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    Geek vs. Snob


    2012 - 02.28

    A while back one of my cousins posted about the concept of a Geek and how it is different from a snob, with a real life example.

    We were out one evening at a pizza parlor with some friends and their friends, and one person in the party was the son of a winemaker. One of the women, who wanted to drink some wine, asked him which wine he recommended. None of them, he said. Period. He didn’t even offer up a suggested beer or cocktail, and this woman either had to drink nothing, or ignore his advice. What a snob.

    Read more: http://candlewineproject.wordpress.com/2012/01/23/geek-vs-snob/

    I thought it was an interesting read, I also thought it was an interesting choice of terms.  I personally often think of Geek as a noun, and sometimes use it to describe myself.  In that context I’m usually thinking of it in terms of expertise with respect to computers.  I think however that she’s using it more as an adjective: Wine Geek, Cider Geek, etc…  I too use Geek in that way sometimes: Board game Geek.

    For me the difference really is that Geek when used in this way implies enthusiasm and if not a certain minimum level of expertise an aspiration towards it.  Snobbery on the other hand has an implicit negative connotation.  The inherent difference being that by calling someone a snob you’re making the value judgement that they are being condescending in the offering of their opinion (which may be based on just as much expertise as one offered by a geek).  So realistically it’s the way in which the opinion is offered, and not the opinion itself.

    I think the problem of distinction is exasperated by the sphere in which the example is presented: beverages (or more generally food).  Not everyone has the same tastes, and perhaps more interestingly not everything tastes the same to all people.  So even if one were talking about wines, you could have a much better made wine that was actually technically of higher quality, but it doesn’t mean that you would actually like it more, or at all.

    Take that to the sphere of technology instead and there are definitely clear external metrics which can objectively classify something as better than something else, and the subjective element although still present is less important, and less likely to be problematic.

    Getting back to the  central question though of whether or not one is a snob or a geek, I think that it’s not actually a difficult situation to avoid.  Geeks are valued for their knowledge; Snobs are derided for the manner in which they share their knowledge.  So if you want to be a geek and not a snob you share your expertise but in a non-judgemental way.

    If you find yourself asked to recommend a wine (and you have appropriate expertise) then you can indicate that you personally wouldn’t choose any of the ones that are offered, but that wine X is probably the best of the bunch (or would probably make the best pairing with what they’re having for dinner).

    That said a geek is also permitted to have the courage of their convictions.  By this I mean it’s totally alright to recommend against any of the choices if you have a good reason.  Ex: I honest believe that YOU would not be happy with any of the choices, or that you would later regret making one of those choices.  That’s not snobbery, that’s conviction (and well intentioned).

    Wine Bottle


    2011 - 12.18

    I can’t think of any reason that I’d post this picture at this time… but at the moment this is Karin’s favourite wine:

    Bleasdale Second Innings Malbec 2009

    Most Important Sale of the Year


    2011 - 11.22

    Sure it’s almost American Thanksgiving with its associated sales and shopping hoopla, but there’s an even better sale on right now at Costco!  Martinelli’s Sparking Apple Juice (4 pack) is currently $2 off, which makes it about $6.69 (plus deposit and such), which virtually makes it 4 for the price of 1 (anywhere but Costco).  So stock up, because it’s super delicious, and much better for you than a cheap flatscreen TV.

    If you’re feeling adventurous you can check out some recipe suggestions from their website too.

    Healthy Resolutions


    2011 - 01.26

    Over the last few years, Dave and I have worked on trying to get healthier. We tend to be undone by drinks…Coke for Dave and wine for me (and diet pop, and juice, and…yeah…). We’ve instigated a new rule at Chez Cowbels. For dinner, you must have a glass of water before drinking anything else. So far, we’ve been pretty good, although today I was home alone and consumed a glass of Chardonnay before I remembered.

    Another thing we’re trying to do is exercise more. In that vein, we dusted off our Wii Dance Dance Revolution mats last night and played a little. It always amazes me exactly how out of shape I get so quickly. Dave plays disc sports twice a week, while I…do not. I’m doing some kinesthetic physio now which works my core and a few other things, but I need some cardio. Thanks to SocialShopper, I picked up some inexpensive BoxerFit passes for three months at a place near home, en route to work. The idea here is that I’ll either work out before school *snicker…* or on the way home (potentially more likely, although I’m resolved to do at least a month of “bootcamp” style workouts [every morning...whimper...]) We both have pedometers and try to walk at least 5000 steps a day, and we’ll sometimes walk to the grocery store or someplace in our neighbourhood, just so we’ve got a place to go (note to self: walking to McDonalds for ice cream is counterproductive.).

    I’m also trying to eat healthier, which seems to be good. Yay!

    The Candle Wine Project


    2011 - 01.12

    Hmmm, seems that there’s a bit of a theme at the moment, giving shout outs to friends who are doing something interesting on the Internet.  This one however is perhaps a little disturbing in that it’s probably a little too close to the sorts of things which Karin would love to be doing with her summer’s off, urban homesteading, or actual homesteading I suppose.

    This “project” is spearheaded by my cousin-by-marriage*, Heather, and it revolves around turning an interest into a hobby, and hopefully eventually into a viable business.  Here’s what she says about The Candle Wine Project:

    I am documenting my growth in what I hope will lead me to start my own business of selling cider and fruit wine.

    The idea was a slow growing one. I was raised on a farm, but went to live and work in the city. The recession was coming on, and I’m always looking for ways to do things myself to save a buck. You know, go back to the basics. I moved in with my boyfriend in a house in the suburbs, and finally got to grow a garden. After my boyfriend was upgraded to fiancé, we went to a local distillery, and I was really impressed, thinking, this would be awesome to do myself, but I didn’t really do anything about it. However, there was a man in our tour group who said he had brewed cider, and I thought that would be a better starting point since my parents have six apple trees on their property. Free material source!

    I got a hold of some books on cider and started reading them on my honeymoon since I now had time with the wedding being over. I was strictly thinking of doing it as a hobby at this point. There was one day, however, where I was jealous of my husband’s summers off from teaching, and the increased recession fears that my new boss was going to let me go. This idea of having a winery suddenly popped into my head, and I’ve kind of obsessed with the idea since, knowing that I still wouldn’t get summers off.

    My winery would not sell grape wine because that can be found anywhere. Instead, I draw my inspiration from Shallon Winery in Astoria, OR. It is run by an old gentleman who makes the most wonderful fruit wines, including a cranberry whey wine and a chocolate orange wine. One time I when I was there, before I had my business idea, I asked what would happen upon his death, as it would be a terrible thing to lose his recipes. Now I hope that I could purchase at least the cranberry whey wine recipe from him.

    I hope you will watch as I try to turn this little hobby into a business.

    There’s also a Facebook page for The Candle Wine Project if you prefer using Facebook.  Go ahead, you know you’ll “like” it ;-)

    * when I was thinking about this post, I thought to myself, how do I describe this relationship: the wife of my cousin, or more precisely my father’s brother’s son’s spouse.  I suppose the appropriate and commonly accepted term would be cousin-in-law, or because most people don’t question the lineage of cousins (at least in polite conversation) cousin probably would have been an acceptable shorthand.  That said, I elected to go with cousin-by-marriage, because well it’s accurate, and it also in my mind seems less insulting than cousin-in-law, which felt to me to imply that if it weren’t for some “law” you would not recognize that individual as having any relationship to you!

    Wine Tasting Cards


    2010 - 12.24

    So a little over 14 months ago Karin did a double blind wine tasting at her birthday party, and in order to do that we came up with some wine tasting cards.  Surprisingly a search for Wine Tasting cards still doesn’t produce much in the way of results.

    As part of their Christmas gift we gave Karin’s brother and girlfriend-in-law some of the cards that we created for the birthday party, as they have started hosting their own wine tastings.  So given that we’re already sharing the cards with others, I figured what the hell, let’s release them to the world, and see if anyone else finds them useful. 

    So we can only take partial credit for these cards, as they are heavily based on the score cards from www.finedinings.com and their suggestions on how to host a wine tasting.  Another viable alternative score card is available from Better Tasting Wine, but for now we like ours better.

    One thing that is probably worth mentioning in case people from all over the Internet happen across the post, is that I essentially typeset the existing cards that we found, I’m not a wine connoisseur, in truth I don’t drink at all.  Essentially, I claim no wine expertise, and don’t in truth understand all of the criteria used for rating the wines on the cards.  That said, feel free to offer feedback or suggestions.