Late spring or early summer. That’s when we’ll all start using the new “diverging diamond” interchange at University Parkway & I-75.
But since a lot of people are still wondering how to drive through a diverging diamond, the Florida Department of Transportation has scheduled a couple of workshops for Tuesday, April 4th to explain how it works.
When: Tuesday, April 4 at either 2pm or 5pm
What: 90-minute workshop: “Navigating the Diverging Diamond Interchange”
Where: Everglades University, 6001 Lake Osprey Drive (map)
Why: To show us all how to drive through a diverging diamond.
File this under “mildly alarming,” but I’ve got a nagging question:
Why the Heck Will it Take 90 Minutes to Teach Us How to Drive Through a Diverging Diamond?
OK OK… the flyer says that first the first half hour, everyone will have a chance to review some exhibits and speak with FDOT staff (you’ve been itching to do that, haven’t you?!). Then there will be an “informative presentation,” followed by a Q&A session, which in my imagination will be filled with elderly people who don’t know how to use roundabouts asking the same question over and over in different ways.
So… maybe it won’t take that long to actually explain it.
After all, this nifty video does it in just under 8 minutes:
Hopefully it won’t take 8 minutes to get through this darned interchange once the construction finally ends!
The idea is that you create your content in Google Docs, using all of the lovely collaborative features like multiple (even simultaneous!) authors, commenting, great editing tools, cloud-based storage, and so forth.
Then… once it’s ready to go, push a button and voila! — the content shows up in your WordPress site.
The magic happens thanks to Jetpack, which we users of the WordPress software use to connect up our self-hosted sites to Automattic’s WordPress.com infrastructure.
So… you need to have the Jetpack plugin enabled and your site connected.
Then you need to use the WordPress.com for Google Docs add-in (that link goes to the Google Web Store page for the add-in, but you can also get it by going to “Add-ons” inside a Google Doc).
As much as I love the WordPress editor, this is a game changer. I live in Google Docs, especially since I acquired my first Chromebook about a year ago.
There’s one more hiccup. The authentication passes through multiple layers (after all, you wouldn’t want just anyone editing a Google Doc to be able to push content to your website, would you?):
Your Google Account (make sure you’re signed in to the one you want)
Your WordPress.com account — meaning the account that you used to connect your self-hosted WordPress site up to the Jetpack/WordPress.com infrastructure. (Here again: make you’re signed in to the right one!)
Your local WordPress account (meaning the account that you sign in to your actual WordPress site with)
It was at that last authentication step that I hit a snag:
I had never activated the Jetpack JSON API on this site. So… I had to go through the Authorization process one more time after fixing that.
But hey! Needing to screenshot an error message gave me a chance to see how images work in this whole process. I’ll let you know once this content gets pushed to my WordPress site!
After hitting the “Save Draft” button, my content got magically pushed to this site. (If you hadn’t figured it out, I wrote the first draft of this in Google Docs!)
The image came along with it!
But…. my cropping didn’t. The image above is the full screenshot. In Google Docs, I had cropped it to get rid of the 37 Chrome tabs and so forth (hyperbole, I know, but that’s only one of my 3 current Chrome windows!).
All in all, this is a fantastic experience. There’s even a button in Google Docs to “Preview” the post on the live site, and of course a way to update the draft from Google Docs.
I’m guessing you’ll have to manage your own workflow for which version is the latest. I assume if I make changes on my site, but then hit the “Update Draft” button in Google Docs, that version will overwrite whatever is on the site. But this is to be expected. (And I haven’t tested it yet, so… who knows?)
US News & World Report ranked Sarasota #21 on its list of the Best Places to Live in the United States. Citing our climate, beaches, and culture, the index placed Sarasota higher than the other Florida cities on the top 100 list, with Tampa coming in at 35 and Orlando at 40.
While it’s great to see publications recognize our “little big city” in this way, maybe it would be better to keep us a secret? Already, our “net migration” is at a 10. We’re feeling it in the traffic!
Sarasota’s Celery Fields are truly a local treasure—for nature lovers, bird watchers, fitness junkies, and outdoor enthusiasts of all kinds. But they are being threatened with dangerous industrial development that could destroy the natural habitat for local wildlife, not to mention the peace and tranquility of the area that we’ve all come to know and love.
I plan to participate in the protest this Saturday to help spread the word about the proposed development projects that could destroy the Celery Fields. I hope you’ll join me as well.
Now that it’s been officially announced, I’m excited to invite you to join me for a discussion about “Getting Real Business Results from Your Content Marketing Efforts” at WordCamp Miami!
The event runs March 24-26 (Friday through Sunday) at Florida International University in Miami. The Miami gathering is one of the longest-running and most well-respected events in the WordCamp series, and it’s an honor to be invited to participate.
Lastyear, the weekend was outstanding, and my lovely wife, Jill, and I are truly looking forward to another spectacular time in South Florida!
Centralized manipulation of the economy — through money creation and public borrowing — will, I’m afraid, continue under the next administration.
While the populace are distracted by the battle between the left and the right, mostly over social issues, the train keeps rolling full steam toward a cliff. In a piece published yesterday by the Mises Institute, Congressman Ron Paul argues that changing monetary policy is the only way to truly root out the causes of income inequality.
A huge congratulations to my good friend and sometime collaborator, Rod Thomson, on the launch of his new project The Revolutionary Act.
Rod is an insightful thinker with a strong dedication to principles, which makes discussing topics of all kinds with him a joy. He challenges me to think, and I am always the better for it. Not only is he a veteran journalist and a published author, but he’s makes frequent radio and television appearances to discuss public policy and other issues of the day.
I’ve been bugging him for months to start blogging. I’m excited that he’s finally doing it! Can’t wait to see what comes of this!
The Starbucks “Barista” Coffee Grinder, the EL60, is the grinder that just won’t die. It was a present from my beautiful, amazing wife many years ago, and it has truly been a gift that keeps on giving.
Now.. it’s survival isn’t just amazing because it’s really well made. It’s amazing because it continues to chug away despite years of abuse on my part! I’ve written previously about how Baratza helped me replace my broken hopper after the whole grinder took a nasty fall.
This time, it turns out that my fundamental ignorance of how the thing works allowed me to neglect basic maintenance to the point that it became nearly unusable. Here’s what happened.
One day not long ago, I dumped the coffee grounds from the EL60’s bin into my pour over and noticed that it seemed a little light. After years of doing this, I should’ve realized that my instincts were spot on and I was missing some grounds, but I didn’t think too much about it. That cup of coffee brewed up super quick, and was naturally quite weak.
I still didn’t think a whole lot about it until I went on to brew the next cup, and ground up some more beans. This time, the grinder just didn’t seem to ever finish grinding. I’m so in tune with the sound of this thing that the pitch it generates when the RPMs spin up to their max is my aural clue that the grind is complete.
So… I dumped the bin again, and this time I only got a few grounds and some powder.
Powder is a problem. This grinder is known for producing a highly uniform grind… especially for a consumer unit sold en masse by Starbucks.
So… I took the hopper off and peered into the grinder only to discover that there were still nearly untouched coffee beans in the works.
Disassembly from there was a little harder than it should’ve been, mainly due to the aforementioned years of neglect.
But… once I finally got the ring burr to let go of its grip on the holder for the main burr (below), I saw that the entire chamber was full of grinds and shards of beans.
Right away I knew that the motor was fine. It was chugging away just perfectly. The burrs themselves were still sharp—after all, I was getting grinds that were what I expected… plus powder! So that meant that something mechanical was out of whack.
After spending several days cleaning out the grinder chamber with a butter knife after each grind, I decided to completely disassemble the machine and see if I could figure out what was going on.
Here’s what I found:
That little black component is a “door” of sorts, which opens to allow the coffee grinds to escape from the grinding chamber into the little chute which feeds the bin. As you can see, the “doorway” is jammed with grinds… and powdery ones.
Since I’m grinding for a pour-over brewing method and not for espresso, you can imagine that I do not usually grind the beans to powder. So this was all quite mystifying to me.
So… I did what had worked well for me in the past, and reached out via email to Pierce Jens, who has provided outstanding support for me in the past.
Pardon Me While I Rave About Baratza
I’ll get back to the story (and the fix for my grinder) in a moment. But first let me insert a couple of thoughts about Baratza.
Baratza is a company I can get excited about. When I first needed help with my grinder some years ago, I was directed to Baratza by Solis, the European manufacturer that originally built my grinder, with instructions that Baratza was their US distributor and was responsible for support.
It’s unclear to me whether Baratza had anything to do with the original deal that allowed for Starbucks to private label the Solis grinder and distribute it in the US under the “Starbucks Barista” brand when my wife bought this grinder for me many years ago.
What is clear is that Baratza is currently the major supplier for Starbucks grinders, and that those grinders sold by Starbucks wear the Baratza label rather than a Starbucks private label.
So… maybe they made a little money on the original purchase of my grinder, maybe they didn’t. Even if they did, they were a distant 3rd party to the transaction and were completely unknown to consumers like me at the time.
In other words, they could have easily declined to expend any resources on supporting me with my grinder problems. This they did not do.
Additionally, Baratza has advocated quite publicly for keeping grinders out of landfills, a message which, as a jaded marketer, I’ll admit to being a little dubious about. After all, it’s easy to talk about concern for the environment, and it’s another thing entirely to align one’s business practices around it.
In the case of Baratza, I can tell you that they have proven to me through my interactions with them that repairing coffee grinders—whether to keep them out of landfills or to provide outstanding customer service or both—is something that their business practices fully support.
This is impressive.
OK… back to my story.
The Fix for My Jammed Grinder
I found an old email thread from when Pierce Jens, who is a support technician at Baratza, helped me figure out what to do with my broken hopper, and replied to it, including the photo above showing my grinder jammed with coffee grounds.
Ever the master of email support, Pierce waded through the superfluous details I provided and managed to troubleshoot the issue in one round:
Thank you for your kind words! I’m always happy to help troubleshoot, let’s see if we can figure this out. I think you may simply have a worn out paddle wheel. Check out the 3rd picture of the Troubleshoot guide attached. None of the other pictures apply to your machine. You should have an 8 blade paddle, and I suspect yours is worn all the way out. I also have the paddle wheel replacement guide attached and the part is $5 on our Solis parts page.
By the way, your write up about the hopper has made several fellow EL60 owners happy over the years: kudos for that!
What was funny to me was that I had spotted the paddle wheel on the Solis Grinder Parts page on the Baratza website, but assumed that it applied to a different grinder than mine… because I didn’t recognize it!
I knew right away that he was right. So… I placed the order. Within a couple of days, the new part had arrived and I disassembled the grinder once again.
In the photo, there’s the conical burr from my grinder, which I got removed from the machine according to the directions that Pierce provided.
There’s an 8 blade plastic paddle below there… can you see it?
I couldn’t either. Here’s why:
Sure enough, the blades were completely worn, which is why I didn’t recognize the part on their website!
The paddle wheel is responsible for sweeping the grounds out of the grinding chamber and through the shoot to the bin. After many years of use (in my case, anyway), the blades had worn down to the point where they just couldn’t push and grinds out!
I got the new one out of the package and attached it to the burr. Check out the worn one in the background!
Reassembly was a snap. The PDF guides Pierce sent me had plenty of detailed instructions and the whole repair probably took less than 10 minutes.
With the grinder back together, I’m now getting “good as new” performance from my machine.
A couple of lessons learned:
I probably should take a cleaning brush to the burrs on a regular basis. I will admit to having lost my grinder brush many years ago and then forgetting about this whole maintenance step. Had I been doing this, I probably would have noticed the paddles wearing down. In my case, it had been so long since I had had the grinder apart (even enough to just inspect the burrs), that I had completely forgotten those white paddles had ever been there!
Baratza has won my business. They make virtually nothing from selling me parts like this, because the resources they’ve expended to provide support are far costlier than the revenue they’ve generated from the parts (not to mention the profits). That they still provide support via email in this way, and that there’s someone smart enough to employ Pierce Jens tells me that they’re precisely the sort of company I want to do business with.
The final lesson is that I’m probably going to go ahead and order new burrs for my machine as the supply of parts for my grinder is apparently starting to dwindle. Mine are still performing well, but after inspecting them up close, I could definitely see signs of wear that weren’t visible to me prior to completely disassembling the grinder.
Alas… I won’t be needing a new grinder any time soon. But when I do, I’ll be buying Baratza. I certainly highly recommend you do the same!
Oh… and if you’re having trouble with any Baratza grinders, check out their fantastic YouTube channel, where Pierce shows how to perform any number of repairs!