Kickstand Coffee Closed?

Visiting Tacoma blog Exit 133, I saw that the Kickstand Cafe has a “Closed Until Further Notice” sign up in it’s window.

According to the comments, the current owners Chris and Dawn are looking at selling the place, and that a possible new owner will regut the thing and start fresh with a new name, and new decor. Best of luck to the new owners, and I look forward to visiting for a cup of coffee sometime.

Tacoma Blogging

Through some long forgotten ways and in the usual way of the Internet, I found out about a few local Tacoma blogs that cover happenings and things going on in my nice little city. I like the ideas of local blogging, and the specific topics that they can cover (one of the failings of Cinder Inc. is a lack of focus on a particular topic). It’s a little weird hearing them talk about something that’s down the street from me, or a place I eat frequently. Fun though as well, and they get into some interesting things that I’ve never noticed about T-town.

Two that are updated most frequently are Kevin Freitas’s Blog and Exit 133. Both talk about the development of Tacoma’s business and residential landscape, and also how they are changing with growth, development, and destruction.

Take for example their coverage of the spontaneous collapse of the Eagles building here just a few blocks away from me.? It’s great to see a few local blogs covering things you wouldn’t expect to see covered in a small city.

Merry Christmas

I’ve been negligent with Cinder Inc. for some time, and I can offer excuses of why (family, work, life and so on) but it doesn’t change that I haven’t written, nor that I haven’t really done much with this for quite some time.? I need some focus, some ideas of what I want to write, or even just discuss.

Merry Christmas to all of you out there who stop by to see Cinder Inc over the next week.? I’m looking forward to this holiday season and it’s been an incredible last year for me and my family.? And I wish the same for you and yours.? New Years resolution?? More posts.? (I think that was last years too…)

Worpress 2.0.3 Upgrade

I wrote a while ago about my plan to upgrade from WordPress 1.5 to 2.0, but never actually got around to doing so. Work and family took precedence over playing around with FTP, PHP and any other fun acronyms that make the web run. That being said, I had a few extra hours this weekend and ran the upgrade and so now what you see is WordPress 2.0.3 Wow.

Nothings different really. For the most part, it doesn’t to much to the interface that users see from what I’ve been able to tell. It’s got a more robust backend and admin panel to help me manage this site a bit better. I’m looking at also getting a new visual template and giving the site a new look past the WordPress default, which while nice, makes it look like a ton of other no thought sites out there. Any template reccomendations would be appreciated!

It should also help me create different user accounts so I can give my wife a login and she can post on her own, without any help from me, and it will be authored by her in the byline as well.

Games and Learning

I was looking around the net as usuall, but ended up finding this post on Games and Learning. The author hits his point right on the head. Educational games tend to suck. They beat you over the head with what they are trying to teach you. Math games are some of the worst, but I remember reading and geography games as well.

Thinking back to my childhood and educational games that I’ve played, Oregon Trail stands out as a game that accomplished what it was trying to do. Make learning about how hard it was to cross the country in a wagon train, while having fun.

I think as my son grows I want to make his learning much like this as well. Take things that are normally long lists or excercises in memorization, and create a way that he just knows the answer instead of trying to recall his list in his head. Make his geography and history fun, but also second nature. I think this will be a good challenge for my wife and I as we look to educate him.

Measure Map *hearts* Google

Well it looks like just hours after I write about Measure Map they go and get themselves aquired by Google.

I think in the end this will be a good thing for Measure Map, and we’ll see what happens to the feature set as it grows and becomes a more fully featured program. Google seems to be pretty good at picking up properties that have good value if the havn’t already cooked them up in the Google Labs yet.

Measure Map – Blog Stats Done Right

Cinder Inc. has very little traffic, but I have always liked to keep on top of how many people came by, and how they got here. It’s always interesting to see what search terms brought people by, where they come from, which pages they saw and even the technology they used to visit. I used to use the kludgy stats system of my webhost, 1 and 1. It’s been a great webhosting service, but their stats system left something to be desired, was slow and never really gave me all the information I needed.

Enter Measure Map. It’s in a semi-closed beta right now, as they are still adding features, but you can sign up for an invitation and recieve it in due time. It took me a month or two before I recieved mine, but it was well worth the wait.

In short, Measure Map, sets up in minutes and lets you see your website statistics quickly and easily. It answered all of my needs in terms of how people got to Cinder Inc and what they saw when they got there. It’s fast, easily navigated (thank you!) and been a breeze to work with. I can’t wait to see what else they add.

Tacoma Coffee – The Kickstand Cafe

Again on the search for good coffee in Tacoma, we come to the Kickstand Cafe. I’d insert a link to their website but they don’t have one-I think you know this frustrates and confuses me. Located near downtown Tacoma and Wright Park, the Kickstand is home to Tacoma’s growing crowd of hipsters (Seattle transplants or high schoolers who just don’t know any better). It was founded by a young couple, who about 2 years ago sold it and moved. The new owners have cleaned it up and tried to improve the service. They have managed to retain much of the old flavor of the place while making it a bit more welcoming to Tacoma’s diverse population.

Starting with the atmosphere, they’ve done a good job keeping it a comfortable but modern setting. There’s a mural on the wall that survived the change of hands as well as a rotating display of local art. Their back room, which went from a dark hole where no one went, was transformed under the new owners to a usable space with plenty of light and a great place for the local music and shows that are put on there, as well as a place to drink the selection of wine and beer they now offer.

They are currently using Caffe Vita coffee. Which is both a good and bad thing. I’m happy they are not using some of the local roasters (Fox Hollow and it’s ilk), but Vita just isn’t as good as some of the other Seattle roasters. The good thing about Caffe Vita, is the barista training that they offer to those who use their coffee. It might not be much, but any training on proper techniques is better than none.

Problem is, the baristas of the Kickstand are widely varied in their skills. I’ve been in and had either Chris (one of the owners), or another of his baristas make me and my wife a great pair of drinks, with great foam, and shots that were not over extracted with decent cr?me. But on a return visit on a Saturday evening, the barista was clearly inexperienced and made one of the worst Americao’s I’ve ever had, and my wife’s short latte was more a lukewarm steamed milk with no foam. Very disappointing.

They use a well worn La San Marco for their machine. It’s seen better days and has been repeatedly patched to keep it going, but it can produce good shots if you are patient (I myself put in a brief stint as a Kickstand barista).

The Kickstand, if you can get a good barista, is one of the better coffee experiences you will get in Tacoma. Decent to good Caffe Vita, with great atmosphere, and the bonus of theThe Grand Cinema next door, showing the latest indie films. My advice, carefully watch what the drinks of the people in front of you look like. If they’re sketchy, go for the drip, or a smoothie. You’ll be better off, and you’ll enjoy your experience more.

Pandora

I wish I could remember where I found the link to Pandora.

What is Pandora? It’s an incredible webapplication that answers the question, “If I like xxx band, then what are other bands I might like?”, and in the end Pandora does a great job of answering this question. It’s simple to use. You enter a band name, it’s music engine looks for music that is either by that band or possibly sounds like it. Easy, but the system is a learning system, in that you can give the song it plays a thumbs up or down based on how you like it, and how well it meets with your band criteria. It’s almost like a radio station that plays music you like and if you don’t it’s easy to skip. But the great part is that it introduces you to bands and artists that you would never have heard otherwise.

Feeling mellow – put on your Death Cab for Cutie “station”, feeling like going dancing – put on your Daft Punk station. Try it… It’s replaced internet radio for me while I work, and I’ve heard quite a few bands I’d like to learn more about.