When travel becomes time travel

We travel the world in search of the most incredible food, wine, human connection and other joys of the table. Along the way, we find ourselves transported — spiritually, emotionally and even transported in time.

Our Gastronomad Experiences always bring us to a thrilling state of mind, a feeling of being cast back into centuries past. Sometimes the modern world, with its technology and stress and industrialism is suddenly…. nowhere to be found. We can’t see it. And we can’t even feel it. And we ask ourselves: What century is this?

Enjoying an idyllic picnic at Tasmania's stunning Bay of Fires

Our friends Dylan and Jessica, plus Amira and I, had a great weekend in Tasmania's upper east side. The Bay of Fires has incredible beaches and famous orange rocks. We stopped off at a gourmet shop and picked up some cheese, bread, wine and other goodies. Jessica also found a really nice picnic basket. The friends, scenery, shade and food made this an absolutely perfect picnic. 

Why everyone is talking about smart rings

From Mike's List: "We know from its history of patent applications that Apple thinks different about smart rings. In addition to all the health tracking applications, Apple also sees smart rings as a gesture-controller for TVs, iPhones, iPads and Apple Vision Pro."

The hidden high cost of return-to-office mandates

We all know by now that many business leaders want their employees to work in the office instead of at home. But most don’t understand why.

And we know that many employees want to work from home instead of the office. And most don’t understand why, either.

As a result, we have a standoff at many companies where corporate leadership is imposing return-to-office (RTO) mandates, and employees are resisting.

It’s time for everyone to really understand what’s driving the standoff.

New AI glasses — better than Ray-Bans?

The newest entry into the AI glasses category comes from Brilliant Labs, the company that brought us that funky “Monocle” product I told you about last year. (I told you about it because someone customized it by adding ChatGPT functionality.) The product, called Frames, weigh 39 grams, which is an average weight even for ordinary prescription glasses.

Like Ray-Ban Meta glasses, Frames cost less than $400 — in this case, $349 — and also support prescription lenses. But unlike Ray-Ban Metas, these have a see-through screen interface visible to the wearer in the right frame only. Unlike Apple Vision Pro, where visual objects appear to be anchored in the real world, Frame glasses are heads-up displays like Google Glass, where the visual objects move with the head.

Augmented reality glasses like Xreal Air 2 can act as a screen for TV, video games and smartphones. This is different.

Frames show you AI content — specifically enabling interaction with the Perplexity genAI product I told you about in the last issue of Mike’s List. They give you “AI superpowers,” according to the company.

Meetings are about to get weird

No matter what, the meetings you attend are about to get… weird. In the short term, some of the people you meet with will become cartoon characters. In the long term, people will look like they’re streaming video, but will in fact be synthetic media avatars, and the person behind the avatar will be optional.

And, of course, if you’re willing to wear a headset, you’ll be meeting with holograms.

The main temple at Tulum in the mid 19th Century and more recently

The Tulum site was "discovered" in 1843 by John Lloyd Stephens and Frederick Catherwood in 1843, and this sketch was drawn by Frederick Catherwood a year later.

When Amira and I visited, you could pay extra to use the beach and site after closing, and we were the only ones visiting. The security guard, who's job is to keep people off the ruins, insisted that I sit on the ruins for a photo. So I pretended to use my laptop for the picture.  

Hybrid work trend of the moment: "coffee-badging"

"Coffee badging" is the practice of hybrid workers to show up to the office just to show their face and "make an appearance" to create the false impression that they're spending more time in the office than they really are. Some 58% of hybrid workers admit to "coffee badging," according to a June survey by Owl Labs

Some see it as a passive-aggressive protest against back-to-office mandates. But "Coffee badging" may be driving high levels of employee engagement. But it could reveal other cultural problems within the organization