experts

Food videos I love, 1

There are some terrific food videos coming out these days. Food magazines and lifestyle channels (barf) are really dialing it in with some great concepts for shows, with hosts who exude their enthusiasm for the art of making delicious things to eat.

Here’s one I love. Epicurious has a series in which a food expert tries to determine which of two products (spices, meats, knives, etc) is the more expensive version. I’m not a fan of price as a rubric for measuring quality, but the discussion of what makes one product pricier than the other yields up some cool insights into the differences between commercial production and artisanal methods.

Here’s one on a topic I enjoy, beer. I learned something very important recently from videos featuring beer expert Garrett Oliver. Until recently, I’d been drinking my beer directly from the bottle. Oliver points out that this seals off your nose from the beer, denying the olfactory experience. Now I drink from a glass. Game changer.

Paramedic everyday carry - 1: Introduction

There’s this amazing online phenomenon in which professionals in various fields show off their “EDC,” or everyday carry. Seeing which tools an expert carries with them at all times is a fascinating way to gain insight into what they do, and how their experience informs their abilities.

I first came across this genre in the form of a video in which grandmaster maker, comicon crasher, and mythbuster Adam Savage empties his pockets, explaining the purpose of each item, and I found it totally enthralling. (One of the most surprising insights was that he does not bother carrying any kind of multitool, because he generally works where more specialized tools are within easy reach, and travels so often that he can’t carry a knife.)

I’m a firefighter/paramedic with thirteen years on the job, and many more as a volunteer before that. I’m very particular about the tools I carry with me. I thought that the story behind those items might be useful for both fellow medics and anyone interested in the world of EMS.

I have some very basic expectations of each of the items I carry:

  • It must work according to my expectations. It doesn’t need to be fancy or high-performance, but I don’t want things to fail when I need them on an emergency incident.

  • It should be low-profile. My uniform pants, unlike some in the industry, don’t have extra pockets to stuff full of extra junk. I use a very small holster with a limited capacity, so I’m very particular about what goes in it. I also have a small bag, provided by my fire department, which I’ve customized with essential tools.

  • It has to be replaceable. With some exceptions, nothing can be very costly. If it gets trashed or contaminated beyond hope of cleaning, I want to throw it away and get a new one.

  • It must be in the same location every time, exactly where I expect it, so I can reach for it without thinking. The last thing I need under the stressful circumstances of an emergency incident is to be fumbling for something and wondering where I put it. Most people I know in fire-rescue are borderline obsessive about their gear in this way.

Next episode: the flashlight.

Oh and btw here’s the video of Adam Savage’s EDC that got me into this.

I was the drum machine

Four-on-the-floor, a beat pattern that's widely used in electronic dance music, has its roots in disco. And drummer Earl Young invented it. 

Watching Young move effortlessly between beats that undergird some of the most popular music of the last 50 years reminded me of this piece from Song Exploder, in which John Roderick of The Long Winters describes watching virtuoso drummer Matt Chamberlain lay down an amazing series of drum tracks for his song "The Commander Thinks Aloud." 

What being an expert really sounds like

I've written before about the podcast Song Exploder, in which Hrishikesh Hirway takes a song and breaks it down into it component parts. Through interviews with the musician and isolated tracks of instruments and voices, he explores the formative ideas and decisions that created the track. If I had to pick a favorite podcast, it would get the nod. 

This particular show is utterly amazing, because it describes the unexpected results when The Long Winters brought in guest drummer Matt Chamberlain, described as "the best in the country" to lay down tracks on their tune The Commander Thinks Aloud. Chamberlain played 5 tracks, one after another, then... well, it's pretty cool to hear songwriter John Roderick describe it.  

Listen to the entire show below, or click here to jump directly to the piece about Chamberlain's contribution, at 8:40.