Learning to cook from a rat.

I love cooking. I discovered my passion for the culinary arts about nine years ago when the film Ratatouille was released.

For those of you who don’t know, Ratatouille follows the story of Remy, a food fanatic and naturally gifted chef, in his quest to get into the fine dining scene of Paris, France. The only problem is that Remy is a rat. However with the help of a clumsy, caring human friend named Alfredo Linguini, Remy is able to live out his dreams, “cooking” through Linguini at Gusteau’s restaurant.

After seeing this movie, at the age of eight, I began cooking up a storm. It just so happened that during this time our kitchen was under renovation — but without a second thought I began creating recipe after recipe in the basement of my house where we were keeping our oven and stovetop. 

I remember one of my first creations was a pizza (my mom was starting up her gluten free pizza business at the time) loaded with purple onion, kalamata olives, spinach and artichoke hearts.

In the following years, much to my embarrassment, every gift I received for any holiday or birthday was cooking related — instead of video games or toys I got cheese knives and onion goggles (which are actually a fantastic kitchen gadget).

It was tough for me to embrace my love of cooking in public — partly because cooking wasn’t exactly, in my mind, the most manly or “cool” hobby, but also partly because it wasn’t necessarily the only thing I was interested in, but simply a therapeutic activity that I could do multiple times a day — I was a very hungry kid.

Now, nine years later, I have embraced my love of cooking and if anyone asks me what I do for fun, cooking his high up on the list. Not only do I think being a competent and comfortable cook is cool, I have come to realize it is very cool, and most of all something that no matter what, I find joy in.

Even the simplest recipes lift my spirits. Waking up on a weekend morning and sautéing an onion, some peppers and garlic for an omelet not only calms me down but it makes me happy. After all, everyone knows that eating a delicious steak or a bar of chocolate gives similar reactions to falling in love!

In this day and age, with fast food spreading like wildfire, I think it is so important for young people to find joy and importance in cooking their own meals. Why? Well, after watching an episode of Cooked, a wonderful new Netflix miniseries on the history of human food culture, I got a wonderful explanation.

Someone on the episode said something to the effect of: “If you want chocolate chip cookies, fried chicken, pie, and ice cream, have it! Just make all of it from scratch.”

Let me tell you, there is not enough time in the day for someone to make all of that on their own. So naturally, cooking for yourself from scratch limits the amount of food you can make and eat and will ultimately lead to healthier living.

So, to everyone reading this, I encourage you to listen to the immortal words of food critic Anton Ego (from Ratatouille).

“Not everyone can be a great cook, but a great cook can come from anywhere.”

Let’s get cooking, folks.

Interview with Don Melton(@donmelton)

Happy New Year to all who may be reading! I know that 2016 is going to be an amazing year and I hope all of you are as excited as I am.

Part of the reason why I am so excited is because we have a great interview today with Don Melton, a self proclaimed "Web geek."

Don Melton, as described by his website bio, is best known as the person who started the Safari and WebKit projects at Apple." Nowadays, Don spends his time in sunny California, refining his skills, storytelling, and tinkering. And, like me, Don spends time walking his dogs...dogs rule.

When you were a senior in high school, and people asked you: "what do you want to be when you grow up,” what was your response?

"A comic book artist" was always my response in high school. And I believed it, too. Of course, that had evolved from "a comic strip artist," when I was in grammar school.

While blessed with a natural talent for drawing, I was never interested in portraits or landcapes. I wanted to tell stories like Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, with pictures.

And by the time I was in high school, I drew underground comics. I even had a few of them published.

So, I was certain about what I wanted to be when I "grew up." Essentially, I wanted to get paid for what I was already doing for free.

What was it like working at Apple? When did you start? Any specific memories come to mind?

I started at Apple on June 25, 2001. Not coincidentally, the same day the Safari and WebKit projects started. Of course, we didn’t call them that yet.

Even though Steve Jobs returned in '97, nobody took Apple seriously back then. Financially or otherwise. I think my stock options were under water the week after they were granted.

So, at that time you joined Apple to change the world. Or you went somewhere else. Because the money, if that was your motivation, wasn't in Cupertino.

That filled the Fruit Company with crazy people on a mission. Which meant it was never boring there. And I loved that about the place.

But it could also be stressfull. Especially with so many strong personalities. And I don’t mean just Steve.

It was like working at a nuclear reactor. And if you didn’t develop a tolerance for the radiation from those luminaries — well, you died.

To say that I was fortunate to work at Apple during that time is undervaluing the word “fortunate." Sometimes it’s still hard to believe. We really did change the world, too. Me and all those crazy people. Well, mostly them.

And now that I'm retired, they’re who I miss. Not the work.

How did you get into writing or blogging or whatever you want to call it?

It started as a joke at my retirement party. My friends at Apple kept asking me, "Gramps, whatever will you do now with all your free time?"

And, to be flippant, I said, “Writing."

Nine months later, to my surprise, I followed through and created my eponymous website.

I really thought only my close friends and former colleagues might read what I was posting. But I was wrong about that.

When and why did your fascination with technology begin?

My first visit to Disneyland. At least, the first I remember, sometime in the early '60s.

Sure, I knew that Disneyland was all make believe. I just admired the skill and control it took to create it. And, like every other kid at the time, I wanted to live in Tomorrowland. I wanted to be part of it all. Everywhere I looked were possibilities.

Years later, around 1980, the same mind-expanding experience happened when I got my first computer. I was 24 at the time. Practically a fossil. But I taught myself to program anyway. I mean, why not? I could finally create my own little Disneyland.

When I don’t describe myself as a “storyteller," I use “tinkerer." This is why.

When not “working,” where could someone find you?

They can't. That's why I have two houses. Makes it much easier to hide.

Actually, I have no idea what “working" means anymore. And that was true before I retired. I just dive into whatever I’m passionate about at the time. Everything else is “chores."

But when I’m not occupied on the Internet I like to spend time with my family, walking my dog, and drinking a good glass of wine with a big meal. You know, prosaic stuff.

Of course, I’m still writing during all those times. And normally I can hide it, but it’s a dead giveaway to my wife when I stare into space for too long or get lost while driving. She always knows.

What can we expect from you in the future?

Another hundred years of virility I would hope, but that doesn’t seem likely.

So, more storytelling. For as long as I’m able. On my website, in a podcast, at a lectern, around the dinner table. Maybe even on the pages of a novel. Somewhere.

I do plan on more actual writing, but I’ve told that lie before. We’ll see. Motivation has never been my problem. It’s lack of focus. And I’m not ashamed since I share that curse with the rest of humanity.

Of course, I’ll still write code from time to time. But don’t expect me to develop apps, join startups, manage engineering teams, etc. That’s not happening. I’ve moved on.

You are trapped on a desert island, and can only bring your family and three things…what are these things?

Dog food, Netflix and a satellite phone. Sure, Buddy is only seven and half pounds, but he and his stomach don’t know that. My family can’t make it through the week without Netflix now. And the phone? That’s obvious.

Because, island or not, I grew up in a desert and I’m not spending anymore time in one. So it’ll be a quick call and then just waiting for an Uber.

But nobody my age ever gets trapped on a desert island. They either crash into one and die, or they have “people" to take care of that and other little annoyances. I’m far too boring and cautious to ever go anywhere near a desert island anyway. And I’m fine with that.

Interview with Matt Haughey(@mathowie)

It has been almost eight months since I last posted on instantbight.com. I realize now, looking back on my handling of the college process and the "crunch time" of my high school career, that this blog was absolutely something I could have continued -- but alas, teenage and adolescent laziness and disinterest caused me to stray from a great project.

However given a wonderful turn of events, I have been gifted an abundance of free time(in actuality I haven't been gifted any time just a relief of stress that allows for flexibility). And thus, I am rededicating myself to instantbight.com and the interviews I have done. And let me just say, it is going to be better than ever.

For anyone that actually reads this, here is an update on myself:

I completed a summer at Camp Moosilauke

This past summer, I was in charge of six, seven-year-old boys at my old sleep-away-camp in Orford, New Hampshire. The summer was incredible; I had an amazing technology and connectivity detox and also gained a newfound respect for the dedication and patience my parents had to have raising me and my sibling through...what would you call it...some tough ages.

I was accepted into the Class of 2020 at Northwestern University

Thank god. Through a lot of stress, handwork, and amazing assistance from my parents, I have finally been accepted into college. All of my schooling has lead up to this point and by some stroke of luck, it worked out perfectly. I am so happy and excited to be able to move on to a new phase of my life in Evanston and Chicago.

But enough about me, here are the goods for today.


Matt Haughey is a truly incredible person. Why? Well let's just say he is the only person I have ever interviewed with his own Wikipedia page. Among other impressive ventures, Matt is the founder of MetaFilter and the co-founder of Fuelly. However, now Matt works along side an amazing team at Slack.

Side note: I have abandoned my five question format. It was about time to start learning more from the amazing people that answered my questions.

JECOzLlD.jpg

If you had to describe yourself in three words, what would they be?

Curious, compassionate, and fun. 

When you were a senior in high school, do you remember what you told people when they asked: “what do you want to do with your future?”

Yeah, at the time I really loved graphic design so I would tell people I was going to college and likely major in art (I wasn't 100% sure at the time).

How did you get into the tech industry?

In 1995, I fell in love with the web and quickly taught myself how to build websites myself. I was in graduate school at the time for environmental chemistry and seriously considered leaving school to build sites for others. I stuck it out though but by Fall of 1997 I was working at an environmental engineering firm and totally unhappy with the work. I loved the web still, and my big break was replying to an want ad in the LA Times for a web designer/developer at UCLA. It was probably the best job interview of my life. I connected with everyone there, made it clear I spent every second of my free time building sites, and got the job.

What is it like working at Slack?

It's incredible and fantastic and I wake up every day feeling lucky to be at Slack. My coworkers are fantastic and the work never stops being interesting. No two days are the same, my work there is mostly with words and that can take any shape or form. Sometimes I'm interviewing customers to write up on our blog, and sometimes I'm arguing with coworkers about which precise emoji combo we should use in a tweet, and sometimes we're talking about what words to put on a button that comes up rarely in an error message. I love the variety and unpredictability, the job is never boring. 

When you aren’t working, where could someone find you?

Most likely on Twitter. If I'm not on a computer, I'm on a bike. Generally I'm out on long slow rides in the Oregon countryside.

What does your workspace look like?

Currently my home office is a disaster area, but I get more/better work done either at a library (wearing headphones, cranking classical music to drown everything out) or a coworking desk (same headphones/music combo).

If you could only listen to one song for the rest of your life, what would it be?

That's an impossible question to answer for me. One food item, one song, one movie—I'd get sick of all of my favorites if I was confined to just one of anything so frankly I'm pretty happy we live in a time of almost unlimited choice for any of these things. 

And finally, if you had to give one piece of advise to your 17 year old self, what would it be?

Chill out, things will get better. You'll eventually find places where you'll be rewarded for going above and beyond what is expected of you. Also, your high school friends are all total jerks, and it's going to be alright when you move away and never talk to them again—you'll soon find new friends that are supportive and respectful and you'll quickly learn what real friends are like. College will be a great challenge, and moves so fast you'll look back at high school as glorified baby sitting years from now.

Also? Remember that essay you wrote in 4th grade in 1981 where you said you'd grow up to be a computer programmer and the teacher thought it was ridiculous and other kids thought you were nuts? Well, even though you don't currently own a computer at age 17, it comes true in less than a decade.

 

 

Big thanks to Matt for being my comeback interviewee. 

Interview with Brian Lovin(@brian_lovin)

It seems that the long haul of Junior year is finally coming to a close. As the year comes to an end, at last my final AP test is behind me.

Tonight's interview is with Brian Lovin. Brian is a product designer at Buffer, a founder at Mvsic, and a podcaster for Design Details among other amazing things. Brian graciously agreed to answer some questions for me.

If you could speak with your 16 year old self, what would you say to him?

Don’t be so worried about what people think of you. Try not to overthink everything. Have fun and enjoy new experiences.

What is good design? How does one go about making it?

Overall, good design solves problems for people. I’d keep going, but I think Dieter Rams sums all this up better than I ever could: http://www.archdaily.com/198583/dieter-rams-10-principles-of-%E2%80%9Cgood-design%E2%80%9D/

What does your workspace look like?

It changes a bit every day - I find myself mostly working from coffeeshops or from our office here in SF! At our office we have glass tables for dry-erase markers which has been so helpful for quickly sketching ideas or brainstorming with other people. I generally enjoy working in quieter environments, sometimes with music.

How/why/when did you get into design?

Design has been an unscratchable itch in my life for the last 7 years or so, since I was a sophomore in high school. No matter what I was working on I found myself drawn towards the product creation process, creating useful  experiences and making things look visually attractive (as best as I could, anyways!). The work I’ve done over the years has evolved, but at the core of it all is the product design side which serves as a continual source of energy.

What can we expect from you in the future?

It would be amazing to look back and say that I’ve worked with great people, helped others along their journey, shipped products that improved people’s lives and in some small way or another made someone out there happier than they would have been otherwise.

What is your opinion on the college process? Where did you go to school, if anywhere?

I went to school at Baylor U. in Texas. Overall I think college is a good thing - there’s a lot of debate going on right now about the merits of higher ed and I can definitely empathize with both sides of the table. For me it was a way to get exposure to new people and new ideas that I wouldn’t have otherwise had, and that’s been invaluable.

I think that college is what you make of it. Some people take different paths at school, and none of them are inherently bad. I chose for myself to work a lot and miss out some of the social aspects of college. I had my fair share of fun, but overall I’d say my experience revolved a lot around work, side projects and learning new things.

Interview with Mark Gurman(@markgurman)

Although my efforts to get an interview with Chance the Rapper failed me I still have had some luck! Today we have an interview with an amazing tech-blogger. Mark Gurman is a highly accomplished journalist and writes for 9to5Mac.com.

Those who follow Apple know that Mark is on another level. I don't know if it's magic, or super intelligence but he really knows his stuff.

Here are my five questions with Mr. Mark Gurman...

How did you get into writing? And specifically tech writing?

I have always been interesting in technology and Apple specifically. In fall 2009, I located a domain name indicating Apple was working on a tablet. This was a few weeks before the original iPad was announced. After this discovery, I began writing about Apple. 

When did you start working at 9 to 5?

I started around the announcement of the first iPad. 

Apple watch...absolute flop or wild success?

Eventually a wild success, never a flop, nothing runaway on the first generation. 

If you could go back in time and talk to your 16 year old self, what would you say to him?

Do what's best for you. 

And what can we expect from you in the future?

I'm working on some startup businesses, but I feel I always still be connected to the news world in some fashion. We'll see. 

 

Thanks so much for your time Mark!

Chance the Rapper: disruption's influence and interview with Nathan Goldenberg

This is the last post of my three-week-long piece covering Chance the Rapper. Its been fun learning about and listening to this interesting artist, as well as working with Brendan Kirk on the second part of the piece. So now it is time to wrap it all up.

In conclusion...

Last weekend while I was taking the SAT, one of my reading sections covered creativity and the possibility of making requirements in order to better discern who or what is truly creative.

The general thesis of the passage was that something or someone can only be creative if it is recognized as such. Thus, Emily Dickinson was not creative when she first published her poems because it took years and years for her to be recognized for her work.

So, by these terms certainly Chance is creative. He has garnered serious acclaim for his music in the past years and is appreciated, even idolized by many. He is inspiring a new era of rappers  - hopeful young men and women looking to mimic and build upon his new sound.

How do I know? Well on of such inspired young rappers attends my school. Nathan Goldenberg, or Natey G is a hip-hop artist in my grade who says his biggest influence is Chance. Why? 

"Chances integration of a wide variety of musical elements makes chance different from other rappers. Not only is chance a dope rapper but he has a great voice which fits perfectly with his funky style. Chances partner ship with donny trumpet also pushes chance past most rappers today. Donny's brass is always a pleasant surprise on a chance track. Finaly chance just has the dopest addlib in the game and thats a fact. Aigh!"

Natey G recently released his single April Showers, a really catchy song with the same kind of "old-time" influence as Chance. Instead of the soul music Chano employs Natey G opts for a remixed version of March Winds and April Showers, a song popularized during the 1920s. 

Just to keep with my interviewing roots I decided to interview Nathan to get a better perspective on his rapping and how Chance has factored into his experience.

How did you get into rapping?

I started rapping with a child hood friend of mine at age 11. Although I wasn't that committed I still loved putting down the shittiest bars you will ever hear. I really started to pick things up sophomore year when I was granted access to a professional studio. Being able to learn the ins and outs of recording with top of the line equipment drove me to put out more content and really get things rolling.

What do you find special about rap as a genre?

The special part about rap is the ability to develop your own unique style. When a friend runs a rap song I can easily identify the artist because each artist has there own flow, tone, and style. Developing this lyrical identity is the coolest thing about rap because you can take it any direction you want to go, the possibilities are endless.

What rappers do you look up to? Why?

Chance the Rapper is my favorite rapper out there right now. His style is so new and sets him aside from anyone in the game. I love his incorporation of vocals on his tracks and the live instruments he spits over. A lot of people get hung up on his voice, but I think it's fly as fuck. Chance is my main inspiration when it comes to rapping and I've learned a lot just from running his shit.

Let's say, you meet up with Natey G seven years from now. What's he going to be up to?

In 7 years Natey G is gonna be doing big things. I dont know if it will be music, but I know its gonna be big, I can feel it.

Are you attending college?

I plan on attending college because education is the key to success. If you have the funds to go... why not? Sure you can make a living without going to college but a college education will go a lot further opening up endless job opportunities. If all else fails, music, college, life... I'll be in California running my own farm. Peace.

Nathan is an example of a new generation of rappers learning and getting inspired by artists like Chance the Rapper. So is he creative? Is he inspirational? I would say yes.

(Before we continue please check out Nathan's Soundcloud and Youtube Channel.)

The second, and possibly more concrete reason why I believe Chance the Rapper is important is his disruptive tendencies in terms of how he treats music as a career.

First things first Chance makes no money off his music. All downloads are free and he never puts his own albums or mixtape on iTunes or Google Play, or Amazon. Although other artists do the same with mixtape and singles, Chance completely runs with the "free" concept. 

In the same way that apps are often offered for free with in app-purchases driving profits, Chance makes his money after his listeners are hooked.

How? Performances, tours, merchandising. It's certainly a risky concept, making music your career without selling music but Chance's wild success is creating a lot of conversation regarding the necessity of paid music or record labels.

So that's why he is important. Chance is illustrating to Nathan Goldenberg and other young musicians like him that a record label or an iTunes account, it means nothing. Make good music and you can make it work.

According to CelebritiesMoney.com Chance is worth a million bucks as of 2015.

Everyone can learn from that. Perfect your craft and let the Xs and Os come later. 

Chance is a creative, original, disruptive artist succeeding by flipping the music industry on its head. That's pretty cool. 

Even though I have yet to get my chance to interview Chance, I encourage all of you to listen to his music and check out this interview here. Not only is Chance a fantastic musician but also an extremely thoughtful human, concerned with lives other than his own.