good to the last drop

Funny how a good cup of coffee can make you feel mellow, despite its ill reputation for causing nervousness. Maybe it’s something about the ritual that makes you feel calm and centered. Actually, I’m ninety percent sure that this is the case. I think that it was Mark (who I dearly owe an email or three, I know) that introduced me to the zen of coffee through his at least daily postings on his moblog (seemingly offline at the moment). His rituals were very alluring to me… a well-crafted coffee drink or two, a good book and a calming environment. My additions to this ritual are to load up the iPod and head outside, although I admit I have not been too good at doing such lately. Now that I am here sipping my fresh cup of Mexican Chiapas from Barefoot, my mind recalls all those calm moments I shared with the sacred bean over the last couple of years.

It’s time for the ritual to return. Autumn is the perfect time for it.

Thanks to K, I was re-introduced to my home-brewing ritual. He gifted me with a shiny brand new Solis Maestro coffee grinder which I’ve been considering for literally years, but didn’t want to plunk down the cash.

It’s good stuff, I tell you. I became too much of a snot to use the blade grinder that I received many years ago, and pretty much stopped my home brewing process a year ago. The expense of purchasing a drink almost daily from (albeit wonderful) places like Barefoot or Coffee Society was gaining on me.

So anyway, regarding the mellow thing… music is a big component of this ritual. Here’s a selection of the artists on my current mellow playlist(s):

  • Nick Drake
  • Elliott Smith
  • Death Cab for Cutie
  • The Shins
  • Dashboard Confessional
  • Fiona Apple
  • Jeff Buckley
  • Belle & Sebastian
  • Keane
  • Ben Folds
  • Gavin DeGraw
  • Snow Patrol
  • Joshua Radin
  • Rachel Yamagata
  • All Time Quarterback
  • Her Space Holiday
  • Vienna Teng
  • Badly Drawn Boy
  • The Postal Service
  • Iron & Wine
  • heck, the entire Garden State Soundtrack

I am also accepting suggestions for additions to these lists… do let me know if I’m missing anything essential, and I’ll add them!

We cannot have that behaviour in this establishment

During our visit to COPIA a couple of months ago, I encountered an exhibit that solicited for visitor opinions on controversial subjects relating to food. One of these subjects referred to the controversy over alcohol and age limits/restrictions.

As most people know, legal drinking age in the United States is 21. What most people do not know is that the drinking age in the U.S. is one of the highest of any nation in the world. Why is that? The popular notion is that this restriction helps stifle irresponsible behavior in teenagers. Pshaw! Most of us know that rules and restrictions seem to only prevent some irresponsible behaviors, but certainly not in most teenagers, by far. C’mon, we were all there once… experimentation and limit testing were the name of the game when we were teens, and the same still rings true for today’s teens.

With my brother going into college this year, this issue rings close to home. With the taste of independence and freedom comes the first taste of alcohol for many… and often, their first taste of irresponsibility and full-on drunkenness. His school has a no-tolerance policy when it comes to alcohol (you can get reprimanded for being caught in the same room as a drunk person, even if you aren’t drinking), but the attitude of the students seems to be different. When we pulled up to the campus on move-in day, there was a house right outside of the entrance that read something to this effect:

Keg: $60
Condoms: $9
Noise Violation: $25
Breaking in your Freshman: Priceless.
Drop off your daughters here!

They aren’t really giving anyone a good impression of the school and its students. It’s really a shame. Apparently, there had been some alcohol-related deaths in the Cal State system in recent years. Why can’t people learn from this?

I can proudly say that in high school, I did not participate in such activities because I chose not to, and my friends/acquaintances respected that. Go ahead, call me a square. I took pride in it. That scene just didn’t interest me, and I could witness first hand how much others get messed up in both the short and long term. Sometimes it was just more fun to see people make complete idiots out of themselves and be able to remember it in the morning. Funny and sad, but true. You can learn a lot from others’ stupid mistakes. It’s just too bad that some teens don’t learn that until it’s too late.

My point here is to bring up discussion about what you think the legal drinking age should be, and/or what do you think we can do, if anything about the youth alcohol issue?

There has been much controversy if we should lower it to the age of eighteen, like many other countries in the world have. I honestly do not think it would help any (if at all), because the stigma surrounding youth and alcohol is really built around our culture. I think that the best solution would be to stop the subversive advertising in the media that says alcohol makes you cooler, that it makes you sexy, that it guarantees a good time. Hey, I didn’t say that it was a feasible solution. But if this were able to change, our attitudes about the sauce would be a lot different.

In some European countries, it is commonplace for everyone to drink with dinner, and be able to stop at only a glass or two. Why do Americans have such a hard time setting limits? Why do we have to be so damn excessive? (afternote: apparently, this is seemingly a perception? I would like to do more research on this topic to be sure)

Then again, advertising is all about creating these atrocious lies to move product anyways. This is something that is embedded in our culture. I think I’m just very sensitive to this particular issue since my work is a lot about promoting, advertising and marketing. I quote the title character from the movie Roger Dodger when he says:

“You can’t sell a product without first making people feel bad… You have to remind them that they’re missing something from their lives… And when they’re feeling sufficiently incomplete, you convince them your product is the only thing that can fill the void. So instead of taking steps to deal with their lives, instead of working to root out the real reason for their misery, they go out and buy a stupid looking pair of cargo pants.”

Amen. That says a lot about our culture.

socially challenged

All the social software in the world don’t seem to drastically help those of us who are introverts at heart. We are the ones that grew up timid, shy kids who barely spoke to anyone we came upon. Our hearts would beat fast whenever it came to talking to someone new, or when it came time to speak in front of the classroom. We around walked with our heads down to avoid the chance that someone might want to talk to us.

We are geeks. Hear us squeak.

Granted, I have become a lot more assertive as I grew older, enough to get by in the world socially and professionally. But, for the most part, I still maintain my nature of keeping to myself. Sure, I go out, I socialize a bit… but then at the end of the day, I go home and that’s pretty much the end of it. Nothing further.

And don’t get me wrong, I love all the gatherings I’ve been going to lately!

In a discussion with MJ not too long ago, it was pointed out that many of us seem to have tons of acquaintances and not enough friends. We try so hard to keep up with all the acquaintances that we meet through work, friends of friends, social events, sports, concerts, common interests, etc., that we don’t have the time or energy to maintain a real friendship amongst the craziness. The cliché “things to do, people to see” becomes an everyday mantra.

Not to say that I’m the party girl or the social butterfly, but the internet has definitely increased my circle of friends and acquaintances. It’s certainly no chore, but it’s definitely time consuming to keep up with everyone IRL and OL, as Nicole has pointed out. We socialize, but in different contexts, let it be at the coffee shop or on IRC, at a party or through blogs. Either way, it takes time and effort.

So, what’s my point? I think we all have increased our social circles via acquaintances, but in turn, have neglected to maintain friendships.

A funny thing I have noticed is that there is a common sentiment that we do not seem to know when it’s appropriate to just call someone up and say “Hi” or ask them out for coffee, or to just hang out.

Consider this an open invitation. I’m serious. If I know you (IRL) and we haven’t seen each other in a while, I ask you to call me, e-mail me, whatever. Let’s go for an iced latte or go to the movies. Let’s get to know each other better.