Coffee Fest

 

The latest in programmable pour over machines!

The latest in programmable pour over machines!

I felt it time to explore the wider world of coffee, and am attending Coffee Fest in Atlanta this weekend.  I love being immersed in the world of coffee, and all its expressions, good and bad.  I attended a great seminar by a man with a PHD in nuclear physics, who was talking about what makes a true espresso!  It was great to see some of the bemused looking faces amongst the overtly hipster element when he stated that 3rd Wave coffee aficionados have no idea how to make genuine espresso.  I couldn’t help smiling as I remember the acid reflux inducing brew I received recently at a coffee house in San Francisco, but I was heartened by his scientific approach.  I discovered that his applied physics complemented my more intuitive approach to producing our signature espresso blends.  That was fortunate!

I was also fascinated to watch the show’s latte art competition, where the judges put a heavy premium on a ‘full’ cup.  When you get back to basics and visit Italy, the home of espresso, it is almost 100% certain you will receive a cup that is just short of full.  What struck me overall, however, was the overriding enthusiasm for great coffee.  Compared with Europe, the creation of really great coffee is somewhat in its infancy here in the US, but there are increasing signs that more and more people are turning to excellence instead of dishwater.

It caused me pause to think, that amongst so much that is undesirable in modern society, there continues to be a force for change that refuses to surrender to the mediocre and seeks to pull a shot of excellence into the a cup that so often contains dirty dishwater or worse.  This not only in the world of coffee, but as I pondered our life here, there are so often shafts of light to break up the otherwise dark and gloomy world of corporate dominance and chain mediocrity.  Its good to end on a positive note, now back for another shot of espresso while I am here!

 

Its A Good Life!

LambCouldn’t help posting a picture of a recent meal I produced.  Lamb chop with a creamy rosemary sauce (wine reduction, shallots and mushrooms with Rosemary).  We are so privileged to enjoy the comforts of good food and wine and this was strenuously brought to mind in the context of the novel I am currently reading, ‘The Narrow Road to The Deep North’ by Richard Flanagan.
This narrative deals with characters from the Australian military during their incarceration in a Japanese POW camp, given the task of building the Burma Railway and surrounding back stories.  The excruciating conditions are so graphically portrayed that I found myself, at times, suffering slight squeamish turns.  However, most remarkable, is the constant reminder as I turn the pages, of the privileged life I lead, and the responsibility I have to do something with it.  I cannot even fathom what it might have been like to suffer in the ways these men suffered.  Those who survived were indelibly altered by their experiences, which, forever scarred them both physically and psychologically.Narrow Road

I am grateful for the comfort, the food, the relationships and the relative peace in which I live.  May I remain grateful and celebrate in ways that impact others in a meaningful way.

World Affairs

No photo today, as I spent the day working and relaxing at home, Leyna away in Kansas City.  But I did have thoughts, largely inspired by reading the Guardian and pondering those things that are not so close to home, and yet make a difference to us all.  I am always encouraged by others who are refuse to drink the prevailing Koolaid of our popular culture, politics and worldview.

A blatantly jingoistic film depicting the ‘heroic’ actions of an American sniper in Iraq has just been nominated for 6 oscars and is boosting box offices all over the West especially in gun-toting Southern states of America.  The fact that the war in Iraq was prosecuted on the basis of fabricated evidence of weapons of mass destruction seems to have evaded most of the masses.  Those masses have also faced years of austerity and until recently, high unemployment because of the wanton greed of the super rich bankers and their political cronies who bailed them out.

Two articles gave me hope today.  The one, a man’s opinion of the West’s morality bypass (American Snipe Illustrates the West’s Morality Blind Spots) and the other, the news of a nation of people who chose to reject the politicians who represent the corrupt exploitation of super-rich capitalists (The Greek People Have Chosen Hope).

For the Record

 

RecordingThis is the simple recording ensemble I use for recording audiobooks.  I thought it apt to write about it one day, as most days see me crouching over the mic ‘laying down’ a chapter or currently a short story from the latest effort.  I now have 4 books published on Librivox (link on this blog) and am thoroughly enjoying the wiles and humour of the canon of Sherlock Holmes.

Though it takes a good deal of time with editing and finishing, and has absolutely no financial benefit, it has been one of the most rewarding activities I have ever performed.  The number of emails and reviews that have often effusively appreciated these publications has highlighted something incredibly important.  Whilst the world we live in is in such thrall of material wealth, with its ability to satisfy in only transient fashion, the lasting joy to those who receive and the attendant satisfaction for the giver when no money is involved cannot even be compared.  The ingredients, time and love are simple and yet, at the risk of being a cliche, are so much more fulfilling.  Another email arrived today which spoke of how much enjoyment had been experienced, and there was no question it was the highlight of my day.

Agony and Suchi

Nari SuchiNari Suchi, preceded by a session at Spa Castle, where we enjoyed the relaxation of 9 different sauna rooms.  I thought I wasn’t going to make it to any of this having woken with a frightful headache and nausea, which I attribute to dehydration.  Isn’t it the most profound sense of relief and euphoria that greets the passing of such mind-numbing and debilitating pain!  It gave rise to me meditating on the pain of those who suffer on a daily basis and it gave me pause to think of those even driven to take their own life or opt for assisted suicide as an escape from such relentless agony.

Though I still believe there must be alternatives to taking such a drastic decision, I did find myself murmuring, ‘who am I to judge or decide when I find it so debilitating, and this when I am certain to gain relief in only a few short hours!’  I know this may be a contentious thought, but it is sometimes only when experiencing the out of ordinary lows in life that a semblance of honest thought can reveal ‘the other side of the coin’.

The Suchi was wonderful by the way, especially the Sashimi, most of which was surprisingly fresh, and at that moment, with the wonderful Leyna to share, life was truly worth experiencing to the full.

A Day at The Office

Roasterie OfficeA somewhat familiar and a little untidy sight, but my office at the Roasterie sees me completing admin, whilst Lucy roasts in the background.  I was also able to watch Liverpool draw with Chelsea, currently playing on my laptop in the photo.  It was a normal day, nothing untoward happened, no criminals seeking to steal copper wire (Saturday morning at 2:30 am), no internet failures (some days), nor difficult customers at either coffee house.  It made me appreciate the ordinary.  How often we can allow the day to slide by without appreciating the simple pleasure of getting everything done that was to be done without crisis or hassle to divert our course.  And how grateful so many of us can be that we were not traveling in a Malaysian airliner destined for disaster or that we were not sitting in a French magazine editorial being gunned down by terrorists.

It can sometimes seem that we don’t have a very eventful day.  But then again, there are plenty of opportunities to encourage, speak kindly to others and do something seemingly small and insignificant that makes someone else’s day.  I received an email last night from someone having a bad day who was given a small jug of cream to go with their French Press in Fort Worth, they wrote to tell me that it had made their day.  Our son Josiah called on his birthday as he had enjoyed the little box of goodies he received from his mum, nothing spectacular, but it made him laugh.  It caused me to think how every day is worth celebrating, however seemingly mundane, and every day is an opportunity to impact the lives of others.  Today is a day to celebrate the mundane; just another day at the office.

It Is Time To Start Writing

IMG_0046I don’t know why it is so difficult to put fingers to keys on a regular basis.  So many distractions, excuses and simple laziness prevent me from using this opportunity to express myself.  Even if no one is listening, it is frequently cathartic to unload the thoughts and musings that accompany each days unfolding.  I have decided to devote this site to my daily journal and though these thoughts will be public, they could at least form the basis for my communication with friends and family in the light of increasing corporate possession of the means of social interaction.

I was encouraged by my sister in law, Daveen, last year to join the photo driven social media site blipfoto and for a few months, managed to post a daily photo which reflected an aspect of life as I knew it on that day.  I also severed by personal connection with Facebook due to the increasing lack of privacy and highly manipulative corporate advertising which drives its enormous revenues.  So many ‘so called friends’ on Facebook I barely knew and began to yearn for a place to express myself that was not controlled by profit motive.  When blipfoto was sold to Polaroid, not only did the previous vehicle for posting photos cease to function as before, but I witnessed, yet again, the corporate takeover of another aspect of my online expression.

So, I have decided to post a photo each day and some comment on my thoughts, life and experience on this site.  Though I couldn’t do this without WordPress, it is at least my own domain and leaves an element of choice to those who read it, and some freedom from corporate interests for myself.

I would love to receive your comments and interaction should you choose, but in the meantime, it will give me an outlet for expression and a place for those who know me to keep in touch.  I hope occasionally to say something interesting about the world we inhabit, to allow some measure of personal exposure and sometimes just to recount the events of the life I lead in Texas with my wonderful wife Leyna.  If you are reading this, thanks for the time, I wish you a fulfilling 2015.