One might arrive at some assumptions about me from the fact that I named my personal site breakfastscot.ch. Those assumptions are:

- That I eat breakfast
- That I drink scotch
- That I like to do both at the same time*

This implies the following:

- breakfast ۷ scotch
- breakfast ⇒ scotch 

While logically correct, this would be an oversimplification of the reasons behind the name of this site. It would also be a generalization about who I am (and how I feel about breakfast and scotch). Let me get to a better answer to the title of this (short) essay by meandering around a few random, but connected thoughts…

First, Michel de Montaigne, that prolific writer of 16th century France living near that storied wine region, Bordeaux. Montaigne was born in wealth, schooled in classical Latin, a public servant in the magistrate - all the trappings of European aristocracy. Around the age of 40, Montainge experienced the 16th century equivalent of a traffic accident when on his horse he suffered a near death experience when he collided with another rider. This experience seemed to trigger a more reclusive life where he devoted himself to reading, writing and contemplative thought. Montaigne’s essay have a self-deprecating flavor with his frequent references to “What do I know?” (Que sais-je?). In his essay “On Books” Montaigne states that:

“I cannot vouch to other people for my reasonings: I can scarcely vouch for them to myself and am by no means satisfied with them. If anyone is looking for knowledge let him go where such fish are to be caught: there is nothing I lay claim to less. These are my own thoughts, by which I am striving to make known not matter but me. Perhaps I shall master that matter one day;” (Montaigne, 457).

This theme continues:

“What I am obliged to answer for is for getting myself tangled up, or if there is any inanity or defect in my reasoning which I do not see or which I am incapable of seeing once it is pointed out to me.” (Montaigne, 458).

If one has read Montaigne, you get the sense that his brush with death pushed him into deep reflection and that perhaps his self-deprecation is really Montaigne just laying himself bare for all to see. He is letting those that read his essays to get inside his head and really get to know and understand him - to know him in a visceral sense. Reading Montaigne one gets to know him, but also get to know themselves and gain perspective (or is it understanding) of the human condition. If Montaigne were alive today and I could speak Latin or French, it would be relatively easy to strike up a conversation as I feel like I already know him. In truth, Montaigne did not write his essays for you or me, but for himself (and probably his inner circle). Montaigne was the Renaissance version of a blogger. This is not my original idea, and I have heard various others make mention that Montaigne was the world’s first blogger of sorts, but I think it bears repeating as it is relevant to the reasons why I have this site and why it is named as it is.

My intent for this site is to get inside my own head. I wanted a place to practice my writing and to write about things that deeply interested me. A way to develop and refine my ideas into a logical order from the murky mess that they exist as in my mind. The inspiration of Montaigne is to write to better get to know myself and at the same time offer others a scene of my thinking. This is not an altruistic goal, it is a desire to find one’s self and those that I share a kinship with, which leads me to the second thought.

I grew up in a time when the Internet was nothing more than a collection of bulletin board systems (BBS) such as CompuServe and Prodigy. There was no Google to research school projects, getting information required physically visiting a library. There was real effort in the pursuit of information - a human element in the quality of the information derived and its application to a problem. Let that sink in for a moment, because it means something. Today, although I do use Google search or ChatGPT-4 to find information and work through problems, my first thought is to work through the problem in my mind and get out a notebook and put words on paper (or use a whiteboard if I have one nearby). In contrast, my exposure to Gen Z children, they will immediately go to YouTube (or whatever video social platform they prefer) for solutions. If they cannot find the answer - they revert to Google or maybe try ChatGPT or move on to something else as they (appear to) lack the desire to approach the problem from the analog perspective (probably cause they never learned it or find it slow). I do not think this is an exclusive trait of Gen Z, but a characteristic of generations born in technology and is not a universal truth (I am speaking in generalities when making these statements).

In my professional career I use to fly an aircraft that was very analog as it had 1980’s technology (Commodore 64 version of a flight management system (FMS) on-top of 1950’s engineering.) Such an aircraft could still be employed without the FMS - flying the airplane was primary over programming “the box” and when all else failed one just had to look out the windscreen and be a pilot. This term, be a pilot probably needs explanation: being a pilot is more than just manipulating the controls - it means you are “the box” - real-time data processing - the old school aviator, Jimmy Doolittle, Chuck Yeager, the Right Stuff - you are the athlete that’s going to win the game - you get the idea.

For part of my career, I instructed other pilots that grew up on newer digital aircraft where the FMS was central to the operation and employment of the aircraft. Programming “the box” was the primary means of flying the aircraft and if it broke, you were in for a rough time. The reliance on the technology was evident, when real-time changes happened, changes that an analog pilot would look out the windscreen and be the athlete, these digital pilots would be heads down trying to update “the box” when the solution was to just be a pilot and fly the damn airplane. Granted, lots of newer aircraft are essentially flying computers and pilots are merely computer monitors with little say in the matter, but my point is the difference in gathering & analyzing data, actions, decisions, and general habits between generations raised with or without technology. One is not necessarily better than the other, but it is different.

Taking this a step further, growing up with an 8-bit Nintendo where whenever I wanted to play Ninja Gaiden, I would just pop the cart in and push the power button. Now, jumping on an Xbox One (or whatever the last generation before the current generation was called) to load up Halo Infinite (the campaign, not multiplayer) is enough time for me to get a drink, run to the bathroom, there’s an update to download?! - it annoys me to no end. Thankfully, I only play sporadically and so my annoyance is manageable. Seems the older I get the less I play games (full disclosure: I have ZERO games on my iPhone) in contrast to when I was a kid growing up in the ’80s where it was ALL I ever did. I am not sure if it is just the fact that aging makes my time seem more valuable that “wasting” it playing a game bothers me or if it is the annoyance over the technology. I think it is both and a perception that video games are for kids and as an adult I should be drinking my scotch, reading the Wall Street Journal and laughing at the subtle nuances of British humor.

These examples of my dislike for newer technology stems from growing up in that era where if you wanted to know the weather forecast you either needed a newspaper nearby or waited for the 6 o’clock news. Things seemed slower because information flow had more friction. All of this to say that part of the reason that this site exists - is a more traditional form of self-expression and connecting with others (a la Montaigne) as opposed to newer technology options like Tik Tok, Instagram or any of that social media nonsense (full disclosure: I routingly surf Reddit such as r/suggestmeabook).

If you read the About page, there you will find certain easter eggs, the kind that if you recognize would imply we share more than just the role of writer and reader, but a kinship in the books we read or movies we watched and personal tastes. The intent was to put out a calling card to interesting people, thinking similar thoughts, and trying to solve similar problems. Perhaps, breakfastscot.ch is not the most professional sounding name for a personal site. While probably true, I wanted something that openingly reflected my personality and interests without pretense or effort to project a false persona; a reminder of an earlier day. In the spirit of Churchill, Twain and Truman - men renowned not just for their achievements but also for their unconventional morning rituals involving spirits.

Breakfastscot.ch represents that ideal weekend morning, bright sunlight, weekend paper, family nearby, deliciously hearty breakfast and adult beverage. A day full of potential and ripe for intellectual pursuits. Of course, there is the issue that searching for this site yields mostly scotch breakfast recipes, but we all have to make life choices and damn I love the domain breakfastscot.ch (and it even references Switzerland where I first attempted Skiing…badly).

Another writer probably said it better, when he said a blog post is a search query to find fascinating people to converse with (Karlsson, 2022). This is an effort to increase my social sphere in the search of new ideas, solutions to existing problems and kindred spirits to share the journey. Drop me a note at the email address listed at the bottom of this site if you share a connection with what I write and if not…I hope you enjoy my Seinfeld references.

*In truth, I have only had scotch with breakfast twice (so far) and it happened to be a Port Charlotte 10 year, a very peaty Islay scotch. The nose is a campfire along the coast and palate of oaky pepperness wrapped in a thick fog of peaty smoke with a finish of lingering smoke and hints of woodsy tannins sprinkled with notes of citrus. The aftertaste is like that subtle campfire aroma emanating from your flannel after a night roasting marshmallows. I recommend pairing with smoked salmon, eggs, and hashbrowns.

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Bakewell, Sarah. 2010. How to Live — or — A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer. New York: Other Press.

Karlsson, Henrik. 2022. “A Blog Post is a Very Long and Complex Search Query to Find Fascinating People and Make Them Route Interesting Stuff to Your Inbox.” https://www.henrikkarlsson.xyz/p/search-query.

Montaigne,Michel de. 2004. The Complete Essays. Translated by M.A. Screech. New York: Penguin Classics.

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