End of Eden

The sum total time f my counter space with tonight's dinner prep all over it. It is literally a 24 square inch patch.
Actual entirety of my work counter.

I’ve been working on a postage stamp space in my kitchen for a generation. I have used all of my wiles to maximize the chopping, measuring, mixing, cleaning and plating space. I stage in the sink. I manipulate pots and pans and cauldrons across the stove when I need to hold something. I rotate mis en place on the counter, on the storage cart behind me, in the dish drainer, in an open cabinet on top of the dishes, and, occasionally, when it’s not in use, inside the oven.

Today, I just might have hit a wall that I knew not of.

I knew not because I was managing in what is. When the kitchen designer asked me what I didn’t like in my kitchen–what didn’t work–I looked at her blankly. I actually never thought of my kitchen in that way.

Sure, I’ve broken a glass or burned my wrist or spilled a plate full of food on occasion. But these faults have been exceedingly rare.

Yes, I cook many days during the week. And, yes, I enjoy trying new foods and new techniques. And, yes, I’ve hosted many dinners. And, no, I didn’t think it was any trouble. I was simply cooking in the kitchen I had. Nothing to complain about, because I got it all to work. If it didn’t work, then there would be reason to complain.

Today, I almost lost it. I didn’t have enough room. I was working in layers. There were piles upon piles of workspaces in order to mimic more than the less than two square feet of workspace. It’s actually smaller than that, since the kettle and dish soap and olive oil and salt are permanent tenants on that patch. Why don’t I move them? Because there is no place else for them to go.

In fact, lots of things have no place to go. And when there is no home, things mill around like a grade school class without seats. Chaos.

I’ve been plotting where things would go in the updated kitchen. With it’s new cabinets, ample drawer space and new island that, by itself, is six times bigger than my current counter space. I stand at today’s sink and think about turning around to line up four or six or eight plates, plopping down the rice or potatoes on each and then the green beans, next, the chops or steaks or thighs and, finally, spooning the relish or sauce–all without tying myself up in the pretzel contortions to which I am expert and accustomed.

I stand near the door where there will be a dishwasher that I’ll remove the used utensils and bowls to–rather than figure out how to get enough space in the sink so I can get the full salad bowl just waiting for it’s vinaigrette out of the work’s way.

The imagining has been fun. I’ve been anticipating the efficiency and ease of a right-sized and right-spaced kitchen. But not today. Today I was frustrated.

Today, I was annoyed at the high level of tightrope walking and high wire balancing that I perform every time I try and get a good meal on the table.

If the architect asked me what bothered me about my kitchen today, I’d tell her that it isn’t the kitchen that I will have. I am dissatisfied with my culinary life because now I see myself in a new environment. One that is not so difficult.

I’m hungering for something better than what I’ve had that I didn’t actually feel was that bad. It’s a loss of innocence.

I feel like I’ve taken a bite from the apple. I like apples.

Mozil-low’s Hierarchy of Needs

Huge sign on the side of the building from mozilla ranking Food Water Shelter The Internet

What should people have? Like all people, just because we are people?

The nice people at Mozilla–the open internet organization that spun off of internet OG Netscape and built Firefox for your browsing pleasure–defines a hierarchy of needs to include food, water, shelter and “the Internet.” Now, one could definitely take this list to task. Like how about access to vaccines and health care? Access to clean air? Access to safety?

I wouldn’t disagree with that criticism, but I saw this huge blue sign hanging off the side of a building and started to unpack this Internet thing. What does it mean? What does it mean to have access to the Internet?

Mozilla says

We believe the Internet is at its best as a global public resource, open and accessible to all.

The tag line says to “keep the internet fair and open.” But this begs what it means to be accessible. Is simply being there enough?  Because in order to actually access the internet–if access means to use versus being passively available–there are a bunch of other things you need.

  1. Like electricity, or some way to generate, transfer and store energy to use to power #2
  2.  A device–a computer or cell phone or other type of tool–that can receive and transmit to #3
  3. You need access to the grid. Even if you can make your own electricity, you need some way to jump on the grid–like wire or satellite or a cellular phone tower–so you can get to that fair and open field.

What happens when you arrive at that fair and open space? Well, literacy is pretty important since much of what’s available has to be read. Even non-text information almost always requires text input to connect to it–either typing in a URL or using a search engine or following a link.

Unpacking the ability to read I get to the ability to see–or hear in some cases. (And if you can’t hear, you damn well better be able to read.)

So, maybe Mozilla is really advocating for universal education, improved infrastructure and accessibility to the devices and the ability to get value out of the devices for everyone.

That’s pretty radical. Because ensuring that the internet is fair and open only to people who have access to the tools of access is neither open nor fair.

Next up, let’s take a closer look at that list of basic needs.

Hierarchy of Needs

Here’s one for the kooks. As a point of reference, Government Computer News is some geek vanity press weekly that preys on the ga-zillions of dollars that the feds spend on technology. That’s where this came from.

Now here’s the rub. There is this Emergency Interoperability Consortium, that likes to use the acronym EIC. This meaningless acronym primarily signifies a relationship with the government, which–of course–pees all over itself in acronyms. But I digress.

Anyway, this Emergency Interoperability Consortium has this incredibly brilliant idea that what we really need during a catastrophic emergency of biblical proportions is a new flavor of XML, a Common Alerting Protocol. This is key because at a time of extreme emergencies, we expect people in governments that are not functioning because they HAVE NO ELECTRICITY, and, yes, their offices (including computers) were swamped and there’s no place to sit, to somehow enter information into a database so that we can magically get fire-trucks, bomb-sniffing dogs, and helicopters to where they need to be. Shoot, if it were that easy, why didn’t FEMA use XML to set up disaster recovery centers in Pass Christian, Miss.?

WHAT ARE THEY THINKING? I love geeks, but are some still unclear that people don’t have water six weeks after the hurricane? There was one voice of sanity in the article. Charles Werner, fire chief in Charlottesville, Va., and a geek himself, thought that it might be better to invest in practical first level stuff. Like investing in the primary systems of communications first. If we know Level 1 doesn’t work, couldn’t we just work on that?

What is better, being able to radio to someone what you need? Or how about a big complex system dependent upon electricity, internet access, trained staff that are missing or evacuated, and sensitive computer equipment?

To hell with meeting basic, physiological needs. The latter is a technology project, so let’s fund it.