Why [Robin Sloan] quit ordering from Uber-for-food startups

Another writer picks up on a topic I wrote about back in March:

I feel bad, truly, for Amazon and Sprig and their many peers—SpoonRocket, Postmates, Munchery, and the rest. They build these complicated systems and then they have to hide them, because the way they treat humans is at best mildly depressing and at worst burn-it-down dystopian.

What would it be like if you didn’t have to hide the system?


Meals from Josephine are not available for delivery.

On the day of your order, a text message arrives bearing a street address. You ride over on your bicycle and spot a Josephine sign taped to the front door, which is ajar. You step inside; the feeling is both clandestine and transgressive. In the kitchen, the cook—your neighbor—is working. Maybe another customer—also your neighbor—is lingering. You announce yourself, say hello, receive your meal. Chat a bit, if you like. Carry it home in a bag dangling from your handlebars.

Read Why I quit ordering from Uber-for-food startups {The Atlantic}

The Guilt of Delivery

I don’t like ordering food when it’s snowing, raining, or ever really. It’s lazy, unhealthy (the not moving and the food part), and it makes me feel guilty. I can afford to order cookies and ice cream and get it delivered to my house and that just sounds absurd. Maybe it’s because I grew up in home situated in a fairly rural area, overseen by a mom who would never order such things. She would make them herself, damn it.

It’s also weird because I see how waiters and waitresses are sometimes treated poorly in restaurants, and that makes me feel guilty for taking the services of someone who probably isn’t working their dream job.

Or maybe they are, who am I to judge. This isn’t about me.

I’ve been thinking about this recently since I’m busier and thus, order food more often. And the smartphone makes the process of ordering things a whole lot more convenient. And now it’s happening to everything. Not only can you get pretty much anything delivered from Seamless or Instacart or whatever—you can also pay people to do pretty much anything for you with services like TaskRabbit.

Which leads me to this article, The Shut-In Economy. It illuminates something I was trying to get at… that it’s good my mom made stuff for us and didn’t rely on other people to make things for us.

The luxuries usually afforded to one-percenters now stretch to the urban upper-middle class, or so the technology industry cheers. But can you democratize the province of the rich without getting a new class acting, well, entitled? My parents made me put away the dishes not to “outsource” their workload — they could have done it faster. They did it so I wouldn’t turn out to be a brat.

After all, either you’re behind the door, receiving your dinner in the tower. Or you’re like the food delivery guy who, while checking in with the concierge, said, “This is my dream place to live.” He’s the opposite of a shut-in. He’s stuck outside, hustling.

Check out the article (posted on Medium, incidentally…).

Smoothie Recipes

I make smoothies a lot. I think it’s fun to use whatever ingredients you have on hand and experiment with different combinations. It’s easy to experiment when you’re making smoothies; you just toss in different stuff.

I usually text a good flavor combination to a friend who also has a Vitamix and also makes smoothies. This story about sharing recipes on Twitter {npr} gave me the idea to tweet my smoothie recipes.

But twitter can be clunky for that sort of thing so i made a site that automatically pulls in my latest smoothies. check it out here: smoothies.marchummel.com


Ask a Robot to Tell You What to Cook

Watson—the supercomputer and Jeopardy star can now help you figure out what to make based on the ingredients you have on hand.

Well it can’t help you you, at least not yet. But the demo is pretty impressive:

If you give Watson a few ingredients and cuisine specifications, it can help you with recipe ideas. I had a few things in the kitchen, but I didn’t know what to make with them — ground turkey, frozen peas, dried mushrooms, canned tomatoes. I live in San Francisco, so it’s easy to get Asian and Mexican spices. […]

“If you can understand what’s in an actual ingredient,” [IBM engineer Steven] Abrams says, “so what is in butter, what’s in strawberries, what’s in chocolate. What are the key flavor compounds that give them those pleasant sensations? Then, you can make predictions about what’s going to be pleasant, what’s going to be sweet and spicy and salty and savory.”

Read/listen to I’ve Got The Ingredients. What Should I Cook? Ask IBM’s Watson {npr}.

Let’s Use Loyalty Reward Cards to Feed the Homeless

This is a cool idea:

If every customer of Qdoba used the same shared loyalty rewards card to earn free meals, a lot of food could be donated to hungry families.

That’s the Project Burrito idea that Chris Overcash brought to Random Hacks of Kindness this weekend. Today, you could start using the above loyalty rewards account to help earn free food for needy families, beginning here in Philadelphia.

I’m not big on Qdoba, but I suppose it could make a difference nonetheless. What other loyalty rewards cards give actual stuff (as opposed to just points)? Also seems like it could be a logistics nightmare.

Go to the Project Burrito site to get the barcode {via technically philly}.

Reminds me of that debt buyback initiative Occupy Wall Street recently started.