A Drink Is Just a Drink

A friend's coffee maker was found non-functional this morning.  That means different things to each of us.  For me, it's time to go to the backup.  We have Keurig as primary but keep a Cuisinart in the closet...just in case.  We also have Starbucks Via on hand...just in case.  And a French press, with ground coffee in the freezer...just in case...and teas, in case I get really desperate.

Fortunately, there are also three coffee shops within a twelve minute walk, six if I jog it.  There's also a Wendy's, who serves coffee, and a Minute Mart who offers a coffee facsimile, if the situation is dire. 

Yes, coffee and I share a mature relationship.  Although friends at one point thought that I'd been born suckling coffee, I didn't take it up until I was in my twenties and in the military.  As I ~ shudder ~ AGED, I found a little caffeine on the midnight shifts helped stay awake and breathing.  I wasn't particular.  Sanka instant was available.  Nuke some water, shovel a few spoons in, stir.  Good enough.  Or the day shift had left some in the 30 cup coffee urn.  Heat it up, I'll drink it, or there was some cold stuff remaining in a carafe. 

In essence, I was a coffee scavenger, going brew to brew, consuming whatever was available.  A pivot point came.  Pivot points are always educational moments when your attitude or direction changes.  You eat steak for years then one day enjoy a well prepared prime cut.  Suddenly your taste buds sit up, startled, inquiring, what's this?  A legacy organic tomato comes onto your plate after years of hothouse tomatoes.  Romaine replaces iceberg.  Craft beers replace American lagers and Pinot Noirs replace Boonesfarm and Mad Dog 20-20.

Like an educated mind, an educated palate creates that pivot point.  You become more thoughtful and aware of the nuances.  What once passed as acceptable becomes scorned. 

Tasting a good cup of coffee opened me up to what was really out there.  I bought a coffee maker and a grinder for my home.  I added an espresso machine.  Did it all at home, sampling beans and roasts, storing them, trying them, refining my preferences.  Making and drinking coffee became a ritual.  Like wines, beers, cheeses and fruits, I found certain roasts go better with different foods, and could be dependent upon the time of day. 

I was hooked. 

It became known as so at my offices.  I always had a cup close by and passed judgement on what was brewed.  My coffee drinking at work grew legendary.  I liked arriving early so I could make it 'right'.  When we moved into new locations, co-workers suggested that lines be connected to the break room so I could have an IV drip from the coffee pot to my arm. 

Yet, priorities pass on to other matters.  Rituals consume time and I needed time for other requirements.  Coffee makers and roasters were also becoming more refined and sophisticated.  I moved from maker to maker until...along came the Keurig. 

At first, I dismissed the Keurig with contempt.  Coffee premeasured in a cup?  Bah, what good could it be?  Friends and relatives swore by them.  My wife wanted one.  She thought it would be convenient.  The words cut me;  had I fallen so low in my coffee consumption that convenience was my greatest measure? 

But...convenience is nice.

We bought the Keurig and tried different roasts and providers via the K-cups.  I had a K-cup whereby I could make my own and did so.  Meanwhile, I found Newman's extra bold French roast. 

Not bad.

Along came some northwest French bold.

Ah, there we go.  Now we were cooking.  The Keurig and I became friends.

It's worked out well with the Keurig.  I have my small collection of preferred roasts for different times.  My wife, who prefers coffee flavored water, has her K-cups, and we can offer guests a variety at will.  There is still a ritual but it's much easier, easily incorporated with other morning rituals of powering up the computers, feeding the cats, opening the back door to confirm the world is still there and sipping a glass of hot water (yes, it's another morning ritual).  The rituals are routines, freeing me to slip into my meditations and drift toward the daily writing and the works in progress and the tall masts of new ideas rising up over my imagination's horizons. 

The ritual is a pivot point embraced each day.  As it passes, the day really begins.

Recent Comments
Katherine Gregor
Well, I guess you're a coffee man, Michael :–) Personally, I like Turkish coffee. Or a GOOD cappuccino.
Friday, 25 July 2014 18:54
Michael W Seidel
Yes, if I had to post a blurb about this post, that would be it: I'm a coffee man. Thanks for reading and commenting, Katya. Ch... Read More
Monday, 28 July 2014 20:07
Ken Hartke
Oh...Turkish. I struggle to get it right but a few grains of cardamom and sugar in my espresso brings back the memory. I have yet... Read More
Friday, 25 July 2014 23:27
1833 Hits
8 Comments

Lot’s Wife And The Danger Of Curiosity

At a conference devoted to the influences of the Old Testament on Hebrew literature, a speaker discussed Lot’s wife (Genesis 19, 26) as a source of poetic inspiration. In Hebrew that dramatic story is summed up in 6 short words: “But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.”
I have been so used to these words that their actual meaning was almost lost. But rexamining the sentence I thought about the danger of curiosity and the high price of the desire to learn.
We learnt  in school that Lot’s wife was punished because she disobeyed God. Yet, in Genesis 19, 17 God says to Lot: “Escape for thy life; look not behind thee.” There is nothing in the text about Lot's  responsibility to warn his family not to ldo so as well. Moreover, although God talks only to Lot, he is not held accountable for the actions of his wife, and she is the only one who is punished.
It is intriguing that the Bible states that the wife (who remains nameless) looks "behind him,” and not behind her. It seems that Lot is very much part of the action.
Curious, eager to learn, and independent: those have always been the qualities of women in pursuit of knowledge and education. They fought to advance themselves in their societies and strived to contribute to their communities. But those were also the exact reasons why Paternalistic societies have regarded education as dangerous.
Only yesterday I suddenly saw the source of and the justification for the zeal and conviction of those men who made sure that education would not be available to women. From the account of the Fall we understand that knowledge is synonymous with disobedience. But in the case of Adam and Eve they were both punished. I never before had traced the beginning of male oppression to the unjust act of God, who punished a woman for a non-sin, in Genesis 19.
Until fairly recently women  in Europe and in the US were denied education, in the introduction to Equality for Some: The Story of Girls’ Education, Barry Turner states: “The female intellect is a recent educational discovery. Traditionally Western civilization has distrusted and discouraged clever women, initially because they were regarded as a threat to the spiritual well-being of the community” 
It wasn’t thank to God of Genesis 19 that Western women won their battle for education, they did it all on their own.
But in other parts of the world, women and girls are not so fortunate, a good example is the  Saudi Arabian film Wadjda. It tells the story of  a bright girl who is determined to win money to buy a bicycle she’s forbidden to ride. She hopes to accomplish this feat by winning a Koran competition. Learning, she trusts, would bring about independence and freedom of mobility. But when she honestly and naively admits that she intends to do with the money, she doesn't get the prize.
Riding a bicycle has been a feminist symbol of self reliance since Victorian time: at that time the safety bicycle became available for skirted women. While bicycle gave them physical independence, education had given them some measure of mental independence and self control.
Wadjda is not different from the hundreds of school girls who were kidnapped on April 14th from the Girls Secondary School in Nigeria. In the name of God, His male executors on earth have taken upon themselves the mission to eradicate education from their country.
In the Biblical story Lot moved on leaving his wife behind, we could no longer afford to do so.
 
PS  And of course I should not forget Malala Yusafzai.
Recent Comments
Katherine Gregor
This is one of the many occasions when I wish I could read Ancient Hebrew. Perhaps someday. I took a couple of extra-curricular ... Read More
Sunday, 13 July 2014 12:08
Orna Raz
Dear Katia, I am not sure Hebrew is essential for understanding this story, I believe that the story in English is true to the sou... Read More
Sunday, 13 July 2014 14:44
Ken Hartke
My wife would have turned around to tell to hurry up. A lot of independent curious women have been thrown under the bus over the y... Read More
Sunday, 13 July 2014 18:12
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6 Comments

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