Things I Love: Coffee, Upside Down AeroPress Technique

I’ve talked about, read about, and learned more about coffee in the past couple months than in the previous 20 years combined. For most of my life, coffee was Maxwell House from a can, scooped into a filter, brewed and percolated, and 15 minutes later, I was likely sharing part of a pot of coffee with someone. I liked coffee, even back then. I was so young …so naive.

Flash forward 20 years, and I’m borderline obsessive about my coffee. I can’t remember the last time (outside of a highway gas station when a “caffeine fix” was the end game) I had a drip brew cup of coffee. It’s not like I choke and gag when I drink a drip brew, but I’ve come too far with the AeroPress, French Presses, and Americanos at my local coffee houses. I can’t go back to the old way. I learned, like a wine lover who wouldn’t be caught dead drinking a glass of Woodbridge Cabernet from a gallon-sized bottle, I like coffee not just for the caffeine fix, but for the flavor, texture, and taste.

I’ve learned about the brewing processes and determined the AeroPress is the one for me. Now, I’m on a quest for the perfect bean (and the Tanzanian Peaberry from Chazzano in Ferndale, MI is about the best I’ve found).

I talk alot about the AeroPress. I learned of the AeroPress from my cousin Scott. His Dad, whom I call Uncle Jerry, is a curious sort of person and when someone like me talks incessantly about something, he’s apt to Google the topic and learn more about it. I’m not the type of guy to “learn” …I just boldly dive head first into things and hope for the best. Turns out, there are AeroPress Championships and there’s an even better technique than the standard AeroPress technique for brewing an amazing cup of coffee. It’s the Upside Down AeroPress. So I tried it. My first attempt didn’t yield a cup of coffee so brilliant I’m ready to brew upside down and only upside down, but it was pretty good. And I could see this technique being used when making coffee for multiple people. However, it was good. And as is probably the main reason I do anything, it’s something to talk about.

If I have you over for dinner …trust me. You’re having a cup of coffee, you’re going to hear about where I bought the beans and why I like the beans, and you’re going to hear why and how I make my coffee the way I make my coffee.What? You’d rather talk politics, debt ceiling, or the U.S. credit rating? No …thank …you.

Here’s the upside down AeroPress technique. Try it. I expected some mess. There was no mess. It’s pretty much the same process – but with flair. Yet another vacation memory, and I haven’t even talked about the really good parts of vacation. I’ve only touched on the nearly horrible neck injury I almost had, and now the coffee. More to come. Thanks for reading.

Oh, and if you want to read more and perhaps ORDER AN AEROPRESS, click here and follow the links.

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Things I Love: Vacation, Injury Free

My 9-day vacation holds many memories, but the thing I’m freaked out about was the second to last day and how I nearly broke my neck – and I’m not even kidding. I Tweeted about this briefly, but I keep replaying the moment back in my mind and …phew …it could’ve been really, really bad. I felt and heard my neck crack and fold backwards.

How, you ask?

My daughter and I were on the sandbar, in less than 3 feet of water. Do you see where this is going? She was doing underwater somersaults. An 8-year-old can easily do an underwater somersault in 3-feet of water because an 8-year-old girl weighs next to nothing and can gently roll forward or backward and flip around in the water. I, however, am 38 years old and even with my short 5’4″ frame, in 3-feet of water (it might’ve been less), there’s not much room for error. Plus, as a 38-year-old, I don’t do many underwater somersaults anymore, so I tried to give myself a little jump start and sorta half-dove into what would’ve been a pretty nice somersault …had I been in 5 feet of water. In 3-feet of water, this half-dive resembles an ACTUAL dive and I essentially jammed myself face (head) first into the sand and ate a mouthful of sand as the rest of my body kept going in the general direction of a somersault …but my head was planted in the sand.

It all happened in an instant and as I sit here, 72 hours later, I feel like I dodged a bullet and my neck feels like I was in a pretty bad car accident.

It might seem odd to start the first blog entry following my vacation as a message about a near life-altering mistake that’s tormenting me, and I always come back from vacations with thoughts of changing my life and using it as a new jumping off point, but all these years later and all these vacations later, nothing’s changed.

Maybe I’m being overdramatic, but this is a vacation-lesson that will stick with me (at least the neck soreness will still linger for a few days). I’m reading “4-Hour Workweek” and doing “4-Hour Body.” I’m in the process of convincing myself I can have a career and then 2 or 3 passive sources of income, and that I can have six-pack abs. I will stop taking unnecessary risks with few rewards (like diving off the ends of docks or doing underwater somersaults in shallow water). How many times can I expect to do dumb stuff and avoid catastrophe? I need to eat better. Sleep more. Stop thinking about what I might, could, and should do …and start doing it.

I can’t do underwater stunts. With my lung thing, I shouldn’t ever really do more than a 5K and I should just enjoy the running (versus pushing myself to the brink of collapse just so I can boast I can run a mile in under 8-minutes …which is a weak thing to boast, anyway).

Anyway …that’s the biggest thing that happened to me on my vacation. I’ll have lots of pictures of sandcastles and whatnot, and I’ll try and journal the wonderful week and talk about making home movies and making memories. But for a moment, my vacation has given me reason to reflect …and refocus. May it not take a near tragic neck injury the next time.

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Things I Love: Vacation

My D.N.A. is such that the sole reason I work is so that I can take long breaks from working. I kinda like my job(s) believe it or not, but I love taking a vacation from it.

Earth shattering blogging, I know.

I’ve spent these last 9 days renting a small cabin with my family, with more of my family renting cabins nearby, and it’s sad that today’s my last day. I had intended on getting up bright and early every day and blogging a little, so I could pretty much journal the entire vacation, but the bed was too cozy, the guilt-free ability to stare at Twitter and Facebook for an hour was too tempting, and my motivation and creativity was lacking. I had intended on writing a little of my sales book. I thought I’d continue exercising so I could justify the massive consumption of calories, sugary treats, and beer. But like the John Lennon lyric says … life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” -John Lennon

Instead, I figured out a way to simply enjoy relaxing. I barely checked my Blackberry but once or twice a day (you can’t expect me to go totally cold-turkey). I didn’t once check-in at the office. I swam in the water with my kids for hours and hours (something rare, I noticed …most adults do NOT swim with their kids, but simply sit on shore or a dock and watch their kids swim …why?). I built sand castles (which is suddenly becoming my vacation thing to do). I went tubing and water skiing. I went to the sand bar twice (thrice if you count this other little lagoon as a “sand bar.”) I hadn’t planned on it, but I rented a paddle board for a day and the kids loved it.

I should’ve had plans of having no plan – I would’ve felt more accomplished.

My 8-year-old said yesterday she was sorta glad to be going home because she misses her bed and her toys, so that means 8 or 9 days is a perfect vacation length. I kinda agree. I mean …I agree until 12 noon tomorrow when I’m still filtering through the 500 emails that wait for me in my office in-box, and until I’m bothered by my long-sleeve dress shirt and wool dress pants that will replace my bathing suit and t-shirt (or no t-shirt) that was my vacation wardrobe.

I guess vacation isn’t “vacation” unless you have something to take a vacation from, so I’ll look forward and work and work until the next one. Profound? No. See why I didn’t do much blogging?

It’s time to pack up. Soon we’ll hit the road and head back into the city. I’ll trade a view of a crystal blue lake for a dry, yellow lawn. I’ll trade sandcastle building for negotiating and sitting in traffic. But I wouldn’t trade any of it.

Things I Love: Good Coffee, Always

So you stuck around for a second entry? Thanks. I promise, I’m going to clean up this place. Do you think I want white font on a kaleidoscope background? No, I do not. My web designer (also known as “me”) is on vacation.

Speaking of vacation …just because a man goes on vacation doesn’t mean he should have to spend his morning drinking bad coffee.

Packing for vacation is never fun. You make lists. You, at first, have plenty of time and then suddenly it’s the day before, and the morning of, and you’re running around trying to find all your phone chargers and power chords, you keep remembering things that weren’t on your list, preparation leads to a sense of panic, you can’t get the timers to work, and all the yelling going on between you, your spouse, your kids, and the post office and their refusal to employ a human capable of answering a phone and accurately stopping your mail …it all makes you wonder why you go on vacation at all.

Back to the coffee and stress. I decided, amidst the chaos, something urgently important was figuring out a way to travel with my Aeropress and my gourmet Chazzano coffee  (Tanzanian Peaberry, to be exact). So, did I spend the entire morning of our departure searching high and low in my house for a worthy box (aka “case”) for transporting my coffee routine and ritual (it was the box from my netbook …and she said it’s silly that I keep the boxes that all my electronic devices come in …”last laugh” …I’m having it)?  Then, did I spend quality packing/organizing time peeling off price tags and labels of said netbook box, and did I spend more time with a black Sharpie covering up stuff? Again …yes, I did. And will I, at some future time, hit Jo-Ann Fabrics or Michael’s and find foam that I can cut-out in the shape of my coffee grinder, my Aeropress, the filters, and bags of beans? Yes. I will. And I’ll film that, too.

I’m happy to report, however, that 24 hours later, I’m sitting, writing, enjoying magnificent coffee, and the pre-packing, pre-trip fighting and fits have turned into smiles and 3 kids sleeping in late. It was all worth it. See you tomorrow.

Things I Think: Why Blogs Fail

Why does anything fail? We have big, grand ideas and right at first, we get all kinds of crazy awesome feedback. “Your blog is hilarious!” a friend might say. 12 people ‘Like’ it. We write 4 posts in five days and we learn about how to set up a blog, we add pictures, read an article about a guy who makes $10,000 each month just by writing about power tools and we think, “that is sooooooo me.”

But dang if it doesn’t seem like 9 out of every 10 blogs I read and ‘Like’ follows the same fate. Here one year, gone the next. Always a promise of “I’ll be back soon and with big announcements” or something. But, they never come back.

Why?

I’m guessing it’s the writing. The pressure to produce written material every day and make it slightly entertaining, a little bit interesting, and with some soul …well, that’s the challenge.

Me? To solve this dilemma, I  started a new blog. For the last 5 years I’ve had “Don’s Ego” which was my miscellaneous ramblings. Sporadic. Unconnected. And certainly not the type of blog that a cordless drill manufacturer would latch on to. So here you go …by the very title of this blog, I hope you realize it’s going to be all over the place (Kaleidoscopic), but when I get going on a topic or something, you can bet I’m going to hone in and focus (Raygun).

That’s it. For now. Oh, I also think “Kaleidoscopic Raygun” is more clever than “Don’s Ego.”