I scrapped the shi*tty custom WordPress plugin we were previously using and decided to sell out.

That’s right, I’m using MailChimp. Their free service allows me to send 12,000 emails a month to 2,000 subscribers, and the only catch is the MailChimp button on the bottom. Not bad.

Pink and gold. Synthetitree’s color scheme, courtesy of Jesse Bull. Like it?

Here’s the QR code:

Synthetitree Digital Books newsletter

If you stare at it long enough you’ll see a 3D image pop out.

Beautiful, isn’t it?

So far MailChimp has been a joy to use. It’s a pretty, straightforward platform, and it seems quite powerful.

You can subscribe by clicking the fuzzy image above or by visiting Thanks!


Must you talk like that, monkey?!

MailChimp dashboard

Please stop.

Easy Bloody Mary Recipe

Brooklyn Republic vodkaV8 Original tomato juiceSriracha hot saucePonzu sauceCento Pepperoncini pickled peppers

Who doesn’t like a good Bloody Mary? Alongside the margarita, it reins as one of America’s great unorthodox cocktails that remains wildly popular for a good reason–because  it tastes amazing. Possibly the best daytime drink, the Bloody Mary simultaneously gives you your vitamins and an excuse to drink at any time. After tasting my fair share of good and not-so-good renditions of this classic, and making them at home in a variety of incarnations, I’ve settled on an easy recipe with a couple twists.


Vodka (Brooklyn Republic pictured above; $22/750ml)

Tomato juice (V8 is the standard)

Hot sauce (I choose Sriracha over Tabasco because, well, it’s better)

Ponzu sauce (soy sauce, vinegar and lemon. Simple and delicious. Available at most Asian markets, though easy to make at home)

Pickle juice (Cento Pepperoncini pictured above. Jalapeno juice works great too)

I know what you’re thinking. “No worcestorshire sauce?! This is bullsh*t!” Too much worcestorshire is the downfall of many a Bloody Mary, and I’m not a big fan of the stuff in the first place. The flavor is extremely pungent, and can mask other flavors far too easily. I’ve been using ponzu sauce for awhile and I feel it works better. It’s salty, smoky, tangy and sour. As for the Sriracha, it’s the best hot sauce on earth. And it contains garlic and more salt. The pickled pepper juice is key, a trick I learned from Phillip Marie in NYC’s West Village, a humble restaurant with a wicked brunch and the best Bloody Mary I’ve ever had. Pepperoncinis are milder than jalapenos, but still pack quite a kick, and you can float one of these bad boys on top for a garnish–celery and olives be damned. As for the salt/pepper and the horseradish? You don’t need ’em.


2 oz vodka

1 tsp. Sriracha (or more for those who like it hot)

1 tsp. ponzu

1 tsp. pickle juice

fill tomato juice and ice cubes, stir, serve.

I don’t bother measuring these out, and if you’re at all decent at estimating portions, you shouldn’t need to either. You should have about twice as much tomato juice as vodka, and you just need a splash each of the hot sauce, ponzu and pickle juice.

As for the celery stalk, that’s up to you.

The cocktail showdown

for Momofuku co. bar staff today at Booker and Dax was a blast! Two teams of five members went drink for drink, each team member creating a cocktail from a limited list of ingredients ranging from base spirits like Aquavit to liqueurs like Campari to funky ingredients like plum wine and coconut vinegar. I ended up incorporating rhubarb bitters and apple cider syrup into a uniquely American old-fashioned style cocktail I named “American Pie” (so creative, right?). Here’s the recipe:

2 oz. Rittenhouse rye whiskey

.25 oz. coconut vinegar

.5 oz. apple cider syrup

2 dash rhubarb bitters

Rittenhouse rye American whiskey

Rittenhouse Rye–as American as they come.

I built the drink in a double old fashioned glass  then added ice and stirred for ten to fifteen seconds and served as is. This concoction tasted spicy and tart, while remaining spirit-forward thanks to the Rittenhouse (100 proof), and the drink was well-received. Other unique libations the team came up with included a French 75 derivative with Kool Aid (seriously) and a Mezcal apricot sour that was delicious. Round two of the showdown is scheduled for next month, by which time we’re expected to have perfected our original cocktails, or at least gotten them as close to serviceable as possible.

“The Trend of E-Reading”

it’s been a long time in the making…

source: [Kopykitab]

How to push products on Google AdWords (part two)… success and failure

Here’s an update to my post early this morning, How to push products on Google AdWords. After creating my first ad campaign using Google AdWords, things started moving right away! My initial impressions of Google AdWords are mixed (reasons explained below), but I’m excited that the ads are working!

Things transpired exactly how I’d hoped, and the auto price of 50 cents per click is lower than I’d experienced on Facebook Ads.

My ads had no trouble reaching my daily cap of $5.00 in no time, with nine clicks at fifty cents a piece, totaling $4.49. The number of impressions is exciting–over twenty thousand!

You got served!..
Why the discrepancy, though?

Looking at my ads, I see that my text ad was “served” 97.59% of the time with 20,328 impressions, while my image ad showed 2.41% with 503 impressions. Reasoning? Anyone who’s used Gmail (or any Google product for that matter) will understand. Those little text ads are everywhere. I’m curious as to where the image ads are showing, as I don’t recall seeing a lot of image ads on Google software.

Unfortunately none of those clicks translated into a sale… Sad face.

The big question is, did those clicks turn into purchases? Sadly, it appears the answer is a resounding “No!”. <<sigh>>

Let’s see if they’ll take the bait!

Solution? It doesn’t make much sense paying fifty cents per click when my product only costs $2.99, from which we earn $2.06 (70%). So I changed my bidding settings to manual (settings > bidding and budget > bidding option) and set the max CPC (click per cost) to a drastically lower sum (ten cents). You can do this under the “Ad Groups” tab (as seen above). Now I’ll wait to see if anyone will click at that price, or if competitors’ ads will win my desired clicks. If I’m unable to spend my budget tomorrow, I’ll start raising the max CPC gradually and go from there!

How to push products on Google AdWords

This was my first experience using Google AdWords. It’s a powerful, flexible ad platform, but it’s a bit more complex and perhaps less self-explanatory than Facebook Ads, the other platform which I have prior experience with. Some of the great features both Google AdWords and Facebook Ads share are a low price of entry ($50?), extreme targetability, super-detailed analytics tools, a reassuring spending cap, and relative ease of use. And of course, they’re both free, aside from the click-thru price, which will usually run between 80 cents to a dollar per click. This is a basic run through, with images to help explain the process and highlight a few issues I ran into.

Your first campaign! Yay!

Obviously you’ll need a Google account. Go to, set your time zone (note, this cannot be changed once registered, so double-check!), verify and you’re ready to go. Are you nervous? Don’t be!

Which countries will be so lucky?

You’ll be asked to name your campaign and then run through some basic settings. The default country setting pretty much covers the globe, but since [The Wharf] is a novel primarily written in English with smatterings of Japanese, I made things more specific.

How much can you spend, and whom, if anyone, will you exclude?

Here’s where things get juicy. I left the bidding options automatic, as suggested, and dropped the budget from $10 to $5 a day. Why? Because I’m cheap. You’ll be prompted to take a tour for ad extensions–just wait. We’ll get to that later, and when I clicked that link the first time it opened a new page in the same browser window and I lost my progress. Really, Google? Under demographics I excluded anyone over the age of thirty-four, since [The Wharf]‘s ideal readership is pretty much pasty reclusive nerds who stay indoors and watch anime and get off on how many monitors they can hook up to their computers, i.e. mostly otaku guys/gals in their late teens to early thirties.

Make sure to choose a really clever group name

Now it’s time to get that ad up! First creat a group. Google AdWords will suggest a number, assuming you’ll likely be creating more ads later when the first one you make doesn’t generate shit in the way of hits.

Don’t be dismayed if your ads don’t turn out as awesome as mine.

Once your group’s set it’s time to create the ads themselves! The ad generator is sufficiently intuitive and I didn’t encounter any snags. I created one text ad and one image ad, opting for the 250×250 square image size. Photo size is limited to 50k, though note the resolution in the previewer doesn’t reflect the quality you’ll enjoy when you click “View full size image ad”. My text ad was approved almost instantly, while my image ad took about an hour to process. I assume Google doesn’t permit pornography or otherwise explicit material in ads… Buncha party poopers.

Quantity over quality?

Aaahhhh keywords. You are the apple of my eye and the bane of my existence. I’ve had to hash these things out so many times by now that I pretty much winged it. Google seems to suggest more specific search combinations, and will give you some ratings/suggestions on your keywords, not to mention advice. I couldn’t manage higher than a score of “5/10”, which registered for “Jesse Bull” (my co-author), while my name, ironically, only returned a “4/10” (what are you insinuating, Google? Do you think he’s better looking?).  I went pretty heavy on the keywords (23 to be exact), most of which ended up “Eligible”, though the bulk of what you see here turned up “Rarely show due to low quality score”, whatever than means. You can change keywords at any time, so don’t sweat it too much.

Because I use Google+ so often…

You’re almost there! Ad extensions offer additional features for your ad that can potentially prove quite powerful depending on what you’re selling. The only one I ended up tacking on was Google+ integration, since I have a Synthetitree/Wharf page on that social network, and it’s beautiful.


Just in case you’re unclear on your financial commitment, once things have processed you can always go back and check your budget cap under Billing > Settings > How you pay. The default cap is $50, so I went with that. It’s not because I’m broke or anything.

This fucker kept popping up.

You may see this annoying red window periodically while you’re working. At first I was alarmed but I started ignoring it. I never lost any data during the process aside from that stupid “Take the tour” snafu, so don’t be alarmed if you see this.

There you have it! Hopefully your new ad/s will grab as much attention for your product as you’d hoped for, and for a decent price! Just be careful what you wish for.

I’m sure David’s not the only guy

that can fill that hole… In fact, it doesn’t need to be a guy, per se… Theoretically you could stick just about anything up there that’s not too big.

While He Was Away by Karen Schreck

A sample of the “burgeoning genre of literature about the Iraq war”.

Image borrowed from [Early Nerd Special].

Facebook’s disappointing IPO

came as a shock to anyone? With ads like this? No wonder your click-through rate is abysmal, Zuckerberg.

Harry Nilsson, Maverick

“Both men also caused property damage during binges, with Lennon trashing a bedroom in Lou Adler’s house, and Nilsson throwing a bottle through a 30-foot-high hotel window.”

-Wikipedia, Harry Nilsson

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