Like I did November, each month I'll wrap-up the month that just passed for me.
- Top Five: Chris Rock is one of the best stand-up comedians of all-time, but his movie career so far has been disappointing. So it was really good to see him write, direct and star in a solid movie like this one that was really funny but also had a good story that carried it beyond the laughs. Can't wait to see what he does next.
- "Black Mirror": Black Mirror's "White Christmas" special was as incredible and diabolical as ever starring Jon Hamm. Merry Christmas, sleep tight!
- I was invited by a friend to the Exhumed Films holiday party at PhilaMOCA. While eating way too many snacks we watched old cartoon shorts like Pacman and He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. The main feature was kept a secret until it started and as the familiar opening crawl started we realized it was The Empire Strikes Back! It was a treat to watch the movie from an old school reel the way that it was originally intended. The effects are interesting: the space battles hold up for the most part yet you can tell that the non-human characters are pretty much just puppets.
- I joined NextFab this month to work on some 3-D printing and woodworking projects. I've made a few simple projects already in the intro classes like this shelf and this 3-D printed piece. More coming soon.
- I attended a Duck Duck Hack event at Venturef0rth for the Philly-based search engine Duck Duck Go. One of the unique features of DDG are their instant answers that can get you to the answer that you need without leaving the search engine results. DDG has opened up their platform to community submitted instant answers, in fact, most of the current instant answers were created by non-DDG staff. At this event we learned about how to create your own instant answer by forking DDG's code on GitHub. Once it gets accepted, your answer is available for Duck Duck Go's millions of users. Pretty cool! I hope to finish my first instant answer soon.
- The Drunkard's Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives by Leonard Mlodinow: This was a surprisingly entertaining history of probability theory from Ancient Greece to modern day. My main takeaway is that humans aren't designed to understand probability and randomness in our daily lives no matter how data-driven we become. I've found that the lessons here have helped me understand why certain situations occur and why people sometimes act against their best interests. When it comes down to it, a lot of our lives is random. Next up for me in this vein is Nassim Nicholas Taleb's The Black Swan.
- The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi: I've been meaning to read this for a while and I'm glad I finally did. Its a highly personal account of growing up in a era that I know very little about: 1980s and 90s Iran.
- The Top-Secret Food That Will Change the Way You Eat: Perhaps it's because I'm a vegetarian, but I'm more excited about innovation in food than any other industry. Meat production and consumption is incredibly inefficient so it's really refreshing to see people working on better alternatives. I love Beyond Meat's other products so I'm hoping to the Whole Foods in Philly will get the Beast Burger soon.
- The one thing that Philadelphia really lacks is a good bagel. Every time I'm in New York I try to eat as many of their delicious delicacies as I can because it's difficult to find something similar in Philly. However Knead Bagels is a new place that shows a lot of promise. Not quite the traditional NYC bagel but very tasty.
- This month I finally got to check out V Street, the new vegan restaurant from the proprietors of Vedge and Horizons before that. This new restaurant is sort of like Vedge but what they are calling "street food" at non-street food prices. Everything here is great, but I especially loved langos and harissa grilled cauliflower.