Planned obsolescence

In the halcyon days of the 109th Congress, the Energy Policy Act of 2005 was passed. Believe it or not this bill does more than just cut taxes and increase federal spending. It also makes many of your appliances with a built-in clock obsolete.

How does a Federal Energy bill accomplish this feat? Elementary dear reader… it changes the effective dates for daylight savings time starting in 2007. Specifically, if you don’t TURN OFF the option to automatically change the time for DST, you’re going to be changing your clock’s time FOUR times next year… first, when DST actually takes effect (the second Sunday in March); second, when your clock changes the time when IT THINKS DST begins (the first Sunday in April); third, when your clock thinks DST ends (the last Sunday in October); and fourth, when DST actually ends (the first Sunday in November).

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a good case of jet lag as much as the next guy… but DST isn’t my cup of Joe. I’m already disappointed with my Joe this morning. I bought a bag of whole bean Folgers that’s supposed to be “select.” If by “select” they mean the beans were grown in the run-off from a chemical plant then they’ve hit the nail on the head. I love a cup of coffee that conjures the image of a peaceful morning on a plant floor at Dow/Corning.

So I’m drinking a cup of coffee that tastes like an industrial adhesive smells, I’m waxing sentimental about my last old-school, DST time change, and I’m sitting at work on a Monday morning.

Pardon me if I’m a little grumpy.

**Author’s note: coffee beans ARE NOT a good place to save money on your grocery bill.

1 Comment

I love the fact that I can find words like “mooch” in the dictionary. It makes writing for this site so much easier when I can verify the appropriate usage of slang. Is “mooch” just a random sample, plucked from the Kauffman Vocabulary Archives as a purely hypothetical example of slang? As it turns out I’m right in the middle of a little practical application right now, as I type. My wife was gifted various coffee components in honor of National Authority Figure Day. Never one to turn down a stimulant delivery device, I snatched up my wife’s old travel mug – made obsolete by her new travel thermos cum artillery round. (It’s a beautifully crafted, seamless, aluminum skinned thermos for which I have great envy – which has the appropriate shape and strength to be fired on an enemy position from any appropriately sized field artillery piece.) What’s more, she had a bag of ground coffee… a bag of Starbuck’s finest beckoning me with its siren song. I spooned out a couple tablespoons of ground nirvana and mixed it with some near-boiling water in my French press (coffee maker).

Before I continue, I should note that there are different grinding strategies for different methods of brewing. I’ve described all of this before, but I’m ripe for a retelling (whether you are or not). For drip brewing, where the water has relatively brief interaction with the grounds, a fine grind is recommended. For the French press, where the grounds soak in the water much longer, a relatively coarse grind is recommended. It’s all about the surface area baby! Anyway, all of this is why I like to grind my own coffee; not just for control for it’s own sake, but to get the perfect grind for the perfect cup o’ French press joe. As I’ve said, my wife’s gifted coffee gold was ground… setting up the premise for this entire entry. (Author’s note: The Surgeon General warns that chewing gum while reading the following sentence out loud may cause severe bleeding.) Feeling tired, and lets face it – damn near desperate for a quick caffeine fix – I went into full mooch mode and appropriated some gift grind – ground fine for the drip.

Fine grind plus Frech press equals… WHOA THAT’S STRONG!

This morning’s mooch madness brought me something I’ll never forget… the new gold standard for strong coffee.

No room for coffee

I feel really bad for you. You see this is the second time I’ve written this entry. The first version was a real hoot… and I guess it still is, safely tucked away on my computer at work. I jotted down a rough draft on break, then proceeded to get busy as all get out… prompting it to get forgotten. I’m slated to be away from my office until next week, and I hate to let you go that long without such a primo topic; so I’ve decided to rehash it here.

Pulling up the site I’ll bet you were completely unaware that such good fortune awaited you.

We now rejoin our irregularly scheduled entry…

You know that I have strong feelings about the proper role of the cell phone in a public restroom. You know this because I’ve used this space to tell you, on more than one occasion. I mention this because I was similarly struck dumb by a throne room encounter earlier today. I was soaping up after a successful bathroom break when I noticed a steaming cup o’ joe sitting on the counter. Answer me this dear reader: how could anyone ‘dis a perfectly good cup of coffee like that? Further, who needs their coffee so bad they need to nurse their warm mug the 90 seconds it takes to commute to the satellite office? I’ve been known to obsess over coffee a wee bit, but I’m not so bad off I need to take it EVERYWHERE I go.

Naturally I bit my tongue, held my comments, and saved my say for the safe confines of my personal web site… just like the coward that I am.

Coffee and sweets

Factoid number 1: There are more Dunkin Donuts per square mile in New Hampshire than good drivers (based on personal observation).
Factoid number 2: There are more Starbucks per square mile in Florida than drivers under 65 (based on personal observation).
Factoid number 3: The most typical Starbucks customer is an urban, liberal woman under 50 (based on statistical analysis).
Factoid number 4: The most typical Dunkin Donuts customer is a rural/suburban, conservative man over 65 (based on statistical analysis).

All of this clarifies why I feel a little emasculated when I order my Grande Cafe Vanilla Frappachino. However, I still have nary a clue how such a bastion of progressiveness thrives in the adoptive home of Jeb, in God’s waiting room no less!

Overheard on the radio

Actually, Cheryl overheard this on the radio, but she’s pretty reliable. SO SAY I!

Good news coffee lovers! It seems that coffee ain’t all bad. It doesn’t just cause hypertension anymore! (… nor the occasional facial tick.) It appears that caffeine consumption may also increase a person’s capacity for critical thought… one of the bedrocks of human intelligence. This isn’t just some guy like me; talking out of his posterior region… this is real science: controls, variables… the whole shebang!

More Coffee? I Hear You.
Coffee May Slow Liver Damage from Alcohol Abuse
Dipstick Caffeine Test for Coffee


A little Monday morning blasphemy

On occasion there is no limit to my torpidity. In fact, this morning was one such morning. I was dragging myself across the parking lot, by every outward appearance failing a field sobriety test, when I spied a spry fellow whistling his way to work.

Channeling my inner New Yorker (the source of surliness in all of us), I came up with a few choice epithets for this man and his disgusting display of Monday morning mania. I kept them to myself, naturally, but it got me to thinking (or my home brewed, equivalent thereof).

In honor of the theatrical release of the Da Vinci Code…
“On the eighth day God, deciding his work was not quite done, created coffee beans and the means to dry roast, brew, and acquire a taste for them… and it was good.” (Excerpt from the Apocrypha.) Thusly, if God had meant for us to be vigorous and cheerful on Monday mornings, why did he create coffee and the means to enjoy it? And if he did not mean for us to be vigorous and cheerful on Monday mornings, what recourse is justified for those who thwart God’s will so blatantly?

Somewhere between a hammer and a hard place

The litany of my errors goes something like this…
Monday. I forget my magic (coffee beans) at home.
Tuesday. I forget my lucky (coffee) mug at home.
Wednesday. I forget my faithful (coffee bean) grinder at home.

Forgive me father, for I have sinned.

Wednesday morning I was standing (barely) in a coworker’s office, offering sage advice on matters pertaining to work, when I could not help but notice he had a hammer on his desk.

Me: “Hey, are you using that hammer right now.”
Him: “Does it look like I’m using a hammer right now?”
Me: “Smart ass.”
Him: “I learned from the best.”
Me: “Daniel-san! Wax on, wax off!”
Him: “Huh?”
Me: “Nothing… do you mind if I borrow that there fine specimen of a hammer?”
Him: “You’re not going to hurt me, are you?”
Me: “Not if you quit giving me the business and give me a hammer.”
Him: “Sure, go ahead. What do you want it for?”
Me: “I’m going to grind some coffee.”
Him: “No, really…?”
Him: “I’m sorry I asked.”

Thus armed with a hammer, some whole coffee beans, and a plastic zip lock bag… wa la! One zip lock bag of pulverized coffee beans… the next best thing to fresh ground coffee.

Hey, did someone mention coffee?

Drinking coffee is like riding a bike… the longer you go without the bigger kick in the pants you get when you start back up. (I’ll bet you didn’t see that analogy coming.) It goes without saying that the energy level at coffee drinking start up is inversely proportional to bike riding start up, but I hope you still get my point. (It’s a tolerance thing.)

Today was my first cup since the pre-flu, early days of 2006. It’s just too bad creativity levels are not directly proportional to energy levels. Otherwise this would be a hum dinger of an entry.

This entry was brought to you, in part; by Bodum… the maker of my Swiss conceived French press coffee maker, assembled in Denmark. Their unofficial slogan is “You can’t get much more European than us.”

The French Press

If you’re not interested in another entry about coffee then stop reading right now, because this is yet another entry about magic beans.

In my ongoing search for better brews I came across a little device called the French Press. I’d read about it on the internet (a line that’s becoming more and more synonymous with “I’m full of crap” every day), and I was intrigued. Six months and ten bucks later… I had myself a new coffee maker from Target. The look and feel of the device gives a certain amount of credence to the “experimentation” metaphor… it looks like something straight out of a high school chemistry lab (if long term memory serves)… complete with a tall glass beaker.

“What the heck is a French Press?” You may be asking. Well I’m glad you asked. Making coffee with a French Press has more in common with making Cool Aid than coffee. (My more discerning readers will object on the basis that, since it makes coffee, it’s exactly like making coffee, but I digress.) You take the glass beaker, dump in a coarse grind of your favorite beans, add hot water, and let sit for at least four minutes.

Fear not, dear reader… the instructions don’t end there, nor does this story. Nay, the last step is the critical step – the part that puts the press in the French Press. Picture a toilet plunger, but instead of a rubber plunger there’s a circular piece of extremely fine steel mesh that is slightly wider than the mouth of the beaker, reinforced with a metal frame that is slightly narrower than the mouth of the beaker. (When I actually write it down, it doesn’t sound much like a toilet plunger anymore, but I digress once again.) You fit it inside the mouth of the beaker and slowly push down on the handle. This separates the beans from the beverage, leaving you with a lovely looking coffee brine. (Don’t look up brine in the dictionary, lest another one of my metaphors falls apart yet again.)

Maybe I didn’t make it quite right, but my first cup of French Press Joe could cure you of coma. Yep, it’s that good.

Surgeon General’s Warning: Caffeine is not a substitute for a good night’s sleep. Excessive use of caffeine has been shown to cause digressing in laboratory animals.