Welcome to the home of Noah Brier. I'm the co-founder of Variance and general internet tinkerer. Most of my writing these days is happening over at Why is this interesting?, a daily email full of interesting stuff. This site has been around since 2004. Feel free to get in touch. Good places to get started are my Framework of the Day posts or my favorite books and podcasts. Get in touch.

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Notes from London

Apologies for the lack of posts over the last few days, as most of you probably know, I’m in London.

Since I have a few minutes before I go out and eat my hangover away, I figured I’d jot down some of the assorted notes/thoughts/observations of my trip.

  • At my gate in JFK Airport Samsung had a charging station. I’ve always thought it was odd that there weren’t more accessible plugs in an airport and I think it’s a brilliant move on Samsung’s part (who also used the space to show off the Blackjack).
  • Continuing on the phone and plug theme, I was at another hotel in the area for a few minutes and noticed a charging station in the lobby. What was unique about it was that there were about five safes and each one had a few cell phone manufacturers listed on the outside. If your phone needs a charge you just pay, plug it in, lock the safe and come back later. Quite a brilliant execution if you ask me. Surprised I’ve never seen it in the States.
  • It’s amazing how I’ve completely erased from my mind what it’s like to be in a smoke-filled bar. Since New York passed the law however-many-years-ago, I’ve enjoyed not coming home stinking of cigarettes quite a bit (though my dry cleaner is quite a bit less happy I’d imagine).
  • I was talking to a guy at the Newman Arms before going upstairs for a steak and kidney pie (mmmmmm . . . . ). He was getting his doctorate in environmental science and specializes in a small rodent-like thing who is native to England and has a name I can’t remember for the life of me. Anyhow, the population of said rodent-thing has declined incredibly over the last 10 years (I think he said 90%) and is now endangered. What was incredibly interesting to me is that one of the big factors in the decline is the mink. Turns out the mink is a predator of the rodent (who is apparently actually in the lemming family). Now minks are not native to England, there came to be so many of them because animal rights activists go around releasing them from fur factories where they are bred to be slaughtered. I’m not a big fan of fur, but it’s pretty interesting that animal rights activists are taking away the natural rights of another animal in their protests.
  • The oldest (and best) cocktail bar in London is apparently the American Bar at the Savoy Hotel. A bartender at The Sanderson told me about it and then I read this in the book on the history of the cocktail that I’m currently reading: “In 1898 the Savoy Hotel opened its own [American cocktail bar] . . . From 1903 to 1924, the Savoy’s head bartender was a woman, Ada Coleman. She passed the sliver shaker to Harry Craddock, a former bartender at the Holland House in New York, who crossed the Atlantic when Prohibition robbed him of his trade . . . Craddock committed his recipes to print in The Savoy Cocktail Book (1930), perhaps the most stylish drink book ever produced.”

That’s it for now, have a long day of museum hopping planned and need to hit the road. Hope all is well on the other side of the pond.

January 18, 2007