Pinterest and the future of photosharing

So there are a bunch of huge numbers rolling out about Pinterest—the latest of which show that the service has 10.4 million registered users, 9 million monthly Facebook connected users, and 2 million Facebook users, according to Inside Network's AppData tracking service.

And if Pinterest is going to be as huge as many people think it will be, it will be fun to watch a few things happen:

  • We will change the way we think about image ownership. It will be less about where people put our photos ("Why did that person put my photo on that website?") and more about how photos track back to the properties that we control ("Why did that person not put a link back?"). We've seen such trends with Tumblr, Posterous, and others, but the speed with which we share photos will quicken.
  • Media companies will want, even more, to control the full rights to the photos they use. Even more than before, photos are quickly going to become powerful marketing content, and companies who care about social media users will want the ability to fluidly deciminate branded images through web. Many corporations are already starting to get the efficacy of visual storytelling tools—infographics, for instance, are an incredible way to help people understand what you do. But the popularity of photo sharing services will encourage companies even more, to share stories in images. 
  • Watermark services will multiply and refine. Pinterest is fun now, but people are quickly going to become peeved about folks using photos without credit. And as a result, people will be looking for a quick and easy way to stylishly lay claim to their photos. Think Instagram for watermarks.

It will be interesting to watch how Pinterest will navigate image sharing and rights. (Side note: There was a great article earlier this week about managing copyrights on Pinterest.)

So now here's my question: Anyone found a watermarking app they like? There are a couple I want to try (It's My Photo AD, iWatermark, and Impression), but I'm not sure how good they are.

Midweek Weekend: Rickhouse

Ever have a week so tiring that halfway through you need a little weekend? 

Yes. Yes, yes, yes. It was one of those weeks. So Josh and I headed down to one of our favorite bars in the city: Rickhouse. 

We love Rickhouse for three main reasons:

  1. The cocktails are great.
  2. High-quality ingredients with a passionate staff? Yes, please!
  3. The price is cheaper than most other cocktails in this class. Each cocktail used to be $8, though we discovered yesterday that the prices were bumped up to $9 or $10. 
  4. Two words: Punch bowls!

It was crowded even mid-week—typical, due to bar's location in the Financial District, which draws flocks of suits and high heels for happy hour drinks. Even aside from the business types, however, the drinks attract cocktail enthusiasts from all over. Just last year, Rickhouse won a prestigious award for best high-volume bar at Tales of the Cocktail, and most recently, one of its bartenders, Russell, was named bartender of the year by Nightclub & Bar (if you ever sit at his bar, ask for a daiquiri. It's said to be one of the hardest drinks to make, and Russell nails it!). 

I ordered a Penicillin #2 (pictured above), one of my old fall backs when I want something refreshing after work. It's a smokey mix of Scotch, lemon, pineapple gum syrup, and bitters (a California twist on the New York original—yes, the Penicillin—that uses a ginger honey syrup).

Josh ordered a Improved Gin Cocktail—a class of cocktails that is incidentally one of my favorites, as well. This "improved" breed of cocktails is a simple (and delicious!) twist on the classic Old Fashioned with the addition of Maraschino liqueur and a touch of absinthe. It's a recipe that dates back to the 1880s, the cradle of modern cocktails, when Jerry Thomas and others started adding the then-new maraschino liqueur to drinks. You can use this method with any spirit by stirring your favorite poison with simple syrup (or sugar), Maraschino liqueur, angostura bitters, and a dash of absinthe. Rickhouse, however, chose to spotlight the gin variation on the menu, using, specifically, Bols Genevere gin. This Dutch preparation of gin ages the spirit in casks, which imparts a spicier, smokier flavor—whiskey lovers, rejoice.

We also discovered last night that, in addition to the prices, the Rickhouse menu has changed. The long, lengthy litany of cocktails has been replaced by two simple double-sided cards. Along with the Improved Gin Cocktail, it includes another favorite: the Vieux Carre.

We think the menu change is probably because the old bar manager, Trevor, headed over to Heaven's Dog. I'm not sure, though, who is writing the menu at Rickhouse now.

There's nothing like a midweek respite. Now, back to the work week. And thank the Lord, tomorrow is Friday! 

Rickhouse

246 Kearny Street  

San Francisco, CA 94108

Rice Cooker Macaroni and Cheese

  • 1 can (14 ounce) chicken broth
  • 2 cups elbow macaroni (uncooked)
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese ( I like a cheddar/jack blend)
  • My quest for easy, yummy, and healthy meals continues (as it probably does for anybody strapped for time). For some reason, this evening, I started to ponder the possibilities of rice cooker meals. Indeed, my rice cooker is one of my most treasured kitchen items. My aunty actually bought me my current one—a coveted Zojirushi—for me while I was pining for Asian food in college. And tonight it occurred to me that the appliance might work some magic again and produce some easy meals.

    To be honest, I was initially seeking Asian recipes (one of the various ways my Chinese-ness expresses itself, I suppose). One of the few and very simple approaches I've seen before is putting your lapcheong (Chinese sausage) on top of the rice you're steaming. I've also seen someone make Hainan chicken using a flavor packet and her rice cooker. But I was delighted to find this mac and cheese recipe. On cold, San Francisco evenings, who could resist such a comforting favorite? The ingredients are above, and you can click through to see the directions.

    Does anyone else have favorite rice cooker recipes?

    **Update**

    I've found some other neat sites with rice cooker recipes:

    • "5 New Cooking Uses for Your Rice Cooker" from Real Simple (and the rice cooker they picture is the same model as mine!)
    • 7 more suggested dishes from Gapers Block
    • If Martha Stewart were Asian, this is what you'd get
    • A profile on the rice cooker by the New York Times—with links to recipes for rice cooker bibimbap with salmon and spinach and rice cooker chicken biriyani with saffron cream

    Remembering John Heckathorn

    I first became acquainted with John Heckathorn the way that so many of us did—through his byline. As the former editor of Honolulu Magazine, a prolific food critic, and active community member, John’s name preceded him. It was easy to find his writing across newspapers and magazine titles. And everyone seemed to know him. Which became easy to believe considering his larger-than-life personality.

    An aspiring editor and writer myself, I followed the glossy pages of his city magazine and read his newspaper columns, tracking his food interests and listening to his writing voice in my head, that trademark mix of sassy staccato that never missed an opportunity to get straight to the point. Before I had ever had a conversation with him, he had established himself as an institution in the Hawaii community. He was one of the names you could invoke to set the standard for good writing, good eating, a sharp eye, and island sophistication. None of these was a small feat. He was the critics of all critics in Hawaii.

    That was how I first knew John.

    But it was only as an adult that I came to know the guy who my boyfriend and I not only respected but also loved.

    During the summers that I interned at our local Gannett paper, The Honolulu Advertiser (a newspaper now sadly no longer with us), I made a good friend named Derek. We had found common interests in music and pop culture and took to swapping the latest tunes or rare tracks of live or acoustic performances we had found. We also loved writing and with equal fervor traded stories about our latest interviews, sweet pieces of writing we had read, and our favorite magazines. Derek and I enjoyed sharing about all the best things in life, and that included our friends. For Derek, that meant John. John was one of Derek’s and his wife Dawn’s very best friends, and even though Derek would talk about him in that familiar, intimate way would you talk about your dearests, John somehow seemed even more mythologized to me. What a man of cunning, cleverness, good taste, loyalty, and unshakeable character, I thought to myself! In those days, there was no Yelp, no Nonstop Honolulu, no Metromix, only your smarts, strong instincts, and divining sensibilities—which is what John seemed to have because he was always in the know.

    It was inevitable from there, I suppose, that I would get to know John.

    After Derek eventually left the Advertiser, he started to work in the same office as John. I was living in Chicago going to school at the time, but whenever I would come home to Honolulu, I’d pay their downtown office a visit, and we’d steal off for a bite to eat during lunch hour when they weren’t too busy. John was funny—really funny—and not afraid to say anything, which partially accounted for his sharp wit and much larger vocabulary than what was allowed to be printed. ;-) On days when there wasn’t time for lunch, he’d let me badger him in his office, often dumping into my arms all of the press editions of books he decided he didn’t want, usually from some dusty cardboard box in the corner (I thought they were gold). If he heard my voice in the office, he’d come out with his hands on his hips, squint his eyes at me with concern, and say, “Noelle. How ARE you?” His inquiries were always so earnest—so sincere as to what this crazy kid was up to. He would continue to ask after me, sometimes in person when I was home or through Derek and Dawn or occasionally through Facebook or the phone, throughout all of those cold, blustery winters in Chicago and then throughout my career after I graduated from college. I always appreciated the ways that he made sure I was doing OK.

    As the years passed, we started to share more and more in our interest in food and, especially, drink. The group of us—John, Derek, Dawn, my boyfriend Josh, and myself—had all caught the craft cocktail bug and loved making tasty drinks using fresh, high-quality ingredients. Holiday parties soon branched out to planned pau hanas which spread to regular cocktail nights. These were cherished get-togethers during which each of us would bring food and choose a special cocktail to make for each other. It was a clever way to taste new things not on bar menus, test our amateur hands at mixing, and spend some time with good friends, good music, good food, and good drink. They were often long nights that would start early in the evening and end very late at night—which would allow those of us who were cautious to pace ourselves carefully and others  who were ambitious to adequately indulge. John’s dishes were so tasty. They were also usually the richest. Mussels with white wine and garlic. Some kind of stew (perhaps a cassoulet?) with all sorts of cured meats. Only the best.

    Hot afternoons would die into cool evenings, and we’d sit around on the floor talking and laughing. John talked about not only food and wine and writing, but also entertained us with many stories about his wife and daughters, whom he clearly adored.

    During these nights, John and my boyfriend Josh hit it off so well and so quickly that the first time they met, Josh announced in excitement that John was the grandfather he never had (as it turns out, John didn’t like the implications about age, whodathunkit, though he would later say that we were about the same age as his kids), and John emailed Josh a picture of John’s mother. Neither of them could later recall why.

    Other times, we talked about music. During a recent cocktail night—one that was actually the last time I would see John—we were playing a marathon of Jim Steinman songs, an epic compilation of dramatic songs like “Total Eclipse of the Heart” and Celine Dion’s “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now.” When John heard that I had never listened to Meatloaf’s “Paradise by the Dashboard Light,” he insisted on buying it on his iPhone immediately, just so I could hear all 8:25 minutes of it for the first time. We played it twice in a row.

    Later, I commented that I liked Steinman’s songs for the most part, but the song that really bothered me was “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now.” The lyrics were so vague, I said, naively. “What do they even mean when they say, ‘When you touch me like that’ or ‘When you kiss me like that’?” I said aloud. “It’s so vague. What is this or that?”

    John looked at me, squinting, again. “They're talking about sex.”

    “Oh.”

    I was sheepish. John told my boyfriend I was a keeper.

    When I first heard this morning the news of John’s passing last night, I felt outside of myself. How could it be that a man with so much life, so much spirit, and a bold, gravelly voice that could reach clear across any room, be gone from us? I sat for a moment quietly in my bedroom, looking at the Honolulu skyline washed in morning light. I had no words. Yet here I am, writing this breathy remembrance that I wonder whether John would say rambled too much. On the other hand, maybe this is the way to celebrate him and his life—with my words. Which is my style. And also John’s style (if I lack his swagger).

    I remember one of John’s signature drinks, a concoction of his own design called the Smile. It’s how I will remember John—one part Scotch, one part sweet, a little acid for kicks, and all smiles.

    These are just a few of many fond memories of John. I am grateful to have had the chance to know him—a legend in our community who became a caring friend. He may have been a critic of food but not of people—his heart was so big for so many. Josh and I already miss him very much. Our prayers go out to his family and friends. And we raise our glasses to a Heaven full of pork belly and Old Fashioneds. This one’s for you, John.