’s just so special. I’ll always be grateful to the blog for giving me such wonderful opportunities.

    What do you see your life being like in 5 years time? Work, family,
    the world around you.

    That’s a hard one. I’d like to think my family will all be happy and settled. I’d like to see more kindness in the world, it can be a very nasty place at times and this saddens me. As for myself, I hope I’ll stay as happy as I am now and that I’ll still be blogging.

    ===
    Val’s website is here. Her Twitter is here.

    Uncut Gems

    Wednesday, January 15th, 2020

    Uncut Gems. Great movie, the pressure just builds and builds and builds. The style of it though is great. I love that they used New York as a set and let the public just walk through it, oblivious to the filming going on. Massive spoilers at this link.

    The Safdies found that their laid-back approach swiftly caught on and they proceeded to shoot largely unbothered, in the centre of New York City. Whenever they did encounter members of the public staring at the camera, or at Sandler, an incognito PA would slide over and ask for directions to the nearest subway, or the best local eatery, pulling that individual inside the reality of the film, instead of ushering them away. “It creates this bubble, wherein the fiction ends up feeling very real.”

    I made the wave, didn’t I

    Tuesday, January 14th, 2020

    Lord Rutherford, one of the great pioneers of nuclear physics, was a man not unduly self-conscious about his worldly success.`You’re always on the crest of a wave, my lord,’ one deferential interviewer said.`I know,’ said Rutherford, ‘but after all, I made the wave, didn’t I?’

    From Acid Drops by Kenneth Williams.
    While this is meant to be a witty response, I do like it.
    Be your own wave.

    Apple Glasses, Apple Car, Apple Medicine?

    Sunday, January 12th, 2020

    What are Apple up to next?

    Apple really are pumping out the patents for Apple Glasses and VR headsets. Interestingly they’re still releasing patents around car technology. What interests me more are their patents around health. They now have a set of apps on the phone and the watch but I wonder is health going to be the main selling points for all future products?

    Apple glasses holographic elements.

    Apple Glasses detect free fall and ready the glasses for impact.

    The ability for Apple Glasses to change the colour or transparency of the lenses. Also patent here for detection of liquid inside a device and to blast the liquid out with heat.

    Apple eye tracking patents. Multiple applications.

    FaceTime volume goes down or up based on who you are looking at. Clever that.

    And this one is interesting – In surgical settings it allows display information to follow around staff based on their position in the operating theatre. Combine this with their Smart Bedding: Vital Signs Monitoring System. A sheet under your bed sheets that can record your vital signs like heat rate and respiratory rate. Then the Apple health Parkinsons app which seems really well considered.

    Apple car safety system pre airbag deployment.

    Fluffy Links – January 6th 2020

    Monday, January 6th, 2020

    Not done one of these in a while.

    I love this. The patriotism angle. American magazine likes our skin cream that we use for everything.

    And another example of very local news but it’s going to get you coverage online and in print.

    True story behind The Irishman. Lot of stuff in the movie is true it seems. Wow, America was/is riddled in corruption. The balls the way they carried out the killings too. You know your killer.

    Seán Moncrieff is planning his funeral. It’s a good idea. Not only will it reduce the stress of loved ones on what to do but it gives you more control too. In addition it allows you to mark your end point and then plan back from there so you set objectives for your life.

    Good thread from the Abortion Support Network on the state of play around abortion in Ireland. Lots more needs to be done to support women.

    Big fan of A16Z and their content is always fantastic. Here are some of their consumer tech best posts of 2019.

    Instagram ads for doo dahs and gadgets. Take a screenshot and open AliExpress app and do an image search. That €15 product is there for pennies. Paul shows you how to do it:

    Max Richter:

    The key word for The Leftovers is “departure”. It is a question of expressing the passage from existence to non-existence. That is why I used instruments such as the piano, the harp or bells, whose sound decays quickly to nothing.

    The Leftovers is one of the best shows I’ve seen in years. It’s so sad. There’s so much grief and I think shows how humans will react to tragedy. I must rewatch. Well done to the showrunners for letting the writers do what they did.

    Another great show of the decade was Pose and I love that Patti Lupone was on it and played an 80s business person that she would hate in real life.

    My 20 best business posts through the years, in my view.

    Friday, January 3rd, 2020

    It seems I’ve written a lot of things on business over the years and to be honest I’ve forgotten most of what I wrote. I’ve gone though my archive and have pulled out posts I think are worth reading. 20 in all from 2008 until 2019. I have cringed a few times though.

    2008. I suggest we should run our own good conferences in Ireland. And years later I put my money where my mouth was. I still think the same today. Loads of opportunities and loads of people want to know new things. For me my next conference will pay the speakers for their time so that adds more cost but is doable.

    2008. Kind of “be the change you want to see in the world” but I suggest that maybe we should be our own hero. Take example from your heroes but then make yourself one too.

    2009. I came up with the wacky idea of me being a Summer intern in your company. My company was obviously making too much money at the time but I was also getting bored. The idea was to get me into new industries to understand them which would allow me to broaden my knowledge and could then work with more companies. Stories I have from a trading company in particular are still being used by me today.

    2009. I think this could do with editing and a re-write but it’s about finding your own groove or your own flow and working in that. I guess it’s about breaking out of the frequency you existed in if you worked for someone else. Sometimes it’s your frequency, sometimes it isn’t. I know why the Caged Bird sings.

    The caged bird sings
    with a fearful trill
    of things unknown
    but longed for still
    and his tune is heard
    on the distant hill
    for the caged bird
    sings of freedom.

    2009. I’m happy to share all the training documents I’ve spent hours and days and weeks putting together. This is about making your work available for free. When I did that, I got lots of work back. If you give something away for free it spreads far and wide and it gets you more customers in the end. It also shows your confidence in your ability and ensures you have to keep updating your work to stay ahead of people. I’m actually going to do this for all my documents in 2020. Stay tuned. Now, don’t devalue yourself either. Do charge for work, do not work for exposure.

    2010. Business communications document. I was on to something with this. Precursor to me figuring out strategy documents. Showrunners have documents that describe the characters in the universe their TV show is in. A character would never do X but would definitely do Y if this happened. Now you do the same for a customer. My strategy documents now talk about psychographics and demographics but I might come back to this as companies might get this more.

    2010. Speaking as an introvert or former introvert, public speaking can be tough. Some tips on how you can do it. It’s about the slog. Just keep doing it. Short bits that eventually turn into longer bits. I reference the documentary about Jerry Seinfeld getting back into stand up and he just works so hard doing lines in every club, many times in one night. Eddie Murphy recently talked about there not being short cuts and for him and his new show, he has to go back out and work from the bottom up. Now I love public speaking. The thrill of getting up in front of a crowd and winging it!

    2010. No excuses, just start something. That poetry, that new business idea. Just do it. There have been a few of them over the years. I guess nowadays it’s almost the opposite of what is in the post re: cheap office space but you can still do it. I may do a 2020 version.

    2013. Pork in Every Fucking Dish. This is about being your own authentic self and not letting people dictate what you are about. This is a mantra that I remind myself of a lot. I think for the past few years I put that away. No more! Must get this made into a badge.

    2013. Moments of Truth. A quote from a Netflix strategy document. Building an experience and prior experiences so that people when they want to be entertained or to pass time, decide on Netflix.

    2013. Starting before you know what to do. A quote from a young enough Zuckerberg. As relevant now as it is then. Have an idea and then build it. Today we have people being brought into “pre idea” startups. Would ya cop on!

    2014. Starting a business in 2014, some thoughts. Linking back to other posts. Getting very meta.

    2014. Thoughts on creativity. We’re all creative, we just need to massage it out of ourselves after it was beaten away deep into us over time. Sometimes we need to learn a language or a skill to extract it.

    2014. Just Fucking do it yourself. Less of the “someone should do something” or “why didn’t you do ..”. The tech is there for you to do it yourself. No to the gatekeepers.

    2008. And? The fear of failure. The worry that you’re not good enough. Every idea you don’t execute is a failure. Do it for even one day and you’ve done better than before.

    2015. Starting a startup is hard though and some thoughts that might help you along.

    2016. Mentoring, get mentoring someone but maybe become a mentor. You learn lots from doing both.

    2017. Pattern recognition. I need to refine this idea. I think some of the best business ideas come from people seeing patterns and systems and then tweaking those systems. Software will eat the world is all about automating those systems with software or routing those systems to somewhere else. AirBnB lets everyone rent out a “hotel room” in their home. It might be you’re good at spotting short cuts or speeding up your work tasks by using an online too. I think you can learn to spot patterns over time. Business biographies work like that as a form of training databases though they need to cover how the business was formed and the struggles. the 5th book from some business bore won’t cut it.

    2017. Fuck you, pay me. My time is precious. Wanting to meet me for a coffee costs me dearly. I know my value. I think a lot of people do not see their value. Own your value!

    2018. Just a band. Route around obstacles. The Internet was built so that if there was a nuclear war, you could route around damaged parts of the network. If you are prevented from doing something, route around it. Don’t be dictated to by old standards and old rules.

    2019. Training data. Books, YouTube videos, talks, podcasts. They can all help inform you to start or be better at business. The same way we give machines training data, we can feed ourselves training data too.

    Not a phone, a tricorder

    Friday, January 3rd, 2020

    From Wikipedia

    In the science-fictional Star Trek universe, a tricorder is a multifunction hand-held device used for sensor scanning, data analysis, and recording data

    I’m reminded of the launch of the original iPhone:

    An iPod, a phone, an internet mobile communicator… these are NOT three separate devices! And we are calling it iPhone

    It was such a leap, bringing about an interface of a glass screen with no physical keys and it had a simple menu system with everything available via touch and all in a nice thin (for a phone at the time) shape. It did well but really took off once people were able to develop apps for the phone. Then cheap and fast mobile data became available with 3G, 4G and now 5G.

    Supercomputers and smarthorses
    Now you have it or other smart phones as a core part of everything. I checked in to a hotel the other week and the staff checked me in via smartphones. They also took payments via smartphones. Square built their company on top of the iPhone and iPad. The iPhone is a platform that industries sit on top of now. Safecast launched to be a radiation detector after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. Via an iPhone app radiation data was logged and shared. And another radiation detector powered by iPhone. Square brought out the cute card reader device that plugs into the headphone jack but pretty soon you won’t need that hardware device I should think.

    We call them phones or smartphones but they’re supercomputers wirelessly connected to millions of other super computers and millions of databases of all the world’s information.
    Phone, smartphone. It’s like calling a wizard’s wand a stick. Or calling a Tesla a smarthorse.

    Tricorder
    Now the latest generations with so many sensors in the cameras and wireless chips for GPS, proximity, low power near communications and very high speed broadband mean that these devices are also tricorders from Star Trek.

    via GIPHY

    I think in the next few years phones will be used more like tricorders in that we’ll point or put them near things to get data. Remember those lenses do more than detect the stuff we see, things we can’t see like infrared and other light waves, maybe even heat can be seen by these lenses. So very like a tricorder. We’ll also use them as lenses thanks to augmented reality. This in fact is already happening with Google Maps, have you seen the AR interface when walking down a street? I used it in London recently and it’s great. Like up to then you’d come out of a train station and you don’t know are you walking left or right when you come out, not until the map says turn around. Now, just arrows. Like God mode in a computer game.

    Google Maps AR

    For a while now you can scan QR codes with your phone without using a special app. In China QR codes are a core part of doing anything with your phone. A16Z go through all the amazing things. But that is just one very basic way of using your lens. I say basic but wow, you can do so much with your lens by just scanning a 2d printout. Open your camera and look at the below QR code. It will allow you to log on to a password protected WiFi network:

    QR code for WiFi network

    We’re unlocking our phones using facial recognition and Amazon allows you to scan objects with their app to find the product on their site. They’ve actually been doing that for nearly a decade but integrated it into their main app only recently. I’ve been showing off Flow for years.

    Sick Bay
    And now let’s move on to your wrist. The Apple Watch, already predicting heart attacks it seems. Nagging you to get up and move about. Telling your about your sleeping patterns. Calling 911 when you crash on your bike and get knocked unconscious. So the health element of the tricorders is already here and blood sugar testing is around the corner. And we have the Qualcomm prize too though the outcomes have yet to be reached.

    The Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE was a $10 million global competition to incentivize the development of innovative technologies capable of accurately diagnosing a set of 13 medical conditions independent of a healthcare professional or facility, ability to continuously measure 5 vital signs, and have a positive consumer experience.

    via GIPHY

    As the tech shrinks and becomes more powerful the footprint of your iPhone/Tricoder will shrink to your wrist and probably a ring around your finger. Or just a removable band on your wrist that you place on another person for monitoring.

    What can you do?
    So what can you to as a person or a business to prepare to our Tricorder future? Start playing around with QR codes to start with anyway. Add them to your branding. Do clever things that will get PR interest like that farm to table QR thing on products.
    Come up with an app or idea that utilizes the full power of your pocket supercomputer with tricorder sensors.
    Consider the near future and how people will use these devices to interact with the real world and the virtual world.
    Just dream of this future.

    Ones to Watch 2020

    Wednesday, January 1st, 2020

    Previously on Ones to Watch: 2019 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009 2008, 2007.

    My 2019 Ones to Watch did pretty well. I’m happy with them. Sinéad Gleeson was a juggernaut but I wasn’t expecting Gav Reilly to meet and beat my expectations by helping Ciara produce the future President of Ireland.

    Ones to watch 2020

    Aimée Felone and David Stevens
    Deirdre O’Shaughnessy
    Stephen Ryan
    Aoife Martin
    The Cotter Brothers and Pat Phelan
    Niall Mcgarry
    Ian Power
    Lynn Boylan

    Aimée Felone and David Stevens
    I thought I had mentioned Aimée Felone and David Stevens before actually in a Ones to Watch. Knights Of were massive in 2019 so this is a bit of a cheat mentioning them now but 2020 is going to be bigger for them. Momentum is building for them. Next will be established wrinkly corporations trying to copy them. So the deal with Knights Of is that they are all about making kids books for kids in the world today.

    to make sure the books we publish give windows into as many worlds as possible – from what’s on the page all the way to sales copy.

    And my that model could be copied for every industry that wants to do something for kids. I love that they opened up their own bookshop to sell their own books and the books of other authors. Built it, they people came along. More new authors and experiences, more books, more deals in 2020.

    Deirdre O’Shaughnessy
    Deirdre is one of the hardest workers I know. Always gigging, not that hustle bullshit like bearded clueless lads with sleeveless jackets, actual gigs, actually working hard. Deirdre has MCd events for me, events I was involved with and her rapport with the audience because she knows everyone. So much information in that mind palace. Be interesting to see what she’ll be doing in 2020. Lots of work no doubt but hopefully her network will reward her with some nice big gigs.

    Stephen Ryan
    Stephen is another slogger. Working away doing multiple gigs for years. His Narration business is doing very well and I went along to his 24 Stories conference in Cork, wow, two years ago. It was nice to be at a conference that I wasn’t organising. The stress of these things. Good to see things like this in Cork. The slow and steady build of his brand and the company should hopefully see the business do even greater things in 2020 and it’s great to see these things happen outside of Dublin too.

    Aoife Martin
    Aoife started to pop in to my timeline a few years back and the shy little kitten has turned into a tiger now. She’s put herself out there and taken no shit from people. Not being disrespectful but I’d met trans people online and offline before Aoife but Aoife was part of that online left leaning group of us, kind of the same social circle and I’m certain by coming out she’s inspired others to come out. With all the awfulness in the UK around trans rights and their stinky media stoking the fires, we are seeing some of that affect Ireland too. I’m in awe at Aoife and so many other trans people and TENI at holding their heads and not putting the heads of others into a guillotine.

    The Cotter Brothers and Pat Phelan
    The gabby fella with the disappearing jumper size (he wears skinny jeans nowadays don’t you know) teamed up with Doctors James and Brian Cotter to bring about Sisu Aesthetic Clinic. They’re all over Ireland and set to expand further in 2020. With Pat’s previous form, expect either a big collaboration in 2020 or a straight out acquisition. Tick tock.

    Niall McGarry
    One of the things that I think Niall excels at is spotting talent and then nurturing it. As well as the Irish operation of Maximum Media (which seems to have their own dedicated correspondent in the Sunday papers these days), the UK operation seems to really reach out to millions all the time. The PoliticsJoe video comparing UK NHS costs versus American hosts has reached over 40M people across various platforms. They have the most shared video of 2019 in the UK and two of their other videos were in the top 10. 2020 may see a partnership/merger or acquisition. And it may be Maximum Media doing the acquiring. Or maybe Niall will be brought on to run RTÉ2 and turn it around. When Attenborough ran BBC2, the amount of amazing content that still lives today tells you the power of someone young and with an ability to support talent.

    Ian Power
    Well I know Ian since his college days and knew him a bit more when I was on the board of Spunout for a few years. Ian has helped transform an organisation that was assumed by some not to have a future and turned it into a respected organisation that has the ear of many including the Minister for Health. This year he oversaw the launch of the Crisis Text Line Ireland and SpunOut is working with the likes of Twitter for online safety issues. Impressive, right? Yeah but I bet he’s not finished yet.

    Lynn Boylan
    I was gutted when Lynn wasn’t chosen by the people to retain her seat as an MEP. Someone with a strong work ethic and great credentials in environmental issues. The younger demographic especially gives a damn about the future and all things around sustainability. We’re not going to see Lynn go away you know and I’m sure whatever she’s going to be working at next is going to benefit the people of Ireland. And 2020 is an election year!

    Training Data for Machines, Training Data for Us

    Wednesday, January 23rd, 2019

    Google is an amazing organisation for gathering and processing data and then giving it to their software to learn from, that then changes the software. The data changes the software, the software changes that data, that data changes … etc.

    Machine learning, Artificial Intelligence (anyone want to buy ArtificialIntelligence.ie btw?) are (I think) about using training data to perfect/improve things. Make that software better. Can we make our brain’s software better?

    Those CAPTCHA things asking you to figure out what are bridges, traffic lights, road signs (and even chimneys!) are all there to create training data for their autonomous software for cars/drones/whatever they’re going to do next. Google Streetview has taken photos of every major road and street in the Western World at least and that’s some amount of data. The basics can be figured out by buying in street plans and other mapping data. Traffic lights, stop signs and so forth? They need human intervention at least for now. To be more human, Google needs to get more humans. And that’s where we come in. We’re making their data better which helps change their software which changes the data…

    Google Chimneys

    There are trillions of photos on Facebook that each perfect their facial recognition software. The more photos in, the better the software gets, especially when the software gets us humans to tag the photos. Now the software is suggesting who these people are so we’re just confirming more than telling the software who these people are. The software now figures out clothing types, food types, locations in those photos. Microsoft and Google have been doing that for years “show me all recent photos taken around the Louvre in Paris”.

    Amazon has a service called Mechanical Turk that allows you to write a basic command structure that gets sent to people to do. A very famous one was the guy that paid people $0.02 to draw a sheep facing to the left. He got 10,000 made. Yeah, 2 cents to do something. Say you drew 3 sheep a minute. That means you’d earn $3.60 an hour. So it’s interesting that software that goes through so much data needs humans to polish it up, for now. How smart of Google and Facebook and Amazon to get humans to do work for them for free or for next to nothing.

    Google Home and Amazon Alexa are also devices that are taking in training data. They log what 100s of millions of people are saying, so many languages, so many local dialects and accents. Every time you use that the device you paid for, you are training their software to be better. Now this benefits you too and we’ll eventually have devices that finish our sentences. The next step is the camera on the speaker that takes commands from nods or winks or simple hand gestures. We’re evolving from screwing in valves, to punching holes on cards, to keys on a keyboard, to voice, to subtle eye + finger + head moves.

    This training data idea is not new at all at all. I did a post recently enough called Pattern Recognition that talks about this. I mentioned Poor Charlie’s Almanack where Charlie Munger has all these rules for making decisions. Knowing everything about your potential purchase and what can impact on it is crucial. And how would you know that? Study the data, study the patterns. Know humans. A quote from him “Acquire worldly wisdom and adjust your behaviour accordingly”

    I’m reminded of the book Never Trust a Skinny Italian Chef by Massimo Bottura. If a chef isn’t sampling the goods, trying things out and testing them then are they really progressing and moving forward? Now I know many skinny chefs that live off adrenaline and pot noodles but the book title is fair. Doesn’t look like they were using the training data.

    As I was knitting this post together I saw this tweet pop up Writing advice from Haruki Murakami: “I think the first task for the aspiring novelist is to read tons of novels. Sorry to start with such a commonplace observation, but no training is more crucial.”

    Charlie Munger – financier – advises people to read
    Every author advises people to read

    Buy some good books and read them, go to a library and read them.

    Read some fucking books

    via GIPHY

    The Fever-Tree of Milk: if two thirds of your coffee is the milk, wouldn’t you want it to be the best?

    Friday, January 18th, 2019

    via GIPHY

    I’m always fascinated by the idea of work and craft. How a restaurant gets a Michelin Star and gets a second or a third. Getting your suppliers to grow old strains of grains, to breed certain strains of birds etc. This piece on the hard work and obsession with ingredients is inspiring. And Cork has a story just like that now thanks to Mews restaurant in Baltimore. Everything is local, as organic as they can find and everything has a purpose.

    “If you stick to your vision and don’t compromise then you reap the rewards and the first step is the Michelin star. We knew what we were doing. We wanted to be one of the best restaurants in the country.”

    I’ve eaten in a few Michelin Stars and some would blow you away with the work involved in dishes, for others I genuinely question how they were special and how they got an awards for anything more than media mentions. Nothing remarkable food wise and service only so so. Earlier there was the wonderful story of a father and son team growing real Wasabi in Ireland, something that’s even hard to grow in native Japan. The work involved in getting this to grow in Irish soil and in Irish weather shows real dedication. Already the top restaurants are asking to use it. This is a perfect match.

    It was in Chapter One that Ed Jolliffe told me the story of Fever-Tree Gin and recommended it to me when I was having some Dingle Gin. Local! I loved the story and their pitch “if three quarters of your G&T is the tonic, wouldn’t you want it to be the best? “ So they went around the world getting the best natural ingredients. Then the bit I really loved – they targeted the best restaurants and best hotel bars who they probably knew would love to get something of this quality to pass on to their customers.

    Sourcing local well reared meats, well caught fish, well grown veg is a big thing for this restaurant and some of the best ones around. Every piece of a meal has an origin story. You see and are told the work that goes in to presenting this to you. I remember at some point a desert was described where hot juice from apples was dropped into an ice bath to form little pure beads that was one minor part of the dish. Impressive.

    The idea of owning and controlling the whole stack, like how Apple controls everything, both the hardware and the software but not just buying in the parts but dictating how the glass is made in the phones, designing their own chips to their spec, where the materials come from and having them made sometimes using machines they designed. Every single detail. I like that, compared to a fucking pickle on a stone I got in another Irish restaurant. Let the food speak for itself not go-faster-stripe bullshit. Shit coffee but the mugs were amazing yeah?

    I see good restaurants do more and more of this as they have the swagger and purchasing power to do this even to the degree that the salt and pepper, the butters are special compared to what you’d normally get. Everything is examined to see can improvements be made. Teas and coffees were some of the last elements to be changed but this is changing. Special teas, bespoke roasted coffee blends. So coffee then…

    It makes me think what can be improved in coffee and all the new intense-about-what-they-do coffee shops. I see all these coffee shops and some are roasting their own beans but yet you look at the milk and it’s the same milk that everyone else uses. We’re so lucky in Ireland that our milk is great. But I was wondering why the main element in most coffees is not consistent or being controlled more? To reuse Fever-Tree’s question: “if two thirds of your coffee is the milk, wouldn’t you want it to be the best? “

    I remember being told how in LA bagel and pizza places would install special filters to mimic New York water that makes NY bagels the best. All to make sure everything is perfect. It wasn’t fully the water it seems though.

    So what about the milk, what milk gives the best cappuccino, gives the best flat white? There is some research about milk with higher protein count and fat count giving a better taste. Yes yes soya milk and oat milk is popular too but people still go for ordinary milk in big amounts. Here’s the story of a crowd in the UK looking at this and like so much coffee culture, Australia has been looking into this for a much longer time.

    Ireland of all countries should be at the cutting-edge of this, we produce great milk, cheese and anything dairy. We’re big into our bespoke dairy farms too so why not bespoke milk for our coffees that we seem to be consuming in bigger and bigger amounts? Start your milkers!

    via GIPHY