“The Kevin”, My New Favorite Martini

I have long been a fan of the Vesper martini, using the recipe published in the Vesper app by Q Branch:

3 oz Tanqueray Ten
1 oz Belvedere or Stolichnaya
.5 oz Lillet Blanc

Belvedere was my vodka of choice.

At my father-in-law’s house, I found myself elected to make martinis. Now, my wife’s dad favors vodka martinis, which I’ve never had success with. His vodka is Chopin, a Polish potato-based vodka. Unfortunately, we didn’t have any on hand.

What was available was Rue 33. Unfamiliar with Rue 33? So was I! Rue 33 is a vodka created by Sam’s Club, who, along with Costco, wanted to make a premium vodka “similar” to Grey Goose.

Sam’s club, I believe, exceeded their target.

In the heat of the moment, making vodka martinis with Rue 33 and Tanquery Ten gin, I “reversed” the Vesper recipe: 3 oz Rue 33 vodka, 1 oz of Tanqueray No. Ten. After pouring, I added two blue-cheese stuffed olives on a cocktail spear.

The results blew me away! The citrus notes from the Tanqueray Ten came through loud and clear. If I hadn’t known I was drinking a glass of pure 80-proof spirits, I wouldn’t have guessed. This concoction was amazingly smooth. Instead of a burning finish, I was rewarded with a pleasant spiciness after the strong citrus start.

Later, at home, I dismissed this martini as a fluke or a too-good-to-be-true, and instead tried 3 oz of Belvedere, 1 oz of Tanqueray Ten, and the aforementioned blue-cheese olives.

Bitter disappointment. Sure, it was an acceptable martini, and far better than a well-vodka martini at the corner bar, but the entire flavor profile consisted of a strong burn.

After a trip to Sam’s club, and armed with a new 1.75L bottle of Rue 33 (for under $24!!), I once again experienced martini Nirvana.

On this new batch, my father-in-law worried that he couldn’t keep from guzzling the thing, such was the smoothness, flavor, and well-roundedness of the drink!

We raced through the first round, and I made a smaller batch for the second. I’ve never undertaken a bigger challenge than sipping the second one slowly!

After much discussion, my wife’s whole family agreed this new recipe be dubbed “The Kevin”.

The Kevin Martini

3 oz Rue 33 Vodka (Sam’s club)
1 oz Tanqueray No. Ten Gin
2 Blue-cheese Olives on a cocktail toothpick, for garnish

Load cocktail shaker with ice, add the Rue 33 and the Tanqueray Ten. Shake vigorously, strain into a tall martini glass. Garnish with the olives on a cocktail toothpick.

Apple Watch Update

Complications work much better with WatchOS 2 (I’m on 2.2). No more rebooting the watch to get the sunset time.

But

Apps are still slow.

WatchOS 2 brought color to the complications on the Utility face. Most complications look nice with color, but the Sunrise, Stopwatch, and Timer are a hideous orange, which forces me to set the second hand to match. So instead of using my favorite yellow second hand:

    

I have to use an orange one, when I have the Stopwatch or Timer complication on the face:

  

New Routines

I’m more comfortable with some of the watch faces now, and I have set up three Utility faces, a Chronograph face, a Simple face, and a Modular face to be switched to at will. The various faces leverage the complications for Stocks, World Clock, Carrot Weather, Fantastical, Activity, Moon Phase, and even mean-old-orange Stopwatch, Timer, and Sunset.

Faces

My normal, “during the day” setup is to use one of my Utility faces. The first has Stocks along the bottom, the second, Carrot Weather, and the third features Fantastical in the bottom slot.

In the top two complication slots, I’ll switch between any of the Carrot, Fantastical, Timer, Stopwatch, Sunrise/sunset, Activity, Moon Phase, or World Clock, depending on what I need that day.

Utility

My typical Utility Stock setup (with New York City showing on World Clock so I know when the market has closed at 4:30):

 

Examples of Utility without Stocks:

  

Simple

In the evening, I’ve taken to using the Simple watch face more than I expected. Its refreshingly monochrome complications balance its infuriating over-abundance of tick marks:

    

Chronograph

Setting the Chronograph face to a white background allows the second hand to remain visible while running the chronograph, plus other complications are monochrome. Anytime I expect to use the Stopwatch a lot (like grilling or timing things at work), I can use the chronograph face again. Plus it matches the gauges in my car!

     
     

Modular

Because of using Sleep++ to track my sleep, I’ve set up a modular face, in red, to preserve night vision. The Battery complication makes its only appearance here!

  

I still use the yelow modular face for travelling, or if i need to pack maximum data onto the screen.

  

Apps

The Complications are, by far, the biggest use of my watch. I do sometimes use apps, but only sparingly, since they are so slow as to usually not be worth the bother.

I use Evernote as a reference, while playing cards or anytime I’m short on hands but want to refer to data:

  

Nearly essential are TimeOfYourLife for multiple stopwatches and Due for multiple countdown timers. Scandalous, Apple Watch only shipping with one of each!

    

Sometimes I use Fantastical to show my shared grocery list from the Reminders app to lessen my fear of dropping my phone while pushing the cart in the grocery store.

  

And yes I can start my car from my watch!

   

Opinion

the Apple Watch is worth it and makes a great reference and tool due to the complications. Apps are good too if you have the patience. 

The Apple Watch

After five weeks with apple watch, here are some thoughts on the various faces. 

Note: when I refer to a half complication, below, I’m talking about the one which will only show the date, the day of the week and the date, or nothing.

Chronograph

The chronograph face allows four-and-a-half complications and is one of my favorite faces, thanks to discretely small hour-indicator numbers, beautiful hands and layout, and one-tap access to start the chronograph (which is mission-critical on my wrist!). Unfortunately the second hand is mostly useless because of its small size and how often it’s obscured by the main hands. 


Further, when the chronograph is running, you can’t see the notifications indicator. Or any other complications for that matter!

I’ve never seen the normal second hand on the watch while chronograph was running until I looked at this screen shot! In real life it’s invisible when chronograph is running. 

It sounds like I have more to complain about than like with the chronograph face. I have not yet talked about how much I love the way it looks though, and how well it satisfies my technical/engineering sensibilities. Returning to the chronograph face from any other face feels like coming home.

Utility

The utility face is my other favorite. Three-and-a-half complications. The required hour numbers are too enormously big and a fourth complication is desperately needed. I like you can set the color of the second hand and date, though. The always-present second hand with the full power of all the atomic clocks on the internet served up via the Network Time Protocol absolutely blows me away!

Chronograph start is two taps away (assuming you add the stopwatch complication, of course). Once running, though, you can still see all the other complications and the notifications indicator as well as the elapsed time! Stopping or lap controls are two taps away.

In this first screen shot, you can see the stopwatch in the upper right:

Note the lovely 3D hand overlap. This is actually present on all the analog-look faces, but I chose to show it off here.
 

The large complication at the bottom is the calendar view. I can’t overstate how nice the hands and the dial look in real life. These screenshots don’t do it justice.
       

Color

The color face has exactly four complications, plus a “monogram” which is customizable in the iPhone apple watch app.

The reason for this face’s existence, ostensibly, is so you can customize the color of the whole face. The fatal flaw, though, is the non-customizable accent color! For any color you pick, there is a hard-coded accent color on the complications. I hate all the combinations! And to add insult to injury, the second hand is always orange. 

If you chose orange, you get a weird other orange on the complications.

If you choose red, you get orange complications.

If you choose yellow, you get orange complications.

I’m sure if you choose white, the gray complications are fine, but why would I choose white?? There are three other faces which do white better.

Oh, and the hour tick marks have no numbers whatsoever. This changes reading the time, for me, from an instantaneous comprehension to a cumbersome mental calculation (ok probably only two seconds or less but feels like the difference between touch typing and hunt-and-peck).

  
          

Simple

The simple face is bad because it has identical tick marks for the 30-second mark between each minute, and no hour numbers (well you can add some minute labels but I don’t find them very helpful since you also get even more identical tick marks to obscure the minute!)

At least simple has four-and-a-half complications. 



Modular

The modular face is great when you absolutely need the most data possible on your wrist! Modular offers five full complications and one of them allows for up to three lines of text!

Imagine flying from Phoenix to Dayton with a layover and plane change in Denver. I put three world clocks at the bottom (Phoenix; Chicago, since that’s the time zone my mom was driving to Dayton from; and New York, for Dayton), next calendar appointment on the huge middle complication, and weather on the final complication. 

My calendar, of course, has all the flights with the correct timezone-adjusted start and end times, and a compact, data-packed description, including the flight number, airline-reported start and end times, and the origin and destination airports. So whenever you land, you immediately have the local time, all pertinent other time zones, and next flight info (translated to local time!) all in one display. Absolutely indispensable! Just look at this:

  

I dare you to argue that is not a killer application of a smartwatch. The only way it could get better is via a third-party complication from the airline!

The other situation in which I launch modular: while I’m sleeping. Sounds silly, I know. But say you wake up in the middle of the night and wonder what time it is. I want modular because digital time is still easier to read than analog, plus I added the moon phase, weather, and sunrise time.

Other faces

I occasionally use the astronomy face and the sundial face when I’m at my pool league night just because they look great and I’m really not interested in any data in that setting. 

The motion faces are too slow to start to qualify. Once they get going, they are all beautiful, but by then I’ve already dropped my wrist. 

And then there’s the Mickey face. Absolutely not for me.

Weather

The weather complication is trumped in the accuracy department by the Dark Sky glance but would still be nice to have at the top of the utility face, with the sunset time across from the calendar complication like I have it on the chronograph face. I’m really looking forward to third-party complications, so Dark Sky can take its rightful place on all my watch faces. In the meantime Dark Sky is always the current glance, so it’s one swipe away.

Here’s what the dark sky glance looks like … I forgot to screenshot during actual rain, but do have a de rigueur hairy arm shot.
  

 Conclusion 

For now it looks like I’m stuck jumping back and forth between the chronograph and utility faces, whenever the whim strikes me. If only the chronograph had a large omnipresent second hand! That would be absolute Nirvana, and I could overlook the bother with complications while the chronograph was running.

If the utility face’s hour numbers were smaller, and it had one more complication, it’d be more satisfying, but I’d still yearn for the chronograph face, I’m sure.

My favorites:

  

Watches

I got my first watch in Fifth grade: a used mechanical watch with spinning number wheels which didn’t last but a few weeks. it drifted hours in a day and soon I was in the habit of taking it apart (one of the number wheels was loose and I’d hook it back on to get a few more hours use out of it).

Next I went through a series of calculator watches, progressing in junior high through several “data bank” versions, into which I painstakingly typed the phone numbers of everyone I knew.

I decided I should become proficient at reading an analog watch. I spent several years wearing watches with both hands and a digital display, culminating in a somewhat-fashionable Guess watch with analog hands and two(!) digital displays.

Later, Brian gifted me a Swiss Army quartz analog watch which I ended up wearing for nearly ten years. This watch was by far the best timekeeper I’d had so far; it drifted only a second or two in the course of a month. This was the watch I finally learned to read analog on, and I also learned about esoteric watch quirks such as having to sync up the second hand with the minute hand, and the difference between noon and midnight and how it affected the date display.

As a secondary watch, I also had a digital watch with an electronic compass, and even a Suunto Vector altimeter and compass watch.

Finally I took the plunge back into mechanical watches, with the Invicta knockoff of the James Bond Rolex Submariner. Even with a drift of 10 seconds a day, I was hooked by this automatic.

The feature I loved the most was the rotating bezel dive timer. I had a readily-accessible 60-minute timer and started using it routinely, for everything from timing my electric toothbrush, to laundry, to flipping meat on the grill.

The Invicta, of course, has a budget movement, and non-hacking to boot (this means that when you pull out the crown to set the time, the second hand keeps moving! makes it challenging to get the minute hand pointed right at the minute when the second hand crosses the twelve!)

Joy got me an excellent timepiece: the Tag Heuer Aquaracer Automatic Black Dial Chronograph. In addition to the rotating bezel, this watch has a true chronograph which can time up to twelve hours! The Tag is more accurate than the Invicta, typically gaining 3 or 4 seconds a day. In addition, its hacking movement (second hand stops when you pull out the crown) allows the time to be set much easier than the Invicta. The minute hand seems to have a bit of lash or slack in it; when you push the crown back in, the minute hand might not move for about 30 seconds or so. I quickly got good at putting the minute hand just a bit ahead, so within a minute or so after starting it again, the minute hand would end up pointing right at the minute when the second hand crossed the twelve.

Here are my two automatics:

 

Coincident with getting these automatics, I also had already gotten an iPhone. Now the early iPhones had atrocious timekeeping, and would often be 30 seconds or more off from the correct time. by the time the iPhone 4 was out, however, they were typically within half a second of the atomic clocks (as checked via the network time protocol, or NTP for short).

My automatics had two issues. They didn’t have numbers on the dials, only tick marks. This slowed me down just a bit; reading the time took a couple seconds instant of the bare instant it should. And, since they did drift from the correct time daily, I always had a small nagging feeling in the back of mind … maybe I shouldn’t trust the time on this watch.

I formed an unconscious habit of using my watch as a timer, but using my phone to actually check the time. Yes I checked the time on my watch sometimes too, but mainly when I was in a hurry and knew generally what time it was. Like, say, I knew it was between 4:45 and 5:00, so I needed a quick glance to tell me a bit more precisely which side of that range it was closer to. In general, though, I was using my phone to tell me what time it was.

When it came to our daily standup meetings (where you had to sing if you were even one second late to the meeting) I used an IOS NTP client to get the real time to the second. hmmph.

Paper Note Organization

I’ve been enjoying the Bullet Journal system for utilizing a paper notebook. The idea of using one whole “spread” of two pages for a specific topic is particularly appealing. I also like the index idea.

All the items I want to record in a notebook are of the notes variety. The other main entities of the bullet system (events and tasks) are well-covered by my digital tools (namely, iCloud calender and Omnifocus).

The Bullet Journal system keeps my paper notes organized and accessible.

Forcing a Mac to get updates from iCloud

I’ve had trouble with one of my macs not syncing to iCloud.

Specifically, if I update a document on my second mac, it goes to iCloud just fine (I can see the updates on iCloud.com, my iPhone, and my iPad) but I don’t get the update on my first mac.

The best workaround I’ve found is to make sure both macs are awake and online when a document is modified. it seems if a mac is offline and misses the new data push from iCloud, the mac never requests new data from iCloud.

if one mac is offline when I change a document and I need the changes on that sleeping mac later, the best thing to do is modify the document again (via the other mac or iCloud.com) after the sleeper wakes.

Facebook bug?

I noticed my phone having shorter battery life and staying warm when I wasn’t using it.

In Settings > Privacy > Location Services I disallowed the Facebook app from being able to use my location.

Problem seems to be solved. My iphone now stays at room temperature when I’m not using it.

How did I decide to turn off location services for Facebook?

iOS 7 added a feature allowing apps to occasionally update in the background. For example, if you always check Facebook when you wake up, wouldn’t it be cool if Facebook updated itself just BEFORE you woke up and was therefore ready for you with current data? Then you wouldn’t have to wait.

When I went into the location services settings, I observed Facebook had a solid purple arrowhead which indicates Facebook had recently used my location. However, I knew I hadn’t touched the Facebook app all day.