California Plate Tectonics

Day 0: Arrive SFO. C and I drink some beers with E overlooking the city, go pickup M, drop off E, go to bed.

Day 1: Wake up, it’s sunny in West Berkeley, get an espresso at Cafe Trieste, hike 8 miles with M on Sea View and Quarry trails in Tilden Regional Park. Call GTO. Run with GTO and his roommate up Strawberry Canyon trail up to MSRI, sunset over the bay, dusky redwood single track.  Roasted root vegetables.

Day 2: Wake up, sunny again, get an espresso at Trieste, M takes bus to the city. Run with GTO down past Berkeley Marina, past Golden Fields, out to the East Shore State Park with cool sculptures by the water, loop back via Cesar Chavez State Park. Dinner and drinks with E in the Mission. M doesn’t like Pirates, who does? He enjoys the ambiance of Latin American Club.

Day 3: Drive to Sugarloaf Ridge SP in Sonoma and hike for a few hours. Drive to Napa.  Buy a boat, I dare you.  Burgers & a bottle of Malbec at Gott’s Roadside. Ritual espresso from Oxbow Market  & a nice hand pour over Costa Rican single origin for M.

Day 4: Hike up to the Eucalyptus grove over the dirt track on Dwight with R&M.  Swung from the rope swing, hiked up then down from the insane house at the top overlooking Berkeley & the bay.  Colin Farrell is Crocket, living the dream.

Day 5: Pt. Reyes National Park with friends. Nice 10 mile hike down to the cliffs and shore overlooking the lighthouse. Drove to Marshall, drank Lagunitas, ate oysters, watched sunset. Land of milk and honey.

Day 6: Run with GTO on a nice big loop up Dwight up and over back below Sea View in Tilden, down Quarry, and back around. About a two hour run.  G Bombed down trails at the end onto the Berkeley dirt track. Vietnamese dinner with E; last night in SF.

Day 7: Fly to SD. Climb with L&B at a giant new gym.

Day 8: Hike Mt. Baldy via the “Baldy Bowl” (elev. 10,064′), about 8.4 miles roundtrip, about 3,900′ gain most of it in the last mile up the bowl. Crampons and ice piolets recommended and used. Took a bit more than 4 hours car to car.

Day 9: Run along coast south through La Jolla down to Wind & Sea beaches and back, about an hour. Drive to Joshua Tree & camp under a full moon; hear coyotes yipping.

Day 10: Start day climbing by 07:30 at Hemingway Buttress (east face, right) B leads a hard 5.9 to warm up (‘For Whom the Poodle Tolls’) & then ‘Head Over Heals’. I pull the bolt, sadly no heel hook for me.  Go to Lost Horse and climb three pitch ‘Bird on a Wire’. Walked to Jimmy Cliff & climb “The Harder They Fall”, easy 10a, then B solos the ‘Aiguille de Joshua Tree’.

Day 11: It rains in Southern California. Drive to Mammoth.  It’s snowing in Mammoth.

Day 12: Snowshoed big loop around Mammoth Nordic Trails, Inyo Forest welcome center. Deep powder. About 7-8 miles total.

Day 13: Drive to Lee Vining. Deep powder still being plowed, we have one pair of snowshoes &  poles for 4 people. Hike into Power Plant takes an hour. Hike to ice climbing takes another two hours. Ice climb on far right flow, traverse left above & top rope some WI 3 routes on the Chouinard Wall. Hike back. XL pizza in Bishop. Long drive back to SD.

Day 14: Run from Glider Port down Black’s Beach (aka Naked Man Beach), past Torrey Pines, back up through the preserve, down to the beach, back up final cliff staircase up to the Glider Port. Met with K, discussed logistics.

Day 15: Surf in LJ. Get up on small waves with a nice longboard.  The water is cold.  Climbing gym again in the evening.  Flight back east.

Large Cryptographic Hashes with Whirlpool and a myriad of coffee brewing methods

Who doesn’t like a nice long 512-bit message digest to confirm that the file they’re opening is secure? Cryptographic hash functions are one method of verification to insure file integrity between two parties (or as a signature or authentication code). The most commonly used hash verification is MD5 check sum (proven insecure). Apple uses SHA-1 for it’s package update manager (also likely insecure). But if you want to get deep, go with Whirlpool, and I’m not talking about appliances here, I’m talking about 512 bits of hash (the authors, Barreto & Rijmen have a page here). Ironclad and md5deep are two easy to use packages if you’re looking to implement Whirlpool under most *nix and Win 32/64 systems.

In coffee news, here is a nice webpage devoted to a myriad of coffee brewing methods:


Image via USGS National Center for EROS and NASA

Latte Swirl by Flickr member Mr. Pauly D

Latte Swirl image by Flickr member Mr. Pauly D

Mini Slim Mill & Gaggia Classic – Tips & Tricks

The Gaggia Classic I own is an older model (the IEC power plug doesn’t have a ground) that I bought for less than half price used.  And so far so good, it’s been a good appliance.  I find I can make a couple of espressos a day with it and I’m happy.  The problems come when you want to start comparing those espressos with a what a good barista at a good coffee shop can pull.  I don’t think they’ll ever be the same, but there are few things a Gaggia Classic owner can do to eek out better espresso.

1) be patient.  when I get up in the AM I turn it on. Make sure the portafilter basket is clean and purge about 6 ounces of water out of the brew head, making sure the brew head is clean.  Then do something else for 10-15 minutes.  That’s how long it takes to warm up; 20 minutes is probably even better.

2) grinding with the Hario Mini Slim Mill Ceramic is a little futzy as the grind adjustment doesn’t seem to be particularly fine (i.e. the steps are too coarse and the ceramic burrset is small) but still it works.  For $35 or whatever, it gets you much closer to consistent espresso grounds than anything else that costs less than $100 or more.  Yes, a Mazzer would be nice, or even just a Rocky, but I can’t justify it.  So, with each bag of espresso I buy I have to find that sweet spot in the grind where it doesn’t choke the machine.  And it’s true with hand grinding, the more you do it the more of a “feel” you have for what grind you’re getting.  Grinding a double shot takes less than 3 minutes, by hand.

3) temperature surfing the Gaggia means waiting until the right hand “Brew Ready” light clicks back on (you can hear the relay) and wait about 20 seconds.  From doing tests I found this to be near the highest spot in the temperature of the boiler.  Yes, a PID would help or a bigger dual boiler machine would be nice as well.  But as far as the law of diminishing returns here, I’m sticking with what I have, and so temperature surfing the Gaggia it is.

4) So, you’ve waited about 15 minutes or so, you’ve ground your beans to something you know won’t quite choke the little Gaggia and your brew light has just flicked back on, you count down, and now you flip the brew switch and enjoy some espresso.  Hopefully your shot takes around 30 seconds to pull with a good solid 5-7 seconds at the beginning with infusion, the crema should be heady, rising above your 2oz line.  The best shots I’ve gotten from this machine have no sourness.  For whatever reason, the small boiler and little pressure pump of this machine often has sour shots, but when you pull a good one, it’s not sour – it’s smooth.  Good luck.

Hario Slim Mill - Hand GrinderGaggia Classic - Home Espresso Single Boiler

Unboxing & mini review of the Hario Ceramic Slim Coffee Mill

Unboxing the Hario Ceramic Slim Mill I received from Seattle Coffee Gear, more photos of the unboxing are here on my Flickr.

Back (English)


Open Box


And as it turns out it works pretty darn well. It’s mostly plastic with a stainless steel shaft and a small ceramic burr set. My only gripe would be that with the plastic lid/cover off the handle seems to fit a little better on the grinding shaft. I started with a pretty coarse setting and the burrs are significantly sharper than my old PeDe (from the 1940s, I believe).  I should have no problem dialing in various espresso grinds for use with my temperamental Gaggia Classic.  And of course for brewing pour-overs, French presses (w/ a slighter finer grind) and  my macchinetta, it will be swell.

Blow Up

2 scoops ~20g or so

Grindin '

Melita #102 Ceramic

Pre-infusion Pouring

About 2 minutes or so total pour time

A cuppa joe

Ahh, a cup’pa joe. Not bad. Not bad at all.

Temperature surfing the Gaggia Classic & the Hario Mini Mill Slim

Bought some Gimme! Leftist Espresso blend recently when we were visiting friends in NYC dropping off a nuptial related coffee making apparatus type gift. & Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been enjoying the Chestnut Hill Coffee Company’s espresso offerings of late & we actually rode bicyclettes all the way up that gosh darn Chestnut Hill to Germantown Ave.  It’s actually quite steep coming up from Forbidden Drive (i.e. sea level) in the Wissahickon Valley to 500 feet, averages about 10% grade or more in the beginning.

At any rate, some coffee related stuff:

1) The nuptial gift was a Capresso MT500 with reusable gold cone filter.  This is a pretty nice coffee making machine.  The advantages over the MT600 glass model, from my research include: 1) a stainless thermal carafe, 2) fully stainless heating element system, & 3) a Portuguese temperament

I’m not actually sure if the  MT500 model vs the Chinese constructed MG600 makes much of a difference, but according to Amazon reviews it does, and there’s over 300 reviews between them so I figure better to go with the older Portuguese made model.

Capresso MT500 Coffee Maker

Capresso MT500 Coffee Maker

I finally ordered my Hario Mini Mill Slim hand grinder.  The nice old Pe De C’ bought me for nuptials has worked well but basically the burrs are not tight enough except for certain blends of espresso, I needed more leeway and precision on the finer burr settings.  I usually don’t make more than a couple of double shots a day so I figure the Mini Mill and its ceramic burr set should be perfect and as a bonus I can travel with it.

Hario Mini Mill Slim Hand Grinder

Hario Mini Mill Slim Hand Grinder

I’ve been measuring the shots on the Gaggia Classic with an instant read thermometer.  About 30 seconds after the right hand brew temp light comes back on gives the highest brew temperatures, usually in the 180’s °F.  I need to either PID the machine or buy a new higher temp thermostat if I want 192 °F in my demitasse. Though the PID may get my starting brew temperature more consistent, supposedly the problem with these small single boiler machines is that they don’t have enough volume @n temperature to maintain a full 30″ shot at 201 °F (or @whatever you’re dialing in your espresso). A Swedish fellow from Stockholm managed to build his own heat exchanger / pre-heating coil using aluminum billet, to help the Gaggia maintain the temperature throughout the shot, you can read about it on  I am not sure to what lengths I’ll go for that perfect shot.

DIY Gaggia Classic Heat Exchanger

DIY Gaggia Classic Heat Exchanger

Gaggia Classic PID @ Auberins

Gaggia Classic PID @ Auberins